The biggest event of the week, and maybe the whole year it seems, was the ward Halloween party. They take that seriously here! The gym was decorated really well and there were a ton of people there. As part of the event, they do a chili cook-off, and Elder Camper and I were volunteered to be the judges. He doesn't like spicy food though so he made me try every single one first, and then he'd ask "Is it spicy?" None of them were really all that spicy. The winning chili ended up being made by the people who were running the whole event so everybody made jokes about that. After everybody
ate there was a costume contest and games for a little while.
Apparently the Young Men did a really good job with the Haunted House, but they had a fog machine and after a while it set off the fire alarm! At that point everybody went outside for the Trunk-or-Treat while the bishop tried to turn it off. Nobody was able to figure it out though, so the Fire Department actually showed up, so that was kind of fun. We had originally wanted the Fire Department to come and be the judges for the chili cook-off so everybody was joking about how we got them there, one way or another. Overall the party was a lot of fun and the costumes were really great. There were some classic costumes of course, but there were a couple that you don't see all the time. There was someone dressed up as Kim Possible, and a couple dressed up like the people from the game "Guess Who" with the tile squares around their faces and everything, and plenty of Disney princesses and vampires and the like too. I took a video during the costume contest so I can't really show you very many pictures.
We also had Multi-Zone Conferences this week and they were great! It started out with a presentation from President Mullen about what he calls "Finding by the Numbers." What it is was just a bunch of averages and statistics about the flow of people in the missionary process. The church came up with a statistic for our mission that about 1 in 15 new investigators gets baptized. President Mullen extended that line back a little farther and said that in our mission, on average 1 in 6 potential investigators becomes a new investigator. and It takes about 4 Contacts(talking to people on the street) to get a potential investigator(a name, number, and address). So all that leads to the conclusion that you need to talk to 320 people to have one person get baptized, or about 80/week to hit our goal of every companionship baptizing once a month. Some people don't like his numerical approach but I think it's really interesting. You can definitely tell that President Mullen is an accountant.
So to go along with that information, we had some training from the AP's about how to more effectively contact and what it really means to "talk with everyone", because one of the numbers we report is if we talk to everyone, and the whole mission has been saying yes, everyday, but that wasn't reflected in our other numbers. Basically it was just a reminder or a little slap on the wrist, which is most of what Multi-Zones is, as far as I can tell. It's just a reminder or a shifting of the focus of missionary work in our mission. We also had some training about how to best teach and then get referrals from members of the ward using the tools we have like the pamphlets, the video, etc.
Also at multi-zones we had the testimonies of the incoming and outgoing missionaries. There weren't a whole lot of incoming missionaries, but we had quite a few outgoing missionaries including Elder Camper, Elder Higashi, and Elder Anderson(one of the AP's when I got here). It was interesting to hear what they had to say. Obviously I wasn't here to see what they were like when they first got here but a lot of them talked about how they'd changed or what they'd seen on their mission which was really cool to hear about. It was one of those things to check off the list before you go home and that list is rapidly getting shorter for Elder Camper and Elder Higashi.
On Friday they had their exit-interview with President Mullen and he gave them their exit packet. It basically just has some tips and articles about how to adjust to normal life, how to stay active in the church and all that stuff. They also have their flight plans already and they know who they're flying with. So that was another thing off the list. You can definitely tell that it's getting close. Elder Camper has a countdown, taking down one of his pictures everyday and his picture board is starting to look pretty bare already. Only 3 more weeks.
This week we met with a less-active lady that has started coming back to church recently. We had dinner with her home teacher and he suggested we go over there. She was a convert to the church about 20 years ago. We've met a lot of less-active people who are converts and it's interesting and kind of sad to see where they are today. Most of them don't know/remember very much of the beliefs of the church. We normally start by reteaching them the missionary lessons, and most of them haven't been through the temple or been to church in years. Retention is a really big problem for the church, and that's why good fellowship is so important. Eventually missionaries leave and then the new converts don't know anybody anymore, which is a scary prospect. So remember to fellowship new members! Even though they don't remember much they always say that it sounds familiar and they really enjoy hearing about it and learning. A lot of them also will say they believe all those things when we teach them, so it makes us wonder why they stopped going to church in the first place. She is a really nice lady though, she is just very busy, she's in an orchestra playing the violin and she practices for an hour a day plus rehearsals, so she stays busy. We are going back over there on Wednesday and hopefully her husband will be there too, and he's not a member. Ideally he'll become interested too and we can teach him and then they can come to church together.
Also this week we did a blitz in the Citrus Hills Ward. That's where all the missionaries get together in one area and go contacting to try and find potentials for that ward. We talked to quite a few people but not very many people were interested on that particular day. There was quite a bit of variety though. We talked to a Catholic, a Born-Again, a Hindu, a Mormon (who was probably less-active because he was the least cordial of all the people we talked to), and an atheist. Other people had a little more luck though, so we'll see how much it helps them in the coming weeks.
One last thing about this week. We had dinner with a family on Thursday, and we were talking and it came up that he teaches Karate. We talked some more about that, apparently he has his 3rd degree black belt and is really good at all forms of martial arts. After dinner he took us out in the garage and showed us how to do some simple things with nun-chuks which was pretty fun.
It's still pretty warm here most days, but it's pretty cool in the mornings before the sun comes up now. I wouldn't really call it fall or winter yet. Although I did manage to catch a cold somehow. I've had a stuffy nose for a few days now, but it's almost run its course.
You can find the zone picture from multi-zones on the blog in a few weeks I'm sure, I didn't take one because there were already a bunch of people wanting pictures and I figured people didn't really want to pose for one more.
See you soon,
"Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." -Gordon B. Hinckley