Monday, February 20, 2017

Sister Sarah Johnson - 2/20 - It's been such a fantastic week, you guys!

This week, I decided to stop counting down the days until pday, and to just learn how to love every day of the week.  It's something Sis Mitchell and I had been talking about, and i decided to try it.  And it made the biggest difference!  I don't feel liek we did anything different from the week before, but everything went more smoothly, and more successfully, and I didn't feel so tired and unmotivated.  it was way cool!  That little tiny chnge in attitude made the biggest difference in teh work, and I'm so happy about it. :)
We've finally met a whole bunch of former investigators, and many of them said we could come back.  We're excited to see how that goes!

We also finally got to have a legit lesson with Molly. It's the first time with Sis. Mitchell (it's been a while). We taught her what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, and it went so well! She was so honest with us, and we just love her so much. And she found the time to come to sacrament meeting with us! She is really seeking answers, and we love teaching her :). 

Monday we finally got to go hiking with the zone! I only have one picture and it's not super flattering... but I"ll probably include it anyways. Hiking beats basketball any day. 
Tuesday was Valentines! Branch President Gardner had us over to his home for dinner, and they got us boxes of chocolate :)). We laughed so hard all night, their family is the cutest. Also President Gardner is pumped to do missionary work, and he wants us to really help the members to know how to do it too. We're excited to work with the Potlatch members :)). Oh! And shoutout to my family and friends for the Valentines packages :) you all rock! 
We also had a fabulous lesson with a man named Jim! He lives in Potlatch. We taught him the Restoration of the Gospel, and it was so spiritual. And he prayed with us for our first time! (he used to pray with the elders but got all shy about praying with us). I have never felt the Spirit so strongly in a prayer. It's amazing how the people we teach say more sincere, amazing prayers than I ever have, and I've been praying for 20 years. Maybe that's the problem. I think if we all prayed like it was the first time, we'd find that praying was a lot more like a conversation, and a lot less like a laundry list. 
The rest of the week, well... we worked at the food bank, and on the alpaca farm, and we have survived the rain! Lots and lots of rain... it's not the same here as back home where it's also warm. But I'll take it over the snow! haha
I hope you are all doing well :) I love you all!
Sister Johnson 

Ok and here are lots of pictures! 
One of the hike. You're welcome. 

And here's a story I forgot! The food bank ladies let us take weird stuff home sometimes, and this time they gave us marinated goat cheese. So we naturally called up the elders nearest to us, and said "Hey, what are the odds that you eat some goat cheese", and elder Case was all "1 out of 15". So on the count of 3, I said 9, and like 2 seconds after, the silly elder says 9, and so now he has to eat the goat cheese. He was a little upset that we didn't tell him it was marinated, but it didn't matter, we made him try it anyways. They kept it to pass along the What Are the Odds to the other elders. It was a good laugh. 

Also we had to hike up a frozen driveway to see a member in Potlatch.... Sis Mitchell was not happy with me for not being brave enough to drive the Subie up the hill haha. 

And! we had a baby moose chilling outside the Potlatch church building yesterday. Baby moose are dangerous because mommy moose are dangerous.... so that's the best pic I could get. 

Also this kid in the Potlatch Branch, Levi, draws superheroes. I stopped him on this one and was like "OH  MY GOSH IT'S WHAT EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE IN AZ".... 

we had a pretty good laugh about it. Haha!

More pics...

Another fantastic car selfie!

Also a pretty sunset

And me after working on the alpaca farm in the rain. Not so fun when the llama poop isn't frozen.... 

I'll be honest with you!  And we saw the end of the rainbow and there was no gold! #mylifeisalie
There's a house nearish to our apartment that legit looks like a castle. 

And a selfie of us by the welcome to Potlatch sign! :D

Sister Sarah Johnson - 2/13 - Happy 7 month anniversary to me! :D

It's been a weird week but it was alright! 
Tuesday we did "Get to it Tuesday", where we invite all the youth in the stake to invite all their friends to come play marshmallow dodgeball with all the missionaries at the Stake Center. It was pretty awesome, and Jake and Isabeau both came!! That was fantastic :). 
Oh! And we stole the Pullman elder's car. Instead of the two wheel drive Chevy Cruze that we never took out to our Boony areas because it would get stuck... we now have a four wheel drive Subaru Legacy, and I am so happy! I love driving that car. The elders are still mad about it though. We've received a handful of borderline hate texts from them. Haha they'll live. And now we can go out to Potlatch more! Yay!
On Thursday, we were supposed to eat dinner with the Branch President and his lovely wife. But! They had a flood in their basement (due to the Spring meltoff we're now experiencing), so we didnt' go. Then we get a text from President Gardner, where he pointed out that every time we're supposed to come over, they have a disaster (the first time, their house was out of electricity for 12 hours...). And since we were obviously the common denominator, he asked us to give talks on Love (Matt 22:36-39) this Sunday. We laughed and agreed. And the talks went really well! I actually gave a talk on "showing love to Heavenly Father", Feb 12, 2012, and happened to have it with me, which was awesome! So I pulled a lot from that and another talk I'd brought with me, and Sister Mitchell and I rocked it. We love the little branch. They're so pumped about missionaries and missionary work and we just want to live out there permanently sometimes. We're definitely going to build up the work there now that our car can handle all the back, dirt roads and hills. :) 
Otherwise.... this week was relatively uneventful. But being a missionary is fantastic! I'm so excited for the new week! Also, we might get to go hiking today now that the sun has been out for a few days :)). I'm ready to get out of the winter and into spring! 
I love you all! 
Here are some llama selfies, 

and also a picture of "Joseph Smith" that we're pretty sure is modeled after Harrison Ford. 

Enjoy! :)
Sister Johnson

Elder Matthew LeBaron - 2/13 - Steak, walking, and shenanigans

Hello once again,

I hope that everyone has enjoyed their week, I hope that February is warming up for everyone, because it's definitely warming up here in La Puente, California. I have been a little made, some of our days have been pushing the high 70s, which is awful, because it literally just cooled down. It took until about Christmas for things to be comfortable, and here we are again, before I know it, it will be back in the 80s. Personally I think a perfect 70 is the best weather there is. 

We have been walking a lot this week, and so that makes things like 10 times hotter. The cool thing about biking is that you can always make your own breeze, but when you walk you don't have a lot going for you. Me and Mitchell's bikes have been in the shop for a couple days this week, and yet again, I got a call from the bike shop informing me that 5 plus things are wrong with my bike, typical. I got all of those things fixed and my bike is rideable at least. Mitchell had one of his spokes fixed, the next day he broke another one, sucka. Not to mention, the only bike shop that is not even in our area, but out, is super sketchy. Its owned by this Vietnamese guy that speaks broken english, and bike parts are thrown everywhere in the bike shop, most of everything looks like its been stolen, the parts are super cheap, which is nice, but questionable, very questionable. It's a big hassle because we have to get permission from the zone leaders to go, and then we have to get a member to take us, and through out the next couple of days we are crippled, and if we need to go somewhere far we will take the bus, which never shows up on time, it says it comes every 15 minutes, more like every 2 hours. Also the busses are super sketchy in Southern California, a couple of days ago we saw this meth pipe on a seat, and the worst part is that there was this lady that sat by it, started at it for 10 minutes and then put it in her purse... man crazy people they're the worst.

On Tuesday we went to pick up our bikes at the church, because we left them on Monday night. We were riding home, and we saw a couple people surrounded by this towel, with blood everywhere, I instantly knew that it wasn't something that I wanted anything to do with, but Mitchell was persistent that we needed to help out. It looked like there was a little girl that had been hit by a car, but luckily it was only a dog, I won't get into all the details, because it was a pretty graphic experience. I hate when animals get hit by cars, ugh it's awful. When you are on the streets all day you see a lot of stuff like that, especially because the traffic is so dense. seeing that it pretty much ruined me for a couple days. 

This week we had steak for dinner 2 times, which was amazing. Mexico may baptize like crazy, but they got nothing on us when it come to food. Since Crane is leaving this Friday, Sister castro, an older woman who feeds us every week decided to give him a special farewell dinner, which means that me and Mitchell got to get on that too. Blessings. She gave us these huge 14 oz t-bone steaks with potatoes, baked mac and cheese, with garlic bread, maaan, state side can be the best sometimes. Thanks Elder crane for going home, I appreciate it. On Sunday we went to a members house for dinner, and she wanted us to prepare dinner, which was a lot of fun, not to mention it probably required a lot of trust. She gave these huge steaks to Mitchell and asked him to grill them, and she had me making potato salad, which I mean isn't as hard, but still. I guess Mitchell has had a lot of experience when it comes to grilling, because the steaks were super good. Life is good here in La puente. 

Me and my little trio have been working hard, but man is it hard, but man, is it hard to stay focused. It probably doesn't help that me and Mitchell have a lot of fun together. being a missionary can be a lot of fun, and you don't need to break any rules, its all about how you go about doing the work, and me and Mitchell both have a lot of fun. At the same time, that is a little scary because all of my comps... well most of  them have been like polar opposite of me. So it may be a little harder to stay focused knowing myself, but I know the Lord will help me haha. 

I love being a missionary, It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it is so rewarding. This is the first time in my mission where I have started to feel the effect of my work, and it feels so good to finally see some results. I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for me in the next 16 months. 

Elder LeBaron 
614 West Foothill Blvd, Arcadia, California, 91006

Sister Sarah Johnson - 2/6 - I can hardly believe it's February already!

Time really does fly when you get past 6 months out here! 

This week was a weird mix of really awesome things and really sad things. I'll start with the sad things.
Jake dropped us, and doesn't want to meet anymore. We haven't given up on him, but we are pretty sad that he doesn't see any hope for himself. I know the Gospel works and would help him! But Heavenly Father has a plan, he'll come back around someday. 
I also learned what "freezing rain" is. We weren't allowed to drive the other day, because 2 inches of ice covered literally everything. Just solid ice. Our mail man (who's a member in the ward) actually knocked on our door to tell us not to even leave the apartment because even with spikes on his shoes, he was struggling. We went out after noon anyways, because work must be done. But we were especially careful! 
Some good things happened this week too! I got to go to MLC on Tuesday, and it was awesome! We were late, so we missed a lot of President's training (there was so much snow, and so many slow snow plows on the road :( ), but we did get to make cookies as a council, and we learned so much about how Repentance and Conversion are related. And then on Friday, we trained the zone on what happened at MLC, and everything went pretty well! It's a good experience for me, learning how to teach in front of a small group of people. it's very different from teaching lessons in people's homes on stuff you study all day. It all worked out, though! There was a CS Lewis quote that I really liked, about what kind of person you are when you're caught off guard. It was titled Rats in the Cellar for us, but I can't look it up as a missionary. You should go find it though, if you have time! It's a really good point :). 
Also we gave Mallory a Book of Mormon and are going to go follow up with her this week! She lives way out in Potlatch, and we are so excited to get the work rolling out there too! Her daughter is way cute, and always gets so happy when we stop by. Fingers crossed all things go well this week with her :). 
And! Sister Mitchell is totally the coolest. We have a funny habit of thinking the same thing at the same time, in all situations. It's like having an eternal inside joke with someone. It's pretty sweet! She also pushes me to be better, but in a really nice, honest way, and we get along so easily. I'm just excited about it! God gives us the right people at the right times for the right things, it just all works out. :)
Anyways... that's pretty much all I got about the week. I did find a really good scripture that made me happy! It's Mosiah 2:41, "consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God". I have a word obsession with the word "happy". I just want to show that I really am so happy for the plan of happiness! God makes sure things will be alright, just choose to be happy no matter how grim and bleak life seems. There's always hope and happiness ahead :). 
I love you all! 

Oh! Also it was sister Mitchell's birthday on Friday! She hates getting attention on her birthday, so I was sworn to secrecy about it (she literally death threatened me). But! I made her pancakes for her birthday :)

 and the elders found out it was her birthday because they looked at the mission calendar, so they randomly all showed up and sang to her. Ha! 

 Can't hide from your birthday here, Sister Mitchell!! 
Also our rad car selfie from today.

I got a new shirt from a member and it's fantastic. 

I feel awesome today! 

Ok bye! :D
Sister Johnson

Elder Matthew LeBaron - 2/6 - Confirmatio, Numbers, and bike problems...

This week has been a good one, I think every week starts out a little slow, in missionary work or not, but for the most part it flew by pretty fast. It seemed that we had a lot of work to do, so thats always nice, there aren't very many weeks that I can think about that are like that, especially back in those Glendora days, the finding grind was every day... man, I love this area, its the best. 

Being in a trio has been the best/worst thing ever. I think its super hard to stay focused,  and not to mention whenever there is a disagreement its always 2 against one, may the odds ever be in your favor. Not to mention, you want to kill everyone because there is someone always in your way in our 5 pad, but for the most part, we have had a lot of fun together. Its been so nice this week to be able to come back to the pad at 9 or 9:30 and just relax, I've finally found time to write in my journal which is nice, because I know that I will want that when I get home. We have been having so much fun together all cramped in our cozy little pad. Elder Mitchell plays guitar, so we have been teaching each other different songs the last couple of weeks, thats been a lot of fun. Today we started our P day officially at 8 o'clock, and let me just say, 2 hours is so helpful to have, there is so much that you can get accomplished in that time frame. 

This week we set 4 baptismal dates, which is absolutely insane to me, back when I was in Glendora it was incredible if we set a baptismal date every 2 months, so in total we have 5 dates in the span of February and March... holy cow that is so incredible to me. Its very interesting to see the contrast between this area and my last. I remember looking at other missionaries, wondering what I was doing wrong, how I needed to improve to see the results of my work. Something that I am starting to see is that all these baptisms, all these key indicators, are the Lords. I have been very humbled this week, seeing the Lord bless me and my trio to find people that were ready to hear the message and accept dates, the reason we found those people, taught those people, set goals with those people, has nothing to do with my ability to teach, find, or plan as a missionary. It all has to do with the Lord putting those people in our path, and I have been lucky enough to be in the front row to all of his amazing miracles and blessings. I know that a few of our dates will drop, just knowing how missionary work is, but we are working with some really solid people.

There is a girl names Jackie, she heard about the church, got a book of mormon, and called Salt Lake so that she could have missionary lessons. She is 16, and I don't know of any regular teenager that would do that. Its amazing. I have felt so blessed especially yesterday, Juliet stood up after I confirmed her in fast and testimony and bore her testimony about the church, and how grateful she was to the members and to us for teaching her. Juliet is one of those people a missionary will work all their mission to find, she was so prepared to hear the message, and we just happened to find her at the right time at the right place. Truly, miracle have not ceased there is a scripture that I read a few days ago in 2 Nephi 27: 23 which says "​For behold, I am God; and I am a God of ​​​miracles​; and I will show ​​unto the ​​​world​ that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I ​​​work​ not among the children of men save it be ​​​according​ to their faith." I know that scripture is true, miracles have not ceased, big or small, This week God has shown me many miracles. 

It doesn't matter what I do, where I go, or where I am, my bike will always break, which I mean... you can't expect our bikes to not break down every few weeks with how often, and how hard we ride them. My back brake pads went out this week, I literally grinder them down to the metal, and so it made a horrible grinding sound anytime that I tried to brake, so I used my front brakes to compensate, by doing that all the tension was lost in my front brakes, so I pretty much have been riding my bike around with no brakes this week, which has been one of the most terrifying things ever, but the Lord provides, I was able to find an old bike from another missionary and replace my brake pads. I also bent one of my gears on the back of my bike, which means I can't put my my bike into any lower gear without the chain falling off, which if I don't get fixed soon, will result in my peddle, and peddle bar falling off, which means that all the horrible bike problems I had at the start of my mission will start over again in a vicious cycle... maaaan, bikes are the worst, definitely the most expensive thing I do is spend money on my bike, its the worst. 

Anyways thats enough of all the little details, but I have really enjoyed this last week, I'm grateful to be a servant of the Lord, and to help people change their lives, its awesome! Until next week!

Elder LeBaron

614 West Foothill Blvd, Arcadia, California 91006