So I've been here for almost a week and what a week it's been. My companions are Elder Winfield and DeBry. They've both been out for about 7 months. Elder DeBry speaks Armenian and has served in the same area his whole time here, and will continue to do so. The city we're in, by the way, is called Glendale. It's on the very Western edge of the mission. We serve in the Glendale 2nd and 7th wards. The 2nd ward is afamily ward and the 7th is the singles ward for all the singles from the three stakes surrounding us. Because those are the "boundaries" of the singles ward, we are actually allowed to leave the area and even the mission to visit with people who would go to that ward. We do have to have an actual appointment though, and it's preferred that a member take us out.
We've been relying on the members a lot out here, especially since the mission just got rid of almost all of the cars. We still have one because my companions are the zone leaders, but we can't use it for proselyting. We mostly ride bikes and the buses. We've been asked to use the buses whenever we can because they are a great way to meet people and contact potential new investigators. Which leads into the first cool mission story.
We also have two investigators that both want to get baptized, but are very afraid of upsetting their fathers. One comes from a Jewish family that doesn't really practice, but they go hardcore on the holidays. The other was raised christian, and is worried that getting baptized is a really selfish thing to do because her parents, as it stands now, wouldn't be able to go to her wedding. Luckily, we have a member in the ward who came from a similar situation. His family actually disowned him because he joined the church, but he's still happy every day, still active, and still glad he got baptized. So, hopefully he can help them. It makes me so grateful to have a family that raised me in the church, and supports what I'm doing out here. Even though you can't be with me, I feel your love and your prayers. Speaking of prayers, include Raquel ,Autumn and their families in yours.
Another cool story, this time about following the spirit. Because my companions are zone leaders, our studies and planning get interrupted a lot by people who need stuff. Which is a little frustrating because a lot of it could be resolved by calling the district leaders instead but oh well. We were starting to do some training stuff, when we got a phone call about some sister in the ER who wanted a priesthood blessing. None of us had ever heard of her, and we were a little annoyed to have things interrupted again. But, the hospital was close, and we felt like we should go over real quick to check things out. So we hopped on our bikes, went over there and gave the blessing. I sealed the anointing, but honestly wasn't feeling it much and it was pretty short. As we left the hospital we were approached by a 16/17 yr old black boy who said he wanted to be a christian. He told us how he had been smoking marijuana for a while but one day his drugs got laced with something weird and ever since then he'd been really paranoid and had really bad anxiety about everything. Just like Alma the Younger in gall of bitterness, he called out one night to God and the next morning his anxiety and paranoia were gone. He knew he needed to start following Christ better, and that's when he met us. After we got his name and number (Razmik) and parted ways Elder DeBry said, "We didn't come here for the blessing, we came here for him." Which is totally true. We haven't been able to teach him yet, we've been playing phone tag. But I'm really excited to do that. In my mind, he's already ready to get baptized.
The work really hastening. There are more missionaries than President knows what to do with. In the family ward there are 3 companionship's. Us, Elder Llewelyn (my MTC companion) and his trainer, and the English assistants to the president (AP's). The AP's also help in the singles ward. And it's like that all over the place. The mission motto is in fact, "We baptize monthly" that's how fast things are progressing here. I'm just excited to be a small part of it all. I pray for you all each morning and night. Do your best to share the gospel with your friends. Even if you don't think they're ready or willing to accept it. Because we really don't know that about anyone, only God does.
Love you all,
Elder Brett Whitney
PS- Because I'm in a trio, and given the history of trios in this mission, I'll probably get transferred before the end of October. For that reason, just keep sending letters to the mission home. It's the best way to make sure I get them in a timely manner.