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

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Week from Sister Davis

I have a doppleganger!! We found this in She is serving at the SLC Visitors' Center and even I think she looks like me. Scary!

Matching skirts. I asked her where she got hers and she said " I don't know, my mom got it for me." Same here! Yay for moms :)

Our mini-missionary Sister Whitaker

Sushi on P-day! Sister Jones. 

Brother Siep

Friends and Family,

It's been a full week and a wonderful one! We are finally meeting with Richard tomorrow. We've been e-mailing him from the teaching center every other day and then calling him to follow up with his Book of Mormon reading and thoughts about the Mormon messages that we send him. He is amazing. Every morning he prays about something that he doesn't understand or needs help with and literally finds answers on a daily basis from the Book of Mormon that in his words "blow his socks off." The one that impressed us the most was when he prayed for the strength to quit drinking, opened to a random page in Alma and read  "And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell." He called us and when we answered he immediately said in his New York accent, "Something is happening here!" All I can say is that there are miracles happening every day with him. His wife still just thinks he is going through a phase, but we're hopeful that if we can get them both to the Visitors' Center she'll feel the difference herself. We have a missionary fireside this weekend with music by the missionaries and testimonies from recent converts that would be just the thing, so hopefully we can convince them to come.

We are still meeting with Susan. She isn't doing very well health-wise. We taught the word of wisdom and law of chastity this week and she disagrees with both. When we talked about her body being a temple she argued the point that her temple is already broken and if she's going to die anyway she doesn't see the harm in doing the very last few things that make her happy. We promised her the happiness that comes from living the commandments and assured her that while her illness may not be taken away she is still entitled to increased health and and increased measure of the spirit if she will keep those commandments. I felt horrible because we're just these 21 year old girls that are perfectly healthy and she's probably thinking that we just don't understand. She has been avoiding reading the Book of Mormon and we think it's because she knows that she'll find out it's true and then she'll know the church is true and she'll be accountable to live those commandments. She still wants to get baptized so now it's really up to her to find out. She's great and we're really praying for her and trying to be there for her in any way that we can.

We had zone conference this week and those are always great. Our zone put together an arrangement of "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" which worked out well and was powerful to sing with other missionaries. We left the conference with a renewed excitement to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon and since have given more out and been better about teaching people about it immediately upon meeting them. We also went on splits with some members from our ward so we could meet and teach more people. These two things combined have produced several potentials that we are excited about following up with this week. 

We had the blessing of another mini-missionary this week. Her name is Sister Whitaker and she was a trooper. She was at the tail end of a cold which meant she was already behind on homework AND she missed her senior homecoming weekend to serve with us. Pretty impressive. She was great and the three of us had a lot of fun together. At one point we were tracting and had to be a little grateful that no one was home at one doorstep because Sister Jones said something and had us all laughing uncontrollably. Later we let Sister Whitaker take the lead and when one woman answered "yes" to her question "would you like to hear a message?" She replied with a very surprised "oh!" Ha ha she did awesome. I love having minis because it's such a good reminder that what we do is an exciting thing and we're involved in a very important work every day! 

The Visitors' Center has been a lot of fun this week. It's been busy and we've had the opportunity to teach a lot more than we have in previous weeks. One young man that came in was from Russia and is here trying to get his green card. He was orthodox christian as he says most Russians are and he said they are all unhappy. I don't know how true that is, but he said he was impressed with how much everyone smiles here and wanted to learn more about why that was. We showed him the pictures of the inside of the temple and explained the importance of covenants and he just said, "this is how it should be." Long story short he left with a copy of the Book of Mormon in English and Russian and I was able to send the missionaries to his mother in Moscow. The VC is such an amazing place for people to come and learn about the gospel because who knows what other opportunity he would have had. 

Well I love you all! Thanks for everything you do for me.

Sister Davis

P.S. Deena is getting married?! Let's bump that wedding back to July ;) Just kidding. Congratulations!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Extra Pics

Here are some pictures we just received from Sister Jenna Davis:

Getty Villa in Malibu

 Grace (Served here 5 years ago), Sister Tamir and Crescencio

Monday, October 8, 2012

News of the Week from Sister Davis

(remembering beautiful Malibu)

Family and friends,

Oh my goodness, this place is just buzzing with excitement from the news of the lowered age requirement for full-time missionaries! I can't believe it! I had a seminary teacher once that read a phoney first presidency letter announcing that the age for young women was being lowered to 19. I was so excited and then very upset when I learned that he was kidding. He was funny, a little cruel, and come to find out not too far off! When President Monson was announcing the new policy for young men we were all just on the edge of our seats knowing that he would say something about sisters as well. We thought that perhaps he would extend the sisters time to two years and were surprised by the actual announcement. Awestruck I just said, " What..." and then, "How did I miss that by two years?" Sister Jones looked at me excitedly and proclaimed "Jesus is coming!"(We were all thinking it). And then explained that if her sister chooses to serve her family will have 3 missionaries out at once! Wow! Upon further reflection I realized what that would mean for my own little brother and how crazy it is that he could leave so soon and also how strange it will be when I get home and girls from the ward that I would fully expect to be in college could be gone on missions by the time I get home. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all. We are all betting on when our first 19 yr old will arrive. I'm guessing January at the earliest, but S. Jones is pulling for December. I guess I should talk about something else now... I could go on and on. 

This week has been great. Richard came to the last session of conference and while he did think it was long and maybe a little intense afterward he said "this is all upsetting my life! The crazy thing is that I know what it's going to take and I still want to do it." He hasn't said he will be baptized, but he mentions it and knows that it's where he is heading. I guess his wife gives him the stink eye if he ever talks about his investigation of the church and (we haven't even taught this yet) he doesn't think she'll be on board with tithing, but he has a lot of faith and we are promising him blessings like crazy and praying our hearts out that his wife's heart will be softened. Susan has been really sick this week and we were only able to meet with her once. She doesn't really go out and so we're foreseeing a bit of a challenge getting her to church three times before her baptismal date. So every week for the next three weeks. 

Because of the Visitors' Center and general conference I haven't actually attended my new ward yet and I won't next week either. it's stressing me out just a little that i haven't really met any members yet, although we have been to ward council and coordination meetings. Still, the few members that i have met are great and I can see that Marina del Rey is more of a melting pot than Malibu. Surprise! We have this sweet recent convert in our ward named Crescencio and he fed us Filipino food. It was delicious! He made us adobo which I recognized because dad makes it and he was very excited to hear that my dad served in the Philippines. He is seriously adorable. He shuffled up to me the first time I met him and said, " I always pick a feature to remember the missionaries by." Then he pressed his pointer fingers into his cheeks and said. "Sister Dimples is Sister Davis." 

The visitors' center has been fun lately and especially exciting since the announcement. We had a non-member man come in while conference was being shown whose name was Joseph Smith. Needless to say he was highly confused... Otherwise everything is going well. We are praying our guts out to find a family to teach and bring into the gospel.

Love you all!

Sister Davis

Monday, October 1, 2012

Friends and Family,
(note from Dad:  for some reason last week's post did not come, so please also read the one below!)

Exciting news this week. I got transferred! I'm back at the Visitors' Center and serving in Marina del Rey in the Westdale second ward. I am loving the change and meeting all new people. However, as expected I miss the Pacific Palisades ward intensely!    I have a new companion, Sister Jones, and she's great! She's been here one transfer and technically I'm finishing her training, but she knows what's going on and how to get things done so it doesn't seem like I'm finishing her. If anything she's training me! She has tons of great ideas and enthusiastic energy. Her trainer(Sister Hidalgo) and I were both trained by Sister Bustamante. So... trainer = mother, which makes Sister Hidalgo my sister, who was S. Jones' mother, but she died, so we joke that I'm the cool aunt that took her in. Make sense? All lingo aside she is awesome and I'm looking forward to great experiences this transfer. We've already had a few. In fact yesterday we had one of the best experiences so far on my mission. We received a referral through, and I was secretly a little apprehensive because any of those that I've received in the past have been pranks- people just submitting their friends information as a joke, which is always disappointing. Anyway, when we knocked on Richard's door I was presently surprised and admittedly a little blown away! The first thing he said was " Well, well, well, I've been waiting for you!" Score! I guess one of his colleagues is LDS and has been trying to get his information to missionaries through the bishop where she lives or something, and after weeks of nothing he finally just got on and referred himself. He proceeded to tell us all about how he has been investigating on his own. He said, "I'm actually an investigator." He told us that he has been changing the way he speaks and understands that he is going to have to give up alcohol and coffee. He explained that everything seems to be pointing in this direction and that he has been receiving very real answers that he should pursue it. " I even liked on Facebook," he said with a roll of the eyes. "My own son is making fun of me." Can you believe it? I was just standing there beaming in disbelief. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he got all choked up when he read Moroni's promise. It. was. awesome. I'm so excited to teach him and grateful that we met him our first week of the transfer!

After meeting Richard we hurried over to a lesson with a woman named Susan. She is 31 and has poor health. Sister Jones found her last transfer by calling potentials. Her father is an old potential who lost interest, but when S. Jones called she picked up the phone and said that we could teach her. Last night was our first lesson with her and she accepted a baptismal date! If all goes well she will be getting baptized an the end of this month. It was a neat experience because she kept saying that we were teaching her things that she already believed. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and she explained to us a dream that she had where she knew that she was going to come to earth and have a sick body but she still wanted to come. Preach My Gospel promises that the gospel will have a familiar ring to the people that we teach, but that was the first time that I had personally experienced it. Actually, with the VC, transfers, district meetings, and weekly planning, yesterday was my first day in our area. Talk about an excellent first day!

I love you all!

This video had a familiar ring for me :) Love it. 

Sister Davis

Friends and Family,

You know you're in Malibu when... The woman that brings her dog to church in her purse insists that it is given the sacrament bread. Yup, that happened. The great part is that we are planning to start teaching her. She is the fiance of a less active in our ward. They're in their 70's and she told us that if they really get married she would like to be a Mormon. I sure hope they really get married! Otherwise the week was pretty slow as far as lessons go. The Waters couple cancelled, but they really are interested. Things just keep coming up or they go out of town. I'm hopeful about them though, especially because when we stopped by to invite them to church she introduced us to her granddaughter as missionaries from "her church." I like the sound of that! Richie has been sick lately and missed church for the third week in a row. He has changed a lot, but still has a lot of fears, and so much going on in his personal life that's preventing him from moving forward right now. Isaac is just incredibly busy, and has a LOT to say. Sometimes I feel like he thinks it's his duty to let us know that their isn't a God. Ultimately he needs to sincerely pray and ask for himself.   I'll keep you posted. Otherwise we are still always looking for more people to teach. Church was awesome this week. We had ward conference and after the block of meetings everyone was given two or three people to visit right then that are either less active or nobody knows who they are. It was powerful to visit our bunch knowing that the entire ward was doing the same thing. We have pretty much visited or at least done our best to contact everyone on the ward list already, but I'm confident that this exercise will produce some more work for us to do with less actives and part member families. If not more than at least more member involvement with those that we have been working with. Transfers are this week and I can feel change in my bones. I can't imagine being in another ward! I feel like the Pacific Palisades ward will be my ward for life. I will be happy has a clam(ha ha) to stay in Malibu, but I will say that I'm really hoping to go back to the Visitors' Center. Mostly because I want to be part of the October missionary fireside and Christmas program( please oh please)! But also because if I'm being honest it's physically less taxing and probably emotionally as well. For the first time this transfer they needed a little extra help this past Saturday so we got to go for the morning shift. We took a primary group around and otherwise spoke with mostly non-members. The time flew by.  People to talk to just walk in! It's amazing! And 100% less awkward to approach them because hey, I'm wearing a tag and you walked in, and you're not surprised or upset that I'm talking to you. I will never complain about the Visitors' Center again. That is a promise. I never really did, but my eyes have certainly been opened to appreciate it much more. Having done both now there are definitely pros and cons either way, but overall I really enjoy the Visitors' Center. I have always sort of wondered why I was called to one because I never expected it (even with all the teasing) but I feel like I fit there more and more all the time and it makes sense. I have to run, but this scripture has really touched me this week. We cannot bear all things. It's true, but we are never alone. I love you all!

D&C 78:18 And ye cannot abear all things now; nevertheless, be of good bcheer, for I will clead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the driches ofeeternity are yours.