Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Poco a Poco

Hello family and friends.  Sorry for the delay on the letter for this week.  We had a temple day today! (Wed)  It was so nice.  The LA temple is gorgeous inside!  We actually rode over there on a bus.  That was a new experience.  We haven't heard anything else on switching to all buses and bike, but I may need to get a lot more used to that stuff coming up really soon.  Along the way, we saw the star sidewalk (whatever it's called) and we also stopped in West Hollywood at Five Guys.  I said that when I moved from Bel 2 to Fletcher, I was moving from Mexico to California.  West Hollywood was a whole new level of California.  It was funny.  We saw some very interesting people.  This has been one of the top ten funnest days in my mission so far.  Anyway, back to business.

Thanks to Dad and Elder Brueggeman (MTC comp) for the letters and thank you to Hermana Franklin, Elder Wheatley, Emmy, Mom, Dad, and Robert R for the emails.

So this week has been a bike week.  Apparently, cool stuff happens during bike weeks.  First let me go back in time a bit and tell you about a lesson we had last Monday night.  It was with a new investigator named Antonia.  Elder Smith found her a week before I got there, and this was our first sit-down lesson with her.  Her best friends in college were both Mormons.  She said that she had the missionaries over many times but that she didn't get baptized.  She can't remember why, but she did say it was probably due to laziness.  We had a great lesson about the Gospel.  Before we even talked about baptism, she said she has some things in her past that she would like to leave behind.  Once we started talking about baptism, her attention was fixed.  We haven't been able to have another lesson with her yet because she's a professor at Cal State Long Beach in Mexican History and Literature (or something like that) and finals are coming up so she has tons of grading to do. (any empathy, Mom?)  Also, when we talked about Christ coming to the Americas, she immediately said something about Aztec history that was a very, very similar story.  So she was very interested in that.  We left 3 Ne 11 with her.  We feel really good about her.

Now, I don't know if I already mentioned Erika.  She lives in the projects by Chinatown.  We were looking for a former investigator and she had recently moved in.  We said something like, "well do you need anything with boxes, moving anything, or would you be interested in us stopping by to share a message sometime?"  So for all you RMs, you probably will recognize that wasn't the smoothest thing ever, but to our amazement, she said, "a message would be great!"  So that was last week.  This week, we had a quick lesson about the Book of Mormon and she said that she would start reading it before we even asked her.  It was cool.  She has 4 kids (2 baptism age) and a husband.  She feels like she's drifted away from God a bit and now she wants to come back.  Then we show up.  Interesting... :)

Now two miracles for the week.  First, we had had a pretty tough day on Monday. Everybody wasn't home, we had made the 50 minute bike ride to the far end of our area, nobody was letting us in or everybody was gone. On the way to an appointment with Antonia, she called and canceled because she had fallen behind in grading (again, empathy, Mom?). On the way to a scheduled family home evening, we got a call from some other elders that made it sound like it might not happen.  They ate with the family the night before and they sounded kind of noncommittal. Everything seemed like it was falling through. Something inside me still felt like it was going to be a good day. Even though the other elders said that they might be unable to do the family home evening, we were already in the neighborhood, so we stopped by. The hermana said that the friends she was going to invite had a son that was dealing with some blood pressure issues, and she preferred not to come so she could stay with her son. We asked if it was okay if we went on with the family home evening without their friend, and she said that was fine. Right as we are finishing our dinner with them, there was a knock on the door.  (Really quick, dinner was a full deep-fried tilapia fish head and all.  So. Freaking. Good! Pictures will come in the future) It ended up being the friend that they were going to invite, Guadalupe. She entered the home and stayed for our family home evening. We watched Finding Faith in Christ then talked about His life and why it is so important to our salvation. After the FHE, we gave her our number, set a follow-up appointment, and offered to give her son a blessing, which she immediately accepted. It was a great end to the day. That FHE lesson and blessing would have been impossible if Antonia hadn't canceled the appointment.  During the whole day, though, I didn't get down at all.  Something kept me going.  It was really cool.

Then yesterday, we were riding our bikes up one of the steeper hills in our area. At the top of the hill, I pull off to the side to take a breather and get some water. After standing in the shade for 2 minutes or so, I heard someone yelling at us from across the street. She was waving at us and asked us to come over. It turns out that this woman, Christina, is a former investigator that stopped investigating the church 10 years ago. She immediately asked for a Book of Mormon and was asking for our help. She said that a neighbor had been doing some strange rituals and she felt a bad spirit around, so she wanted to start going back to church to fight it. Throughout the whole conversation, she kept looking to the heavens and saying, "gracias, senor." (Thank you, Lord)  We have an appointment to go back with another member to go bless her home.  She also asked us to make arrangements for somebody to pick her up for church this Sunday.  As Elder Smith and I were pulling away, we were quiet for a second, then looked at each other and said, "what just happened?"  It was sweet.
I don't know if I'm better at recognizing miracles now, or what, because I feel like we have seen more little miracles here in the last two weeks than any two-week period during the rest of my mission.  I feel like I'm working harder and smarter than ever before, so that's probably a large part of it.

Elder Smith and I are still doing great. We are having a blast trying to figure out all this stuff together.  Like I said, he only has 6 weeks more than me, so it's not like he is old and wise in the ways of the mission.  But really, we are having so much fun.  I also learned from stories that we have told each other that if we had ever played any sports against one another, we probably wouldn't have gotten along so well.  We are both very competitive in sports.  We are still laughing a ton.  We are doing our best to make sure charity is the driving force in everything we do.

Love you all, sorry for making the letter a long one.  I hope that you all have a fantastic week.  Going to the temple made me remember how much I miss having one close.  Provechen de esa oportunidad!

Les amo mucho,
Elder Tanner Christensen

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