Thursday, December 27, 2007

'Tis the Season

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Elder Freeman Finds His Niche

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 27, 2007

Dear Mom,

Here's a bunch of pictures that show pretty much everything that's been going on this past transfer. It's pretty much been the best transfer ever. We hope to make this transfer even better. Here's the down-low.

When I first got here to Cali they put me with the two zone leaders, Elder C*** and Elder A***, who covered the only 2 Samoan Wards in this mission, i.e. the Inland Empire Samoan ward and Rialto 2nd Samoan ward. I stayed there for a week only to get transferred to Fontana. 9 weeks later I was transferred back into the wards as companion to Elder A***, but the Zone Leader calling was shifted to a different area. So, for the past six weeks Elder A*** and I have been serving in the Inland Empire and Rialto 2nd Samoan Wards. 2 Samoan wards 1 companionship.

Elder A*** comes from New Zealand. His dad is Samoan but his Mom is British. We've been working for the past six weeks on his language skills because he wants to learn. However, this is his last transfer before he finishes and goes home to New Zealand.

We got the phone call last Saturday evening. They told us they were splitting the area and the companionship. Elder A*** got his new companion Elder M***. Funny, he's actually B*** M***'s cousin from Maryland. They cover the Rialto 2nd Samoan ward, which encompasses all of Rialto and a little bit of SB. It's a normal size area.

My new companion is Elder L***. He's been out for two transfers now and comes from American Samoa. We cover the Inland Empire Samoan ward, which encompasses all of San Bernadino County. San Bernadino County includes: Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamunga, Fontana, San Bernadino, Rialto, all those little villages up in the Mountains i.e. Arrowhead, Crestline, Hisperia, Adelanto, Victorville, Apple Valley, and Barstow.

The greatest part is we barely use English. The members are going to love him.

President S*** specifically instructed us to focus our efforts on everything going on in the High Desert i.e. Victorville, Hisperia, Barstow etc. Evidently not only are the members struggling, but it's a gold mine for finding people. President told us we need to have everyone up there visited at least twice by the end of the transfer. We've kinda been given a blank check as far as miles is concerned.

The Inland Empire Ward boundaries cover all of the aforementioned places, I think even out to Las Vegas, and are responsible for all Samoans within that boundary. But, people out in the Desert live so far away, it's almost impossible to attend church. So, All the members' records are in the English wards where they live.

However, some time ago they tried to get a branch started, so they could have meetings in their own language. But they got denied. I assume after that many people lost interest in coming to church. Unfortunately, many other churches have meetings in Samoan and some of our members are going there. Needless to say President S*** wasn't happy when I told him last interview.

Right now, the mission is giving their full support, and our ward with it's leaders is giving every thing they got, but it's all up to the stake presidency up there.

See the branch go up before October [October being Elder Freeman’s return date].

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 19, 2007.

Dear Mom,

It's such a great time of year and I'm appreciating it more and more. Maybe it's everyone else thinking and feeling and acting the way we're supposed to in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. Or maybe it's me that's changing. Either way, we all have great cause to celebrate this Christmas.

Yesterday, I went on exchanges with our district leader. The night previous I was concerned about not being super familiar with the area and not having much experience here. Thanks to your inspired counsel, I looked to President Eyring's talk and remembered how I've been helped and guided in days gone by and began to feel the genuine concern for those we are serving. I feel it was one of the most successful days we've had in a very long time.

First, we visited a great family of members to try and clear up some inconsistencies in our records. We then visited a great lady from the Cook Islands. She and her husband haven't been making it out to church, most likely because of his work schedule, but she has a friend going through hard times. Sister T*** has been giving great council and advise while being a wonderful example. She wants to invite her friend over when we come so we can start teaching her.

We then visited a family who just had their children baptised. They are a lively bunch and play on a Jr High foot ball team that won their Super Bowl last week. We are teaching their follow up lessons while hoping their father will take stronger interest in the Gospel.

The library is a great place to do service. It's quite and menial and suites me very nice. One lady that works their loves it when we come and thanks us a million time before we leave.

From their we visit a lady whose husband is Samoan but she's Hispanic. Her husband is never home and her son died several months ago. Missionaries used to visit before her son died and she said her son always felt better when they did. We started teaching the plan of salvation in hopes of building her faith and hope in the gospel.

There's a Polynesian store where we're trying to teach a gentleman straight off the island who is being sponsored by the family that owns the store. He doesn't know a word of English but loves to hear about the gospel. Lately he's never there, so we teach the store owner instead. He's a great guy too, born and raised in American Samoa and has the best compliments for missionaries and Latter-day saints.

After dinner and filling out some records, we went over to visit this one family that lives by the church. The wife is Jehovah's Witness but the husband isn't. They seem like they've been dealing with it their whole marriage of more than twenty years. At first we ask about what she believes, but [she] tends to answer more with what she thinks she supposed to say about her church. So, this time I just shared the parable of the Good Samaritan and connected it with the Savior and she seemed touched by it. When we left she said she really like having us over and we could come back again. Their such a good family and hopefully they can understand more about the gospel in the future.

Thanks for all your letter and the package your sending. I've haven't gotten any yet but I should soon. Just a note, the office can forward packages from the post office to our apartment, but UPS boxes usually sit in the office. I have no problem waiting, it's just if you want me to get it sooner post office is the best bet. Thanks again and make sure everyone has a very merry Christmas.


Elder Freeman

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Leaving the Ninety and Nine

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 12, 2007

Dear Mom,

You always send the best letters. Thanks a bunch for everything. I love to hear about everything that's going on at home. The pictures are super cool too.

This past week has been pretty eventfull. Mostly, President *** wants us to get a better handle on everything that's going on up in the High Desert. One of our Samoan Wards covers practically the whole mission. From F*** to V*** we have members and investigators. The problem is the Ward meets in R***, and its difficult for the Samoan speaking members out in V*** and H*** to make the sojourn every week.

So, sad to say that a few are even turning to other churches that hold services in Samoan. President was [not] too pleased to hear a report like that at interviews. He told us to go up there on Sunday and visit the Samoan Sunday school class they hold weekly. Come to find out, the members' records are in English wards and they are required to attend sacrament in those words and travel to the other building for the class and back again for priesthood and relief society. The numbers in that class are very small, and its becoming our concern that we're losing members.

So, our plan is to visit as frequently as possible while the bishopric is doing everything they can, which is a lot. It turns out last year they tried to get a branch started, but was denied. I presume people weren't happy about that and have begun not to care so much about coming to church. But, we'll be visiting as much as we can, while trying to balance with all the work we have down here in the valley. I'll keep you posted as things develop, but for now I gotta share my minutes with my comp.

Thanks again for everything and I love you all.

-Elder Freeman

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Best Mission in the Whole World

From Elder BJ Bernards, dated October 4, 2007

Hello Everybody!

I am so happy to report this week on what has happened. So many good things are looking up for this area, for the District, and for the whole N--- O--- mission. I feel this is the best mission in the whole world. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The people are fun, and challenging, and easy going, and friendly, and lazy, and lots of other things. I can't just generalize any of them because they are all unique children of God. So I am learning and growing in Love with them.

I had Interviews with President N--- last Monday night at 8 pm. Before we turned in we were trying to find a referral given to us by a member. We passed a house where we had met a couple. Wo wo wo let me back up a little here, here is some info on them. The couples names were J--- and C---. J--- was a member but stopped going when he moved out of home. C--- had met with the missionaries previously but had somehow fallen off the map. We had Greeted them not knowing they had visited with missionaries before or who they were. We set up an appointment to visit them in a couple of days, but when we went back they weren't there. We have tried to see them some other times but were never able to.

So as we passed by their trailer that night, we looked at each other and said "why not?" and tried their door again. They were home and C--- at first greeted us suspiciously at first, but I love it how the spirit, and love soften peoples hearts. She let us in and we met J--- formally, and we talked about helping them with their floor in their trailer. They are in the middle of remodeling, and living in the mess that makes. I could relate to that! Ha! I love it!

So the conversation eventually turned into us giving a formal sit down lesson with them and C--- told us how she liked having the missionaries over so they could talk about things. She noticed how they didn't fight or argue as much when we came. I told her that was the spirit and we will bring it with us every time we come, but she could have it for herself. We taught her how to ask God if the church was true and challenged her to do it right then. She looked nervous, but wanted to comply, she did it! It was awesome. The whole time we taught I felt this "readiness" about her, and felt like we should give her a date to prepare to be baptized. She looked real nervous, but after looking at her husband, and negotiating a good date with plenty of time to learn and grow, she accepted. Awesome!

We flew back home, and bragged to president, and to the assistants. Not for our skills, or our talents, or our succeses. But for the amount of love that the Lord is pouring out upon the heads of the people here in NP, N---.

M--- B--- is reading for the first time. She read 5 chapters after 3rd Nephi 11 and didn't even notice. She finds it profound and full of testimonies of the God she Loves. She is concerned about her family's welfare, and for strength and protection to keep them out of the world. She totally needs the Gospel in her life. Every time we are over there we feel the Spirit. One of my favorite things to do is point out the spirit and help them recognize it. She'll be baptized no problem.

We got to teach a 8 year old named M--- H---. The H---'s have been having family struggles for the past 3 years. With 3 very independent teenagers running around, one handicapped daughter, and Bro H--- working days at a time at the Railroad. They have been under a lot of stress. But we have been able to have many good visits with them and bring the spirit in there, which pulls the family together, and you get to feel the unique love that Heavenly Father has for families.

Any way, we tried to keep her interested and involved in the lesson instead of just having us talk at her, and every one look at her. She loves attention but doesn't like all the attention. I felt the same way when I was being taught about baptism. So the lesson went alright. But I didn't feel the spirit really strong until the Holy Ghost led me to testify about how much God loves her and is with her and will guide her through life. I could see her feel the spirit. That sweet innocent soul who has seen her family pull apart, and her Dad gone all the time, and her mother cry way to much, and her Bro's and Sis's fight and yell in the spirit of contention, even though she doesn't understand it all, her celestial soul keeps a smile, but she started to cry as the Love of the Lord poured through us into her and her family. It was so great, and such a sweet experience.

One of my favorites.

We have been teaching A---, who is at a cross roads of sorts. I can tell when a person will either drop off, or repent and change. He will have spiritual experiences and be challenged to act upon them but if he doesn't the spirit withdraws and the adversary sets in. But we met him last night with our ward mission leader, whose name is Bro H--- who is incredible friendly, and warm, and genuine, and a good friend to anybody. A--- is lonely, and sad, so it turned out really well. The spirit was there as we testified of general conference and invited him to it. He said he could make it. We'll see if he acts upon it.

A good less active friend of ours, Bro W--- came to church last Sunday and he stood up and bore his testimony. I was the most happy I have been in a long time. I could see how the Lord has reached out to him in soo many ways. It was awesome cause he loves home teaching and is teaching a semi active family named S--- who work at the Salvation Army church and don't like the ward very much, but are responding really well to him, and his companion Bro H---. They have a foster son named A--- who we have taught a lesson to, he is not a member but will be one soon. Bro W--- will bring them up with him as he rises.

We got another set of missionaries here!!! They're straight from the MTC, this is their 4th proselyting mission. They are from L---, and their names are Bro. and Sis. S----. They are fabulous and are just what we need to fan the flames higher and higher here in NP.

I feel and the ward feels that The Lord has a mighty work to be done here. The whole mind set of the ward is changing one step at a time. They are coming out of depression and overwhelmed feelings, into bright rays of hope and glory. The restoration did happen, we do have the priesthood of the All Mighty, we have all the keys necessary to bring salvation to all who listen. I love this Gospel with all my heart, I know this church is true, it has come to mean everything to me. The blessings are soo clear, the challenges so hard, but the rewards so worth anything. The Love of God is the "most desirable to the soul."

Well that's my report for the week. We keep on seeing the blessings pour in. I know there will be a temple here in North Platte one day. I got that feeling yesterday. We don't even have a stake here yet, but thats the same case anywhere the gospel started.

Anyway, I love you all, and wish you all the best. May God's good grace shine down upon you, and may you feel his loving arms around you.

Elder Bernards

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Hard And Rewarding Week

From: Elder Andrushka Dated: December 03, 2007

Well it’s been a hard and rewarding week. We have worked with all our heart might mind and strength. I could never imagine how it feels to work with this much effort.

We (my comp) baptized J*** G*** and his wife attended his baptism. I couldn’t be more proud of this baptism. At the same time I know it’s the Lord that allowed it to happen so smoothly. We walked him and his wife home after the baptism and he was glowing. The next Sunday we set him apart. J*** G*** was my first person that I taught all the way and helped him through the whole process. I am reminded when we first found his house. We first talked to him he was not that interested but as time went on, as he prayed he got the strongest testimony of the Book of Mormon. When we taught him about the plan of salvation you could just feel the spirit open his eyes. The thanks he had for knowing what life is more about.

His whole family is Baptist and he has gone to many churches but never joined one or was baptized. It is true the Lord has prepared people for us who are ready to hear the gospel. I talked with his wife and I think give her some time she will join. She told me never have I met a Mormon before. So our next work is to work on his family.

They invited us to dinner after the baptism but we were fasting. They invited us again the next day for lunch. Hope to start teaching the rest of the family. We also found 3 more families to teach who are great. It’s hard to teach a whole family but its the Lord’s work.

Its been 6 weeks. I can't believe how fast the time flies. In 5 days it’s my birthday! I can’t believe I am turning 20. I was watching the Christmas Devotional and I got homesick. I was thinking about all the pretty lights, all the memories I have of my house and my loving family. I will love it down here. There is a spirit that I am exited to celebrate Christmas with. To share the gospel with more people.

I am in an area called Rene Polanco. I don’t know if you will be able to find it on a map. I think I (will) serve here for 6 or more months. It is close to Managua, Nicaragua. I don’t really know how to describe it more.

There is much work to be done. I feel like I have just begun living and I am turning 20 years. I am so exited for life! I am so exited for all that I have learned. The Lord truly loves me! I know that with all my heart. I love my Savior Jesus Christ.

We talked to a first person here that didn’t believe in Jesus Christ or God. I could not understand. What hope do you have if there is nothing. As I was watching the Christmas Devotional I couldn’t help but feel the thanks for being so close to the heart of Saviors gospel. How blessed we are. How for granted I took having conference in Salt Lake. What spirit there is in Utah. I love being a missionary. E*** and V***** were not baptized. She thinks that Mary will save her one day. She has a really strong Catholic background. It is amazing to me! One day she was glowing with the spirit. She felt so happy. The next day she went to a Purisisma or something like that where they worship Mary. Her whole image changed. The light vanished from her eyes. You could just feel the emptiness. We’ll work and more work with her to help her understand that Jesus is the Christ and only by him we are saved.

Love you all let Carissa know that I love her and happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More P-day pictures.

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 4, 2007

Change of Plans

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated December 4, 2007

Last night we get a telephone call right after we went to bed. It was the Zone Leaders asking us if we could do some service on wednesday up in the Mountains all day. It sounded like fun so we agreed and they told us to have our preparation day today. So, we went to the Polynesian store and I bought some sweet basketball shorts with a cool surfboard/flowery iron on design that says "Samoa", and now we're here at the library doing email. Conveniently enough these computers will cooperate with my camera and I can send pictures and videos. I'm usually the one taking the pictures, so I'm not in very many beside one where I had a boil on my face. The rest are mostly us missionaries. I got some fun video clips of different stuff too. I hope you enjoy.

Elder Freeman

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Perils of Pampering

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated November 28, 2007

Dear Mom,

It's been a really good week. We haven't been able to teach as much, because they're making us scrub down the old apartment. It's seems like every other day the APs are calling us with more stuff we're supposed to do. The new apartment is pretty cool. We share it with two other Elders and they're pretty cool. Today is one of their birthdays and we're going to have a party. Thanksgiving was the best. Brother D--- fried the turkeys and Sister D--- made crab, shrimp, and salmon along with breadfruit. It was pretty amazing. They had the Samoan equivalent of a Turkey Bowl which means playing every other sport but football; volleyball, basketball, and rugby. It also lasted from 7 in the morning until probably 8 at night.

Sorry I haven't gotten those pictures to you yet. The computers here don't want to cooperate. And i wish I could put more into this letter but yesterday I started getting sick and it hasn't gotten any better. I think it's from eating to much. I've got a cold or flu or something coming on, but I'm convinced I'd be a lot healthier if I ate better. They feed us a lot over here to, but the difference is were in a car all day and my pants are getting tight. I'm making an effort to exercise and eat healthier. Thing's will be turned around by next week and I'll have more exciting stuff to write about.

Thanks for all your letters and support. The emails are all great and I really enjoy reading them. More pictures would be cool too, and when you send them if you could shrink em down a bit it will be easier to load and the screen won't be filled with A---'s nose. Until next time.


Elder Freeman

Ready for Finest Hour

From Elder Andrushka Dated October 24, 2007

Dear Mom & Dad and Family,

Well it’s my last day in America. I have loved the MTC. I am so exited to go out and preach and teach the people about our Savior. My testimony has grown a lot just in the little time I have been here. I can’t believe it has been 2 months now.

Not much happened this week. We said lots of goodbyes to our district. Half of us in the district were going to Chili and they left 2 days before.

Oh, I got an email that I only want my family to write to me on. No friends.

It sounds like everything is going well at home. Did Nick move into his home? Does he have an address? Mom, I also need email addresses of Eric and Leanne if you wouldn’t mind it.

Well the journey begins tomorrow at 5 a.m. I am super excited and at the same time nervous. My Spanish is OK. I can understand grammar a lot but not too many words. I can teach the first lesson and the second.

I had a Spanish moment the other day. I was studying my English scriptures and I was writing things in the margins. I looked at them and they were Spanish words.

Well I love every second here. I love how much each day you grow and learn. I love my Savior. He is the foundation of my life. D&C 31:3

The time has come to go out and preach. My fav quote, well one of them given in a fireside, “To every man there comes in his life time that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.” Winston Churchhill

I am ready for my finest hour. Armed with the Holy Ghost and a testimony of my Savior. To go out and change peoples lives. Building them a better foundation.

Andy Pearce

The Gift of Tongues

From: Elder Andrushka Dated November 12, 2007

Dear family

Well I have the Spanish down a little more. I can mostly understand all the gospel words . But to talk about just life things I don’t understand anything really.

I went on splits this week with a Toño Mario and another person. My companion wanted me to go out and to do tracting by myself so I would talk a lot more. It was a scary experience because I don’t have enough Spanish to do that but I had faith. We also were supposed to go and visit a recent convert. On the way to their house I started to pray and ask the Lord to help me with my Spanish. Help me find people to teach. As we were walking a man asked me what our church was about. To my surprise I understood him and while we were walking I taught him about prophets, why we need them and that we have a prophet here on earth. I also got his address and he wanted to learn more. Here you ask people for their address but missionaries don’t really understand the addresses so you just really memorize where they live. The Lord really answers prayers. He really loves every single one of us.

The day was hard I talked to 13 people which 7 of them invited me in to teach. Four of them wanted to learn more and the others didn’t care. It was a huge learning and humbling experience how much more I need to learn out here to help people. We have 25 or so investigators right now so we aren’t doing a whole lot of tracting. The church out here has many members but only about 60 or so are strong members. On Sunday we had a chance to visit a family that are all members. The mom has been in the church for 8 years. We shared a lesson about enduring to the end. I felt a really strong spirit from the family. I love experiences like this. The times like this I feel so blessed to be out here serving. The Lord blesses you so much as you serve and pour out your soul to the people. It’s at times hard to do this work not knowing the language and everything. But it reminds me (that) to walk in the Saviors steps is not easy. (It) also reminds me of the talk that we had in the MTC about (how) salvation is not cheap and as missionaries we are out here trying to save souls. How Jesus Christ paid the greatest price for us. (Why) should we think salvation is cheap? I am so thankful to be out here on my mission, (and) to have the spirit with me, to feel His love when I work hard. To be learning so much each day. I am thankful for the struggles I have out here.

How’s Amy doing being home once again? The time really flies. Thanks for all of your support.

I'm Here!

From: Elder Andrushka Dated October 27, 2007

HI Mom,

I am in Nicaragua all safe. Its different here. I love it though. I don't have much time but I will write more on Monday.

I love you. Oh my companions name is Elder F***** Well I hope all is well at home. Oh he doesn't speak much English. Its fun it helps me alot.

Andrushka Pearce

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Baptism's delayed

From Elder Andrushka Dated November 26, 2007

It has been a really emotional week. It all started out with Jose Gonzales changing his baptizm date and Elga said she didn't want to be baptized. All this is not easy on your heart. You come to love this people with all your heart. You want them to have the same vision in life that you have. Well to sum up this week, we taught many lessons. We restored the desire for Elga to be baptized Dec 1. I hope all goes well. Jose Gonzales also changed his date to Dec 1. So this week should be good.

My Spanish is really coming along nicely. Not as fast as I wish but I am very thankful for how fast I am picking it up. In trying weeks like this you come to learn a lot. Your faith gets tested and gets stronger and stronger. You start thinking about really how many blessings you have in your life. I am truly greatful for my family for the opportunity I have to live in Utah. To have the foundation that I have to be taught of such goodly parents.

This week we had a conference with President Fratz and he changed many things and set many new goals. The new goal is to baptize 1000 (is this a typo or do they really expect to baptize 1000 people?) people this month. It has come to change a lot of things and not easy. I have faith that this work is Gods work. He is looking over his people right now and carrying out the work. (This computer is realy slow so I am having a really hard time writing this letter. I will type a letter and a minute later I will see it.)

I am so grateful for all the hard times I have had in my life. I have come to realize it has formed me into more of a person I want to be. Many times in life we don't see or understand the wisdom of our Father in Heaven, that he really knows what we need. What kind of trials we need to go through shaping us into a master piece. As always I have so much to learn but what an opportunity I have right now. I love every moment of being here.

Thank you so much for all that wrote and emailed to me. I miss and love all of you. I had a really weird experience the other day. I was so caught up in thinking of the investigators I totally forgot that I was turning 20 years old in two weeks. That it was almost December.

Teaching with the spirit and losing English

From Elder Andrushka dated November 19, 2007

Dear Mommy, Daddy

Well its going really well my Spanish is just coming along. I have come to a point I can translate so, so English EFY songs for other elders. I am so blessed. Every day I get more and more blessings from my Father in Heaven. I have learned so much about the love my Father in Heaven has for me. I realized that on your mission you have bad times and once in awhile you just find that person that is ready to partake of the gospel. That's the times you live out here for.

We have been working with just the person like that. His name is Jose Gonzales. He has 63 years. We first talked to him and he said, "I am Catholic". He nicely invited us in and let us teach him. We taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ and he really felt the spirit. We asked him to pray about it. The next appointment we came back and you can tell he got a answer to his question. He was really nice and wanted to know more. We taught him about the restoration and he felt ok about it but not strong. He asked us about the Word of Wisdom. He has been drinking coffee but not much. We didn't even ask him to stop and he told us he will not drink more.

The next appt. we watched the Jesus Christ video and then the Joseph Smith the next appt. The lesson that really felt the spirit was the plan of salvation. You could just feel the Spirit open his eyes and hope come in his life. You could just feel that the spirit was teaching and not me or my companion. The lesson went well and at the end we were leaving he said "I learned so much today". We told him to ponder about it all and if he had questions we would love to answer. Those are the days that you live out here for. To feel that spirit, to help a Son of God and see his eyes opened and realize the purpose of this life.

He has been to church twice he can't see the hymns really good but we are teaching him to sing. He can't read the hymns so he just trys to follow us in church. The next time we came back we visited with him and his family. They are starting to be more receptive. They invited us for Christmas dinner. We are hoping to teach the whole family little by little. But the rest of the family is Baptist so its much harder. My companion started and asked him a question. It was do you think its possible to rob God? He said "You are talking about tithing. Yes I want to start paying". The next time to church he had on a white shirt and nice dress pants. People here are not asked to wear nice clothes. They dont have much. He is a golden investigator. I hope all goes well. He has a bap. date Nov.24, 2007. I am truly grateful to be a missionary. I feal his love so much. Being a missionary is not easy but investigatores like him remind you why you are working so hard.

I was asked to bear my testimony in English the other day and I was having the hardest time remembering the words. My comp will tell me a word in Spanish and Ii cant remember it in English sometimes.

We have another golden investigator Elga and her son Victor. Her story is a little much longer so I will write the short version of it. She was a catholic studying to be a teacher, not sure what they are called. But she had a dream in witch she was told to follow her son Victor, he is about 10 right now. He has been going to the Mormon Church every week. He loves it. He has many friends there. He has a testimony and wants to be baptized. We have taught her all the lessons and working with her doubts. But she has many being her whole family is Catholic and her friends and studying in school to be catholic. She understands all. She knows more than the members. We have taught about temples, prophets, watched videos about mucho things. This week we decided to give it all. She doesn't want Vvictor to get baptized without her. The biggest prob she doesn't have a testimony of Joseph Smith. We asked her to pray about it she says, "I feel good and I feel joy". She wants a better reply. So we taught her faith grows if we give it a chance. After helping her understand there is one church and because Joseph Smith was called by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, this is the only church here on earth that has the keys to act in the name of Jesus Christ. She is 38 years old and she knows alot. She is ready to be baptized the only prob she has the members dont really talk to her much so we will see what we can do about that.

Everything is well in Nicaragua. I have had many wonderful experiences. My stomach really hurts right now but thats ok. Thats life down here. I feel so blessed to be on my mission. Ifeel so blessed about my family and the opportunity I have had to learn so much. The opportunity to be on my mission right now bearing witness of Jesus Christ. Having the Holy Ghost speak through me. I love every second of it. The time is flying. This week I will have 3 months on my mission. THe time really is flying.

Mom do you know the email for BJ? I would love to write him an email 'cause letters don't really work or they take 6 weeks or more.

I am truly sorry of my English. It's going to get a lot worse. My thoughts are slowly switching to Spanish. I hope all is well at home. I would love to hear more from my loved ones. I love you all so so much! Don't you miss me?

Querido Elder Pearce

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ticket to Ride

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated November 21, 2007.

Dear Family,

This past week has been super awesome, amazing, and great. For some reason it always surprises me what a big difference small changes can make. Granted, coming to this area is a pretty big change. We cover two Samoan Wards that include all of S--- County and even into R---. Yesterday we were teaching three kids and set a date for their baptism. When the lesson was over we went out to the car and ran into two other missionaries from the R--- CA Mission.

Last night we had dinner with a family who lives out in C---. I hate to say it but I'm starting to drive like a Californian. We've got a pretty sweet ride though. It's an 07 Mazda 3 and my companion from New Zealand doesn't have a US license yet so I do all the driving. When I first started driving it was too fast, but after spending at little as an hour a day on the freeways here I don't know what I'd do without it. I've still got 12 months left and if I'm lucky enough, President Sanchez will let me stay here for the rest of it.

The most exciting part of this area is the awesome members. They do some of the best missionary work, and it's not really because they put forth a whole lot more effort into finding and teaching and stuff like that. As a minority they have more sincerity for their brothers and sisters. They always follow up with us about people we are teaching. Every time we talk to the members they ask about the people we are teaching, especially if they were the ones we got the referral from. Both ward mission leaders are fully dedicated and magnify their callings, and investigators come to church. There are so many strong candidates for baptism and we've got 3 with a baptismal date so far. Last week, the number of investigators who came to church was higher than all our other numbers we reported, even the number of lessons we taught.

Sometimes, it doesn't even feel like work. Every other week the wards play volleyball and basketball and get investigators to come. Last week we were even invited to a wedding. There were like a million cakes there and they were given them out to all the top dogs of the family and church, like the bishops and high counselors. They gave one to us too before cutting up the rest and serving it. So, now we have a cake for Elder C---'s birthday that's coming up.

So, everything is going great and nothing could be better. And, you're right mom about not sending me a bunch of stuff for Christmas. I've got more than I need. If you really want to send me a memory card it has to be a Sony Memory Stick Duo for a Sony Cybershot DSC-W55. [National Retailer] sent me an email saying they'll send me another card, so that's all fixed up.

I hope everything is going well at home. Thank you for all your letters and prayers and everything. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Elder Freeman

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Transfer Day

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated November 14, 2007.

Dear Family,

Saturday night we got the transfer call. The mission has issued cell phones and disconnect all apartment phones. My companion, our district leader, was the one to get the call. All I heard was him repeat the names of those being transfered. I had the fealing day prior that I would be leaving. Maybe certain circumstances had warn my patience and made being in that area not quite desirable. Perhaps it was pure intuition, coupled with the grindings of the rumor mill. Whatever it was I was anticipating a move, even after only nine weeks in the same area. And, from what I understand about how the work goes in the states, there weren't very many excuses for moving me so soon from such a prosperous area.

So, we had the transfer meeting yesterday and I found out, after earnestly praying in my heart to not hear my name amongst those banished to places like B----- and V-----, that I would be returning to serve in the two Samoan wards of the mission. The short lived relief was promptly followed by a humbling sense of responsibilty. Not only is this the most coveted area of the mission, on acount of the unlimited miles for the car as the area covers all of S---- County and more, but my companion had to be released as zone leader in order for me to come in. Not to mention the heaviness of the expectation and anticipation of members and others who are very much aware of my history. It has been several weeks since I've carried on a conversation in their native language, and I'm kinda freaked out that I won't be able to deliver what they expect. But, at the same time, I know that if I can learn it once, then I can learn it again.

We just moved in to a new apartment in C-----. My companion was released as Zone Leader and two Spanish Elders were called to fill the positions for the R----- Zone. I'm probably most excited about not having to be on bike anymore. It also justifies my spending all that money on the camera.
Sort of.

[a national retailer] messed up the order and they blame [a national shipping service]. I got an email saying that [NSS] will want to look at the box, but my roomates already used it and threw it away. I got the camera, but ordered a memory card to go with it. When I opened the box only the camera was in it. I figured they shipped the card seprate so I was going to wait for it and send an email to [NR] just in case. The card wasn't a big deal, but it's still money. I can understand if they can't do anything about it without the box, so I may end up just returning the camera and getting another one from somewhere else. But, then again they might screw up my return.
Moral of the Story: Don't buy from [NR] Online.

Thanks for all your prayers, love, and support. I will do everything I can to fulfill my duty and make a difference.

Hoping for a More Light-Hearted Letter Soon,
Elder Freeman with lots of love