Monday, April 9, 2018

ELDER MATT LEBARON - 3/26 - Boyle heights is the place to be

Hey guys!

So this week has been pretty good it’s flown by! I am staying in the

area but got a new companion, Elder boulette. Me and him get a long
pretty well together and I think he will be my last companion since I
only have once transfer after this one is done. We have a visa
missionary in our apartment so now we have 5 people, I guess you can’t
beat 6 though haha.

I’ve been slacking on the emails, Time is flying by so fast. It feels

like I was just with Elder Hansen, we were together 3 months and now
he’s in my first area, the Glendora 3rd Ward. I had a lot of fun with
him, so I wanted to sum up our last week together, I hope you’re ready
to take a nice little seat for this story. Nothing but exciting things
happen in East L.A reader discretion advised, haha just kidding it’s
not that bad. ;)

on Tuesday we went to East L.A, which we go to a lot lately. We were

riding the bus and this kid sitting next to us had a book titled “how
to better understand the Bible” so of course we struck a conversation
with him. He was really knowledgeable about the scriptures and even
started quoting scriptures at us about the structure of the church and
priesthood authority and all sorts of stuff. He said he was only 16,
and I was honestly pretty impressed like... when I was that age, I did
not care about the Bible, honestly still not too fond of the Bible
especially the Old Testament. 😂 so pretty much what happened was he
kept switching busses and so we followed him and talking to him, I was
pretty determined to pick him up as an investigator, and so we did. I
was worried that I was going to run out of tap money because I was
pretty low, and we ended up in the middle of L.A probably outside of
the mission riding the bus with this guy. The follow up appointment
sucked, I was on exchanges and Hansen doesn’t know how to talk to
people. The kid just looked up scriptures on google about how we can’t
be Gods and how there is errors in the Book of Mormon, pretty much
just a bunch of scriptures that don’t make any sense, taken out of
context. So whatever Eric. I’m just sick of trying to convince people,
it just seems like no one will just take the challenge of just reading
and praying. That’s how the last 2 transfers have felt, just trying to
convince people, it’s been pretty slow. Haha

I’m sorry this email might come across as negative, but I don’t know

how else to present these stories. 😂 this week we had another
incident of a crazy person on public transportation. East L.A is a
place where you don’t really feel all that comfortable, especially in
Boyle heights. I think the most terrifying thing to me is all the
homeless people that are on drugs and crazy. There was this guy on the
train when we walked in and he was facing the aisle sitting sideways
in the seats with his hood over his head. He was talking to himself,
so instantly I start heading to the back of the bus. I turn around and
Elder Hansen is about to sit right next to him, like STOP! I am not
sitting next to that guy.  This is all non verbal body language
because I don’t want to engage this crazy guy and I get Elder Hansen
to at least sit across from him on the other side of the aisle, but it
still puts us in a spot where the guy is just staring us down. Elder
Hansen seemed annoyed that I made him change spots, not fully aware of
what’s going on. We sit down and I whisper to him “hey let’s go sit in
the back of the train” With a confused face he responds “what?” A
little louder “Elder let’s go sit in the back?” He face scrunches a
little more in confusion “what??” Feeling a little frustrated I
respond “ let’s sit back there!” Pointing to the back of the train
cart “ what are you talking about?” Ugh okay whatever, haha I just
accept it. Who cares, we are going to sit next to this crazy guy
talking to himself saying the craziest things. Elder Hansen is still
oblivious to the situation totally zoned out, he probably thought the
guy was on his phone, but I don’t think he was listening to what he
was saying. “You can’t kill my brother, he’s a motherf*******
vampire!”  This is really a losing situation for me because I’m on the
outside seat. Why don’t I just get up and move to the back, right?
Seems like a simple solution, but I’ve tried that with crazy people
here, and they follow us! It’s like I can’t get a break. This guys is
starting to get louder and louder, saying terribly vulgar things that
literally don’t make any sense.

At this point Elder Hansen looks at me a little concerned, finally

realizing the situation. I don’t even look at him I just keep looking
out the window, I’m not going to engage this guy. Obviously all the
things he’s saying is directed towards us, some how I thought that
this situation was just going to defuse itself, just be calm . Now the
guy is screaming at us, “hey you faggot murderers! You want to f******
fight?! Hey shut up! Shut your F****** mouth, I’ll kill you” so this
is a little disconcerting to me at this point. I’m a little worried to
what’s going to happen, since crazy people are so  unpredictable. He
threw a pen trying to hit Elder Hansen, it flew past his face and
smacked into the window. Elder Hansen picked up the pen and with
frustration looks at our crazy guy with the expression of “what are
you doing” on his face, with his hands up. I shoot Hansen a glare,
like don’t you dare intensify this situation. The guy yells some other
threatening and sits down. He’s quite for a moment and then says “
look I’m sorry, I’m sorry I threw the pen” and then the train stops
and people flood in. Finally! More people! This might be a bad
situation but at least we won’t be the only people on the train. He
seems to quiet down and I think that it’s over, he just keeps mumbles
crazy, vulgar things to himself. Out of no where he screams at the top
of his lungs “IM NOT SORRY” and everyone on the train gasps out of
shock, everything gets eerily silent. There are a few more details,
but for the sake of time and your attention span I’ll cut to the most
exciting part.

One thing leads to another and now this guy is grabbing a support pole

along the side of a seat and shaking it as hard as he can screaming.
He then runs to the pole closest to us and starts doing the same
thing, he runs to the back of the train and sprints up to the front
just yelling nonsense. An older lady stands up pointing her finger at
this guy and yells “STOP IT STOP IT!” Obviously this situation is
growing increasingly out of control. He starts to point at random
people including myself “ you feel unsafe?! You feel unsafe right
now?!” Like freaking yes ! I feel unsafe as hell right now! The man
starts to scream, “They can’t contain me! Get me off this train! He
runs to the train door and pulls the emergency door latch as the train
is going full speed down the tracks. An alarm sounds and the trains
begins to stop. He starts kicking the door holding onto the side poles
putting his full body weight into it. The door slightly buckles under
the force and a crack appears at the top of the door. He reached his
fingers between and frantically tried to pull apart the doors. After
about 10 seconds the doors began to slide open. While the train still
moving, probably 5 miles an hour at this point. Our boy leaps from the
train and starts sprinting down the track. I felt relief at this
point, finally he’s gone! It was probably the longest 20 minutes of my
life. The whole metro got held up for 30 minutes because the train
door was broken. Our train was stuck on the tracks along with all the
other trains going our direction. They had to get a train technician
to come and fix it... man that was a long day. To sum up the story I’m
find everyone on the train is fine, it was just a Wild experience with
a roller coaster of emotions. To say the least I never want to ride
public transportation again. This is probably the 5th or 6th bad
experience I’ve had. So excited to have a car. 😂

I love all you guys, thanks for all the love and support you give me,

I love my mission it has shaped me into something amazing and I am so
grateful to the Lord for being able to have this time to grow, as
Imperfect as I am he still blesses me and has helped me through this
mission and will continue to do so the next 2 and a half months.

Elder LeBaron

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 3/12 - Well..... here it is, the final countdown.

It is so bittersweet. I've heard so many missionaries say that before, and I always felt like they didn't give enough description. But now that I'm staring the end of my mission right in the eyes, bittersweet is the only word I have. I've never been so excited for the end of something, and so sad to be leaving too. I have wanted to cry all day, but also laugh and pack and get going. 
This week was simultaneously the worst and the best, but I'll just talk about the good stuff. :) 
I've been doing really good at not eating sugar so much! When the hermanas wanted ice cream the other day, and tried to convince me to just get whatever I wanted, I went with the sugar free flavors, because I'm committed dangit. And when the hermanas pulled out a box of thin mints, and told me to "live a little" because it's the end of my mission, I said "No! I'll eat thin mints at home, I'm committed!" It's been hard, but I"m so proud of myself haha. 
Well, we just decided that today we want to go to Latah, because there are sweet places to take pictures there, and it's way better than doing boring stuff here in Spokane Valley, like shopping and cleaning. So..... this email is short. 
But I have an important announcement! 
My homecoming talk will be on the 18th of March (yes, one day after I fly home. It's awesome) The address is 1455 North Harris Drive MESA, Arizona 85203-3828, and you should all be there or be square. ;) (except my cute missionary friends, I totally understand. Go serve the Lord :) ) The meeting starts at 11, and I have 20 minutes to talk, so get ready for some tears and some diatribes about how awesome missions are ok? 

 3 pictures from the corner of Best and Mission. Because who has the best mission? We do. ;D

3 are from the crazy service project on Saturday that we did with most of the zone. We were searching through enormous piles of trash in a guys yard to find glass, tin, iron... anything he could sell for recyclables. I found some cool souvenirs for Sis Cardon and I. I guess you could say I'm a professional treasure hunter ;). 

 And 3 pictures from MLC last week! It was so, so good to be there, and to bear my testimony one last time to all of those good people. I'm gonna miss this place for sure. (Also featuring Elder St John and Sister Hulsey from the original St Maries-Plummer squad. Man I missed those guys) 

Ok here are some pictures from our Ward mission leader, bro Palmer, and his family. They're so funny, I love them. 

Also there are some pics from when Sis Cardon and I went to downtown Spokane last pday. Good stuff. I love the running guys statue thing.

Ok I love you all! Thank you for supporting me and praying for me this whole time! It's been one crazy run, but it's been so worth it. Here's to the rest of my life and all the adventures it has to hold. 
Peace out for the last time as a Sister missionary. 
Sister Johnson

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 3/5 - Hello friends and family :)

Man have I missed you all this week. It's been a long week. 

The best part of the week though, was we have a new little investigator! Her name is Dakota, and she's 9 :). We taught her a quick Restoration lesson, and she's way cute! She understood pretty well, and is really excited to get the Children's Book of Mormon we promised her at our next lesson (because let's be real, who doesn't like the picture book version better? Can't beat those illustrations). AND SHE CAME TO SACRAMENT MEETING and brought her less active mama with her. It was awesome :). I love her already. 
Also this week we played the most intense round of marshmallow dodgeball last Monday. I am definitely going to miss that game when I go home. All my friends better prepare themselves for a game at home when I get my life together maybe someday, haha. 
We got to have an interview with President Dymock this week as well. I love President and Sister Dymock so much. They just always have the right things to say to help me keep going when things are tough. I'm going to miss them when I go. While waiting for Sis Cardon in her interview with President, Sister Dymock told us waiting missionaries a story about two turkeys who learn to fly. (I think it's a story from a conference a while back). They learn to fly and see all these amazing sights, and their instructor really helps them and they love flying. When the day is over, they thank the instructor, feeling so excited about how fun their day was, and then they walk all the way home. We discussed some reasons that we, in our lives, sometimes "walk all the way home" after we've experience the joy of the Gospel. Sometimes it's because our instructor leaves, sometimes it's because flying is uncomfortable for us anyways, etc. And then she encouraged us to remember to fly all the way home instead, and to keep practicing the skills we learn here on a mission, even if it's uncomfortable for us sometimes. It was so good! 
Also at district meeting, we talked about how we can use technology more in missionary work. Elder Lofgren is a really good district leader, and he used videos to demonstrate how the Spirit can speak to us through technology. This particular video gave me the feels, please watch it:

Oh! I got to bear my testimony at sacrament meeting yesterday in the Bowdish ward. I talked about how when I first got here, I thought things would be fine, it was warm enough and the weather was nice. But then it started to snow and I was so unprepared and terrified of being cold. And then it snowed forever. And all everyone kept saying was that my "blood would thicken" and I'd be fine. I did not believe them, that sounded ridiculous! So I bundled up and glared at the clouds every day. But then one day came along in the middle of the winter that it hit 50 degrees. Back home, 50 degrees is freezing, and you wear gloves and a coat and drink hot chocolate and sit inside all day, right? That day though, I took my coat off and wore just my long sleeved shirt, and realized that my blood did really thicken. What once was unbearable and horrible to me, had suddenly become something I could handle. I realized that most of life is like that. Rarely do we ever feel ready, or adequate to handle the crazy challenges presented to us. We look ahead and think we'll never make it, even though everyone around us tells us things will work out and you'll be fine. But every time we turn to our Savior and ask for His help, and then do what we can and give all we have to overcome that challenge, He helps our spiritual "blood" to thicken. And then things just work out. :) He always takes whatever we have, and makes it enough. And I think that is so incredible. Kind of like when Jesus had the 5 loaves and the 2 fishes. He takes everything we have to give, and somehow, our blood really does thicken, and we not only survive, but we survive with grace and happiness to accompany us. 

Also Sister Douglas went on exchanges with the hermanas, and it was a blast. The only pictures I have for myself this week are from our spa party. Did I tell you I love face masks? I love face masks. And so does Sis Douglas, so that's what we did. Haha best day ever.

I love you all so much! Here's to the week of "last time I do this" moments. #9daysleft
Good luck this week! :) 
Sister Johnson

Sunday, March 4, 2018

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 2/26 - Hello again! :)

It's been one more week on this crazy adventure. I only really have 2 more full weeks of missionary work, and then I'll be a regular civilian again. We're getting close, people! Get ready for this Sister to be an adult someday! ;D 
Mostly this week..... was basic I guess? Not a lot is sticking out as especially fantastic. 
Oh! The hermanas moved in with us, and I love them so much. Hermana Mallett and Hermana Wood are super cute and they help keep the kitchen pretty clean, so that rocks. And we have fun talking after our long days of work. Hermana Mallett thinks I'm particularly funny, so we get along great. And she's always quick to comment on how great I look in face maks (which it turns out are super fun to put on, regardless of if it's really helping my face or not). 
Oh Friday was really great! We got to go and sing a song to a senior missionary couple whose mission just ended over the weekend (but they live here in this stake, so it's ok because I'll still see them). Another elderly sister from the office had a friend rewrite the lyrics to "Popcorn Popping". It went something like this;
I looked out the window and what did I see?
Elder McFarlane bringing stuff to me.
Vacuums, lamps and pans and mattresses
Some even think he is Santa Claus
He can keep a shed organized and neat
Get rid of bed bugs which is a feat
No matter the time or
What he needs to do 
He will say "I'll get it right out to you!" 

I went to the ER and what did I see?
Sister McFarlane right there next to me
She's so patient, kind, supplies a crutch
Always says "Have fun, but not too much!"
She's a super chef, no one dares to beat.
Her meals and treats are a joy to eat.
There hardly is a day
When she doesn't say
"Remember you need to pay your co-pay!"

Isn't that just so cute? I love the McFarlanes. Sis McFarlane is the mission nurse who took such good care of me when I had to go home. I want to be her best friend. (Also she really does make stellar food.) 
After we sang to them we got to go to District meeting. And after district meeting, the whole zone got together for lunch. Sister Banks and Sister McFarlane made it for us, and it was the best chicken tortilla soup and rolls ever. I just love those ladies!! 
Hm... oh it snowed a lot the other day and I almost got stuck in a retention ditch. But never fear, this Arizona girl knows where the AWD button is, and was not phased by the wicked white death! (Also I have waaaaaaay too much pride to call the elders and ask for help digging us out. I'd go to almost any length to just get unstuck by myself haha) 
Well, the only other fantastic thing from this week was last pday, where we got to play volleyball with the Spokane Valley zone, and I got to see Sister Blake again :). Also we taught the elders ballet, and it was pretty fantastic actually. Elder Stewart is actually pretty good at it. The others try real hard haha. 
Otherwise that's pretty much it! I love you all! Keep smiling :) 
Sister Johnson 

Here are some pictures from the snow the other day!

And a picture of our fantastic lunch at district meeting :). 
 Also... turns out Android phones have "Easter eggs" to find. One of them is this weird kind of cat app? Like it's not technically a game. But you put "food" in a "dish" in your settings, and cats start showing up, and you can name them? Like Pokemon go.... but not? Because you literally don't do anything and cats just show up in your notifications. 
Needless to say, I have 22 cats now. Here's to being a virtual cat lady! ;) 

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 2/19 - Hello!! It's me :)

It's been another week! 
Last week we played a fantastic round of volleyball on Pday. It was so fun to not even hesitate or worry about jumping and running and ducking and things. I think I'm back to 100% since my surgery, and that is just the coolest thing! 
This week we also got a lot of snow off and on, and I'm over it. The problem with Spokane snow.... is that it snows, turns to slush, and then freezes that way, and permanently glazes all the roads. I'm glad I have some rubber muck boots I bought, because they have fantastic traction. I haven't fallen yet.... but we did have a fantastically frightening drift around a corner the other day that looked clear of ice.... but was apparently not. Good thing I practiced handling the car in snow and ice last winter in Moscow.... haha. ;) 
We also got to have Zone Conference with President and Sister Dymock this week. It was way cool! President again exploded our brains talking about the Urim and Thummim, including theories of what it looks like and how it relates to all these different parts of our culture. It's too hard to explain over an email, but for real it's worth looking into. It was way cool. And Sister Dymock gave us a great training on "Open Systems vs. Closed Systems" of communication, and how in our lives we are so much happier if we council together and are all open with each other, than if we close down and one person just dominates direction. It was so good :). I love zone conference so much. 
OH on Tuesday, I had one of the coolest experiences. We got to go to a lesson with a man who has lost his testimony over time and through the really hard things he's had to seen and go through. He told us he used to share the Gospel with all of his friends, and saw many of them baptized, but he isn't so sure anymore that God exists, because there's just so much horror out there. We had a great discussion with him about the scriptures and the Holy Ghost, and prayer.... and towards the end, I just felt like my heart would burst over the testimony in my heart. I was able to bear a testimony to him of the reality of God's love, and that all those things he used to know so well, and used to feel and love, could all come back for him. I have never felt so sure of anything in my life! But I know that Heavenly Father is anxiously waiting for that guy, and each of us, to reach back out to Him and ask the questions in our hearts. He'll answer all of our concerns, if we are willing to hunt down the answers. It was incredible, I wish words did the moment justice! 
Lent started on Wednesday, so I gave up sugar again this year. I always feel much better about myself when I'm not eating sugar... And I've been really good about eating fruits and vegetables too! It's such a challenge to eat healthy sometimes, but it's empowering to know I can do it :). 
And on Friday, I was able to go on exchanges with our STL, Sister Douglas. She is way awesome! We had so much fun talking and getting to know each other. She's been all over the world,  and maybe someday we'll get to go on a trip together, because that would be way sweet! I could learn a lot from that lady, I just love her. All the same.... exchanges always make me grateful for my own companion. Shoutout to Sister Cardon for being fantastic! It's so easy to communicate with her, and we get good stuff done together too :). It felt good to be able to report great things to the STL :). 
Hm.... well, other than all that, this week was pretty basic. The two Spanish hermanas are moving into our apartment today, because our apartment is bigger I guess. It'll be an adventure. We'll get to have the Spokane Valley zone at our Pday later though to play volleyball and dodgeball, so that'll be awesome.
I hope you're all reading your scriptures and saying your prayers!! It works ;) I promise! 
Love you all! 
Sister Johnson 

Here are some pictures from this week! 
One is of the play doh whale I made at church. Best Gospel Principles lesson on the creation ever!
 Oh and I got to see my cute trainee, Sister Blake, at zone conference! She's adorable. And all grown up now! 
  And I attached a whole bunch of pictures of our adventure on Tuesday with all the sisters in the zone. We made crepes! Sister Cardon is a pro crepe maker, and she taught Sis Douglas how to flip them (that's Sis Douglas at the stove).

I also have some other adventure pics! Here are some pics from our temple trip last Tuesday :)) I love all these people. :)

Ok here are some more pictures! These are from my exchange with Sister Douglas. Isn't she so cute?

 We found a castle! In the middle of Spokane?? It's cute haha.

ELDER MATT LEBARON - 2/19 - Blessings on Blessings on Blessings, I’m Blessed

Hello everyone!

Well it’s been another couple weeks since I’ve written, so I bet you are all on pins and needles, eagerly awaiting this letter.  I hope it finds you well, and you are enjoying your President days day! I unfortunately can’t poke fun and mention how you guys are back to the grind of your regular work week while I’m on my pday, looks like today we’re even, just keep that in mind for next week. ;) 

Things have been so crazy this week, I don’t know what’s going on but everyone is dying out here. Everyone is falling apart, breaking their hip or foot, or having some kind of other bodily injury that require us to give them a blessing. We’re running out of consecrated oil here people ! No lie me and my companion have probably given at least 15 blessings this week. That’s a record for my mission. I’ve visited the hospital so many times, and even sisters in my district have been asking for blessings. 

Something that’s funny to me about missionary work, is either there is nothing going on and you’re trying to be productive, or there is literally not enough time in the day to get everything done. It seems like people only ask for help on the days you are super busy, and yet you still find time somehow to schedule them in too. The other day we were waiting for this guy to show up for a lesson (it ended taking up a looong time) I just opened up area book and started calling people and we had some lessons over the phone while we waited, and set up return appoints, we didn’t have anything planned for that day, but believe me the work found us. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re looking at your schedule and not knowing how in the world you’re going to get everything to fit. So stressful, but It’s a good problem to have, I wish it happened more often honestly. 

We’ve been down to East L.A a lot this week, and maaaan if my mission has taught me anything it’s what I want and what I don’t. I’ve been in rich areas for a long time in my mission and being in the ghettoes really makes me grateful for everything that I have, I’ve had a good life. Everyone out here seems to have such hard life situations, not to mentions some of these people are spending so much money just to live in the ghetto, I don’t get it. Glad I’m not going to be living in L.A when I go home, haha. What a dirty dirty overpopulated place, haha. 

Anyways things have been going really well! I’ve actually really enjoyed being district leader because of the interaction it gives me with other missionaries, my whole mission I always said I never wanted to be a district leader, but hey, I’m actually enjoying it, it’s pretty fun. Not to mention the district leader can go into any of the areas that are in the district, my district covers the whole zone, so it’s almost like I have the ability of a zone leader to go where I want without question, let’s just say Pasadena is pretty cool for meal appointments. ;)  have a good week! Love you guys! Dot be afraid to send me nice things, like skinny floral ties, I love nice things!

Have an excellent week! 
Elder LeBaron 
614 West Foothill Blvd Arcadia CA
Happy Valentine's Day!

Waiting for the train 

Monday, February 12, 2018

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 2/12 - First of all...

First of all, shoutout to my littlest siblings for turning 13 yesterday! Because I love them and I only missed their teenage threshold birthday because I came back out here. Sorry guys. I've got gifts for when you get here though, no worries ;) 

Anyways, it was a good week! We got some good stuff done. 
Sister Hall went away.... A sister in the Ponderosa ward was a visa waiter for Zimbabwe, and she got her Visa on Monday and left on Wednesday! Because who wouldn't want to be in Africa asap? So Sister Hall gets to be over there in Ponderosa now. But not before we had an adventure together. Haha the elders had set up an appointment for us to go see a man named Lance that they met on a blitz last week. They'd given him a book of Mormon and he seemed super interested. But..... our members coming to the lesson found a sticky note and a book of Mormon by the guy's front door right before we showed up for the lesson.... it said "Sorry not for me". Haha I attached a picture, it's the first time I've had a book of Mormon returned to me I think?

Usually people just take them and it slowly eats at their curiosity for 20 years or something. Not for Lance though. We'll get him later. ;) 
Also there are a couple of pictures from the baby shower we kind of became the unofficial general managers for. One is of me and sis Cardon and it shows how tired we both were. It was a nonmember Samoan baby shower, and it was awesome!! But they literally demanded all day from us. It was long. 

OH also we got to go to YWs on Wednesday, and we got to make "bucket lists". We had 5 categories to make plans for, Spiritual, Fun, Personal, Family, and Personal. So I attached a picture of mine because I think they were pretty good goals. :) You're welcome. 

Church was awesome yesterday! Everything was about agency and choices and it was really inspiring. One guy talked about the root word of pesticide, insecticide, herbicide, etc. Cide means to kill or terminate. And then he related it to the word Decide, and how we need to decide what we're doing, and that terminates the other options. So as we choose righteous things, it becomes easier to choose righteous things in the future, because it eliminates the wrong choices we could have made. It was a really cool idea. 
Ummm..... otherwise this week was pretty basic. Schuyler came to church and that was SO GOOD! I think he loved it. Hopefully we get to see him this week, and he'll come again. :) He's seriously so awesome, I'm pumped to share the Gospel with him. 

Anyways, off to shop and play marshmallow dodgeball for reals. 
I love you all! Keep smiling, life is so good :) 
Sister Johnson