We're dry here.

So this week was kind of tough, but ended really well. We weren't able to see Richard at all, and he skipped church. We're a little worried about him, but he can still make his September 8 date. We are worried about the word of wisdom, since he loves coffee. We've been praying that he'll be prepared to hear it and know it is from the Lord.

Elijah is doing great and starts seminary tomorrow. He's excited to go. He also received the Priesthood yesterday and will be bless the sacrament this coming week, which is really cool. The ward is excited to have two priests now. Also, Samson is waiting on his mission call, and it should come sometime next week. I joke with him that he is going to Ft. Lauderdale, Spanish speaking.

One great thing that is going on, is that the ward loves us. We're getting dinners on dinners now and referrals are even starting to come. Even with all the fall throughs this week, members are still jumping at the chance to help us out with things. It's pretty cool.

On Sunday this week we got in to see a less active member named Nicole. She is a young mother and joined the church while she was married to her Ex-Husband. He was born into the church, but wasn't active, and was in the military. Nicole was baptized while living in Texas while he was on tour in Iraq. It was pretty amazing to hear her talk about all the experiences she had, even trying to drag her long-time member husband to church while she was a convert of a few months. She is currently living with her new husband and her kids, an 11 year old who hasn't been baptized, a 7 year old, and a baby girl. She is a woman of faith and hopefully we'll be able to help her get back in the routine of church.

We were able to help the zone in different capacities this week too. There is one companionship that is really struggling. They are great Elders, but their area is very hard. It is a very small area, and ward, with about 70 active members in it. It is purely residential, which makes street contacting kind of tough.  We were able to go on an exchange with them and help lift their spirits a bit. The Elder that I went with is from Vanuatu, and so on top of all his normal missionary struggles, he's learned English in the field. The companionship has been doing great though in the past few days, and I am glad we were able to have a successful exchange with them. Right now I am on an exchange in the Deaf Branch, so I'm learning some sign today.

Hope everyone is OK after the TS.

-Elder Richards


So this week went great. Elijah's Baptism went as planned. The font was small and he is so tall, so Samson had to dunk him 3 times. It all worked out in the end though. He had a great expirience and was really happy. He's doing well and we are seeing him tonight. He is excited to go to seminary this year. He isn't real excited to wake up that early though. He was also interviewed for the Priesthood on Sunday. His mom was there for the baptism and the confirmation and she is really nice. She liked the service a lot. We are going to see if we can start teaching her soon.

Richard seems to be doing well. He is out of town for 3 days right now, but he was in church on Sunday. He is doing great. The only thing we worry about is coffee. He is an avid coffee drinker, so it might be tough for him to give up. We feel like he is in a place where he has the faith to work on it though.

Also in church yesterday was Samson's friend Hunter. He's an awesome guy, and he has already been to church 4 times in Arizona. We're going to try and start teching him this week as well.  There were also 3 less active members there that we teach that haven't been since I've been here, so we were excited to see them too. There really are some awesome things happening here.

The zone is doing well too. As of right now, the Fremont stake isn't the lowest baptizing in the mission (yay!). We had a few this last weekend, and everyone is working hard to make things happen. There are still a few companionships that struggle, but we're working with them and trying to help them. We've found some more service things for the zone too. Most of our service comes from community projects that are reccurring, like handing out food at the Salvation Army. This lets us serve with people from the community. It also helps us have things to bring investigators too. We had a great time serving with Richard last week.

Everything is going great here. 

-Elder Richards
Elder Richards, EJ, Samson, and Elder Suzuki

Everyone "beating up" Samson

whew, what a week.

So this week was pretty incredible. EJ continues to move and has so many ties to the ward. He's all set for the baptism this Saturday.  We are talking to him about the Aaronic priesthood and seminary. He really looks up to Samson, a guy in our ward who is putting his papers in. He is making other friends and obviously has a connection with his uncle Mathias and their family. Samson and his family are Tongan, EJ is Hawaiian, and Mathias and family are Samoan. When work is slow, find the Polynesians.

Cool thing is, the work isn't slow right now. I wrote a little while ago about a man named Richard who Elder Howard and I found street contacting. He was really hard to get a hold of because of the big gates around his house. We saw him and taught him once and then it was hard to get in contact with him again. Fast forward about two weeks and we saw him Saturday and again yesterday, he came to church Sunday, and he is now scheduled to be baptized on the 8th of September. Some things happened in the last 2 weeks that prepared him even more for the Gospel. We're taking him to the Salvation Army with us on Thursday for our weekly food bank volunteering, and teaching him again on Friday. The thing we really need is a fellowshipper for him, someone to become his friend. We feel he'll get baptized regardless, but he needs a friend that will help him stick too it. Fellowshipping is kind of the beast in this ward. It can be tough at times, but we're finding that more and more members are willing to help.

The members are getting excited for the work. Samson was the football star a year ago at Newark Memorial High, and I'm convinced he knows everyone between the ages of 18 and 23 in Newark. He and a friend, who is a non-member, have taken it upon themselves to try to get as many people as they can in church on Sunday. We are way excited for that. His friend, Hunter, tried to walk on to the football team at Arizona State became close to an LDS family down there. They took to him to church a few times and to some church activities, and even called Samson to ask him to keep it going, since Hunter moved back to Newark. We should be able to start teaching him this week. Other members have been getting in on the action. The family that fed us last night actually tried to invite some families over for dinner. The second Counselor in the Bishopric brought a whole family to church last Sunday.

The Zone is doing well too. At the end of this week, with our baptism, and some others in he zone, we'll pass up another stake so we won't be the lowest baptizing in the mission. I know it doesn't really mean anything, but it is kind of nice. We had a missionary fireside on Sunday that was excellent. Converts and reactivated members bore their testimonies, and the High Councilor over missionary work, Bro. Wirthlin, said we tripled attendance from the last one. Pretty good stuff happening. And in case you were wondering, he is Elder Wirthlin's grandson. Fun fact.

Have a good week!

-Elder James Richards

Dunk 'em.

So this week was cool in that we actually moved a baptismal date up. I've never done that before... EJ's new baptismal date is now for the 18th. It has been really cool to be able to teach him. He is already friends with a lot of the young men and young women, he has a firend baptizing him, and his uncle confirming him. We play basketball with him every monday and keep contact up with him pretty much daily. This is like the example of how an investigator's process should be. He is doing really well, and is even talking of seminary after school starts. We're super excited for next weekend. We've only got a few of the "smaller" commandments to teach him, but he'll be good to go.

This week has felt like a zone leader. We were down in San Jose for a leadership meeting on Friday, we've been coordinating different things for different companionships, and we've just been trying to get the Zone motivated. Together, the zone set a goal for 4 baptisms in the month of August. The stake only has 8 the whole rest of the year. There are 3 that are all but locked up, but the 4th will take some stretching. It will be amazing if we can get these 4.

This last week Elder Suzuki and I organized a little devotional to start our fast on saturday night. We just met at one of the buildings here and gave some thoughts and testimonies. I learned from my trainer, way back in the day, that it is the little things that help the Zone so much, and an example goes a long way. Elder Suzuki is a zone leader, and I'd be lost without him, even though I know more then the average new ZL by virtue of my first 3 transfers.

We met with the High Councilor in charge of missionary work this past week, and he is great. His name is Brother Wirthlin, and he happens to be Elder Wirthlin's grandson. He is excited to try to get the work moving. He brought up an interesting point in why our numbers are so low sometimes. We are the smallest stake in the mission. With 1 big wards, 4 tiny wards, and 2 branches, it can make things tough. We're working with what we've got though, and are still excited.

Glad to hear things are going well.

-Elder James Richards