Friday, December 26, 2014

December 24, 2014 - Last email

hey, bad news, things are not going too great today. I am doing a photobooth today at the big christmas party and I need to go set up for it and it is in san marcos, and we are helping set up a bunch of stuff. So I dont have very much time today.
quick updates, (sorry) We went to the temple with Pat Vincent! she got her endowments out. the temple grounds were decorated with lights all over the place. we didn't have time to do any pictures :/ but it was still a sweet experience
We got to meet up with one of the coolest cats in the world, Madelyn (she got baptized in San Marcos) it was nice to say goodbye to her. She is doing really well :)
I love doing missionary work around this time of year because people are nicer than usual, and we get to tell people that we actually do believe in Jesus Christ. It is a special time of year were people can come together and remember what this life is all about.
see you soon
Elder Strong
Elder James Riley Strong

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 15, 2014 - Pictures

 we found a service missionary sleeping on the job... haha
 things just keep getting more and more strange around oceanside,

that is a mural on the back of a store and a drunk homeless guy teaching us how to fire and assault rifle

December 15, 2014


it has been very interesting lately, Elder Petersen and I have been having weird encounters in the wilds of Oceanside. It has been really cold and rainy for a week now (55-60) so the homeless population got a little stirred up and we have been seeing them a lot more often. Some of them are really nice, but most of them are the variety that are just really hosile and volatile. It has been difficult. We started teach one of them who is elect, his name is Ronald, and he is really nice guy. He has come to church with us twice now, and he wants to get baptized. He came to us and told us he wanted to get baptized, we didn't invite him. but, we helped him get a bus pass from the bishop, and some warmer clothes, so he told some of his friends about our Christmas party and said that we were nice people and that we helped him out. So a few of his friends showed up drunk and went around the church asking everyone for money... we helped them and gave them lots of warm food, but they were belligerent and causing a lot of problems, so they were escorted out of the building and he had to talk to Ronald about it. I hope that we can figure out how to help Ronald, he is in a really hard spot right now.

Our ward made packs with cups and hot chocolate with invitations to the Christmas party for everyone on the ward list (they came with the family who they were for attached to them). After church last Sunday, the men were supposed to grab them for the families that they home teach. We agreed to help pass out the ones that were not taken. Well... there were a TON of them that were left over. a ridiculous amount. so needless to say, we did not get all of them handed out, between missionary work and preparing for our Zone Training Meeting, we did not have enough time. we made sure we did the most important ones, but as for the others, we have a lot of hot chocolate in our apartment now. :) haha

Well. signing off

Elder James Riley Strong

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 8, 2014 - Pictures

 Elder Adams vs. Carne Asada Fries

 Samantha with the blind cat "Milo"

December 8, 2014


How is everyone doing?

It rained a few days last week, it is always easy to appreciate the change of scenery, I kind of like grey skies :) it slows everyone down here for a minute or two. We finally realized that it was fall and almost the end of the year, and I can hardly pay attention to my "Christmas Countdown" because it is counting down to more than just Christmas.

I have a huge testimony that missionaries are sent to teach people that are waiting for them. I have met hundreds of different missionaries, and there is no prototype, there is no silver bullet, there is no "one way to do this" or "you have to be that". Heavenly Father KNOWS all of his children very well. He knows who a missionary can help, and he puts them in a place where they can find people who are open to feeling the spirit. There are people that I have met in my mission, who I know were sent to bless me, in my life, and I know that I have been sent to share the Gospel with those who I have been able to teach, and help come to know Jesus Christ. 

In short, I know that I was meant to serve a mission, and that the California Carlsbad Mission is where Heavenly Father new would be the best place for me to serve. I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it shows that we have a God who loves us. I know that Joseph Smith was a tool in our Heavenly Fathers hand to restore the truths that were taught by Jesus Christ himself. And anyone can receive that answer for themselves by reading the Book of Mormon and praying if God has called a prophet to guide us by continuing revelation in these days. I know that I couldn't have gotten here on my own, but that Heavenly Father blessed me with so many great people in my family, and extended family and friends (family). I know that we can all live together forever, through the gift that Jesus Christ makes available to all of us.

Thank you all for being such a great support to me on my mission, I owe a lot to each of you. 

Love, Elder Strong

Elder James Riley Strong

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 1, 2014 - Pictures

Mormon street art (Alma 32:16)
 more street art

 Elder Petersen destroyed me when we played Risk on thanksgiving.

December 1, 2014


This was a very interesting week. last Sunday, our friend Charles (in a wheel chair, stroke victim) was heading out the door because he wasn't feeling well and we found him outside in his chair unconscious, he wasn't breathing. He then threw up, we got him out of his chair and laid him out on the cement to open up his airway and then called 911, he was doing fine before the ambulance got tho the church, but they wanted to take him in to make sure everything was ok. It turns out, that he had another small stroke. We visited him in the Hospital a few times this week, and he got out before thanksgiving. They want to put a stint in the next time he come in, but it wasn't to bad 

Helping to take care of Charles has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done on my mission. It has made me very grateful for a body that works and that heals quickly. It makes me want to make sure that I don't let anything bad into my body. But what I have learned the most is humility. Charles can do very little on his own, and has to let others take care of him. For someone who used to be very wealthy and self made successful, to let 20 year old boys teach him how to pray, let alone teach him how to breath and exercise, is amazing to me. Even though it is seemingly degrading for him, Charles is very appreciative for the help and support that he gets.

I hope that all of you can feel the warm fuzzy of service. It is more than just a duty or a moral obligation. It is a privilege to stand in the Saviors place, and act as someones helper or healer. It isn't always physical service, but is often as simple as being friendly to someone, or most importantly, catering to others spiritual needs. Through Home or Visiting Teaching, you are caring for someones needs in all of these ways. And through being spiritually aware of others (praying to see opportunities to help others) you can help everyone that you come into contact with, one simple act at a time. I challenge you to seek divine guidance to find someone that you can help. 

Elder Strong

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014 - Pictures

 jack-in-the-box Christmas ornament
Petersen on Pacific Street

November 24, 2014


Happy holidays! today our Preparation Day is really short so that we can have a full day on Thanksgiving. We have a dinner scheduled on Camp Pendleton with some marine families and we have one with a recent convert, who is a REALLY good cook. so we are excited! last thanksgiving we had 3 big dinners, so we will see what happens.
We have a ton of exchanges to go on this transfer, and on saturday I lost a bet with Elder Jason Elquist (from Spanish Fork) and now I owe him a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper. 

We are really really busy.

I keep you all in my prayers, and I hope that everyone is safe this holiday season. 

Elder James Riley Strong

November 17, 2014 - Pictures

 Someone tried to steal our bikes :/
 you can find God anywhere

The Ward had a Soc Hop, our investigators loved it. there was a live band, "The Flying Mangoes"

November 17, 2014

​W​ell howdy

Hey everyone, first off, this is a picture of us and Samantha, She is AWESOME. She got baptized on Saturday, she asked Elder Petersen to baptize her, and me to confirm her. She is really cool, and her Service was incredibly spiritual. The Young Women put on the whole show, and they invited some of their friends to come too. her mom spoke at her Baptism and talked about how it was a family "right of passage" to join a church different that what you were raised in, and gave a history of generations being raised in one church and joining another, so on and so forth. really amazing

then the sacrament meeting where she was confirmed, her mom was there, and the stake president and his wife spoke, they spoke very boldly about Joseph Smith, and gave some parts of Hugh B. Brown's "profile of a prophet". It was very black and white. Either it is TRUE or it is NOT it was a great experience for them both. Her mom says that she isn't looking to change church's, but she is very grateful that Samantha found a church that is so ready to support her and she has already seen a big difference in Samantha's life.

I can't wait to see what this year's holiday season brings us! hopefully lots of miracles! 
Elder James Riley Strong

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 10, 2014 - Pictures

He didn't send any captions but here are this week's pictures. 

November 10, 2014

This week was a great one! we met some new people who want to be taught, and we have been working well with our new Ward Mission Leader, Brother Shrope. 

Last night, someone that I taught in Temecula got baptized. His name is Justin! and he met us by coming to church with his girlfriend, Tara. I got to go back to see him get baptized and confirmed. He is going to do great things in the church

love you busy day!

Elder James Riley Strong

November 3, 2014 - Pictures

 Cloudy day in Oceanside, lunch on the roof of cabo grill
 sunset in Centrale
 Getting ready to do some baptizing
 Haley and Nikko + alot of misisonaries who taught their family. Including Elder Wongsuwan (my last companion)

November 3, 2014

Things are going fine, we are pretty busy but it will probably slow down a lot if we don't find a bunch of new investigators soon. The Pereyra baptism went really well! I got to baptize Haley and Elder Petersen baptized Nikko. and then on Sunday, Elder Petersen confirmed Haley and I confirmed Nikko. I am glad (and so is everyone else) that this family is now on the same track together. and that they can all help each other rely on the Lord.

Things are going to be really busy next week, we have a big conference with Elder Teh, and he will probably call on me to do say something since I haven't read any of the talks he asked us to review yet haha.

That's about it, just livin the dream. It has been really chilly here the last couple of days, especialy last night. I just got over a cold, and I was pretty out of it for a few days, Elder Petersen had to take care of me and deal with my extra dose of grumpy. and he had to handle all of the phone calls because I had no voice and I passed out early each night when we got home. but now I am only a little bit sick, but I am always ill. haha!

Alright, well, have a nice week.

Elder Strong

Elder James Riley Strong

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 27, 2014 - Pictures

 drive-by shootings

 Brandon Fahnestock and his wife Jessica, Brandon was baptized by Brother Lavulavu

October 27, 2014

Things have been going great!

Brandon's Baptism we one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. He is so devoted to following the savior and doing what is right. this is the kind of thing that missionaries dream of.

Our Zone Activity is today, we are going to carve pumpkins and play some games, hopefully is a success!

One of my new heroes is our new Ward Mission Leader, Brother Shrope, he is a "Spiritual Jedi", as he has been titled. I really think that he is going to be responsible for MANY missionary successes while he is here. 

We went to the temple but we didn't take any pictures, it was great! like always. a very spiritual experience.

Well, love you! 

P.S. Someone should look for a hot wheels of a 58 corvette, so that Brother Shrope can have his dream car!

Elder James Riley Strong

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Pictures

 another pic from the front gate of Camp Pendleton 
 The San Luis Rey Mission, where the people "go" to church
 Halloween is my favorite
The Oceanside civic center/library

October 20, 2014

Hi everybody!

Another great week of the mission. This week went by crazy fast! Elder Boehme (a good friend) had to be switched to a different zone, so that was sad. He actually got transferred into the Farsi group in Del Mar, which, is one of the only ones in North America, so he has to learn a new (ridiculous) language, and he probably stay there for the rest of his mission.

We spent a lot of time on base this week, I found out that one of my biggest fears is accidentally speeding on a military base, because the speed limits are all a lot slower than usual and all of the marines on patrol have M-16s and not all of them are particularly fond of missionaries. I had to get a temporary military ID to be allowed on base, and you have to have an active duty marine sponsor you to get one, so we had our investigator meet us at the gate and fill out some paperwork to get it done. 

His name is Brandon, he is from the Kansas and his wife Jessica is a member, they are in their early-20's and Brandon is getting baptized this week! He is really cool. super nice guy, solid testimony, strong desire to follow Christ. He always wanted to go to church when he was growing up, but his parents would never take him. and he is soaking it all up now! we have only been teaching him for like 4 weeks but it feels like we have all known each other for years! it has been amazing to get to know them, and to see how much they love the gospel, and how much they want to get sealed in the temple.

Then there is Charles, a 65 year old recent convert. We go over to his humble home and act as physical therapists, and help him work out and take care of his other needs. His life is a shadow of the modern day Job (from the Old Testament) in a matter of 4 or 5 years, he lost his wife and his daughter in a car crash, his son became a raging alcoholic, the recession hit and he lost EVERYTHING. He used to live in a really nice house in Falbrook, he had an avocado grove and horses and the whole 9 yards. And then he had a massive stroke, losing the ability to walk and move his arms for the most part. he speaks really slow and it is very difficult to understand him sometimes. He has a really hard time not getting discouraged, but he really wants to be able to walk again. he was only baptized 3 or 4 months ago and you can tell that he is doing better then he was before. He is a grumpy old man haha. he rides his little jazzy around town and enjoys seeing the sights.

Well I gotta go love you!

Elder James Riley Strong

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 14, 2014

we got to go see "Meet the Mormon's" as a whole mission. It was REALLY good.

I got transferred into the Oceanside 1st Ward, here is the map of the whole zone, the Carlsbad Zone. Our ward is at the top.

this is my companion Elder Petersen, I have known him for a long time, and we are good friends. This is Charles, he is a recent convert that is a quadriplegic, we go over to his house every couple of days to help take care of him. I will have to tell you more about him another time. 

Our area covers Camp Pendleton, so there are a TON of Marines in our ward, and a lot of investigators from base. Marines are either the most polite or the LEAST polite. 

There are also a lot of gangs in Oceanside. the two that are in our ward boundaries are Pasole (where we live) and Central (they hate each other) 

But I have heard that a lot of the gang members like the missionaries. Also the apartment we live in is full of marines so we feel safe. 

I went on a Spanish exchange, with Elder Garcia. I got to ride a bike for once! And I got the BEST fish tacos ever!

Things have been going great. We are working with a lot of people right now, and we are having a lot of success. we are really happy about being companions (well at least I am) We served together in the Twin Oaks Valley Ward, he was on the other side. 

And we live 2 miles away from the beach. We run to the end of the pier almost every morning. 

There are a lot of really awesome people out here, it is kinda like my ward in vista, because that ward covered parts of O'side. it is a really interesting part of the mission. I love it.

There is a guy that is getting close to baptism named Brandon. He is a marine and is married to a member, we are going over to their house for dinner and a lesson tonight. He is awesome! 

There are a lot of people to talk to. Just need to filter out the elect! haha, my favorite!

Well, I love you. talk to ya next week.

Elder James Riley Strong