There is so much I want to say about my new area and so many stories I want to share, but I just don't have the time to do all of it, so I'll try to hit the highlights.
One of our first nights in our new area, Elder Gaebler and I were driving to pick up the other Elders on the way home. The night had been well spent and it was time to go back. Well, we saw that they were talking to a guy on the side of the road and it looked like it was going to be pretty funny, so we parked the car and walked over. Pretty much the first thing I noticed was a piece a horse's spine lying on the ground next to him; then came the over powering smell of alcohol. Well, he was an angry drunk but not dangerous (he was barely standing). If you blew at him strongly, he would have tipped over and been done for the rest of the night. Well, he wanted to fight with us and put his "fists" up.
I have to pause here and give location details. We were next to a church (there is no name on the building, so I don't know what denomination the church is but there was a revival going on at the time and the people inside were singing - loud).
Back to our story, so our Tongan District Leader said to him, "Brother, you should dance to this song." And I'll be darned, he totally did! The drunken man then told us that he wanted to go to that church, and he wouldn't go in without us. Well, it was late, and we wanted to go home, so we walked him over there. He gave us each a big hug; he tenderly whispered that he loved us and thanked us, and we went home.
Next story- Since there is so little to do in this town, a lot of people get involved in gangs. The two gangs here are the Bloods and Crips, and they are easy to spot (wearing all red or all blue), so we avoid them.
One morning we decided to go for a jog. Elder Lomu wore a red hoodie. Elder Gaebler wore a red hoodie AND red gym shorts. Wow, that looks bad. So we're walking, and we see this guy that's eyeing us nervously as he rolls up his sleeves. When he got closer to us, he noticed that most of us in our group were white (Caucasian). With a sigh, the guy said, "Oh, I thought y’all were some (bad word) Bloods! I was sure you were gonna jump me, so I was getting ready to pull out my stuff (knife)." Following this encounter, we've decided to pay more attention to our outfits.
The Branch is very small. We had a white family from Vernon come to speak this Sunday. If they hadn't been there, and if the people we had invited hadn’t come, there would have only been about 20 people.
We're so excited to start working with the Branch Leadership and to strengthen the programs and the members. We love it here! I feel very privileged to be part of fulfilling the prophecy with regard to the gospel coming to the Lamanites. They are wonderful people, and I'm happy to serve with them.
We have a lot of ideas of how to strengthen the branch. Elder Gaebler and I are going to start an institute class and the other Elders intend on focusing a lot on the youth of the branch. There is much work to be done, but I have never seen a more prepared area with more prepared people. We can feel the Lord working through us to get it done.
Here’s a picture of the branch building and our trailer next to it.
The is a picture of my comps elbow. It got cut on a broken porcelain soap holder thing in the shower.
I hope you all are having a great summer. I love you and pray for you and hope that you do the same for me.