Preparation day again?! And now it's July?! The summer is flying by, which I can't decide if that's a good thing or bad thing for missionary work. We've been busy, but other wards have seemed to have a bit of difficulty. I know the summer was always a crazy time and as I see families out here fall out of good habits, I keep reflecting on how each summer dad would always tell us "The Lord never takes a vacation!" ha, I'm sure that phrase is still used back home, I make sure to use it out here as well to remind others that summer ought to be a time for growth in the church as well. As a matter of fact, today we just sent off 23 teenagers on their "2 week missions" and I am amazed at their willingness to take time out of their summer to live the life of a missionary. Especially Bishop Latu's son. John's birthday was today and he will be missing a family reunion in Utah for the 2 week mission as well, but he is very excited to do it, so I give him kudos.
This week we had our monthly meeting with the zone leaders and sister training leaders, and then the next day we had a meeting with the office staff. The first of the month tends to be pretty busy around here. As for our proselyting, things went pretty well this week. We're trying so hard to get a family named the Crandall's to come to church. I would normally become grumpy at the thought of them not coming after them agreeing to it, but I realize that it requires change, and I know that that natural man is not fond of it. I'm amazed at the patience the Lord has for each one of us and how we can keep making the same mistake over and over again, but His hand is still continually extended toward us at our convenience. Wouldn't it be nice to give the Lord a break for once by stepping up our obedience? I know He's happy to bless us. As a matter of fact, that's what He lives for, but I'm sure He's relieved when He doesn't have to withdraw His Spirit from us. It'll always be a mystery as to why we'd be willing to give it up in the first place, but we keep trying so that we can hopefully get it right one day.
We've had a hard time meeting up with people in the Tongan ward at a time that works for them, but we finally were able to see a family when we went on splits with the Elders Quorum. We saw the 'Itaehau's and they used to attend Jeraldo in Victorville along with their daughter, Sister Koloamatangi, so it was cool to see them (: My Tongan is getting pretty sharp! Just teasing, it's still pretty weak. I've learned through Preach My Gospel though that it says people will learn to love and trust you better as a missionary if you embrace their culture, so I keep trying to learn useful phrases. We're getting much more acquainted with this ward as the time proceeds, and that is such a blessing because I was a bit stressed out at first. Yesterday, Isi Fonua opened his mission call yesterday and will be serving in the Albuquerque, New Mexico mission! I was excited to tell him Kaylee just returned from that same mission in November. You'll have to inform her, I'm sure she'll be excited. The calls being assigned now are giving these new missionaries such a brief time to prepare! He leaves on August 5th! It's definitely a good thing though. Once you open your letter, you want to leave the next day, so he is very excited! I am excited for him as well. Next week, Uepi Kaufusi should be opening his call, serving the Lord is the best decision for our lives, it's absolutely amazing. The Lord really is hastening His work everywhere we go.
I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! Southern California 4th's aren't the same as Utah's, but we still had a pretty good day! Rancho is really family-oriented actually. It used to be rated in the top 10 of best places to raise a family. We got up early to help prepare breakfast for those running the annual 5k, and that was good. It felt nice to serve others on a holiday. I was kind of sad to admit that I couldn't remember the last time I recited the Pledge of Allegiance, so it was a good reminder to me as to how God is indeed in control of all things and how our country operates well when religion and God are involved. The rest of our day involved food, proselyting, and not really hearing a peep of fireworks. Rancho bans all fireworks (except the big ones the city supplies), so it was pretty quiet around our apartment that evening.
I think that's about it for this week, but I would like to include my testimony of our Savior, especially since one of President Packer's last talks was a great witness to His name.
I am so grateful that there is someone who loves us enough to come to earth, even though Christ knew the price he was going to pay, the pain He was going to feel, and the persecution He was going to bear. I am grateful for His example in His service, but what I found most intriguing is just how much He loved His Father. Every single thing that He did was to honor His Father. Christ came to earth to give us the closest glimpse of what our Father in Heaven is like and how delicate each one of us is to Him. I rejoice in His accomplishment and give gratitude for the plan Heavenly Father has given to us to return to Him. I know that we are weak and that we have grown attached to certain things that make us contemplate whether obedience is worth it or not, but I know Christ would never rebel against His Father, and I am desperately trying to get to that point that I'd never want to do anything to Him to disappoint Him either. Hymn 141 reads " Jesus, the very thought of thee. With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far thy face to see. And in thy presence rest"The offer of living with our Father in Heaven in our Heavenly home is never going to be taken away, but can never be entered until we use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be embraced once again by our Father. I know He lives and loves us infinitely.
I love you all and hope you have a great week!
- Elder Bennion