I had the weirdest experience this morning as I was starting to email. For the first time on my mission I didn't want to email home! I know that sounds bad but let me explain. I don't know if Austin and Christian had a similar experience but I had this feeling this morning that I am so close to being home that I don't want to email I want to be there talking with everyone instead! So it's not that I don't want to talk to you all, it is that I want to do it in person rather than over email. Wouldn't that be nice! Only three more emails after this one and then it will be a face to face conversation! I am really excited to see everyone!
This week has been pretty incredible! We have had a lot of interaction with non members who will potentially become new investigators for our area. We started to invite non members to play basketball with us in the middle of the day so that we can have something to do in those busy work hours and we invited them to invite their friends. We had a three on three basketball game going with four non members and us. It was awesome. And because we were playing in the church we set the terms that we would start with a prayer and a message before we played. We shared the first part of the Restoration and had a prayer and you could definitely feel the spirit there. While we were playing and after we had played every single non member had come up to us at some point and asked gospel questions. They all had a sincere interest in knowing. We invited them all to play again this week and we plan on inviting them all individually to meet outside of basketball to learn more about the church. We hope all goes well and that they will accept our invitation. They are all very cool and would benefit a ton from the gospel in their lives. They would all be attending the singles ward with us, so keep us in your prayers this week so we can have success!
We also have been doing a lot of work in the Los Gatos ward with the members that are being taught. I have finally been able to introduce Elder Wolfe to all of the people that we have been working with and have been asked to work with. I have been doing my best to help him learn who all the members are and know where they live and the basic layout of the area. It is a tough job to take over an area after only seven weeks. I have been here long enough that I am the human gps for this ward. I know everyone's names, kids names, where they live, who lives close to them, what they do for work and fun, etc... My patriarchal blessing tells me that my memory will be a blessing to me for my entire life. I have definitely seen that on my mission. I go to someone's house one time and I will always remember how to get back to their house. No matter where I am. It has been such a huge blessing. I realize now that i really didn't know our ward back home that well before the mission. I want to get to know everyone better when I get home. Why do we close ourselves off? Kinda weird/funny/not good.
Top five teaching opportunities... (Toughest one yet) I am going to go with my top 5 favorite people to teach.
1. I absolutely loved teaching Stephen K. He is the most accepting sincere person that I have met on my mission. He was always willing to accept what we taught but always took it to God to know the truth. He was a clean slate, he had no preconceived notions about what he wanted to hear. I think back to teaching him and he was like a child in learning things for the first time and the excitement and joy that it brought him was amazing!
2. Teaching Max S was also an amazing experience. I fell in love with him and his family from the first time that I met them all. I know I have said it before but the feeling of love that they have fo each other has left an impression on me that will always be remembered and cherished. He was so prepared to hear the gospel and the support that he received from his family was perfect! I love that family so much and I am excited to see the effect that they can have on those around them as they share the gospel.
3. John B, I have some great memories of him and our teaching experiences there. He had him two giant Mastiff dogs and they sure could slobber!!! We had our John B pants that we would only wear once a week because they got so gross every time we were there. He is probably the roughest man I have ever met. He is always covered in a layer of dirt and he was so humble. Teaching him was amazing because he was so willing to have faith and want to know for himself. I remember some incredible feelings of the spirit as we testified to him about the truthfulness of the Restoration.
4. Lane V was a great example to me. He knew the gospel was true from the first Ike that I met him. Everything he learned was accepted without hesitation. He was a great example to me of reusing in the Lord no matter what the possible consequences. His family did not agree or support what he was doing but he knew it was right and did what he knew he needed to do. The Lord provided a way for him to move forward on a righteous path. His family has accepted that he joined and are even looking into the church now.
5. Logan R has to be the final one. He had been learning about the church for seven years before we even met him. He had already ready the complete standard works and had overcome his hang ups with all the anti Mormon attacks that he had received over the last seven years. We really didn't have to teach him anything. He was so prepared right off the bat. I remember talking with him in our first lesson over dinner at Google and he said, "I am here to get baptized, that's why I came to your ward." Umm, hello! How cool is that! It was only our second time meeting him and we set the date for when he would be baptized. Quite the intelligent person. He is going to make incredible contributions to the church.
There are a lot of other people that I would love to add to this but for the sake of length and time I will save that for later. I am so glad that I got to serve here in California at this time! I couldn't imagine serving anywhere else. This is where the Lord needed me!!!!
Have a warm week and have fun! I love you all a ton! See you all in three weeks!
Love, Elder Maxwell