Hola! Hola! :) I love you familia! :)
It is the coolest thing! I absolutely love going to church for many, many reasons. The second coming must be getting super close because we keep experiencing signs of the time. About 2 weeks ago in the foyer before church started...pause: we have 12 missionaries in our barrio! We make quite the welcoming committee at the front of the capilla...go...we noticed this new lady not dressed in church clothes and just sitting uncomfortably and out of place on the couch. Hna Pulver is teaching me to always talk with everyone. We have adopted this practice and the ward loves us. One of the men in the ward was talking to us and told us that we were las mujeres populares :) Anyway, her name is Hna. Martinez and she is a menos activo. She hasn't been going to church for years and something told her that it was time for her to come back to church. I think her son ran back to Mexico about 2 months ago. She just showed up on Sunday and was there to be taken care of by the gospel. We see things like this and know they are signs of the time.
Last week at church I noticed another really odd one out. His name was Patsy and he was skinny and white and probably late 40s. He just has his truck and is traveling to Santa Clarita because he has a buddy there that is going to let him stay in some part of his house free of charge. Something that is incredible to me is how many people know about and recognize the missionaries. When we passed a group on the sidewalk a few days ago, I heard someone say, 'dannng those must have been Mormons'. When we talk to people, they know we are Mormons before we tell them. When people tell us about how they knew, they almost always tell us that they had a boss that was Mormon and that he was just the happiest guy. Anyway, Patsy, like almost all people ran into Mormons years ago, but again just the other day. When their paths crossed the first time they gave him a Book of Mormon and he read it in 8 days and knew that it was true, but he just didn't want to change his lifestyle. He was a lively man and super funny! He had come to the church because he wanted to talk to the bishop that spoke English. The missionaries had just found him and given him some stuff to read and he'd read it and he knew it was time for him to become a Mormon. I loved it because he was not your typical Mormon look with his tattoos and earrings, but he was ready to join the winning team. We basically fell in love with Patsy while we waited to talk to the bishop. I can't wait for him to be a Mormon and neither can God!!
Weirdest thing, Solomon keeps showing up for church every week. Where did this man even come from?
This week we were having a brunch with Jorge (he is now a menos activo because he saw something he didn't like at church and now won't come) at his favorite place with an open back. This place is on Variel and there is an outside part with a fence around it. (P.s., We love Varial after dark! ;)) Jorge is frustrating. People are always passing by on the street and he pointed at someone walking by and said that she'd gotten baptized a year ago or something. We didn't know if he really could've seen who she was, but we left all our stuff and chased her down. We asked her if she was Mormon and she pretty proudly did claim that. We told her we were so happy to have found her. She couldn't stay long because she was walking to work, but guess who walked into la sociodad de socorro (relief society) about 40 minutes late...YES! Elvia! After just that contact on the street! This is amazing anyway, but unheard of in Hispanic culture!!!!
What happens when the Drug Lord of Canoga Park becomes a Mormon..Stay tuned for more about Albert :) There is a really fantastic story here that needs all the details to do it justice.
We had another miracle Solomon. And this miracle story is actually inside of another miracle story. It's like miracle inception out here. When we were going to flood the valley with Libros de Mormon, Hna. Pulver and I decided that we could do a lot better than 100 BOMS. If we gave out 10 a day we would hit 200. We hit it hard and did this until the Zone leaders said we didn't have supplies to sustain our efforts and they were calling off the flood until next month. We're pretty sure that because of our diligent efforts with this challenge that we were trusted with the referral of Marlene. She was met by a Rosa on the bus and she wanted a Libro de Mormon. We went to her house and met her and her 3 boys (Who are the coolest, cutest little boys ever: 13, 14, 15) and fell in love. They are already so Mormon just in the way they are. The boys are witty and hilarious! When we got there they were laughing and teasing each other while looking at pictures of them when they were little.
We went with Hna. Davila to their house for a return appointment and couldn't get in because the security guard wouldn't let us in. We could see him through two sets of glass doors and he would look at us and then look back down. I tried not to be frustrated with him. Finally someone came to the door and the security guard comes out of his room. We explain why we are there and Hna. Pulver was getting her on the phone (everything we do has to be on speaker phone, so it makes everything we do just that much better ;) ). It turned out that Marlene wasn't there so we parted with Hna. Davila, and just had a card to take to the apartment. I signed the little sign in sheet, we went to the apartment, dropped off the card ...[oh and talked to Antonio. We asked him if he'd read the foyetto and what he thought. He said he'd read it and that he felt it was true]...and came right back out as we'd promised the security guard we would. I immediately signed the sheet and he came out to talk to us. I think he was impressed and astonished that we were so honest and upfront. When people realize what we do and how we do it, they are astonished. We gave him a foyetto and invited him to church. He said that he would come. On Sunday, guess who came to church looking nice: Alfredo, the security guard. He also came to the baptism we had in our ward yesterday. And directly after the baptism he met Moroni and then went with him and his wife to Los Angeles to some conference about the Book of Mormon. I don't know if you understand how cool this is, but this doesn't happen. Since Alfredo only has another male roommate, Moroni offered to let him be taught by us at his house and he accepted. Our appointment is Wednesday.
Sign of the times. Miracles. The second coming is coming.
HUGE success! I taught it by myself last week because Hna. Pulver was on an exchange, and it was fantastic. I taught them how to pray in English and talked to them about why we pray and how God helps us. Only 3 of the 8 that were there were even members. We played a super fun game at the end and the people LOVED it!! There is a cute woman named Cidia and she kept hugging me. They love me, I can't help it.
Family Home evening yesterday:
Last night was so great! We had a family home evening with a bunch of families! I planned it and Hna. Pulver helped me! We started them on Trujillo balcony (heaven) and had them come down one set of stairs to the middle of the apartment complex (the waste land) and then they had to find the barra de hierra (iron rod) and make it to the bottom of the other set of stairs that hooks into the other side of the balcony. We recruited Hno. Albarracin to help us get people off the right path and it was so cool. I started them off by telling them we were all in heaven and that we were only spirits. I asked them if they wanted to go to earth. I told them that when we went to earth, we wouldn't remember all being together here in heaven and we would have to walk in faith. It was cool because we had the Trujillos (dad doesn't come to church), Albarracins, and Chavezes (German and Francisca getting ready for baptism). We instructed Hno. Albarracin not to let German Chavez make it back. I wish you could've seen Erick trying to cheer his dad on. It was one of the most pure exclamations of emotion I have ever seen. After the activity we all gathered back in the house and talked about it. We aren't going to have German be lost. In fact, we aren't going to let anyone in that room be lost because we are a team and we are brothers and sisters. It was powerful. After we played a fun game.
Things I've learned:
1) Perspective is like the oil of the 10 virgins. You can't share it. Accumulation takes time.
2) Families are the most important things. Please, please, please keep doing family home evenings.
3) I am now almost literate in 2 different languages. Yay!! (All this Spanish is making my English and grammar skills and my ability to describe myself decline) Yay!
Dad, Mom, Skibs, Sam, Nate, I love you very much. We are going to be an eternal family.
I love you!!