December 26, 2012

Email 12/26/12 - Week 3: Christmas in San B

Hey Guys! I hope everybody is doing awesome! Things are great out here in San B, no more attempted break-ins (yet) but we're still on the search for pepper spray and ways to keep us safe! haha. As a mission our goal was 500 baptisms by the end of the year, and we have reached it! We will probably be around 530-540 by the end of the year. So now we get to have a mission party because we reached our goal! Our new goal for next year is to get 350 baptisms by the time president Godwin goes home, which is the end of June. We're really excited about that and I think we can do it!

Me and Elder Monk have been a little scared at night ever since those people broke in so we talked with President Godwin and they are going to look for a new place for us to stay. We also want to ask these members if we can move in with them at the new year, they live up in the nicer area and have an alarm system haha, I would feel a lot safer there for sure.

Having a member present during a lesson is way important so they can have fellowship, and not feel like nobody in the ward is their friend when the missionaries leave or something. Our ward is great at helping out but the best way to get them to help out over this Christmas season is using the quote Cayde had: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is bearing your testimony for all to hear." haha it works!

We found out that a member owns a theme park in Ontario, and we really want to go! So we talked with our zone leaders and they are going to see what they can do so we can go there on a p-day sometime in the future. It would be so much fun!

This week we prepared Jaramiah for Baptism. He, being very demanding, told us we had to bring him "Church's Chicken" and he also wanted us to bring watermelon too. Bishop Eastwood said to him we might as well bring purple Kool-Aid and cornbread too to fill out the rest of that stereotype! haha. Jaramiah also asked me to speak on the Holy Ghost at his baptism. Jaramiah shined my shoes for me and then he wanted money after so I gave him a few bucks, then I realized I had another pair at home, so I decided hey I can shine my own shoes. So I went and shined them, after I look in the mirror and realize I got all of this Black shoe polish on my white shirt. It could have been really bad, but Tide-to-go saved my life! You can't even tell that there was a stain on it!

We had a Mission Christmas party this week and it was really awkward at first. You walk in and you see all of these missionaries talking to each other and you don't know anybody but your companion or people in your zone. It felt like one of those parties you go to with a friend, but you don't know anybody there so you awkwardly stand there and drink a lot of water, and pretend like you have something interesting going on on your cell phone or in your planner haha. It ended up being a pretty fun party though, President Godwin dressed up as Santa and I got to sit on his lap! Then we sang Christmas songs and me and Elder Escamilla, and Elder Langi (From the MTC) all went crazy and sang way loud and beautiful.. haha just kidding it was some pretty awful singing.

Elder Bell's Christmas wish

We got to pick up our Christmas Packages at that party, and I got a package from Mom, and Mike. I didn't think I would have gotten one from mom because they said one of my packages got stolen, but after skyping with the family yesterday, I guess none of my packages got stolen, unless someone else sent one to me? I opened up the package from mom and instead of using paper in-between stuff so it wouldn't rattle, she used packs of ramen hahah it made me laugh way hard but it was a genius idea!

Box of stomach aches

I had a really cool experience with Billy this week. We started teaching him, and then he got a phone call and left, so we just talked with Jaramiah and taught him. When we were leaving Billy came back and we asked if he still wanted to be taught, he wasn't very into the lesson before he left so I was kind of like not really in the mood to teach him, kind of thinking like he doesn't want to pay attention, why should we teach him? But the lesson ended up being amazing. I was tired so I was kind of out of it, having a hard time paying attention myself, and then Elder Monk looked at me and I just bore my testimony on the Plan of Salvation and then I kept going. The Holy Ghost talked through me like never before. I was getting all fired up and I felt like I was giving a speech, or I was a coach giving a half time talk. It was amazing, I just kept going and going, and I have never had the Holy Ghost tell me EXACTLY what to say word for word, telling me exactly what they needed to hear. I related my own personal experiences in there and used some awesome analogies I don't even remember. Experiences like that keep growing and growing my faith I love it, just when I think nothing crazier with the Holy Ghost could happen, I keep getting surprised! It was the best lesson I have ever taught! Both me and Billy were crying by the end of it.

We've been teaching Jessie and Adam and Jessie is the investigator and Adam is already a member. They aren't married but they live together. They are awesome people I love those guys, they are one of my favorites to teach because we have given them quite a few priesthood blessings and they have a strong testimony of the church even thought Jessie isn't a member yet. She's got a lot of faith. We went over there on Saturday and after we got done teaching, Adam asked if he could get a picture of us with Jessie. He said in case you guys move away, I want to get her picture with her original missionaries! They are an awesome family.

Elder Bell, Jessie, Elder Monk

Jaramiah got baptized Saturday!!! It was awesome! I'm glad I was there to be able to help him prepare and to stay strong with not smoking! His baptism went really well! I thought my talk on the Holy Ghost wasn't going to go over so well and I was really nervous because quite a bit of people showed up to the baptism. But everybody said I did a really good job! I don't know how, but the Holy Ghost really works through me in times of need! And I'm so grateful to have that as a constant companion! The Holy Ghost is our Third and most important companion in missionary work!

Jaramiah's Baptism - 12/22/2012

Jaramiah wanted to sing us a song at his baptism and he wouldn't tell us what it was or what it was about so we were worried that it wouldn't be church appropriate but we let him sing anyways. It wasn't a hymn or a song by an LDS artist, but it was about prayer and he actually did a good job! It was funny when he ended the song he just stopped and waited a couple seconds and then said "Now where is my chicken?!?" It was way funny!

"Now where is my chicken?!?"

I got Elder Monk some "Socker Boppers" for Christmas hahah, they are like boxing gloves but they are giant and inflatable. I decided I should give Escamilla and Austin something too. So I got some sweet potatoes wrapped it in plastic sacks and then put tissue paper on the outside and just threw on a bunch of the most random things I could think of. It had cookies, candy, q-tips and other random things taped to the outside hahah It's kind of hard to describe. Elder Escamilla got 4 opened sweet tart candy boxes taped together, with UNO cards taped to it, and a sucker with life savers on the stick, and other random stuff taped to it with a toilet paper roll taped to it. I just wanted to make them something awesome and I think I succeeded! I'll send a picture of them all!

When you don't have wrapping paper, use toiletries instead

Me and Elder Monk see quite a bit of homeless people out here, I think there is 2,000 homeless in this city. We got a whole bunch of goodies in packages and from members. We decided to go out and deliver goodies to homeless people we saw, it was pretty cool and we got a couple good reactions out of it! Most of them were drunk though so I don't think they knew what was going on. I also decided to buy Jessie and Adam Hernandez Christmas dinner, so I bought a couple boxes of mashed potatoes, and stuffing, and then I bought them a pretty big ham! They were so grateful. Service is one of my favorite things, and helping others around the holidays when they can't afford food, or presents for there families is an amazing experience. We're also going to buy Jaramiah a heater and take it over to him today because it's starting to get pretty cold at night and he sleeps on the ground in a sleeping bag and he asked for one, so we'll be Santa for him!

Elder Bell & Elder Monk decorated a member's tree
Christmas at Bishop Eastwood's

This Christmas was way good! I thought it was going to be depressing being away from home and everything but it was actually way sweet! The Lord has defnitetely blessed me with not being home sick! I got some awesome gifts from mom, Mike Gramse, and K.C. & X! Thank you so much for all of those! I've never been so excited before to get ties or socks! Brother Gramse sent me some awesome ties, so ugly, but so gorgeous! I love them. We played a lot of basketball on Christmas and then went over to Bishop Eastwoods for dinner and had some great food, and a lot of fun. We played the game "HedBanz" and it was so funny. Elder Monk and Austin were pretty bad at it haha, but they're good sports when we tease them about things. The best part of Christmas was when I got to Skype home to family! It was so good seeing everybody! I feel like so much has happened in the month and a half I've been out haha. For a while I got a little distracted and was missing home a bit, but I realized I have the rest of my life to spend with family and only 2 years to serve the Lord full-time.

Christmas morning
"Spirit House Cat"
A puzzle to match the pants

Today we got to go to the Temple! It was so awesome to go there and do an endowment session! We went to the Redlands Temple which is out of our area but President Godwin allows us to go quarterly. Redlands is about 20 minutes away so it isn't too bad of a drive. We also got to go to Cafe Rio for lunch! I didn't know they had one out here, but in Redlands they do!

Alright well I love you guys, thanks for the letters and support! I have P-day again in like 4 days so hopefully I'll have something to write about then! haha

Elder Landon Bell

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