Monday, December 31, 2012

He did it!

Doesn't get better than this :)

Enrique is next! He thinks he will be ready by February

Friends and Family,

We had a good last week of the year with lots of exciting happenings to reign in 2013. Angel was baptized yesterday! He asked Richard to baptize him so it was a new experience for both of them and the spirit was powerful. Sister Jones was able to come back for the baptism and she spoke about the Holy Ghost and we did a musical number. Angel has had a light about him since we met him, but I have truly witnessed it increasing as he has prepared for this day and yesterday he was beaming. His brother Enrique saw how happy he was and said after that he wants to be baptized as well. He has a few more things getting in the way than Angel had, but we are looking forward to working with him more and hopefully their sister Tatiana. Some members of our ward brought non-members as well. They don't live in our area boundaries, but I was able to give one of them a Book of Mormon with my testimony in it and we will be sure to do everything we can to connect her with the missionaries.  Here's the best news! I am so close to having Angel convinced to go to college at BYU-Idaho! No. Big. Thang!! 

This week has been a stressful one full of baptism preparations and getting ready for multiple Christmas programs, one of which Sister Jones and I were in charge of. It's been a unique month and now we will be scrambling to find new people to teach and get back to our regular proselyting/V.C. schedule. We have one more program to put on tonight and we haven't even really planned for it. I feel fine about using things from past zone conferences and firesides though if I'm being honest. We have enough talented sisters to throw something together. 

I received some other exciting news yesterday in the call center at the V.C. I was calling a woman named Emma who we took on a tour back in October. She came in with her less active husband on their honeymoon and we showed her around the Visitors' Center and taught her the Restoration. At the end she said she would like to meet with missionaries where she lives in Oregon and then came back an hour later to bring us cupcakes and thank us. Best tour ever right?! Anyway, I sent her information through and have talked to her a few times over the phone throughout the process and encouraged her. When I got ahold of her yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she was baptized last week in her branch in (Dad will appreciate this) Klamath Falls! I told sister Jones the exciting news and she exclaimed, "The Visitors' Center is a real place!" Ha ha which I think just means that she has a testimony of it's purpose. Me too! 

We had the pleasure of having dinner with Richard and his family twice this week. Once on Christmas day and then again on the 29 for Obundanzah! No Idea how to spell that, but it means "abundance" in Italian. Both were feasts and while Richard is not actually Italian, he is very proud of his New York upbringing not to mention cooking. It was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoy spending time there and while Richard is 100% my family now, Janet and their children/grandchildren are beginning to feel like family as well. The dinner table conversations remind me a lot of our family's for the weekly Sunday dinner, although at times a little more worldly. It was pretty entertaining to listen to John (Richard's son) educate sister Schiel about alcohol and ask us questions like "Why don't Mormons have a rum springa like the Amish? Shouldn't you be able to have at least a day to try out everything you're not aloud to do?" Sister Schiel had a great answer about how it would be disrespectful because Christ suffered for all of those sins we would be committing. He seemed to accept her answer and the conversation moved to everyone's mutual disgust concerning neck beards. Ha ha I seriously love them so much.   

We had one other miracle this week that I think is worth mentioning. A man came into the Visitors' Center this week saying that he had been inactive most of his life and that he wanted to come back. He ended up being in our ward boundaries so we started teaching him this week. He came to church as well as Angel's baptism and seemed to really enjoy both. He is divorced, but his 11 year old son was with him for the break so we're hoping that a seed has been planted within him before he heads back to New York to be with his mom. So, pray for Brother Pinto, and Nicolas!

Gotta run. Love you all! Always :)

Sister Davis

Monday, December 24, 2012

With Sister Jones

New Trainers

New Arrivals

Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas!!

This week has been crazy! Full of surprises, exciting, and a little traumatic. When I found out that I would be training I knew it meant that Sister Jones would be transferred, but It didn't really hit me until she was gone. Then it did, and I mean it REALLY did. If I'm being honest I've been experiencing what I can only think to describe as intense separation anxiety! It's kind of awful. I guess I've just never spent every waking moment of every day with someone that I fit so well with. Whew! I still see her at the V.C. every day, but right now I can't tell if that helps or hurts. We went to dinner with Richard our last night together. Richard kind of guessed that one of us would be leaving, but was really positive about it and said, "What's a year when you're friends for eternity?!" Amen. Did I mention she got transferred to Malibu?! Who would have guessed right? I can't wait to come back and visit everyone with her :) 

My new companion (Sister Schiel) is doing great. She looked so familiar from the very beginning and on day 2 together I had the sudden realization of where I knew her from. She was Melinda's roommate last summer in Provo! It was actually a pretty entertaining discovery for both of us. I stayed there overnight once on our way to Disneyland so Sister Schiel has probably already formed an interesting opinion of me based on the experimental leg waxing that went on in her bathroom that night last summer (our first and last experiment). Plus seeing as Melinda is one of my closest friends, Sister Schiel has already heard many of my life stories just from a different perspective. I will admit it was a little eerie when we first made the realization because she already knew all these random things about me i.e. the story of my first kiss?! Weird...

On a more mission-minded note, it's been a big week for Angel and Richard! Richard passed the sacrament this week. One of the proudest moments of my life! Then in gospel principles class Angel got up and asked Richard if he would baptize him the following Sunday. It was a happy day. Angel had his baptismal interview and is all good to go. We have a ton to do in preparation, but I'd rather be stressed about preparing for a baptism than stressing about the lack thereof. A member that came with us to one of Angel's lessons this week noticed that their family didn't have a Christmas tree. She called us today and said that she'd bought them  one! We took it over today and decorated it with them and Angel just kept saying, "I can't believe it!" and thanking us over and over again. It felt good to be serving and will be a memorable Christmas eve I'm sure.

Susan has re-entered our lives! Sister Schiel has already connected really well with her so I have high hopes. She still isn't ready or willing to give up any of the things the needs to in order to be baptized, but I think if we keep trying and she sincerely does too that she'll get there over time. Talking with her makes me so sad. Since she received the news from her doctor that her illness is not and probably will not improve she's been looking into assisted suicide and going on about how she wants to die with dignity. I can't imagine even considering something like that and it makes me sad to think about her and others like her who haven't embraced the gospel yet. 

We had a mission-wide Christmas devotional today and the spirit was powerful there. It always is when a large number of missionaries gather. The music was beautiful and I was glad for the opportunity to sing. I had another opportunity to sing this week, but at a less joyous occasion. A man from my previous ward passed away and his family asked me to sing at his funeral. I got permission and Sister Jones played for me. I would rather have been there under different circumstances, but it was still nice to see some of the Pacific Palisades members again. 

I don't really know what else to say except that I can't wait to talk to you tomorrow and thank you for the cards and gifts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I know that this gospel is true. I also know that this mortal journey we are now experiencing can be incredibly difficult as well as incomprehensibly joyful. This Christmas season I'm trying to remember more than I have before who Jesus Christ is for me. He is my brother, my friend, and especially my Savior. I know man is nothing, and I also know that through Christ we can do all things. 

I love you all. thank you so much for all you do!

Sister Davis

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Caption Please

From the CLAM blog!  This picture could imply many things.  Please add  your caption . . .

Monday, December 17, 2012

The lights on Temple Square... uh I mean Temple Hill :)

One of our favorite regulars, Barbara Dodge, in concert

Merry Christmas! We love the things the Spanish Ward brings to the Visitors' Center

Family and friends,

I can't believe that Christmas is coming so soon!  I don't know if it's just because I'm on a mission or the palm trees and lack of snow, but even with all the lights and our Christmas exhibit it doesn't quite feel like Christmas. I did get a couple of wonderful Christmas packages from aunt Lisa and Jake Potter this week though (thank you!) so it does feel more cheery than an other week would. I'm so excited to call in 8 days! I feel like there is so much to talk about! Much more than can be said in 40 minutes, but we'll do our best I suppose. 

It's been a great week! We had an epic ward party on Saturday night. It was our ward combined with the Mt. Olive Baptist church so as you can imagine was a lively party. Our table was an interesting potpourri of people. It was us, Richard and Janet, Stephanie(our less active who is honestly one of our best friends now and has come to church 8 weeks in a row), Joe (a former investigator we contacted and invited), and an active member whose wife was home with sick kids. No one knew each other and it was fun to watch everyone get acquainted. At the table next to us was the boisterous pastor who would periodically shout "hallelujah" or burst into song throughout the program. Eventually everyone from their church took the stage and led us in some good ole gospel tunes. I loved it! Don't worry, I have a video and the answer is "Yes Richard sang along even though he didn't know any of the words." From what we could tell Janet enjoyed herself and I think it was good that we had the other church there and a non-member with us because she didn't feel so out of place. 

The next day was stupendous, marvelous, fantastic, superb, etc. Richard was confirmed in Sacrament Meeting and again his entire family came. They left immediately following Sacrament Meeting, but the Bishop gave him a beautiful blessing and the spirit was strong as the ward indicated our support and excitement to have him as the newest member of our ward. Richard commented later on what a powerful experience it was for him and that he must have chosen the right people to stand in his circle because he could feel their priesthood. When he stood up he even had to shake it off a little and everyone giggled. Later he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of priest and received the calling to administer the sacrament to the people unable to make it to church. Again, Sister Jones and I were grinning from ear to ear all day. You may not believe this, but it gets better. After church Richard attended a lesson with us as a member present!! He told as that he wanted to be a ward missionary, but was a little surprised that we took him up on it so soon. It was a man we met tracting, his wife, and two daughters. The lesson started out alright. We taught about the Restoration, invited Richard to share how it has impacted his life (nailed it), and watched the 20 minute video with them. After the video, Clevin (the husband), completely took over the lesson and preached to us for thirty minutes about how any added scripture is false, there is no added revelation, there are no prophets after Christ, you know Bible bashing basically. We couldn't get a word in edgewise and as far as we could tell was just trying to convince us how idiotic our beliefs were. Finally he paused to come up for air and I cut him off to politely ask him why, if he felt he had nothing to learn, he had invited us back in the first place. He said something about hearing what we had to say and sharing with us what he knew to be the true doctrine of Christ. Ok... I'm not usually the boldest one in the bunch, but I was not about to walk out of there with him thinking he had convinced us of any portion of his falsehoods. Anyway, almost without breathing (for fear of being interrupted) I shared what the Book of Mormon was for me and how I knew without a doubt that it was true. He was looking at me like I had escaped a nuthouse so I broke eye contact briefly to glance at Sister Jones and then Richard who were both just grinning at me and I felt the courage to go on. I bore about the most powerful testimony I think I have the ability to muster in one minute and then told them we had to be on our way. Clevin closed with a prayer all about how we would come to see the truth and as we left he told us to take our books with us. *Ouch* Don't worry though. As we walked out his oldest teenage daughter said "actually can I have one of those?" and then the other one piped up and said, "Ya I would like on too." I thought their dad might have a stroke or something, but we happily obliged. Alright, so at this point I'm worried about Richard because the last thing we want is for his first member-missionary experience to be discouraging. On the contrary! The first thing he said when we walked out was, "I am so stoked right now!" Ha ha, I was a little exhausted and let out a half frustrated half relieved sigh, but Richard was on cloud nine. He was like, "Did you feel that? Did you feel the spirit with us in there?!" I was pleased and amused by his reaction, but I guess still looked a little flustered because Richard grabbed my hand, shook it until I thought it might fall off and said, "What's the matter? You don't even realize what you just did in there do you? We are planting seeds here!!" Ha ha Ohmahgoodness... Dear Richard, Can you please come with us to every lesson?

Long story short? Big day yesterday :) Angel and Enrique came to church again and participated a lot in gospel principles. Angel is still set for the 30 and Enrique will hopefully follow in January. 

I'm out of time. We have to finish early for a rehearsal. Who would have thought I would rehearse on my mission? Nice :)

Love you all! Merry Christmas!

Sister Davis

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This Week from Sister Davis

Friends and Family,

Richard is a member of the Church!!! The ninth was a crazy day, but in the end everything went really well and he was just beaming. All of his extended family came and I was really impressed with his kids. The older son mentioned that Sister Jones and I were probably two of the happiest people he ever encountered (how could we not be?) and the younger one hugged us (oops) and thanked us for everything we had done for his "pops." His daughter-in-law to be said that she felt so happy throughout the service and that our musical number made her cry. None of them actually live in our area, nor are they ready to investigate anything themselves right this minute, but I am confident that through Richard's example they will all be curious enough to make their own discoveries one day. Janet didn't say much, but she seemed happy to be there and was a good hostess for his many friends that came to support him. The service ran long(naturally) and was one of the most unique as well as the most powerful meetings I have ever attended. Our missionary moment went great. It was centered around the Restoration and what that meant for Richard as well as all of God's children. We shared how the Book of Mormon changed his life and people were laughing as we shared scriptures that were unreal answers to each specific question that he asked. Richard's testimony was of course the highlight. He started out by quoting me. I guess I once told him that I love to sing so much because sometimes it's how I can express what I cannot say. Cliche, but true! Anyway, he proceeded to burst forth with "Amazing Grace" and one by one everyone in attendance joined him. It was AWESOME! He often says that before we showed up he was the wretch described in that song. The rest of his testimony was a series of "Thank you's" to the angels that have helped him to get where he is. He thanked his wife, the colleague that suggested he meet with missionaries, us :), a ward missionary, and then Heavenly Father. It was beautiful. I don't know about sister Jones, but I was blushing while he talked about us. He remembers everything, and is a bit of a tease, so he thanked us for a lot of very specific things that we both did along the way. I can't even begin to describe how much I loved him and being a missionary in that moment. Not even just that moment, but the whole evening as well as throughout all our lessons. He's one of those people that you're sure you knew before and that you will know and love forever.  

We had another miracle on Sunday. A woman (Hilda) that we have only ever spoken with over the phone walked into church and loved every minute of it. She came back later that night for the stake Christmas concert and raved about it as well. She doesn't have a lot of time to meet during the holidays, but she said she wold be back so hopefully we can get something going. She is from El Salvador and speaks very quickly, but we usually do fine seeing as Sister Jones speaks fluent Spanglish. 

Angel and Enrique were at church again and Hilda actually spoke to Angel and told him that he should stick with this beautiful religion. "You will be happy here," she told him. He asked me who she was later and was floored to find out that she isn't even a member. They came to Richard's baptism as well and Angel said that he doesn't think he can wait until the 30. Hold on.... I haven't even told you that we set a baptismal date! My bad. We had a lesson with them last Wednesday and since Richard's testimony in sacrament meeting Angel has read the Book of Mormon every day since. Before we even started the lesson he told us that he had exciting news. He told us that he was in 1 Nephi 12 and that just as Richard said it would, "this book speaks to me." He kept his commitment to read and pray to know of the Book of Mormon and the Church was true. He said that he had and described the emotional/physical/spiritual reaction he experienced and that he knew this was the right thing for him. We invited him to be baptized on the 30 and he said that was the exact date he was hoping for. "A perfect way to start a new year." So that brings us back to the spirit he felt at the baptism and being impatient to have that himself. He is awesome! Way more mature than most 18 year olds living in the projects of Culver City I would wager. Enrique isn't quite there yet, but he is coming along to most everything and seems to be enjoying it. He just isn't reading and it really is the key. The Book of Mormon is everything in missionary work. If they ready it, they're done :)

It's Sister Jones' birthday tomorrow and the one off the less actives we are working with(Crystal) invited us over. It happens to be her birthday as well so it will be a fun little "party" (I'll try to refrain from dancing). She is also our next door neighbor which makes it convenient. I have never struggled with obedience more on my mission than when she offers to let me hold her 3-month old every time we see them. Oy.

Here's a little comedy relief that Sister Jones will appreciate me including. I have a stalker... We have a problem with men every once in a while at the VC, like the time someone proposed to Sister Set... Anyway, I think every Sister here has an admirer or two over the course of their missions, but my most recent one took it to a whole new level of awkwardness this week. His name is Johnny and he has been home from his mission only a few months(no excuse). He has been into the VC 4 times in 5 days and we were happy to chat with him the first few time, but then it was getting to be a little much. Eventually he asked if I had a profile. I said that I did, so he asked me for my first name to which I replied, "I'm sure you can find it with Davis." Kinda rude, but necessary right? So the next night night he comes in AGAIN walks over to me and whispers in my ear, "Jenna Michele..." and then backs away and asks "is that your first name?" AHH!! Sister Jones completely lost composure and any sense of politeness and just started laughing. Maybe this doesn't sound all that awkward to any of you, but when you're a missionary not to mention haven't been on a date in nearly a year(ya that's real) it really is! So the next day he comes in AGAIN.... I know right? At this point we were both just done because now he has added me on Facebook and wants to talk about our mutual friends/engage in long meaningful hand shakes. Sister Jones filled Sister Shakespear in and while she fond it all slightly amusing suggested that we go to the multi-purpose room and practice for Christmas until he leaves. We are gone for, I kid you not, less than a minute and he comes waltzing in asking if he can listen. No you can't listen! Ay ca rumba... Sister Jones told him we were busy and that he needed to leave(ouch). And Elder Shakespear is going to ask him not to speak to me if he comes in again(bigger ouch). 

I think that's all the really important stuff. I love this gospel. I love being a missionary. I love all of you!!

Merry Christmas

Sister Davis

P.S. Pray for Sister Jones and I to stay together... Knock on wood!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sister Davis Wears Prada?

Our Mini-missionary, Sister Tanuvasa
Elder Kyler Pugh came into the Visitors' Center and I was floored! He was called to Spain, but is here waiting on his visa.

With Richard
Family and Friends,

This week has been wild! The Visitors' Center has been insanely busy since the lighting and concerts began. I'm exhausted, but we're having a lot of fun! The reception went over well although there was more excitement that night than I ever thought I would experience on my mission. Maybe not more, just a different kind. The Visitors' Center was transformed into another place with well dressed caterers serving everyone hors d’ oeuvres, a band of guitarists in the corner playing Jazz standards, and all these people from the Chilean Consulate, to representatives from the FBI. The program preceding the lighting was all opera and because I was given the job of shadowing the photographer I was the only missionary that got to go in. This is good because I'm probably the only one that would have appreciated it :) The whole night felt like a movie. I followed the photographer around and took down everyone's full names so they could match the pictures up with the right people. It was all very glamorous and overall a fun night, but I have to say I felt more like Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada" than a missionary. It's just not something you're anticipating when you fill out your papers you understand. 

Anyway, back to the real world. Richard is... well he's Richard! There aren't words to describe. It's a joy to teach him. Missionary work can be challenging and I can honestly say that it is mentally and emotionally the most difficult thing I've ever done, or tried to do in my life. But, when I'm sitting in a lesson with Richard there is honestly nowhere else I would rather be, and nothing else I would rather be doing. He made my day yesterday. It was fast Sunday and I was remembering that the last testimony meeting he had said he wanted to go up the next time. I was crossing my fingers that he would, but wasn't going to pressure him. Halfway through the meeting I decided to nudge him. I just had to. I said, "Your turn," to which he replied, "I wouldn't know what to say!" I pointed emphatically at his Book of Mormon plastered with sticky notes each representing an answer to prayer and responded "You know what to say."  He gave me a look and returned to listening. A few minutes later he shot up and walked toward the pulpit. The first thing he said was, "I came up here for a lot of reasons, but in the end I just can't tell my missionaries no." Ha ha! I don't take no for an answer :) He bore a powerful testimony about the changes that he has undergone in such a short amount of time and summed conversion up as "not a change in our behavior, but our very nature." I could go on and on about his testimony, but for the sake of time just know that, he KNOWS. When he sat down I just said "Excellent"(one of his favorite words) and he replied," It's your fault you pain in the you know what." and smiled. After Sunday school he told me that he wanted to thank me. I guess that morning he was feeling a little low. He felt distanced from the spirit and wondered where the fire had gone and how to get it back. He said that me nudging him was a very specific answer to a very specific prayer. I was beaming. Best feeling in the world. Apparently the reason for me being the "bad cop" is that I'm always "nudging" or making uncomfortable suggestions, but he didn't think that was a very accurate title so he has now changed it to "The Conductor." I didn't really follow the explanation behind it, but it had something to do with attention to detail and the power of persuasion... He told me he was going to pull a "Sister Davis" and invite me to "own it." Calling me to repentance, ha ha, he's a character. He never ceases to amaze me. For Christmas he gave us each a rack of ribs that he smoked himself. Not bad! We were also discussing families and he expressed how eager he was to meet ours. He wants to invite you all to his baptism. We explained that that wouldn't be possible, but I mentioned to him that I would be coming with my family next summer. He was thrilled and even said that he would want to come to Idaho for Isaac's baptism. Can you say too good to be true? I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but it doesn't get better than that! Everything is ready to go for his baptism. He had an interview with President White that I guess was very unique (are we surprised?) Apparently Pres. White just asked him how he felt about what he had been learning and he ended up answering all of the questions before they were even really asked. Long story short he passed with flying colors.  He asked me to sing at the baptism and surprise him with the song choice. I'll be singing "Savior Redeemer of my Soul" and Sister Jones will accompany. We will also do a little "Missionary moment" which I'm honestly a little nervous about seeing as he has invited everyone in Culver City! It will be great. I could go on about him all day.

We have two new investigators that I'm really excited about. We were originally teaching their dad, but he kind of lost interest. We taught Angel (18) and Enrique (20) on Wednesday and they were at church and the Christmas devotional on Sunday. They both loved it and Angel specifically mentioned that he is wanting a change and willing to give God his life. Cool! He has been reading and they both have committed to pray.

We finally heard from Susan. She was MIA for about a week and we thought she was just dropping us. She kind of still did, but only because she is very sick and recently found out that she won't live much longer. We are praying for her and trying to help in any way that we can, but it sounds like finishing the lessons will be impossible. 

I almost forgot! We had another mini-missionary this weekend. We had a lot of fun together. She is 20 and is turning her papers in this coming January. We tried to give her the best advice that we could as you can see from the picture. She'll be great! We had a high stress tour with a group of university students studying the bible and she handled it very calmly. We did witness something a little crazy while she was with us. I was stopped on Santa Monica Blvd. and some guy ran across the street. He was running fast enough that I barely saw him. The car in the lane next to me was coming at about 35 mph and hit him!! I couldn't believe it! He went flying up over the car, cracked the windshield, and then landed on his feet! I was in shock all day and I'm surprised our mini wasn't hit since it happened right next to her window. This whole week has just been like a movie!

I'm out of time. Happy Holidays!!

Thank you Kelli and Michael for the 25 days of Christmas. It makes our apartment feel like Christmas :)

Love you!

Sister Davis

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner
Family and Friends,

Janet came to church!!! Janet is Richard's wife which makes that the most exciting news of the week. She came due to a compromise, but she came all the same! The story is that Richard wasn't too keen on spending Thanksgiving with her sister who doesn't have the best opinion of the church, but she told him that if he would go that she would come to an hour of church. Thanksgiving went well with no arguments and I think Janet really enjoyed sacrament meeting. When she left she made it sound like the next time we would be seeing her would be at the baptism, but as Richard keeps inviting and we all keep praying we hope she'll come around more often. They have a home teacher lined up who lives on their street so that should be perfect. Richard is making all the plans for his baptism and we can't wait! He always refers to us and everyone else supporting him as his "team mormon." He's phenomenal and I can't believe that I get to be a part of his life and witness his conversion. It's truly an honor.

The other great news is that we found a family this week! They were former investigators from earlier this year who just had a lot going on when they met the other missionaries. We set an appointment with the father and were a little surprised to see that he had his family all assembled and ready for a lesson when we came. Miguel and Theresa are the parents and they have Jonathan(17) Michelle(15) and Stephanie(4). The kids seemed more like they were trying to be obedient than actually interested, but it's a good start! They didn't make it to church because they had a cousin go to the hospital, but they seem really sincere and like they want somthing more for their family.

We've actually been finding quite a few young people in our area that are interested. One even came to us at the V.C. Unfortunately we have to transfer them to the sisters serving in the singles ward which is a total bummer, but it makes sense.

We had stake conference this past week and had Elder Porter from the Seventy come because we got a new stake presidency. As always it was amazing to hear a general authority speak. He talked a lot about following the spirit and recognizing answers to prayers. I think I assumed that was something that would come cery naturally on my mission, but even without all the distractions of the world it's such a delicate thing and difficult to master. I appreciate all the guidance I can get in that regard. Something that I've opened my eyes to recently though is that the Lord will never direct us in all things. Turning to him for guidance is essential, but I can tell you first-hand that looking for direction in every minor detail of our lives only brings disappointment and confusion. I'm finding that I have a lot more trust in the Lord and confidence in my future as I make decisions that are in alignment with the covenants that I've made. In the end if we're choosing the right God will never let us go astray. That's somehting I've always known, but as always the application can be more difficult. It's amazing to me that we all come to the same conclusions when it comes to truth, but everyone has to get there in a different way that brings it to light for them. Anyway, the conference was great especially because I'm still in the Santa Monica stake which means that I got to see everyone from the Palisades Ward :) So much love!

The Visitors' Center has been bustling with people this week who are expecting the lights to be on. Usually they come on the day after Thanksgiving but this year they are holding a special reception for government and religious leaders for the first lighting which is happening this week. The Director and his wife are very nervous about it althougth they haven't said so. They have given those of us that have been invited to be on shift a dress code and all the do's and don't's of how to act and what to say. Sister Jones and I have been invited to be the hostess companionship and cover the guest book! The center will not be open to the public that evening and we are not allowed to proselyte. We are just here to be warm and inviting and answer any questions. No pressure! I guess there will be foreign ambassadors in attendance. I'm just excited to meet everyone, I think it will be fun.

I mentioned last week that people  tend to come in waves. This weeks has been loads of fun! We keep taking couples around where one is not a member and the person they're dating is sharing the gospel with them. All have felt the spirit here and ended up referring themselves. It's been a faith building experience to teach them and it's fun to send referrals to other missionaries knowing that the person is prepared. One couple was especially impressive. He joined the church 6 years ago when he was studying to be a catholic priest. Talk about a change! And she was so excited to learn and they mentioned a temple marriage as their goal. Also, random fact: He is working on a movie called "The End of an Empire" that is about the Book of Mormon from the war chapters to the end and supposedly is going to have Liam Neeson in it... What?! Watch that one for me will ya?

Well I'm out of time. The church is true! I am always grateful for the gospel and for all of you, but especially at this time of year.

Happy Holidays! (We've been listening to Christmas since September...)

Love you :)

Sister Davis

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Week from Sister Davis

Me and Jane Seymour aka Sister Elmer

Friends and family,

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! The Visitors' Center is a little chilly (as always) but it was in the high sixties today and barely feels like fall. Sister Jones and I have had an... interesting week and she keeps repeating the words, "Oh my mom would be so upset if she could see me right now." Basically we've been trying to follow up with a lot of formers and had some run-ins with some interesting/angry/hilarious people and have found ourselves in some places that can only be described as "sketch business." We've spent a lot of time in the projects this week and my thoughts float back and forth between that youtube video that Isaac used to quote constantly and just how lucky I am to have all that I do. People are generally more welcoming and willing to listen in humble circumstances and it's been a reminder for me to humble myself as well.

The Visitors' Center has been busier as of late and so of course a lot of fun. People seem to be coming in waves. Not just the number, but also why they're here. We were talking to another companionship and they mentioned that they are meeting recent convert after recent convert while we are meeting countless young girls preparing for missions and people who are recently divorced looking for direction. It's amazing how an experience with one person will prepare you to help the next person that walks in the door. What also is amazing is that for whatever reason many people have no qualms just telling us their entire life story. It's rather interesting really. I'll mention one from this week that was particularly exciting. A Filipino man in his early 30s came in and immediately sat down in the Christus. As we talked with him we learned that he was just snapping a picture of the temple while in traffic on Santa Monica to send to a cousin of his who is Mormon because he thought it would be a good joke. His cousin texted back to "GO," and told him about the VC so here he was. We asked him questions about himself and he just gushed to us about how lost he was and how much he wants to change his life, but he didn't know how. He was embarrassed and kept saying "I don't know why I'm telling you this." We talked to him about the spirit and assured him that through the atonement he could be changed. He loved the Visitors' Center and said he had never felt so much love in one place. I guess the long and short of it is that at the end we invited him to refer himself. He agreed and seemed very excited and even a little impatient to get going. It was a miracle and we're looking forward to following up with him over the phone.

Speaking of VC miracles, I was talking with one of the senior couples and Richard (who we teach at the Visitors' Center so everyone knows and loves him) and they mentioned to him that this week ten or eleven people have come in requesting Books of Mormon after seeing the musical. Richard just laughed and said "You see! 90% of people who see that musical will think Mormonism is a joke, but I'm more concerned with the 10% like me who are intrigued." He is still doing great! We had a little scare with his baptismal date this week because he wanted the colleague who sort of introduced him to be there and she isn't available on the 9th. In the process of figuring out that she can't come at all his faith was a little shaken as she explained that she isn't actually very active. He was a little shocked at first, but it didn't discourage him. In fact, being the wonderful man that he is, he has now determined that one of his responsibilities as a new member will be to reactivate less active members with his testimony that is in his words "on fire." "You have to work at it!" He explained to us emphatically.  "I'm talking every day here!" Ha ha he just gets it. More power to him. I only hope he doesn't wear himself out. Sometimes I get worn out just watching him! He is probably one of the kindest people I know. He somehow found out that I'm an trainer for the English sisters' areas and the next thing I know he gives me a card congratulating me on my "well deserved promotion." Oh how I wish you could meet him! 

We had a great lesson with Susan this week. She still has no desire to keep the commandments and feels that God understands. We talked about the atonement and posed the question, "If God is all powerful, why can't he just choose to forgive us? Why did His Son have to atone?" I think it was a major turning point for her and we were so grateful for the spirit in preparing to teach her. 

Everyone that we're finding seems to be leaving for Thanksgiving, but we have a few potentials that we have appointments with this week so hopefully that will mean good updates next week. 

I'm out of time. I love you bunches :)

Sister Davis

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Sister Davis

Turkey Bowl
Friends and Family,

This transfer has been a little surprising so far. Very much the same and different all at the same time. Sister Jones and I are staying together in Marina Del Rey. I wish you could have seen Richard's reaction when we told him. We actually moved from Temple Hill to an apartment in our area that was previously occupied by elders. Needless to say transfer day was a long one. The other change was that President Baker asked me to be an area trainer! Basically what this means is that I'll be conducting exchanges with the Visitors' Center sisters serving in English areas. I'm excited to see how everyone teaches and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from these amazing sisters. I'm anticipating that it will be very difficult to find things they need to improve on. Still, it will be fun to pick everyone's brains and share ideas about how we can better find and teach.

Richard is doing awesome. He invited his wife to church this week and she politely declined, but thanked him for the invitation. A step in the right direction. He attended a champagne tasting on Friday because he had previously committed to take a few of his clients. He texted us and said "The tasting is half over and I'm drunk as a skunk!" He was only joking of course and told us later that he deflected any questioning of his sparkling water with his conversion story. Classic! He is still inviting everyone to his baptism and wants to do everything he can to be ready. He met with the Bishop this week for over two hours and insisted on paying his tithing and fast offerings. We haven't taught him how to do that yet so I guess he just handed an envelope to the bishop that said "For the poor in the ward." He's simply delightful. He attended a ward activity this weekend that we weren't able to make because of the VC, but when we followed up with our fellow-shippers they said that he was calling everyone at his table to repentance. "Do you read your Book of Mormon every morning?" Ha ha it's amazing to see how much enthusiasm he has about everything he's learning. I'm learning so much from him and his example of diligence, desire, and sacrifice. 

Susan has a baptismal date again and we're scrambling to find a way to help her get to church and quit smoking so she can make this one. John has had a lot going on with his band and we only saw him once this week. He doesn't believe that Joseph Smith could really have seen what he saw so we are encouraging him to ask himself because in the end he either did or he did not, and we know that he did... I feel like it's pretty smooth sailing if people will sincerely keep the commitments we leave, but fortunately everyone has agency. Ah the gift of agency. It's completely necessary and yet can be so frustrating. What can we do to convince them to act? I see it in my own life as well though. Sometimes I would just really appreciate a printed list of commands specific to Sister Jenna Davis, but alas that isn't the Lord's way! I'm learning more all the time to trust in the fact that He is in fact smarter than me :)

I had my one and only mission birthday this week and thanks to all of you I received quite a few letters(I don't think most realized it was my birthday but hey, inspired timing)! My companion was kind enough to make me breakfast and a pan of brownies. I guess when you spend every waking moment with a person they learn that you don't like cake. It was right after transfers so I was a little bummed that several of my dear friends had just been sent full-field, but it was a good day. 22 is old though, don't you think? 20 is like, "Yes I'm not a teenager anymore!" 21 was, "Nice... I'm an adult, I can serve a mission, the future is bright," yada yada yada. 22 is like... old. Anyway, it doesn't really matter since I still feel 17. Getting 19-yr-olds out here will be great for me :)

Well I love you all as always. I'll miss you this Thanksgiving! Our zone had a turkey bowl today so at least I won't miss out on that tradition. 

Speaking of which, Hey Isaac! go tackle Topher for me ;)

Love you everybody! 

Write me!

Sister Davis

Monday, November 5, 2012

9 Month Message and Pics

Last district meeting

9 months!

Sister Rokobuli

I love my sisters

Friends and family!

Hey everyone, I realize that these are extraordinarily silly pictures, but it's tradition! Sister Cole and I reached our 9 month/halfway mark this week and it's a little surreal. It's strange to think that the amount of my mission remaining is shorter than what has already passed. The next few months are going to fly by with the missions annual turkey bowl, thanksgiving, and Christmas. Temple hill is going to be beautiful  with all the lights and a concert every night in December. The VC sisters are in charge of all the music and narration for Christmas eve and Christmas day. It's starting to come together and I'm more and more grateful all the time that I was called to a Visitors' Center. 

Richard is defying gravity as usual. We really hope that his wife will come around, but from the sound of things they have been a little distant for a while now. He has a big load right now working to strengthen his marriage and learn the gospel all at once. Fortunately the gospel is full of everything he needs to have a happy and successful family. He went to an activity for the ward this week and loved it. He gets along so well with everyone and feels totally comfortable in our ward which is a blessing. He is nervous about transfers which is adorable. He calls us the good cop-bad cop routine and says he can't do without both! If you're assuming I'm the "good cop" right now you're dead wrong. Ha ha. I can't wait for you all to meet him. 

Susan still hasn't come to church, but has been inviting her friends and family to her baptism and sharing the gospel left and right. 

John is kind of progressing... I feel like it's a miracle that he is even meeting with us so regularly. He is part of a band called "Dazed and Confused" and wants us to check out the website. Obviously we can't, but if any of you would like to and report back it would be appreciated. Anyway, so he has been busy lately with gigs. He seems hesitant to ask if it's true, but he is praying now which is good. We're meeting with him twice this week which is an improvement as well. 

Jay awkwardly asked me out and we haven't really seen him since... Major bummer.

The highlight of this week was the fact that we were sort of a halfway house for missionaries on their way home. The first was sister Rokobuli. She was on her way home from the Carlsbad mission to Fiji. New Zealand rejected her so to speak and she had to wait for a direct flight to Fiji. We learned a lot from her in the short time we spent together and she was with us the day of my halfway mark so she celebrated with us. I didn't know I could love someone so much in less than 24 hours! She said that she vaguely knew Elder Kidd. Small world as always. The second sister was from our mission and had to return home to fix a medical issue. She is awesome and should be returning within a few months. We had two extra late nights and extra early mornings but it was worth it to help out and daylight savings made up for it to some extent. 

Along with my halfway mark I did experience what I think was sort of an inevitable mid-mission crisis. Missionary work is hard. Everyone says it's hard, but really... It's HARD. I was able to humble myself enough to ask my district leader for a blessing. I simply told him I was stressed and lo and behold that blessing answered every one of my questions and concerns that had me so upset. I have a very strong testimony of the priesthood. I know that it's real and that it's the power of God. It is evidence to me that God is very aware of me, and after receiving a priesthood blessing I can't deny that.

Well, I love you all! Thank you for everything, and Lisa thank you for the package! I loved it :)

have a great week!

Sister Davis

Monday, October 29, 2012

Richard on Sunday
-Lookin spiffy. Lovin life.

Richard on Tuesday
- He found that article and thought it was just too funny after all the answers he has received from the book of Alma.

Family and Friends,

I've been anxious to share the update on Richard this week as it has been an exciting one for all of us. He is rockin and rollin! He has changed significantly since we met him, but more this past week than ever before. He was originally planning to wean himself off of alcohol since he was expecting that to be the most difficult vice to give up after everything he had already changed. He explained the battle in his mind of trying to justify giving it up slowly and recognized that it was a temptation from Satan. Last weekend he went to a mixer with his son and reported to us that he felt the spirit withdraw from him and apparently said to Satan "Where do you get off?!" and explained that he never wanted to feel that again... As of today he is 9 days sober and loving it. He hasn't experienced any withdrawals and is enjoying a new sense of clarity that he hasn't had in over forty years. His wife is loving the changes, but has made it very clear that she doesn't care why or how and she will never be a Mormon. Richard had been asking a lot of questions about the millennium  and expressing concern about being sealed to someone. I'm telling you he's a gem! We were floored yesterday when he walked into church sporting a tie, genuine leather quadruple combination, and missing his 12-inch pony-tail!!(Yes he donated it to locks of love). Who is this guy?! I don't know how he is doing it... well never mind I do. God is so good and He loves, Loves, LOVES Richard :) Still, I'm so impressed by his complete willingness to just drop everything he has always known and trust that this is the truth. He asked me how many baptisms I have seen on my mission and when I responded that he will be the first he seemed a little surprised and then made my day by saying, "Well look what you've done. You should know that I probably count for about 100. I'm just sayin! I know a lot of people." He really does know a LOT of people. It turns out that he was previously the mayor of Culver City and not only does he know everyone; he's telling everyone! More specifically he's inviting them to his baptism! He hit it off with everyone in priesthood this week and loved being at church. He actually knew a few ward members from participating in scouting over the years. I know, I know, it doesn't get better than this. But it kind of does. Richard is planning a trip up to Utah in 2014 so that we can all go to conference together. How excited are we for that trip! I just feel so blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to witness this and to know him. Wow. That's all I can say. 

Susan and John are both coming along slowly. They both read and pray, but are either unable or unwilling to come to church. We can't tell if Jay is dodging us or not. He's nervous about all the changes he would have to make. We had another "Book of Mormon" musical experience this week. I didn't really talk to him, but I guess some man that saw the show tried to buy a Book of Mormon at Barnes and Noble and was directed to the Visitors' Center. Of course we gave him one for free. I'll have to follow up with the sisters that took him around and see what happened with it. 

Everyone at the Visitors' center is already buzzing about decorating for Christmas, the lights that will be on temple hill, and the concerts every night in December. It's October! But I'm enjoying. It's going to be a busy and exciting few months. 

I think that's all.. I love you all and your always in my prayers,

Sister Davis

Monday, October 22, 2012

This week from Sister Davis

Stephanie and her BIG Book of Mormon

Just before the fireside

Friends and Family!

Richard is getting baptized!! He practically came running into the Visitors' Center, sat us down, and with tears in his eyes held up the Book of Mormon and said "This is truth." It was my first experience with someone really getting an answer, recognizing it and being so excited for the next step. It was thrilling! Sister Jones and I had been praying about a baptismal date for him and separately we both came up with December 9th (Happy Birthday Mom)! When we asked him he said that he knew it was going to be in December and that 9 was his lucky number. Still, neither of us will be surprised if it happens sooner. We haven't even taught him about the Word of Wisdom yet and he has already given up coffee, tea, swearing, gambling, and he's working on alcohol. He read about the Word of Wisdom and other addictive behavior on and in True to the Faith! We had a missionary fireside last night with music by the missionaries and testimonies from recent converts. Richard came and introduced himself as our favorite investigator to everyone he met and as he told his story I learned more about how this all began for him. He had a friend at work that was Mormon, which we knew, but apparently he saw the Book of Mormon musical and that's what really peaked his interest. He said it was vulgar, but for whatever reason he was interested in reading the book. He thought he purchased one that night in hopes of learning more, but it turned out to be a playbill or something. That's when he referred himself and where we came into the picture. Isn't it interesting that avenues the adversary may be trying to use are working to our advantage? Richard was prepared and that musical was the connection for him. Cool!

Susan is not really progressing. It's hard because we know how much a knowledge of the gospel could help her. She believes it, but just doesn't have the energy to do. Especially church attendance. We found two new investigators, John and Jay. John was a potential in the area book and when we went by he said that missionaries do so every few years, but that none had seemed quite as genuine as we do (playin the sister card). If anything I'm sure it's just that he's a little more ready. We hope so anyway. We invited him to be baptized and he said he would like to see one first, but that he does want to continue meeting with us. Not bad! Jay is great. I met him on splits with a member of our ward and he has a baptismal date for November 18. After meeting with us he called and said that he had gone to and just wanted us to be aware that he drinks alcohol, coffee, and he smokes. We told him that as he comes closer to Christ and lives the gospel he will have a desire to cut those things out of his life and that God will help him to do it. I thought he was a goner for sure, but he just said "ya ok, I just wanted to be honest with you. See you on Tuesday." What? :) We're finding it helpful to give anyone we teach a lesson to a card. Mostly because you can't teach someone everything right when you meet them and we would rather people get overwhelmed by truth than by lies. I don't know what the statistics would be, but I think a lot of people that meet missionaries probably do a quick search online and I'm sure many find false information. 

The two people we had come to church this week(Richard missed because he held his own personal general conference - more power to him) were less actives. Crystal, who is a young mother who was baptized when she lived with a Mormon foster family at age 15 - hasn't been back since, and whose only hesitation about coming to church was that she didn't have anything to wear. So, we found her something, she came, and loved it. We had our primary program, and spoke about how to teach our children in relief society. It was perfect for her and she told us she had forgotten how much she liked being there. The other was Stephanie who is 44 and hasn't really been active since she was baptized as a child. She is very open and basically wanting to come back so it's great for us because it's like teaching an investigator as far as lessons go, but she has some basic knowledge and doesn't have a religious history that brings up opposing beliefs. She seemed to enjoy being there as well and seemed to hit it off with another mid-single lady in our ward that's in the same field of work. 

I'm out of time, but I love you all! We had some funny experiences this week as well that I'll have fun telling you all one day. Have a great week!

Sister Davis