Neuvo año


So, it is crazy that 2012 is over tonight. The full calendar year in my mission is ending. Next year there will be a part of it where I'm not a missionary. Scary prospect. 

This past year was awesome. Salinas, Newark, and Pleasanton have all been good. Got to be with great missionaries, and meet great people. There was great success in seeing people like Elijah get baptized, Samson leaving on his mission, the Fremont zone turn around, baptisms in Salinas, reactivations all over, and tons of hours served. Certainly one, if not the, best years of my life. 

Now we are looking at 2013, and some amazing developments. Fremont and Pleasanton (the two lowest baptizing from last year) are looking at the most baptisms in the first part of 2013. Incredible turn around. Elder Bingham, in Newark, is still working with people that we taught and has a lot committed for baptism. Here in Pleasanton, the sisters have a baptism of a family of 4 on Friday. Then next week Elder Platt and his companion have a baptism of a 17 year old boy who's mother had been quite anti. After him going to church for two years, his mother finally caved in, and he will be baptized on the 12th. There are also two more scheduled for next week. We have a family of 4 that we are teaching. It looks like they'll probably be baptized in February or March. By the end of the month of January, we will have baptized 7 as a zone. In 2012, the zone baptized 14. We're looking at a big year for Pleasanton. There is a spark in the air in Pleasanton, and members and missionaries alike are realizing that there is work to be done and work that can be done, so it is a really good time to be here.

One of my goals for the new year is to finish the Book of Mormon 5 times in the year. I've only finished it once on the mission so far, so I'd like to read it more. I'm in Helaman now and I'm reading about Nephi and Lehi. They were amazing missionaries. They were bold, caring, knowledgeable, and they followed the spirit. I'm going to try even harder in 2013 to work at those things. 

We have an investigator named Bill, who we've been working with, who has read the majority of the Book of Mormon. He believes it is true. He's a great guy, but he's 89 and has limited mobility, which makes things difficult. He can get out sometimes though, so we're trying to find a way to get him to church. He's already got a testimony of the Book of Mormon and great faith in Christ. He's a great guy, so hopefully he'll be baptized soon as well.  

This week we picked up a new Investigator as well. His name is Ben and he's in his 60s. He's studied religion all his life and has been a pastor and an elder and lots of different things in his church. A member brought him to the ward Christmas party and we talked to him for a while there. We're going to try and see again him tonight. It should be really interesting to teach him.

We now have 7 investigators in this area. Considering we had 0 when I got here, that's not too bad. 2013 is looking good. 

Have a happy new year!

-Elder James Richards


So to answer some questions, yes, I am still a zone leader. Pleasanton right now is the lowest baptizing zone in the mission. It was recently passed by Fremont, because they had some good looking zone leader or something like that. We're super excited for next year though. We're looking at a few families that have committed to baptism in the first 2 months. That would be awesome. 

No, the weather here is not good. It is cold. Last week it was in the 40s and rainy. I'm going to buy another coat today. 

We do touch the Oakland mission here. Danville and San Ramon are out of the mission, but Dublin is in our stake. Livermore is a different stake, but also in the mission. It is funny because my roommate from school is from Danville, and the singles ward here pulls from the Danville and Livermore stakes as well. Not sure what happened to him, but I'll see if the missionaries there know him.

This week was tough. Elder Baldwin and I were both sick for different parts of the week. We both seem to be on the up and up now, and are excited for this coming week. We are going to be working a lot of leads that our Bishop gave us. There are a lot of children in this ward who haven't been baptized. We are going to work there to try to find some new people to teach. Bishops are always a great resource, because they know everyone. We're excited for this week. 

Last night, the stake had a youth choir performance that was really good. The cool thing was that there were a ton of non-members there. We have been inviting people to this and pushing it for the last 2 weeks, and the turn out was excellent. A lady came up to us and expressed interest in coming to church with her friend next Sunday. She's in the Sister's area, so we told them to keep an eye out this coming week. 

Sorry this letter is lame, but coldness and sickness don't make for much news. We're really excited for this coming week though. It should be a great one. We're going to work hard to find some new investigators and reach the goals and standards of excellence that we have. 

A cool side note, the Fremont zone had 2 baptisms last week, 1 the week before, and 1 coming up this week. That will be four in 3 weeks. Pretty good when the stake baptized 14 the whole rest of the year. They're not done either. There should be a few more coming up soon. Now we just need to get Pleasanton rolling. 

In closing, the fun fact of the day is that Pleasanton is the most affluent mid-sized city in America. I'm being fed well. Maybe too well...

-Elder James Richards

I'm still alive

New Address:
3955 Vineyard Ave # 67
Pleasanton, CA 94566

So today is my first PDay in Pleasanton. It is very different from my wards in Salinas and Newark. Instead of salad fields, we have vineyards. Instead of former gang bangers, we have the number 2 guy at Safeway Grocery stores. Instead of the ghetto eastside, we have a nuts expensive gated neighborhood called Ruby Hill. It is pretty different. Money is in the Pleasanton Second Ward.

Pleasanton is a historically slow area. It is funny, because Pleasanton was the zone we were always competing with while we were in Fremont. Now we compete with Fremont. It is looking really good though. In my area, they had two baptisms last transfer. The ward really, really likes us. We also picked up 5 new investigators this last week. One is a guy who has lived in Pleasanton forever. He is sitting on this multi-million dollar plot of land between a ritzy neighborhood and a golf course. He probably traded 20 dollars and a horse for it. Leave it to me to find hillbillies in one of the richest wards in California. He's a really nice guy. His name is Bill and we found him street contacting. We went over and talked to him and he's had some rough medical things happen in his life. He has a lot of faith. Hopefully, we can get him to church soon. The other 4 new investigators were a family. They are a half Nicaraguan, Half Filipino family. They've met with missionaries in the past and have had super positive experiences,  so we are really excited. We're going back Thursday for another appointment. It is really cool to have a family to teach. They're great. Very chatty though. We have some other potentials we are trying. One guy named Guy is a referral from a member. He has a lot of money. And his daughter said she wanted to start going to a church, so that is cool. 

My new companion's name is Elder Baldwin. He's from Preston, Idaho and he's been out 8 months. He's a cool kid, and actually played Lacrosse in High school. We've been doing a lot of work. 
Elder Bingham is still in Newark and he is actually training a new missionary. He was nervous about training, but it sounds like he's doing good. The biggest disappointment about getting transferred  was that I missed Samson's mission farewell by a week. Apparently, the place was packed. Elder Platt is actually also here in Pleasanton, in the Third ward, so we see him a lot. 

This transfer, we're going to work hard to help bring the zone up. It's been tough in Pleasanton, but President has put a really good group of missionaries up here. We're looking to start the coming year strong, hopefully with a few families getting baptized right off the bat. That would be huge. We had a zone fast the other night to help build up the members of the zone. We're fortunate in that we have some work, but there are a few companionships that have next to nothing. We're going to help them find some people to teach. It'll be another slog to get this going, but it's been done before, we can do it again. 

Last night we ate dinner with a family, and the son had his girlfriend there. She served in the FLL mission and only got home a month ago. She knew Elder K and Neely really well. She said Elder K is dating her trainer. Smooth. 

Also, Mom got me sick. I read her letter and then that night had a fever of like 101.5. Spreading germs through the mail. tsk tsk. Not really though, I had a sore throat that morning, and I wasn't out for six days. I still have a crazy cough though. Wal-tussin is doing great. I'm too cheap for regular Robitussin. It brought me back to days when I would have a cough and Mom would make me take the medicine, even though it was the most vile liquid ever. I'd never get the whole cup down in one gulp and she'd make me drink the little bit left, always saying "I'm not going to have your cough keep me awake!" I was always a bitter 6 year old. Good times. 

So Emails will be on Mondays now. Happy Christmas.

-Elder James Richards