Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Week in California

October 11, 2011
Dear Family,

Today has been really crazy [this is the day Ben flew from the MTC in Provo to Arcadia, CA].  They lost my bag at the airport, so I don't have anything right now.  My bags are coming later today "hopefully."  

Well, I guess the bags just came.

I'm super tired, but I'm here safely.  President and Sister Barcetta are very nice.  
Love you all!!! 

P.S.  I just interviewed with the mission president and they told me that I received my visa!!! I leave in one week.  


October 17, 2011

I don't have much time at all so this may be a bit short.  I'm writing a paper letter so you should get that by the end of the week.  
The first week has been pretty good.  I feel like I would get super fat if I spent my entire mission here.  All we have to eat is junk food.  We went to China town today for p-day and met a convert of Elder Meeks' there for lunch.  That was cool, the food was great.  
Yesterday we went to an open house for the mosque here in Glendale.  It was nice to hear about what they believe.  It's very similar to us in many respects.  Other than the atonement, they have most of it right.  It's been really fun to actually serve people.  I have been able to participate a lot in our lessons.  It's pretty easy to teach with my companions.  
I didn't have time on this computer -- only 15 minutes -- so I took pictures of your letters with my camera.  I'll try to read them later today and respond.  
In case you haven't found out yet, I leave on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.  I've really enjoyed it here in Glendale.  I really hope that I have made a difference in the lives of those I have taught.  I've got to get all my English out because I won't be speaking it for the next two years. Well, I'm really out of time.  I'll call in the airport either in Cali or on one of my two layovers.  If I don't catch you all, I'll try again.  
Love you,

Dear Family,                                                                                                      (mail received 10/21/11)
                The first week here in Glendale has been interesting.  The ward we are in is not very strong.  There were maybe 60 people in Sacrament Meeting and most of them were really old.  Just for some perspective there are 5 missionaries in this ward English speaking and in this same area there are also 3 Romanian elders and Filipino elders.  That’s a lot of missionaries in this area.  We spend a lot of time with less actives and recent converts.  There are a few we go and see in an assisted living home.  These sisters are pretty crazy.  Sister Parker (an old lady that is losing her memory) is super funny.  We go by about twice a week to read the Book of Mormon with her.  We explain what we read, too.  The other day we were there and we sang to her.  We sang “Nearer My God to Thee.”    We do this tricky 3-part harmony with me singing melody, Elder Meeks on tenor and Elder Wilding an octave down on the alto part.  We sound really good and blend really well.  After that, Sister Park was walking us out of the home and she totally flipped one of the workers off with her index finger.  They apparently don’t like the workers because they think they steal things from the residents. 
                There is another story about a less active member.  He lives off a very small income he gets from a part-time job, welfare benefits, and food from the church.  He is about 50 years old and has had a really rough life.  He started out with an abusive mothers and he was picked on a lot in high school.  He was homeless for about 25 years and has abused a lot of drugs.  Right now he only has a problem with cough syrup.  He is really bitter about his past and has an anger problem that goes along with that.  But he has come a long way.  His small one room apartment is surprisingly organized and fairly clean.  I can really tell that he wants to change and he says it every time we are over.  I gave him a bunch of advice about how he can overcome his addiction.  I told him he needed to do three things:  1) have a desire to change, 2) realize when he is weakest and avoid it, and 3) replace the addiction with something good like reading his scriptures, praying, wholesome music and handing out pass-a-long cards.  I hope he gets better.  I also shared with him a few scriptures about serving others (he wants to be a leader), so I compared King Benjamin and King Noah.  My point was the only kind of leadership that is important is leadership through love. 
                The only thing that has been really tough here has been having a car.  One of the elders has tendonitis, so he isn’t allowed to ride a bike (doesn’t make much sense to me given my knowledge of injuries and injury recovery), so we drive everywhere.  I think that we could contact more people and get some new investigators if we just talked to more people.
                Today we went to China town and had lunch with a convert of Elder Meeks’.  He was really cool.  Afterwards we went to the China town market.  I bought some aviator sunglasses and [hard to read writing here, does it say “Buddha”?].  I also got a t-shirt that says Puma, all for $7, super cheap.  After that we went and changed into regular clothes and bought Jones Soda from a liquor store.  The guy put all the soda in a wine card board box.  I felt pretty weird, but we got the soda without any problems.  We went bowling too.  This evening we had Family Home Evening with a less active family in the ward.  We all bore our testimonies.  They seemed like they all had pretty strong ones, they just don’t go to church.  I think there are problems with depression with the father and the two sons work and are about my age. 
                Well, that was pretty much my week!  I love you all.  I’ll try to read the letters you guys e-mailed me, but I’ll have to wait a bit because I left my camera in the car.
                Love,   Elder Clark (Ben)

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