Well, my first week out here has been pretty good. The day after we got here I was assigned to be a companion with Elder Gunnerson from Idaho. He's quite the character, he loves theater and Broadway, Mo Tab, so yeah he sings around our apartment a lot. We were assigned to serve in the Chino area, where Elder Gunnerson is a district leader (DL's and Zl's get to have phones, what a delicacy!) We went out and bought groceries and then hit the hay. The next day we had our study time and exercise time, then put in some service hours by volunteering at a local thrift shop. We organized books in the children's section, not too hard, but I'm glad we could help. In exchange for our service, they let us take home anything we wanted, so I took 3 classical music CD's, they're absolutely wonderful (we've got a CD player back at the apartment, and due to rules we are limited on what we can listen to haha)!
I've been assigned with my companion to the more older part of Chino. A lot of the houses are small with small yards, but practically everybody drives a nice car. We're located where a lot of the area used to be farmland or cattle ranch country, so its pretty barren. Practically every evening we went to a member's house for dinner, and boy am I glad for home-cooked food! I'm glad I don't have to eat MTC food anymore haha. For being autumn, it is very hot out down here! I'm really missing the cool weather back in Utah right now haha! We currently only have one legitimate investigator that we teach. Everyone else we visit are less- active members or former investigators, so our daily schedule isn't as rigorous as other missionaries, which is bittersweet. We will keep on trying to find people though!
Sunday was my first church attendance out in the mission field! The ward is very small, so is the chapel. The ward is called the Walnut Park Ward. Everybody is really friendly. During sacrament meeting they had their Primary Program, it melted my heart to see all the cute little kids walk up to the stand and give such a simple but beautiful testimony! While in the chapel I could feel the love that everyone has for each other, it was a great sensation. And I love talking to the converts, I find them inspiring, they give me a desire to become more fully converted to the gospel like they are. You can't merely have a testimony of something in order to know if the Church is true, you have to become fully converted! You need to know with utmost surety, and not halfheartedly (I think someone gave a talk in conference about that, but I can't remember haha).
A great inspiration for me is Jerry, who was baptized last September and is currently working towards going to the temple to receive his endowment. He's a big guy with a menacing appearance. His arms and legs are covered in tattoos, and he's got the beard of a lumberjack, but he is one of the kindest people I've ever known. He's so easy to talk to, and is always friendly and willing to help out. His physical appearance can be intimidating to some people, and causes some to judge him. He recognizes that, but he doesn't care, because he just wants to be closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He truly is amazing to me.
And I made a connection with somebody, it's crazy! The bishop of the ward, Bishop Jeff Smith, saw my name tag said "Ruiz" and said "You don't happen to be related to Luis Ruiz, do you?" I was shocked! I told him I was, and that he is my uncle. Bishop Smith told me that him and Uncle Luis grew up in the same ward together back in San Jose. He had some funny stories that he told me. Wow, it really is a small world sometimes!
Well, I'm learning a lot as each day goes by, and my love for the people of Chino has grown. I have a strong desire to find those who are ready to receive the gospel, and invite them to come unto Christ.
Thanks for all the emails that you have sent me, I'm glad to hear how you all are doing.!
Talk to y'all next Monday!
Me and Elder Gunnerson
Last picture at the MTC