Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26, 2013 - Everything is in the Lords time.

Hey Mom and Dad,

Things are going a little crazy, but I am doing really well. Today is P-day obviously but we ended up helping a couple move this morning. Their names are the Ropers, they got home from their mission from Guatemala 6 months ago or so, and are renting out their house to move to their condo in St. George to be closer to their kids. It makes Pday more stressful and we get less done, but they were really good people, and wouldn’t have asked for our help if they didn’t need it, and if they knew it was a P-Day. Fun fact; two of their boys are millionaire marijuana farmers. Sad to see them move out, Bro. Roper served in Hawaii back in the day and wears awesome flower ties and a pair of black Jordans to church, he also enjoys playing xbox and is just an awesome guy. Plus his wife is a California form of Jan Galovich.

Tony sends you guys pictures every now and again because he is the man. We are best friends. He is one of the ward missionaries. Tony really is the best, he has taken care of me since the day I got here, and he could tell I needed it. He would do anything for me; he even ordered me a pair of Vans off of ebay because I mentioned that they were my favorite kind of shoes. He is not even close to being a faithful member, but he is one of the most Christ-like people I know. He supplies us with an interesting Teaching pool, all of the friends that he finds and takes care of, that he doesn’t want to die of an overdose or something like that. I hope I get to stay here in Laguna Hills for a while to be around him more.

I survived round one of Transfers. This cycle was only 5 weeks instead of 6. Speculation would have it that in the next transfer in 6 weeks; my trainer will be transferred to another area, and I will stay in this one, and get put with a missionary who has been out for longer than I have. But my leadership has told me to be prepared, because they would not be surprised if even the missionaries as young as I, will end up training very soon due to the increase in missionaries.

You all at home probably heard of all of the new missions opening up, and the most impacting one to me is the Irvine Mission. I can see Irvine from parts of my area, its only 5 minutes away on the free way, so come July, I could very well be reassigned to that mission. I don’t think anyone knows the boundaries yet, but I would assume a good part of southern Orange County is included. I don’t really know how I feel about that, because I was wanting to work my way further south. I would especially enjoy serving in Valley Center or Falbrook. I hear good things about the areas in San Diego County.

The big thing we have been learning this week has been timing. Everything is in the Lords time. Not our time. Even great things can be ineffective or insignificant if they are not done in the right time. Too soon or too late; I feel like it is an important thing to learn, for all aspects of life.

The other, more impacting thing I learned was where I would be without the Gospel in my life. We have been teaching a lot of kids my age who’s lives are not in the best of conditions. They kind of just float around and party, sometimes they do not know where they are going to sleep or if they are going to eat. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have been born into a good family and that my parents were born into a good family and so on. We weren’t each generation born into money like the kids I teach, but we are much happier.

I love you!

Elder Strong

February 26, 2013 - Pictures

 "Newport Temple, we went last Tuesday, it is BEAUTIFUL. it was 100% covered by the surrounding stakes, so it is very very nice, considering newport area down to corona del mar are the highest tithe paying areas in the world. not that it matters, but fun fact."
(I'm so happy he got to go to the temple!)
 "This is my district plus the Zone Leaders before tranfers."
 (Ahhhh I miss that shirt)
"I needed a lamp for my desk because they don't put light fixtures in apartments in California  because everyone is so cheap here haha. I SCORED this one at a yard sale on Saturday. Yard Sales are my favorite, because we have an excuse to walk up and talk to people and then we can give them money and find out what kind of things they are interested in. This was from an old lady, it is etched crystal, beautiful lamp. pretty old but in good shape. 2 bucks :) haha"
(I'm so glad he is using his yard sale skills)
 "that is Ariana, she is 6"

 "Nataly is 9, she is pretty close to baptism, she just needs to show her mom she is ready. hopefully her mom will be getting pretty close too :) haha"
" this Tongan Tornado is 3. I don't remember her name, because I only ever hear it being shouted following a slur of what I can only suspect is Tongan profanity."
"if I had money and it was approved reading material, I would buy this book. I could really use it haha."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I stole some more pictures from my Sobczak friends from the MTC days

February 24, 2013 - More Pictures from a ward member

My unknown friend sent me some more pictures of my Riley.
Thanks Anthony S.
 "just more pictures , Laguna Hills second Ward sock hop pictures , those were from  last Friday"
(February 15, 2013) 

"restaurant El Pollo Loco pic with some investigators takin Saturday night  :)"
(February 22, 2013)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 - Message from the Orange Curtain

Hey Guys,

This last week has been really good. Yesterday, I got to teach a few really deep lessons to people with strong religious beliefs. So… that was kinda scary haha. Most people here are agnostic or just don’t really care about religion, but the ones who have deep rooted beliefs that want to talk to you, usually want to have a scripture bashing party.

The first is a guy we met on the street named Edward. In Laguna Hills, there used to be a retirement community, but long story short, they decided they wanted to be made into their own city, so that their tax money didn’t go to waste, like on schools, or parks for kids or programs to keep kids safe and well. It is called Laguna Woods. They don’t really like us in their, but we have a pass to get in, to visit some members there. Anyways, we met Edward, who is 87, and he told us we could stop by. Turns out, he is a very Devout Catholic; he gets the Vatican News, and follows everything very closely. Luckily, he really respects LDS folk, because of our values, and says he has never followed any of the controversy that surrounds the church, because he doesn’t appreciate it when people do that to the Catholic Church. All he does everyday, is two sessions of Mass in the morning, then he comes back to his empty apartment and reads. We gave him the Book of Mormon, and he said he would have it read by the next time we came back in a few weeks. He is more Mormon than Catholic, he just doesn’t realize it. The only problem is that he loves his mother Mary more than anyone else in the world haha.

The other Intimidating meet up was with a family, well, the mom and dad of a family named the Esquivels. The Father is a Marine, was on duty for 28 years prior and is now working on base in Pendleton doing unnamed things. He is really down to earth and we were making good progress with him, until his wifey showed up. She is a Scary Born Again Christian who goes to a church called “Saddleback Church” (named after the mountains here). All that I have to say about Saddleback is this: Great and Spacious Building. They have a big Sunday meeting that they film and put on T.V. like the 700 club, they talk in gibberish and call it the gift of tongues, and they have a course, not even joking, that is focused on “The Mormon Church” full of Anti-Mormon literature, that meets every Thursday. So that has been a lot of fun to deal with. After the “lesson” I was shaking a little. I felt like we taught very well. The spirit was with us but she had no room for it. It is sad because the Husband is very nice and wants to meet more. She just wants to keep us away.

The thing I learned was the Importance of Members help. Both lessons we took Members with us, and with out them, we were just two scared boys with an important message to try and squeeze out. But Brother Oldroid and Brother Dugan saved us.

Me and my Trainer had a break through, I was getting pretty sick of him, so I just laid it all on the table. Here is the short version:

He is trying to make me become a new version of him, and he is stressed out because he is a district leader and a new trainer.

I don’t want to become a new version of him, and I am stressed out because the whole world is watching every step I take; the missionaries are watching me because I am a greenie, the ward members are watching me because I am a missionary, and  the rest of the world is watching me because I am a missionary, and they think I am there to destroy their beliefs.

So basically we are both under a lot of pressure. So we are going to try to make things more fun. And we are going to be ourselves more.

Missions are cool, and I am so happy here, even the hard things are really fun to figure out, and the good over weighs the bad.

I love you all so much,

Elder Strong 

February 19, 2013 - Greetings from the Orange Curtain - Pictures

Side note: Well he is starting to speak the language. "Orange Curtain" is according to Wikipedia -

The Orange Curtain is a term that refers to the border between Orange County and Los Angeles County in the U.S. state of California.[1] It is a sometimes derogatory, sometimes lighthearted term, that is used to describe Orange County's more conservative and suburban population as compared to the more liberal and urban population of Los Angeles.[2][3][4] The Orange Curtain is a word play on the infamous Iron Curtain which separated communist and capitalist Europe.[5]
According to Colleen Cotter, "Because [Orange County] has a reputation for political conservatism, people from Northern California especially worry about what happens 'Behind the Orange Curtain'."[4]
Karin Aguilar-San Juan describes the Orange Curtain as being between 1890 and 1950, as "the region's controlling elite also embraced a John Birch-style ideology of white supremacy and small government.[6]
The song "Orange County Girl" by Gwen Stefani uses this term, stating "I guess behind the orange curtain it's not so bad."

 "The sink picture is for Zoe"
 "that is a Murcielago just chillin there"
 signs of spring
 "this is my BFF Courage. it is Tony's (a ward member) dog. he is a champ."
"I traded a tie for this tie"
"I made Chicken Tacos! I can actually cook pretty well, my comp cleans and I cook haha"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day from Riley - Surprise Pictures from a ward member

Elder strong pictures , from member of ward

"Hello Alice Strong,
your son requested these pictures be sent to you! Take care God bless !"  Anthony

 "Here are 2 others,    Your son wanted you to see him "cooking"!   :)   "

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013 - Email Conversation with Dad

Ya, I figured it would be a big surprise for everyone that I was mailing today, so dont worry about it. I am finally in love with studying because I get to actually see the results of my efforts, almost instantly. I study at least 3 hours straight, but once I am done being trained I only get 2 hours a day. Jean finally got his Eagle! haha about time. That is awesome of Ron, super nice I will try to write him a letter! Had some cool experience again, I will write about, I dont a lot of time tho, we are having lunch with a potential investigator in 15 minutes
On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM, Scott Strong <scottstrong73@hotmail.com> wrote:
Okay well I haven't emailed yes planning on emailing you tomorrow or today so am I haven't done much this last week's laying around. I'm going right now to take a couple jeeps auction with Zack's dad.
I started the barbecue on fire Saturday night with some bacon and sausage was a huge ball of fire we used a fire Extinguisher put it out was crazy
How is everything going with your teaching I love the picture of you teaching the plan of salvation everybody I showed it to teared up.

We had jeans court of honor for his Eagle last night it was pretty cool first time I've ever seen his parents we also did a thing for Jt thanking him for everything he had done.

Keep doing good
I don't know if mom told you Ron Crockett give you XXXX for your mission.
I'm getting ready to do your taxes it looks like you'll be okay.

I love you so much
Thanks for serving The Lord 


On Feb 11, 2013, at 12:27, "James Riley Strong" <jamess@myldsmail.net> wrote:
the libraries in OC will be closed on tuesday, so our Mission President took an hour away from our P-day and put it onto today to Email
Elder Strong

On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM, Scott Strong <scottstrong73@hotmail.com> wrote:
What are you doing emailing today? I can get you a GPS.

Scott Strong

On Feb 11, 2013, at 12:24, "James Riley Strong" <jamess@myldsmail.net> wrote:
thanks for the Package! I need you to buy me something that we never thought of. and you should use my money for it. I need desperately, a GPS for when we need to drive. and it needs to last me two years, I could use a simple case for it as well. I trust you to find one that is a good one, and I dont have tons of time to shop for one. so if you could do that it would be great, plus i dont have a computer to program it if i need to. Also, in my top drawer of my dresser was a white box with a book in it, if you could send me that box with the book, that would be awesome. thanks, love you. I we didnt have an dinner appoinment lastnight so I borrowed beef from a member and made taco meat! and it was goooood haha,

Love you! 

February 11, 2013 Week 3 - well, My computer just crashed.....

well, My computer just crashed.....     
sorry mommy :(

so I didnt get to send the awesome letter that I had written, so let me try to write a good quick one now, sorry.

this week, I met my dream missionary friend. His name is Dan, he is an Atheist, who is super friendly. my companion always points out his house and says, "this guy is nice, but very not interested, but told us we could borrow his tools if we needed too." since he was not interested, my companion and I never went to visit him. 

on Exchanges, I had Elder Kriser with me in my area, and we were on bikes. my seat was loose while I was riding around and I just thought "hey thats the house who said he had tools". It was totally guided by the spirit.

we knocked on the door, and told him we were taking him up on his offer, he met us around in his garage. tons of tools, and mountain bikes, he is in his late 40's my guess. and he has one of those really fast, low to the ground exposed wheel go-carts, he races them, so i talked to him about it, and he was teaching us about it. he showed us the rear axle and was talking about how it affected the turning, and then he was very impressed that I pointed out that it didnt have a  differential, and that I explained to Elder Kriser how they work. (its pretty funny, most people assume 'mormons' don't know anything about 'real life') so we talked about cars and stuff for a while, (mingled with scripture) but basically we are best friends, he gave us a refferral and his number.

he gave me the keys to his car, a John Cooper Works clubman S, but I had to tell him I couldnt drive it by rule. and he invited us to go fishing next weekend, he has a huuuuuuuuugggggeeeee deep sea fishing boat, but also I had to decline. sad. but he is awesome, I will tell you more next week, so sorry the computer crashed, I didnt even get to send more that 2 pics :( sad. oh well

LOVE YOU gotta go, lunch with an investigator :)

February 11, 2013 - some pictures

I was 'contacting' at a yard sale, and found these two sweet ties for .50 each, so I bought them of course! the red one is so awesome haha. I also traded a book of mormon for a sweet hard copy of a Bible Dictionary from the 60's
this is my companion eating my chocolate, we finally get along, and all of that. but he is still a weirdo haha. 

February 11,2013 - Unexpected Email

BTW, we are emailing on monday this week because library will be closed tuesday. so if you have anything to say, say it now. I got the package yesterday, love the brown tie, will probably give the other two away. dont spend tons of money on ties for me, I just wanted more, and the ones I like are ones with cool designs like paisleys or "couch" ties haha. retro ones are the best. if needs be, and she is available, I sense Zoe will know what I am talking about. love you!

I want to send home the stuff I accumulate every transfer (every 6 weeks) stuff like my planner, and news letters and stuff like that, that way I can keep them, but they dont take up tons of space. if you could organize them some how to keep the stuff i send safe, that would be cool. I will send one home in about 2 weeks

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Email #2 February 5, 2013 To Dad "Volcano Food"

Hey Dad,

Things have been pretty sweet. The first week was long but the second went by in no time at all. I am doing really good here, I feel settled in pretty well. There are a lot of nice members that love taking care of us. We go to a Tongan Families house every Tuesday to eat “volcano food” and they stuff us full of rice and curry. My best friend in the wards name is Tony, he joined the church 4 years ago. He is pretty out there, but he is a good guy. We visit him all of the time, and teach his friends, who all hang around tony because he is a good guy. They are all typical California bums, but Tony is really nice and gets them all to come to church from time to time.

Me and my companion have a hard time getting along sometimes. All I can say is… one in four… but he is a nice kid. He uses the bathroom a lot and that is annoying just like how J is haha. I really like my area, but it is not typical California. The people in my area are actually nice. And most of it is pretty republican. It sucks to be so close to the ocean, but I can not see it. Just down the road from my apartment is Laguna Beach and you are basically on the beach. An Elder in my district Elder Wilde, served in Dana Point, and he went fishing off of the pier every P day. So that is my goal haha. I’ll Email the rest to everyone, Love you!

February 5, 2013 Week 2 - "honey, stay out of the big missionaries way!"

Dear Mom,

This last week went by super fast. I can tell why people say that your mission goes by fast, because it has been a month but feels like I was sitting on my couch at new years just yesterday. We are going to go play some rugby in an hour or so, with some high school members, its really fun, but we cant play tackle. last week at mutual we played broom hockey in our socks in the gym, and I laid a guy out, I felt bad, but his wife said "honey, stay out of the big missionaries way!" 
we got permission (we actually didnt get permission, but my comp is district leader) to play church ball last saturday, and I set up a screen on a guy, and he ran into me, and it knocked him over. the ref yelled at him for playing too aggressive against the missionaries, so I got to shoot some free throws haha. all in all, the people like me I think. I just learned to be myself and not some missionary robot like a lot of elders are.
this week I went on exchanges. I went to Laguna hills 3rd ward with Elder Wilde (stud muffin) and we were contacting, we started talking about how only few are elect, and can accept the gospel, and they have to have been prepared for us to teach them. right after we said that, we saw a man about 30 yards ahead of us, walking towards us, Elder wild said "go contact that guy, he is all yours." as soon as I approached him, he looked up at us and said "hey, you are mormons!" we laughed and said, "yup, we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ, would you like to hear a message?" long story short, we went to a near by park, and just talked with this guy for a while, we answered a lot of questions that he had, and taught him the whole first lesson (god is our heavenly father, christs church restored on the earth, the book of mormon, that kind of stuff) he told us that he was ready to find a chruch, and he was praying to get some guidance. he told us he had wanted to visit with some mormon missionaries, since he saw them in the news, and knew we could answer some of his questions. the sad thing is, he is not in my area, so I probably wont see him again, but a miracle non the less.
Sunday-monday I was in Laguna Nigel with Elder Brooks, (Awesome Guy) and we saw a pretty good mexican bbq going on, so he told me "we are going to get with those people, and you are going to invite all of the to be baptized" (that is what trainers like doing to greenies haha) so we did, we went up to them, they invited us to have some Carne Asada (sooooooo goooood) and they gave us each a can of coke. one of them spoke english, but we were able to speak a little with the others, (the ones that werent sloppy drunk) we invited them to be baptized, gave them our number and a BoM, and said thanks for the food. they were really nice haha. so much fun!

Well I gotta go. I love you!!!

February 5, 2013 - Some Pictures

 "my companion is Elder Anderson."
 "that cat's name is princess, she is super fat and sneaks into our apartment when we open the door. it is the closest thing to a pet I can get, so I feed her old food from missionaries past sometimes. the owner is crazy and beleives that "Jews are all aliens that are here to rule us, and god is an alien jew also, and he will get back at man kind for the holocaust." but he is pretty nice to us, he has a lot of funny things to say. haha"
 "Saturday night we had a very fancy 3 course meal with a sister who was the 
 "I have been keeping track in my planner of all the cars I see"
This is one of Scott's favorite cars of all times. That is why I think he sent this picture. 

 So after the 3rd picture of grilled cheese......I asked, "Are you sick of grilled cheese yet?"

"yes. I told my comp that I am in charge of shopping and cooking from now on. we are going to buy ingredients for stir fry, to cook tomorow night, a member wants me to cook for him haha. I told him I never have cooked it for reals, so he said he will take us out if it sucks."

At least in this picture he had chips and hummus. 
"Natalie has a hard time focusing on things, and learning. so we taught her the plan of salvation with sidewalk chalk. and she realy liked it. we had her walk us threw it. it was AWESOME! haha."

Email February 5, 2013 - Quick Question


My companion is from Alabama. he is a fairy haha.
I got my bike and it is sweeeeet. i have only rode it once though. its really good, has slim road tires and no suspesion so it comutes really good.
Got my DL thanks.
I know there is a mall in my area you could look up online and see if it has somewhere good to eat, and there is a In-N-Out in my area. but I want to eat healthy since the members shovel food at us, so if you could not tempt too much that would be great haha.


Hi babe,
1. Where is your companion from?    
2. Did you get your bike?
3. Do you need another suit or are you fine?
4. Did you get your license?
5. What fast food places are near by that you would want gift cards to for some lunches?
We are enjoying your emails and letters.
Grandma Nelson says your letters reminder of Grandpa Nelson's letters. She loves them.
I love you.