Monday, June 25, 2012

Elaine and I after church Sunday

Robert is one of our regulars at the VC. He always brightens my day with his extensive vocabulary :)
Friends and Family,

 I hope things are going a little more smoothly back home. I'm sad to hear that grandpa had what sounds like a pretty terrible week... I'm glad to know that he will be alright, especially after seeing the pictures of his totaled truck! It's been a busy week for me as usual, but I like being busy in general. Elder Johnson from the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife came and trained us at our zone conference. He talked a lot about how we learn spiritually and how it is similar to other types of learning, but completely different as well. Like learning a skill, learning spiritually takes practice and repetition. We can read the Book of Mormon 100 times and still learn spiritually. Basic beliefs can be added upon and our knowledge increases. If we are learning factually all that is required is study and memorization. He taught us that too often, missionaries are content when the people they're teaching get the facts down and think that reason enough to move on. We talked a lot about how spiritual learning requires action. Unless someone has an experience where the spirit testifies to them that something is true then they can't fully understand what the gospel of Jesus Christ means in their life personally. If it isn't personal then it isn't lasting. These kind of experiences require us to do something, to take an action based on faith. We receive a witness only after the trial of our faith. Am I the only one that seems to constantly forget that? I'm slowly learning one experience at a time that as we simply go on; as we do what is right continuously the Lord will direct our paths. Too often I hesitate, waiting for some kind of spiritual witness that will tell me that "yes, that is what I need to do or say." Unfortunately it doesn't work that way! At least not for me. However, more and more often I am able to look back and see that as we pressed forward with faith things have fallen into place. I'm sure that learning to recognize and follow the spirit will be a life-long pursuit for me, but I'm learning now that the recognizing part will not always come before the following and for now that's OK. I wonder if those of us who grew up with the spirit in our homes, associating with people worthy of it, and just always having the gospel to direct us sometimes take that spirit for granted, or fail to recognize it simply because we are so used to it. When I think of it that way it doesn't stress me out so much that I'm not receiving or recognizing a constant stream of direction from the spirit. I'm just grateful that it has been a part of my life always and that my struggle is recognizing it, when it could be not even knowing about it, or heaven forbid not wanting it! Anyway, we also talked about how our willingness to continuously learn and live the doctrine of Christ will help us become more powerful teachers because we will KNOW that it works on a deeper level than we did before, and more fully appreciate the blessings that come from being truly converted.The last thing we discussed was how to be a low-maintenance and high yield missionary and ultimately member of the church. Someone that fits that description is basically someone that doesn't ask "what can the church do for me?" but, "what can I do for the church?" It's also someone that provides solutions rather than just problems, and the best part is that they are usually the happiest out of the bunch. In the end it was a really good conference and we left with a lot to think about and do differently. Otherwise we had a great week in our area. There must be something in the water because twice this week people stopped US and asked US to pray with them. The first man actually knelt down on the side of one of the busiest streets in our area(Sunset Blvd.) and offered a prayer. The second one was a woman and she held our hands and prayed and then asked me to. Both prayers were... extremely unique and neither resulted in return appointments, but I am glad that we were recognized as servants of the Lord. We saw Richie again of course and he is progressing, but feeling a little overwhelmed. Rob and Cade are still out of town, and we see Zach every now and again at the Visitors' Center. We have a new investigator named Elaine who we haven't actually taught yet, but we invited her to church and she came! She was only able to stay the first hour, but she seemed to enjoy it and ended up staying for a while talking to people. She mentioned that there were a lot of similarities with Catholic Mass which made her feel comfortable, and she really liked the differences as well. She specifically mentioned that she loved that it was so family oriented, that kids are kind of allowed to be kids and it really impressed her that the speakers were out of the congregation, especially because the talks were great this week. Wow. As I was sitting with her in sacrament meeting and kind of explaining things I came to a realization that I sure hope I can remember because it was a pretty big one for me. It is easy to let doubt creep in and think that if I wasn't here someone else would be. Sometimes I just feel like (and I know this is terrible) I'm just doing a lot of things, and I'm so tired, and maybe not much is happening or the great things that are happening still would be if I wasn't here etc. BUT as I was talking with Elaine I realized (and I know this sounds obvious) but if I wasn't here, then I wouldn't be here! I have been given this time to be a part of the miracles that are happening. What an opportunity and wonderful gift! I know that hearts are being prepared to receive the gospel and I am so grateful that I had the desire to find out what a mission would be like because now I get to be a small part of this marvelous work. Sister Davis

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cala Mission Blog Pics

The California Los Angeles Mission blog has recently posted pictures from Elder Paul Johnson's visit, temple day for the Marina Zone, and the VC missionaries.

Monday, June 18, 2012

News from Sister Davis

With Joy Price, my old coach from the Idaho Ballroom Academy
With Mark and Ilana Gallup, originally from Rexburg
With Sister Olsen

Capture the flag with noodles. Our Zone goal is "Choose to Find" and when we accomplish one of our goals we get to capture another companionship's flag. Our keeps getting taken because, well... 

Noreen- My favorite lady from Fireside, the convalescent home. We took her to forever 21 to buy electric pink keds. She's a cutie

Zach at the VC

Friends and Family,

It has been a great week with plenty of pictures to share. We transitioned Zach to the companionship serving in the YSA ward and heard that he enjoyed church on Sunday. It sounds like because we taught him 3 times I'll be able to attend his baptism! Who knows, Sister Olsen may be able to come back for it as well. We had a bit of an awkward missionary moment when we took a picture with him after touring the Visitors' Center and he threw his arms around us at the last second. Richie did the same thing with Sister Olsen at his place. Apparently we need to be a little more clear? Anyway, Richie actually came to the Visitors' Center this week as well and while we were talking about the companionship of the Holy Ghost we asked if that was something that he wanted. He said "how could I not?" So, the long and short of that is that his baptism is set for August 4! It is interesting to me how the same principles need to be taught or emphasized so differently for different people. We took him around on Saturday and he said there was a 50% chance he would be at church the next day. I'll admit I was a little surprised to see him show up, but he did! He had to run after sacrament meeting but I really think he enjoyed it. He deals with some social anxiety so I don't know what he was thinking of how friendly everyone was, but that is exactly what's going to help him overcome those things. He seemed pretty comfortable explaining to everyone that this was his first time and I thought it was neat that he was telling them that he was starting a new life. Richie was actually a referral from his friend who is investigating in a neighboring mission. I guess his friend contacted him this past week and from the sound of things they will be getting baptized around the same time. Awesome! I hope I don't get transferred. I wore my hair up on Sunday which I guess I don't do very often because several of the ward members expressed concern about Sister Davis being transferred without warning! Brother Tyler (who reminds me of Dad because he teases me relentlessly) was upset until he got close enough to read my tag and realize that I'm still here :) I'm glad that me leaving would be disappointing to more than just me. I just feel like that's my ward now and I can't imagine serving anywhere else. It's highly unlikely that I'll serve all my mission in Malibu though, so the beat goes on I suppose and I'll love the other areas as well. Something that we have been working on with our members lately is family mission plans. Novel idea! We brainstorm with them about how they can do missionary work on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and the next time we see them present them with a typed mission plan that they can put somewhere visible and use. Just an idea for maybe an upcoming home evening. The other pictures are of the people that stopped in last week and a hike we did earlier today. I love you all and hope you are all doing tremendously well. Oh ya! I got a package from the young women in the ward and it was so good to hear from all of them. The 15th ward has some amazing girls with solid testimonies and if you're reading this: I hope you know that each and every one of you has been an example to me and I love you! Keep up the good work. Don't skip seminary. Study your scriptures. Pray always. Continue to be an example to everyone around you. I'm so very proud!

Sister Davis

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sister Davis's Weekly News

(Picture of Sister Davis with her Uncle Brad, Tawni (holding Nike), Brianna, and Stockton, found on Facebook)

Friends and Family,

I do have a couple of things to update you on even though it has only been a few days. Unfortunately I forgot my camera today so pictures of Uncle Brad and his family as well as some Idaho Ballroom Academy friends will have to wait until next week. I also saw some of Dad's good friends- the Gallups who were able to perform some Nashville Tribute music here at the center. Our investigators are doing so well! Rob and Cade are very busy and heading off to Hawaii for a week so they are kind of on hold, but Richie and Zach are really progressing. We haven't been able to get Richie to church as of yet because he plays tennis on Sundays, but we invited him to be baptized this week and while he doesn't want to set an exact date he did say that he can see himself getting to that point. His main struggle is the "Mormon" label. He wants to be baptized, but doesn't know that he wants to be "a Mormon". We have explained how the nickname came about and everything but it just still freaks him out. I think we will watch some profiles with him because he hasn't done it on his own and I think it could clear up some of his apprehension. We really need to get him to church as well because you can't not want to be a part of something that you haven't tried... especially when it's awesome! It's interesting to try to find that balance between boldly inviting and yet not being overbearing. Sometimes it's hard to convey to people just how important this really is. That in and of itself can be frustrating. Also, people have their agency which is sometimes hard for me to fully understand. In my mind there has to be a certain way to approach it, a principle or phrase that will convince them that they need the gospel in their life! If only that were true. Some won't accept it. Some won't even listen long enough to really understand what it is that they aren't accepting, regardless of how many times I practiced that door approach in my head. Anyway, enough of that pessimism. On the other hand, I also know that the Lord is preparing people. Zach came to church! He stayed all three hours and as he was sitting with us my mind was going a million miles an hour. "I really hope he isn't bored," "How would someone who has never been to church in their life process all of this?" I'll admit, I was a little panicky. I tried to explain things as we went along since we only had one lesson beforehand that didn't really involve anything that would be going on at church. When I told him about the bread and water he said "Did you say wine? You know I'm a recovering alcoholic right?" I tried not to laugh as I repeated "no, no. Water..." The great news is that he loved it. He said that he had an experience during the sacrament and that it felt like a big family even before anyone really spoke to him. He seemed to enjoy Sunday school and after priesthood mentioned that he liked how the scriptures they discussed seemed to apply to him. The BAD news is that he's 20... so we will probably be transferring him to the companionship serving in the Santa Monica YSA ward :( I'm pretty disappointed that we most likely won't continue to teach him, but when he prayed with us for the first time he specifically asked to be able to meet new people that care about more than just getting high and wasted... Ya. I'm thinking he would really like the YSA ward :) I think that is pretty much the update. The VC is good. We gave an impromptu lesson to someone that came in who wants to have the lessons and be baptized. His friend who brought him wants him to just come here and have all the lessons with the sisters, which we took as a compliment, but he actually lives in an assistants' area so he should be connecting with them soon and hopefully we'll get the updates. My first few weeks here I never would have dreamed that I would be saying this, but I really love my area and I hope to stay in Malibu for some time. Word on the street is that Will Smith is living in our area currently, well a lot of famous people have homes there, but he is the one that my companion and I are unsecretly hoping to bring into the fold. I love you all! Thank you so much for all your support. Sister Davis

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sister Davis, Continuing in Patience

CLAM (California Los Angeles Mission)

The sisters and the assistants . . . who invited them?

At the temple with my companion

Sister Olsen and Sister Davis

Friends and Family,

The Lord blesses those who continue in patience. I'm sure that I could have been much more patient, but we have been working hard and were blessed to see some miracles this week! We had a lesson with Richie that went really well. He wants to make a change in his life and he likes us which are all good things, but says he isn't sure if the "Mormon thing" is for him. He told us that since he started on this new path with us that he has felt better. He has been praying sincerely which is great, but he used to play tennis professionally and seems to attribute most of the changes to playing tennis again. Earlier this week he cancelled on us which started out as a major disappointment, but turned out to be the Lords hand moving the work along. When we would have been teaching Richie we met Rob and Cade; a father and son who lost their wife and mother to cancer a little over a year ago. We talked to them on their porch for a bout a half an hour and when we returned the next day Rob had read the pamphlet we gave him and was all dressed up for the lesson. When we were about to get started his phone rang and he answered it briefly because it was a brother-in-law that he hasn't heard from in over a year, and he commented on how odd that was that he would call just as we were there. They have busy schedules but I'm hopeful because they were the ones that brought up a time for a return appointment. I'm excited for them because they just seem ready. The spirit was present in their home and I was impressed that when we asked Cade what he thought it meant to pray with faith he responded that it is when we believe and are willing to commit. He's 13! Anyway, they're awesome. Richie ended up calling us and saying that he decided he would like to continue to meet with us. Just when I thought this week couldn't get any better... yesterday, which would have been p-day if we didn't have our temple trip today, we saw another miracle. We knocked on a door near a potential investigator we were hoping to contact, and met Zach who told us that he would normally never give us the time of day had he not been praying for the first time when we knocked. Wow! I am amazed. Neither of us received inspiration about a certain house in a certain neighborhood in either of these instances, but as we were diligent in planning and going to contact a less active and potential we were blessed with three new people to teach. I feel like I just keep saying "wow". God is good at what He does. We were also able to have a wonderful two-day training at the Visitors' Center which has changed my outlook on serving there, or rather brought it back to what it was when I was in the MTC anticipating it. It's hard to kind of find yourself at a Visitors' Center. In the past I have felt so pressured to get referrals and give good tours and at times I've wondered why I was called to a VC because I honestly don't feel like I'm cut out for it sometimes. It's easy to get caught up in thinking that we have to fit a certain mold as a Visitors' Center sister, but all of the sisters here are incredibly different and I learned through the trainings that is fulfilling a more meaningful purpose than just giving our lives variety. Everyone that comes into the Visitors' Center is there for a reason and while all the media and exhibits we have are great, nothing they leave with will be more meaningful than a personal connection they made with a missionary that took the time to get to know them and share with them something that they needed in that moment. I just needed a reminder of how important it is to get to know people a little bit even if we only have a few minutes with them, or they come in knowing exactly what they want to see. It has also made serving there more enjoyable for me because I learn from everyone that comes in and get to hear about their lives and experiences. We threw around a lot of ideas on how to better utilize what we have in the VC to improve our teaching. Sister Bodily and I were able to sing "How Great Thou Art" at the first training and it filled that little hole I start to feel when I don't get to for a while. I've heard that music is the most powerful communication second to prayer and it must be true because it seems to be the only way I feel that I can adequately express my testimony sometimes. I always see people I know or that know someone I know in or around the Visitors' Center, but this week I got to see Aunt Mary Jo and her family which was a special treat, I took a family from Puerto Rico on a tour and they heard Vocal Union and said they really enjoyed it, and Sister Flake who served here is apparently in Bishop Kidd's ward back home. This world is getting smaller all the time! I love you all so much. Remember the blessings that are promised as you continue in patience :)

Sister Davis

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Huntsman Family Sees Jenna

Wade, Mary Jo, Trey, Lauren, and Paige are in LA for an Idaho Ballroom Academy tour.  They are staying at the LA temple, where Sister Jenna Davis lives.  They just happened to bump into her!