Email address (preferred):
Sister Rachael Geniel Clark
California Long Beach Mission
6500 E Atherton St.
Long Beach, CA 90815
Things are starting to settle down now, I finally was able to unpack all my stuff this week. Sort of. Sister Culala and I decided to spend free time on updating the area book to get to know the people more and try to find some people to teach. Most people here are the great fake out, smiles and all. They give them selves away first thing, which is irritating but also good because we know not to waste our time on them, but challenge them to do good and get a possible referral. Almost everyone around here who isn't Mormon is quite frankly rude and insulting, most laying traps and bait for a possible bible bash, but with the spirit guiding our thoughts and actions we avoid them easily, Its irritating though, I wish they would just leave us be. Most of the time they go out of their way to make a fuss, and one man while eating at a restraint openly was being loud and obnoxious and scared customers away from the place. We kindly asked if he would leave us in peace and respect us, but he kept bantering on about how we don't respect other people's belief's and won't just leave them alone... Ironic isn't it? Thankfully one man after that guy left said to us, "Did that guy wig out or what?" Then left and wished us a good day. The odd people you meet in long beach....
We haven't had any investigators this whole week. They either rescheduled for next week because of scheduling conflicts, or the new investigators we did find where not in our area so we had to pass them on to other missionaries. Without work to do, things get very discouraging, but we are staying positive that our area book work, as thin as it is, will lead us to more people.
We did lots of service at the Secret Gardens behind the library nearest to us (Central Park Library) and at Shipley's Nature Center! Mostly pruning to the ground bushes at Shipley's, but at Secret Garden we put stones in the garden beds for walking and the Elders put up broken concrete slabs that used to be the old path and placed them on top of another to make a wall around the flower beds and a pathway. It's so neat that Secret Garden a year ago was a wild and forgotten jungle of a garden, the city didn't do anything with it and it was fenced off so most people avoided it thinking it was fenced off for safety because it was literally so wild with passion vine (I think it's called that) that one couldn't even recognize the path. It was choked to death by the plant. Volunteers who loved gardening took it under their wing, and with missionaries' help they cleared out the vines and did their best to eradicate the pest (its an exotic flowering vine that's beautiful but deathly to other plants as it literally chokes them out, sort of like the vines in Jumangi). After that, they took the recycled concrete path out because people with strollers or wheel chairs couldn't go across it at all. It was so bad from years of tree growth and neglect that they then made it into path liners and foot tall paths (such a wonderful idea and SO pretty when finished). The next thing they did in spring was put in water wise native plants with color to invite pollinators in and welcome in guests to the forgotten garden. We were apart of the leftover branch cleanup, path placement, trimming, and beginning of butterfly garden creation. I'm so excited to be apart of building that! (At least I hope it will happen while I am there.) The people LOVE the missionaries and always let us know it's our garden more than anyone else's because of all the work we did. Without us, the garden wouldn't be where it is or even exist. Its interesting to think that without our help it would still be a forgotten patch of forest to this day. I didn't get photos this week, but next I will! It reminds me of the gardens I wondered around at grandma Bonnie's at the moment in some parts mixed in with the front flower bed of my home. So pretty, and full of butterflies everywhere!
The garden reminds me of what happens if a person doesn't have God, "the gardener," in their life, its wild and choked out by the worldly things, while pretty and enticing they are, its bad for the good parts of them. Once they are cut back, rebuilt, and lovingly fixed up, they become something more grad and inviting than ever before. I am sure the plants hated, protested, and cried out in pain after being pulled out, uprooted, trimmed to almost a stump, and the only flowers it had taken away, but now one can see its better now than ever before. Trust "the gardener" and you will become better than you ever could have imagined!
General Conference was so good. I was extra surprised by the talks about women and our role in the church, and also about fulfilling our roles in these last days before Christ's second coming. It's coming now more than ever. As I study the scriptures and ponder the teaching, I can more clearly see that its completely true about our day, and it's an important time we live in. Ominous dark clouds of trouble are looming, threatening of danger and lightning drawing nearer and nearer, but those who know and follow the guidance from our prophet and apostles, along with praying and scripture reading, we have nothing to fear. If one has a sure foundation of things like a well built house, one needs not to fear the storms around us. It's heartbreaking to see others struggling in the storm, but they have their free agency to stay out and one cannot force them to the safety within. Its just hard to watch them. I try not to lose hope that one day they will see their surroundings for as they are and come in.