Thanksgiving was wonderful! We only had two dinners and the elders had five!! I don't even know how they rode their bikes because I could barely do it after eating only two. We started the morning by doing some service over at the church with our elders and the zone leaders. They had us clean the bathrooms and chapel really well and then we all went to Denny's for $2 pancakes. Our first dinner was with the Nash's. Their daughter is serving a mission in Colorado and has been out on her mission for three weeks now, she left the week I came. They are an awesome family and really take care of the missionaries. We also go over there every Sunday night for treats and a spiritual thought. They've had that tradition going for 11 years now and they are a really great family. We headed over to visit the Werners/Wilfleys after for some pie and spent a while with them. Sister Werner is the cutest and i love being with their family. Her three brothers are these huge college football players and she has the cutest kids. Dinner with the Castillos was next and they had the best dinner by far. It was so good and I still want more. We showed them a Mormon message about being thankful and had an awesome discussion with them about being grateful. All the time now, as we are talking with people I just zone out for a second and look around and realize how blessed I have been the past 18 months to have shares such special experiences with so many people. I just feel at such peace as I look around me and can recognize the spirit so strongly. This has been an amazing time of my life! The happiest by far.
I can't believe I haven't told you guys about Jenny yet. Jenny is a returning member. She has four kids and her oldest two kids just got baptized in August. She has dreads, tattoos, is all natural and organic, and seriously the coolest person alive. I seriously love their family. We go over to Jenny's a few times a week and help her out around the house because she's basically a single mom right now while her husband is going to school down south to be a nurse. Jenny called us late Wednesday night and told us that her and Robert were going to be legally married by the bishop and she wanted us to be there! They had a ceremony about eight years ago, but there were never any legal documents signed and Bishop told her that this is something she would have to do before she went to the temple! So that night us, her four kids, the bishop, Roberts and her met in the relief society room and they were legally married! Jenny is really trying to get to the temple and we were so pumped when we heard that she is one step closer.
Coral is a less active returning member who we have started to work with more. She is really trying to get back in to church and knows this is where she needs to be. She's been a member for two years now, but a lot of her extended family are members. Coral has made incredible progress this week. Sister spears said she never used to be as open as she is now. Even in the few times I've met with coral, I feel like she has such a good heart and just wants to do well. She was able to meet with bishop this week and discuss her progress and her biggest problem is having too much time on her hands. She has no job, no car, no family real close and no internet. So she has a lot of spare time to do things she probably shouldn't be and knows she shouldn't be doing. Bishop invited her to think about having more contact with us and ever since then, we have had some really good lessons over at corals. As I was studying on Wednesday morning, I was praying about coral and what we could do to help her and I really felt strongly like introducing her to family history and indexing would be a good use of her time. A good wholesome thing to fill her time with. She wasn't too thrilled with the idea at first, but we are hoping that as she begins to do it, she can learn to love it and feel the spirit as she does. She really loves to serve, so even though she doesn't have much, she offered to feed us lunch twice last week. The whole time we were there for lunch I just kept thinking to myself, "this is exactly what she needed. A way to focus on other people." It's so cool to see first hand mosiah 2:17 come to pass, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Sister Simmons is a returning member as well. Her daughter Kaiya just got baptized a few months ago and that had really been a major turning point for their family! Sis Simmons has been a member her whole life, but has been in and out of the church for years. She has been working so hard to get her life on track and was able to receive her patriarchal blessing yesterday morning! It was such an amazing blessing for her and she said that the patriarch was so spot on, it was crazy. It's so cool to see all of these people really trying to work hard to come back to what they know is true and right.
Wednesday afternoon, after our district meeting, we rode our bikes over to this little Mexican restaurant called La Fiesta. Wendy Metrogen, one of my recent converts from Loomis, met us over there and we had lunch with her! It's been almost a year since I've seen her and was so good to see her and to just start where we left off. She is really working hard to keep going to church and still receives weekly visits from the sisters. I was so happy to hear they she was doing so well. She's really looking forward to meeting mom and dad when they come out here!
This Saturday we have a baptism for Emma. Her grandparents are in our Ward and we received permission to teach and baptize her in our Ward because her dad goes to school and works full time. She's 12 years old and is pretty excited about being baptized. She has a very similar story as I do with our parents divorces being similar and her being raised by her dad. I felt a real connection with her right as I met her and I feel like I know a lot of what she is going through. We have been reviewing the lessons with her the past few weeks so that she feels ready and hopefully we can pull everything together by Saturday.
The Castillos are this awesome recent convert family who was baptized a year ago in December. The elders were riding past their house one day and started talking with them and they were so prepared! Their whole family was baptized. Wife, husband, and Junior their 15 year old son. The Castillos are seriously amazing people! They are going to the temple next weekend to receive their own endowments and be sealed. It's going to be such a special day for them!
Friday morning a less active woman in the Ward, Karen, invited us over to help decorate her Christmas tree! It was so fun and I love that members involve is in their Christmas traditions. Karens conversion is all thanks to Donny Osmond. There are so many women who are in love with Donny who joined the church. She has every single one of his CDs and has met him at a lot of his So Cal concerts. So of course, we decorated the tree while listening to The Osmonds Christmas cd.
Two move outs, two move ins. I told you that Our investigator Taylor had moved out, but one of our recent convert families the sisters used to work with moved out as well. So we have been struggling to find new investigators. But it was amazing to see this past week, as two people in our teaching pool moved out, two women moved in. The first is Lisa. She just moved here from a different Ward and is an investigator. She worked out of Orem for a phone book/advertising company for a really long time before she got lung cancer and would be in Orem two months out of the year. She would go to our church every Sunday and would help out with any of the service projects they had going on. She took the lessons while she lived back in Oregon, but never joined the church. She really just likes to church hop and says she hasn't found one that fits yet, so hopefully this time around something will click. She is basically a member though because she will come to church and shares the gospel with her friends. One of her Russian friends from Sacramento is going to come to church with her because he's really interested, so hopefully something will come of this. The other move in is a lady named Hannah. Hannah just moved here from Boise and is also not a member, but might as well be. She met with the missionaries in Boise and showed up at our Ward Sunday because she had just moved in. She lives in a trailer on the back of her truck and so she is never in one place for very long, but we are hoping that she shows up at church again next week so that we can teach her.
I hope you all have heard of the new Christmas video called "He is the Gift" that the church just released. It is absolutely amazing and I can't get enough of it! We have been sharing it with the members of our Ward and inviting them to prayerfully think of someone who they can share it with. Every time I watch it I have one of those moments like what I was talking about the beginning, where I kind of zone out, look around me, and everything for that moment just seems so peaceful and perfect. Like I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The church is really pushing this video and I would invite all of you to share it! It's a very simple message that anyone of any faith would enjoy. A good reminder to us that Christ is the gift and we should make a commitment to discover more of his life, embrace his example, and share the gift of our knowledge of him with everyone around us.
I hope you all have a wonderful week! This could really be the last week to send me letters, so send them while you can. :) I love you all! Read, pray, be active, forgive, and remember the Savior in all you do.