Welcome to my weekly letter page! I am serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Sacramento, California.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 11

Happy Halloween! Actually, halloween isn't my favorite holiday. People put up the ugliest decorations in their front yard and wear the nastiest costumes. But, it means an all-day P-day! Instead of going back to work tonight at 6 like usual, our zone is going to get together and do something. We don't know what yet, the zone leaders are keeping it a secret.
This week was busy. On Monday, after I wrote, I tried to catch one of those stupid turkeys that roam the neighborhood. I was closing in on it, and started running to jump on it. I wasn't paying attention to where I was running and I slipped on wet grass and ate it... in my shirt and tie. Elder Forster caught it on video. Embarrassing. I wanted that turkey SO BAD!!! One day...
On Tuesday we helped paint an investigator's living room. They're painting the whole inside of the house a very light green. I was up on the ladder with the roller on a long pole to reach the high walls. I love doing service. It's gratifying work, to be able to see the results as you work... not something you see too much while working in the field. Plus, I just like the physical labor.
On Wednesday we taught an investigating family the restoration. The father's a member, but hasn't been to church since he was twelve, when he was baptized with his family. He said he remembers doing baptisms for the dead in the temple though. He drinks, but has cut down since his girlfriend moved in and they had a baby. The mother doesn't know much about the church and is not sure there's a God. Together they live with their son, who's like 1 or 2. They are a wonderful family, and I believe they're pretty sincere. I see so much potential in them, but a lot of change will have to happen.
On Thursday... nothing much happened.
On Friday we had zone conference. A third of the mission got together and we received training from President and Sister Lewis and other senior couples. And, we had a special guest... Elder Yamashita and his wife! He spoke in the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference about missionaries (click on his name and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the link to his talk). Elder Yamashita (yam-AH-shita, not yama-shita) and his wife just moved from Japan to SLC three months ago, and now they are touring stakes and missions in the western US. They just sent off their last son on a mission. As all of us missionaries arrived, he stood with President Lewis and their wives to shake our hands and greet us. He asked where I was from and I told him. "OH! Mow-wab! We went there! Arches!" Then his wife (who's still learning English, but is pretty good for only three months) understood and said, "dessert." I said, "Yep, it's a desert" with a smile :) During our training (it lasts almost all day), Elder Yamashita spoke about the Doctrine of Christ and special responsibilities we have as missionaries. He said something that really impressed me, that it is our "responsibility to convert, not just to baptize." A lot of times missionaries get caught up in numbers, and we can't just consider our work done when the baptism is over. Our attitude as we talk to people, as we teach, and as we help people progress, should be to help truly convert people, not convince them to be baptized. And that can only happen with the Spirit.
Sister Yamashita did training too. She told us that we need to "open our mouths!" and held up an origami mouth that opened and closed when she pulled it. It was hilarious, everybody laughed. She handed out squares of paper and taught us all how to fold it into a big mouth. It was great :)
That evening E. Forster and I went to the "Harvest Festival" for our ward in El Dorado Hills. It was a great party; no Halloween costumes, live bluegrass music from a family in the ward, a talent show, and contests. Kinda reminded me of the Pumpkin Chuckin' Fest back home :) Except not as cool. They had a pie-eating contest, and they pressured me into joining. I really didn't want to 'cause I was already full and I hate pumpkin pie, but I had to. I was strengthing the ward relationship, right? I don't think it was worth it. :P
On Saturday we went to an investigator's house to help her with her yard. She has a lot of pain in her wrists, so she can't do a whole lot with her hands. We mowed her small lawn, pulled weeds, turned over soil, and cut bird netting for her raised beds. It was a beautiful day, I didn't even break a sweat. She had peppers and a lot of herbs like rosemary and thyme. I love working in gardens. When I get old I'm gonna have a garden with tomatoes and peppers and raspberries and garlic and a lot of other plants. When we left she fed us pancakes and gave us some delish organic snacks. She's awesome, but doesn't have much motivation to go to church or read the Book of Mormon. Someday!
On Sunday the sister's had a baptism that we went to. Our zone had six baptisms this month! We were all set up to get eight, but two people used their free-agency and decided to wait. Eight in one month is the record for this zone, and I wanted so bad to break it and get nine. When a zone breaks a baptism record, President Lewis takes the whole zone out for lunch. But, I'm so glad we were able to get six people, that's unusual for this zone! And, the goal for the whole mission this month was 80... a pretty big number. Guess how many we got... eighty-five! None of the elders I've talked to can remember a time when we've gone over the mission goal, ever. We've truly been blessed. 
Well, that about sums up this week. Love ya,

Elder Chris Andrew
California Sacramento Mission
8267 Deseret Ave
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
PS just for the fun of it, I counted. Guess how many hands I shook this week? 75. That's a lot of germs.

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Elder Christopher Andrew
California Sacramento Mission
8267 Deseret Ave
Fair Oaks, CA 95628