One. Whole. Year.

This week was pretty good. We taught Richard this week and went over the baptismal interview questions with him. As it turns out, he is on parole. We don't think it is for much longer, but we need to figure out for sure. We knew that, and President Watkins doesn't immediately rule all parole and probation cases out, so we still believe he can still pass the interview and get baptized. He is an amazing person and has already tried to do so much good and change his life. Problem was, he missed church again this last Sunday. Sad face. He still needs to come at least one more time. He's doing good and we should be able to teach him today or tomorrow. He'll be baptized by the end of the transfer, and hopefully by the end of the month.

Also last week, we made a break through with one of the Less actives that we teach. He is in his late 20's and is a returned missionary. He absolutely loved his mission and talks about it all the time with us. A few years after his mission he had an expirience where he was able to baptize a girl he was dating. He leaves to school and finds out that one of the missionaries that had taught the girl, went home, came back, and ruined everything. The girl leaves the church, and the guy that we teach is dealt a huge blow and goes in active. He hasn't really been to church in 3 years. He seems to be trying to move on, but as you can imagine, it is tough for him. It is horrible how one person can ruin so many lives. He volunteered this info for the first time this week, and he knows he really needs to go to church. His testimony is still so strong and he loves his mission. We're seeing him tonight.

Last night was one of the best nights I've had here. First, we went to dinner and the members had invited a non-member neighbor. We talked with her, taught a bit, and are teaching about temples and eternal families this Thursday. Member referrals are the best.

Also last night, we taught a non-member family. They are a referral from a member in walnut creek, who is the Dad's boss and friend. We've seen them a lot, and they already love us, but we were able to finally teach the restoration last night because the friend was able to come down from Walnut Creek. It was one of the most powerful expiriences I've ever had when teaching about the restoration. We were able to teach simply, and clearly, and also powerfully. The family has been prepared and we were able to commit them to be baptized on October 27th. Last night the lesson was with mom, dad, and Grandma. They also have a 15 year old daughter, a 9 year old, a 6 year old and a 1 year old. Hopefully we'll be able to start teaching the kids as well. They are an awesome family. We were able to help a few of their concerns. They were worried about a family member not accepting them as they were baptized. We talked about the power of prayer, being an example, and how important this gospel is. The Grandma, Geri, has a sister that was baptized and very active before she passed away, so Geri knows a ton about the church already. Kevin and Kathleen, the couple, have strong faith and want to do what is right for their family. They're awesome people. I love this family and hopefully I don't get moved before they are baptized, but if I do, I'll be back.

Elijah is doing good. He blessed the sacrament for the first time this past Sunday, and the ward is ecstatic to have two priests.  He is also attending seminary faithfully. He said he fell asleep one day this week, and I couldn't help but laugh. I never did that...

Also this week, Samson, a member here, got his mission call to the Alaska Anchorage Mission. There were tons of people there as he opened it (you know, polynesians) and he is a really example to his family. Not always active, he's turned around a lot, gave up playing time at one of the top Junior College football programs, and is an example to his family that includes his brother who just got home from juvy and his step-dad who samson baptized 2ish years ago. It is interesting that just like everyone in our stake going to the west, everyone here goes to cold places. I've seen two Canadas, a Utica, and now Alaska in the time I've been here. Good thing I didn't leave from the Fremont stake...

Well Newark is doing great. The mission is having a rough time however. We had 0 baptisms last week. It is the first time in at least 5 years. President is hurting, but he is setting a goal for 1 baptism a month, per companionship, for the last quarter of the year. If that happens, or even if we get close, it will double baptisms for the year. Hopefully we can make it happen. Most of the companionships in Fremont actually have potential to do that. President wants us to get things going in the last quarter.

Everything is going great. The members are awesome, the investigators are awesome, Elder Suzuki is awesome, the zone is awesome, and the first year was awesome. Talk to you next week from year 2.

-Elder James Richards