We have a car which is sort of a surprise. Transfers in MoVal were very weird. Valley View used to be split, but it got recombined, and a couple different wards got split, and they opened a Tongan branch here and all sorts of craziness like that. So when I heard I was taking Elder Greenburg's place, I thought I was going to be on bike in an apartment, but instead I have a car and I'm living with a member! So it all worked out pretty good for me.
Our home share host is interesting. He is older but I wouldn't say he's old. He's been divorced for about 5 years, and was baptized about 3 years ago. He's housed the missionaries basically ever since he was baptized, minus the time it took to file all the paperwork and such. He is a legend in the mission because he will do anything to help the missionaries. The other night he took us out to Jamba Juice merely because we literally hadn't been out of the house all day since my companion was not feeling well. He'll also drive you to the temple and be an emergency team-up or feed us dinner. The main thing though, is that he maintains those relationships. There was a letter delivered to someone who got transferred, so he just drove down to Lake Elsinore after work one day and hand delivered it! That sort of stuff. His house is also very nice. He is a very easy going home share host compared to stories I've heard about others. He's not the type to give us our space and our shelf in the fridge. We have free reign of the house as we need it, and any food in the fridge is fair game for us as long as the food we buy is the same for him. At the end of the day after you plan, he'll sit and chat with you about it, he's very familiar with missionary work from both sides. He's been in an Elder's quorum presidency and is currently the executive secretary, so he's a very solid convert. Needless to say, it is a very comfortable environment.
Moreno Valley itself is a cool place. It's sort of a desert normally, but because of the relatively wet/cool winter we had (yes winter is over now), it is still pretty green. The house we are staying in has an amazing view; you can see half the mission from it, so technically, if I had good enough equipment I am within sight of Corona. My first day at here I was sitting in the room unpacking, and I heard birds, and my first instinct was that he must have had an ambiance machine or something because in Corona all you ever heard was road noise. It's almost like home, when we get home at night you can hear cicadas chirping and toads and wild burros and such. You almost forget that you're in California .
Missionary Work in MoVal will be very different than Corona. The people here are a lot more willing to just stand around and talk with you about whatever. That's nice, but it means that we actually have to try and follow the contacting method we've been taught. In Corona we got cut short so it was almost like a door approach sometimes, you say hi and tell them who you are, otherwise they just go away. In MoVal, you have to navigate the conversation towards the Gospel, otherwise you'll spend an hour and a half talking to someone about their car project (yes that happened this week). So it will be an interesting adjustment to say the least. Here the problem isn't getting people to say you can come back, but rather it is whether they will actually be home when they tell you they will be. People here will set days or appointments for you to come by, and then you never catch them from what I hear. But it's at least something to work with and having names is better than nothing.
Elder Truman has been out for 6 months, one transfer less than me. I served with his trainer in Corona for a little while. Elder Truman is an interesting guy. He is from Tennessee, I think he's 19 now, he came out after high school though. He played Rugby in high school, he wants to go into Aviation to become a pilot. He's served his whole mission in MoVal so far. He is pretty knowledgeable about scriptures and missionary work from what little I've seen. Part of that comes from the fact that when he came in, they spent like the first 3 weeks stuck inside sick between him and his trainer, so he's read a lot of stuff. I'm still figuring out how our personalities will mesh. Where you've only been a trainee and a trainer, the roles are kind of set in those situations, so figuring out a dynamic with someone who is of equal experience will be interesting. He's pretty intelligent and a funny guy though, so I think he'll be good for the next 6 weeks.
My district leader is Elder Frost. He's the Samoan one, not the one from the MTC. He served in Corona with me for my first 3 transfers. He is halfway through training someone and will probably finish his mission in Moreno Valley. I think he only has 1 more transfer left. In our district there are 6 missionaries. Elder Frost and Simpson, Elder Truman and me, and then one of the two sets of Spanish Sisters, Sister Bjork and Sister Tobler. Sister Bjork was also in Corona for my first transfer and Sister Tobler came out with Elder Walker, so I had at least heard of them before.
Dinner in the mission home was painfully nostalgic to say the least. Basically, all the friends that Greenburg invited were the Elder's he'd lived/served with in Corona. So I got to see Elder Ferrin, and Elder Mecham, and Elder Calvert, and Elder Prestwich. I had specifically avoided the stake center in Corona that morning because I hate goodbyes and didn't want to have to deal with all that. And then came a flood of unexpected good byes to people that I was really close with. So that kind of sucked. But the food was good, there were plenty of pictures and such, and a short testimony meeting that was really cool. It was hard to realize though, that everyone at the dinner table would be gone by August, except for me and Elder Truman. I understand now why Camper would always say "All my friends are dead!". But it was good to see them again because like I said before, I may not serve around most of these people ever again because of the short time they have left.
As for our week, there's not really much to say. We had missionary meetings on Tuesday, then we had service on Wednesday, service and weekly planning on Thursday, and then we were sick the rest of the time. So I got a lot of reading done. I read over 300 pages in Jesus the Christ as well as a bunch of talks. After a while I got burned out on that, so I decided to go help Ken clean his house a little, and when that only lasted an hour, I moved on to the backyard. I weeded his backyard and brushed his pool, just so I could be out of the house for a little bit. It was a nice change of pace.
All the reading was really good though. I don't know that I necessarily learned a lot of doctrine, most of Jesus the Christ is just like an in depth reading of the New Testament, but it gives you a greater appreciation for His teachings and the Gospel. I also listened to some really cool talks. That same one by Elder Holland mentions that when you are a missionary you stand next to the best life ever lived, even Jesus Christ, and President Mullen often reminds us that we stand side by side with the Apostles and First Presidency as the Elders of the church. And listening to some talks by Joseph Smith, he teaches the exact same method as we do. You set forth the doctrine, back it up with scriptures, and testify. So if we teach by the same method as the prophets, and we strive to have the same spirit as the prophets, then why not be bold and firm in your beliefs? It was just one of those little epiphanies you have that is really cool. Also from listening to those talks you understand the doctrine a little bit more and have a greater appreciation and testimony of it. And from that, I can tell you that not only is the Gospel the truth, but it is the only one that I would want to be the truth! So many other people don't understand the nature of God and our potential as His children, and I look at their beliefs about their potential, and I wonder how people can be content with that. I'm thankful for the knowledge the restored Gospel gives us about the plan of salvation, the godhead, and how to achieve what God wants for us.
"Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
See you soon,
"Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." -Gordon B. Hinckley