Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday

Dear Family,
Many of you have asked if I had the chance to catch a bite of turkey.  The answer is yes. I definitely ate more than a few bites. 
I was glad to see your Thanksgiving pictures. It sounds like you had a blast on Thursday. Our Thanksgiving was pretty exciting too. Thursday morning we picked up Elder Rodriguez.  You wouldn't believe how much work we are able to accomplish with three.  Training Elder Rodriguez is very different from the last time I trained. Since last Christmas, the mission department has introduced a special training program that outlines almost everyday of companionship study.  New missionaries do not learn the Preach My Gospel lessons in the MTC. Instead, they learn how to identify concerns and teach to the needs of investigators. This means that we are giving Elder Rodriguez his first exposure to the lessons.
We anticipated a slow week with Thanksgiving, but were surprised by the amount of work that we had.
To give you a little background on Elder Rodriguez.... Elder Rodriguez submitted his papers from Ensenada, Mexico so he was able to submit at age 18. He doesn't turn 19 until April. He went to middle school and high school in San Diego where his parents live. His dad is currently serving as a branch president in San Diego.  He spent the month before his mission with his grandparents in Ensendada.  Much of his time growing up was spent split between Ensenada and San Diego so he speaks both Spanish and English.  We are really glad to have him.  The members love talking about Mexico with him. There is a certain level of camaraderie that only "paisanos" can have.
Today Elder Rodriguez got his first chance to invite someone to be baptized. I realize I still have the "greeny fire." I remember my first week in Redwood City and how scared I was to invite someone to be baptized in my broken Spanish.  He is eager and anxious to teach. The investigator we taught, Lucia, is progressing very well. We are hoping to have a baptism by the end of the year. She asks the "golden" questions.
While teaching her the Plan of Salvation, she commented that it all seemed familiar. As if she had heard this all before, but she didn't know where. It is really cool to hear that when we teach people.  Nothing we teach is new or different. The Spirit reminds people of truths that they once knew, but have forgotten.
I love you all and am anxious to open your packages and letters (and see you soon, but I don't like to talk about going home).
Elder Badger

Monday, November 21, 2011

Training !!!

Dear Family,
I am very happy to report that I will be training once again.  Elder Manning and I will be staying together as Zone Leaders in San Jose South, but we will be training a new missionary from Ensenada, Mexico.  We will pick up Elder Rodriguez on Thanksgiving Day.  His first experience in the mission will involve three holiday meals. He is currently in the MTC as an advanced Spanish speaker. This means that he already speaks English.  We are very excited for the chance to train. It will also give me someone to provide me updates on all of the new mission stuff after I am released. 
This last week was the perfect precursor to training.  We began teaching a part-member family within our apartment complex. We ate dinner with them on Friday night. If we can reactivate the mom and two daughters, it is likely that we can baptize the dad.
Ward council was perfect. I haven't seen it this good since Gavilan. The rescue moves forward. We are teaching many less actives and seeing results as they begin to make their way back to activity in the church. The members of the ward council are beginning to see the results and are eager to help us as we build the kingdom in Los Alamitos.
The week continued to get even better. Sunday, during the start of sacrament meeting, Jaron, an RM, approached us asking us if we could teach his nonmember girlfriend after church. She asked him if she could take the missionary lessons. She has been coming to church with him for a year and a half and this is the first time she expressed any interest in taking the lessons.  Elder Manning and I must have looked like a loaf of manna had just fallen from the sky when we thought about teaching her after church.
The lesson went really well. We were bold, but loving. Lucilla knows a good deal about the church already, but needed us to put together the "Why?" of the Restoration. I think we helped her a lot.  We are excited for our next appointment.
After Sacrament meeting we were approached by Rigo Garcia, who had been sealed to his family the day before, telling us that he had invited a family that was at his reception to take the missionary lessons. We are hoping to set an appointment this week.
It is amazing how going the extra mile really brings forth the blessings.  This week we achieved the "perfect week" as planned. We talked to 20 people a day and taught 20 lessons in the week. It was amazing to see the blessings just come. We have been working our tails off for the last three months, but it wasn't until we pushed ourselves beyond what we thought possible that we saw the blessings we have been seeking for months.  We now know what we are capable of more. We also learned how to better manage our time to accomplish all of the things we can in the week. The Lord really does bless us when we seek to grow and stretch. Sometimes he does the stretching, at other times, he makes us do it, but the blessings come. 
Elder Badger

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Perfect Week...

Dear Family,
I am sure you have noticed the polarity in my emails from one week to the next.  It's not me. Missions are roller coaster rides without seat belts. 
This last week brought some welcome changes and improvements to our work. We began teaching a part-member family.  We are doing the majority of the teaching in a family home evening setting which is my favorite way to teach.  We taught about prophets and apostasy by playing a little game of prophet blind man's bluff.  The kids always like that we end up using our neck ties as the blindfolds. 
Along with this addition to our teaching pool, we have been teaching many lessons and talking to everyone we run into in the street.  We evaluated what we were doing and realize that we were doing everything "Preach My Gospel" says to do.  It took a little patience, but our work took a step forward this last week.
We are doing something a little different in the week to come in the San Jose zone.  We are shooting for the "Perfect Week."  As a zone every companionship is aiming to talk to twenty people a day and teach twenty lessons a week.  These are two numbers within our control as missionaries. Our hope is that we can have a "white" Christmas in the zone by filling our teaching pool now before the start of the holiday season.  Almost all of the companionships already have the lessons set. We have the busiest week planned yet.  My planner is painted black with appointments.  If all things go well, we should teach close to thirty lessons. It would bring the boost we need to have a great holiday season.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we already have several invites.  The member family asked us to bring an apple pie.  We will do our best to see what we can do.  Some interesting pictures may result from our pie baking endeavours.
I love you all and hope all is well.
Elder Badger

Monday, November 7, 2011

"y angeles habrá, que me conduciran" . . . . . . . . . . . . (and angels there will be, to guide me)

Dear family,
I will admit it. This week was harder than I expected.  I returned to Morgan Hill, but for an unexpected reason.
Instead of performing a baptism, we were participating in a funeral as pall bearers.  Jesus Leon passed away this last week.  It was very unexpected. It was a challenging experience for all that knew him.
Fortunately, his funeral was well attended. The four elders that taught Jesus, myself included, performed a musical number.  His niece gave the eulogy, while Elder Griggs, Brother Arriola, President DeSalmones, and President Merril spoke. Over 100 nonmembers were in attendance.  I am not a huge fan of funerals, but found that this one really helped understand some of the circumstances in Jesus' life.
The funeral was Saturday from 3-5, starting with the viewing.  Jesus' body will be shipped back to Mexico so he can be near his parents.  He is survived by his sister Rocio (Gilroy) and his many cousins.  Much of the funeral was centered on teaching the doctrine of the resurrection.  It was what we all needed to hear.  It is nice to know that Jesus will be able to play futbol once again.
Please keep his family in your prayers.
Elder Badger
PS. We have been asked to only send two emails. One to the mission president and one to the family. After today, it is best that you write me letters. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.