Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Time's Up

Here it is Sunday, March 12. We are speaking in church today and again in two weeks but that one will be post mission. It is hard to believe we are down to our last week. I have loved the simplicity and focus of our mission. I have loved making visits with Elder and getting to know and love so many people and make so many memories. Here is a glimpse of the last two weeks.

We continue to meet with and take pictures of people in our ward.
Our bishop's wife, preparing breakfast the morning of our ward conference
An older sister who is recovering from foot surgery and her beloved grandson
A faithful sister, her son in the back and her inactive but very loving grandson next to her. Our next visit, she was the only one there. Bless the faithful women of the church!
The Young Men's President, wife, 2-year old son, and new baby sister. They say they will start attending church again soon, now that the baby is 3 months old.
This is the previous ward mission leader and his family. They have started attending church again. The 12-year old is now deacons quorum president but the 20-year old recently bought a new car, has a new girlfriend and isn't sure he wants to go on a mission, at least not right now.
A very faithful couple. He was recently put in as Executive Secretary. He had his second kidney transplant in December and is returning to work this next week.
This is the Primary President and her husband, the First Counselor in the Sunday School. He is an excellent teacher.
This is a single mom and very hard working sister. She has three or four jobs: nanny for 2 different families, caterer, and financial planner. It's great to see her at church most weeks now.

Our mission president encourages us to look for and share the miracles in our work. I will share three with you.

One afternoon about a week ago we were out trying to find some of the less actives on the ward list. When we got to this one apartment, the door was open and a man inside—the brother of the member we were looking for. He invited us in and we got to know him. He is also an inactive member and living with his sister following a recent divorce. He had run home from work for just a few minutes to get something. We were able to offer him support (he was nervous about seeing his 3 year old daughter the next day—the first time in ten months), inspiration from the scriptures and an invitation to come to church the next day. He accepted and said he might even bring his sister and mom as well. Now I would love to tell you they all came, but none of them did. We stopped by again the next Saturday and met his sister and she invited us back for an appointment on Tuesday and even made it a dinner appointment. She also shared that his meeting with his daughter went well. Hopefully this story will continue to unfold.

Another miracle from last week happened again when we were out finding and ran across a man out cleaning his truck. When we went over to introduce ourselves, it was the man we were looking for. We ended up visiting for about an hour and it was even the man who made the observation ‘what are the chances of you coming by just at this time?’ We were able to give him support and encouragement and an invitation to church. Even though he said he still believed and wanted to come, he also shared that he would be embarrassed since it had been so long since he had attended. We still encouraged him to come—but he didn’t. It made me wonder how welcoming we are to those who have wandered. It made me wonder how many growth opportunities we miss because of what we think others are thinking (a pocket of pride?). Hopefully with a few more visits from members and missionaries alike and feeling more accepted by them, he will decide to attend once again.

The last miracle I will share has effected the whole stake. Early in the morning of March 1, our stake center caught on fire. This is a huge building with two chapels, two relief society rooms, two primary rooms, one huge gym, one huge kitchen, stake offices, family history center, etc. It is home to four wards. The fire was electrical and started in the wall between the kitchen and one of the classrooms. Some firemen driving down the adjacent freeway about 2 am on the way back from a blaze smelled a structure fire but couldn’t find it. They called for an eye in the sky helicopter from the police department with an infrared sensor and they found our church’s fire. Over 70 fireman had it out in 50-55 minutes. A few rooms were badly burned and there is a lot of smoke damage, but fire doors had closed and sprinklers had turned on so we are lucky. We later learned of a second miracle: there is a 4 inch welded gas line running under the kitchen that was not compromised. If it had gone, the whole building could very well have been a loss. In one interview, according to the mission president, the fire chief said that while he wouldn’t say it was divine intervention, there were some things that happened that they just couldn’t explain. We have had two of the wards meeting with us the last couple of weeks but heard last night that even though it will be 3 months before the whole building is usable, they are hoping to be able to return to at least part of the building even this next week. Pretty amazing!

We have continued our p-day excursions the last two Mondays. Elder chose to visit City Walk at Universal Studio.
It was a cool, windy day so we about had the place to ourselves. Definitely lots of atmosphere. Then we drove to Griffith Park and its public observatory
and view of the downtown,
the valley and the Hollywood sign .
It was crowded, even though the observatory is closed on Mondays.

The next week, I chose one more trip to the coast. We walked the canals
and boardwalk of Venice Beach, just south of Santa Monica. Lots of interesting people and houses on a cool windy day.
We even noticed this vertical garden.
Then we drove along Sunset Boulevard at sunset and on through the mountains home, avoiding the traffic on the freeways.

As we start our final week here, we feel very blessed to have finished our mission here among such welcoming and loving people. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here 4 months. It’s harder to believe that we will be home next week.