Monday, February 24, 2014

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same.

Hello everybody, so transfers are tomorrow and I will be staying here in Thousand Oaks for another six weeks. Elder Atkin will be going to Camarillo as the district leader over there. He is my best friend on the mission and it will be sad. We will see each other around though, and we will most definitely keep in contact after the mission. As for me I was a little surprised that I will be staying in this area for another transfer that doesn't usually happen, but it is going to be great I know every street very well. Elder Shields will be my companion, and apparently he is short... go figure. It will be great though I have heard some great things about him already. He has been in the mission for a while, so he will be the Sr. companion. But as far as the area goes I'll be showing him the ropes and get him up to speed on all of our investigators. I am really excited there are a lot of changes going on around me, new companion, district boundaries, zone leaders, district leaders, but at the same time it's going to be the same.
As far as the work here goes it's still fantastic. We had a really great lesson with Willyam this week that went really well. Our ward mission leader, Brother Barrus was at the lesson and they got to know each other pretty well. Now Willyam will have someone other than us in the ward that he knows. We talked for a while about how now that he has been reading from the Book of Mormon and meeting with us he has some direction in his life. Unfortunately he didn't really make it to church yesterday. He walked in late during sacrament and the doors were closed, so we think he just left. Oh well, we will talk to him about it this week. He is still progressing really well and he told us he would let us know when he decides to be baptized. Also on Sunday Lisa Brinton, who was only baptized a couple of weeks ago, spoke in church and did a really good job. She is all about fitness and she works at the gym doing "spin classes." Basically she is the lady getting you excited about riding your stationary bike at the front of the room. She spoke about health, so she had a lot to say and was excited to do it. She told her story of giving up coffee which is really great. Basically when we first started meeting with her she was all about her coffee. She had a lot of reasons why coffee is good for you and isn't a problem, but she was willing to give it up even though she didn't know why. Then about a week or two later she realized that her legs didn't itch anymore. She would always get rashes on her legs and never new why, she was literally scarred because of it. It was a big answer to her prayer and she has a really strong testimony of the Word of Wisdom. It was a really great week and I am excited for all of the change that is coming up this next transfer.

Alan and his companion got to go to the Los Angeles Temple this week.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Spanish, Tagalog - Where is the Gift of Tongues when you need it!

This week was another great week here in Thousand Oaks. Not just us, but all of the missionaries in our district have been having or will be having success. There were two baptisms this week, that I had the opportunity to go to, because Elder Atkin is the district leader. One of them was of a nine year old boy who has less-active parents who are now being activated. A lot of work has gone into that family and it was a great baptism with the whole family there. The Hermanas (spanish speaking sisters) also had a baptism which was on Sunday, his name is Josea Tun and that was really great. It was a really special baptism for Elder Atkin, because while he was in West lake he gave Josea a card while they were passing in the street. Elder Atkin doesn't speak hardly any Spanish, but Josea said he had prayed to find a church that day and Elder Atkin, in broken Spanish, gave him a card and invited him to learn more. We also were able to invite our investigator Willyam to the baptism. He speaks both English and Spanish, so he could understand everything just fine. I on the other hand could not understand a thing. I could pick up on words like missionaries and Jesus Christ, but that's about it. Willyam also brought his girlfriend Bernadette, which is a different issue we will address later, who has been to a few of our lessons, but works a lot. It was great to see them both there and the spirit was really strong. It was really interesting to go to a baptism and really focus on what the spirit is telling me, because even though I couldn't understand what they were saying I still learned a lot. We were also able to find a Tagalog Book of Mormon in like two days to give to Bernadette at the baptism, which is a miracle in and of itself. The bishop of another ward happened to have ordered one last month "just in case". She doesn't read very well in English and was glad to have a Book of Mormon in her native language. Overall it has been a great month for our whole district.
We have a couple other up and coming investigators who hopefully in time will set a baptismal date. One of them, David Hanzy we have been trying to meet with for a long time finally kept our appointment and we had a fantastic lesson at the church with his friend who is a member. She is really the driving force behind him meeting with us, but he is beginning to learn and is now interested for himself. We had a great Plan of Salvation lesson and although he didn't come to church this week he assured us that he would be there next week. Speaking of next week we are now in week 6 of this transfer and so next week I will know if I am staying or going. Me and Elder Atkin have been companions for 3 transfers which is almost unheard of. He won't be my companion next transfer for sure, so I am a little nervous. We will definitely be friends after the mission. It will be exciting to find out what the Lord has in store for me next transfer.
I love you all thank you for the package. Keep up the good work whatever it is that you are doing.

Elder Hamson

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Best Day (so far)

Well this week has been another great week with another baptism. Chris Ballesteros is now officially a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After a lot of preparation and learning from our mistakes last week this baptism went a lot smoother, since we remembered towels this time. Elder Atkin performed the ordinance of baptism and I was a witness. It was really spiritual and his family was able to all make it there. So far it is just his mom and him that are members, but his sister and step dad were there to support him. His sister Katherine is always with us at our lessons, so she will hopefully follow her younger brothers example and start progressing toward baptism. In addition to the baptism Saturday was a great day missionary work wise. We talked to a lot of people and found a new investigator. Probably the best day on my mission so far.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, I went to 3rd ward for most of the day while my companion, who is the district leader, went to Mission leadership conference. I was in a tri-panionship for the first time, and although it was really different I had a great time with them. I know all of the missionaries in our district very well, a few of us have served around each other for my whole mission so far. It was great to be able to work with them and learn how they teach and maybe share a few things I have learned. You have no fear when you go tracting in a tri-pan.
Then on Thursday I went on an exchange with Elder Spackman who is in the 3rd ward. We worked in his area, so I spent a good chunk of my week in the another area. I also got to drive which is always fun. I know Thousand Oaks that much better now. If you ever get lost just ask a missionary and they will probably know, and they will give you a card to too :)
Anyways everything is going great I love out here, we have even been getting some rain which it is nice to have a change of weather. I love you all and keep up the good work in basketball

Elder Hamson

Monday, February 3, 2014

Droughts, Prayers, Rain and Baptisms.

Well this last week was great. Lisa Brinton was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. The first convert baptism this ward has had in over a year. Lisa's friend who played the key role in her conversion baptized her and her brother in law did the confirmation. Her husband who is a member, but hasn't been to church in years came to the baptism and was at church on Sunday along with her two kids who aren't really kids anymore. Joey is 22 and Lucas is 18. It was a great baptism full of the spirit. It is the start of a lot of good things that will happen in her family. Chris who will be getting baptized next week was there which turned out great because he is a lot more comfortable about his baptism now that he has seen one. Him and his mom have been coming to church for the last couple of weeks which is awesome they are all going to be excellent additions to the ward.
It was an interesting week though I learned a lot from my leaders. On Tuesday the assistants came and brought their air mattresses and slept at our apartment and went on an exchange with the zone leaders. Then later that day we were doing the baptismal interview for Sister Brinton, and Elder Bostrom did the interview while me and Elder Atkin talked with one of the assistants, Elder Reese, for and hour. It was really cool to hear how his missionary work differs from ours, and he taught me a few things as well. Then later in the week we went on an exchange with the zone leaders which was great. I got to work with Elder Bate this time and we had a great exchange where we both learned a lot. Its nice to exchange with the Elders in your apartment, because we all get to sleep in our own bed (and in my case beds).
Also there is a drought going on here in California, and I think the area authority had all of Southern California fasting for rain yesterday. So naturally it rained yesterday. The Lord really does answer our prayers. The drought is over more rain and baptisms to come here in the Thousand Oaks 1st ward.

Alan with his district.

Arm wrestling with his companion (he reports he won.)

Alan, his companion and Lisa Brinton.