Monday, July 28, 2014

From Trash to Treasure

Another week in the blossoming metropolis of Hesperia, CA.  We continue to boldly forge through this mysterious country known as the "High Desert."  In very few missions do you have to deal with culture shock when you get transferred from one area to another, but the Rancho Cucamonga mission is just special like that.  It's always a big transition when you move from the valley to the desert or vice versa, but it's almost always a good transition.

This week our stake had its Pioneer Day activity.  I'm proud to say that I bested many in various feats of strength, most of which required lots of pulling or tugging things.  Too bad the pioneers didn't have Magic, that probably would've kept them more entertained.  I also got the chance to shake a little plastic container of cream into butter, but then at the last minute when I was about to open it and enjoy the hard earned fruits of my labor I accidentally let it slip and it got everywhere.  That was a sad point of my mission.

Tender mercy of the Lord: One of my good missionary friends who I spent three transfers with in Chino, Sister Toolan, was transferred out of Chino two transfers before I was.  She's here in Hesperia and though we're not in the same zone we DO share the same church building, so Elder Brown and I get to see her and her companion (who's also pretty legit) fairly often.  I've included pictures of the three of us.  By the way, in that picture of us and Sister Toolan she looks super awkward and it totally looks like we're super lame and creepy elders that forced a girl to take a picture with us.  But I want ALL OF YOU to know that Sister Toolan LITERALLY threatened to kill us if we left the Pioneer Day activity without a picture.  So it was totally her idea.

Speaking of Elder Brown, he's dang good at taking pictures of me.  I've included a picture that he took of me riding my bike along the road.  He took that picture WHILE HE WAS RIDING HIS BIKE AS WELL.  That's crazy!  We've been compiling an "action shot" series of me while on my mission and it's turning out fairly well.

While wandering through the desert we found a pile of trash and I used some of it to turn me into a modern day stripling warrior.  Pictures are included for your enjoyment.  Also, by that pile of trash there's never ANYONE, especially cars.  Yet while I donned my armor THREE different cars passed by.  That was pretty embarrassing.

The California aqueduct runs smack through the middle of our area.  So anytime we want to cross our area we have to bike through the undeveloped desert, find a gap in the barbwire fence, throw our bikes and ourselves under it, find a bridge that crosses the aqueduct, lower our bikes into the four foot pits that guard the bridges, lift them out again to cross the bridge, and then repeat the whole process except in reverse when we get to the other side.  It's quite an adventure.  But as we were crossing the aqueduct we actually ran into a group of kids sidling along the side of the bridge, which is weird because you NEVER see anyone by the aqueduct.  I made a joke to them that when they fell in I wanted pictures and they stopped us and asked us what religion we are.  We told them that we were Mormons and they said they wanted to ask us some questions.  So we hopped off the aqueduct and were able to teach them about the Restoration which was super good.  They all took copies of the Book of Mormon but most of them were just visiting from out of town so we won't be the ones teaching them.  It was super cool!

Fun fact: I am scheduled to fly home exactly one year from today.  Get ready, everyone.  The time is not far from my triumphant return.

For all you future missionaries out there: Want to be a good missionary?  Be a good home teacher/visiting teacher.  Home teaching is just missionary work to members and missionary work is just home teaching to non-members.  Also learn how to make LOTS of small talk.  I find testifying of the Gospel to be easy, it's the small talk on the streets that's harder.

Have a great week!

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Dude You Slapped A Fish!"

Greetings from Hesperia, CA!  It's been a crazy week coming to this new area.  It's been a lot of getting used to the desert again.  It's crazy up here.  Flat, brown, dirt, dead, things like that.  But it's been a lot of fun.  We've been tearing it up on bike.  There's a lot of off roading that has to happen in our area so we have a lot of fun.  There's this one hill that's super hard to climb and had a bone at the top.  We called it Bone Hill because we lack creativity.  Elder Brown and I decided that whoever could climb it first would win the bone and become the King of Bone Hill.  I can proudly say that after many attempts and much perseverance, I am the King of Bone Hill.  All hail King Morgan!

We've been working really hard this week.  The work in this area... has not been performing as well as it could be.  So Elder Brown and I have been tearing it up, talking with everyone we see like mad men.  That's really the only way to do it as a missionary for personal finding.  Tracting is absolutely terrible so instead we ambush people as they walk the streets.  And guess what?  It's totally working!  We found a family of people to teach that way!  They're the Hernandez family and the mom, Gloria, is really interested.  We taught her the Restoration in her front yard and she took really well to it.  She also told us that she thinks we're sent from because she believes in signs and has a good friend named Morgan whose favorite football team is the Browns.  We'll take it.

Our new ward seems pretty cool.  There's a lot more youth in it than my old ward.  They seemed really receptive to Elder Brown and I.  At first the ward was really angry with us because they used to have a set of elders and a set of sisters but we replaced the set of sisters, but after meeting us they seemed to warm up.  I'm confident that we'll be able to get some good work done with them.

We live with our zone leaders now.  It's really interesting.  I woke up to a guitar musical number while one shouted over and over again, "It's P-Day!  It's P-Day!"  They also wrestle frequently and one of them always says, "Dude, you slapped a fish."

That's about it for this week.  Keep it classy!

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Transferred to the Wilderness

Greetings from Hesperia, CA!  That's right, folks, Elder Morgan has been transferred from Chino.  I spent seven and a half months in Chino and I absolutely loved it.  It's time for me to move on, though.  So, President Hobbs, the mad man that he is, devised an ingenious plan to create the coolest transfer of my mission.  You see, I spent all five transfers in Chino with Elder Brown, probably my best friend in the mission.  We were in the same zone but never served together.  So President Hobbs took us both out of our Chino wards and whitewashed us into the desert together.  Whitewashing is when two missionaries leave an area and two new missionaries enter.  We live in an apartment with our zone leaders and it's pretty sick.  Still on bike, though.  I had heard a rumor that we'd be in a truck area, but that turned out to be false.  I'm okay with that, though.  I'd prefer to continue my mission as a real missionary, not a car missionary.  (Kidding, kidding...)

So I'm back in the desert for at least another transfer.  It's nice to return to my roots but man is it crazy weird.  I had grown used to the comforts of the valley.  The desert is super brown and super gray.  Not a lot of people here.  It's a completely different world.  Chino was everything you imagine Southern California to be.  Hesperia is... not, haha.  It'll be fun, though.  The people are super humble in the desert and very ready to hear the restored Gospel.

For those of you unfamiliar with missionary work, whitewashing is super hard.  It's so crazy going into an area where neither of you know anyone or anything.  It's also super weird because this ward, the Ranchero ward, had a set of sisters before us and some of the ward was, uh, not so happy to see them moved out for another set of elders.  That's okay, though!  We're gonna tear it up like bosses!  The ward will be forced to love us!  We're excited to get working.  There's not a whole lot going on in this area so it's a great place to start building.  We're super excited.

Saying goodbye to the Walnut Park ward was very hard.  I got a lot of nice compliments from those I labored with.  I will miss them all very much, but I know that's not the last time we'll all see each other.  That's the beauty of the gospel, we'll all see each other again if we hold out faithful to the end.

There's not much else I can think of at the moment.  Got to see a lot of my missionary friends at transfer meeting which was super fun.  My brain's a little jumbled at the moment with transfers so my thoughts are scattered.  I hope you all have a great week and wish Elder Brown and I luck!

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan