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!