I can ride my bike with no handlebars.

     Random tidbit of the week: I am becoming very proficient at riding my bike with no handlebars. No handlebars.
     Anyway, first off, I can't believe I am 20 is less than a week. When I went into the MTC I felt like my birthday was ages away, now here it is. Pretty soon it will be a year in the field and then it is all down hill from there. Crazy how time flies.
     Bayside is doing well. We are teaching a lot of less active members, but are really hurting for investigators. It has been really tough to find people. I think we will start to try to focus more on part member families. Finding the families who are less active and non-member and help bring them back. The ward really likes us now, so that is good. We are figuring Elder Howard is out of here in a month, which is crazy.
     This week was a leadership meeting down in San Jose. I shared Robbie's C.S. Lewis quote when we were talking about how to help and inspire our districts to be obedient. It is now being circulated around the mission. Robbie gets a cookie.

     "No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it not by lying down. A man who gives into the temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation really means - the only complete realist." - C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

     We have a very young district this transfer, with 1/6 missionaries being over a year in the mission. They are all doing great and there will be one or more baptisms in the transfer. Hopefully one of them can be ours. We are working with a woman named Nanette, who is the mother of a prospective missionary. She has had a rough time with drugs and such, and is now suffering the consequences, health wise. She is getting ever-closer to baptism, and she really enjoys our visits, so hopefully we can help her to become more converted to the gospel. It will help her so much, because she has some feelings of guilt for things she has done in the past.
     This stake has been tough. It is losing a lot of members with a stake president and a bishop that have been in forever. The focus seems to be trying to hold on to people that are already here, instead of finding and rescuing. It can make it difficult for us. there have only been 6 convert baptisms this year in the stake, the lowest in the mission. Most stakes in the mission are up around 15-20 with Monterey and Menlo Park both over 30. The stake isn't all to blame for the lack of success though. Many times missionaries get up here and see the work is hard, so they get lazy or goof off. That is why I am glad there are a bunch of young, bright-eyed and bushy tailed missionaries in my district. We're working to lose the Fremont stigma.
     Thanks for all of the letters and support. Have a happy 4th.

-Elder James Richards