So last week, I guess I sounded sad or something, since everyone has commented on it. Let me tell you about this crazy week we just had.

We picked up 3 new investigators. One is a 19ish year old kid named Brian. He was a referral from the spanish sisters, since he said his english is better then his spanish. He's real quiet, so we just got to know him and gave him a Book of Mormon. Our other two investigators are 9 year old twin girls. They are the daughters of less active members who are returning pretty well. They just recently turned 9. We've been teaching them for a while, and we had a date set up for them to be baptized before they turned 9, but that date slid. It's kind of a bummer in that aspect. We tried to get them baptized as soon as possible, since the parents have been dragging their feet for over a year. But, I guess this is the way it was supposed to happen, so I'm ok with that. We'll work really hard to help them get there. We basically had 2 baptisms fall into our lap, which is cool.

Bill is doing good. One day we went over to his house and his crazy little dog got our and we got to chase it all over the golf course behind Bill's house. We caught him before he got too far, and Bill was very grateful. Yesterday, we went over and introduced Bishop to Bill. We had a nice visit, and he really wants to get baptized before Elder Baldwin leaves, but he still won't get over his want of proper clothes, and he still won't let us help him. He still wants to feel independent. He has changed an incredible amount. He believes and has a testimony, we just can't seem to get over the last hurdle. He'll go. Hopefully sooner then later.

This week, we did our 20 lessons/ 140 contacts. I haven't done both of those in the same week the whole time I've been here. I feel like we've got the area to a place where we can do that consistently now. The mission is moving up as well. We're baptizing at the pace the mission was when I first got here, which is huge jump from 2012. All the new missionaries will help that. We got the first 19 year old sister in the zone this past week. It's kind of scary, since she graduated high school in 2011. 

The priests did a great job. They got out 5 copies of the Book of Mormon. We had them share experiences in the beginning of priest quorum and everyone had good things to share. We beat them, but we're going up against them this next week as well. We have a pretty charismatic bunch of priests, so it will be interesting to see what comes of this. 

I'll probably be here 2 more transfers, for the standard 4, and then do my last 3 in another area. I have less time left on the mission than I spent in Newark or Salinas. weird.

Anyway, a pretty good week.

-Elder James Richards

So it begins...

Today we had our transfer meeting. Neither I or Elder Baldwin were transferred. We're sticking around in Pleasanton. This transfer, we have 6 going home, and 29 coming in. This is our first batch of 19/18 year old sisters/ Elders. Not too much happened in Pleasanton, as far as crazy changes go. There were a lot of whitewashings and creating of areas. A sister in the zone is training, so we could have a sister that is younger than me. That's weird.  Elder Platt got transferred to Fremont, and he is Elder Bingham's district leader. Elder Bingham is still in Newark, and is training again, so Fremont is becoming a gathering place for my posterity. 

This week should be a great week for us. We've got a bunch of new potential investigators that we hope to start teaching this week. A few are member referrals that we are chasing. Elder Baldwin and I have set the goal to baptize 3 people this transfer. That will be a big stretch, but we feel like we can do it. One thing we've started is a competition with the priests. We are seeing who can hand out more copies of the Book of Mormon, the priest's quorum or the missionaries. We think they are going to smoke us, but we're going to try hard. It is a really good group of priests. 

One thing we're trying to change is out attitude. We feel like we've been letting ourselves get down, and keeping ourselves there. This is a hard area, but we have work to do. This transfer will be a big one for us. 

Also, as a side note, in addition to Elder Holland speaking to the mission on the 23rd of March, he will be speaking to the Pleasanton stake on the 24th. We get him twice. That will be cool. 

Have a good week, and look for ways to share the Gospel.

-Elder James Richards


So funny story. All the kids were off of school, so we thought yesterday was presidents day. Whoops.

This week we had some interesting developments come forth. First off, Jeffrey R. Holland will be here on March 23rd to do some priesthood leadership training and talk to the mission. That will be way cool. He'll be the second apostle to come through since I've been here. Elder Maynes of the presidency of the seventy will be here as well, and he's been here 3 or 4 times.

This week I learned some more interesting information. Every California mission has seen a dip in baptisms the past few years, ours included. However, this past year, we were the only mission to see an increase in sacrament attendance. I don't think that is a coincidence. The rescue is working. It helps less active members come back, and active-ish members stay. Now we'll work on getting our baptisms up and we'll be golden. 

This week we are going to try to get Bill to a baptism this weekend. There are 2 happening in the Livermore stake, which is adjacent to ours and is about a 20 minute drive. He still wants to have his clothes and other affairs set in order before he goes to church, and still won't let us help, but a baptismal service may be a good way to break the ice with him. He still has an incredible desire to be baptized, so we're hoping that he'll stick to the timetable he set, and that will get him in the water in late March.

This week we are trying to be ultra obedient. Tighten up the little things and exercise more faith. So far it's been going really well. Last night we were discouraged because all our appointments had fallen through, and it was late, and we had nothing to do. I resolved that I would do some missionary work, and at least give out a copy of the Book of Mormon. We just didn't know where. We were getting gas at about 8:30 and there was only one other couple at the gas station, so we went to the pump next to them and started to fill. Then they started talking to us. I was blown away. They are friends of members in our ward, have seen the temple and have even been to the grounds for someone's wedding. We gave them a Book of Mormon and our number, and he gave us his business card. There are always people looking, and we just need to exercise faith to find them.

From what mom has been telling me, it sounds like you've got some interesting missionaries there now. Just remember, the baptismal covenant is set out for everyone. Many times it will be a huge step in faith where we can foresee possible issues or problems, but the added benefit of the Holy Ghost and the atonement in that person's life are the greatest things that we can have in this life to deal with problems. The walls that Satan put up to keep people from getting baptized are incredible, but we can't shrink at them, we've got to push through them. Christ is the one moving forward with us, so it will work out if we put our faith in Him. I think I've said this before, but I'm excited to go home and be a member. You grow up thinking that missionaries have the most influence on peoples' growth and that members are accessory. I've come to learn that it is the exact opposite. The greatest growth will come after baptism. Members have so much impact on what happens in that time. You hit a wall in you're progression, and learning, that simply can't be over come without the first ordinances of the Gospel. 

We're working hard this week in being bold in inviting all to come unto Christ. We're going to find some new investigators.

-Elder James Richards

stuff and things.

So this week was good. We didn't teach as many as last week, but it wasn't too bad. It's funny how attitude and perceptions change once you've hit your goal. I know we can teach 20 here, so 15 looks like kind of a downer week. If we would have taught 15 three weeks ago we would have been on cloud nine. Attitude changes everything.

Yesterday was a big northern California stake conference broadcast with Elder Perry. His talk was great. It was telling the members to get with missionary work. The new influx of missionaries will be hitting in about 2 weeks, so we need to get rolling. I wonder how many companionships the Ft Lauderdale ward will have after everyone lands.

This week we went to San Jose for a Zone Leader Council meeting. When sister Watkins spoke, we brain stormed some out of the box finding ideas. We're going to start a competition with the priests. We're going to see who can hand out more copies of the Book of Mormon per week. And we're going to double what they do. We'll figure out what some prizes can be for when they beat us. I've also been thinking of ways we may be able to implement the blessing of homes here. We don't tract, so it's different, but I may start to offer it more in street contacts and such. If you've got any other finding ideas you've seen, let me know. Finding investigators is the biggest struggle here. 

Bill is still doing good. He still won't accept help from us, but if all goes well, he'll be in church in early March, meaning he can be baptized in late March. We figured out more of the reason as to why he wants to be independent. He was a big deal in the community about 15 years ago. Most people that have been around for a while at least know his name. His wife passed away 12 years ago, and then he had some health problems of his own, so he hasn't been out much as of late. He wants to come back, and be in the community, and meet good people, and he recognizes that the church is a place to do that. He just wants everything to be in order. He wants to look his best for that, which we can respect. We're just going to continue to teach him and help him feel the spirit. He's read the majority of the Book of Mormon, and believes it, knows that we hold the priesthood, and has great faith. We know the Lord will help him get there, even if it takes a little while. 

Hopefully there are more new things to report next week. 
-Elder James Richards