Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 4, 2014

Dear Family!

This week went by really quick :/ there were a lot of things to get done, but that is always a good thing. I want to tell you a little about an exchange I went on this week.

But first, we had a meeting with all of the mission leadership (STL's, DL's, ZL's) and it was great, President Kendrick talked a lot about fulfilling our purpose and having unity as a mission. We got to drive down, all 5 of us from Temecula who were going filled up the Corolla and took off (our Corolla is named Judy, by the way) on the way home, we just had to stop at Pedro's Taco's for a shrimp burrito and then we went back to the promise land. When we got back, we split up and did our weekly planning and then went to meet up with the Elders we were exchanging with. one of them went to the meeting in Vista with us. 

After Elder Smith left with the Elder he was going to be with, who is also named Elder Smith, I asked my temporary companion what our plans for dinner were, he told me that we didn't have any, and we were just going to eat at the apartment. so we sat down and started to decide what we would make, when he told me "Elder Strong, I am having the worst day today" he seemed really nervous and shaky. I told him it would be ok, and asked what was wrong. He told me he had been having back problems, which I already knew, but that they were worsening and he had not slept for more than about an hour, each night for several weeks. (he has really bad scoliosis and degenerative disc disease) He then told me that he had been to the doctors earlier in the week, and when we were at the conference, President called him into his office, and told him he would be going home to seek medical attention. 

This Elder has a reputation for his consecration and hard work. He has been out almost a year now. He was devastated to find out that he had to go home. I remembered the money in my pocket, that my sweet sweet mother (and father) sent to me, and I said, come on Elder, let me take you out to dinner. I asked him what he wanted and he said pizza, but the pizza place was really far away, and wouldn't work with our schedule if we walked or biked, so we headed towards the corner full of fast food... when suddenly a car pulls off to the side of the road! it was one of the YSA members Ben, he later told me that he was driving home after a hard day (girl drama/work) and felt an impression to ask if we needed anything, so we got into his car and he asked us what we wanted for dinner. we told him pizza, and his face lit up and he said, "do you want the best pizza I have ever found in California??" (Ben served in Italy) he said that it was expensive, but I told him about the money that I had from my parents and he took off to his favorite place. The people working there were only speaking Italian to each other, and they knew that Ben spoke Italian so we were seated and had a really great pizza! 

The rest of the exchange went really well, we made some arrangements for their upcoming baptism and taught some lessons. but the next morning we walked out side and it started to rain, and we walked from appointment to appointment in the rain, for hours. it was pretty miserable, especially in contrast to the usual weather of our mission. (that was the 3rd time I've been in the rain on my mission, i'm pretty sure) I was really impressed by this Elders great attitude, he was thankful that he had another day in the mission that he could prove his dedication to the Lord. We set some really great goals to help him magnify the last few weeks in the mission, including committing the family he has been working with to be baptized. He has strengthened my testimony of the work.

I was thinking of about this Elder in the car on the way here, and this song started to play, it is by the same guy who does all of the "Owl City" stuff, so basically the mission is the only place I would have ever heard it. but I listened to it a bunch a typed out the lyrics so you could read it. (hopefully i didn't mess up to bad) 

In Christ Alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
firm through the fiercest drought, and storm

what heights of love, what depths of peace
when fears are stilled, when striving ceased
my comforter, my all in all,
here in the love of Christ, I stand

there in the ground, his body lay
light of the lord, in darkness lay
then bursting forth, in glorious day 
up from the grave he rose again

and as he stands in victory,
since curse has lost its grip on me
for i am his, and he is mine, 
bought with the precious blood of Christ

no guilt in life, no fear in death
this is the power of Christ in me
from life's first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

no power of hell, no scheme of man
can ever block me, from his hand

till he returns, or calls me home, 
here in the power of Christ, I'll stand

I love you! thanks for all of the support!


-- Elder James Riley Strong

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