Friday, December 28, 2007

Lisa, Cari & Megan Visit Santa

Being one of the more elderly employees at TriNet, I surprised fellow employees by bringing my kids to attend the TriNet kids' holiday party. Here are my babies visiting Santa.

Notes from Sam - 28 December 2007

By frozen canal. Homemade nativity scene, with floating angel and star, sent from Jax.

Hi there!

Merry Christmas! Mine was great. We spent Christmas Eve with a member family whose father served his mission in Fresno, California and is something of an Americophile(?) – they served us Mexican food and sent us home with a box each of Kraft macaroni and cheese : ). Another member family invited us over for breakfast on Christmas morning (American-style pancakes with maple syrup), and we spent dinner (the midday meal in Britain) and the afternoon with our ward mission leader’s family. Christmas dinner in England is kind of like Thanksgiving dinner in the States – we had a huge spread with turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, four kinds of vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, applesauce, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, all covered with gravy. : ) Then we went over to the bishop’s house for tea, which was (fortunately for us) buffet-style, so we only had to eat as much as we wanted to take. The bishop has a family with about five little kids, but his parents and unmarried sister are also in the ward, and while we were at the bishop’s house, they came over with some other relatives and a very elderly and much-beloved sister in the ward named Sister Ashley. The grandparents had brought huge piles of presents for their grandkids, and it was a lot of fun for me to watch the kids open them up – kind of a substitute for watching my siblings open their presents, which was probably the Christmas experience I missed the most. Elder Empey and I also got to participate in Sister Ashley’s annual Christmas quiz, which is a series of general knowledge/trivia questions that she comes up with and reads out. It’s apparently a big tradition for Sister Ashley to come and do this at the bishop’s house. Unfortunately our team got smoked by a question about British geography and came third of four.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful packages! My gifts were so abundant that I don’t have time to go through and talk about how much I enjoy them individually. I got all of them by Christmas except for the one from Gary and Ty’s family, which I collected yesterday. The members of the ward here also showered me with gifts – I must have collected about a half-dozen wrapped gifts in the week leading up to Christmas, and Elder Empey and I are now richly supplied with socks, ties, and several kilos of candy each. : )

The ward had its annual Nativity play on Sunday night. Elder Empey and I were two of the three kings. It was nice to participate in a Nativity, although I’m sure it wasn’t as good as our Christmas Eve one. : )

One of our investigators lives all by himself, has very little, and has been unable to get in contact with his family despite his efforts. The members who live across the street from him and introduced him to us have been really kind to him, bringing him food, etc. He came to the ward Nativity, and while I was standing with him and talking afterwards, a member handed me a plastic bag with a gift-wrapped present for me in it. It made me feel really guilty to be receiving another present right in front of our investigator, who probably wouldn’t be having much for Christmas. On Christmas morning, I ended up wrapping up my Nativity set and scented candle and giving them to him. It was a little painful to give them away since I’ve enjoyed them so much in the past few weeks, but it was a good thing for me to do. I remembered giving away the playdough Nativity set we made in Romania, and I felt like I was carrying on that tradition here.

We had a special zone conference yesterday – because it’s Christmas, President Jacobsen had us all travel up to Chorley and go through a temple session in the morning before meeting in the afternoon. I realized that I hadn’t been through the temple since my last day in the MTC, and I was surprised at how much my perspective has changed and how much more I got out of the session than I had before. It’s kind of exciting to look back like that and see how much I’ve learned since the MTC.

At zone conference yesterday, I picked up three letters, all from people I do not know! One was from the Primary of the Menlo Park Stake (my stake at Stanford), and contained several pictures of Christmas trees and earnest handwritten notes (along the lines of "Dear Elder, I hope you have a merry Christmas. Love, Amanda"); another one was a Christmas card from someone named Kurt Johnson who is also apparently from the Menlo Park Stake. The last one was a Christmas card from the Vorwaller family in Jacksonville, who said they were enjoying having you in their ward – they introduced themselves as "Carmen Jones’ parents." A big thank you to those who got my address out to these people! Getting mail is always a pleasure, even when I haven’t met the people who are sending it. : )

Elder Pimentel

Notes from Sam - 20 December 2007

Sam's desk in Runcorn, with Lifesaver Advent Calendar showing only 5 days until Christmas; Christmas tree donated to missionaries by the Cohens

Hi there!

I'm feeling a little envious of the "perfect shirtsleeve weather" I hear that you're having in Jacksonville. The canal next to our house has been frozen over, at least partly, for about three days, and we've all had to layer up pretty heavily. We went to Chester on P-day last week and several other missionaries were so cold that they bought jackets or sweaters to wear. Fortunately the sky has been very clear for almost a week now, I think (part of the reason it's so cold, I'm sure), so I've stayed dry.

Not much happened in our area last week, and as I was reflecting on that on Sunday night I decided that I needed to refocus on my purpose as a missionary and seek to have a stronger desire to teach people and help them come unto Christ. It helped a lot - when we went out on Monday morning, I felt really happy about the gospel and about being a missionary. And (perhaps partly as a result) we had great experiences throughout the day! First, we met a member who we needed to talk to while street contacting people in the town center. Then, later on, we went to try some callbacks (people we met while tracting who were interested but couldn't talk then), and we got invited inside at the first door we tried! We figured out partway through our visit that the man we were teaching was related to one of our investigators and knew some members - in fact, the members he knew had been telling us about him the day before. After that lesson, we finally got to sit down and talk with another investigator whom we had been trying to catch for two weeks, and we confirmed that he wants to be baptized and agreed to meet him later in the week. In the evening, we got to teach another lesson and we got a referral from the member who came with us. Lots of blessings!

The Christmas season is in full swing! I've tried mince pies a couple of times now, I think. Last week we had the ward caroling activity at Asda, which I enjoyed a lot. It turns out that in Britain they sing some Christmas songs to different tunes! Particularly "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks at Night" (which everyone actually seems to know) and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," the British tune of which reminds of the Wilhelmus (the Dutch national anthem) but with a regular meter. Elder Empey and I just had to figure out the tunes as we sang.

There were two nights of caroling, each one to raise money for a different charitable cause. One of these was a women's shelter. The Relief Society Presidency used the caroling proceeds to buy a huge number of Christmas presents for the kids in the shelter, and we missionaries have gotten to help wrap the presents this week. It's been really fun! Even if I don't get to put the presents under the tree or watch them get opened on Christmas morning, some of that exciting feeling is there while I wrap.

The ward Christmas party was last week, too. One of the families we've been teaching came, which was a bit of a happy surprised since they'd been pretty uncertain about it earlier in the day. Their six-year-old boy had a great time - when it was time for all the little kids to go and meet Father Christmas, a lot of them were kind of nervous, but this little kid rushed up and gave him a big hug. Father Christmas was played by Brother O'Toole, who has a really thick Scouser (i.e. Liverpool) accent, which made his portrayal of Santa pretty amusing. Before Santa came out, all the little kids had to sing Christmas songs. The Relief Society president told them, "Now you'll have to sing nice and loud so Heavenly Father- I mean, Santa Claus can hear you!" : )

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I went on exchange in Runcorn with Elder Ayers (of Ontario, Canada), a brand-new missionary with only two weeks in the field and a great deal of enthusiasm and energy. It was the first time I'd ever worked with a missionary with less experience than me. We'd planned to go to our focus area and tract for an hour and a half, but we street contacted on the way over there, and Elder Ayers would start teaching all of the first lesson to everyone who would stop and listen. So we had a couple of good conversations and ended up with only fifteen minutes left to tract our area! It was an eye-opening experience for me to work with such a new missionary and to think that I must have been a lot like that when I first came out - without realizing it, I guess I've learned a lot about how to talk to people, make sure they understand what I'm saying, and try to help them feel the Spirit. But I've also lost some of the enthusiasm and excitement for missionary work that Elder Ayers has, and it was really refreshing to be around him and get "charged up" a little bit.

On Wednesday morning as I was getting ready to go outside, someone knocked on the door. When I answered, I found two Jehovah's Witnesses who told me they had a message to share with me. In response, I pinned my badge (which I'd had in my hand) onto my shirt and told them that I was here in England sharing a message too! They were pretty surprised, I think. We talked for a little bit (I asked them a lot of questions about prophets and how you can recognize if someone has authority from God) and they tried to give me some literature - I used Grandma Pimentel's strategy and told them I'd read theirs if they read some of mine, but they wouldn't. Kind of an interesting experience.

On Tuesday night I lost my mission debit card (the one they gave me here for mission funds, not my Stanford one)! I was standing on a moving bus, digging through my wallet to try and find my bus pass, and the card fell onto the floor and slid right out through crack under the bus door. : ( Fortunately, I'd withdrawn plenty of cash that afternoon and the day before so I'd have some emergency money and I can get a replacement card in about two weeks, so I should be fine.

Mom and Dad, I'm excited that you have been called as ward missionaries! I'm looking forward to trading ideas and experiences. I'm sending you a separate note with my thoughts about ward missionaries' role.

After tea appointments, I've been sharing a spiritual thought from Luke 2: verses 15-17, from "And when the angels were gone away from them into heaven . . . " to ". . . concerning this child." The shepherds are good examples to us - when they received this great knowledge about the birth of Christ and saw it for themselves, the first thing they did was share it with everyone around them. The Lord has made great things known unto us, too, and we can find great joy in sharing the good news of the restored gospel with people in our circle of influence. So don't be afraid to talk about the gospel and bear your testimony where you get the chance! It feels good.

Merry Christmas!

Elder Pimentel

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Elder Jon Pimentel 12/22/2007

Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2007 11:39 AM
Subject: Ua nej tsaug rau cov thawv!

Hello again!

The weather has been lovely the past few days, with temperatures climbing into the double digits (when it got to 20, I almost didn't wear a coat!), and yesterday it actually got above freezing! We were sweating quite a bit. The next few days are supposed to get colder than we've ever had so far, so we're enjoying a day of almost-freezing temperatures while it lasts. Humidity fluctuates quite a lot here. We get from 40% to 100%. Yesterday I thought it was raining, but I noticed that the tiny drops only hit me when I moved. Crazy.

The frog we ate was a big ol' bullfrog. The pictures were just of one bite on a fork, and me about to eat a leg. Elder Choua Vang ate most of the frog, but Elder Wilson and I tried some.

I got the 3rd package! Thanks loads! The Elders Vang had never before experienced such confections, and were astounded by the heavenly goodness thereof. Elder Richard Vang took two small bites of fudge and couldn't finish it. It overwhelmed him. He said it was too good--- too much flavor, too sweet. He loved it, but he said he couldn't handle the whole thing.

At the Christmas conference, we had a talent show, and I enlisted three other Elders to play "What are You Doing?" with me. None of them had ever seen it played before. It went well and got a terrific response. Those Elders are naturals. Elder Richard Vang got it on camera, but I don't know how I could send it to you so you can see it.

I will probably call in the afternoon on Christmas, but I don't know specifically when.

No more word on Meng or Mai Houa...Pa is getting a little more excited to be baptized especially when we assured her that the water won't be cold. Kong was doing well, but then his cousin started trying to convince him not to listen to us anymore. His cousin had showed him some anti-Mormon material on the internet, including something that claimed to be "10 contradictions of the Book of Mormon to the Bible". Kong was wise enough not to believe everything he hears, but he wanted us to go over those 10 things with him and give our side of the story. It was a really tough lesson, but lucky for us, our church is true, and so we were able to go through each accusation and demonstrate how the Book of Mormon does indeed teach the doctrine in the bible, just clearer. We've run into a lot of people that try to tell us that they don't need our message because they already know about Jesus and they have faith, so they're saved. We even had the son of a pastor tell us that the bible taught him that all you need in order to be saved is faith, and works are good too, but to say that they are necessary is to belittle the power of the atonement. It was VERY hard not to 'bible bash' with him, especially because it is SO clear in the bible that "Faith without works is dead" and not every man who cries 'Lord, Lord' can be saved, and if you hear the commandments but don't do them, you are like a foolish man who built his house on the sand and you won't be saved, and Jesus command us to do as we see him do, etc, etc. But I didn't contend. Luckily he asked me if 'the church of Mormon' believes that non-member won't go to heaven, and what we believe one must do to be saved. So I just told him that we must have faith in Jesus Christ in his atonement, repent of our sins and change our lives to be in line with Christ's teachings, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. I bore my testimony and was very grateful that I hadn't contended.

-Muaj Yeej

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mia Meets Santa

As you can tell, Mia isn't too sure what to think about Santa... but, I think that will change in a couple years once she realizes what he delivers :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Elder Jon Pimentel 12/15/2007

Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2007 10:01 AM
Subject: Kuv ua nej tsaug ov!

Hello everyone! Things are exciting here, what with Christmas and everything. The snow drifts a lot, so even when it doesn't snow, the people still have to shovel the drifted snow.

We had some bike trouble, but it's all good now. Elder Wilson's back tire went flat, and we were on foot the rest of that day. We spent time to go to target and get a new tube with that green goop that's supposed to make it self-seal punctures, but after riding that for a half hour, it was flat too. We looked at the tire and found a staple stuck in there *groan*.

We're valiantly battling illness here. Most of us are on the brink of actually getting sick, then we get better and then after a while we start getting sick again. Nothing has knocked us off our feet yet.

I got the two packages! One I picked up at zone conference, but the other was mailed to me. I also got one from Jay's family. Thank you so much! I haven't listened to all of the music yet, but the Julie Andrews Christmas CD is a huge hit with our apartment. Do any of the CDs have "Oh, Fortuna" or "Claire de Lune" on them? I love those songs.

A while back I went on an exchange in Minneapolis and the Woods family fed us. Brother Woods says he knows Uncle Jay.

Yesterday morning it was a whopping 1 degree without the windchill, and around -15 to -18 with it. Have you ever experienced snotcicles? You don't notice them until you go inside. My coat is still keeping my warm, but I'm getting more insulated gloves today.

Pa's baptismal date is fixed on the 29th of December, and she's getting a little more excited about it.

I don't know if I've told you about Meng, but he's an investigator with whom the missionaries have been working for many months. He has marvelous faith, and is very sincere. He's one of those people that really gets it. He hadn't been progressing at all for a very long time because he lives with his father and his father doesn't like him investigating church. Meng has been scared to go to church or be baptized because of his father. He reads and prays and has a firm testimony, but figured he'd wait until he gets a place of his own before he starts coming to church. Recently we had a very powerful lesson about the plan of salvation. He said that seeing the big picture again reminded him how important this is, and how short life is. He has decided to stop procrastinating and to take some big steps. We asked him what he can do in this life to prepare to meet God, and he thought for a few seconds and said "..Wow....I guess I'd better get baptized pretty soon!" The gospel has already changed his life drastically, and it's very exciting to see him take it to the next level and prepare truly demonstrate his faith by doing some scary things. Meng is really into faith. So much so that he tattooed the verse from Alma 32 that talks about how 'faith is believing things which are not seen, which are true' on his arm.

Mai Houa STILL hasn't been to church, but it's not her fault; she really wants to go. As soon as she does, and her husband commits to go every week, we can set a date.

We found some new investigators too. Kong and Teng are already Christian, and Kong is really into the Holy Spirit. He only believes things of which he receives a personal testimony from the Holy Spirit. He has committed to pray about the Book of Mormon, so we're excited to hear how that went.

Well, I have to go soon.

[Muaj ib hnub] Christmas [zoo siab nawj!]

-Elder Muaj Yeej

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Notes from Sam - 12 December 2007

[Photo: Elder Pimentel at the Liverpool docks, where Thomas Green and so many others set sail for the "Zion"]

Hi there,

It's starting to get cold here in Runcorn. The past few days have been very clear and very crisp, and I've been very glad to have a long overcoat with a liner. If the temperature continues to drop, though, I may need to invest in some sweaters to wear under my suit coat. February seems generally to be accepted as the coldest month. Elder Empey is hoping to get transferred to a car area at the end of this six weeks.

Member missionary work in the Runcorn ward is booming. The youth in particular are very gung-ho about sharing the gospel. Our ward mission leader's daughter likes to memorize scripture mastery scriptures and then find opportunities quote them to her friends at school. She recently memorized the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20, which takes about two minutes to recite, and apparently she recited it twice at school yesterday. Another of the young women in the ward was eating at Pizza Hut with her family and felt prompted that they should invite the family at the next table to church. Also, an elderly sister in the ward gift-wrapped ten copies of the Book of Mormon and gave them to her friends (her son, who is the Elder's Quorum President, told us that he's now afraid that he'll be getting the Book of Mormon as his Christmas gift from his mother).

. . .

Elder Empey is very much a country boy while I'm a city kid (I told him I thought San Francisco was a beautiful city, with a lot of history and great architecture, and he said "I don't really consider that beauty" : ) ) . . . . But [notwithstanding our differences] in some ways I believe I'm learning a lot more by working with him than I did in my previous two transfers. I think it will be a good six weeks.

Our district has shrunk from ten missionaries to six, as we've lost not only the other Runcorn elders but a companionship of sisters that had been splitting their time between Birkenhead and Moreton wards. So we're a pretty small group. We're also a very young group - Elder Atwood has spent about sixteen months in the field, and the rest of us have spent about that much time combined. We had our first district meeting yesterday, and it went pretty well. Our new district leader is Elder Atwood, who is a great missionary and someone I respect and like a lot. He's also training a new missionary this transfer, Elder Ayers from Ontario, Canada, who is a drama person, and hence a very dynamic and outgoing missionary. I'm going on exchange with him next week, which should be fun. I think I'm going to enjoy my district quite a bit this transfer.

Christmas is coming up! Tonight and tomorrow night we are participating in the ward's annual Christmas service project, where we stand in the lobby of Asda (the local superstore, similar to a Super Wal-mart) and sing Christmas carols to raise money for charity. It should be fun. We are also booked for tea (i.e. dinner) on Christmas Eve, breakfast on Christmas, dinner (i.e. lunch) on Christmas, and tea on Christmas. Oof. If we manage to avoid totally incapacitating ourselves with indigestion, we'll also be playing in the ward's annual Boxing Day football match on the morning of the 26th. Then on the 27th, we get to go up to Chorley to do a temple session and attend zone conference. It's going to be a pretty excellent week. I'll be sure to get you exact details for the Christmas Day phone call in my email next week. I think it will work best for you to phone me - unless you want to put money on our OneSuite card or something and have me phone you using that. I'm going to see if I can use our mobile phone to call you - otherwise, we can probably talk while I'm at the bishop's house on Christmas Day evening after 4:30 PM (UK time).

I LOVED my Sinterklaas package. The Nativity was my favorite, especially the hovering star and angel. I set it up on my windowsill - I'll try and get a picture of it and send it to you sometime. I'm also loving the advent calendar, and I need to get some matches or something so I can light the candle. Combined with the great Christmas music Dad's been sending me, our flat is feeling pretty Christmassy.

[My companion] was feeling worried that he wouldn't get any Christmas packages before Christmas (since zone conference, when we usually pick up packages, is two days after Christmas). But we met the zone leaders on Sunday night and they had two big packages for him that they'd picked up at a meeting earlier on. Later that evening he couldn't wait any longer and opened them both. : ) One was a pair of nice slippers and one was a digital picture frame that plays a slideshow of digital pictures, kind of like our laptop screensaver. Much to my surprise, the zone leaders also brought three extra packages for me on Sunday - one from Jay and Colleen's family, one from Grandma Pimentel, and one from Amazon. Do you know if the stuff inside any and all of the Christmas packages I've received is wrapped? Should I open the boxes to get the wrapped presents out, or just wait until Christmas Day?

Merry Christmas!

Elder Pimentel

[Ed. note: what follows below is a response to his father's concerns that the culture of "goal-setting" is not necessarily rooted in Christ's teachings and can be misused in ways inimical to more fundamental spiritual values; Dad had observed that this and other management techniques -- including pop-management fads -- often infect the missionary environment but, for all their usefulness, should not be mistaken for gospel principles.]

I also wanted to respond to what you said about the goal-setting chapter from Preach My Gospel (chapter 8, I assume) in your letter from last week. I was surprised that you found it frustrating, because I hadn't reacted that way at all when I read it - but then again, I haven't sat through as many pop-management courses as you have. : ). I was also interested in the idea that Christ didn't really use goals and spent some time thinking about that yesterday. I think goals of some kind are absolutely intrinsic to the gospel - the whole idea of delayed gratification and putting what you want most above what you want now depends on our ability to identify things we want to achieve in the future, a point you referred to by talking about our goals to become perfect, repent of our sins, etc.

In mission terms, though, goals often have to do with numbers, and I think that you're absolutely right that there's great danger when our goals start being too much about the numbers. That said, I don't think setting numerical goals is necessarily at odds with the gospel. Christ didn't set them as far as we know, but he also lived a perfect life. Maybe the numerical goals that we have in the mission field are kind of a lesser law to help us because we, unlike Christ, lack the charity and divine vision to translate bigger, more important goals into daily action. While achieving my goals is not really important at all compared to helping others come unto Christ, I think I am better able to help others come unto Christ because I set goals and work towards achieving them. Like the Law of Moses, numerical goal-setting provides a big temptation to be a Pharisee and focus on the inconsequentials at the cost of the really important things, but it's not wrong and it can still be very helpful. At least it can for me as a missionary - I'm not sure numerical goal-setting makes so much sense in other Church contexts. So maybe our differing reactions to Chapter 8 in Preach My Gospel have to do with our differing positions: maybe the specific numerical goal-setting instructions there make sense for me to be following, but apply much less to you. Interesting stuff.

Anyway, I'm glad that you are reading Preach My Gospel. I had a tough time enjoying it before my mission and didn't read it much, but now I'm learning to like it more. I hope you're having a similar experience.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Elder Jon Pimentel 12/8/2007

When in Frogtown, do as the Frogtownans do. The picures are of the frog that Elder Choua Vang cooked for us. Yes, I did eat some. It smells funny, and the skin is really slippery, but it tastes alright. Kind of a little bit like fish, but with the texture of chicken. Next he says he's going to make baby octapus and snails. What fun.

I haven't received the Christmas package, I think they hold those for us at the office until Christmas so we'll have something to open. I have had a hankerin' for holiday goodies such as fudge, muddy buddies, carmel corn, etc.

Glad to hear you enjoyed balmy Arizona! Up here it's been in the single digits, and we've had some days that have been -9 degrees F. Riding bikes in the snow is a hidden sport. Quite exciting. The snow here is bizaare (sp?). It's like sand. It comes down in tiny, sharp grains, and they don't really stick to each other. They pile up, and the wind blows it away. It doesn't crunch. It really feels like you're walking in sand...or mashed potatoes.

We usually spend about 2 to 3 hours tracting each day, and varying amounts of time OYMing, and a lot of time stopping by people and teaching. We don't have many appointments because Hmong people generally aren't used to the concept of scheduling time and therefor tend to run off to do things on the fly and not be home for the appointment. Stopping by seems to work better.

We are going to have to bump Pa's date back to the 23rd because we still haven't talked to her mom.

Mai Houa still needs to come to church and get legally married to Ze before she can set a date, but she's still as excited about it as ever. Many of the folks here are culturally married, but not legally wed. This can be a problem because much of the time they don't see why it's important to be legally married and don't want to spend the time, effort, and money. Fortunately, Mai Houa and Ze were already planning on getting legally married because if they don't do it soon, Mai Houa will be deported to Laos.

I'm singing a solo in zone conference this Monday, and will be performing in the branch Christmas program and the mission Christmas conference.

I have some more amusing names: Ker Lee, Mee, JuBei Lee (say it fast), Ma Lor (like m'lord, but no 'd'), Tuna, [Teeb] (like Dang), [Xaiv Dua] (like sidewalk, sans 'lk'), Tou Bi (or not to be..), [Xob Laim] (like sal'ight

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Notes from Sam - 5 December 2007

[Photo: Elders Pimentel and Tomita in Ulverston on P-day, enjoying the beautiful countryside and pointing out the town of Barrow]

Hi there,

It's transfer day again. The last six weeks have gone by very quickly - I don't feel like I've been out for three months.

I am staying in Runcorn with Elder Empey as my companion; we are changing from a two-companionship area to a one-companionship area. I think it will be a good experience for me to work with Elder Empey. His style of missionary work is quite different from mine, and I think I can learn a lot from it. Like Elder Anderson, he focuses heavily on working with members, which seems like a really effective approach here in Runcorn. I'm also looking forward to just being able to work full-time again, without having to take time off for Elder Anderson's sickness.

Although I am staying in Runcorn, my address has changed (since we left the flat I was staying in and are keeping the one that Elder Empey and Elder Tomita had). It is now

35 Needham Close
Runcorn, Cheshire

Elder Tomita has gone to the Isle of Man, which he is excited about. Apparently that's a pretty nice place to go. Elder Anderson is going to Manchester. He's gutted (devastated, roughly) about it, since he loves Runcorn and was hoping to stay here for Christmas. A lot of the members seem pretty sad to see him go. So Elder Empey and I have big shoes to fill, especially since we're one baptism short of the ward's goal for the year, and we have less than four weeks left.

Fortunately, we've acquired a number of promising investigators in the past week. It's kind of amazing that this has happened, since Elder Anderson and I have been able to do so little work, and we found no new investigators in the five weeks before this one. One of the investigators is Rohey, the woman Elder Tomita and I talked to in Frodsham last Monday. We had a good first lesson with her on Saturday - she understands the need for one true church on the Earth, so all she needs is a witness from the Spirit. After the lesson, she served us all big plates of rice with an African peanut stew. : )

Elder Tomita and I found another pair of investigators while working with Josh Evans, a member who recently returned from his mission to Liberia and is a really good teacher and dynamic member missionary. We tried some people Elder Tomita remembered tracting into when he was in Runcorn a year ago, and they invited us in to teach Lesson 1! Josh, who apparently went out with the missionaries quite a bit before he left for Africa, later told us that this had never happened to him before in England. It was a good lesson (although I was horribly rusty, having not taught hardly any lessons for weeks); the father and daughter we taught, who had previously tried attending a Baptist church but "hadn't felt anything," were willing to try out reading the Book of Mormon and praying and said they felt good at the end of the lesson.

Anyway, through these and other sudden blessings, Elder Empey and I now have a teaching pool of probably about ten people, where last week Elder Anderson and I had only one investigator. If we work hard, cooperate with members, have good companionship unity, and exercise faith, some very exciting things could happen in Runcorn this transfer.

The English, not having Thanksgiving as a demarcation point, don't consider the Christmas season to begin until early or even mid-December, so we're just starting to see Christmas decorations go up everywhere. It's a good time of year, especially in Runcorn; the ward apparently sings carols at the local shopping center as a charity project during December and has a big football match on Boxing Day (the British Turkey Bowl, I suppose). I'm also looking forward to opening my Sinterklaas package later this afternoon!

By the way, on Thanksgiving I wrote up some entries for our Thankful Book. I'll have to send them to you sometime.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your letters - receiving them is always a high point of my week. I also received a wonderful report from Grandma Bay this week. Thanks for the news!

Merry Christmas!

Elder Pimentel

Monday, December 3, 2007

Elder Jon Pimentel 12/1/2007

Sent: Saturday, December 01, 2007 10:06 AM
Subject: Huab cua pib ua ib yam li Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
It's snowing right now, and a lot. Today is the first day it has stuck, and it is fitting, being officially December now. Yesterday morning it was 9 below (F) with the wind chill. I got the sheet music--thanks!

I hope the attachments on this e-mail work, one of them is an AVI file. the drawings where by Elder Choua Vang, not me. He made a series of greeting cards, and they came out great! He didn't even preplan them or use pencil first. I saw him just sit down and start drawing with a ball-point pen. Astounding.

We have a firm baptismal date for Pa! She is going to be baptized on the 16th of December. 'Tis a cause for celebration.

We are trying so set up an appointment with Tiffany through Yama, since they have two classes together and we can never get a hold of her. If we can find a reliable way to meet with her, things can really get moving.

Mai Houa is our most likely candidate for setting a baptismal date this upcoming week. She still hasn't been to church due to a series of unpredictable and unfortunate events that prevent her and Ze from coming. She has been reading from the BoM though, and really wants to come to church still. We are really praying they can make it.

We have a few other people who have potential to be baptized this transfer, but the hardest part is making sure they can keep the commitment to make church a priority and come every week. We have a couple people who are very receptive and understand everything we teach them, including the apostasy and restoration, but they still don't really understand that this means that if their church is at the same time as theirs, they need to come to our church instead of their old one.

We finished the 10 days of truth [Editor note: 10 days of truth is reading the entire Book of Mormon as a companionship out loud in 10 days]. I kind of miss it. It's something we do every transfer though, so we'll do it again in a few weeks. Oh, speaking of transfers, there are no changes in our district this transfer as far as who's where and with whom.

I've run into many amusing names so far. Here are a few: Saw Bwe (sounds like 'Subway'), [Fwm Looj] (like 'foot-long' pronounced like a Utahn) Pu, See Pu, Mi, Yer, Her, [Vaj Lis Lawj] (like "Vally low'r")and a few others I can't think of right now. Since Her is a clan, we have inadvertantly said things like "I think we should see See." "See who?" "See Her." "See's a Her?" "Yeah, she's a Her."

Love you lots and lots!
-Elder Muaj Yeej