This week has been yet another amazing week out here in the Antioch area. The temperature has cooled down a bit from 110 to about 100 most days. When I first got here, the cabinets were full of canned goods. Now, they're almost empty because after sorting through them, we realized a lot of the food in our apartment had gone bad almost a year ago. We are planning on going shopping for more groceries today.
We had companionship exchanges this past week with our District leader and his companion. They were, however, Spanish speaking. I suddenly realized how much more stressful this mission would have been if I were having to learn another language. I sat through a few lessons where I was not able to say anything or understand anything because it was all in Spanish. It was in that moment that I came to appreciate serving my mission in my native tongue of English. It felt frustrating not being able to keep up with the conversation at first. It was very hot and they were speaking very fast. I didn't know where we were in the discussion or how they were taking it. However, after a little while, I stopped listening with just my ears and began listening to the spirit. I began to notice how deeply interested the investigator was. I could feel her love for her family and her deep thirst for knowledge in the gospel. I wasn't sure the exact places but I could almost just tell what was being said. I began to follow along a little bit better. I could tell when we started talking about the first vision because the spirit was so overwhelmingly strong. At the end, I was able to bear my testimony to her and have my companion translate for me. She looked very happy and thanked me for my testimony. Although I cannot be completely sure of what was said, I know that the spirit was working in that moment in that woman's heart. I know that she was beginning to build her testimony of the gospel. It was such a miracle and a blessing to be able to see that. Ii have also been able to see the blessing of the gospel with my own investigators who speak English. Whether they are progressing investigators who we meet with frequently or new investigators who invite us back, it is such a privilege to be able to see the spirit working in their lives. We were able to find 3 new investigators this week.
Sister Ruby Havili moved to our area a little while ago from Sacramento. In Sacramento, she was taught all of the lessons by the missionaries and was basically ready for baptism. Her husband is a member and wants her to be baptized into the church. We have been trying to meet with her but we've always just barely missed her as she works often. We were able to catch her this past week and get to know her. She has a great testimony of the gospel and is still on the edge of deciding for baptism. We excitedly bore our testimonies of the gospel to her and of the importance of baptism. She has been diligently reading the Book of Mormon and is wanting to gain a stronger testimony for herself. We have also been able to meet more with the Nieves family. The mom and one of the kids are members but less active. They want to start taking the discussions again and want their daughter to be baptized. We are very excited to meet with them more and share our testimonies of the gospel.
I also gave my first blessing this past week. We had dinner at a member's house and they had their great-grandmother in bed nearby. After dinner, they asked us to perform a blessing for her because she was not looking well. Naturally, my trainer and companion, Elder Lui, saw this as a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about being a missionary and asked that I perform the blessing. I was nervous at first but I cleared my mind and let the spirit guide me in my words. Afterwards, she was looking much better. She was able to sit up and eat a little bit more and wasn't coughing so much. I will never forget this experience or the feeling that I was able to have.
Next, I would like to relate one more story to you all. As we rode throughout the streets and pathways of Antioch, I was in front with my companion in back. On our left side, there were bushes and assorted shrubbery. On the right side was a few trees and then the main road. As we rode, I suddenly felt Elder Lui's tire hit my back tire. I turned instinctively just in time to see his wheel turn suddenly and his bike launch him over the handlebars and into the bushes nearby. I stopped and waited for him to get out of the bushes, laughing the whole time. Once again, he proclaimed to me, "No scenes! No scenes! We gotta go! Go go go go!" However, he had a "pocket puke" (when everything in your front pocket such as your nametag, pass along cards, and our pocket map falls out) and he was stuck there for a while. He never ceases to make me laugh.
In closing I wanted to again express my gratitude for this opportunity to serve. I love the Lord and I love these people. I love all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my emails and write some emails in return. I love hearing from all of you. I wanted to share with you a spiritual thought from a scripture that I had come across during personal study one morning. 3 Nephi 13:31-34 "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof." I know that if we put God first in our lives, that He can and will take care of the rest. This scripture truly is a challenge of faith directed towards us. If we are willing to put God first, He can and will take care of everything else. If we act in faith and do this, we will be blessed. I challenge each and every one of you to remember what it means "to take upon them the name of Christ" and "always remember Him".
I know that life can get hectic and busy most days, but if you make an effort towards putting God first, you will be blessed with that comfort and peace that He promises us. I know these things are true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.