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