|Elder Diaz, Elder Gaspar, Elder Johnson|
|Mesa Temple at Christmastime|
I love my family!
Thanks for the super creative Christmas package! Half of the things said, "Open on arrival." I didn't need any more prompting. Included was a felt Christmas tree that is pinned to our wall (3' tall) and decorated by us, Christmas lights, and cinnamon sticks! Genius! They smell delicious. We had fun putting all of that up this morning. And to think that I was just thinking how boring our apartment was haha.
Highlight of the week: Getting messages from Mom on Facebook saying, "You have a lesson I set up for you on Facebook at 2:00PM Tuesday. I can't teach ___ with you today at 4:00 so I found a member to join in with you and take my place."
Mom, I'm bragging about you to everyone and everyone is jealous that we don't have to plan anymore. Keep up the great work! This is the vision for what it is supposed to be like!
The Arizona Tempe mission had a standard of excellence for 12 lessons per week with members present. I remember coming here and thinking that was absurd. Well, for 2 transfers straight we exceeded that. Two weeks ago the standard of excellence was changed to more accurately reflect the hastening of the work of salvation. Now, we are encouraged to get 16+ lessons a week with members present. I've hit that number twice on my mission, once three weeks ago before the standard change and once this past week when we exceeded it and got 17. It was a huge accomplishment and one that we are excited about. Very very very few people are even at 8 or 9 a week. We've really buckled down on planning ahead and using Facebook effectively. I would say 5 or so of those member present lessons were on Facebook (thanks to those that helped!)
It really makes a big difference having a member's testimony as well. Missionaries can seem pretty intimidating with the whole white shirt and tie thing. Members are (more) normal and (more) relatable since they're normal humans haha.
It was an extra special accomplishment because this past week was transfer week and it was hectic.
Oh my goodness was it hectic. The following paragraphs will not do justice.
This was the Arizona Tempe mission's first transfer with electronic AreaBook. I have the assignment to be the "tech-specialist," whatever that means, and was thus not excited for transfers. I knew there would be problems.
It started transfer day. The wifi was way too slow at the transfer building to provision the new iPads in the AreaBook program. So, a process that should have taken 30 minutes in a group turned into a 4+ hour process as I had to call every new companionship in their new areas and walk them through it over the phone. What a nightmare.
That wasn't even the worst part. Basically EVERYONE called that day or the day afterwards with questions. "My iPad is empty!" "I can't connect to the internet!" "How do I turn this on?" "Our area got split...what happens now?"
We planned 9:45 AM - 5:00 PM on Thursday to do the phone calls. That didn't finish it. Friday from 9am - 12pm I was still on the phone.
We did the math afterwards. In 48 hours, I logged over 10 hours on the phone and over 104 phone calls to unique/different phone numbers.
Our Financial Secretary in the office is an ex-Intel exec and logged 6 hours on the phone.
We took part in two conference calls to SLC in that time. Our Financial Secretary said, "until a more stable system is in place, we recommend that these devices are not rolled out to any other mission."
I felt bad but agreed. There just isn't enough on-ground training, not enough resources at our disposal, and not enough stability.
SLC said they planned to roll the iPads out to 5 missions in December but has since cut it to 2 and said they'll probably cut it again. Sorry, other missions! You'll be thankful though, I promise!
But we are all totally 100% converted to this program. It just isn't where it needs to be yet. We've seen miracles and will continue to see miracles, but more needs to be established before 300 missions get "hastening devices."
What a unique experience this is.
Miracle of the week: last week a member approached us and said, "Elders...my brother-in-law is being taught by the missionaries and wants to come here to get baptized. Can you make it happen?"
Nah, sorry. OF COURSE! We've contacted his missionaries and everything is in place for his baptism in two weeks. Life is good. God is real. Christmas miracles exist.
The Christmas lights at the Mesa Temple are unreal. We went with the woman who was baptized last week and happened to run into the sister missionary that first started teaching her 12 months ago. You see, her "conversion process" began when she wandered into the visitors center. And, without any planning, the two of them ran into each other 12 months later last week! It was a special thing to witness and something they don't get to see very much. We did everything possible to get her to the woman's baptism but there was a misscomunication somewhere.
And the other big news of the week...
We're in a trio! Elder Diaz is our third companion! I was his first companion seven months or so ago. I hesitate to say I was his trainer since I learned more from him than I think I taught him. Nevertheless, life is awesome. Elder Gaspar finishes his mission in a little less than two weeks, actually, 10 days, and so Elder Diaz will stick around afterwards.
I wonder if I'll stay. It is convenient to be so close to Tempe to help out with the iPad side of things but i've also been here for almost 6 months. Vamos a ver.
We have some great members here. We have some who are always inviting people over to their home for dinner and us as well. It makes such a great difference. Members, invite a friend and the missionaries over. They'll love you for it.
It was great to hear from you family and Susie!
Merry Christmas to everyone!
PS: At church a member asked a class if they could have anything for Christmas what would it be. I said, "Homemade cookies." A package from home with homemade cookies arrived. You're all the BEST!