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