Monday, April 1, 2013

From the CLAM

Marina Zone March 2013

Friends and family,

Another week gone. A little sadness this week, but also an Easter miracle!

Crystal has officially moved and Amir officially got permission to attend the other ward so we were feeling a little bummed about our lack of investigators. Especially with conference coming up. Last conference was Richard's first Sunday coming to church. I can't believe it's already been six months. He has grown so much. He taught the high priests this last week and also starred in the Easter choir at church. We missed both. The first for obvious reasons and the second because we were at the Visitors' Center. He came to our impromptu concert at the VC later that night though so we got to talk to him a bit.

The choir that was lined up to perform for Easter ended up bailing so we had the privilege of throwing one together in three days or so. Sister Shakespear asked me to sing "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" which is what I sang at Richard's baptism so that was a good Easter gift for him. He made Sister Jones and I promise we would record it when we got home. We are such a funny trio of best friends that I'm sure will appear very odd to anyone unfamiliar with our situation. 

Miracle: After the concert we got back to our area about fifteen minutes before we had anticipated and we didn't really have any back up plans so we just decided to knock some doors before going in. I took about three random turns, turned left on the third street and snagged the third available parking spot(don't ask me why I chose three) and we started knocking. Lo and behold the families behind the first two doors were very disinterested, but behind the third we found Veronica! She is a middle-aged African American lady who has a seventeen year-old son and I think is a single mom. It was very natural to talk with her. She told us about her Easter and listened as we told her about modern revelation and the Book of Mormon. we offered her one of her own and she gladly accepted and said she would like to learn more!!! I asked when she was usually available and she explained to us that she's battling cancer right now and is almost always home. I was sad to learn that, but I'm also looking forward to sharing with her more about the purpose and plan that a loving Heavenly Father has for her. 

We had a wonderful dinner with Stephanie this week. She is... or rather was the less active that Sister Jones and I started teaching back in September. I've missed her a lot because seeing as she hasn't missed a Sunday since October we haven't been able to visit anymore. Funny how that works :) So proud of her. 

Love you all! Gotta run,

Sister Davis

Monday, March 25, 2013

News from Sister Davis

Making Grandma Dorman proud in her blazer :)

My Chingoo aka friend. LOVE HER

Friends and Family,

It hasn't been very long since my last p-day, but I do have a few updates. Some are a little sad. 

Crystal is officially moving :( Her little girl is a little over a week old and she has to be out of her apartment in less than ten days. I'm glad that we are here to help her get everything together, but the chances of her moving to an apartment in our area are slim.

Amir is doing wonderfully well. Our bishop as well as Sister Larsen's bishop are coordinating to get permission for him to be in the other ward so that she can fellowship and translate for him. This is probably the best fit for him, but sad for us because it means we will most likely be transitioning him to the other missionaries. We did get permission to celebrate Persian new year at Sister Larsen's house this week. It was definitely a new and cultural experience. Los Angeles is such a melting pot. I love it!

Tristen cancelled on us this week. It's such a difficult situation because while she says she isn't doing it for Ethan she is doing it because of him, and he isn't coming to church or really keeping the commitments we give him. I guess their deal in the beginning was 5 lessons, so we'll see if once those are up she's done. 

Brother Kennedy is brother Kennedy :) He wants the gospel in his life, but the process of making that happen, especially without the support of his wife can be overwhelming. I'm excited for him to attend the Saturday session of general conference and crossing my fingers that he'll be able to retire in May and return to activity. 

I think I've mentioned before that sometimes there seems to be a theme at the Visitors' Center as well as just on my mission in general for different periods of time. The question "why" is one that I've been asked all of my mission, but especially the last few weeks. "Why is there so much suffering?" "Why is life so hard?" "Why is this happening to me?" etc. These are questions that I'm sure we have all asked whether we care to admit it or not. They are difficult questions to answer and even a scriptural answer I've found does not leave the inquirer satisfied. However, I do feel that what I've experienced on my mission, particularly in the last few months, has helped me to find my own answer to these seemingly unanswerable questions and in turn at least have a direction to send others in, in the hopes that they will find their own. I love the account in the beginning of first Nephi when he is shown his father's vision. 16: "And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?" 17: "And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." Many times I feel like that's the best answer I can give. BUT there is so much involved in that short answer that at least for me has made it a very real and even satisfying answer. Mosiah 23:21 "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith." This has always been and will always be a true principle, but somehow doesn't seem all that helpful when you're the one suffering. I was reading Elder Eyring's recent talk "Where's the Pavilion." and even though I had already heard it, it brought something to light that I hadn't understood before. I have always heard and always taught Moses 1:39. Everything the Lord does is for us, but something seemed to click this time more so than in the past. Even the chastening, even the allowing us to suffer, and even the delaying desired blessings. Elder Eyring said, "The Lord’s delays often seem long; some last a lifetime. But they are always calculated to bless" When I read that it just hit me that it was true. Not in an "Oh an Apostle said it so it must be true" kind of way, but more of a knowing. I know that that is true. I know that God allows us to suffer because He loves us! I know it! He sees what we can become and what needs to happen in order for us to become that. I know that everything we experience whether it seems to us to be good or bad is calculated to bless us. Now what has really been difficult has been sharing my realization with others as they ask these questions and see that it doesn't satisfy or mean much to them. We really do all have to find out for ourselves and through our own experiences what is true. So I guess I'll give you all a challenge because I'm a missionary and I feel like quoting a little mermaid song :) "Ask [Him] your questions and get some answers!"

I guess that's all for now. I love you all very dearly and I appreciate all the insights you share with me. I learn so much from all of you!

Sister Davis

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This Week From Sister Davis

Temple p-day


Does anyone recognize Elder Heun form Kamiah?

Sportin Sister Mueller's clothes :)

Code 4 - No assistance needed :)

Friends and Family,

Well... I don't really have a lot of updates this week, but I will say that it has been a very interesting one. If you're ever looking for a good story just ask me about "pie day" on my mission.

That being said here are the updates:

Crystal : Still babying, but wants to come to church as soon as she feels up to it.

Amir: Doing great! Tons of complications with what ward he is going to attend due to the language barrier, and his backround as an Iranian. We're working it all out though and he is getting more excited all the time. We taught him at the Visitors' Center this week and he was just adorable. He was asking questions about the Word of Wisdom and when we taught it he basically just said, ok it will be hard, but I can give up tea and hookah. Tea and hookah? I've never gotten that before but ok. I asked what that was similar to and then started listing options like marijuana(sheltered) ha ha. He got a little flustered, stopped me and said, "no, no. It does not give you a special feeling! It is just flavored tobacco." Ok, ok sorry :) Anyway, he is really progressing. Our challenge with him is getting him  to read from the Book of Mormon because he has a gospel principles book in Farsi and prefers that.

Tristen: The same. We asked Ethan to invite her to church. He said he would go if we got her to go. Oy... This really happened but we joke about it now - Sister Schiel called him a hypocrit... I asked him to read his patriarchal blessing... He told me that he was really glad that I'm teaching her because, "I'm real and I'm a sweet spirit, but not of the fat variety." What?... Anyway, who's the good cop now Richard?! :) Workin on it.

Brother Kennedy: We had a great lesson with him and the Bishop came which was perfect because he has been so concerned with coming back to church and the Bishop was very clear with him that if only perfect people came the building would be vacant. He still works Sundays until at least May, but he has committed to coming to a Saturday session of conference so we are looking forward to that.

I could tell you a lot of stories from this past week, like I said, ask me one day. But here's one that gave me a smile. I really think that part of the reason God sent me to Los Angeles was for the entertainment factor. He knows how much I love to laugh :)

We ate dinner with a member who lives... in a commune. Her housemates Sparky and Micky - a folk dancing couple that has been going strong for 28 years but have not tied the knot, two gay couples, some college kids celebrating St. Patrick's day, and our lovely member friend. It was her birthday so we all joined hands, said grace, and enjoyed a meal that the rest of the house had prepared for her. I even poured the tea! Don't worry, I did not partake. Neither did the member. Sister Schiel on the other hand... no just kidding :) The table conversation was let's say... memborable.

On a more spiritual note. Sorry for the whiplash... I got to go to the temple today! It was so peaceful and I had an interesting experience. This will probably sound pretty vague, but I was praying about one thing when an impression for something completely different came out of nowhere. I didn't really think much of it until I opened a letter about an hour later that had everything to do with it.

I know that God answers our prayers! Sometimes not always how we are expecting, but luckily he is WAY smarter than us so it all works out.

I'm out of time, but I love you all!! Thank you for your e-mails :)

Sister Davis 

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Week from the CLAM

Sister Jones' halfway mark!

March of the Mustaches - Zone goal
 Friends and Family,

It's been an interesting week, but good! I've been doing some adjusting even though nothing really changed because I was 100% anticipating and preparing for a change. Sister Jones said it best, "You just stay places chick." True. It will be interesting to see if I end up serving in only two areas and one zone my entire mission. We'll see! 

Things are still going well with all our investigators although there is not much to report because most are at a bit of a standstill simply due to circumstance. Crystal is in the hospital about to deliver a baby, Tristen seems to be developing some real intent, and Amir is doing great, but we don't exactly have permission to baptize him... However he is keeping his commitments and whenever we meet he talks about how what he learns answers so many questions he has always had. I think a lot of people would find that if they would give it a chance.

The Visitors' Center has been relatively slow as of late because the temple is closed for cleaning. However, we were able to help with the cleaning which is always a treat and have taken some good tours. One that sticks out in particular is a tour that we took with the ASL elders and their investigator. It was just cool to teach and have them interpret. Emilio is 13 and just starting the lessons, but mentioned that he had already felt the spirit and said after the Joseph Smith film that he believed it must be true. His friend Naomi came along as well. She is a recent convert and is the one that introduced him to the church and the missionaries. The elders told us about her experience and I was floored. It's too good not to share. When she was investigating she wasn't really reading from the Book of Mormon or keeping commitments. This went on for weeks and the missionaries were stumped. They just didn't know how to help her. Then one day they went to teach her and she told them that she had read. She had read because of a dream she'd had. In the dream she saw Jesus Christ. He was signing to her and she asked him how he knew sign language. He replied that he knew every language because he had created everyone and everything. He then asked her to be a good girl and read from the Book of Mormon. She said she would and woke up. Is that awesome or what?! I was so grateful that we were assigned to their tour. Wow. The church is true! 

I think that's all of my updates although I do have an update to share. I think I'll just give you the whole study journal entry.

"Ether 12 hit me with particular force today. It's a common scripture that is shared often and has always brought me comfort, but I saw it differently this time. It applied to me in a different way and I noticed some things about the way 2 verses in particular are phrased. Vs 12- 'If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.' The IF jumped off the page. It makes me think that all these weaknesses I'm seeing and feeling, although they may seem like regressions, are actually indications that I am coming unto Christ. Now, that doesn't make the refiner's fire any easier, but it does make me feel more confident. More confident that I am on the right path. I have SO many weaknesses that at times I feel overwhelmed and even a little hopeless. Have I ever considered that perhaps seeing those weaknesses is a blessing? That I wouldn't be seeing them unless I was ready to grow and become stronger?  'For IF they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, THEN will I make things become strong unto them.' "

Out of time again, but here is some good news! The e-mail policy for missionaries worldwide has changed and we can now correspond with friends. SO excited! :)

E-mail me!

I love you all! 

Until next week,

Sister Davis

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Staying in MDR!

Temple Service - My last one!!

Richard hand hug

Brother Kennedy hand hug

Sister Isquierdo and Sister Vasilopoulos(mission mom)

Friends and Family,

The phone call came in last night and drum roll... I'm staying! At least six more weeks in MDR with Sister Schiel! I've never been with one companion for more than two transfers so this will be a new experience. I'm really relieved that I get to stick around and be here to see the Ethan and Tristen saga unfold, continue with Amir, help Crystal(she is having her baby this Friday!) and whoever else the Lord puts in our path. I called Richard last night immediately after planning to tell him that I got to stay, since we were all prepared for and expecting I'd go, and I couldn't resist teasing him a little. What's new? I talked to him in a high-pitched voice and told him I was Sister Davis' replacement and that she told me to call him as soon as I got to the area. He asked if he could call back in a few minutes and when he did was very polite and welcomed me to the area. He asked how Sister Davis was to which I replied, "you know how she is... but she'll be ok" He then said, "Well, you know she feels very deeply about people, and she get's attached..."(true) That's where I stopped him, returned to my regular voice and through a little laughter said,  "Richard, Richard, I didn't get transferred!" Ha ha! It was too good. Also a little terrible. I think he'll forgive me though in time. 

A bunch of great things this week that I'm lucky I get to stick around for. We taught Amir again and it was great. He is super humble and ready to learn. We are still unsure if he will end up in our ward and have to make sure that his family won't murder him in cold blood if we baptize him, but other than that he is doing awesome! We haven't been able to meet with Crystal because she is about to pop, but we had another miracle with her. We asked if there was anything we could do for her and she asked if we knew where to find a cheap car seat. We looked through the ward list for people that might have an extra one she could borrow or have and the first family we called did! We're taking that over to her tomorrow and will conveniently share a message while we're there. When we told her we were just bringing her one for free she said she was so happy she could cry and that it was nice to see Christians that are not only religious on Sunday. 

Angel and Enrique update: They are still doing awesome. So proud of them. Angel blessed the sacrament last week. We missed it because we were at the VC, but it has been amazing to see and hear about all their progression. I can't wait to see all that the Lord has in store for them in the future. 

Two street contacting stories. One is funny/a little sad and the other a miracle. So we met this young man named Clarence. We said hello and introduced ourselves, he asked if we were Mormon, we told him yes and that we were the missionaries! I was not expecting this but the next thing he did was call us devil worshipers, flip us off, and then run away from us in a full-speed panic! I mean I've been told before that I can be a little intimidating, but I never realized I was down right scary! His loss I suppose. The second one is a little more uplifting. From time to time the Spanish sisters that cover our same area give us referrals and I was thinking that we rarely give them any simply because we don't speak Spanish. So, I said a little prayer in my heart that we could find someone for them. Literally less that an hour later we ran into a Hispanic woman with her three children. The youngest had just hit his head on the cement so I started talking to him and said one of the only things I know in Spanish, "lo siento" he immediately stopped crying and I talked to the mother briefly about the Book of Mormon. She gave me her info and I sent it to the Spanish sisters. Prayers are answered!

We have a new investigator now, Diana. She was a former that we went to visit. She said that she had met with missionaries before, but hadn't been all that interested. Not much to go off of, but somehow she ended up telling us that she had lost a few family members this year and had given birth to a full-term still-born baby girl a few years ago. I was able to talk to her about my mother and family having a similar experience as well as my own losses. I don't think she was expecting me to respond that way and she started listening. I shared Alma 40 with her and talked about the peace that a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation can bring. Now we're seeing her again on Thursday. It's amazing how you can just feel like your wandering around with no direction trying to find people and then WHAM! There they are. 

It's crazy to me that I've been in Los Angeles for over a year now. I was reading a journal entry from when I first arrived and I have changed so much, thank goodness! There were all these things that I wanted to become and characteristics that I wanted to develop and it's interesting to look back and see how the Lord has made that happen. I don't know how to explain this exactly, but many of the changes have not come from a conscious effort on my part, but rather a series of experiences that the Lord knew would help me get there. Some, actually most have been difficult experiences that made me stretch and sometimes even question "why?" It's humbling to learn that sometimes God allows us to experience difficulties and suffering not because He doesn't care, but rather because He loves us with an infinite love and understands more so than we do, how much potential we have. I love Him and am learning to trust Him.

I love you all! Have a great week. Write me... :)

Sister Davis

Monday, February 25, 2013

This Week from Hollywood

Friends and Family, 

So many miracles this week! I think just listing them will be  the most efficient this time.

Miracle #1 : Angel vs. Pei Wei. So earlier this week Sister Schiel was moaning her devastated moan, as she tends to do, because we learned that Angel's new job was requiring him to work Sundays for the rest of eternity. I told her not to fret and that he'd figure it out mostly just to calm her down, but also because I felt confident that he would. Next thing we know one of our ward missionaries informs us that he went over for a new member lesson and Angel had already taken care of it. Get this. He basically told his boss that if he had to choose between his faith and his job he would choose his faith. Not only did they rearrange his schedule, but they told him they could see him becoming a manager.  Is that like ensign material or what? Go Angel!

Miracle #2: Richard is perfect for Brother Kennedy. The first time we met him he made coming to church sound like an impossibility. We met with him and brought Richard twice this week and when Richard invited him he was like, "Yes, I know I need to. I can't come this week, but I'll ask if I can change my work schedule so that I can be there." The buddy system. It works! Their family situations are very similar and Richard joked that while he has been praying for us to find someone like him he wasn't expecting God to be quite so specific. He just meant someone that would be interested in our message, but what he got was someone close to his age with similar obstacles. They really are adorable together. Richard was showing him how to listen to the scriptures on his phone and I thought I was going to overflow with pure delight! So cute. I told Richard that this is his prayer being answered even more specifically than he had anticipated. He agreed and said as usual, "I love doing God's work!"

Miracle #3: Tristen did not eat us. Tristen is the girlfriend that didn't take the money. We finally met with Tristen this week and I was SO nervous. I've been stressing about it for weeks because her boyfriend has been so nervous and telling us that she is basically atheist, very intellectual, "If you use the phrase, 'I know' she'll eat you alive because you don't have any tangible proof," etc. Then two days before the lesson he strolls into the Visitors' Center and wants to know what our game plan is. So we tell him and then he admits to us that he doesn't read the Book of Mormon regularly, prays probably twice a week, and rarely attends church. WHAT?! So we are being expected to perform a miracle with this chick and homeboy isn't even active?! I'm panicking at this point so we talked to our ward mission leader who literally said, "She takes a dump just like everyone else," and advised us to teach and testify as we would of we knew nothing about her and just leave the boyfriend out of it. So I'm still a little nervous, but feeling better because I've devised a fault proof lesson plan for a very slightly interested, but mostly closed off atheist individual. We finally meet with her and it turns out her step-family is Catholic, she is completely respectful, and asks us questions like, "how do you maintain a connection with God?" AND she said a kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson. So confused! So pleasantly surprised, although a little annoyed that I spent so long preparing a lesson for someone who definitely was not her. Maybe it will come in handy later who knows. Anyway, so she is going to read Alma 32 and pray about the Book of Mormon. I told B.F. that he better read it as well because he can't expect her to get answers and ultimately join the church if she doesn't read and pray and he can't expect her to do those things if he isn't willing to. Whew! If nothing else I hope he comes around. 

Miracle #4: I speak Farsi. No I really don't, but Sister Larsen does and she helped us teach our first lesson with Amir. He has a baptismal date for March 24, but we're not sure how that will work with his Muslim heritage. Funny little anecdote to go along with that. We were visiting a less active in our ward who is older and when we told her that we were teaching Amir her jaw dropped and she exclaimed, "I've never met a Muslim who was not also an Islamist!" Ha ha, Sister Schiel almost lost it. 

We had another mini-missionary this week, but she wasn't so miniature. She is 20 and in Los Angeles for an accounting internship. It's always fun to have them and get an extra boost of excitement about the great work we're privileged to participate in on a daily basis. 

As far as an update on Crystal. She is still doing well. She's been in the hospital this week because she went into early labor and they want the baby to wait, so lessons are kind of on hold, but prayers are always appreciated :)

That's all for now I guess. My fingers are crossed that I'll stay in Marina del Rey. So many great things are happening!

I love you all :)

Sister Jenna Michele Davis

Monday, February 18, 2013

This Week From Sister Davis

After the fireside

Richard Teaching
Family and Friends,

Time is racing by! I had a wonderful realization this week that was just additional proof that God knows exactly what he's doing. Sister Schiel was asking me to explain to her what exactly Vocal Union was. How big, what style of music, do they tour? etc. I told her that I actually wanted to wait and leave on my mission in May so I could tour with them but for whatever reason I couldn't shake the feeling that I just needed to leave. Well, I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons that the timing has worked out how it has, but what I realized this week was that Isaac is getting baptized in August! Obviously I have to be there! I don't know what I was thinking, but I'm glad that God took control of the situation and sent me on my way. That will be a wonderful day, and one that I wouldn't miss for the world. 

This week has been a roller coaster. It started out with all our investigators either avoiding us or breaking up with us (that really is the best description of how it feels). Jason basically told us that he has too much going on in his life to do this too. It was a phone call break-up (the worst) and I think he actually said, "It's not you, it's me." Hopes dashed! Dreams crushed! Bernardo stopped answering our phone calls as well and Tristen (the girl who didn't take the money) wanted to reschedule. Rough week. But then we had a miraculous weekly planning! We called some potentials that we had more or less given up on for a time and set appointments with two of them! One (John) said that he has been to our church on the east coast and just lost contact when he moved, and the other (Crystal) is pregnant and we're getting our foot in the door by taking her dinner tomorrow. We met her on the street and gave her a Book of Mormon, but haven't been able to get a hold of her since, so we were pleasantly surprised that she has been reading it every day! I'm really excited for both of them. We also have an appointment with an Iranian man this week. He went to church with his friend who goes to a neighboring ward, but lives in our boundaries. It should be interesting because I honestly know next to nothing about Islam. I'm also excited to teach a less-active that we met this week. He is probably one of the cutest humans I've met on my mission, possibly ever. When he came to the door I asked how he was doing and he responded with, "fat, dumb, and ugly... and how are you?" He's just the sweetest thing. One of those big, burly, teddy-bear types. He told us that as the years went by his kids all left the church and he just couldn't bring himself to go alone. I thought about how hard that must have been and then I thought about how amazing recent converts are! Everything is so foreign and in most cases they investigate and convert on their own. Maybe Richard can be his friend :)

Speaking of Richard! Just when you think he can't get any cooler... he is up and teaching Gospel Principles!! He taught the class for the first time this Sunday and did an impeccable job. Everyone was involved and I just can't get over how much he knows already. I definitely learned something from his lesson and I'm sure everyone else did. He also spoke at the missionary fireside that was held at the Visitors' Center last night. He shared his conversion story and testimony. Don't worry I filmed it. I had to. One of the highlights was when he shared that the night he attended a similar fireside was the night he quit drinking cold turkey. He did so well. It was one of those moments when you hear or see something and you just think, "THE CHURCH IS TRUE." 

We had our zone conference this week and I was called on randomly to speak. When those scenarios come around I just plan on it because somehow I'm usually one of the lucky ones that gets to go up. I talked about how no effort is wasted and and how I have experienced a lot of disappointments, as all missionaries do, but that it was worth it to meet Richard, Angel, Enrique and others. The Lord has a plan and sometimes we have to be patient. We can't see what it is or how it will all work out, but it always does. It was good that I talked about Richard because it was a perfect lead-in to the assistants' training. They talked about helping our investigators invite people to their baptisms and used Richard as an example because they were impressed by the formal invitations he sent out. I'm with him. He said, "Well, if you got married wouldn't you send invitations? it's an important day!" He just gets it! 

More exciting news! I went on team-ups with the Malibu sisters this week! None other than my bestie Sister Jones and the lovely Sister Kim who I came out with. We taught Richie!!! Do you remember Richie?! Sister Jones remembered how much I loved him and decided to pick him back up. I LOVE HER! For more reasons than just that but I mean isn't she awesome? Anyway, the lesson went well. They teach really well together and I learned a lot from them. When they invited him to be baptized he used the excuse that if I couldn't teach him he didn't want to do it. I got bold at that point and (nutshell version) told him that  he felt so comfortable with me because I cared about him, but that God and Jesus Christ care about him more and that these sisters are representatives of Christ. I told him that he felt good when we taught him, not because of us, but because of what we taught him and if he kept those things in his heart and will read and pray he can feel that way even when we aren't there. He said he would pray about being baptized in March. I'm pulling for him! I know he can do it, he just has to decide to step into the darkness a little bit before he will discover the light.

I'm out of time, but one last thing. we were so spoiled on Valentines day. Our ward mission leader got us flowers and Richard gave us gifts :) Best single awareness day of my life!

Love you all!

Sister Davis

Monday, February 11, 2013

Best day of my life!

 I love them :)
Angel got a job!! He's awesome... and I probably shouldn't be using gang symbols in Culver City CA... Oh well :)

Family and Friends,

Another great week! I started the week with what was one of the best days I've had on my mission. Richard, Angel, and Stephanie all came to the temple Tuesday night to do baptisms for the dead. It was the first time for all three of them and they each came with at least one family name. In fact we took Stephanie and Angel down to the family history library beforehand to help them get their cards printed. We all talked for a bit and of course made them a little late. I was so happy I thought I was going to burst. There's a statement in the missionary call letter that says something  about how if you serve selflessly you will experience more joy than you had ever previously experienced. I've always felt a little funny about that because before my mission I had some experiences that brought me inexpressible joy. For example the miracles of Isaac and Emrie being brought into our family. I still don't think that I can compare levels of happiness from one life experience to the next, but on Tuesday I did feel a different kind of joy than I have ever felt before. I felt something similar when our investigators were baptized, and then another level of it as I saw them bless and pass the sacrament, but there was something so incredible about being there to see them go to the temple. They came back to the Visitors' Center after and shared what they felt there. It was awesome. We sat and talked and it was wonderful. I had this hard moment where I realized that it wasn't always going to be like this. I won't be in Marina del Rey forever and I won't always be their missionary. Richard and Angel agreed with me that it won't necessarily be easy, but reassured me that even though that will be tremendously difficult we have been given a gift. We've been given this wonderful gift of eternal friendships, and Richard is always quick to remind me that I should be grateful for the hurt because it is just an indication of the deep love that we all share. Does that melt your heart or what? I LOVE THAT MAN! 

Enrique was confirmed just yesterday. He received a beautiful blessing. I think my favorite part was when we all raised our hands to sustain him a member of the ward. Everyone in the ward just loves the Salazar brothers and it was awesome to finally have them both as official members of the ward. After the meetings Angel ordained Enrique! We had to rush to the Visitors' Center so we only heard about it, but I am loving this pattern. From Richard to Angel to Enrique. We joked with Enrique that he would have to fellowship our next convert so he can ordain him! 

Our new investigator Jason came to church yesterday. We had Richard pick him up so it was fault proof. Usually I feel a little bad asking people to take time to pick someone up, but we knew Richard would be perfect for him and when we asked him to do it he responded, "I love doing God's work!" Jason stayed all three hours and I think he had a good experience. He's a recovering Catholic like Richard but for the moment is not sure if there even is a God so we're kind of starting from square one. He started to investigate last year because he was looking for inner peace but he never "did the stuff" ie. reading, praying, coming to church. So hopefully this go around will be different. He kind of just fell in our lap this week. I heard one of the elders say that we don't knock on doors to find investigators, we knock n doors to show the Lord that we are ready for investigators. True statement! I feel like we work and work and try with all these people who just flake and then out of nowhere get someone who's totally ready. 

Oh my goodness! Do you remember the guy that was going to pay his girlfriend to meet with us? She didn't take the money!! I'm so glad because it would be so much more awkward that way. Anyway, she's agreed to meet with us five times in order to "understand his beliefs." Or it could just turn into eternal bliss for everyone involved!! Originally he wanted to wait until an Asian sister was transferred here since she is Vietnamese, but as we've been talking he decided he'll let us teach her. He is constantly telling us how intelligent she is and wants us to be really sensitive. Pressure! He just wants her to be the one... Kinda cute, but pressure! He basically told us that if she doesn't accept the gospel they probably won't get married... He was nice though and said that he thinks she will like me because I listen well and I'm real *hair flip* Anyway, that took a little pressure away, but still. I'll let you know how that goes.

Ok random Visitors' Center story:

This man whose name I still am unaware of walked in the other day and when I went to shake his hand he sniffed it, yes you read right, sniffed it... Quite vigorously actually and then kissed it three times... Ah!!! Then he spun me around and asked me to call him Antonio Banderas, What?? Yup, that's real folks. I don't know what happened to him after that. Obviously I ran away. 

And on that note I gotta run ha ha. I love you all! 

Sister Davis

Monday, February 4, 2013

Enrique's baptism!

Photo for our meal calendar. Who wouldn't want to feed us right? 

Year mark for me and Sister Cole 

Family and Friends,

Life is good! Enrique was baptized yesterday. He called on his way and said that the three of them were coming, but were going to stop at a bar on their way for a couple of beers. I scoffed at what is apparently becoming a tradition. Both Richard and Angel did the same thing! Punks. They always look so cute rollin up in Richard's Jaguar. Our recent convert carpool.  Both Angel and Richard spoke and they both did so well. Several people commented that they gave probably the best baptism talks they'd ever heard. SO proud. They both brought the spirit so strong. Sister Schiel and I sang "I Heard Him Come" accompanied by Sister Jones. We were all so happy that she got permission to come. It's crazy because I see her everyday and yet I still miss her! I guess sometimes God just gives us people that we're meant to hold onto.

I was writing in my journal last night and had this thought. What if I had chosen not to serve a mission? I will forever rejoice because I did! I can't imagine more wonderful people to have as eternal friends and the experiences that I'm having here, while many of them may be difficult, I just wouldn't have them anywhere else. There have definitely been moments on my mission where things just didn't seem to fit. I've felt out of place and wondered what the reasons were behind my being in a certain place at a certain time or if there even were any. Yesterday was one of those days again where you look back and know that Heavenly Father knows exactly what he's doing. I sometimes wish I could go back and talk to myself at an earlier point in my mission and just let myself know how right it really was and just how worth it it would be. 

Bernardo didn't come to church or the baptism, but we have another appointment with him this week, so hopefully we can help him keep his commitments. 

Funny street contacting story: So the other day we were talking to people on the way to an appointment and everyone I initiated a conversation shut us down.... hard. I asked their name and got a "why do you need to know?" I asked one man if he had heard of our church and he responded that his dad was an excommunicated Bishop who had conducted a mass baptism at a YMCA pool so he didn't have a good background with the chuchh. *Door slammed* Ouch. Hard to come back from that you know? But! Our efforts were not wasted thanks to Sister Schiel. The two people she initiated conversations with responded as follows... "Oh ya, my mom had a Book of Mormon once and I read half of it. Sure you can come over Tuesday!" and (in tears) "My girlfriend just broke up with me and I just have no direction in my life, can you girls help me?" What?! I guess she just has the touch :)

I will definitely let you know how things go with both of them. Please pray that I die in "aka" finish my mission out in Marina del Rey! It has been on fire the last few months and I think it may remain that way. 

This transfer is only five weeks long so I'm stressing a little to have enough time in my area as well as finding time to go on team-ups with the companionships I'm training this transfer. Sister Jones and her new companion Sister Kim are on my list this transfer and I can't wait to go back to Malibu with them! That will be surreal. I have to hop off my e-mail early today because we are presenting the zone goal. The leadership meetings and presentations have been a lot of fun. Initially I was a little nervous about this calling, but I'm so grateful for it now. Working with the zone leaders and other sister trainers has been a blast and I learn way more from the other sisters on splits than I'm sure they do from me. Gotta run.

Love you all! So much.  Please watch:

Sister Davis

P.s. We got two 20 year old sisters this transfer. Nuts!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Joe, Doris, and their wedding party!

So happy together :)

Thanks Mom! It rained all week :)


Family and Friends,

First of all I have to congratulate Deena on the wedding!! Wow, she looks so beautiful and grown up. I wish I could have been there. We'll just have to throw a big one year anniversary I guess :) 

So everything is changing out here with the hoards of new missionaries coming. The VC will have about ten sisters full-field at a time when we usually have two. Normally we find out about transfers tuesday night and figure everything out the next day. The new policy is that we have a normal day on Monday, find out that night, and then a Tuesday p-day before transfers. So surprise! I already know what's happening to me. I like this a lot better than not being able to relay where I'm even at for almost a week, and I think a final p-day with your companion before you split will be an emotionally healthy thing for me. That's for future transfers though. As for this one, I'm staying! I'm so happy! I can't imagine leaving Marina del Rey. When I called to tell Richard it sounded like I have him to thank for the lack of changes :) I love that man! Sister Schiel had me worried because she was SURE that I was going full-field, and she's so in tune that I completely believed her, but alas she was wrong for once and all is well! We were both exceedingly grateful to be staying together. We get along great and have high hopes for our area. She even appreciates my teasing. Hallelujah ;)

Ok so update: 

Enrique is doing great! He had is baptismal interview this week and is all set to go for this Sunday. We know that the week leading up to baptism tends to be an arduous one so keep him in your prayers. 

Angel got a job this week! He seems to be really happy about it and we of course are very proud. 

Richard has become quite the mentor for both of them. It's great to see how they look up to him. Enrique has asked both Richard and Angel to speak at his baptism and I get butterflies witnessing this cycle occur before my eyes. I love those moments when I would rather be here than anywhere. I can't believe that I reach my year mark this week. When I first came on my mission and honestly for a long time after, I felt like I would be here forever. The end doesn't seem to exist and you get to a point where you kind of just let your old life go and this becomes all you know. I used to promise people that I wouldn't be awkward when I got home, but now that I only have six months left I kind of took a beat to stop and evaluate myself and 1) I'm SO different #thankgoodness 2) I have a lot still left to learn 3) I will miss all my people here so intensely that I don't even know if I can handle it 4) I'll miss being a missionary... a lot and 5) I will be INCREDIBLY awkward. It's like, I still quote movies all the time, but they're Visitors' Center movies... my brain has finally grown accustomed to steering any and all conversations toward gospel topics, but most of all boys have cooties ya know? I guess I can share crazy stories about being a missionary in L.A. There's certainly never a shortage of those. It just seems like a rough transition, and I'm not sure how people do it #GoodluckTaylor, but I guess it is better to be wary of it than anxiously awaiting. Anyway, I'll just forget about it until it slaps me in the face and then who knows what! Moral of the story: My mission has been difficult #understatement, but I'm recognizing that there really is nothing else in life quite like it, or quite as wonderful. I love it!

We set a baptismal date with Bernardo! We found a member from a neighboring ward who came along and was able to speak some Taglish(Tagolog/English) and she helped a lot with explaining the Restoration. He hasn't received an answer yet, but you can tell that he is genuinely curious. He is hesitant to ask questions when he prays and I think he may have some misconceptions about how we pray in compariosn with his sisters. A significant portion of their living room is taken up by what I would call a shrine representing the crucifixion and a bunch of porcelain dolls which I am unsure of the meaning of. Anyway, he said that he wants to learn for now, but that he'd be willing to set a goal for March third. We were so excited and it sounds like he'll be coming to church this coming week. Even better. 

We had some unique experiences in the Visitors' Center this week. One that I got so excited about that I nearly burst! A Chinese group came in asking if anyone spoke Mandarin. Conveniently my companion has studied and knows some. Their next words were, "We have papers, can we marry here?" AH! They were so cute! Not surprisingly the Mission President said no, but we spent the next several hours trying to help them find a bishop who would marry them, or convince them to go to a courthouse. They weren't planning to get married on their vacation, but decided when they reached the end of route 66 that they wanted to get married anyway and it would be more romantic if they did it in the United States. I ended up talking to them a lot while Sister Schiel was trying to get a hold of the Bishop and it was so much fun even though we couldn't communicate very well. They seemed a little stressed #don'taskmewhy so I suggested we take a walk around the temple while we waited to hear back. They loved the tour and were very touched when we explained how families could be together forever. They of course took some pictures of us and asked to e-mail them. I gave them your address dad so don't delete that e-mail :) I honestly have no idea if they ended up getting married, but I hope so! We referred them to a Mandarin branch in Irving. 

On Saturday I met a little 9 yr old girl named Shelby. I don't think I really taught her much, but she taught me a lot. She was recently removed from her father's home and given to her grandparents temporarily while he cleans up his life. She explained to me bluntly what had happened and that she had moved in with her grandparents around August and was baptized by October. Then she asked to take a picture with us and said, " I'm going to serve a mission too, but not in Alabama. Where do you think I'll go?" She was so cute and a good reminder for me that the gospel is simply beautiful and beautifully simple. 

I don't know if you remember the beautiful couple Sister Jones and I took on a tour a while back. He was the convert that had previously planned to be a catholic priest and the tour was him introducing his girlfriend to the gospel. Well, I've been keeping in touch with her over the phone in the teaching center and she is not only now his wife, but a baptized member of the church and so is her 11yr old daughter! They said they would come visit, and I really hope I'm on shift so I can get a picture. Visitors' Centers are the best!

That's all for now folks. I love you all and I can feel your prayers. Keep up the good work! :)

Sister Jenna Davis

Monday, January 21, 2013

The matching backpacks Richard got us for Christmas!!

I got really sick this week and had to lie down, but we were still diligent and watched Sister Schiel's training videos.

We cleaned out the mission supplies closet at the church(much needed) Our ward mission leaders were so proud that they asked me to document their chivalry.

Family and Friends,

This week has been so great. We've already had a few leads since we spoke in church last Sunday. Richard had a great missionary experience that I'm more excited about than anything. We weren't at our ward this week because we had to be at the VC, but he had us covered! I guess someone in our ward brought a friend from work to church and introduced her to Richard. In his words he, "went all Moroni 10:3-5 on her," and of course gave her friend a hard time for not doing so earlier. He said that when he read it to her she got emotional and that afterward he committed her to reading and praying everyday (What's up)! She said that she would. When he told us I casually asked if she was coming next Sunday and mentioned that I'd love to meet her. Knowing exactly what I was up to he replied, "Oh I'm sure she'll be there, don't worry I'll introduce you..." I really hope it works out, but either way.. who is this Richard guy and how did he get so cool? Blows my mind. He's doing great with his family history work and is planning on receiving his patriarchal blessing in a few months. I had one of the happier moments that I've experienced on my mission yesterday. Richard asked me what I was doing on February 5th. I told him that I didn't know and than asked me very simply if I would be baptized in the temple for his mother. Words cannot express the love I felt for him and his mother in that moment. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to get permission... which is definitely a day ruiner, but the fact that he asked me will definitely be a highlight of my mission and I look forward to helping him with the work in the future.

Enrique is doing better than ever. He is more than two weeks clean and can't wait to be baptized. Yesterday we went to teach about tithing and when we handed him the pamphlet he was like, "Oh I already talked about all this with Angel, it's nothin." Really? I'm thinking to myself that he has this new job and those pay checks are bound to look pretty good after not having any and he just has no qualms. He explained to us that he figured God got him the job, so what's 10%? (jaw drop). Go Enrique! Then Sister Schiel had the bright idea to have him teach us! It was a fun lesson for us and he actually explained it pretty well and left very little out. Sometimes I have to remind myself to focus in lessons with Angel and Enrique because we have all become such good friends and are close enough that we tease and laugh a lot. I love it!

We've had a couple of neat experiences in the Visitors' Center this week where people come in and say, "So what can you tall us about Mormonism?" or, "What is it exactly that you believe?" Well, we would be more than happy to share! You can't tell me that you're not jealous of VC sisters when you  hear that kind of thing. There are few things more satisfying than entering someone's contact information and clicking the "refer to local missionaries" button.

Another miracle that we had this week was Bernardo! Bernardo is from the Philippines and asked me to bring dad to our next lesson so he could speak Tagalog(I wish)! Anyway, he works at a hotel in the Marina and has become friends with a member who stays there occasionally on business. The member is totally awesome because 1: he gave Bernardo a Book of Mormon and 2: Set up a meeting for all of us yesterday. It was a good lesson and Bernardo said that he would like to be baptized, but will have to think about when.

Finally, my favorite referral... probably ever. The ward mission leader introduced us to a mid-single at church who briefly explained that he has been trying to get his girlfriend to take the discussions for ten months. Finally he's decided to bribe her. He'll be paying her $1,000 to take the lessons! Ok 1: No pressure and 2: What?!... "She's Vietnamese, liberal, and agnostic... I wish one of you was Asian... Do you think you could take someone with you that she could relate to?" Ay Caramba... We'll see how that goes. Pray for us!

I love you all. Random fact: I'm convinced that my relatives are some of the more attractive human beings on this planet. My friends are ok too. That's like a New York "ok" which really means more than ok. Anyway. Cya :)

Sister Davis

Monday, January 14, 2013

One of our favorite regulars. Barbara Dodge. Gotta love her!

Finding Nemo skit for the zone goal presentation. Can you guess who I am?

Family and Friends,

It's been a very rewarding week! Again, it's simply amazing to see the process of conversion from knowing very little or nothing about the gospel to participating in sacred ordinances like blessing and passing the sacrament. Richard blessed the sacrament yesterday in Sacrament Meeting for the first time and you could just tell from the way he prayed that he understands the importance of it. He also started taking the sacrament to those who are unable to attend and I had to laugh as he described the experience. His companion apparently prepped him by saying, "It's no big deal, you'll do great!" and "See it's nothin." after the fact I think to make Richard feel more comfortable, but he didn't seem to like that choice of words very much. Later he emphatically said to us, "What does he mean it was nothing?!" He then explained his experience and how strongly he felt the spirit throughout the process and finished with, "That certainly wasn't nothing... That was something!"  Angel also passed it for the first time and it was surreal (in the best way) to see him participating in that. I noticed too the reverence that Enrique demonstrated as he closed his eyes in silent prayer. I had a good view because Sister Schiel and I had the opportunity of speaking AND singing in church this week. Our ward mission leader spoke as well and I think we were able to get the ward more excited about missionary work and help to eliminate some of their their inhibitions. Richard and Angel both came to the family history library this week as well and Richard (not surprisingly) understands the importance of doing that great work as well. He picked up quick and the next thing we know he's enrolled in a course. How cool is he? Angel didn't have a lot of information on his family, but he ended up doing some indexing and loving it. I'm excited for both of them to do baptisms for the dead in the near future. 

Enrique has been pretty sure about the answers he has received the last few weeks, but he had an experience this week that I guess you could say really did it for him. He had an interview for a job at Target (hallelujah) and everything was going well until they told him he'd need to pass a drug test. He had only been living the word of wisdom for about ten days and he knew that there was no way he would pass. As soon as he had that thought "something" told him to just take it and that everything would be ok. Long story short? He passed the test and got the job! When he told us the story he said that after that experience he knew that the church was true. I'll take it! I'm so grateful for a Father in Heaven that answers our prayers in a way that we can recognize the divinity in it.

I've had some great experiences with prayer recently myself. It's exciting when you feel like you have sort of a breakthrough with prayer and you receive that personal revelation. It's addicting almost, like I don't know if I need or will get another answer today but I want one! It feels so good, give me more! It's interesting because even if the answer pertains to a difficult situation or trial it's SO incredibly helpful because you feel comforted and know in that moment that although things aren't exactly easy, you are in the right place, on the right track, and experiencing what it is that you need to be experiencing. I think I used to have this false perception that if you're doing everything right and are where you need to be when you need to be there that you'll just be happy and everything will be peachy keen. I was reading in D&C 130 about how blessings are directly related to obedience and got to thinking about how blessed I really am. I know with all my heart that if I'm obedient I'll be blessed, but I'm coming to realize more all the time that I still need to learn how to recognize and fully embrace or enjoy those blessings and also that obedience does not eliminate trials. I have so many weaknesses, challenges, I could even go as far as saying issues, but what I'm learning is that those weaknesses that I have do not define me. It's how I respond to challenges and work on my weaknesses that defines me. Recently I've dealt with some challenges that I never expected I would on my mission. I'm sure we could all say that about some of the trials we are called to go through in this life. For weeks I cried out to the Lord in desperation asking why I was experiencing these feelings and also how I could make them go away! Finally, I changed my prayers to be I guess what you could call more humble and I talked to the Lord about what I was experiencing. I told him that I didn't understand why I needed to, but that I would if that's what he wanted me to do and I asked what he thought I should do. I received the answer that the reality is I do have some issues that I need to work through. Never what you want to hear right? But, what followed was a beautiful spiritual confirmation that I would be ok and that in time I would be grateful that I had them. Later I was reading about charity and how because He loved us, the Savior was willing to sacrifice everything. He was willing to suffer and to struggle. I thought about myself and how I have this great desire to love and then thought, how can I expect to have a perfect love without the struggle. It just isn't possible.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, but it also seems like it all makes so much sense when we're looking back.

Well, I guess I'm out of time, but as always I LOVE all of you. More now than ever before.

Sister Jenna Michele Davis

Monday, January 7, 2013

Friends and Family,

Another great week in the CLAM! Angel and Enrique were definitely the highlights but with some unexpected twists. Enrique has been much more sincere and more involved in lessons. I think it has helped to have us continue teaching him after Angel's baptism because he's realizing that he is just as important. At the beginning of the week he mentioned how he wants to follow God and change his life, but it can be difficult when you're living in the projects and in his words "Everyone in my inner circle and their Mammas are on weed right now." I have so much more respect for Richard, Angel, Enrique, and any other convert the more I realize the magnitude of the changes they're making. They really are leaving their entire world behind and entering a foreign one. Later in the week he cancelled on us, BUT this was good because first of all he called us, which has never happened, and second it was because he got a job! We've been praying that he would and this was great news because he needed one for a lot of reasons, but I think especially so he can be busy and not get caught up in his old lifestyle. 

Angel is officially a member of the church! He was confirmed yesterday by one of his friends in the ward and I felt the spirit was so strong during that blessing. He was promised that doors would open for him to get the education that he desires. I was so happy for him because he wants it so much. When we talked to him after he said that he had a rough couple of days leading up to Sunday, and especially a rough morning. Then he explained to us how when he received the Holy Ghost he felt every negative feeling leave him and they were replaced with peace. After the sacrament we had to get to the Visitors' Center so we missed his ordination :( but here's the twist! When we check our phone later that night we see a text from Richard that says, "I ordained Angel!" Wha?! I'm even more upset that we missed it at this point. I have been so humbled and happy to see Richard evolve from who he was the day I met him to participating in Angel's conversion and even baptizing him. WOW... So, we called Angel that night to see how he was feeling and he was needless to say very happy. He even mentioned that he is considering a mission. Dream come true! 

This is a little more on the frivolous side of life but we called Richard last night to hear about his experience, and then (I swear this was inspiration) I asked him what we could do or see nearby that might be a fun p-day activity. At first he suggested that we utilize his connections as a former mayor and take a specialty tour of sony picture studios! Obviously we can't do that, but hey... How excited are we to take up that rain check this summer?! Anyway, we came to the conclusion that we would have lunch at the historic Culver City hotel and a tour of downtown Culver guided by Brother Marcus himself. How awesome is that?! I couldn't wait all morning and then when we met up with him he(not surprisingly) exceeded expectations. Everyone we met from the hotel manager to the waiter were expecting us and we even received a personal tour of the hotel. The hotel has housed many movie stars and what Richard was particularly excited about was the fact that they housed the munchkins from wizard of oz while it was being filmed at Culver Studios. Probably because he met some of them at a reunion that was hosted. Don't worry - picture attached. Basically just when I don't think I could possibly love him anymore he proves me wrong. He once shared with us that his pledge name from his college fraternity was Yogi. Today I revealed my nickname of Boo or BooBoo and he just exclaimed, "I told you this was meant to be!" Ha ha It doesn't get better than this!

Well I love you all! Thank you Pickerings, Dee Marie for the wonderful Christmas packages and Grandma and Grandpa for the jam, as well as everyone for the cards and letters.

Happy Birthday Christopher!! Sweet 16 ;)

We are working hard and building our faith so I'm sure there is good news to come. Fill me in on all of yours!

Sister Davis

P.S. Random story... One of the Sisters here called to follow up with some investigators in Chile and Elder Archuleta was there for a lesson. It's a small world after all!