Tuesday, July 29, 2014

7/26/14 Sushi to Celebrate the 24th

   So Juan was sick, but he still came to Sacrament and Sunday School.  He's so tough, but we made him go home for priesthood because he wasn’t looking too hot. Must be something going around!
Peter!! Mom we set up a baptismal date with him. August 30!  Holy cow. He has so much to change, but he has it in him. I've never felt so passionate for something. We've known Peter since March, and he has SOOOOO much potential.  But, the adversary is working on him. He is having a hard time understanding the Book of Mormon, so will you pray for him? He is so great, and it’s a privilege to teach him. I can handle staying in West Hills just to teach and baptize him!
   We had Bobby (a deaf potential investigator) com to Pioneer day-crazy!! It’s still tricky trying to set up a lesson with him or get him to come to church, but I am sure we'll get him this week!!
   We knocked the top of our area in West Hills and holy miracles, we found 2 houses that want us to come back!  So awesome!  One is a family and they seem so sweet so we are super psyched! The couple’s names are Mike and JoAnn, with 2 young boys.  Apparently, they investigated the church in the past, but moved and lost contact with the missionaries in the midst of moving.  The 2nd house is Rich – so hilarious.  The 1st month I arrived here, we mixed up the address for him and his sister-in-law.  He is actually Jewish and apparently hates missionaries.  So, way back in February we knocked on his door, asking us if he was feeding us dinner!  Well, he was kind and gave us the right address and we’ve forgotten him ever since until today.  Bonus, he totally remembered us two, and after laughing with him for a minute we asked if we could come back.  His immediate response was that he was Jewish (like we care!) but the Spirit must have nonchalantly elbowed him in the ribs and he accepted!  We swapped numbers and will be going back over after he and his girlfriend come back from their vacation.  The Lord has been very merciful – two awesome miracles and legitimate potentials, oh the Lord was so kind to us today. 
      Also, we visited the Lovo's, Diez, and Gabby (all the deaf less-actives). We haven't gotten them to church yet, but it’s crazy because they all have such solid testimonies!! Soooo, our game plan this week is to focus on the temple so they can get there!! We are having a zone training meeting Wednesday to learn how to teach Lesson 5. It focuses on all the specific ordinances and laws such as priesthood, family history, eternal marriage.... and none of us really know how to teach it since its always been the members responsibility. I am super excited to see President Hall again!
     Random funny story- For pioneer day the Bishop and his wife and daughter took all 6 missionaries in our ward out to sushi, it was soooooo good!  That’s the way Californian’s celebrate the 24th  ha ha.
    Well, I’ve got to run but thank you for your love and support.  I know life is crazy wherever you are, so know you’re kept in my prayers and heart always.  Keep pressing on – God can’t lead us if we refuse to blaze our own trail!
Love ya,
Sister McNeill

Monday, July 7, 2014

7/7/14 - 1st ASL Baptism!!

  This week- the highlight, hands down, was Juan's baptism!  He is the first ASL baptism in our mission and he has made so much progress – he even quit smoking!  He was baptized Sunday and for the musical number, we played a video from lds.org entitled "Christlike Attributes.  Everyone really should watch it, it is so good, AND we didn't have to interpret. It was so neat, we had 2 less-actives in the program, Jim (excommunicated & made us glass stones) was the first person to come!!! Also, the deaf ones that came were Jose- from Torrence (2 hour bus ride), Gabby Gonzalez (less-active we’ve been teaching) and she brought a friend named Juan (seemed to like the baptism, so we referred him to the ASL Elders in LA because he's all the way from Torrence. Plus, we had Don/Anna speak (a deaf couple in our ward).  A lot of the deaf people we invited didn't show, but hey, we had 7 people in the deaf class on Sunday, whereas before we came, we didn't even have one!   The baptism was so amazing and Juan was so funny.  The first thing he does after popping out of the water was turn and give Brother Gerhardt (the elder who baptized him) a thumbs up!  After the baptism, we had lunch with Juan at our Ward Mission Leader’s home.  He shook hands with everybody and then headed out for his bus ride home.  I’m sure he was tired after a long day, but he is so awesome and we’re so happy for him! 
   It was so cool, but soooooo fast!!!!! It’s funny, I thought I would feel some relief with the knowledge that "okay, at least I changed one person's life, and I would get that worry off my chest." But, it’s quite the opposite. Now I feel ready to do anything to set up another baptismal date with our investigators. It really IS only the first step. A crucial step indeed, and next week he'll get the Holy Ghost. Ultimately, I cannot wait until we can come back in a year and go through the temple with Juan. THAT’S the goal...
   Funny, because after the baptism, we went home, ate some chips and salsa for dinner, then started knocking on doors again.  (Funny transition, back to stage one). But, I just picture every person I see in that white jumpsuit and I can't help but smile, and want to do whatever it takes to make that become a reality.
    For the 4th of July, we had a ward breakfast and that was delicious – pancakes and sausage, yum.  We invited all these people from the ward to the activity and none came – oh well, it was still good to reach out to a few families in our ward.  We didn’t see any fireworks, but a member in the ward was sweet and gave us hamburgers, watermelon and cherry cobbler for our 4th of July dinner, so that was really nice.  It was really loud too – tons of fireworks going off and sirens blaring everywhere, but honestly that is nothing that unusual.  We didn’t want to be out on the streets when it got late, so we sticky noted a recent widow’s garage and then visited Shi-Yu – the Chinese woman with dementia. 
Well, that wraps up my awesome week.  The work keeps moving forward, and next up we will get Peter (the one from forever ago w/ the tattoos and fancy cars and gangsta hat). Got in contact w/ him again, and he wants us back, bad.  He might've been still drunk from the 4th, but we're hoping to teach him again!  It’s so cool the think though, that NOW is the time, NOW is the day. All of the other dispensations have built up to this last day, and I hope I can do all I can to do as President Uchtdorf advised in conference - "Not sleep through the Restoration."  I want to labor in His work, not be an observer, and I’d invite you all to do the same. It’s not enough just to save ourselves.  
Love ya tons!
-Sister Jessica McNeill