Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON - 12/26 - Hello again everyone! :D

Christmas was so good! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my family again :) I love those people so much. 
This week was really, really slow in terms of numbers, but! We got to go caroling like 3 times, and 2 of those times with the entire zone. That was awesome! And we stayed mostly warm, and only slipped on the icy roads a couple of times :D. 
Christmas morning was way fun, as we got to get up early to open presents with the Moscow elders at the church building in our pajamas, and eat cold cereal together. That was way fun! And I got so many wonderful gifts, I'm so excited to use all my new warm stuff and eat all the food and play with all the things! 
And we got to have a Christmas dinner, and 3 different dessert homes! I love dessert probably more than I should... but hey, New Year's Resolutions don't have to start until next Sunday, so I'm doing alright! 
Other than Christmas.... we literally didn't do anything spectacular this week. Lots of tracting, lots of running around. We finally got our apartment organized, that was awesome! And we get to go to New Missionary Training this Wednesday, which will be fabulous! I'm so excited! I just love my companion, she's adorable. I love being her trainer! 
Anyways, hope all is well at home! I love you all! :) Happy New Year!
Sister Johnson

Here are some pics! I have more, but I'm out of time so I'll send next week. 
Sister Atwan got popcorn in the mail and freaked out because she was so happy!

Also the Zone leaders came with us to Christmas Eve dinner with the Bollinger family in our ward. They had a Nativity reenactment that was pretty funny, and we got to be wise men! We also sang happy birthday to Jesus and had cake at that party. I smell a new tradition coming my way! 

And also our mini tree with all our presents :)) It was hard not to open them before Christmas! 

ELDER MATT LEBARON - 12/26 - Rain, Christmas, and Baptism

What's up party people,

This week was an interesting one for sure, between all the rain and Christmas, it was a slow one for sure. Christmas day, and Christmas eve were pretty much dead, there aren't a lot of people out there that are thrilled to see us, especially on holidays, and you know, who can blame them? If a Jehovahs witness came knocking on my door on Christmas, Christmas eve, Thanksgiving, or really any time of the year, of any given day, I wouldn't be too thrilled about it, so I can understand where these people are coming from, but man it's not fun when its your full time job to talk to people, and no one wants to talk to you on Holidays, but regardless of all that, I had a wonderful Christmas, thank you everyone that sent me things, and letters, It meant the world to me to be able to see how many people were thinking about me during the holiday season. 

It's been pretty cold out here, I know what you're thinking, "California is the best place to be in the winter time" or "my middle western/northern state is way colder than what you're experiencing" Yes, Yes, I have already considered all of those thoughts, something I would probably think reading this email in a cold winter in Utah or Colorado as I cranked up the heater. I never really considered 50's to high 40's Cold, but when you are outside for 10 hours a day, you really feel it. My body also might have acclimated to the weather by now, so that could also be the case, but regardless, the rain did not help. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am so glad that I am in California serving my mission, when there is a drought, man, what a blessing. After getting drenched by the rain a few times, it's not fun anymore, well, it wasn't too fun the first time, but at least I got excited and thought to myself. "man now this is a mission experience" as I walked from appointment to appointment soaking wet. I've also learned something valuable, it doesn't matter what kind of umbrella you have, it doesn't matter what kind of jacket you have, if you go out in pouring rain for a hours at a time, you're going to have a bad time. 

Lluvia was baptised, and confirmed on Christmas day, she's doing great, and so solid. It's really refreshing to see that baptisms eventually do come, but not only that, but how excited the people are that receive the Gospel in their lives. It has made me feel so grateful that I was born into this Church, but not only that, to have parents that helped my understand and know for myself through prayer, and the holy ghost that it is the true church lead by Jesus Christ himself. Going on my mission has made me so grateful to God for all the many blessings that he has given me, it's funny how a little perspective can give you a lot of gratitude, especially for things I never even thought I would or could be grateful for. All I know is that we have a Heavenly Father that loves us beyond our comprehension, and if we give ourselves to him he will make our lives more wonderful, fulfilling, and important than we could ever do by ourselves. I know that he has a better plan for us than we have for ourselves. I love sharing this Gospel with new people, and I love who I am becoming. Thank you everyone for all the support and love.
Elder LeBaron

Monday, December 26, 2016

SISTER SARAH JOHNSON...12/19 - Hello all! It's been a good week!

I've had cookies every single day. I've seen the sun once. We got a new investigator named Jake! I'm feeling really happy. Sister Atwan is awesome. Our apartment is clean! And Christmas is coming! And then I'll get to talk to my family :)).
Also this week we worked on a llama/alpaca farm, and we'll get to do it again tomorrow! We got to help haul hay and feed all the animals. It's pretty weird, but it's kind of fun too! 
Also a little 3 year old girl told us a story the other day about ourselves, wanna hear it?
"Do you like gingerbread men? Oh good. Once upon a time, the missionaries put a gingerbread man in the oven. And then! The house EXPLODED! KABOOM! and the missionaries disappeared. And THEN they turned into monsters, with ZOMBIE FACES. One time I saw a zombie with red bones because the blood was coming out of him! They looked like THAT!" and her dad was just like "I swear this does not come from our books or movies. Let's talk about puppies and kitties Ok??" Hahaha they're raising Wednesday Adams. 
Also this week I found a really cool scripture that I think gets overlooked! Isaiah 9:6 is the classic scripture verse (wonderful, counselor, prince of peace, etc. :) ), but Isaiah 9:2 is so good coupled with that one! I just have such a grateful heart this Christmas to really focus on how Christ really is our light in this dying world. And I'm so happy to be a missionary this time of year, and to be able to share that light with everyone! This is the greatest work, and I'm so excited to be apart of it. :)
Also this week, we were able to have specialized training with President and Sister Dymock, and it blew our minds. I don't even know how to explain. But Amos 3:7, where it says "secret", should be translated differently because of the Hebrew word "Sod" or "Sode". If you're interested, it's worth looking up!! We got to have a Christmas party with them afterwards, and it included a white elephant gift exchange, and decorating ugly sweater cookies! (cookie cutout shoutout to my mom because it was awesome!)

 And shoutout to Sis Atwan for helping me make 100+ cookies for 14 elders). it was so fun! I love this zone. :) Pictures to come! 

 I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Keep on shining your lights, people are noticing more and more! 
I love you all! 
Sister Johnson

ELDER MATTHEW LEBARON...12/19 - The ghetto, drunk people, and lost faith in public transportation

Hello friends and family! 

I would like to start off by saying that I love my new area, it is seriously the coolest. It's got some nice areas in it, but for the most part, it's pretty ghetto, with a lot of ghetto people, but the cool thing about it, is that ghetto people listen to you. Also, I would like to say that I love black people, black people are the coolest. We are teaching a family that is black, and they are so ghetto, like seriously, I've never seen anything like them in my life before. We are teaching the husband named James, the rest of his family are members, so we have been working with him and his wife to get ready for a baptism date that he can handle, he has a problem with drinking, and smoking (most people do out here) and most of the time when we leave his house after a lesson, it smells as if we were smoking too, with how strong the smell is in they're home. You know people are ghetto when people use the word finne (fin-a). I'm no grammar expert so I'm still learning how this word is used, but as an example James will tell us "yeah, my wife, she ugh, she ugh finnen ta dew some-a dat ubering today, to make-a money" its really a completely different language, there are still many words that I am learning from this family. His wife, sister ketchens likes to tell us that they speak nigerese. I am still working on my nigerese but alas, I was called to serve English, so speaking ghetto is a big step for me. Their family is so crazy, they could honestly make a tv show about them. I love them so much, they are one of my favorite families that we are teaching. 

This area is a ton different than my last, and I have been feeling so happy, the entire week that I have been here, I have felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, joy, and accomplishment, something that I haven't experienced very much on my mission. Something that I have come to realize, is that white people are the worst, seriously though. I have seen such a huge contrast working in this area, and just having people listen to us, sure they might not be interested, but they listen, and are super nice most of the time. It's weird, it's kind of like people out on this side of town just have a respect for us as missionaries, a lot of people will tell us, "God bless you guys!" Sure there are a lot of people that still cuss at us and flip us off, but it seems a lot less than when I was In Glendora. Also my companion makes a huge difference too, E. Crane is awesome! He is just a really easy going guy which makes missionary work pretty fun! Talking on the streets with all the interesting people has been a blast, you don't even know what's going to happen moment to moment in la Puente, and that's probably the best part.

We had zone conference on Friday, and so me, Elder Crane, and the two other elders we are rooming with decided to go on the bus, because it seemed like the most easy and convenient thing to do, not to mention, sometimes it gets tiring asking for members to help us, because a lot of them are super busy all the times. So we went to the designated bus stop, and waited... and waited, waited some more, and when we got tired of waited, we waited a little bit more, and then the bus came.  It was raining pretty hard that day, and so all the busses were super behind, we only ended up being about 30 minutes to zone conference, but it seemed like everyone else had been there for a while. I won't forget the stern look of president as he pointed to two open seats, as we rushed in. Luckily though, we have an awesome mission president, and he was super understanding about the whole situation, after that, we went and waited for the bus some more, and it took even longer than the first bus to get there, when we got back it was already time for dinner, man what a waste of time. I haven't used the busses very much on the mission yet, but that pretty much killed it for me, I'm done with the California public transportation system, thats right you heard me, I'm done. Even I know thats not true though, give it a couple weeks and I'll be on one of those busses again.

One night when we were riding our bikes home, we heard a man with slurred speech yell out, "Hey! Missionaries!" We immediately stopped and looked around, nothing to be seen, it was really dark and hard to make anything out. Thinking we heard a ghost me and my comp got on our bikes and started to ride away, then we heard something again. This time it sounded like some kind of Spanish, but not any Spanish a fluent speaker could understand. We looked to the left and saw a small mexican man slumped over next to a fence. "Oh, Hola!" I replied as the poignant smell of alcohol filled my nostrils. He replied in some sort of slurred Spanglish, that nor me or my companion could understand. Me and Elder Crane looked at each other puzzled, not sure what to say to the small drunk man. "No espanol" I said, and I began to lift my leg to get on my bike, "buenos noches!" I exclaimed. The small drunk man did not find this amusing, and began to scream in his alien language until I put my leg down. "What do you want, huh" I asked with frustration in my voice. He began to go on some sort of tangent in his inaudible speech. We sat there for a few minutes considering if we should just leave listening to his drunk troubles. E. Crane pulled out a pass along card and said "picture of Jesus  Cristo? "Jesus Cristo!!" The man exclaimed as he snatched the card out of my companions hands. "Si, Jesus Cristo!  Beuno!" I responded. This pleased the drunk mexican man, it pleased him very much, soon after looking at the card he slumped over even more falling into some sort of drunken unconsciousness, and we were free to walk away. What a weird night.

We have a baptism next week, with a girl named Luvvia (Uvia) she is getting baptized on Christmas eve, so me and E. Crane are super excited for her, she is fifteen, and so solid. This area is awesome, and the people here are awesome. Like I said before, I'm not sure if I have been this happy on my mission before, and I definitely haven't experienced this much continuous happiness before my mission. Missions are really hard, but one thing that I have learned for sure, after the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, is that your Highs are way higher than your lowest lows. I know that this truly is Gods work on the Earth, and I'm so grateful that God has given me an opportunity to have a front row seat to his miracles, and wonders. The church is true, and If i know anything at this point in my life it's that.

I hope that all of you have a great week, and that you take advantage of this Christmas time to share with someone, the good news of the restored gospel, its a pretty miraculous message. 

Elder LeBaron