We took the desolate "scenic" route to California via Hwy 50 and then Hwy 6 because we didn't want to just take I 15 like everyone else. We didn't see much but a lonely tree covered in old sneakers. There were some pretty mountains in the background sometimes, but everything was very dry. Occasionally, we saw some strange cactus. Halfway through Nevada our air conditioner quit working. We tried not to notice at first, but before long it got rather unbearable. I was beginning to understand how people lost out in the desert can get blurry eyed and see mirages. When we stopped at the California state line check station to see if we were bringing in fruits or vegetables, the officer asked if we knew that our underlining was dragging. We did not know, but pulled over in the only tiny bit of shade by a little tree to look. Sure enough everything was falling down. James tried to hook it back up the best he could. The fix only lasted about ten minutes before we could feel it dragging again and blowing in the wind. There was nothing to do but keep going for a couple more hours to Bishop, California. We found a repair shop where the man got the flapping part unhooked. We spent the night at a hotel and left at 5:00 am to drive the four hours to Bakersfield before it got unbearably hot. We managed to find the mission office and Elder Ball (another office senior missionary) took us to The Villas at Scenic River, our apartment, and helped us unload our car.
Then we had to sign a million papers at the office and he showed us around; the pool, the club house, the mail room, the fitness room, etc. However, I have yet to see a scenic river. The mission welcomed us with a very nice big goodies basket to get us through the first couple days. I worked on putting our things away while James took our car to a shop for an estimate.
We met with President Layton and his wife that first evening. Their assignment just started July 1st, so they are new also. Pres. Layton asked me if I have worked on family history and been on familysearch. He asked James about his experience with Hispanics. He said we were an answer to prayer because we are just what he needed to accomplish what he envisions for our mission. He wants us to work with the new converts and inactivates to help them take a family name to the temple. He said that if new converts are able to do that within three months the retention rate is 85%. Pres. Layton told us our first priority is to take care of each other and our family. Then we are to help souls come unto Christ.
The President assigned us to attend the Bakersfield 2nd Ward for the time being. About half of the ward is Hispanic and there is a high rate of inactivity. They have both Spanish and English Sunday School classes and Relief Society. James is very excited about this opportunity because he has always wanted to work with the Hispanic people. I thought maybe I could figure it out and with the Lords help it would be okay.
Well, our car broke down and next Sister Porras broke down! My body could not handle all the drastic changes all at once. James gave me a blessing and got me to a good doctor the next day. Dr. Nillson prescribed some medication to help me. He reiterated that some people just can not physically and emotionally handle so much change without their body rebelling. I rested most of the week and got feeling better enough that I went to the office Thursday afternoon and Friday.
Before we left the office on Friday afternoon, Pres. Layton told us that a general authority told them that they should take their missionary badges off, put their jeans on, and fade into the crowd for their Friday night dates. That was music to all of us! That is just what we did.
Even through all of our troubles, we definitely saw the hand of the Lord in our lives; our car got us to California, there was a car for us to borrow, I was able to get right into the doctor, we felt comfort and love,
Weekly Humor - James often has nightmares where he is fighting animals or the bad guys off. I have gotten punched and kicked more than once. However, on this occasion our new queen size bed was not big enough for him (we have a king size bed at home) and he fell right off bumping into the night stand. He cut his lip inside and out and was bleeding like bloody murder! Thankfully, all his teeth were intact. He has had fun coming up with explanations as to why his lip is swollen and colorful!