Ok so I switched it up today and actually read your emails before I started typing mine. Good thing I did, so many good things going on at home!! Scott, that is so awesome you are making it big with the video production skillzz of yours. Keep it up. All those hours fiddling around on iMovie are paying off. That's so great that Dad sat in with the elders. Are you so excited the missionaries are meeting with you each week?? That is so cool, I wish I was one of the missionaries coming over. Haha I loved hearing that there is a ginger elder serving in our ward. Wait, which on is Elder Cazair? The one from Montana or the one from Rigby, ID? There was a whole district of elders that I was in the MTC with me that were heading to Carlsbad and got sooooo excited when I said that was my home mission. They were like "Who's your family?!?! Tell them to feed us!!!" haha. So keep your eye out for some hungry greenies. There are a few really missionary-minded families here in the ward. Just awesome supports to us. So make the Baylon family one of those for the missionaries in our ward. There is family full of 5 boys that have us over all the time. Whenever we need anything, we know who to call. This morning we went over there to wash/vaccuum our car, work out, got fed a hot breakfast, and left with groceries. They are the best!!
This week was so amazing. We had our miracle baptisms with the two Samoan sisters. We were afraid that there wasn't going to be anyone coming, because the girls are super shy and don't talk much at church and with their mother being less active and their step-dad not a member, their parents don't know anyone in the ward besides us as the missionaries. Our prayers were answered, people showed up in droves!! It was truly amazing. The primary president came and welcomed Angelina (10) with a special blanket to represent the "Comforter" as the gift of the holy ghost. The Young Women President came and presented Kimberly (12) with a white fleece scarf. Kind of a teen-version of the blanket her sister got. There was even a couple women that volunteered to do a musical number with a piano/cello duet of "Come Follow Me." So beautiful. The Bishop's wife and her kids came along with several other families in the ward. They wanted the baptism in the middle of the week in the middle of the day so we were having a hard time rounding up Priesthood holders that could make it. Brother Elkington took work off so that he could come! Amazing. He gave a talk on receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and just knocked it out of the park. He brought his son, Noah, and afterwards said that he and his son had the greatest time. The new senior couple elder and sister came and even President and Sister Weaver. It was the dream team. I gave the talk on the Restoration and could not have had it go any better. The entire room was listening, including their non-member step-dad. Their mom was even in tears. Now we are going to start working with their 11 yr old brother that was baptized in their uncle's ward in Bremerton and start getting him back to church. Eventually, we want to start teaching their 9 yr old brother that hasn't been baptized yet. They invited us over to house afterwards for a Samoan feast. Yowza. I felt like a minnow going up against a pack of hammerheads. They can pack food aaaa...wayyyyyyy. Dang. There were like 5 kinds of barbecued meat, potato salad, rice, chop suey, steamed bananas, and of course custard pie. I was the only one that didn't take seconds or clean my plate. One of their uncles jokingly gave me a hard time about it. I could never make it as a Samoan. He said that he lived in Torrance for one year and attended a Samoan ward there. What ward is Grandpa in? He said they have a ton of family in Long Beach. Remember that big Samoan gangster from the Italian Job movie? Totally his cousin.
Saturday was one of the best experiences of my life. We got special permission from President Weaver to accompany the YSA ward on their annual trip to Shaw Island in the San Juan islands to help these 7 retired Catholic nuns who run a 400acre farm. The islands are way outside of our mission boundaries and we are the first ones to ever get permission to go. Making us the first LDS missionaries, first Sister missionaries, to ever step foot on that island. Sweet! Just getting there was an adventure in and of itself. We all met at the church building bright and early at 4am. From there we caravaned to Kingston about 40 minutes away where we boarded a ferry that took us to Edmonds. From Edmonds we got off and drove an hour and 15min to Anacortes. From there we took a ferry to Shaw Island. Talk about the edge of the earth. It was the most beautiful ride. We passed a place called Orcas island. Total Free Willy status. The crazies thing happened. When we finally made it to Shaw island and were walking off the ferry, we noticed that our group of 38 people looked smaller than usual. By the time we could start getting a head count, the horn blew and the ferry headed back out to sea. Yikes. 13 people did not get off the ferry and would have to sit tight for another 3 hours until the ferry made its way back to Shaw island on its round of stops. Talk about a parable to teach by. The U.S.S. Bridegroom came and went and 13 virgins were left. Hahaha. We were shocked they were that unaware. The nuns came and picked us up in this huge 15passenger van that had clearly seen better days. It was gutted out without seats or seatbelts so Bishop didn't want the sister missionaries to be without seatbelts so we rode with him in his car while everyone else piled in. It was about a 3 mile drive to the farm and we saw maybe 2 houses. Less than 200 people live on the island, but there actually are several members of the church that live there as permanent residents. Guess what? They have sacrament meeting over the phone! Haha there are so many little islands and very few members, there is not a church building that is close enough that they could all meet at. I'm not exactly sure how digital church works but I thought that was crazy.
So we get there and are divided up into groups that are assigned different jobs around the farm. The nuns LOVE THE MORMONS. They said that groups come up occassionally to help out, but the Mormons are the only ones that show up to work. And to work hard. It's true though. I've never seen so many hands go up when Mother Superior asked for volunteers to clean the chicken coop. Talk about a crappy job. Ha. Get it? Anyway, bad joke. There were actually a few nonmembers that came up, but we were asked by the nuns to not proselyte while on the island. So while we were not able to verbally proselyte, I would say that we were able to by our actions and attitudes. I had my doubts the 20-somethings would be less than eager to give up their sleep, time, and free Saturday to do hard manual labor for some old ladies dressed in head-to-toe Habits. But I was so wrong. Smiles and laughter all around. Shy kids coming out of the woodwork, being outgoing and friendly with others. YSA's branching out and speaking with people they normally don't while bonding over their assigned jobs. So awesome. Everyone just exuded happiness. Truly "finding joy through loving service." (I was assigned to speak on that topic the next day at church) These two nonmember sisters volunteered to help stain a wooden walkway, benches, and deck so Sister Mills and I didn't wait a second to volunteer to go with them. Hahah we were not doing our duty if we didn't at least try to teach the gospel in some way or another. There were these two slightly older women that came with us to show us what to do. Their names were Maryanne and Martha and when I looked at them I thought, "Man, I swear I've seen you at Trader Joe's back home or at Swami's or something. Turns out they were from Pacific Beach. Haha and I met a kid that is interning there who is from Vista but he went to the Grauer school in Encinitas. Sister Mills never ceases to be amazed by how many people I meet that I know, have mutal friends with, or have things in common. By the end of the day we were EXHAUSTED. We didn't get back to our apt by 9:30. Right on time for curfew. Mom, they had a ton of one-man outriggers on our ferries. There was a huge inter-island race going on that day. I felt super cool when I the only one that knew what they were.
So part of our extensive series of recitations that we recite as a mission is our mission motto:
Faith is the power.
Love is the Motive.
Obedience is the Price.
The Spirit is the Key.
The Restoration is the Message.
Members are the means.
Christ is the Reason.
Baptism is the way.
Joy is the reward.
I thought of this idea at the end of last transfer to pick one of these concepts from our motto to make the theme for each individual week of the transfer. The first week was Faith is the power, second week was love is the motive, and so for this week it will be obedience is the price. This week we will be making extra efforts to achieve our goal of being exactly obedient. In the MTC, our teacher told us that "obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings miracles." I couldn't agree more. Obedience predicates everything. One of the hardest things for us to be obedient about is only staying an hour in a members home so that we can start our 5-7 tracting time right at 5. That two hour block of time should be consecrated specifically for dedicated finding. I do not find it ironic that our meal calendar is completely signed up for this week. Everyday this week we have a meal. Heavely Father is putting us to the test to see if our faith to be obedient is really as strong as we think it is. I know that if we can adhere to our goal this week, we will see miracles. An elder at our zone meeting last week gave a training on confidence. To be confident we need: Faith, love, skill, and boldness. He also said that when we don't have confidence we can't be urgent about the work. So if I don't believe that by fully utilizing 5-7pm as prime time to be out finding, I won't be urgent about the work and consequently the Lord will not want to bless me with his prepared people to be taught.
I truly have come to love my mission. I love being a missionary. I love bringing the Spirit in to people's homes. I love teaching and learning from those I teach. I love, love, love personal study. I have truly come to love the scriptures and I know that they are the word of God. I love saying 50 bazillion prayers a day. I invite all of you to take more time for the Lord and I promise you will see your world open up. As will the heavens as "He pours out blessings more abundantly upon you." It is so easy to be happy when you have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with you. Nothing can get in your way. Nothing can bring you down. It's easier to love other people when you first love Christ and our Father in Heaven. If you are not happy, if you are not content, if you are lonely, if you are lost, kneel in prayer. Ask for His help. Then open your scriptures and he'll speak back to you. The most common way He'll answer our prayers is through others. Be the answer to someone's prayer by going out and doing good. Serve and you will always be happy.
All my love,