Hello, my dear family!!!
How are you on this fine spring day in May? Can you even believe it's MAY already?!?! I'm going to be 24 years old in 2 days. You know, I've always heard people say things like, "if you'd told me 3 months/6months/1 year/etc ago that I'd be here doing this, I would've said you were crazy!". I always thought that was kinda funny, but now, I think I understand it a little better. Turning 24 in LA, California, while serving as a full-time missionary, was NOT something I ever expected for myself. But here I am, and I am loving it!
As you can tell, my emailing today means that I won't be spending my birthday in the temple, but that's totally ok. I mean, honestly, it's way cooler that I'll spend my birthday working out in the field, knocking doors and teaching people about the gospel -- you know, really doing missionary-type things! I can go to the temple on my birthday any other time I want, but I'm only going to be a young full-time missionary for this one birthday!
Speaking of which, you may also note that the day just after my birthday marks my one-year mark on my mission! How could it be so?! (c'mon, say it with the voice, mom!) Man, when I was starting out, it felt like this would never come..that it was soooooooo far away. Yet here I am, and I can't believe how fast it's all gone!
You're probably wondering just where in Los Angeles and with whom I'll be spending my two "birth" days, since transfers were this past Wednesday...
Well, I'm here in my new area of North Torrance with my wonderful companion, Sister Tittle! When I first got the call that I'd be coming here, I was initially slightly disappointed...I know, I know, that's terrible!!! I didn't mean to, but I was, ok? N. Torrance was an area that I never really wanted to serve in (I went on splits here a few times when I was with Sis. Tavares), BUT I got over that really quickly, and I LOVE it here! It actually reminds me a lot of home. I am, for the first time in my mission, serving in a "normal" church building -- just like the old Carmel stake center back home. That's significant because most of the church buildings here are pretty old and very unique; they're different from any I've ever seen before. I love them though; most of them are really cool, and have things like courtyards and pillars and pipe organs and stained glass, etc. This one though, the Artesia building, is what I was used to seeing before the mission. The people here are great too; our ward mission leader is SO on top of things and SO willing to bend over backwards to do anything we need, including memorize and give the baptismal prayer in Spanish...and trust me Dad, he doesn't speak Spanish either! He speaks fluent French, but not Spanish. He's also very good with and love bikes, so the day I came down, we dropped our bikes off at his house, and the next day we picked them up -- full tires, greased chain, fixed brakes and a new brake handle (my tires were completely flat, and I'd been storing it outside, so it was pretty rusty) -- SUCH a blessing! Torrance is a slightly wealthier area (it's right by Redondo Beach, which is really nice!), and there's not a lot of Spanish here, but there are plenty of White people, Asians, and middle-easterners! As a matter of fact, one of our investigators right now is a man named Mohammed, who is a Muslim from Iran.
Our apartment is really nice too; a long time ago they had two set of elders here, so it's very spacey, with two bedrooms (although we sleep in the same one) and a washer and dryer in the apartment! We have the only car in the district besides the DL, but we still ride bikes lots. We play ultimate frisbee every morning in a beautiful little park just down the street with a bunch of the elders in our zone, which, by the way, Dad, includes the deaf elders! Yep, we have the ASL elders in our zone, and the deaf ward/branch meets in our same building. The park we play frisbee in has a big pond with lots of ducks and geese, and the first morning we rode through it, I kept thinking of little Buster and how much he would LOVE it!!!
My companion, Sis. Tittle (like little, but with a T) is great! She's from Orem, Utah, and is super sweet. She reminds me a lot of Carrie, actually. She's been out about half as long as me, and this has been her only area so far. Something that I really love about Sis Tittle is that she's really good at recognizing and following the Spirit, and she's always looking for ways we can be better missionaries. I really love working with her, and I'm so happy about this area!
I'm really grateful that I'm not training again this transfer. I love training, but it's hard work, and really tiring/draining, and I was ready for a "normal" transfer, with a companion who has at least a little bit of experience. It's really great being able to have other ideas and experience to draw on, and not being quite so scrutinized (not bad scrutinized, it's just like being under a magnifying glass all the time) in everything I say and do.
So here's a quick little break down of my mission so far, in case you aren't keeping track of it (which you probably are...)
MTC: District 4C, Sis Gregersen comp
1st transfer: Downey, Sis Foutz trainer
2nd and 3rd: Downey, Sis Tavares
4th and 5th: Marina del Rey, training Sis Dickson
6th and 7th: Marina del Rey, training Sis Stout
8th: North Torrance, Sis Tittle comp
8th transfer. Holy cow.
A few weeks ago, I had a really good personal study that I've been wanting to share. I was reading through lesson 1 (PMG ch 3), and a line from "God reveals his gospel in every dispensation" really stood out to me. It says something to the effect of "Whenever people choose to disregard, disobey, or distort gospel principles, choose to reject the Lord's prophets, or whenever they fail to endure in faith, they distance themselves from God and begin to live in spiritual darkness." What stood out to me was the last "apostate" option: failing to endure in faith. It reminded me of another part in CH1 of PMG that says "do not get discouraged" because it will lead to lack of faith, decreased desire, lessened effectiveness, etc.
Ah, no time!
Anyways, it just made me think about how important it is for us to always endure in faith, no matter what, so that we can stay in the light!!!
I LOVE YOU!!!!!!
I Love Being a Missionary!!!!
HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!!!!!!!