Hello all. So this area has been set up nicely. We have two baptisms on the 4th, one on the 11th, and one on the 18th. Silaa is on the 18th. He's doing awesome. 

We started teaching an 18 year old girl this week. She is another student at Amador Valley. The youth here are catching the wave for sure. These priests are so much more prepared then I was, and it was only 3 years ago for me. They're doing amazing things. 

One of the counselors in the stake presidency invited us to a meeting that was for all the young men and young women's presidents in the stake. It was a planning meeting for an activity they plan on having. It will be giving youth real world missionary expiriences. They are assigned another youth as their companion and then they go into someone's home (be they Active, Less-Active, or even non-member) and have dinner and teach a lesson. We're doing a little bit of training with them before they teach. Then the following night, there will be a little fireside open mic thing for them to share their experiences. I think this will be super cool for the youth. 

The ward just sent out a missionary this week to Scotland/Ireland mission. We've been bringing him with us a lot to appointments and he'll make a great missionary. I'll have to bother him through email one of these weeks.

I could be transferred on the Tuesday after Mother's day. That will be less then a week before Silaa gets baptized. It won't be too bad, since I'll be able to come back for it. He could potentially meet the new Elder at his baptism. We'll see though. We had interviews this week with President and the only scenario I took off the table was to finish my mission here. So I'll either be here for 2 more weeks or 8 more and then move on to a short 4th area. He actually talked to me about getting things set for when I go home, which was weird. I'll get in to my BYU stuff this week and see what I need to do. I'd also like to try to have a job lined up when I get home, if that's possible, so keep your eyes out. Could be anything, I don't really care as long as it pays and they'll take me for the 3 months. Still a while until I get home, but if you can keep an eye open and maybe ask around that would be great.

Love you all, have a good week.

-Elder James Richards

Sticky Thai.

So this week we had a scare. Silaa texts us and cancels an appointment. We ask why and he just says it's complicated. Later, he texts us back and wants to meet at his work, because he wants to talk. I was going crazy at this point. I thought he was going to drop us or tell us his mom said no. We walk in to the restaurant he works at. A Thai place. He sits us down, then comes back with some water and says "hey, my mom gave me permission." And then walks off to go wait a another table. We were sooooooo excited. It was not what I was expecting at all. He's going to be baptized on the 18th and was in church yesterday. And he got us Thai sticky rice with mango. It was good. 

We have had a lot of good things going on lately. Yesterday, a priest had a friend in church. He had talked to her about the church at school. She had tons of questions, and he gave her a Book of Mormon. She read it all day, and now has tons more questions. We're going to try to meet with her this week. The youth are on it here. It's been cool, because we started that Book of Mormon competition with the priests and there are some definite fruits of their labors. We have a very healthy youth group, so I'm pretty excited for the work. 

Biking has been good. It's been in the high 80s/low 90s here. Pleasanton isn't like Newark. We're over the hill, so the Bay doesn't really cool us off any. At least we're not over the other hill, in Tracy or Stockton, where it gets really hot. 

We're still progressing towards the baptism with the 9 year olds. We're pretty much at the bottom of the record hunt for a girl in the ward, and no one has been able to produce anything. The stake and family are wanting to rebaptized her, so it's looking like that will happen. She is the daughter of a recent convert, so it will be good for her family to be there and see the baptism. 

I may be out of Pleasanton in 3 weeks. We have interviews this week, so I'm going to ask what President is going to do. We'll see if he volunteers any info. I could stay or go. I don't really care either way. Silaa will be baptized the first week of next transfer, but I can come back, and it won't be too big a deal since it is the first week. We'll see what happens. Either way, my fourth area will be a shorter stay then usual. 

-Elder Richards


So this week was really good. We taught more lessons then we ever had. We had all of our investigators (who also all have baptismal dates) in Sacrament meeting. The three of them will be baptized in the first two weeks of May. Silaa was originally set for this coming Saturday, but he wanted a little more time. We aren't too worried about that because he's read about half of the Book of Mormon and went out this weekend and bought clothes for church. The previous two times he came in shorts and a Tshirt, and this time he came looking like a Priest. He also stayed for all 3 hours, so we got to introduce him to our Priests' Quorum members. There are a lot of guys that age in the ward, so it's great for fellowshipping. 

This week I was able to witness a baptism of an 18 year old boy who had been coming to church for two years. His mother never consented for him to be baptized. It got kind of hairy for a bit there, back in February, so we had to play a lot of damage control as the ZLs. It was so great to see him finally be able to make the covenants that he has been wanting all along. It was a special service, and they filled a stake center size chapel. It was hard to cram everyone in to the primary room to see it. All of his family was there, mother included. His Grandpa was actually really in to in, and attended the Elder Holland meeting a few weeks ago. We'll see if that goes somewhere. The kid who got baptized was so excited. He is sad that he has to wait a year to go to the temple and serve a mission, because that is his biggest desire right now. He'll be a great missionary. Most kids that run in to this kind of opposition fade out, so he's by far the exception, so it's really cool that he made it. 

This week was good. Elder Davis is doing great. He's learning a lot and wasn't intimidated by all the hills we had to bike up.

E'rybody have a good week.

-Elder James Richards

New Transfer.

So, Elder Baldwin left on Tuesday, down to San Jose. My new companion came in on Thursday with all the new missionaries. His name is Elder Davis, and he's from Queen Creek, AZ. There were only 2 english elders that came in this transfer. The ration of sisters to Elders coming in was 5 to 8. Apparently, it will get more crazy pretty soon. You may have heard, but there will now be sister Leadership positions. This will be great. They'll be kind of akin to Zone Leaders, but for sisters. They be able to exchange with companions and areas that are struggling. That will be great, because as a zone Leader, you worry about the sisters, but there isn't much you can do. I'm at an interesting time. I'll start to see everything settle down and then go home. 

So Silaa, the 17 year old friend of a member, is still tracking for the 20th. He really wants to be baptized, and is keeping his commitments. He still needs to be in Church this week, but we're confident that he'll be there. The only thing we worry about is the parents. He says his Dad is ok with it, but his mom is a little worried that it will affect his grades. It shouldn't be a problem, but the stake has a history of parents not giving consent for kids who are ready. There is a guy who is getting baptized this weekend who has been going to church for 2 years. He turned 18 yesterday. It's sad though, because he is easily the exception. Most kids don't make it. We have 2 in our ward that would come but their mom wouldn't let them be baptized, and they dropped off. It doesn't sound like any of that will happen with Silaa, but we're a little antsy because of all the history. When his mom says yes, it will be smooth sailing. 

This past week we went in to Thursday, when Elder Davis got here, with 3 lessons, since I was out of the area for two days. We just taught 17 before Sunday night. No biggie. It's incredible how the area and zone have changed. 

This will be a great transfer. It could be my last here, or I could go one more here. Either way, it will be successful. 

-Elder James Richards

March Madness

So, the last transfer ended yesterday, and crazy things are happening. First off, Elder Baldwin is getting transferred  Not to groundbreaking, we figured he'd be going. Second, I'm training again. Also, the Chinese Elders were just made zone leaders, so it looks like I'll be taking a break from ZLing, which will be kind of nice. I may be a district leader again, which also would be cool, but we'll see. I could be training an 18 year old.... Across the mission there have been a lot of whitewashings, random out of the norm transfers, and just general craziness. We'll know everything at the transfer meeting on Tuesday. 

Elder Baldwin and I are handing the zone over in a great place. The last two weeks the zone averaged over 20 lessons per companionship. That was our vision. It is a jump of about 40 lessons per week, spread across the 5 companionships. We saw a bunch of people baptized, and a bunch more set up. Pleasanton is a middle of the pack stake this year, instead of dead last. It's doing great, so I'm excited to hand it over and focus more on our area. If all goes according to plan, we could have 4, maybe 5 people baptized by the end of the transfer. That's BIG.

Some sad news this week, Bill dropped us. He came out and said he has too much pressures right now. He's in a large amount of debt due to a reverse mortgage on his lot. He needs to pay his property taxes or the bank could seize his lot, and he doesn't have any money. He doesn't have anyone around him competent enough to help him get out of the situation.  His son and another guy are pulling him away from us, but they aren't really helping either. He was almost in tears while we were talking to him. He still appreciates all the people he's met and friendships he's made, so members will stay plugged in. I really believe if he would have been baptized, and followed all the commandments, he would have been helped with this, but it's sad. I'll go visit him towards the end of April to see how he's doing. He still has a testimony, he just needs to put it to use.

Everyone we've been teaching is doing good. This week was spring break, so we weren't able to see Silaa, but he seems like he's still on it. The new missionary is coming in at a good time. 

I really love the emailing friends too. I was able to connect with Samson, from my last area. He was EJ's main fellowshipper, and he's on a mission in Alaska now. He's been out for about 3 months and is loving it. He just got done being trained. He said EJ still wants to go on a mission. I always joked with EJ that he would train my little brother. I hope he gets out.

Have an good week.

-Elder James Richards