Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from high above the LA valley

Como estan?? It’s been such a long time since we last talked! Ha-ha since Thursday... but man it was so good to talk and see you all! You all look great and I can’t believe how much the grandkids have changed in these past 10.5 months!! I forgot to thank you all for the amazing Christmas you gave me here in CA with all the gifts and dulces you sent me!! It was a huge blessing and really helped me to feel more and more at home even when I’m not. This first Christmas away was hard for me but it was also a very good one! I can’t image how I could have spent it differently rather than here. Yeah the gifts and sweets, etc. are great, but I have truly grown to love serving people and helping them to find the pure love of Christ which is service and charity!

Best Christmas Present 
I already told you a little bit on Skype about what our Christmas plans were like but I wanted to tell the story again. So, the 23rd 24th and 25th were our caroling days!! It was all full of singing to members, less actives, investigators or anybody in the streets who wanted to be sung too.  Ha-ha. We had such a great time doing it! We have been practicing a lot of the songs since before Halloween so that we would sound like a really good singing group or something. Ha-ha and it was well worth the practice! We really helped people to feel the spirit of the Lord in their homes by singing Christmas carols and we could see how it helped them appreciate all that they have in life!

Candy and the Christmas toothbrush!!
One particular family was the R** family who didn't have anything for Christmas.  They didn't have a tree, no gifts or anything. So we decided to go to her house on the 24th to sing and even better a couple of missionaries had a small tree with ornaments and lights and also a couple of stockings full of candy and other small prizes. We arrived at her house completely to her surprise, and her reaction to us bring these small little gifts was something I will remember for the rest of my life. It was pure joy! We could tell that as a single mother with two girls she was depressed that she couldn't give them a better Christmas.  One thing I have learned since being out here is that Christmas isn't about all the material items or the music etc, it’s about being with family and friends and realizing all that we do have rather than what we don't have. Well as we sang a couple songs to her she just started to cry and man I can’t describe how good it felt, but it was one of the top moments of my mission and maybe even my life. I have always been a selfish guy, but I have realized that there is so much more to life than our own passions, desires, and needs and that is focusing on others.

Well, that's how we spent our Christmas mostly! Other than singing we just played basketball and just hung out and played games as a zone at the church which was alright, but nothing too exciting.  It was a good holiday season for sure even despite all the hard times and unsuccessful times I have been having with the work at this time.  It all turned out great!

Kobe Bryant burger from MVP Restaurant!  Yes, he is still a fan!
We have a lot of work to do here and it’s very fitting that the year is coming to an end so we can start off fresh and work on our new personal goals for the upcoming year!

On Saturday, Elders T** and P** had a baptism that we went to and it was great!! I haven’t been to a baptism or seen one in over 3 months so it was nice.  The branch is doing good and it’s slowly progressing. It’s hard work out here especially having to ask members to do their home teaching!! We have soooo many less actives in the branch because they don't feel "loved" or welcome so it’s a tug-o-war trying to get the members to step up and get others to church. However it is moving along.

Well that's pretty much about it for me this week! Not a whole lot happened since Christmas, but hope all is well back home and everybody has a great week! Thanks for everything!

Love, Elder Woffinden

Whose idea was it to wear this Santa hat?  Hmm. sounds like a mother thing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Box Arrived!

Hey, what’s up family and friends? How’s everything going? What are everyone’s plans for Christmas? Thanks for the email today, I really enjoyed hearing from all of you. This month has been flying by for me! It’s already the December 22nd, wow! A lot has happened here.

Nothing like Christmas Pringles and deodorant.
Ooops. Sorry mom, I forgot the Santa hat!
To start, Elder A and I had a pretty good and eventful week here in LB. I already told you about the visiting General Authority on Monday and Tuesday which was great!  As a district we have really found ways to have fun together! Half of my district goes home on January 13th, so they are all pretty trunky and are really excited and nervous about going home, so we have been doing all sorts of fun things together for their "lasts" of everything. On P-day this past week we decided to invent a new game, haha. So we were at the church playing sports and decided to do something different for a change. A couple of missionaries had Nerf guns and a random flashlight for some reason, so we decided to play Zombie tag. haha! It was the funniest and most fun thing I have ever done! It was so crazy and was actually scary, haha. There were times when Elder C and I were the only humans left alive, everyone else was a zombie and we were hiding. It was a blast! Don’t worry, the chapel was off limits so we weren't too crazy, and we cleaned up so it was all good! But, we were trying to have some fun and blow off some steam because we’re all really stressed about our areas and investigators right now, so it was a good break for us. 
I love getting stuff from home.
This week we had a lot of good lessons and success! We actually also had a miracle story that happened on Saturday night. There is a family in our area that is super inactive, and honestly, the whole 4 months I have been here, I haven’t even seen them one time, except their son! They have ALWAYS ignored us. It wasn’t until we didn’t have anything to do Saturday night while we were walking that we received a call from the hermana saying, “I need you to come to my house right now!” We were stunned, but we visited the family and it turns out she wants to come back to church. She has really been having a hard time in life. Her husband decided to chase after his ex-girlfriend and just grabbed his things and left her and her kids, so sadly she is in a mess. But, we talked to her and helped the best we could and she even came to church! Whoo!!
Loving the 12 Days of Christmas!

Also this week we had a really crazy lesson with a girl named C on Friday. We were in the middle of a lesson on the Plan of Salvation when we heard a load thumping on the door. She got up to answer the door when all of a sudden; these cops came into the house looking for her roommate for some reason! I don't know why they were there, but the police stayed for like 40 minutes and so did we. haha. We just looked like fools sitting on the couch, not knowing whether we should leave or stay. Personally, I wanted to stay to see what happened, haha. Long story short, the lesson was a disaster, but hopefully we will get a second chance to teach her! 

Presents from the "Sisterhood." Scriptures are required to guess what it is.
As for investigators, Elder A and I have been doing a lot of thinking about the area and our investigators and we decided if nobody came to church last Sunday after doing all we could to get them there, we would just drop everyone and start fresh. AND.... that's exactly what happened. We went by everyone’s house Sunday morning, and even missed the second hour of church waiting at the bus stop for an investigator who never showed up, so sadly, we dropped them all and now we don't really have anything set to do anymore. However, this is good because we can now focus on finding! Since we don't have anyone, I'm positive God will see we are in need of people to teach and will provide us with success. 

This last Sunday at church all the missionaries sang "Noche de Luz" during Sacrament Meeting, and it was amazing! We have been working on it for like two months to make it "barbershop quartet" quality, haha. The members loved it! 

Elder C's going home. I'm going to miss this guy.
Well, that pretty much sums up my week. But, as for Christmas, I am so excited to see you all! I am going to Skype home sometime between 1:00-3:00 pm. I will call first to let you know to be ready. I hope it works and goes well. I can’t wait to hear and see you all!! Love you!! Have a great week!


Elder Woffinden 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas is Around the Corner!

Merry Christmas from the Mission

What’s up family!!! Hey wow I received the packages this past week they were awesome!! Thanks so much for all the hard work and time put into them! I love them. It was funny because some Elders were all like "man you get mail every week! Ha-ha so thank you!  But I’m glad you received my Christmas card! I still need to send out a lot because I don’t have addresses so I might send them home and then have you mail them. I made that at Walgreens! Super easy took like 5 min since that’s all the time I had, but I’m glad you liked it.  Tell Janell and the Berry family that they are in my prayers and the prayers of the LB missionaries.  Our love and prayers go out to them.

Also to Elder Pecht or "Bubba" now! Ha-ha I am sorry I couldn’t make it to your departure fireside on Sunday!  I did all that I could to get an investigator to come but it just didn’t happen. But I love ya and I am going to miss you here in LB!! It was amazing to serve with you here in the same zone! Until next year!!

Rain, rain go away!
Okay well another week down.  It is crazy how Christmas is next week I can’t believe it!  Ha-ha I will admit it is nice not having to worry about gifts or wrapping anything. It’s a good break. But receiving the package from y’all was awesome it has made every morning or night really fun and exciting looking through scriptures and guessing what it is.  Ha-ha.  This past week has been a really good one!! We had a lot of great things happen this week. I just pray I can remember them all or at least explain it well.  To start, it has been really cold here! I know not like back home, but I have turned into the biggest wuss out here being used to 80s all the time so the slightest cold wind or rain just rocks me and we have been getting pounded with rain this week. A couple nights ago we had what I thought was a hurricane outside at like 3 am it was coming down harder than I have ever experienced.  The palm trees were snapping and things were flying all over the place so we both decided to just stay up and study from 3 am -6:30 since we both couldn’t fall back asleep.

Here I am, in the rain pulling the sympathy card.
Working in the rain has turned into something I love to do!  It’s a ton of fun and I just like trying to pull the sympathy card on people to try to get new investigators! Sadly... doesn’t work!

As for our investigators, this week was a hard one. We had to drop V** on Friday night. We hadn’t seen him all week and so we decided that we needed to go see if he was home.  We walked to his house and sure enough his gate was locked like always, but two minutes later we see these two hammered drunk guys walking down the street towards us.  I was all "ugh that’s V**, I know it" and sure enough it was him.  There was beer all over him and three more beers in his hoodie so we stopped him and asked him what was going on. Long story short, and a small feud between his JW friend and we told him we couldn’t come by anymore and he agreed sadly. It was really hard for me because I really love his family! They are all so awesome!  Temptations and friends sometimes can change people to where they won’t take the steps necessary to change.  Hopefully, he will in the future.
Feeling the holiday spirit decorating a member's tree. 

Our own Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
D** is doing awesome! Of course she didn’t wake up for church last Sunday even when we were begging her mom to wake her up at the door.  So her baptism isn’t going to happen for Elder A** and I before the end of the year.  I am very disappointed, and we were really set on reaching this goal!  I guess it wasn’t my "lot" to get one this year. I know that numbers shouldn’t count, but it’s hard when we get attached to people and to the goals you set and pray for, and when you don’t achieve them it’s very hard to cope with. But we’re alright now just need to move on and keep working towards their progression! We have had some small little blessings this week with finding people to teach when we didn’t have a lot going on so I have a lot to be grateful for!

Our halls are decked!
Yesterday we had the privilege to have a member from the 70 come and speak to us along with President Tew! It was Elder David Baxter from SCOTLAND!!!! (I said that in my accent and I have gotten real good at) ha-ha. It was so good! First off he is hilarious! He was cracking jokes left and right and was just a really good speaker. We had the meeting go from 10-4 so it was really long but wow the spirit was indescribable! I have no doubt in my mind that President Ryan M. Tew will be either a 70 or an Apostle someday! Just watch and see! His testimony and knowledge of the Gospel and love for the Savior is out of this world! I love that man. But anyways it was awesome!

Well that sums up my week! Christmas is next week and I am so excited to see and talk to you all!! I hope you have a great holiday season and may God bless all of you and know that I am grateful for your love and support in my life!

Hasta Luego!!

Mucho Carino,

Elder Woffinden
Merry Christmas from, the Great Pumpkin (?)

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Tough Week, But a Good Ending

Singing a hymn after our Thanksgiving feast.
Hey family!! How’s it going!? Wow, your email was great. It sounds like you had a great time in Ireland! (I said it with an accent as I wrote it, haha.) I’m super jealous because I have always wanted to go there! When I have my millions of dollars down the road I will, haha.

This week was a tough one. For starters, on Monday and Tuesday it absolutely poured rain here! Man Long Beach cannot handle rainstorms—everything was flooded! The streets were filled with water and everybody's yards were miniature lakes, haha. Of course, me being the nice guy that I am, haha, gave my umbrella to Elder T because he didn't have one. I figured it was just going to sprinkle, but once 11:00 am hit, it pounded and I was soaked all day! I thought people would be nice and let us in, especially since I looked like I just took a dip in the Pacific, but nope, they just slammed their doors or ignored us completely, haha.  Oh well, I’ll send pics next week.

It was kind of a tough week.
So Elder A and I have three people who are supposed to be baptized if they come to church this week! If they don’t there is no chance that they will make it by the end of the year. So last Saturday Elder A and I were walking down a street and we both had the impression to go visit an investigator that we had dropped a month before because she wasn't interested. So we did and had a great lesson with her! Then 3 more bomb ones with her this past week, and on Saturday we went by and asked if she was going to come to church and she said yes! So sweet, we were pumped because she has a date for December 30th. We told her we would have a member pick her up for church. Then Sunday comes around and ALL the members cancelled on her—nobody could take her which was soooo annoying! So at 9:30 am Elder A and I decided to walk to her house (which is like a 2.5 mile walk one way) and take her personally to church. We arrived at her house and knocked on the door for what seemed like days and even tried calling her many times and nothing. We could hear people inside and Elder A thought he heard D’s voice which was sad because we were clearly being ignored. So, to make a long story short, none of our investigators came to church and man it had a bad effect on me.  Later, we found that the reason A, our other investigator, didn't come was because he had a seizure late Saturday night and was now in the hospital. It’s crazy how all this happened within 12 hours! I personally am very passionate on meeting our baptismal goal and on helping these people change their lives, so this just set me into a rage. I didn't want to talk to anybody; I kept thinking to myself, how could this have happened to us? Why?? I have been praying for a baptism and for our investigators to come to church and they just won’t do it, or something always happens to them. I was DONE. But, after a very long day of church, I finally cooled off and sorted out my mind with Elder C (our District Leader), He is awesome! He really helped me out a lot. So, after venting to y’all, haha, this is a new week and hopefully we will receive success from all the trials we have been having. I haven’t given up; it’s just another step in the path I need to take, so it’s all good.

Anyway, Christmas is coming, wooohoooo!! I’m so excited, haha. We, along with Elder T and Elder C bought a Christmas tree. Our apartments are now all decorated with lights and a 5-foot tree! We tied it to the Toyota Camry we have and drove it home last Thursday, haha. It’s awesome, and I’m looking forward to talking to you all on Christmas. It should be sweet!

My District before being split up.
Oh I almost forgot!! The Ximeno Branch here is AWESOME!!! It may be super small, but I love everybody here. Yesterday at church we had a really powerful testimony meeting and I was surprised by how much love the members have for the missionaries! It was pretty humbling for me personally. All but two of us missionaries bore our testimony on how we can spend Christmas together as families and how reading and praying will bring a better spirit in their homes. Wow, the spirit was super strong yesterday! After church we received a bag of red paisley and striped ties from a member and also cookies from another, haha. Sweet! I just wanted to mention that because it was pretty cool, especially with me having a not so good day.

I hope you all have a great week! Things are good here and I hope they are back home as well!

Love y’all!!

Elder Woffinden