Dear Friends and Family,
What an adventure I’ve had in the last week! Here’s an interesting tip: It takes about 3 hours from the time you report to the travel office until you get to the airport and to a payphone. Pray that your travel group is small, so there will be enough phones open for you to call your family. I got to talk to mine, but about 2 and a half hours after I told them to be up. Silly me! I hope they forgave me!
I found my way to the Santa Clarita Second Branch. My area is 1/3 of the branch’s area. Sometimes I worry that it’s hard for so few members to feed 3 sets of missionaries. They are truly saints. Many of the families feed us once a week. I’m so grateful for them! Locals use the phrase “down in the valley” to refer to the San Fernando Valley, where I am not yet. I’m in the other valley “up here” in Santa Clarita. There are 2 Spanish speaking branches in the English speaking stake here. Down in the Valley, there’s a whole Spanish speaking stake! I’m in a car, but you could drive across our area in less than twenty minutes.
My companion is Hermana Whittingham from Linden, Utah. We have a lot in common. She has 2 little sisters and no brothers, and she's 5'11". I think people let us in because they see two tall blonde girls and think, “Hooray, someone who will teach me English!” We have actually gained two or three investigators by offering to also teach them English. Anyway, we have good times. I've been surprised at my surprise at how often we pray. How did I not expect to say a prayer every time we leave our home, a member's home, and investigator's home, and the car? Every time we leave, we pray. Smart. We also bless all of the food we eat, we pray at the beginning of every lesson and personal and compaionship study. We say morning and nightly prayers. We pray before knock out (keep reading). We pray in our hearts. Pray always, that ye may conquer Satan! (D&C 10)
You're probably wondering what knock out is, so I'll start there. Knock out is the time set aside by missionaries fromeach day to knock doors. Everyone in the mission says a prayer at , and then we knock. Every day, we've found someone who needed our help. At least it seems that way. Yesterday, we knocked an apartment complex where we heard the residents deadbolt the doors after we knocked. It was very discouraging, but then we knocked on the door of a man who listened to our opening message and said he agreed 100%. He said it with the tone of voice more like, "I'm taken care of, thanks.", but I kept the conversation going. I tried hard to ask inspired questions, teach doctrine, and share from the Book of Mormon. I shared Mosiah 4:9-10, one of my favorite passages especially out here on the mission. I asked him if he would read the Book of Mormon, which I believe to be the word of God. He said yes. At the beginning of the doorstep visit, he wasn't interested. I don't think I said anything particularly persuasive either. The Holy Ghost changed his heart. I was just the mouthpiece. That's why we keep the prayer in our hearts. He spoke English, so we had to refer him to the English missionaries, but I hope he is converted.
Another friend we found during knock out is Pedro. Pedro is from Peru, and he is an engineer! He is one of the investigators who we'll be practicing English with. His English is actually pretty strong. He wants to practice with us, though, so that he's good enough at English to be employed as an engineer in an English firm. Pedro has had some hard things happen in his life recently. I think he's really prepared to receive the gospel. We left a Book of Mormon and a Libro de Mormon with him. I'm really excited to be friends with him. He said on our first visit that he wants us to be lifelong friends!
Finally, I'll tell you about Beverly. She's from Chile. She has 3 sons. She works as a waitress, I believe, and her son Jacob (2 years old) teaches me Spanish. He loves to distract from the lessons! He plays with his toys and brings them to me. He has to tell me the names of everything from the colors to the animals to the vehicles. My first lesson was with Beverly. I met my companion, hurried through buying groceries, and went to the lesson. We had to switch off who was playing with Jacob and who was teaching. My Spanish is not good enough to play with Jacob and pay attention to the lesson. At one point, Hermana Whittingham just handed me the scriptures and pointed and switched me spots. I read with Beverly and testified the best I could. It feels weird when an investigator helps me remember a word in Spanish, because I don't know if it's really what I mean or what they want to hear. Hermana Whittingham said I did great, though, and we want to bring a member to our next lesson to play with Jacob.
Thank you, Kenna, for the letter and the pictures! I love them!