Me above the Hollywood sign. Buildings to the left are downtown L.A. and the hill to the right on the horizon is the south end of my mission. So this picture is my entire mission!
Elder Karnes, me, Efrain Juarez, and Elder Cruz at Efrain's baptism!
It has been another great week here in Jefferson Park. Efrain Juarez got baptized on Sunday! It was pretty awesome! The baptism was nice. His sister and his kids were there for it too. are hoping that his sister will get baptized this Saturday! She is the one that is visiting from Oaxaca, Mexico, and she wants to get baptized while she is up here. So we will be working hard with her. Elder Cruz came up for the baptism. It is good to see him again.
We just got back from Zone Conference. It was long. Our mission is going through a lot of changes lately because of our new president, President Baker. He is taking out many of the old, specific, "law of Moses" type of rules, and we will be following the rules in a different way. We focused a lot on the white handbook and following the Spirit. It will be a lot better than the old rule book we used to follow. Many of the same rules will stay, but we will be expected to follow them out of a desire to have the Spirit, instead of getting lost in a pool of rules like the people in Moses's time. Zone Conference was from 8 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon! I had a pretty big headache when we were done, but a learned a wnole lot. Also, starting on friday, texting will be activated on all of our phones so we can use it for missionary purposes. We are going HIGH TECH haha! President is asking the whole mission to read the Book of Mormon all the way through before the end of the year. We all got our own copies of the paperback Book of Mormon, and he wants us to mark every time we read Jesus's name. Sounds fun! Hopefully I can read fast enough to finish it! Elder Haslem was at our Zone Conference. He seems like he's doing really well! It is really neat to serve with a friend from high school!
The work is going well in our area. We are working hard and finding people. There is definitely no substitute for hard work. Some missionaries try to get around it. But hard work, with the Spirit, is the best way to do missionary work. I'm starting to find more and more joy serving a mission. At times it is really easy to get discouraged and sad, but that is not the way it is meant to be. Hard work with the Spirit tends to fix that. The other day I got sick! I woke up in the morning, and I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to sleep in and "rest" so I could work better the rest of the day. But instead, I just went to work. I got up, got ready, studied, and went out to work. My nose was really really runny, and it dripped all the way to appointments as we rode our bikes. But it was well worth it! It ended up being a pretty fun day! Satan has cute little ways of trying to distract us, but we know better than he does. The best medicine for a sick Elder, is to go out and work (unless it's fatal, then a doctor would be a fancy choice). Elder Karnes and I have been busy fixing plenty of flat tires. Our area is covered in thorns, broken glass, and all kinds of other stuff, so we're experts with flat tires now.
On Sunday we were missing a few of our investigators at church. That was a bummer. Hopefully they will make it this next week, because it is hard to progress when they don't come to church.
Hey, guess what Grandpa Watkins!? I saw Catalina Island yesterday! In fact, I saw just about our entire mission, all at once (plus a few other missions)! Yesterday was a strangely clear day in Los Angeles! It rained early in the morning, and we hiked to the Hollywood sign again for p-day. There was almost no smog! It was a miracle! And that was when I realized how small our mission is. We looked out over Los Angeles, and we could see all the way down to the ocean, and Catalina Island, and some large ships! The Hollywood sign is just about the very northern tip of our mission, and we could see the very southern tip, and further! We could see the tall buildings down in Long Beach! It was pretty neat! And it was nice to get some fresh air! I caught a lizard too! I'll bet all the little cousin boys will think that is pretty neat!
Well, this church is still true! I'm really grateful for this opportunity I have to be out here! No matter where we are, the work still goes forth. We are working with lots of people, trying to help them recieve what God wants to give them. It is an adventure, and I've learned a lot so far. But there is still a whole lot more to do! There are people out there who are waiting for the greatest thing ever, but they don't know where to get it. We are a really blessed people. And God expects a lot from us.
Thanks for all of the support from everybody! Hey dad, that picture of our house is awesome! There are so many trees! I can't wait to see it! Thanks for the letters too! I pray for you all the time family! Keep working hard and being happy! I love you!