A very Tagalog Thanksgiving

So don't worry about my Thanksgiving. We ate three times. At the last house we had a lot of Filipino food at our Ward Mission Leader's house. Us and his daughter's boyfriend were the only white boys. It inspired a children's book that I am going to write, entitled, "A Very Tagalog Thanksgiving."

This week was a good week for us. We had both of the investigators that are committed to be baptized in church. Nick had to leave shortly after the sacrament, but we were excited to see him there. Sharon is basically active, so it doesn't take any teeth pulling on our part to get her there. She has a lot of family that are members. You know, big Tongan family. Her uncle will be blessing a baby in our ward this coming Sunday, and they've actually asked us to stand in on the blessing. That will be a different kind of experience. I don't think I've ever met the uncle either. Sharon was set for the 8th, but she expressed a concern that she doesn't want to be rushing in to it. She didn't understand too much about baptism, so we just taught about it and why it is important. We haven't moved the date yet, so we're going to follow up with her tomorrow at our lesson. She's been doing great otherwise though. She is good friends with a fairly active young woman, who used to not be active, so it is good for her too.

This last week I went rogue. And went out of the mission. I was on an exchange with Elder Horlacher, who is in the ASL branch. Since they are the only ASL missionaries in the bay area, they have a little more leniency with where they can travel. We went to Hayward, which is like half way between Newark and Oakland. The cool experience of that day was that we were able to give a deaf lady a blessing. I anointed and Elder Horlacher translated, but then he gave the blessing. I left my hands on her head, he took his off and signed the blessing so she could see, and when he was done, he put his hands back on her head. It was an amazing expirience. Even though no "words" were said, I could really feel the spirit as I had my hands on her head and watched the other Elder sign the blessing. It was exactly the same feeling as if the blessing had been in english. Really powerful.

This week on Black Friday we got a new investigator. His name is Scott and he's a late 30's, early 40's black guy that is super cool. We had an appointment with another potential that we were bringing our WML to and the appointment fell through. I felt like we should visit Scott, who we'd been trying to see, without success for a month. We went by, and he was there! We didn't teach him a super formal lesson, just talked. He has been taught by missionaries in the past, but his depression hampered his ability to meet. He's better now, and has a better grasp on agency and certain things happen then I do. We said hi to him on Sunday and he said he requested work off so he could make it this coming Sunday. We're teaching him on Thursday.

So, this week is most likely my last in Newark. Transfers are next week and I'll know on Saturday if I'm leaving. So unless I go to two of the other stakes in Alameda, you probably won't get an email until the following Monday. There is a lot of good stuff going on, and I'll definitely have to come back for some baptisms, like Sharon and Nick and hopefully even Scott.

One last cool thing that I can think of, Is that Richard picked up the phone! I felt prompted to call, and did, and he answered. He's living in San Jose now, and sounded fairly happy to talk to me, so I'm going to call him again, and refer him to missionaries down there. It'll be ironic if he is in Elder Howard's area, since we are the missionaries that started teaching him.

Also, there is a Notre Dame football star, Manti Teo, or something like that, that is cousins to one of the members in my ward here. They said they are scheming to get to the National Championship game, which is at Dolphin Stadium this year.

This week was good. Have a good week, and if I get transfered, have another good week.

-Elder Richards

So you're not a member?

This past week the zone went nuts. We now have 9 people comitted to be baptized and 1 was baptized on Saturday. To give you a context the zone has 14 baptism YTD. We're looking at a HUGE December. It really is the missionaries here excercising faith. All of a sudden, two companionships have positioned themselves very well to hit the 3 baptism by the end of the year goal. Other companionships (including us) can get it with a small amount of digging. In a week's time, that goal went from lofty, to very attainable. It is pretty neat how inspired goals can work. We're working hard to get all those people that have comitted to the waters, and working hard to find more.

This week I went on a split with the spanish Elders, since one of them was sick. We were able to invite that investigator to be baptized, and she said yes. She actually walked 2 miles to get to church last Sunday. She is impressive and is really trying to follow Christ. I'm understanding a decent amount of spanish. When asked me where my jacket was I was able to respond. Pretty cool.

As far as our own area goes, we've had some great success this week. Yesterday, we met with a Tongan young woman named Sharon. She has been in church the last 3 weeks, and we all thought she was a member... She decided to start going because her grandparents were originally members. She grew up Methodist. She loves going to church and loves YW. Our WMLs wife is actually a young woman leader, so we taught her at their house last night. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted for December 8th. Thats a week after transfers, so if I end up getting moved, I'll have to come back for the baptism. She was excited though, so it's pretty cool.

We also had a member refer us to her friends, two Philipino women. One is older, and barely speaks english, and one is middle aged, but really felt the spirit. She's excited for our next lesson. Our ward mission leader gave her a ride home, and she told him that she felt terrible that whole day, and when she talked with she felt better. We'll invite her to be baptized again this next lesson, and we really feel like she'll say yes.

Soo this week was good. I got Mom's card today, but haven't had a chance to read the letter yet, so thank you. Check out mormon.org/christmas. There is supposed to be a huge internet campaign rolling out soon.

Happy Thanksgiving

-Elder James Richards

We're here to Just Serve.


So this is late because we had some unplanned service. We were walking out of district meeting at a church in Fremont and someone came up and asked if they could park their moving truck there because it didn't fit in the apartment complex they were moving the person in to. They were going to just UHaul it into the complex. We said they could park there and ask if they needed help. They said yes, and so four of us helped them move stuff from their big truck, to the smaller uhaul, and then into the guy's apartment. It was weird, for as many times as I've helped people move, I've never helped a professional moving company. It went really smoothly. We invited the man that moved in to the ward that he would be in and he said he would go. He was grateful. The people from the moving company also insisted on paying us or buying us lunch or donating to the church, so we just gave them the Bishop's number so they could work that out. Pretty cool service opportunity. And that is why this Email is late.

This last week was good. On Saturday, we were having an awful day. No one liked us, and no one let us in, etc. We were as Job. We then went and visited a less active member we hadn't really planned on. She let us in and her 14 year old son who is not a member was there. We taught him a lesson and invited him to be baptized and he said yes! It went from a bad day to a good day very quickly. His name is Nick and he's a good kid. He splits a lot of time between his dad's house and his mom's so we can only teach him on the weekends.

Samson is getting ready to go on his mission and is going to the temple on Friday. I'm proud of the kid. He's had more opposition than anyone and he could have easily not gone. It's been cool to help him in his prep. Kind of like our elders helped me out.

Thanks for all the mail, sorry this is short, but we've got to get some stuff done before dinner.

-Elder Richards.

Happy Election day!


Hope all is going well. I'm sure everyone is excited for the election to be over tonight. We are. Not that anyone is being belligerent or anything, but because the "are you voting for Romney??" questions are getting old.

Anyway, last week was pretty good. It was great to see one guy that we reactivated ask when there would be a temple prep class, and another lady there in church. She hasn't missed a day in over a month and is doing very well. It really is cool when you get to reactivate people. I hope they can get to the temple sometime soon, that would be really cool. It's been awesome to be able to help bring people back to church. The rescue really is important, and these people that have come back have been such a blessing in my life.

Today was Zone Training Meeting. It's a monthly meeting with the whole zone. Normally it is the zone leaderS that handle it, but it's just me, so I was on my own. It worked out really well. We talked about quickening our pace. There will be a ton of new missionaries coming in the first two months of next year, and we need stuff for them to do. We have so many units, not everyone English one will have two sets of missionaries, but some will. In our zone, I could see 3 extra companionships coming in. That would be really cool.

This past week we made some strides with a few of our investigators. The Russell's committed to come to church, but they got sick. Sad Face. But tomorrow we have a church tour scheduled with them, so that would be huge. We need to start moving more with them. Getting them to church is a huge priority this week. With Bev, she actually committed to come to church! This week that is. She had her granddaughter over night this past Sunday. It's no small thing that Bev has committed. She is the kind of person that won't commit very easily, but when she does, she follows through with it. We have an appointment with her on Thursday. We also have an appointment tomorrow with one of Samson's friends who came to church a few weeks ago. I feel like we do a lot of work through Samson, so he'll be missed when he leaves on his mission on December 12th.

This past Sunday, Elijah got up to bear his testimony. We got to sacrament late, because we had our stake missionary correlation meeting with the stake president, but we were just in time to see Elijah get up and share his testimony. He got up and expressed appreciation for Samson and his family and what an example they were to him and then talked about how he wants to be like Samson when he goes out on his mission. It was awesome. Elijah is a junior now, but he wants to go on his mission. He's still going to seminary and everything. He's awesome.

Speaking of seminary, the whole zone is going to seminary tomorrow. Our high councilor over missionary work, Brother Wirthlin, and us are giving a presentation and we are inviting every student to hand out a copy of the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. We've got five cases of BOMs in our apartment for it. Brother Wirthlin dreamed it up, and I think it is a great idea, especially with all the youth that have been taught (and baptized) in the last few months. We have the best stake leaders here.

Thanks for all the love an support.

Have a good week.
-Elder James Richards