Email address (preferred):
Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
California Long Beach Mission
6500 E Atherton St.
Long Beach, CA 90815
Things are going well here, now that the fourth of July is over. Man oh man did the fireworks go on and on through the whole night and a few in the morning. Around here, they shoot them off even in the daylight. I swear they buy the biggest and most expensive high caliber arials that go BOOM so loud everything shakes when it goes off in the air and dozens of car alarms go off its that big! It was so funny hearing the car alarms go off. They sure do look pretty though, you can see them no matter where you are they go up so high, even past the 80+ foot tall palm trees and buildings. Even though they regulate fireworks in California more than Utah ever has, in Norwalk, that is kind laughable since all throughout even day light you will hear them. During the evening when the shows in the parks start off is when regular people have them all go off a ton! It was like a non stop grand finale here! Didn't get much rest that night till 11pm or so, it was sure fun though.
We got two BBQ's here, such a blessing since the fourth of July is one of the hardest holidays to be a missionary on to find, talk, or even get someone to stay with after 6. We aren't allowed in our apartment after 6 because we have to be teaching, so we spent it with the Pontons and their kids, then with Angel, Jeff, and Sister Becker. They sure do love ribs around here, instead of hamburgers back home, they do hot dogs, ribs, grilled vegetables, potato salads, and watermelon. On the fourth we did get to visit betty and talk about her childhood and her experiences of the fourth of July in Tennessee. We found out that there, they didn't do it till she was about 7 or 10 years old, and she would watch them and boats go by near a river. That would have been fun to watch back then!
Luis and Amelia are progressing so well this week! Amelia bore her testimony on paper and showed it to me after testimony meeting. She is so amazing, loving, and kind. She feeds us dinner sometimes which for an investigator, that is almost unheard of! She Knows this church is true now, still a little confused, but slowly learning things.She even asked us why others don't join our church and are so self centered and say that coming towards Christ has no monetary value, so its no good. We told her we are wondering that ourselves and we have a lot alike in that regard. She is so missionary minded, she worries about her family back home and how they aren't following her and her brother to be baptized in the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, but the best we can give to her is for her to show by example and just like you followed after your brother, they will too someday. Be patient with them, love them, support them, and over time they will come around!
Luis loved that people in our ward can even do that, in the catholic churches you can't do that, in fact when he was asked to leave by the bishop or pastor from several churches because he would teach the youth and kids, but his beliefs are so close to ours, that beg catholic, they hated it and exiled him. He is so special, he is only a little handicapped, but honestly not that much. He is smart as a whip about gospel related things and is so receptive to the gospel, it is amazing! He said that he wanted to open a new chapter in his life and hopes our message and becoming baptized will help him in doing that.
With both Amelia and Luis we have had members present, which is almost unheard of for our area, its so hard to get members to come to lessons.
I got to do a talk on baptism for Tamila, an 8 year old we have been teaching lessons to. Her parents are converts to the church and fully reactivated less actives. They are so wonderful and give us insights of what it is like to be all of the above and how to better help those who are going through that currently so we can get them active and feeling loved in the ward. Tamila said that she has been waiting to be baptized her whole life! She has such enthusiasm. I did a picture with a gate to represent baptism and did a small plant design on it to symbolize faith, I cut out everything above that so you could see the picture behind it (This was in a booklet form) that picture was the temple which represented the second ordinance and covenants you can do in this life to return to our heavenly father. I cut out the sky around that and some trees and clouds. Peeking behind that you can sort of see the sun and a tree with fruit. The last page I planned so that you can put a picture of your family beside a tree with a path leading from the beginning to the tree of life which symbolized living with our families and heavenly father for eternity one day in happiness. the Sun is fully seen in this one too and represents being with Jesus Christ as well fully! I will have to get photos of it once it is finished with color, for now I left it with outlines so it could be copied off and colored for children or recent converts. It looks super cool though. I went through that and told her that all those things at the end can't happen without taking that first step of baptism (or gate) on the straight and narrow path to exaltation and life with our family and god. I went on further about baptism and about the sacrament briefly. It went well, I was a bit stressed out about giving it though....
Got to meet with the sister training leaders and cook with them, that was so much fun! Lots of Filipino foods and rice! I like my rice cooker, Heavenly father knows the desires of everyone's hearts and certainly blesses those who even if its a little thing like the convenience of a rice cooker, he will provide.
Other than that, my week went pretty well, we had transfers and I stayed put with Sister George as my trainer. Though when she and elder nye leave, it will be hard taking over the area since I will have been there the longest and honestly feel like I have a long way to go towards knowing everyone in the ward.