Jakes stories from Arcadia Calif. Mission
First I want to tell you a little bit about an investigator name Jose’. We should be baptizing him the end of January. It has been really crazy seeing all of the changes that have happened with him. Jose had a really bad drug habit, so he had to go into rehab. The missionaries were teaching his mom. By the time I got here she had received a couple of lessons. She was waiting to make a baptism commitment because she is not married to her partner. They say they are getting married around Valentines Day. Hopefully that will work out.
Back to Jose, he got out of rehab and we started to teach him. I have been able to be with him through all of the changes. It is really amazing to see everything and to see how he has been prepared through all of the hard things that he has gone through. They have made him ready to receive the Gospel. He speaks some English, so if we are not able to explain it in Spanish, we are able to teach in English.
It seems like the Spanish comes easy with him because the spirit is so strong. We spent two lessons of about three hours a piece explaining the Atonement and how we can use it when we are baptized. He was just blown away by it. He just kept saying over and over again how much help it was giving him and how peaceful it was making him feel. He said that just telling him that information has changed his whole thought process. Ever since we taught him those lessons he has acted different. Everything is different, his prayers are different, his facial expressions are different, and he acts totally different. He keeps getting better everyday.
We are trying to teach him all of the commandments before his baptismal date so we meet with him almost every other day. We see him every single day. He is very grateful. He has been prepared by the Lord to receive the Gospel. You can definitely see that the Lord prepares those people and prepares us to teach those people and when you are doing what is right he puts you in the right path. If Jose would not have gone to that clinic I would not have taught him and would not have gotten to know him. So even though he might see his rehab as a bad thing in the long run I think it was a good thing.
Jose is not married, but has a girlfriend and four kids. Unfortunately they are having some problems, but the plus side to that they are not living together. We taught him the law of chastity yesterday and he accepted it.
Jose’s mom Silvia was taught for a long time before I got here. She is still planning to get married in Feb. She is different than Jose. She wants to know deep doctrine. It is hard for us to teach it to her because we do not know enough Spanish yet. We usually bring members with us when we teach her and that helps out a lot. We are hoping everything works out and they can get married in Feb. so that she can be baptized.
We had some crazy stuff happen yesterday. We had a lesson set for a family to come to the church. They did not show up. This is the fourth lesson that they have not shown up. We decided to go to their house and talk to them. We talked to them for awhile and eventually had to drop them as investigators. We were kind of bummed.
There was a guy that lives down the street from them that said that he was not interested in having the missionaries, but he had some family members that might be interested in learning more. He told us to come back and he would give us the referrals. We had tried to go by his house before and he was not at home. We decided to go by now and see if we could get the referrals and maybe that would cheer us up a little bit. We got to his house and we could see the whole family through the front window watching TV. When they saw us coming they all got up and ran to the back room, as if we did not see them. So we decided to walk back to the car. We were kind of bummed out because these two things had happened.
Just then a guy wearing a beanie and a hoody ran up to us. He asked us if he could use our phone. He said that he needed to report a brutal, bloody, homicide. Without thinking we said of course, call 911! That is something that you need to report! We preceded to hand our phone over. He dialed 911. As it was ringing it kind of settled in on us, wondering what the heck we had just done. Stories started racing through me and my companions head. We were thinking “ok if he is reporting this homicide, does that mean it just barely happened? Was it in one of these houses near by? Is he the one who did it?” All kinds of things were going through our heads. We were silently trying to figure out how we could get our phone back or if we should just run. We were looking to see if there was blood or anything on him.
We were listening to the conversation that he was having with the dispatcher. We gather that somebody has been stabbed with a sword and they are super dead beyond dead. We are getting a little more antsy. We are thinking, Oh man how are we going to do to get out of this? Why did we give him our phone? Then we hear him say, “Dec 17, 2000.”
We were wondering why he was saying that date. Was it a little kid that had been killed? Then he says it again. “It happened Dec. 17, 2000” Then he looks at us. He told us that the dispatcher wanted to talk to us. So I take the phone. The dispatcher asks if there is any immediate danger to us or around us. She said I think this guy is reporting something that happened 10 years ago. By then we realize this guy is a little crazy. She asks us a few more questions. I gave the phone back to him. I think that the dispatch wanted us to get out of there because she made the rest of the conversation short with him. So he hung up and gave the phone back to us and said that the cops were coming so that he could report this “brutal, bloody, homicide”. He kept calling it that. We took our phone and got back to the car as fast as we could. Just as we pull out our phone rings. It was the dispatch calling back. She says “ok, did you get away?” We told her we got out as fast as we could. She said that was good. I am pretty sure that she new that we missionaries. She started asking me a lot of questions like, did he have bags on him, or weapons on him. We tried to help out the best that we could.
We are grateful that we got out of there and nothing terrible happened. Afterwards we were thinking of what could have happened. We were grateful that our Heavenly Father gives us these opportunities to learn and still keeps us safe. It was a long night after that.
We are teaching a family from Mexico. There is the grandma, parents and four kids. They are what we like to call eternal investigators. They do just enough to keep you coming, but they do not do anything to get them to baptism. They have been taught by missionaries for three years. We got them to come to church a couple of weeks ago. We are making some good progress with them. We are hoping that this is the break through. They are a really cool family. We are teaching the kids separately because they do not know Spanish as well. We have been able to do some cool object lessons with them. We got them one of the Stories of the Book of Mormon picture books and tell them all of the war stories. Boys like that a lot. It is always good to fall back on the war stories of the Book of Mormon to get kids interested.
I want to tell some things that are kind of funny. Whenever we approach people we usually approach them in English because we do not know what they speak for sure. Sometimes people get offended when you walk up to them and speak in Spanish and they only know English. They hardly ever get offended if you speak to them in English and they only know Spanish. So we talk to them in English. When we just talk to them casually they are fine, but when you start talking to them about the Gospel they all of a sudden do not know English. Then we say that is ok we speak Spanish. When you speak in Spanish they get a shocked look on their face. It cracks us up every time. The only bad thing is that there are a lot of Chinese people that live here. We cannot say that we know Chinese to them. I need Justin out here to help me with Chinese. So they get us some times.
One of the not so fun things about knocking doors is that sometimes you get the door slammed in your face before you even get to it. Every one here has houses that have a little fence around it. We will open the front gate and a couple of things will happen, they will open the front door and slam it shut really hard so that you know that they mean it. Then they will lock it and peak out their window. It means that you do not even make it through the front gate. Or you will walk through the gate and see the family watching TV through their big front window. When they see you they all get up and run to the back of the house to hide as if we did not see them. It is kind of ridiculous that they think that they have tricked us.
Here we have a lot of what we like to call “ghetto-birds” AKA police helicopters. It is the same thing as a patrol car. So it is not unusual to see a couple of these flying around. The other night we were going to a place that we call “Alcatraz” It is a giant apartment complex. When you go in there it feels like a prison block. It is kind of sketchy. We have to go there at night because the people that live there are home at night. We always keep an eye open for things going on because it is so sketchy. On this night the helicopter was flying around and around. We were thinking “Man, that helicopter is flying really low.” Usually they do not circle around that many times. All of a sudden they start spotlighting the ground. They were spotlighting on the other side of they overpass. They were looking for some people. All of a sudden cop cars started coming from all over the place. Needless to say we did what we need to do and got out of there, so that we did not accidently run into the people that they were looking for.
More funny stories about cops. I have had this happen to me twice. We finished visiting an investigator. We saw a cop car and really did not ink much about it. We got into our car and turned on the light to look over our schedule. The cop stopped and shined his flashlight into the car. So we rolled down our window and they asked us what were doing. We told them that we were missionaries. They just said ohhhh! They said, “You are not from the Calif area are you.” “We replied no we are not.” “You are just serving missions then.” “Yes.” Then the cops say “You should probably get out of this area this is not a very safe neighborhood.” We kind of laugh and say that we should tell them to be careful. We have protection from upstairs and they only have bulletproof vests. It never really hits you that the areas are dangerous until you think about it and then you realize that normally you probably would not walk around areas like that.
Another story about our investigator Jose’ we were teaching him about the Holy Ghost. He stopped us and asked us if we could read minds. My companion and I just looked at each other and assured him that we could not read minds. We went on to teach him that through the Holy Ghost we are told what he needs.
One day we were going up and down all of these big hills knocking doors. We were getting really tired and discouraged. Everyone here has heavy screen doors that they can see you but you cannot see in. We knocked on the door and we could not see if it was a little kid or old person. We started giving him our message. He stops us and tells us he is catholic. He continued to talk to us. We found out that he was an 82 year old man. He had two strokes in the last month. He had been really struggling. He told us how much faith he had. It was really cool to talk to him. Before we leave we usually ask if there is anything that we can do for them, can we take out their trash, wash their dishes etc… Most people just laugh at us. But this man opened his screen door and asked us if we would say a prayer for him right there. Right there my companion gave a prayer. You could just feel the Spirit. Even though he was not interested in hearing our message, you could tell that the Spirit was there. When we got done he looked as us like were like nothing he had seen before. As we were leaving he said you made my day, today was a terrible day and I did not know if I would make it through. It was amazing to us that our Heavenly Father and Christ showed his love to him. Something that is not that big of deal to us, knocking doors, and just giving him 5 or 10 minutes of our time, made a difference in his life.
We have a new investigator. His name is Santiago. His girlfriend is a less active member. He has been coming to church every other Sunday, because he works every other Sunday. He comes because his girlfriend makes him. He always tells us he is not interested in having the missionaries. Sometimes we do tours of the church as our first lesson. We show them different rooms and it ends at the baptismal font. Then we teach about the restoration and following Christ. We finally got Santiago to come on one of the tours. Afterwards we were able to set up another lesson later this week. This couple is probably in their late 50’s to early 60s. She has really bad Arthritis in her hands that is really painful. She asked us to give her a blessing at the end of the tour. It was a perfect ending to that tour. A real spiritual high. It was good to show Santiago what the priesthood can do. It was really cool. It really opened my eyes to what we can do as missionaries, but also as priesthood holders.
One thing that has really blown me a way is as a new missionary, I was not able to speak with anyone and just kind of drug around and yet the people still expect so much from you. They really trust missionaries. The Latino people think that we are angels or just below the prophet. Even the people that you just talk to one time on the street look to you and think that anything is possible. It has made me have faith that God will make it so I can live up to what I am supposed to do.
As for Spanish, it is going much better. My last companion could speak fluently so I could just sit back. My new companion has been out a few weeks longer than me so we have both had to improve our Spanish.
They made a rule a couple of weeks before I got to California that the missionaries were not supposed to eat with the members. The reason for this is they want us to do 2 hour of pure finding during the dinner hour when families are home. It is not my favorite thing. There are always good stories that come out it. Even though that is the rule there are exceptions to the rules and the members seem to find all of those exceptions. They always manage to get us over to eat. I have eaten some weird things. Unexpectedly we were given some pig skin. They do a couple of things with this. They have a big slab of pig skin that is dry. When you look at it, it looks like a giant dried up tortilla. You break off pieces and eat it like a chip. The way that they gave to us was in 3x3 squares. They were about an inch thick. It was like pig, fatty, skin nastiness. They soak it in some spice green chili stuff. It is like chewing spongy pieces of fat with juices of spiciness squirting out of it. I had no clue what it was and I did not ask. It was getting hard to eat to I started cutting it into little pieces and swallowing it whole. When we left my companion asked me if I knew what I was just eating. I told him no. He said you were like shoveling it down getting rid of it and was wondering if you realized what you were eating. I am sure I will have more stories about food when I get to Mexico.
Jan.24, 2011 Jake flew out of California to Las Vegas for his Visa interview. He was able to spend two full days in the Las Vegas temple doing temple work. He said he likes baptizing better than being baptized. It is difficult to get a 6ft. 4 in frame into the water. He said that it was great to spend so much time in the temple. Brother and Sister foot treated the missionaries like royalty.
Jake is one of the few missionaries that can say he took a trip to Vegas on his mission.:) He also spent an evening with his new Mission Presidents brother. The brother had recently visited the mission in Monterey Mexico. He was able to tell them what it will be like there.
Jake arrived in Mexico Friday January 28, 2011! Yeah!!!