Elder Wedel and I had a terrific week; we had some fun and were blessed with a miracle and several tender mercies during this last week!
On Monday morning, because it was Labor Day and most people were out of town, we drove with a member up into the San Gabriel Mountains near Wrightwood to take pictures of a sunrise, and then we hiked to the abandoned Big Horn Mine. This place is a popular hiking attraction in the area. The pictures that are included in this email don't come close to how amazing it really is up there. We explored the mine entrance and the remaining structure, and took a walk in the mine tunnels. No one was injured haha. On our way back to the car however, Elder Wedel was walking on the trail and a young rattlesnake slid across the trail right in front of his foot, yikes! But fortunately the snake paid no attention and just slithered on its way into a bush.
On Thursday we went to the Redlands Temple as a zone. I really enjoyed it. I learn more and more each time I go to the temple, it's awesome! Regular temple attendance can give us strength against temptation and trials that we may have, answers to our questions, and is a powerful reminder of the covenants we promise with our Father in heaven to honor and keep. Because missionaries of the Rancho Cucamonga Mission only attend the temple five times on their mission, I have gained a greater appreciation for the temple, and have a strong desire to attend it frequently when I get home.
Later in the week we dug a grave for a nonmember's dog that was bit by a Mojave Green rattlesnake, and we buried their Boxer dog. It was pretty sad. Another dog had practically mauled the rattlesnake, so it was dead and in pieces by the time we got there. Twas my first time I beheld a Mojave Green with my own eyes.
On Friday a less-active member of the Oak Hills ward randomly texted us and told us that he wanted us to come over sometime soon and meet with him and his family. His wife is not a member and they have a toddler, but we all had a great conversation with them over dinner. When it came time to share our dinner thought, we asked her if she knew anything about the Church, and she said no. So instinctively we taught the Restoration. But soon Elder Wedel felt that it was not the right thing to teach, because she talked about her grandma who passed away, as well as some really crazy things that have been going on in their lives recently. The fact that Elder Wedel changed the topic to the spirit world was just what she needed. I felt strongly impressed to give her a blessing of comfort as we taught her this and I as I observed her receptivity to our words. It was amazing to see how intently focused she was on what we were saying to her, despite her little son sitting on the couch with us playing loud games on her smartphone and being a little ball of energy. She said yes to receiving a blessing, and so we explained the priesthood and we were able to teach the rest of the Restoration lesson. Elder Wedel invited her to be baptized as she was crying with tears of peace and gratitude, and she nodded in affirmation. I asked her how she felt, and she said she felt really really good, and that she hadn't felt that way in a very long time. Those words she said to me were such a testimony builder to me of the power of the priesthood, the reality of the Holy Ghost, and of our Heavenly Father's love for us. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon and she happily said yes. The Holy Ghost's presence was very strong during that lesson; it had to be one of the most powerful lessons I have ever participated in. We even gave the husband and their son blessings as well. As soon as we finished with a closing prayer I had a strong desire to say a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for the tender mercy and blessing we had just received in that moment. Elder Wedel felt exactly the same way, and once we got in our truck we both turned to each other and at the same time said that we should say a prayer of gratitude haha It was such a wonderful experience. They said they would come to church, and they stayed for all 3 hours on Sunday. She seemed to enjoy it and was seemed happy the whole time. The ward members were friendly to her. I am so grateful that through our continued efforts to love and serve Heavenly Father's children, we were blessed with a new investigator, especially someone who has been touched by the Spirit and now wants the blessings of the Gospel for her and her family. We gave a lot of service this week. We spent two days at a less-active, part-member family's home, building a fence for a goat pen that they needed, and Elder Wedel got to use his welding skills to weld some pieces of metal together for the fence. We got to know the nonmember husband well, and by the end of the day he told us he wants to come over for dinner sometime.
Saturday and yesterday I have been thinking about the missionary work here in our area, in our mission, and across the world. Every mission carries out different forms of missionary work, but we teach the same doctrine. Carrying out missionary work doesn't just mean that you are teaching and baptizing. That is one thing that I have learned from my awesome companion Elder Wedel. He's a humble and funny countryboy from southern Idaho, who works hard and cares about people. He loves to give service to others. A difference that he pointed out is that his older brother served his mission on the east coast in the United States and would frequently go street contacting by riding the subways when people were going to work. But here in the high desert we don't have that luxury haha. Forget about tracting in Phelan; it would probably take my whole mission, if not more time, to tract here due to how spead out this town is. No subways. No metropolis here. It makes me think of how missionary work is carried out in places of the world where there are big cities and missionaries interacting with a lot of people every day. Now compare that to a mission that covers a sparsely populated area, where a missionary might not even see more than 10 different people each day. Not to mention how difficult it is now for missionaries in Russia to proselyte due to the recent regulations by the Russian government; I have much respect for them. I have a testimony of my mission call. As cool as I think it is to go to Europe or South America to serve my mission, I would not want to be in any other mission right now. I know that it is by revelation that the leaders of the Church assign missionaries where they will go. I know I was meant to be here, serving God's children here specifically.
The Restored Gospel is true; it's as simple as that.
I'll talk to y'all next week!
Me on left, Elder Wedel on right.
Wedel on left, me on right.
The Big Horn Mine
The main tunnel of the mine