The term President Watkins coined for being incredibly busy all day, everyday is running. We were running this week. 

Let me start out by saying, we had a baptism! One of the lady's we teach has been meeting with the missionaries for a while and was baptized on October 29th. I didn't have much role in teaching her, but I did teach her a few times. Most of the work was already done when I got here. It was still cool. It takes a lot of time to set up and prepare for a baptism. This took a huge chunk out of our time this week to teach, but that is ok, baptisms are what this is all about. 

In addition to all the district meetings we have to go to (four of them) we had a zone leader training in San Jose Friday morning. Rather then dump me off with a random companionship in Santa Cruz, my companion decided to take me with. I learned a lot in the meeting, but the highlight was that I learned the difference between a turbo turbocharger and supercharger. President Watkins really loves cars and racing. It was a great meeting, but we weren't able to get back to our area till about 3:00. This, the baptism, and the district meetings took a huge chunk of time out of our teaching. It was OK though since we were running. 

This week we were successful in hitting 140 contacts and 20 lessons. We also have a ton of prospective investigators that we are trying to set up appointments with so that we can start teaching them. Some of them are very well prepared. We met one, a 19 year old, outside the back of a shopping center while we were contacting. We randomly went to the back, even though we were contacting and we had to talk to a lot of people. We didn't know why we were going back there, but now we know why. He is a really nice kid, and we came back to teach him about the Book of Mormon. We followed up and he said he had read and prayed about it. Problem is, he doesn't have a phone, so he is really hard to get a hold of. 

One funny thing that happened this week was at the Halloween party and trunk or treat. An investigator was having trouble figuring out what to dress her 3 year old up as. We get to the trunk or treat and he is a missionary! It was so funny. We walked him around and kept handing him cards that he would then give to people walking by. We need to take him contacting with us. That family that we are teaching is awesome. My companion says he has never seen as much of a change as with the mom. She had some incredibly problems. Right now she is slated to be baptized the 12th. The spirit does incredible things and works an incredible amount of miracles. This gospel truly does change lives. 

Thank you all for your letters and support. All is well in Salinas.

-Elder James Richards

Elder Miller, my companion, and I before the baptism.

Baptism on the 29th. She has a phobia of water. She ended up being fine during the baptism.

Logan, the missionary! We walked around the trunk or treat with him and had him hand out cards

Salinas, California

    Salinas here is awesome. It is a very weird city. A hefty migrant worker population with some farm land and some Californian suburbia homes stuck in. The culture is fairly lowridered. It is funny when we are walking around we always hear people blaring mariachi music. Never thought I'd see that. Its interesting how different the Mexican culture is from the Cuban or South American culture. The ward here is great and we are blessed with a very dedicated ward mission leader. We are working closely with him to get things with the ward done. The ward council is fairly high functioning as well. There are lots of great people on it. 
    One interesting thing about the mission is we don't do any tracting at all. Elder Ballard came to the mission shortly before President Watkins got here and took the mission off tracting. So far, we are the only mission on this plan. What that means is we street contact a lot more. The mission goal is 140 a week. It is tough to achieve in our area, but the Monterrey elders just got 600. We will work to hit 140 this week. The mission goal for lessons is also 20 a week. This includes actives and less actives. There is a big emphasis on reactivating less actives in the mission. Again, it's a hard goal to achieve in our area, but we'll work for it. 
    After we got to Salinas we immediately got to work. We taught one lesson that night. We taught a lady that is having some real troubles in her life. We are working with her, and she has felt the spirit and feels the value of the message that we share with her. On Saturday I had a unique opportunity to go to a wedding and a baptism. One of our investigators got married to her fiance who is a member. The investigator is getting baptized next week. My companion is super excited for that since he has worked with her for the whole time. After the wedding we went to a Baptism in seaside. It was cool to see both ordinances done in the same day. Saturday was also another unique opportunity. President Watkins and the area authority, President Packer, put on a preach my gospel fireside, in which they asked for members' concerns about sharing the gospel and alleviated those concerns. Hopefully this fires up our ward to be proactive with their missionary work. The ward mission leader said he counted about 10 families there, so we will go visit them and talk about the fireside to see if they have any referrals. I'm doing well here and am excited for the work. We get fed every day. And I can't wait for my Patriarchal Blessing.
Doing work,
-Elder Richards
MTC District

86th Ward Crew

James posing as Samuel Smith

Provo Temple

The Missionary Training Center

Week One
Classes are super busy. We learn lots and are teaching "mock investigators" with our teachers or other volunteers. I really can't wait to get out to the field. Two other guys in our district are going to San Jose, and the rest (including my companion) are going to Milwaukee. Today in the temple I did talk to an Elder leaving for San Jose at the same time, and he has 8 other Elders in his district going to San Jose. My district is a great group of elders. Very spiritual. Mostly from Utah haha. I'm just learning a lot about teaching and such here. My favorite is teaching our TRC investigator, who is a volunteer that we go visit in one of the buildings and teach. He is a Japanese guy that just loves to talk. We had a great discussion with him last time. We teach him again tomorrow.

Week Two
Wow can't believe I leave for San Jose in a week. The first few days took forever, and then the days flew by.
I've been learning a lot, but can't wait to get to the field. An Elder in our zone from San Jose says that President Watkins (Church mission leader in San Jose) is a racing enthusiast and that he still has two kids at home.

- James

Hey, this is James' brother Brian speaking now. Sorry there's not much here, but James hasn't had much time to write e-mails and only wrote to out family, so I took some snippets out of those. He's leaving for San Jose this Wednesday. Then he'll have a new address to write to, and he'll have more time to write stuff for the blog. But he's doing great and really exited to get out to California! I'll probably have something to post on here next Monday.