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!