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