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