And to all a happy Boxing Day.

Well short letter today, and then some pictures.

Christmas was awesome. We had ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. On Christmas Eve we had tamales. It was just a bit different from the traditional swedish fair that I usually have, but I'm not complaining. They were good. We have so much stuff and food at our apartment. The ward likes us TOO much...

This week will be good. Our district leader challenged us to "the perfect week" (20 lessons and 140 contacts). Elder Miller and I have done that once, and taught over 20 lessons twice. We think we can do it this week. It is probably the last week both of us are together. It is most likely he gets transfered, but there is a small possibility that I could. We'll know on saturday.

-Elder Richards

The district opening presents at the DL's apartment.

Comanche building in San Jose. The Behemoth where they fed 210+ missionaries a steak and egg breakfast

Oakland Temple Visit

This week was very cool because we went up to the Oakland temple. It is a really odd temple compared to others, but it is really cool. We took up a less active we have been teaching and a recent convert to do baptisms. We were scared because our investigator bailed on us at the last second and you need to take investigators up to the visitor's center/ grounds to be able to go. Since the temple is out of our mission, there are lots of restrictions. We are blessed to be able to go when we can. We called President and he actually gave us the go ahead to go. It was a neat experience being on the temple grounds. There is always a unique spirit at the temple, even on the grounds. Elder Miller and I were able to sit and ponder and receive revelation for our investigators for a little while. The temple is the best place to do that. The Oakland temple is in a beautiful area. It overlooks Oakland and San Francisco and the bay. 

The recent convert that we got up there to do baptisms had a great time. She really felt the spirit inside, and we are helping her prepare some names she can take for the next time she goes. The most exciting news with her is that she found a new place to live! Her place right now is probably less then 500 square feet and should have been condemned a long time ago. It is an awful environment, since it is tiny for the 1 adult and 3 small children that live there, and it is on the east side of Salinas, which is a very gang controlled place. It isn't very healthy for the kids either. The Lord opened up a place for her that she had been on a waiting list for for 8 years. It is an answer to the prayers of her, us, and all the leaders of our ward. We can't wait to get her out of there, away from the danger and bad influences. 

This week is shaping up nicely. We picked up the new part member family and are now teaching 3 part member families. That is one of the aspects of the rescue test is that we really focus on working with part member families. Our lessons and numbers have taken a slight dip, but this week should be a strong week for us. 

I am having a great time here, and am excited for the steak and eggs breakfast for all the missionaries on the 24th. I'll also get to see my old MTC buddies, so that should be cool. 

Merry Christmas to all,
Elder James Richards

PS For information about why Temples are built and what they are for, visit

Fountain out front, Elder Miller and I

Oakland temple

Everyone that went

Nativity out front

Busy, Busy, Busy

We got two new investigators and baptismal dates this week. Next week looks good for finding new investigators as well. We have an appointment set up with a nice part-member family. They have been in church the last two weeks, but the husband has been in the finals grind for the last couple weeks, so we haven't been able to teach. The wife is a non-member and he is less-active. As their family has been growing, they have been more serious about coming back. It's the rescue test at work. 

Tonight we have a lesson with another part member family that we have been teaching for a while. His mom, who is a little anti, will be there for the Christmas season. Cool thing is, he still wanted us to come over, and he is still going to the temple visitor's center on Saturday. The next few lessons with them should be interesting. 

Saturday was an example of the way that ward activities should be. It was our ward Christmas party, and it was excellent. The Bishop challenged the ward council to bring at least one less active or non-member. A lot of them did it, and we had quite a few less actives and investigators and both our recent converts and their families there. All in all, there were 140 people there! To give context, there were 130 in sacrament meeting. We were very excited about the turn out. Some potentials came out of it. This ward is an excellent missionary ward. They have really helped us out. This area is about to start booming again. 

The coolest thing that happened this week was a Zone Leader (and me) meeting with Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Elder Evans, Elder Maynes, and Elder Allen of the 70. Elder Packer (our area authority) and President and sister Watkins were also there. It was really cool. They came to evaluate the rescue test and talk about a new pilot they will be rolling out at the beginning of 2012. It was great to meet them all and receive good instruction.

It was a great week. This week should be just as good. 
And don't worry, we scored a Christmas tree. 

-Elder Richards

The Rescue Test

This week was busy, but in some aspects a little disappointing. We had to drop one of our investigators. He regressed so far and doesn't want anything to do with us now. One of our investigators is out of town and we couldn't catch him before he left. Finals at Hartnell, the local college, are also happening this week and next, and since we teach so many YSA aged people, that affects our teaching. We are working on finding some new investigators. Between the two baptized last transfer and the ones we've had to drop, investigators are running thin. We have some good refferals though. We have been beefing up our less active teaching pool. One of the less actives we teach taught the gospel principles class yesterday. The rescue test is working here and people really are coming back. It is great to see. I enjoy not tracting. 

This week L. Whitney Clayton and some other general authorities will be here to roll out another pilot program. It deals with service. We will probably be doing a lot of finding through service in the coming months. He will be talking about it to all the Zone Leaders, so I get to go up there this saturday. 

If I see a decent bike somewhere, I'm going to buy it. There is a good probability that I could be on a bike next transfer since Elder Miller will probably leave, and the ZL status goes with it. The 2 sets of spanish elders that cover salinas share a car and are on bikes. They could make us do that with Salinas 1st (the english ward in south salinas). 

-Elder James Richards