Monday, December 1, 2014

And That's the Way it is.....Dec 1, 2014

I try to condense a few things in from the last two weeks, but there is so much that has been happening, funny how that goes, now that I'm so near the end. You would think being a missionary during the holidays it would be rather lame, unproductive, sad, and gloomy, well for some they do get hit with trunky feelings as they are away from family (3 outta the 5 in my apartment this is there first holiday season) but I'll tell you, we have been so busy from normal teaching appointments to just plan eating there hasn't been much time for thinking! Plus I'm trying to do a lot of things before I leave, so we stay busy.
  The week before last we spent a good amount of time at the South Coast Plaza Mall, there was a nice knife/shaving/culinary/ sword shop that I could have spent days in, but it’s Orange Co. and way out of my price range. We had dinner with an awesome non-member family (Greg&Steph), but you'd think they were LDS by just looking at them, for dessert we went to Cold Stone and ran into a few members doing their FHE, which I'm sure they thought we were doing too. Greg is going to take me for a cruise in his 57 Chevy before I leave.
    That was the same week that the mission did a big 24hr exchange mission wide. Everyone moves to somewhere else or gets a new companion. I had wished to go to Foothill Ranch (where the Schoessows are) and somehow it did happen. You saw the pictures it was a fun time, my comp was Elder Redhouse, a native American from Farmington NM, where another of my native companions (Elder Thomas back in Ghana) was from. 
  Our Investigator Katerina accepted a baptismal date as well, but will have to get married to her less active boyfriend before it happens. I love them both and they are 2 great friends I have now down here. It has been amazing to see her progress in the church and I hope for the best. We also helped her move that Saturday and then after she came to an interfaith fundraiser at the Dover building. That was also a great blast to see so many members and others either sell baked goods, make wood blocks, turn pens on a lathe or weave blankets.
  This past Tuesday me and 2 companions rode our bikes down to the peninsula (with Balboa and the piers) to have an early Thanksgiving with a family from the ward. The mother who lives there is actually one investigator of ours whose daughter and granddaughter and great-granddaughter are members in our ward. It was such a fun time riding down through such a beautiful place of California. Then the other 2 elders picked us up and we went down the road to the temple to watch a sealing of another member. Great night all in all.
   Wednesday the entire mission met up for a special fireside with a Seventh-day Adventists chaplain as our speaker. He had some fire in his talk (didn't realize how pulpit pounding their sermons were) but was loud and only that, he had but kind words for the missionaries and what they have done at Naval Base in San Clemente and focused on what a mission is. Liked to yell, but it was just his military training showing.
   Well what do you think we did on Thanksgiving? We ate a bit here and there, then a lot in one place and even more in another. The Roberts had us over around lunch time for their meal -the Roberts had invited a lot of members who did not have families to go to or were in a tough place. So we enjoyed the time with lots of members. Afterwards we went straight to the Kettleys home and even though it was an "off year" for them I'd say we had a third of the ward there (with 5 of their 7 kids+ family in the ward it adds up) We really were made part of the family in both homes, my thanks to the Lord for being blessed in a land flowing with such abundance and having great members who take us in.
   The next morning we went over to another member’s home and turned some pens on the wood lathe (because of time we were unable to at the Heart&Hands event the week before). Mine is a beautiful thing made of olive wood, figured on that wood because of the significance of Olives and the Gospel.
  Yesterday I was really struck with how short my time really is, I only have one Sunday left. We went back to the Kettley's that evening for another dinner and made gingerbread houses (mine was the Kirtland Temple) a fun tradition. The rest of the night it was just me and elder Bartell (the others went to stake choir) We stopped by a few different people (taught a small lesson to the Bishops family)
   I pondered a lot on my mission and how far I have come (not just on plane rides) though the more I think of its winding down and eventual end the more it’s just an incentive to push on and make everything the best I can. I love it, “enjoy every sandwich” because I will never be here again, like I am now. 
  That is all for now, can't say if I will write too much next week, may just have to wait and hear from me in person, but thank you for everything and helping me get this far already.   I love you all so much!
                Elder Steven Taylor Ray

Thanksgiving with the Roberts

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