Me interchangio por la espania elderes en viernes! Hablamos en espanol toda la dia! es bueno! muy bien hablamos en espanol. haha My week has been pretty much fantastic as usual. As I was trying to say above, I went on exchanges with the Spanish elders this week. That was pretty fun. By the end of the day I was having Spanish conversations with people. I'm sure you can imagine how well that went. Haha. That leads me into my first story...
On exchanges, I started texting this guy named Anthony, trying to set up an appointment. Finally he called for a time to meet. The text read "8 o’clock, behind the giant eagle." (Giant Eagle is a grocery store) I looked at Elder Vargas and I'm like "Haha we are meeting behind a grocery store? Who does this guy think he is?" He quickly informed me that gang man is like a gang leader. Haha. And I soon found out that he was a straight up G. One of the funniest encounters I have had so far. We roll up behind his car and then we follow him further back behind the giant eagle. He had some sweet speakers and he was blasting some of Jordan’s favorite music. Haha. Just playin’ Jordan, you listen to better stuff than this guy. It was ridiculous. He gets out of his car and he and his henchman- yes, henchman is the most accurate description- are in matching black LA tall tees. He has some shades on, also with an LA logo and both are wearing the baggiest pants you can imagine. They were one step short of hammer pants. Anyway, he gets out of the car and walks over to my window. As usual I was in the passenger seat, window down, ray bans on. So we go to do this handshake thing. So we try the first time and he promptly let me know that I did not do it right at all... so we tried some more and the third time proved to be the charm. Haha. He's all "what’s wrong with you?" and so I replied, "I'm from Utah." We all get out of the car and he starts talking to my companion for the day, who, of course, had already learned gang man's secret handshake. He was much smoother than I was. Then gang man was like "hey check out my rims", pops the trunk and, you know, he actually had some pretty sweet rims in there. Apparently he is selling them in Virginia on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the henchman is completely drunk out of his mind. So he was just doing his thing. Gang man probably used profane language more than he used any other adjectives during our following conversation. Gang man is interested in the church. He wants to know that he is good with God. That’s totally cool, so we kept talking to him. After a few minutes of talking to him, I easily gained his respect. Yep, the dude loves me. Haha. I pretty much have street cred now. He was the classic gangster. While we were talking he threw out threats to people passing by. Haha. A guy rides by on a bike and gang man was all "Hey, you-- got any money!?" the kid rode away as quickly as possible and I responded, "come on man, would Jesus do that?" Haha. Gang man was like "I'm a sinner" anyways, I’m not sure it turned out to be a productive visit but it wasn’t my area so it wasn’t my call. Quick side note- during our entire religious conversation there was loud club music playing from his car stereo and the henchman was finger dancing in the background. Oh, it was hilarious! Also fun fact-gang man never takes off his sunglasses. He doesn’t like people to see his eyes. This experience was just priceless. They fit the stereotype completely.
On a more spiritual note, I taught at youth conference this week. In the pictures I am sending you will see my sweet orange shirt I got. I also got a few more of the same shirt in different colors. Haha. Their youth conference was on missionary work and so we, as the elders, gave a workshop for the kids to learn how to do missionary work. We taught them and helped them prepare to teach their "investigators." Then we played investigators. Haha. The kids did well but we got taught some false doctrine. In a lesson on the first vision Elder Hibbard was also taught about celestial marriage and the urim and thummim. As one girl was relating the Joseph Smith story to me, she told me about how as Joseph began to pray, he was overtaken by the devil. She kind of emphasized it and so I asked "Um… is that going to happen every time someone prays?" she thought for a moment and then responded, "Yeah... you know, some times prayer can be pretty scary but you have to do it anyways." When she proceeded to ask me if I would say a prayer at the end of the lesson I was sorely tempted to say "NO!!!" Haha.
We also had a baptism this week! She is technically the sister's investigator, but we have met with her a little and we know her. And it’s more just exciting to see someone get baptized really. She is great. The bishop baptized her and her family came. All not members of our church. Now they are interested and have an appointment this week. I got to witness and stand in the circle as she was confirmed and given the Holy Ghost. Good day yesterday.
We were visiting a less active in our ward. When we got there, her boyfriend reluctantly let us in to talk to her. He started out not wanting to be a part of this but after he overheard something, he said he promptly turned off the tv, pulled up a chair, and joined the discussion. We had a great discussion with him about prayer. The dude has a fabulous testimony of prayer. He has been in and out of prison and he is trying to really turn to God apparently. Cool guy. They live in a place called Heather Ridge. As we were leaving he got up and said "I gotta tell ya, ya'll are brave comin’ round here." We explained that we were servants of the Lord and were protected but he responded by saying again "I'm just sayin’, ya'll are brave." We visit Heather Ridge frequently. Good news is that he said we can stop by any time and that if we ever need anything or get into some trouble around there, we are welcome to hide in his house. Elder Hibbard and I had a good laugh about that one, especially because we already made jokes about how this place was a little sketchy. No worries mother, I have street cred.
We played soccer again this morning. I have to say, soccer is so much fun. Haha. I had some more great games. Elder Hibbard and I have been waking up at 5:45 every morning to exercise more. He is a basketball player and he came up with the idea. I just make him get up every morning. He plays basketball and I work out. I run footwork drills and do a lot of core and leg-work. I'm lovin’ it.
That’s’ cool that you guys had the opportunity to do some missionary work. The members are the key. Did you watch the broadcast? All it talked about is doing exactly what you guys did there. Whaaat!? Haha. Seriously though. Many of our visits with members are us, visiting with them about how they can talk to their nonmember friends about the gospel. We are like coaches. One sister we are working with just loves missionary work. She wanted to serve a mission but her recently returned missionary husband said that if she went he wouldn’t wait for her. Haha. So she seeks out missionary opportunities a lot. She told us about a conversation that she had with some friends after they had come to church to see her sing in sacrament. In the conversation her friend asked if there were really answers to eternal questions. This sister replied that there are those answers and that she had them for herself, but the conversation did not go any further. So we went over and we essentially practiced what she was going to say to her friend. We had some great role-plays and she did go talk to her friend. Now her friend wants to learn more. Unfortunately she isn’t quite comfortable meeting with us. She just wants to talk with the member.
Elder Hibbard is all worried about his girl friend. Now I play relationship counselor… you can imagine how that’s going. Haha. But he is pretty cool. Oh well.
Heavy on the story today, but it has been great to talk to you guys. Anyways I've got to go now... Working hard, having fun as usual.
Love you guys,