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“We’re starting to get the hand of our new area. We don’t need the map as much and we’re teaching a few people. There’s no end to working with less-actives in this branch so that’s helped to keep us busy. And from meeting with the branch leadership, that’s their focus and that’s where they want our help the most. They’re more concerned with helping the members they have then adding more. I know Sister Nelson is nervous about taking over since we’ve been in the area for such a short time but she’ll do great. I really have forgotten what it’s like to be in a singles ward. It’s probably been good for me to ease back into life.
It really feels like I just started my mission last month. I love San Diego, have grown to love so many people out here and still feel like there’s so much work for me to do (it never ends though). I think I could keep going just fine. But the Lord only calls us for a short period of time and then we have to return to reality and get on with our lives. President Donaldson refers to it as being transferred to another field of labor. A fellow elder refers to it as being transferred to the Land of Eternal P-days. But either way you look at it, this experience out here as meant a lot to me and I will thank Heavenly Father everyday for choosing me to represent Him and His Son for this year in a half. I’ve tried to work hard and do everything that I knew how to do for this period of time. It really has changed me and I just hope that I don’t ever forget those things that I’ve learned out here. I know that as a church member, a employee, a family member, a someday wife and mother my mission will very much impact how I am in those roles. Going on a mission was such an act of faith for me but looking back now and seeing all the blessings, I realize I could have done this a long time ago. But “this mission” didn’t exist until I came and that this was the time for me to serve. I’ve grown to really love the Savior and have strived much more fully to pattern my life after Him. I know that God still speaks to His children today just as He did in ancient times through a modern-day prophet and the proof of that is the Book of Mormon. I will forever reflect fondly on my time as a full-time missionary.
So back to business, I forgot to mention that myself and 2 other sister missionaries were filmed a couple weeks back. One of the senior elders is trying to get a special on the new Mormon Battalion Historic Site on the public broadcasting channel in Salt Lake. The name is KSL. So who knows, maybe I’ll be one TV sometime soon. I could be famous! It was a little bit nerve racking but fun.

I always share with my companions some of the things you write me. She remarked a few weeks ago that we sound like a fun family. I concur. Sometimes wild, never boring and a lot of fun. I love our family so much!”

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“Sunday was our first day in our new singles branch. We tried to keep it a secret that we were sisters so we got a few looks. It’s clear they’re a really close group and have a lot of good things in place. We’re excited to be here and to work hard to make it even stronger.
I forgot to mention hearing Elder Perry speak a couple of weeks ago. It’s always nice to be in the presence of a apostle. He talked about a lot of things, one of them being just the basic doctrine of the restoration.”

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May 3-9 update

“I’m feeling kinda dazed right now. Things have completely changed in our mission. Effective today our mission has taken in 2 more stakes from the Carlsbad Mission North of us and guess who was selected as two of the fifty missionaries to go up North? You got it! Sister Nelson and I are whitewashing into the Black Mountain Singles Branch. A singles branch? Didn’t see that coming. The changes took place because of this. Before the Riverside Mission had 12 stakes, Carlsbad 11 and San Diego 8 and we all had about 180 missionaries. In fact, when President and Sister Donaldson 1st arrived here almost 3 years ago there were 120 missionaries in our mission. Now there’s 180 for the same geographic area. President Donaldson said he figured we had more missionaries per unit then any other place in the world, twice of what was recommended. So now the Riverside Mission will have 11 stakes, Carlsbad 10 and San Diego 10. This means that as missionaries we’ll have more work to do and wont be so piled up. That is going to be really nice. Since this is a branch we’re going into, we’re the only missionaries over it. They’ve never had to deal with Battalion sisters with difficult schedules so that will be interesting. Actually, no one knows that sisters are taking over for elders. We’re trying to keep it a secret for as long as we can. We met with the elders this morning that we’re taking over for. It seems that they were good elders, a little weird but good. Still we can already see where there’s room for improvement. We simply do things differently in our mission. And there were some issues in their record keeping that I got onto them about. Not in “I’m you’re mother” sort of a way but more of a “Why haven’t you been doing what you should have been?” Sister Nelson said I handled it very well. I just feel that they didn’t do everything they could have to help us get going in the area. But nothing big. It is pretty crazy that I’m white washing with only 3 weeks left to go in my mission. Just in case I was hoping to coast at the end, which I wasn’t, it isn’t a option. But we’re excited to get to work. We don’t have a lot of people to teach but we’ll work on that. It’s nice to know that Heavenly Father trusts us to go into these new areas as completely new missionaries and take over the work. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a smooth transition with the members and they’ll be able to recognize us as missionaries who are focused on their purpose and can be trusted. President actually told me we would be moving up there last week in my interview but told me I couldn’t tell anyone else. That was a hard secret to keep and I couldn’t wait for Monday to roll around with transfers. We cover the whole stake so it will be a huge area and it’s already a 30 minute drive away from where we live. It’s going to be one wild ride right here at the end. I was pretty convinced that I would be finishing my mission in Chula Vista, especially when transfers happened and I stayed. It just goes to show what a sense of humor the Lord has! It was hard to leave some of those people behind for sure.
On Saturday we did service for Mormon Helping Hands. It was such a blast. We went down to a estuary almost in Mexico and pulled weeds/planted native plants. You always love service but as a missionary you get really excited by it. It was especially fun to be out there with all the other missionaries in our area and ward members. We could have actually thrown a football into Mexico that’s how close we were.
There’s a sister missionary here at the Battalion who comes from a family of 14 children and so far 12 of them have served missions. The other 2 aren’t yet old enough. I was so impressed by this I had to write home about it!”

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“We’re changing part of our preparation day because tomorrow we have a meeting with an apostle of the Lord, no big deal. We’re meeting Elder Perry. I just want to point out that this is my 2nd time meeting Elder Perry as he came to visit the Battalion last year. So we go way back. The mission conference will be combined with the mission north of us, the Carlsbad Mission so it should be awesome. Actually there’s going to be some big changes taking place in our mission very shortly. For the past couple of years we’ve had more missionaries then units to put them. We’ve made it work but they’ve decided to expand our mission boundaries to take in part of the Carlsbad Mission. We’re going to be taking over 2 zones which equates to about 50 missionaries that will be taken from their current wards and moved up North. It’s kinda crazy to imagine that happening. There’s been talk of a lot of white washing and transfers within the transfer. President’s just been telling us to make sure our area books are updated and that we have a full teaching pool. I imagine that Elder Perry will be talking about some of these changes.

How was y’alls Easter. Ours was really nice. The highlight was church of course. The Spirit was really strong during sacrament meeting. This whole past week we’ve been focusing many of our lessons on the resurrection of Christ. That made the whole week even more special. No one invited us over for Easter dinner so we just ate at home.
We started teaching a couple of new guys this past week. This one guy we just talked to one the street and he even came to church yesterday which was a complete shock for us because we tried getting him a ride and nothing was working out. Finally we had to tell him that we couldn’t get him a ride and asked if someone in his family could bring him. The church was kinda far from where he lived and being that it was Easter, they had a lot of family there at his house. But after the sacrament was passed I looked back and saw him sitting behind us a few rows back. He’s a real nice guy but it’s obvious he’s made some poor choices in his life and we’re trying to figure out if he’s slow or has had his brain fried by drug use. We’re thinking it’s the later. But one time when we stopped by looking for him his sister answered and she was so friendly to us and said that we could come back sometime and visit her. She seems to be very sharp.
The other guy we started teaching is the fiancee of one of the less-actives in the ward. We had been going over there every week in part to help her family come back to church and also because her daughter was baptized back in December and still needs her new member lessons. Normally we only visit less-actives/recent converts once every two weeks just because we have so many people to visit but because her then boyfriend was living with them and would sit in on the lessons everytime, we made it a priority to go over there every week in hopes that he would want to learn more. We had never pressured him but we would try to involve him in the lesson. Our patience has paid off! When we went over this last week his fiancee was sporting a big engagement ring so we got to talking, found out she’s pregnant and that her fiancee wants to start taking the missionary lessons. That he’s actually already talked to his family about wanting to get baptized and they support him. He told her that he had learned more with us this past month about religion then he had in his whole life. One of the best parts as well was that she said they’re going to start coming to church every Sunday. That’s huge! I guess with them starting a family together they want to be a little more serious about what’s really important. The lesson we had planned was so inspired-eternal marriage! We focused not only on how families can be eternal but also on what we need to do to strengthen our families.
It’s crazy that we’ll be calling home in less then 2 weeks. That will be really nice.”


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April 19-25 update

“The work goes on here in San Diego. We’re trying everything we can to build the Lord’s Kingdom. We have this one really awesome investigator but she quit her job expectantly, and moved someplace else and we haven’t been able to get in contact with her for a few days now. Hopefully we’ll be able to see her again soon. She’s so prepared.
We started teaching this new guy last night that the elders contacted on the street. He’s actually a youth minister at his church and feels very content where’s he at but he’s curious about what we believe. It should be interesting teaching him because he knows a lot about the Bible and loves to spout off Greek and Hebrew (like he’s showing off) but he has trouble clarifying basic doctrines. During our 1st meeting we had a long discussion on the Godhead. It’s the classic he feels they’re one in the same and we tried to explain that they’re separate entities. It’s hard for me in situations like this to not argue with reason (because that’s how my mind works automatically) but I try to focus more on faith and testimony. For just as many scriptures you can point to of the Bible saying they are one in the same, you can find others that clearly say they’re different. But regardless of different takes on Biblical passages, the First Vision trumps them all.
Last week my old Spanish branch had a party at the Battalion. However, I wasn’t on shift so I figured I would miss seeing everyone. Well, the Lord gives us so many tender mercies because when we got home at night they were still there and I just so happened to run into a couple and then I ran into all of the branch members as they were going to their cars. It was talking in Spanish so fast, lots of hugs and kisses on the cheeks for the women and hearty handshakes for the men. I miss those people so much and seeing them again brought out these feelings of happiness and pure love that honestly I haven’t felt since I left the branch. I really like Chula Vista but I love La Mesa.
The other day I started thinking about a few books I want to read when I get home and it occurred to me how much I miss reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love this chance I have for a year and a half to focus purely on spiritual things but sometimes a classic novel or something sounds really nice. Actually, as a missionary I get big entertainment  thrills out of reading the latest Ensign or my light reading at night consists of “The Miracle of Forgiveness” and “Jesus the Christ” if I have a few spare minutes. Being a missionary is awesome!”

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April 12-18 update

“Things are going well here. Tomorrow is transfers. It will be interesting to see what happens.  We had a going away party last night for the 5 sisters who went home. Now Sister De La Cruz are the last of the original sisters left at the Battalion. Seeing these sisters go home was a big wake up call that things really are coming to an end soon. It’s easier to believe that I’ll go on being a missionary forever then that I’ll be going back to normal life.
I took this really cute family through the tour last week. He has a member friend from work so he was familiar with a lot of the basics of the Church and seemed very excited to learn about the Mormon Battalion. I can usually tell about 3/4 of the time if a non-member will request more information about the Church at the end of the tour (because we give everybody cards for comments and to request more information about our faith) before I even start the tour. Call it inspiration from the Holy Ghost. So I felt that way about this particular family. Especially after I was introducing that this group of soldiers were called the Mormon Battalion because of their faith in the Book of Mormon and he asked, “Well, why is it called the Book of Mormon?” A golden question that I was all too happy to answer! Then at the end of the tour they requested a copy of the Book of Mormon like I thought they would. Then outside I was asking him how he knew so much about the LDS faith and he said he had frequent conversations with his member co-worker and that he considered himself half Mormon. But that his co-worker had never mentioned mormon.org or invited him to anything. Hopefully he’ll want to learn more about the restored gospel when the missionaries bring him his copy of the Book of Mormon. I feel a little frustrated that this guy has so much interest in the Church, even considering himself “half Mormon” and his co-worker never invited him to learn more.
This weekend I got sick. I’m pretty sure it was something I ate. Let’s just say it wasn’t fun and we had to stay inside most of Sunday. We didn’t even get to go to church. I never thought that would happen on my mission.
I saw my old branch president Saturday and I told him about wanting to stop by his house when you guys come to visit. He said instead he wanted to have a branch party that night to introduce my family to their family. That should be really fun.”

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April 5-11 update

Things are picking up here. We started teaching this really neat lady from the Philippines last week. How we found her is kind of a funny story. We’re teaching this one guy and he mentioned that his nephew found out about us meeting with him and he wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. Considering that he was a single guy, early 20s, living in a group home and has had some problems in the past, I thought it best just for the elders to teach him. So we let the elders take it. Well, when they got there this sweet, little lady from the Philippines (she’s the caretaker of the group home) answered the door and asked if they were there to teach her. Being that it was technically our area and she’s a single lady, the elders gave her back to us. In the meantime, the elders started going to this group home to teach the nephew of our investigator and 4 other guys that live there. What’s really funny about this was when our investigator told me about his nephew, I asked him if he knew of anyone else as well that he thought would be interested in what we had been sharing with him. He said, “There’s lots of people living there at that group home. Just go over there!” Well, he was right, combined with the elders we’ve started teaching 6 people! I’d say almost all of the residents. One of the guys the elders started teaching is from Ethiopia and has come to church twice already. So back to the lady we’re teaching. She’s had a pretty difficult life (parents dying when she was a teenager and being left to raise her younger siblings without help from relatives just to name one) and working at the group home as been really stressful for her but she’s just as nice as can be. The reason she recognized the elders and asked if they were there to teach her is because 2 of her sisters are Mormon so she’s had some exposure to the Church. We visited her Sunday, Monday and then she asked us when we could come back. Wow! That doesn’t happen often!
General Conference was so amazing of course. You can watch all the talks and see them in print at conference.lds.org. I’ve heard many of times that if you go to General Conference with questions you’ll receive answers. So one of mine was, “How should I live my life after the mission? Wow! I got my answer and it wont be a life of ease. There’s just too much work to do in the Kingdom of God. Too many souls to save, too many hands that hang down and children that need to be raised in a loving home centered in the gospel. My mission and examples of ward members around me has taught me much about what serving in the Church means. I just hope that I don’t lose my love for this work once I take the nametag off and life settles in but I don’t think I will. You’re right Mom, it was a frequent topic of our need to quit shirking marriage and family responsibility and to move on with our lives. It’s just interesting how in General Conference we hear what counsel for what problems we’re facing in our society. So I guess with the Prophet and other apostles speaking of this so often, it’s a real problem. It’s also interesting how 5 or 10 years ago you hardly ever heard one of them mention additions to pornography. And now it’s a common topic. This is a serious sin that Satan’s having a playday with. It’s hard to choose but I loved Elder Scott’s sweet talk on marriage and the talk by Lyn G. Robbins about to do and to be. Usually I don’t expect quite as much from a member of the Seventy as from one of the apostles but I felt that this was a landmark talk that I’ll be hanging on to.
My companion and I are getting along so much better now. There were some days where I thought we were going to kill each other off by the end of the transfer but we had a huge disagreement about something that led us to finally talk openly about what’s been going on. We’re still very different people but things have been 10 times more smoother. Oh, being with someone you don’t choose 24/7 is fun! It really teaches you a lot about getting along with people. I know that we were put together for a reason and I’ve learned a lot in the process.
The weather has been more perfect then normal. Especially in the evenings. It’s really making me want to go for a nice walk or do some star gazing.
Here’s a picture from the veinte cinco club. I thought it turned out pretty.
So for all of you who will be joining me in San Diego in less then 7 weeks and have requested more information on the fun we’ll be having, here’s the schedule. Get your jogging shoes on because it’s going to be jam packed!
Monday:
9:30-Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Greg pick me up from the Mormon Battalion Historical Site. We go buy a few groceries (because we don’t have time nor the money to go out to eat for every meal).
11:00-Meet Mom and Dad at the airport
12:15-Tour through the Mormon Battalion led by none other then yours truly.
1:45-Tour of Coronado Island (fun shops, beautiful Victorian hotel right along the ocean)
5:00-Dinner at Claim Jumpers
6:30-Visiting people I’ve taught and members in La Mesa as well as the mission home
Tuesday:
9:00-Visit the historical lighthouse
11:00-Lunch at the Corvette Diner
12:30-Wild Animal Park or swimming/snorkeling/kayaking in La Jolla for those who can/want do that. Aka, not me.
4:30-Photos/window shopping in downtown La Jolla and at La Jolla Cove
7:00-Endowment session in the San Diego Temple
Wednesday:
9:00-Old Town (shops, historical buildings)
11:00-Lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Old Town
12:45-Balboa Park(Huge, beautiful park in the middle of San Diego)
2:30-Visiting the USS Midway
6:00-Padres baseball game
Thursday:
Leave San Diego 😦

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