We were pleasantly surprised Monday morning when we showed up to the mission office and saw that we had been "heart attacked".
Everybody loves a good love story, so here is one. Sky Holmgren and Jesse Holmstead both served their missions in the California Bakersfield Mission. He went home on November 17, 2016 and she left on December 28, 2016. They both secretly liked each other while on their missions, but kept it to themselves. They started dating in January 2017. He proposed down on his knee by the fountain at the Provo City Temple last week. They are getting married May 26, 2017. How sweet! We are all so excited for them!
We went to Zone Conference in Palmdale on Wednesday and in Lancaster on Thursday. Palmdale and Lancaster are about an hour and a half from Bakersfield, but only about 10 or 15 miles apart. We spent Wednesday night in a hotel so we wouldn't have to drive back and forth. James had a little time at each Zone Conference to instruct the missionaries in driving safety. Then we all went out to the parking lot and James demonstrated how not to back out of a parking space. He said it was kind of fun running over the cones and poles. Then they talked about the proper way to back out and be safe.
The Lancaster California East Stake building is quite unusual with it's big pillars.
President Layton called us up to the front of the room and asked us to bear our testimonies. We were not expecting that, but we did it. Sister Layton taught the missionaries about how to win the hearts of the members of their wards (Alma17:29). She said to be mature, prompt in arriving and leaving, be grateful and appreciative, find some little way to serve, and plan how to build their faith through a scripture, song, personal experience, etc. after dinner. President Layton reviewed with the missionaries about how to help someone recognize the Spirit. He gave us a scripture chain that could be used to teach the doctrine of Christ. Then he talked about the three reasons investigators don't come to church: They are unfamiliar with the building, they don't know anyone, and they don't know if they will be asked to do something. He showed us all how to put those fears to rest and how to give a good church building tour. Then he talked about the mid teens to mid twenties age group and how they are especially open and prepared. He showed how to use social media to share gospel messages and find referrals.
Between Palmdale and Lancaster there a lot of Joshua trees. According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land. So that is how they got their name. To us they seem to be a cross between a tree and a cactus.
Saturday afternoon we stopped by "Grandma's Tamales" to eat. It is kind of a small, unique place that was recommended to us. James ate a tamale plate and I had pork soup and homemade corn tortillas. It was pretty authentic Mexican food and very good.
Saturday evening we went to one of the eight baptisms our mission had. The baptism we went to was for Paulina Mazariegos, a nine year old girl. Her mother came back into church activity recently.
We spoke in the Spanish group Sacrament meeting today on service. I managed to say, "Buenas tardes hermanos y hermanas. Nos ha pedido hablar sobare el servicio." I did the rest of it in English with Elder Vellver translating for me. He was almost more nervous than I was since it was his first time translating. James gave his talk in Spanish with no problem and was very impressive. Everyone hugs and kisses us all the time.