We Ride!

So this week, there were some big changes in Salinas. We are now a car share with the Salinas 1 Elders. This past week we were on bikes. The coming week we will be in the car. Our area isn't too bad for bikes. It has been a bike area in the past, and there are a ton of bike paths that interconnect different neighborhoods that are usually difficult in a car. It was fun this week and we were able to plan effectively and keep our numbers up. My little Fuji road bike with new tires also did well. I am liking that purchase more and more as time goes on. I bought it off an Elder that went home in feburuary for ~140. It has been worth it.

In other news, we went up to Elder Miller's outgoing fireside last night. This is his last full week in the mission. We took up a bunch of recent converts and an investigator. The members also came in force. In addition to Elder Miller, and Elder that started in
Salinas two years ago was going home. I thought about how that is me in 17 months. Too soon.

This is the last week of the transfer, and we are pretty certain I am getting moved, since I have been here for ever. Also means I am done training this week. Elder Platt has been doing great, and I've really had him plan and take the lead in most everything. He'll do great with the area after I leave. It will be sad to leave the investigators we have now. There is a family that is really moving forward. They really like us. This week's goal is to get them a baptismal date. Since they offered, we are trying to get them to take us out to dinner on Cinco de Mayo. That way, we can be sure the father doesn't drink. Cinco de Mayo should be an expirience here....

-Elder James Richards

A serviceable week.

This week was great. Our numbers are up, our investigators and less actives and recent converts continue to improve, and we continue to grow as missionaries.

One of the great things that came about this week was getting in to see a family that we haven't seen in a bit. Turns out they are still interested, they were just busy. Most of the time when people tell us they are busy, they usually aren't, they just don't want to see us anymore. Not the case with this family. We also helped them with their yard on Saturday morning. Service really has been a great way to get to know people better. Working with people really helps them know we actually do care for them. This week will be a big service week too.

This week we took full advantage of the ward mission process. We went on splits with the ward missionaries. Not many wards/areas can support splits with ward missionaries, but we were excited since this is the first time we've done it. It was also successful which is always good. Our ward has also concentrated on revamping home teaching. It will be a huge help, especially with our recent converts in giving them responsibilities and fellowship. This is an amazing ward and they really work to help us out. When the ward works with the missionaries, and vice-versa, big things get accomplished.

This coming week is week 11/12 for training. Elder Platt gets to take the lead in planning and teaching this week. It is going to be a good week. We have a lot of things planned already and lots of service. Elder Miller's outgoing fireside is also this sunday, and a helping hands project for us, while the recent converts go up to the temple on Saturday. I love having a temple so close here. It is funny to hear some members complain. It is about half the distance of our house to Orlando.

Have a good week.
-Elder James Richards

Work moves on.

This week was good. We were able to find a new guy to teach. He is 16 and goes to one of the local high school's here (there are 3 in our area). We found him while trying to get a hold of his brother, who is an investigator. We also continue to teach some great families, our boxer friend, and a few part-member families. All of the converts are doing well. Gina is having trouble with her kids at church. She is a single parent, still very new in the church, and has 3 high energy kids under the age of 6. The 5 year old and the 4 year old do not want to go to primary and she is starting to get a little frustrated. The primary presidency is going to visit her this week. Hopefully they will have some ideas.

We've started doing some new lessons for active members that involve teaching them how they can do missionary work. The first one talks about using church websites for missionary work. We show them how to use Mormon.org, make a profile, and then invite them to share it with 3 friends. It has been great to use that in addition to Justserve.org and Familysearch.org. Many people don't think of these different ways to share the gospel.

The area is coming along well. One thing that is really exciting is that we have reactivated 4 people since I've been here, in addition to the 4 baptisms. The ward is very strong and supportive. It is a great ward for missionary work.

Love you all, and appreciate all the mail.

-Elder James Richards

Drinking from a fire hose.

This was a great week. We had a good time at the temple. It was cool
to be able to go through the Oakland temple. It is an old school one
that was recently renovated. I was able to learn a lot this time, and
pick up on things that I had never even thought of before. It is
amazing how we can do that in the scriptures, the temple, patriarchal
blessings, and other things. You can read/go over and over again and
never know it all. I also noticed the clarity I have when I am in the
temple. I can sit and pray for a long time, and my mind doesn't wander
to other things. It is focused and razor sharp. The spirit brings an
incredible clarity. Only bummer is that I have to wait another 6
months before I can go inside again.

Other fun news about the temple, Our investigator's wife will be going
through the temple! This is another part member family, and she was
less-active for a while and has been active ever since I have been
here. It has been a long road back, and she is really excited to go.
We can go up to the temple with investigators, so we'll be able to be
up there with her husband, Jason, on the grounds and the visitors'
center. We are just glad we will be able to make it up there for it.
It's too bad we can't go in for it, but we can still be there. It has
been amazing to see these two grow. We started teaching them way back
in October. I am excited.

Frank continues to do well. He missed church, and he needed to go to
make his baptismal date of the 28th, but that was probably optimistic.
Frank will get baptized, it will just be a little later. He is a great
guy and has been reading the Book of Mormon consistently. I hope I can
be in the area when he gets baptized. If not, I'll just have to come
back for it.

I've been in Salinas now for exactly 6 months. I have about another
month at least. I'll probably be moved in early May when the next
transfer period is. Hopefully I stay though. I love Salinas, and the
Monterey stake is the best in the mission. Collectively, we have 19
baptisms this year and are leading the mission. It is the place to be.
Also, this ward is incredible. All the leaders do great work and help
us out a ton. It will be sad when I have to leave.

Sounds like Savior of the World production went well, that was probably a great
missionary opportunity. I've really been diving in to the New
Testament lately. Lots of great things that I'd never got before. I've
never read through the whole New Testament, so that is one of my

Glad to hear you are all doing well.

-Elder James Richards.

Keeping Busy.

This week was a great week.

This past Saturday the baptism went smoothly. Crystal was baptized by
her husband Ian. Ian's family are Utahans transplanted to Hong Kong,
and there were many people in town for the baptism. This was another
opportunity to help a family start on their way to being an eternal
family. They have two young sons. Ian fell away from the church in his
early college years, but felt a desire to return as his family started
to grow and they knew they were missing something. We were able to
teach them and they were golden from the start. Now the temple is in
their sights.

Speaking of the temple, this week is the week that CA-SJM missionaries
get to go up to the Oakland temple and do a session. Normally it is
the week before conference, but this past week was transfers, so we
are doing it this week. It will be a good experience to be able to go
up there and go inside and feel the spirit there. The grounds of the
Oakland temple are absolutely beautiful. We are also blessed to have a
temple so close here. The temple is about 2 hours away and we are the
stake that is the furthest south. We are also blessed to be able to
use the temple, even though it is out of the mission boundaries. If we
couldn't, it would really stink for all of the missionaries up north,
where the temple is literally 20 minutes away from them.

This week was a very good week. We continue to teach Frank the boxer.
We learned that his career was cut short when he got into a bad car
wreck, injuring his back. He has some bitterness and resentment
towards certain people, and he knows he has to change. He is a very
nice guy. His baptismal date is for the 28th of April and we are
moving for that date. We were also able to get in and teach a
less-active brother who hasn't been to church in a long time, and
hasn't met with missionaries in about 2 years.

We figure I have about 5 weeks left in Salinas. Transfers are the
second week of May. That will mark 7 and a half months in Salinas. I
would be fine with staying, but president probably won't keep me here.

Thanks for the package.

-Elder James Richards