My take on General Conference: I personally enjoyed the Saturday sessions a lot. I'm not sure if that was just because that was when I was freshest, or if it was just what I needed to hear. Conference as a missionary is very different. Half of the time when I was listening to a talk I was thinking "That's something that _______ would like to hear.", or it somehow answered a question we had from an investigator. On your mission is one of the only times you're allowed to listen to talks and say "Someone else really needed to hear that!" With that said though, there were some talks that I really enjoyed as well. I especially liked Richard J Maynes talk in the Saturday morning session about centering your life. It tied in with a quote later in conference that I also really enjoyed that said "When you can't do what you've always done, just do what is important." Those are some things that I'd thought about a lot because that was something everybody said about President Packer at his funeral. Basically the gist of it was that we all need to evaluate where we are, and what we are doing, and then try to improve. But it's hard to improve if you are too busy being stuck in your old habits.
In general I thought the talks interconnected and built on each other very well. The vibe I got from the Saturday sessions was that the Gospel is for everyone, but not the same way. Everybody can benefit from the Gospel and also help the Church grow, but not everyone needs to start doing every single thing right now. When everything is so complex and busy it is hard to get the spiritual side of the Church, which in reality is the most important. And that segued into the Sunday sessions really well where they focused on honoring the Sabbath and taking the Sacrament. That is something that has been pushed pretty heavily here, even before conference. We don't have announcements any more at church because that could detract. You notice that nobody really gave a huge list of things we should or shouldn't do, they really just focused on church attendance and keeping the Sabbath day holy. As missionaries that's not much of a problem but that is something I probably wasn't the best at before my mission. So that's one of those tidbits that stick with you and you hopefully try to change. I also liked the talk about 'ponderizing'. Now that I have my own bathroom, I'll probably write a verse on the mirror in dry-erase marker each week so that I can start on that.
We had lunch on Sunday with a member of the YSA bishopric in Corona, they made us a ton of pancakes and bacon. It was amazing food, but it did make staying awake for the last session of conference a little more difficult.
The weather here is turning a little bit better, occasionally the highs are in the 80's, rather than the 90's or 100's. It makes it a lot more pleasant to walk around in the mornings when we're contacting. Also we keep hearing more news of rain, so that always cools it down for a day or two.
Being in an apartment complex, it's not like we're right on the road or anything, so I don't particularly notice any noise. We do get people walking around the complex but they're pretty quiet for the most part. The traffic does get pretty bad at certain times of the day, from 6-9 AM and 4-6 PM the main roads are unusable. California has 4 way stops every quarter mile it seems, and there's only one highway through Corona, and one or two main streets that cross it. So we really hope that we're in appointments at that time, otherwise we can't get anywhere. As for pollution, it only really is noticeable because some days we can see the mountains, and other days we can't.
Transfers! Leading up to transfers, I was really wanting to be transferred. I wanted a new area or a new companion, frankly just because that'd be something interesting and new. But as the week progressed, my attitude started to change, partially due to Elder Camper getting a bit more amped up. We got a couple new investigators, and he was talking about where we'll contact and who we'll be teaching and stuff, so I really didn't want to be transferred at that point. So now for the news: I'm staying and so is Elder Camper. Transfers did affect us though. The Spanish Elders in our apartment are both getting transferred and the other Spanish Elders are taking their area, so we will have our own apartment. Elder Camper is super excited because that means we each get our own closet and bathroom and we'll have more space in general. I was fine how it was, but a little more room will be good. It will also be easier to focus when it's just the two of us and we don't have two other people floating in and out of the apartment and doing things during lunch and studies and such. We also don't have to do my 12-week training anymore, so that is an extra hour a day we have to work. Overall I'm pretty excited. Elder Frost and Elder Higashi are also staying, so we will still be the 4 Musketeers. Sister Moore got transferred though, so she won't get to come to the open house that she helped us plan which is sad. A lot of other missionaries got moved around in the zone, but there weren't very many that I was especially close to.
Good byes really suck though. I hated them after college, I hated them at the MTC, and they're just as bad when you're in the mission field. Unfortunately that wont be changing anytime soon, so I'll learn how to deal with it. I figure that if you're sad when someone is leaving, it means that you probably did some cool things together. It was especially hard to say goodbye to Elder Barton, though I'll probably see him again. He only lives about 4 hours away from us so I half-jokingly told him I expect him to be at my homecoming.
On the missionary side of things, we found a new investigator without even trying. We went to dinner yesterday at a young couple's home. We hadn't been there in a while, and when we got there, it turned out that her brother from Brazil is living with them. He's here learning English on an exchange program, but he said that he'd be willing to hear the discussions to practice his English. That might not sound encouraging, but with him living with his family, who are both converts to the church, and I'm sure they've already talked to him about it and he's seen it in their lives. It will be interesting to try to teach him using a combination of pamphlets in multiple languages as well as with translators as necessary. We'll see how it goes.
One of our other investigators committed to baptism at the beginning of next month, so hopefully we will be able to help him reach that goal. It was sort of scary though because the next day, he texted us saying that he didn't really think he wanted to get baptized. But, that night we had set up a church tour with him, so we talked about some of the pictures in the church, the Sacrament, and the importance of baptism. He still has some concerns, but he wants to keep meeting with us. We sort of figure he told his girlfriend that he was meeting with the missionaries, and she freaked out because she goes to one of those big Born-Again megachurches. We'll keep persevering.
We met with another one of our investigators, and she is hilarious! She's a Jewish lady from New York, so she has lots of stories about growing up in that sort of culture. It makes me think of that movie, "Big Fat Greek Wedding" a little bit. She grows cactus in her backyard as decorations for parties and stuff, so we're going to see if she wants to make the centerpieces for our Open House. I'm sure she'd love to, so that will help get her out to the Open House.
I'm starting to get pretty pumped about the Open House, we have a juggler, a pianist, a guitarist, a singer, and some improv comedy, and possibly a violinist. It will be a lot of fun and we've talked to a lot of people who say they are bringing people, and that's just in our ward. Imagine how big it will be if the whole Stake participates. It should be super fun.
So here's to the start of a new transfer which will be Elder Camper's last. He will be going home in six weeks so we need to make the most of this transfer!
See you soon,
"Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." -Gordon B. Hinckley