Hey guys how's it going? I have so much to email about! Things out here are pretty crazy. First off (Going from my list I make in the middle of the week so i can remember what to email about), the fourteenth is my "birthday"; I'm now one years old. They have a system out in the mission, for every month you have been out is how old you are, your trainer is your dad, and your follow up trainer is your mom. Elder monk trained Elder Austin (our ward-mates) and so he is my brother, and Elder Escamilla is my cousin, it's kinda crazy ha ha.
It feels like this week went by so fast, time goes by way quick, it's unbelievable. We've been doing a lot of lessons with investigators, as well as part member, or less active families. I extended my first baptismal invitation on Tuesday and he said yes! He's going to prepare himself to be baptized for the 12th of January. Lessons just keep getting greater and greater, Words keep coming out of my mouth when I talk, and sometimes I say stuff I don't even have the knowledge of, right in the moment the Spirit helps me out! Elder Monk always brags about me to other Elders and says I'm miles farther then he was when he got out here, but it's not me.. It's definitely the Lord helping me out, knowing what and when to say it.
Tuesday this last week was the first time it has rained since I've been out in San B, The genius' that built this city decided it would be a good idea to make 20 inch sidewalk/road curbs, and no storm drains in the middle of the street, so on the sides of the street it's like a river, you know how they splash people when it's raining when they drive through with their cars? Yeah I thought that only happened in movies until It rained here, due to the no storm drains there are puddles everywhere!! I didn't see it, but some people told us how you can inner-tube down the street when it rains hard enough. Without those giant curbs, everybody's house would be flooded. The crappy thing about the curbs is when you open the door to the car it hits the curb and will get stuck a lot of the time in the grass, so we have to drive away with the door open to get it unstuck from the grass ha ha.
|San B weather after the storm|
Mom will be surprised when I say this, but I've been keeping the apartment really clean! And doing my dishes! I'm finally a responsible adult! Me and Elder Monk have agreed to do daily chores, whether it be dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, etc. Our ward put together about 15 bags of Christmas presents for the people in our ward who wouldn't get a very good Christmas and couldn't afford it. Everybody was way surprised and thanked us, but we just told them don't thank us we just delivered them. "The Lord really does answer prayers" is the most common response we got. The best Reaction is Ida, she's this black lady probably about 65-70 years old, and we took her some and most of the time when we see her she is way happy, and when we knocked on her door she looked kind of depressed. We showed her the bag and she looked inside and her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped to the floor! She started crying and screaming and gave us both big hugs and kept saying "Thank you so much, in Jesus' name!" it was an awesome experience to be apart of. We all take things for granted, and this is opening my eyes so much more!
Jaramiah, the guy I talked about in last weeks letter is still going strong with quitting smoking and still ready for his baptismal date this Saturday the 22nd. We hope he is able to pass his interview because he jokes around a lot and since he claimed that he used to be a drug dealer and a pimp, President Godwin has to interview him so I'm really praying and hoping that he doesn't say anything to mess that up. We're going over today to talk to him so he knows how important this is. People are really so crazy in this town, The "Ain't nobody got time for that" lady and the Bed Intruder guy from those YouTube videos.. Yeah they are like normal people in this town, they would fit right in! hahaha
|Jaramiah, Elder Bell, and Billy|
So I don't know if i mentioned before how diverse it is out her, and how white people are the minorities, but it's funny because most of the Hispanics we teach refer to Joseph Smith as Jose Smith for some weird reason, it's kind of hard not to laugh sometimes especially when we're in the middle of the lesson. I heard about the shooting in Connecticut, that's awful I couldn't even believe it! I don't know every last detail, but I heard enough to make me sick. Please pray for the Families in Connecticut!
We taught Billy the law of chastity this week, and we thought it was going to be tough because he is 25, unmarried, and has 3 kids. So we didn't know if he would think we were crazy or what, I just didn't know what to expect with him and how he was going to take it. We gave him a highlighted Chastity pamphlet and taught him the reasons to obey, and the blessings he'll get if he does obey them. We then challenged him to teach it to his girl friend, so she would know what was going on and why they couldn't be sexually active. He agreed to obey it, and I was surprised because he had a lot of trouble with it before, but I trust that he'll do good. The next day we saw him he said guys look! And he pulled the two pamphlets out of his coat pocket and he said just in case! hahaha he's way funny.
So ever since I've been out here in the field I've been sick and I don't know why. Just always having a cough, or runny nose or something, I'm never "Fully Healthy" This week both Elder Monk and I both got pretty sick, and ended up staying a morning in our apartment just sleeping because we both were exhausted getting no sleep and coughing and all that fun stuff. Our apartment was a germ incubator haha. I'm glad it's just us two in the apartment so we didn't get anybody else sick.
So how letters work here, is they all get sent to the mission office and they forward them to us right away, that way we don't have to worry about address changes and letting everybody know and we don't have to worry about lost mail and stuff like that. But mail out here takes forever! The two letters I got from mom, one was sent 6 days earlier, and one was sent 8 days earlier. They take forever. I got two today from Denise, and Elder Jackman and they had been forwarded from the MTC both written more then two weeks ago, so it takes some time! I'll bet packages take 1-2 months! haha just kidding.
By the way, whoever sent me a small package thank you, it was really kind and thoughtful of you and I'm sure whoever broke into our Zone Leaders truck and stole that package plus like 10 other Christmas packages is enjoying it. Yeah we found that out today they don't know who my package was from but I guess President is supposed to be calling mom soon and asking what was in it so he can reimburse you, so hopefully it was something that was bought, and nothing made or personalized because it's gone. But that's San B for you...
There is an older couple in our ward that has an amazing garden, so we get free fruits and vegetables! They have these really good orange trees, and blood orange trees, the blood oranges are way good, i had never heard of them before. They also have grapefruit, persimmons, peppers, avocados, apples, etc.
So Jaramiah is homeless like I had mentioned before, but he is really greedy? I don't know if that's the right word, for it. Anyways, when we take him stuff he'll be like "No that's wrong!" And won't accept it, like if he asked us to go buy him a snack and we get the wrong one, if that makes sense. Like we asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said he wanted a PSP charger cause his broke, and I told him I have one at my house, and he said have your mom send the PSP, the games, the charger everything! He claimed that I don't play it anymore haha. He just kind of picks and chooses things or demands things when we are doing favors for him.
On Saturday we got to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead with the youth in the ward. I can say that I have baptized 23 people my first two weeks on my mission haha. It was really good to be back in the temple again, and the Redlands temple is way pretty! I was glad I could get some practice baptizing more, hopefully it will come in handy! Actually if all goes as planned.. We should have in the next month counting from the 22nd of this month to the 12 of January we should have 7 baptisms. 3 of those 7 are really solid and won't back out, I'm hoping none of them will, we just have to spend a lot of time working with them!
Saturday night we went over to the Schreiners, they are this new family that moved into the ward and they're awesome, they have like 4 kids and we just visited with them and got to know them better. Tyler, their 3 year old has like an emergency cavity, or some problem with his tooth really bothering him, and his step dad is taking them to Utah this week, so he has to go the whole week with that tooth pain, so we gave him a blessing. It was pretty funny afterwards because all of the kids after the blessing were lined up saying that it was their turn. haha
San B is scary, not going to lie to sound tough.. it freaks me out! Saturday night at about 10:30 we get a knock on the door, Monk is brushing his teeth and I'm already in bed. It was a constant knock and we don't know anybody that lives around us, and we live in a gated complex so we just didn't have a good feeling and decided not to answer it. I got my clothes on and hid my valuables, and then we heard the door knob starting to wiggle, and them speaking like Russian or something crazy it wasn't Spanish I don't think. And so I grabbed a hammer that was sitting on our dresser, and elder Monk grabbed a PVC pipe and we were just sitting there waiting, not moving so they could see our shadows or anything. It was the scariest thing, I said to say a quick prayer and we both did, and the knocking and window tapping kept continuing. After it stopped we said a companion prayer and then went to look out our peep hole, nobody was there. It was the scariest thing of my life! haha, if they would have come in, we would have been swinging our blunt objects that we call weapons. That whole night I wasn't able to sleep, and I was just on my guard. It sucked. We ended up putting a chair leaning up against the door in case they were able to pick the lock so they couldn't get in hahaha. I'm glad nothing happened or nobody came in, because we could have seriously hurt them, or gotten seriously hurt! I just dreaded if something happened, I'm going to hit them with the hammer, it's self-defense and i'm not just going to stand there while somebody stabs or shoots me, it's a natural reflex. I'm glad there wasn't any newspaper headlines "Two Mormon missionaries beat burglar to death with hammer." That would have been bad, and I don't want to come home haha. We decided we should get pepper spray, a sign on the window that people have for different alarm systems, but just have a picture of Jesus and say that he protects this house, and we want to make a CD of different guns being cocked back like a shotgun and put the CD in my discman and turn it up way loud and put the speakers by the door, so anybody trying to get in, will think we have a gun. I knew watching home alone a million times would pay off somehow in life!
|The chair that kept the Elders safe|
Church was really good yesterday, everybody we had invited to come, came to church. And some even brought other people, there ended up being like three or four non members show up that wanted to be taught, the Lord is just blessing us in so many ways!
One of the investigators we teach is married to a member and he is less active, we have been going over to their house quite often, His name is Adam Hernandez. He has a lot of medical problems and he told us about it, and we gave him a blessing, two days later when we were supposed to go teach them again, we got a call saying he was in the hospital, he had been having extreme chest pains, and because it was out of our area bishop had to take us, We couldn't make it over until last night and it couldn't have been a better time. When we got there he was in extreme pain, and you could tell he was really hurt and trying to keep in the tears, when we walked in the room this peace came, and Jessie his wife who we are teaching just gave us all big hugs, saying that she had been praying for something, some help, and we came. We gave him a blessing and after that The spirit was so strong and we had a feeling that he was going to be alright. He told the bishop afterwards he promised and wants to be worthy to start doing the stuff he did when he was younger like passing the sacrament, and asked bishop for a calling when he is healthier. It was an amazing experience and we are really glad we had gone over, because we were debating going because if we did we would be late for dinner, but we decided to go anyways and I'm really glad we went.
Another cool thing that happened yesterday was we were tracting, and like 5 minutes after starting to tract, we ran into this older black lady, Irene Simmons! She just had the biggest smile on her face when we introduced herself, and she invited us in right away, and had us sit down. We went on to explain we have a message centered on Jesus Christ and how it can affect her life and how it can improve her life and so on. She couldn't stop smiling, she eventually asked, "Do you guys know why I can't stop smiling?" and we asked why and she said she got baptized into the Mormon church about 4 years ago, and moved away after that, and just moved to San B and didn't know where the church was. She said that one of her friends had been talking to her telling her she needed to go back, earlier that week, and her sons girlfriend moved after taking discussions too and she had said on Friday or something that she wanted to find the missionaries and get taught again. And so we got her number and she's one of our new investigators. She got a couple calls when we were talking to her and she would answer saying "Guess who is here?!?! my church is here! The Mormons!! Elders!" she was so excited, we let her know where the building was and arranged for somebody in the ward to come pick her up each week, we'll also go and teach her some lessons and get her re-activated into the church, she kept saying it was no coincidence we were there. I have always heard stories about stuff like this, but I never thought it would have happened to me!!!
Last couple things, we got to watch Elf today for p-day which was awesome, I love that movie! It kind of made me miss home and the holidays, but I'm much happier serving the Lord anyways helping other receive the gift of the gospel instead of worrying about my gifts. This sounds bad, but hear me out.. haha So the one thing that the mission has done to me, is make me dislike a lot of little kids. I don't hate them or anything, I just dislike a lot of them. We'll be sitting there having a great spiritual lesson, everything is going amazing you can tell they're feeling the spirit, and then the kid comes along, screaming, or crying and ruins all of it! haha its so frustrating because after they take care of the kid, they aren't feeling the spirit as strong so it kind of sucks. I still love little kids, Just not for these next two years haha.
I won't be writing again until the 26th because our next p-day is the 24th and the library will be closed, so no worries family, I'll be writing on the 26th! haha I love all of you guys and I hope everything is going great for everybody. Letters are like the best thing ever out here, so feel free to write me! :)
Elder Landon Bell