Hello everybody!!! First off my address for now, and for the rest of my mission will be the mission office, they will get the mail and forward it to our apartments, so that way it's easier for everybody and there won't be lost mail after we move areas. I hope everyone is doing well, I'm doing amazing! I have to go through my journal and write out bullet points of what i'm going to email about so i don't forget anything. So I might be all over the place. It's so gorgeous out here, it's about 75 degrees during the day and 50's in the night so it's really nice weather. I am serving in the San Bernardino 4th Ward South area. It is SOOOOO Ghetto out here, But I love it, I love every minute of it.
"Prettiest view in the ghetto"
My companion's name is Elder Monk, he's from Virginia and he's an awesome guy i'm learning a lot from him. Just so you know everybody out here is lazy and calls San Bernardino "San B", so if you hear me say that just know i'm talking about San Bernardino. So we got what you call white washed into the area, that's where its two new missionaries in the area, so they don't know whats going on or who to talk to, but luckily Elder Monk served in this ward before but in the north mission so a lot of the members and some of the investigators he knows or is at least acquainted with.
So like I said before, it is super ghetto here, we are the white minorities haha. I've yet tracted an area with white people answering the door, but that's fine I like black people. San B's crime rate is second in the nation behind Detroit, and the city is bankrupt so There are a lot of robberies. They have what is called the "Ghetto Bird" and it's a helicopter that flies around looking for wanted people, or for gangs, its really fun stuff. Yesterday we heard gun shots and a car peel out, luckily we weren't very close to it. You hear sirens constantly, not even kidding, You hear at least twenty sirens a day. They have a medicinal marijuana shop in our area which really sucks because you're allowed to carry 3 ounces of pot on you. So that will be hard to teach people not to smoke later on. Everybody is always high. The crappy thing about that is, is that cops aren't going to stop people because its so easy to get a medical card for it, they say you can go in and say my back hurts and they'll give you a card. Oh yeah, I don't know the real stats on it, but since the city is bankrupt they laid off 70 cops, so there is rumors of there being only two cop cars, kinda scary, but the lord will protect!
Elder Escamilla is in my zone, him and his companion actually serve in the same ward as us, so we see them daily, that's really nice to see a good friend often. We all eat dinner together too. So we have breakfast and lunch by ourselves, but every night the members feed us. It's so nice to not have to cook every night! The food the members serve us is so good and they feed us so much, but I'm pretty confident I won't gain to much weight! :) Me and Elder monk live in an apartment, that smells like somebody left a dead body in there for like a year covered in poo, it seriously stinks So bad!!
The Ward we are in is really good, they all help out a bunch and help with missionary work. I know for sure when I get back I'll go out on splits with the missionaries so we can bring fellowship to the investigators where we live, it's so important to bring members to lessons so they have a friend after the missionaries leave. So my first week has been pretty amazing, the Lord has blessed me and elder Monk in so many ways! The spirit has been constantly with us, and even though we were white washed, we have been having some great success! I'll tell you about some of our investigators.
Jaramiah: He is about forty years old, and he is homeless. He lives between two peoples houses in their car parking or Car port. He had been taught before by the other missionaries and he knew everything was true, but he couldn't give up smoking. He is really such an awesome guy, and its incredible the love you can develop for people when you haven't known them that long. He has now gone 13 days without smoking, and he now is getting baptized on 12/22/12 we are so excited for him and we continually think about him and keep him along with all of our other investigators in our prayers. We also visit him daily and share a short message with him. And if he needs it, we bring him grapefruit juice for him to drink because it helps him not smoke.
Billy: Billy is Jaramiah's neighbor, he would sit in on a couple lessons we had with Jaramiah but would mostly just play on his phone and didn't pay attention, we now are teaching him as an investigator and he has a baptismal date of 1/12/13 He is an amazing guy too, and I know this gospel will bring so much more joy into his life.
On our first day out in this area, we were going to somebodies house that was on our list of investigators who the missionaries before us had taught, but we got lost and couldn't find his house, so me and Elder Monk decided to Tract. The very first door we knocked on was this kid named Michael, and we kind of talked with him for about 15 minutes on the porch and asked if we could come back another time to teach more and he invited us right in to talk, We taught him the restoration of the gospel, gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him about prayer. (Elder Monk is so impressed with how well I can teach prayer from the pamphlet) We got him to pray, it was his first prayer he had ever said in his life on his own, because he had only said recited prayers in the catholic church. We committed him to pray, read the BOM, and come to church. It was an amazing first day in the field.
Jaramiah has been going strong with the smoking, he has now gone thirteen days without smoking. (you have to go a week to be baptized) Jaramiah is an awesome guy he comes to church every Sunday and every once in a while when we are teaching Billy, He'll come in and be our third companion and back up the things we say.
The other day We stopped by Jaramiah's to share a short message with him and see how he is doing, because we like to visit people daily to let them know we care and see how they are doing. It went from a five minute lesson, to an hour lesson because Billy was there and he had a question about being baptized. He asked if he could get baptized for his brother that passed away too. And we told them about baptisms for the dead and how they can receive the Aaronic Priesthood a week after their baptism and then go do baptisms for the dead for his brother. He had some other doubts and was really down about his brother, the spirit told me that I needed to tell him about Dad and Jamie. I told him the story about how I lost them, and yeah its tough, But I don't have to worry, I get to spend Eternity with them, I have nothing to worry about, I told him that this life is going to be so short compared to all of eternity, Yeah it sucks sometimes and I miss them, But when I do the holy ghost comforts me and lets me know that I'll get to see them again and live with them for all eternity. Now that was a big step for me, because i don't like talking about Jamie, I can talk about dad but it's harder to talk about Jamie for me since I was a little bit older and We were closer when she had died, But the spirit told me that's what he needed to hear, and it ended up being an awesome spiritual experience. By the end of the lesson, we had all shed our share fair of tears.
On Saturday me and elder Monk took Jaramiah and Billy out to lunch, it was really fun and we had some good laughs, Jaramiah is a funny guy! After lunch We taught billy about the restoration and about prayer (of course with the pamphlet) We shared how the spirit can testify to him that it is true, and he said he knew, he said he felt the spirit when we come over, when he prays, and when he reads the BOM. It shocked me, but I was so happy to hear that he had already had a testimony of his own.
Philip is an investigator we have that doesn't believe in Christ, I don't really know what went on when we met with him, the spirit definitely led the lesson but we started out the lesson with him not believing in Jesus, to him having a baptismal date, the 29th. He suffers from depression and is bipolar but we're working with him really hard and the Lord is too.
Michael the kid we met with the first day, we had an appointment set up with him on Saturday but he wasn't home so we went over last night, and he answered the door, and just starts walking at Elder Monk and I thought oh crap, he's gonna punch him, but he didn't he just kept walking and went out to the street and sat on the curb. We kept calling his name but he kept ignoring us. We went to him and tried talking but he still ignored us so we left him with a pass along card and our number on it, and left. We were so confused I don't know what happened or why he was doing that. He had such potential, but he didn't want to meet with us anymore I guess, but hey that's missionary work I can't get discouraged.
Yesterday only Jaramiah showed up at church out of the 5 people we had committed to come to church only 1 showed up so that was pretty sad, but we're not giving up on them and we'll continually call/visit them daily.
We have an investigator named Jessie, and her boyfriend is a member and they live together, and she is so ready to be baptized she knows a lot, and is ready to join the church, only problem is is that they live together, so this week the bishop is going to talk to her boyfriend and work something out, I think he even wants to have the bishop marry them and then we can baptize her. If everything goes as planned, we'll have 4 baptisms this month. We're going to try pushing Billy's to the 29th because he is ready to be baptized, we didn't know he would progress so fast!
Thank you everybody for all of the love, support, letters, and prayers! I've been truly blessed out here! I love letters so please write me, or email me and I promise I'll write back! Love you guys!
Elder Landon Bell
December 10, 2012
Email 12/10/12 - First Week in the Field
Here's Elder Bell's letter from his first week in the field:
Elder Bell's Location: San Bernardino, CA, USA