Monday, November 24, 2014

Sara is Close to Baptism

November 24, 2014 

Dear Family: 

Monday we were going to a Fender Guitar Shop Elder Larson just found to look at guitars but my comp didn't really want to go because of how far it was so we didn't. Pretty boring day. We had FHE. We were late and just caught the tail end. Luckily they all love us so we got to have pumpkin pie anyways. Somebody overheard me talking about how my family eats a ton of it this time of year (mostly Jason) so they gave me a whole one to take home. I am still working on it. There is a kid there named Mike. Super cool guy. He is returning to activity. We spent most of the time talking to him. He is thinking about moving to Utah so he was asking us about it.  

Tuesday we had a lesson set up with Vanessa I was super excited for but she canceled. She had to go to the doctor because she has a blood disorder? I don't even know what that means. She lost her job baby sitting. The kid threw something at a really big expensive tv and broke it. On the plus side she has more time to meet with us now! Bishop asked us to help him move a member. It made for a busy day. In the morning we went to a member’s house to give their non-member friend a blessing before surgery. It went really well. Hopefully something comes from it. Then we went and helped The Bishop and then he took us to lunch. He is a genius. That man can read anybody like a book. He is a really successful and well known family and marriage counselor. We had another lesson with Jakinstalers. The dad was there this time. We taught and then watched the restoration. They have a son who is maybe four who is crazy.  

Wednesday nobody wanted to see us! Cuz nobody was home!  

Thursday was normal until the end of the night. Mostly after dinner. At dinner we asked a lot of questions about what kind of missionaries they look for. They are a very missionary oriented. It helped a lot because Elder Robbins and I had to do a training on it the next day at multi-zones. We got a call from Taylor. She is Sarah's fellowshipper and longtime friend. First a little back story. We have been asking Sarah to talk to her parents for weeks about her getting baptized. We want to just go over and talk to them but we can't because the dad doesn't want any religious people coming to the house. Sarah is super scared to talk to her parents because the one time she did her mom freaked out. She did talk to her parents though. I think what the problem is she didn't tell them when! We still could have fixed it though. Something that actually went really well was that she got over her fear of talking to her dad and he is in full support. Her mom said it would be fine after the holidays. That means to me she wants her to spend a little more time and she isn't completely comfortable because she is unfamiliar with the church. If we had met with her I am positive we could have persuaded her into sometime mid-December. The more it was talked about the more the parents were comfortable with it.  

Friday we had multi-zones. Elder Robbins and I did a training on working with members. Multi-zones are only every other transfer just like temple trips. It was my last one so I gave my outgoing testimony. It still doesn't seem real. I am still in denial and I am fine with that haha. I will just stay there for now. Pray for Sarah and her mom! I am out of time. Not that much happened the rest of the week anyways. Have a great Thanksgiving! Love ya!

Elder Wood

P.S. I need to come home and get out of this stake. I keep getting into trouble! I know everybody and am way too involved!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Visit to the Temescal Valley Ward

November 17, 2014 

Dear Family: 

Monday was good. Normal P-day. For dinner a member gave us money so instead of going to dinner we got an extra hour long P-day. The day just goes by way too fast! The rest of the week seems to have no problem taking its time though! Speaking of things taking forever I still have forever left on my mission. Don't worry I am hanging on, but Skyler is coming home in two weeks. So if you could go to his homecoming for me?  Or at least like call him maybe if you can't make it. That would be awesome. I miss him, Jetson, and Kaiden. Even though we talk every week haha. We went to FHE. It was clear down in the Temescal Valley ward where I used to serve. We ended up being late and just catching the last bit of it. A lot more people are coming out then when I first got here. It is actually pretty fun. Yes, really awkward at times, but fun. There is a ton of potential for missionary work too. That is like the best part I think. There is one girl named Julia who just got home from her mission. She has already taken a bunch of Books of Mormon from us to give to people she meets and is trying hard to find somebody for us to teach. A lot of the returned missionaries are doing their best to help us out besides her as well.  
Elder Wood and Elder Robins
Tuesday we had our regular meetings in the morning. It was a super nice day. We had cloud cover all day and it kept it from getting hot. We thought it would rain but we had no luck. We did service for a part member family we are teaching. Mario Segera. I am pretty sure I told you about him already. We had to talk him into letting us help and he finally gave in. He didn't want help because he knows he could do it on his own but we wanted to do service for him! We just did yard work. Trim trees and weed eat mostly. There was a lot to weed eat. It was fun for me though. I got to work on the weed eater and get it started. It felt good to get to use a power tool Sometimes it is nice to physically see what is coming out of your labor. The natural man I guess. We all like immediate gratification!  I can't believe I thought that was fun though. I hated doing that before my mission. Don't worry after about a day or two of manual labor I will probably not enjoy it anymore so, no Dad you don't need to add anything else to my "list" haha. We had a lesson with the Joachimstalers. Don’t try and pronounce it. It sounds nothing like it looks. I guess mostly the daughter. Her mom wants us to teach her the lessons before she gets baptized. She mostly wants her husband to sit in and listen who is not a member but he didn't end up being there.  

Wednesday I don't remember what we did. I didn't write anything down. I think we might have come to the church to work on Elder Robbin’s BYU application. If so all I know is I brought my guitar and I broke my nice pick. I didn't even know you could do that. They are just plastic though and I have more. You guys asked about Elder Robbins. I guess I forgot to tell you about him. He is from West Valley. Has been on his mission 15 months or so I think. Also Elder Caples moved in with me! That has been fun. His new companion is Elder Barton. I was looking at his pictures the other day and he was in one with Hallie Pugh. I guess they were pretty good friends before he came out here. 

Thursday we went to Redlands to go to the doctor. Hopefully I have told you about my doctor, but he is really cool. He is a super good Christian guy. We had some great discussions about the gospel. I was going to do my best to get him to take the lessons and get his address and stuff but he wasn't there! It was another guy! Unfortunately that was my last time going. We went to Cafe Rio after :) At night we went to the Bishopric Training meeting with the Stake Presidency. I was just planning on talking to them for like 10 minutes but it ended up being almost like an hour. President Aragon (who is a boss) kept asking us questions and opening it up to discussion. It went really well. Like a lot better than I would have expected it. The Bishops asked really good questions and were really willing to learn and make changes. We have a Bishop who is notorious for not getting along with his missionaries at all. Then just one or two who don't do anything for or against them. And then the rest are all great Bishops. I called out the bad one on accident a little bit. I didn't mean to say what I did it just kinda flew out of my mouth before I even realized what he said. I was sitting by President Zimmerman. It caught him off guard and he accidentally laughed haha. I think that was the funniest part. I found out today that the meeting actually helped. The one who struggles with the missionaries approached them and said he wants to start going out with them. I was really surprised by that. We had a lesson after with Sarah. Things are headed in the right way! We taught some of the commandments. She is ready to be interviewed this week. Still there is only one roadblock in our path. She is super nervous for us to come to her house and get the baptismal white signed by her parents. Not just nervous but like way beyond. It bothers me she really doesn't want us to do that. It makes me think she really hasn't talked to her parents about it like she should and told us she has. Realistically this whole thing could get blown way out of proportion. She just needs to talk to them. But if she has talked to them things will be smooth. If so great! Maybe she just is nervous for us to come over for some other reason. 

Friday I also didn't take notes so I don't remember what we did. That could have been the day we came to the church and did the BYU application for my comp. Either way we did it one of the days. The funny thing is after we spent all that time he isn't going to apply there anymore. He is really slow at writing essays (he says I don't know) and he wasn’t even close to finishing so he decided to give up and apply elsewhere. He said with his grades and stuff he wouldn't have made it in. Oh well, I just played guitar when he was applying so either way is fine with me.  

Saturday we had exchanges I got to go back to Temescal Valley Ward for a day! It was super fun. Plus I got to drive my favorite mission car! They really don't have anything going on. It is a hard area. Only one person has gotten baptized in that ward since the people I taught a year ago and that was like two weeks ago in the sisters area. The Elder’s area hasn't had much luck finding people. I stopped in on the Hoyts! It was good to chat with Brother Hoyt for a bit. Sister Hoyt had a migraine so I didn't get to talk to her unfortunately. I still know that area like the back of my hand. I have never known a ward better. If I have it was the Fruitvale Ward. I think I knew where every member, less active, and part member family lived in my side of the ward, and most of where the members were in the Sister’s area. I knew the ones that fed us at least! We didn't even use the GPS. I was pretty proud of myself haha. It was just really fun for me to get to go back. I went with Elder Godfrey. He has only been in that area for 2 weeks now. I served with him in Lake Elsinore so that made the exchange even more fun.  

Sunday we had stake MCM in the morning. Then straight to Auburnadale Ward. Then YSA. It was really busy. After YSA they had a break the fast sort of deal but it was really for Thanksgiving. They did it early so when people went out of town they wouldn't miss it. I think that is the most people we have seen in this YSA Sacrament Meeting. If there is food they will come! After that we had dinner with the Wheats. They had a special dinner for their good friend Kelsey. She pretty much lives there. It was her year mark from getting baptized. She is putting her mission papers in soon. Steve has got some friends he is trying to get to take the lessons. He is supposed to be talking to Jenna again this week. He had a cool experience where one of his friends on his football team who is a senior in high school "atheist" texted him asking questions about God. Hopefully the dialog continues. Well that is pretty much all I got! Have a good week! Love ya!

Elder Wood


Monday, November 10, 2014

My Old Companion is My Twin!

November 10, 2014 

Dear Family: 

Monday was a regular P-day like any other. After P-day was over we had a good night though. We had two appointments to cover so we split up. I went with another set of missionaries to pick up a new investigator. Her name is Sarah. Elder Robbins went to go visit a less active family. Sarah has a lot of member friends at school. She is a junior so like 16 or 17 years old? I don't really know haha. Her best friend "I think" is a member I have known for a while. Her name is Taylor Thompson. I taught her in seminary about a year ago and we work really close with her dad for missionary work stuff. Sarah was taught a little by other missionaries but they turned it over to us because she lives in our area. It takes a little bit but she seems to be understanding pretty well. We went back over the restoration with her just to see where she is at. She really wants to be baptized. Right now her parents are the only thing holding her back. She is really shy and doesn't like talking to them about it. They aren't very religious people and for some reason it is a sore spot with them. Also a big contributing factor is I think she is afraid of her dad. I want to go over and talk to her parents and make sure everyone is on the same page but Sarah is giving us a little resistance. Other than that though things are great with her. 

Tuesday we had DLC to great ready for ZDM. We got two different district leaders, they have been district leaders before. It didn't really seem like the zone leaders they both had before knew what they were doing though or pushed them very much. They said DLC was a lot more productive then they are used to. After that I spent a lot of time trying to come up with something to do. My companion is filling out college applications so I just kinda sit around and watch ha. At dinner we had a member who asked a funny question. Well at least I thought it was funny haha. She asked what could cause a  teenage boy out of nowhere to turn into a brat. I asked if he has a girlfriend and she said ya that is the same time it happened! And also she asked her seminary class that and they said the same thing! She didn't believe them though. After we said it she finally accepted it. So I got to explain that whole deal about how we aren't mature enough to handle it yet because I did the same stupid thing. I can't believe that I am admitting this but everybody was right! I was dumb hahaha. I know now I guess! Now it is to late because every dinner now that knows how long I have been on my mission says "are you ready to go home and get married?" I always say yep in 6 or 7 years! For some reason none of them believe me! That night we had a good lesson with my boy Dupree! He is super cool. We are going to try and get him to come to YSA family home evening today (Monday) 

Wednesday we had another good lesson with Sarah. We had another lesson set up for Friday but we had a little hiccup that day with her family I will tell you about when I get there. Eddie is a recent convert in the ward. He is the one I told you about that married a member. He texted us because he needed somebody to talk to. We went over to see what he needed help with. He is a really cool recent convert. I found out I am actually a couple weeks older than him. I thought he was like Brett's age ha. So thinking about him freaked me out for a couple hours that day. I dunno why it was so weird to me. He is thinking about going into the military and wanted to ask us question on getting answers to prayer. Hopefully we helped him out. I think honestly the biggest help we gave was pushing him to get a interview with our stake president. President Aragon is a former Green Beret so he knows a little bit about it. His son is the bishop I told you about in Lake Elsinore that is my favorite one. Sunday I got myself into a little bit of trouble with that ha. The zone leaders meet with the stake once a month or more depending on the month. He asked me (because I have served in half the stake) about the relationship with missionaries and Bishops, Ward Mission Leaders, and the Ward so I told him what I thought. I mostly talked about the difference it made being so unified with the bishop in Lake Elsinore. Well now I get to go to the training meeting the stake has with all the Bishops and talk about it there. Sometimes I need to keep my mouth shut. Oh well, I'm not too worried about it. I know all of them hahaha. 

Thursday was pretty slow. I did get a call from Patty Cole though! For those who don't remember she is my last convert in Hemet. She told me that she is headed to the temple on the 29th and she wants Elder Feist and I to go! We are both pretty excited for that. I am going to meet my goal of going to the temple with a convert on my mission. The extra cool part though is I get to see her endowment and her get sealed to her husband and kids! 

Friday we had MLC. That is where all the zone leaders go to Riverside to meet with President. Normally this is really fun, but I don't really like it that much with President Mullen. It is ok I guess. I miss President Smart. Also it went about 3 hours longer then it should so that was really boring. President Mullen is trying to change too much all at once. We had a list that took a hour to go over of new stuff he wants the missionaries to do. That would be fine, but this had been a few months in a row now though, so pretty much everybody has forgotten the last few months ones because there is just so much of it! It was whatever though. Brown Wood is a zone leader too. This is his last transfer. We talked about how we were weirded out to be there. We thought we had served our time as ZLs! Sarah's mom freaked out and told her she couldn't get baptized until she was 18. Then the next day they talked about it and she decided she would support her. So now it is just keeping the mom from doing that again and getting the dad to be OK with it. We had a dinner from the YSA. Her name is Alesia. She is a recent convert. I did her baptismal interview when I was here in Corona the first time. When I got out of the car she didn't seem to either recognize me or not recognize me. Elder Fiest was here before me. A lot of people in this ward just think I am him. In Hemet people would ask if we were brothers. He hated that haha. So after we got our food (we were at Panda Express) we were having a good conversation and I was like "ya know when you were interviewed to be baptized? Was that like a awkward experience or was it cool? How was it?" I was hoping she would tell me about how awkward it was and that she hated that and maybe even hopefully she would say the missionary who did it was weird all just so I could tease her about it because I interviewed her. Instead she figured it out and said "it was you!!!!" She was pretty surprised! I was too because I thought she was about to fling her food everywhere on accident when she lifter her hands up. So we had fun with that conversation.  

Saturday we had ZDM. I didn't like it because we don't normally have meetings on Saturday because there is a lot to do, but the mission had MLC Friday so we had to. It went well. We did service for the Wheats. Other than that we just visited a ton of people. 

Sunday we had our two sessions of church. Also our meetings with the Stake Presidency and the High Councilman over missionary work. After that we didn't have much time. We went and saw Mario. He is doing good. He really enjoyed seeing his kids in the primary program. We have been talking to members about questions they get about the church and helping them so they could answer. When we did this with Mario's family it was super funny. Mario was like "well because I haven't been baptized I get all the weird questions people are too afraid to ask all you guys!" I think the best part was when somebody tried to tell him Joseph Smith didn't see God. He was giving us a play by play he told the guy "no Joseph Smith really did see God!" and would continue telling him about what actually happened. I don't know why he is so stubborn about getting baptized. He already goes to church all the time he might as well just do it! Well that is pretty much my week! Love ya! (I will try and take some pics this week. I know I have been slacking)

Elder Wood


Monday, November 3, 2014

Treats at the Wheat's

November 3, 2014 

Dear Family: 

Alright looks like I am staying here in Corona stake in the Auburndale ward! This is an awesome ward anyways, so it is hopefully where I end my mission. I only have 2 transfers left (3 months!) If they take me out my last transfer I will be pretty upset. I am going to beg if I have to. Pray for me!! It mostly covers Norco. That is a city by the way. Norco is a good place for me to come to so I can start adjusting back. Norco is also called "Horse Town USA" Instead of sidewalks there are dirt trails for the horses. It throws you off at first because you are in Southern California, but after you have been there a little bit it’s not bad. I feel like a ton of them are just posers, but maybe I am just being judgmental because I am in Southern California and not many people here are into country things. Anyways it is a unique area to say the least. The best part though is the Auburndale ward is famous in this mission for being one of the most successful and fun for missionaries to be in. They normally baptized more than both the Spanish and English Wards, but the last 6 months has been really slow. Hopefully we can help them get back on their feet. I am excited to be here!! If I stay both transfers I will have been in Corona a total of 10 1/2 months. Good thing I like Corona! Some missionaries don't but I do! I have now served in 5 wards in the stake. I can go most anywhere and know somebody. I don't think I mentioned this yet but we also cover the YSA ward. That is super fun, but also really awkward sometimes haha. It is a pretty small YSA, but we are teaching somebody right now who will be getting baptized soon if her parents allow it. Going to Family Home Evening on Mondays is fun. Two churches gets a little long, but there are cool people there so that helps. This week was pretty slow, so not a lot happened. I will do my best to remember what I did though and tell you about it. 

Monday was the day we didn't have time to E-mail. All I got done was writing to the President. That night we went and tried to visit some people, but no luck. We also went to Family Home Evening in the YSA Ward. It was a Halloween party! We got some costume stuff we were going to wear over our Missionary clothes, but we were late to the party and were only going to be there for a little bit, so we didn't put them on. It would have been fun though. I had a blond wig that looked like Justin Beiber hair and I put a snap back over it also with a tank-top and gym shorts and a pair of vans. Elder Robbins had an ugly brown suit and a Afro wig. We should have done it!! 

Tuesday we had our normal Tuesday meetings. This is where the week started to get slow. A return missionary was visiting the mission and stayed in the Auburndale Ward. He came out with us a few times. He helped but he also slowed us down. He is one of Elder Robbins favorite missionaries so it turned more into hanging out then doing work. I was a little frustrated but it wasn't too bad. 

Wednesday I forgot to take notes, so I really don't remember what we did. I didn't do the best at taking notes all week, so this letter might be a little dry haha.  

Thursday we went to meet and teach a recent convert. His name is Eddie. He married a member named Katlin. They are super cool. Other than that we just stopped by and tried to visit people.  

Friday was more of the same. Pretty much all the set lessons we had cancelled on us.  

Saturday we helped somebody move. The cool part was it was raining!!! Well the family that was moving wasn't that happy about it, but I was! It finally has cooled off a little! I heard it is supposed to heat right back up though in a few days. We will see. Right now it doesn't bother me much either way because it isn't blistering hot anymore and I am in a car, so I am climate controled hahaha. Best part of the week though was Saturday night. Earlier in my E-mail I said the Auburndale Ward is famous in the mission. One of the reasons is because of a family called the Wheats. Their kids are popular and really strong in the church. The Wheats house is also one of those houses that all the friends come and hang out at to all the time because they have tons of fun stuff like ping pong, other games, and bumper pool (the same house about a year ago I told you I played bumper pool at) and lots of food. They are a super missionary minded family so they have us there a lot when the kid’s friends are there. As a result there have been lots of baptisms and tons of people’s lives changed. They have an event once a month called "Treats at the Wheats" where a bunch of people come and play games and eat food. We make friends with them and then start teaching them! It’s actually a lot more natural then otherwise. Before we went we already had in mind somebody we wanted to work on. Her name is Jenna. She is really good friends with one of their sons. She came to Stake Conference and liked it. She also was at their house once and saw a “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. She read a bit of it so "Momma Wheat" (everyone calls her that) gave it to her. Then she read the whole thing! She met Elder Robbins and Elder Feist at Stake Conference but she wanted to talk to us at Treats at the Wheats. We made friends with her. She seems really interested so hopefully we get to meet with her this week. Her parents don't take her to church so hopefully they don't mind. They don't seem to have a set religion. We also met a lot of other people as well that we are going to try and catch up to. I tried to get Steve (the Wheat’s son) get one of his friends there. He plays football for one of the high schools here in Corona and he is the 1 or 3 best high school quarterback in the nation. He is already signed on to play at Alabama. He didn't end up asking him, but he would be a cool kid to baptize! Maybe we could get him to switch to BYU or any Utah school really haha. We had to step out in the car from Treats at the Wheats to get transfer calls. I am staying here with Elder Robbins. 

Sunday we are super busy. We have two wards, and two ward councils. They overlap in really awkward ways ha, so it is a good thing we have good Ward Mission Leaders in both, because we can't be everywhere! This was my first YSA testimony meeting. I was thinking it was going to be a whole lot worse than it was. I was ready to get up and take a lot of time because when we first got there nobody was there! But it filled in and so did the people bearing testimony. At night we had a lesson with a referral some other missionaries gave us for the YSA ward. His name is Dupree (said Dupray) He was really cool and very open. When we asked why he wanted to meet with us he told us he wanted to learn more because he felt an emptiness in his life. That he needed more of the Word of God. Then he continued on to say he also didn't accept what other people had told him about Mormons and that he wanted to learn from the source itself and see if that is what he needed. Well that made it really easy to teach him and testify that this is the path that God wants him to take!! Our Ward Mission Leader in the YSA and his fiancée are both recently returned missionaries so that also made it easier to teach him. We all took turns doing how to begin teaching. I have never had a member help me with that before it kinda threw me off at first because I wasn't expecting it! We didn't even tell them beforehand to do it. I think the church as a whole will change when all these missionaries serving now get into the leadership. There was a huge difference in how we taught that lesson and our future plans. For example we have a lesson with Dupree tomorrow (Tuesday) and then Wednesday Skyler (our Ward Mission Leader) is going over with another RM to read the Book of Mormon with him. I thought that was awesome! I have never had a member offer do something like that! Even if they did I would never let them go without me because I would be freaked out they would mess it up! I trust Skyler though. Especially with the sheer number of how many returned missionaries there will be in the future. I think this has a large portion of the hastening of the work. Well that is all I have for now!! Love ya!

Elder Wood