*Insert Opening Line Here*

Those opening lines are still hard to think of, no matter how many I’ve come up with in the past, it’s still like trying to not think of pink elephants when someone says, “don’t think about pink elephants”

All that aside, this last week was amazing! So many cool things going on here in Irvine, this email’s gon’ be a long one!
Tuesday, we dinner with this really cool older couple in our ward, the Moody’s. I think I told you all about them already, they are the ones with tortoises. Huge tortoises. ūüźĘ
We also tried to stop by all the people we haven’t seen in a while, everyone is still radio silence for a while. Happens.
Wednesday, we were on exchanges with some of the Chinese elders. Elder Vaipulu went with Elder Wong and Elder Farrer (Farrer is American in Chinese work), and Elder Hsu (said like shoe) came with us. It was super fun! We had Thanksgiving prep (dinner) with a super cool family, Elder Hatch was telling joke after joke, so were they, and of course I joined in. We were all laughing so much, I got a better ab workout than I’ve gotten in a month. Super fun
Thursday, Turkey Day!
We weren’t allowed to play in the Turkey Bowl football tournament put on by the Stake, but we did go and watch the game with some members. We were however, allowed to play some sand volleyball with some super cool members. An investigator, Donovan, came with us. He showed up at church last Sunday for the first time, and some members told him about the volleyball game, so he came! He lives in another ward’s boundaries, so we passed him off, but he’s still doing well!
Then we had dinner with Bishop Callister in the 2nd ward, and the Layne’s from the 1st ward were there. They’re related, who knew? Dinner was awesome, kids running around, everyone telling funny ¬†stories, and of course, tons of delicious food.
Then, the mission asked us to be at the stake centers at 7 for an activity. We ended up playing sports and watching 17 Miracles. It was a great way to burn off some calories…
Friday, the only thing I can remember is practicing for the music devotional with the other Elders that played with me. We practiced Silent Night for hours and hours, and we still didn’t feel like we had it down, so we got together on Saturday as well. That one went way better!
Sunday! Super great sacrament meetings in both wards. In the 1st ward, Fred and his nonmember wife and son came to church for the first time! I don’t know how much they understood because of the language barrier, but I think they felt the Spirit anyways.
We had the usual back and forth between the two wards, but we have a good system down to get things taken care of. Because we had to get to the devotional early (4:00) so we could do sound checks and help set up, we had to ask the members that signed up for dinner if we could do lunch, which thankfully worked out.
The music devotional was awesome! All the numbers were great, everyone did really well. Elder Stevens, Elder Cox, and I, were sitting in the front watching the program, and part way through, we hear the secong curtain in the gym open up, meaning they had run out seats because there were so many people. We were all super nervous about performing in front of a lot of people already, but we heard that open up and we all looked at eachother like “holy crap that’s a lot of people!”
It came time for us to play, and the whole time I had been praying that we wouldn’t mess up and look like idiots, I had even been fasting that day, I even practiced air guitar when nobody was looking (I hope, lol). We get up to the stand, and start playing, and I didn’t even get nervous! I played better than I had played leading up to that night, and I was so grateful that my prayer had been answered.
So, not only did they have us play in the chapel, they had us play while we led people to the temple grounds, and for a while we were standing outside the stake center as people walked by. I think we played Silent Night like, 15 times while people were walking. Then we went over to the temple grounds and we got up on this ledge and played Away in a Manger (which we butchered, but I don’t think anyone could hear anyways), and then all three verses of Silent Night again. It was really cool, everyone had candles (fake ones, no real fire) and lanterns, and we were right in front of this beautiful nativity.
I’ll send some pictures home, and I’m told they have a video of us playing, so I’ll get my hands on it for you all!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom
Pictures!!!
Big random group picture, The Three Amigos with President Clark, and The Three Amigos.
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It’s Beginning to Sound Like Christmas

Drum roll please!

*drum roll*
Lights!
*lights*
Email!!
*furious typing*
ACTION!!!
Well hello there!
It’s been another great week here in the sunny paradise of California. Can’t wait to get back to the frozen North though!
We had a lesson with Jay, it went really well. We made some progress, we did have to re-discuss some things, but we managed to leave on a good note. I feel like once he understands just a few more things, he will want to get baptized.
We’ve been working on getting more of our info put into the area book app, they’ve given us a deadline, by which point we need to have our entire area book entered into the phone. It’s going to be just like I’m back at my desk job! #meatgrinderhelmet
We’ve broken out the Christmas music, so it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. Doesn’t look like it though! Yet again, weird.
Well! Three weeks left y’all!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Rhodes Rolls and Smart Phone Studies

Hey y’all!

This week was pretty good! Here’s some highlights and funny stories.
Monday, we had dinner with this older family in the ward, the Hildts. She used to manage our dinner calendar for us, so their family loves having the missionaries over. The dinner was really good, we’ve been getting Thanksgiving prep all week.
But, Elder Hatch seemed to really like the dinner rolls (Rhodes, who’d a thunk, right?) and he mopped up like, 6 of them. He’s a funny guy.
Tuesday, we had zone conference. It was my last one, a little bittersweet. It was a really good meeting, and I learned a lot. We had a training on using our smartphones effectively, and they had me get up and share my new study method using the Gospel Library app. It’s simple, but I guess they really liked it.
Then at the end, they have all the departing missionaries share their testimonies, and so I got up and shared some of the things I’ve learned. I’d been thinking about what I wanted to share, so I hope I got through to a couple people.
Wednesday, they had me come back to zone conference for the other half of the mission to share my study method again, and at the end, I looked over to see if I had gone over everything they wanted me to, and Sister Clark mouthed to me to share my testimony again, so I did. Again, I hope I got through to some people. It was a good day.
Thursday, we had our usual morning routine, tried stopping by some people before lunch, ya know, missionary stuff. Then we took Elder Hatch to the Greenie dinner and headed to our own dinner appointment. Dinner was the bomb, breakfast food. Best pancakes ever, bacon was amazing. I hadn’t had bacon in a while. Elder Vaipulu and I shared this message with them about repentance and the Holy Ghost. I’ll try and record a video to show you all, maybe next week…
Friday, Elder Vaipulu went to MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) and Elder Hatch and I tried to track some people down. We picked Elder Vaipulu up after MLC and stopped by our investigator Jay. He let us in and we had a good lesson with him. He asked us a good question, it stumped us because we weren’t expecting it. He asked us “If I already go to my Bible study, if I already am meeting with you, if I already have a relationship with God, why do I need more?” He had talked to us about family history, and brought out a huge binder full of stories and pedigree charts. I thought for a minute, then I picked up the binder and told him that if he joined the church and went to the temple, he could not only have spiritual experiences, but he could help his family on the other side. He asked what I meant, and the three of us told him about why we have family history work and temples. That seemed to get through to him a bit more, hopefully it sticks! He has some memory problems, so hopefully he remembers when we go over next time.
Saturday, Elder Vaipulu had a meeting in the morning, then he went to the temple with his previous ward because a less active they were teaching went through the temple for the first time. The Clark’s (from my 1st ward, not the mission president and his wife) dropped him off to us at the mission office. It was good to see them again, they have helped me a lot on my mission.
Sunday, as usual, we juggled both wards for a while. We’ve decided on a new system, where only one of us is going to go to the meetings that would normally take us away from regular church meetings, and the other two can get a little more enjoyment out of church. It was my turn this week, it wasn’t that bad. Kinda nice to be busy, that way it’s hard to notice how tired you are! Lol¬†ūüėā
Well fam! I guess I’ll share some of the things I talked about in Zone Conference.
I have spent far too long wishing I had less time on my mission, but about a year in, that changed. I stopped having first experiences, and started having last experiences on my mission. My last birthday on the mission, my last¬†4th of July¬†on the mission, my last this or that. And my whole perspective changed. I realized that I’ve been having a blast and I didn’t even know it. I’ve grown a lot, I’ve changed into a better person, a person who knows God’s will, and is seeking to accomplish whatever he has in store for me. And a lot of that happened without me really knowing it, until I took the time to look back on my mission so far.
I have seen the power in people to change, the power that comes from Christ. No matter what you have been, you don’t have to stay that way. There is nobody between you and Christ. No one can fall lower than the Light of Christ shines. He has carried me on days that I feel like giving up, days that seem to stretch on into miserable hour after miserable hour, He has been there when I cry out in my heart for help. I know He is there.
I have learned that if you aren’t happy where you are at, that isn’t always your fault. But it is your fault if you stay there. You have all of Heaven on your side. The Lord puts people into our lives for a reason. Sometimes, to put us through a refiners fire. Other times to temper our will. Other times He puts us against the grinding wheel to knock off a few rough edges. And yet, other times, He might just be melting us back down so He can shape us into something grander. But at all times, He is holding us, and He is shaping us into His image.
I have learned that honest testimony brings the Spirit. You can say things that sound nice, or you can say some cool thing to get noticed. You’ll get what you want, you might look cool or not make someone upset. But when you speak from the heart, the Spirit gets the truth from your words and brings it to their heart, and if they let it in, they’ll understand what they need to. Trust that what you’re thinking is inspiration. The Lord can make the best out of our fumbling, but honest, attempts.
Boom, amen.
ūüé§ūüíß
Here’s hoping it’s another great week in paradise!
Love you, miss you, life is good, God is great, people are crazy,
РElder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Woot Woot! 

Hey Fam!
So, we found out about transfers Saturday night, and all three of us are staying!!! I’m super happy. I don’t like being transferred.
We had a good week, super busy, but that’s always a good thing when one is a missionary.
Mondays are always crazy around here. Crazy in a good way, but still crazy. Our area covers the mission office, so there are always always people in and out of that building. Makes it easy to stay in touch with people though.
Tuesday, we helped a senior couple with delivering furniture to some of the apartments in the mission. It also happened to be the hottest day on record! I just got a good tan.
Then, we had baptismal interviews for the Carusso kids. It was amazing. While one of them was being interviewed, I taught the other four to make paper missionary shirts. I’ll send a picture. But! Everything is all set for their baptism this Saturday! I know the Lord has been preparing this, it adds to my testimony that the Lord is in control. We had next to nothing to do with this all happening, it’s been in the works for years now. I’m just grateful that I can be a part of it all! I kinda feel that way about my mission, as long as I’ve been doing the things I know to be right, the Lord seems to make things work out for the best.
Wednesday, district meeting. The District Leader asked me to give a training on Sister Jones talk in General Conference. I learned a lot studying it, and my training was better than I thought it would be. Who’d a thunk?
Then we had a lesson with Jay. He read Moroni 8 like we asked him, and he again had a typed booklet of his favorite verses and notes on the chapter. We talked to him for a while, and had him read different scriptures that we thought would help him. He’s always makes sure to tell us that he doesn’t want to be Mormon, but every time we go over he just sings praises about the Book of Mormon. He straight up told us this time that he believes the Book of Mormon is true. But he still has this hang-up about Joseph Smith and the translation, and he hasn’t found any archeological evidence, ¬†and so on. But, we are making progress in spite of his short term memory problems.
Thursday, we did weekly planning early since we had exchanges on Friday. We spent most of the time entering investigators into the new area book app, and then we tried to get in touch with some of the referrals and potential investigators already in the system.
Friday, I went on exchange with Elder Edwards in the Northwood Ward. We got along really well, had a lot of things in common, so the day went by pretty quick. We didn’t have dinner with a member that night, so we went to this place called Chronic Tacos. And yes, it does sound like a disease. And yes, I did get Chronic Taco disease that night.
Saturday was busy! We had breakfast with some members, the Moody’s. They have these HUGE tortoises in their backyard. One is about as big as Easton. We helped the Wennings move, they are still in the ward, which is good. It was the most organized move I’ve ever helped with. We had dinner with an awesome family in the ward, the Miyagis. They are homies. They fed us steak, and gave us leftovers ūüôā
Sunday, it seems we were bouncing around between meetings since our wards overlap, and then we have ward mission correlation and ward council. We’ve started going on splits with our ward mission leaders during church so that we can be in both wards at once. It’s kinda crazy.
Well! I’m trying something new with studies this transfer, I’ll tell you all how it goes!
Love you, miss you,
РElder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Peter Picked a Peck of Persimmons

Hey Fam!

This week was super great!
Tuesday¬†we had a lesson with the Carusso kids, the Spirit is always so strong there. I think I’ve learned more from those kids that I’ve taught them. Seriously so cool.
Wednesday¬†was super busy, but it was one of those days that you don’t have things that might overlap, but you are always doing something, you have enough time to get things done, but only just. We helped this crazy lady sweep her back patio. There were all kinds of creepy spiderwebs back there. *shudder*
Thursday, we helped a sister in our ward at her friend’s house, we went and picked persimmons. They let us keep a bag full, which was nice. We had dinner with this super cool family in our ward, they have us over every week. Their son is super funny, you usually don’t hear him talk, but when he does it usually some hilarious joke.
Friday, we had a lesson with an investigator Steve, and we talked about King Benjamin’s address to the Nephites, specifically the verse where he says, “If yes believe all these things, see that yet do them.” Steve has been coming to church on and off for years now, and he has told us he believes everything, but he doesn’t want to commit to baptism because he doesn’t feel like he can do everything, like, callings, all 3 hours every¬†Sunday, getting his son to scouts, all that stuff. So, we’ve been trying to tell him that all that¬†stuff¬†isn’t the Gospel, all that stuff is just there to provide us opportunities to help one another, to serve and to learn. We’ll see how it goes I guess.
Saturday, we had the adult session of Stake Conference, and it was super great! I learned things related to what they were talking about, but I also learned things unrelated through the Spirit, which was amazing. Funny how that tends to happen, huh?
Sunday, more Stake Conference, and one of the Carusso kids, the oldest one, spoke. She talked about their family’s story, and it was really cool to hear some of the details. It confirmed to me that Heavenly Father knows the details of our lives, and that if we trust him, things will work to our benefit.
Well! Seems like that’s about all for this week!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

These Things Are Pretty Sweet

Hey guys!
This week was pretty cool. It seriously feels like it’s been a solid month since last Monday.
So, first off, big news!
We all got our smartphones!
After interviews on Wednesday with President and Sister Clark (by the way, I love those two so much, interviews are always awesome!), the assistants catch me in the hallway and are all “Yo Ahlstrom, you want a phone?”. These things are pretty sweet.
Monday, we went back to the Carusso’s and taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation. We were only able to get through the first half because the younger kids were asking a bunch of really good questions! They are coming back from their dad’s house this week, so we will be going back there later this week or early next week to finish up that lesson.
Tuesday, we moved into a new apartment and helped some other missionaries move around as well. I’m liking the new digs. I’ll send you guys a picture!
Then on Thursday, we had a lesson with our investigator Jay. In our previous lesson, we invited him to read Alma 32, and he actually read it! He loves to read the Bible, and a couple years ago, a missionary challenged him to take his study of the Book of Mormon seriously, and, well, he did!
He typed up a bunch of his notes just from Alma 32, and he’s also gone through a good chunk of the Book of Mormon, finding his favorite verses and such. We got talking about the chapter, and how it is an invitation to grow your faith, to have faith, and he really loved the chapter, and we could all tell that he felt the spirit so strong.
We invited him to come to a Book of Mormon institute class, and he agreed to at least come once to try it out, and before we had the chance to invite him to read another chapter, he asked us what he should read! So we assigned him Moroni 10. Can’t wait to see what he finds there!
Saturday, we went on exchanges with our district leader, Elder Stevens. He’s super cool. We had a special zone conference going over some of the things that come along with getting technology in the mission.
Sunday was super great! It was the primary program in the 1st Ward (primary programs are the BEST)!
That’s about it fam!
Send me your favorite pictures of Christ! I need a good wallpaper…
Love you, miss you,
РElder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Smartphone Surprise and a Baptism

Heeyyyyyyyyyyy!

It’s been a heck of a few weeks yall!
So, the big news is, *drum roll*
We’re getting smartphones!
So, we all thought it was going to be tablets, but we get to zone conference, and they make this big announcement that it’s smartphones!
I’m super pumped for it! It’s going to make our mission so efficient, keeping track of paper records is just about the worst idea ever. It’s a big blessing, for sure, and the whole mission has been working to get our records updated for the transfer to being paperless.
I’m also excited to be able to study on a phone, we’ll be able to access conference, the ensign, etc.
And I can actually send more pictures home… Sorry… I’ve sent, like, maybe 20 so far?
Enough about that, now on to area news!
So, there is a family in the ward, the Carusso’s. Their father, the ex-husband, didn’t want to let the kids get baptized, and there’s like, five of them that are baptism age. We had been praying and fasting for them to be able to, and things started to look up! So, we have a big announcement!
He finally agreed to let them all get baptized!!!
Our Bishop got him to sign a letter agreeing to it, and we went over last night to go over the first lesson, and we’re going back tonight for dinner!
Well everyone! Miracles still happen here in the California Irvine Mission!
Love you, miss you,
РElder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Obligatory Opening Line Here

I’m having a hard time coming up with opening lines to these things now. It’s kind of like that struggle with what the heck to put in the subject line.
It’s been a super awesome week! I’m starting to really like this area, despite the fact that it’s literally two square miles. So small! Our area covers the mission office, so we sometimes help the senior couples with stuff.
My companions and I are pouonding the tar out of our area bok, going by all the formers and potentials, hitting up less-actives and part-member families.
There’s some big news coming up, but we won’t know for sure what’s going to happen until¬†Tuesday, so I guess you folks will have to wait until next week to hear what the heck I’m talking about!
Well, not much else to talk about!
– Love you, miss you
Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

What up, Transfers?

So, it’s transfers and I’m….*DRUM ROLL*…………………………..
Getting transferred!
This one kinda threw me a curveball. I figured I’d be in the area for the rest of my mission, but after only two transfers, they transferred both me, and Elder Crone! We left both areas this morning, and I’m gonna miss that guy. We were basically the same person, he was one of my favorite comps. He is in the Rancho Santa Margerita stake, in the Forester Ranch ward.
And as far as where I am now, I’m in the Irvine Stake, in the Woodbridge 1st and 2nd wards. My companions are Elder Waddoups (like what-ups) and Elder Vaipulu, who is from Tonga. He came out with me, so we have been out for around the same amount of time, and we’ve always wanted to serve together, so now we have a chance to! He’s a Zone Leader, so he’ll be working with the Zone Leaders in the zone at meetings and things, as well as working on getting his GED.
The wards that I’m in have the mission office in their boundaries, so I’ll be helping to set up things for zone conferences and such. It’s gonna be fun! I’m really excited, even though I left my area after only 3 months, and I’ve only got 3 months left. Lots of mixed emotions right now, but I’m looking on the bright side.
Well fam! Hope you are all doing well! Since it’s transfer day, we’ve got lots of stuff to juggle around for the next day or so, Elder Waddoups’ previous companion, Elder Gunn, is going home¬†tomorrow, so there will be four of us in the apartment tonight! Fun stuff! So, emailing this week is getting cut short. I’m only going to be able to send this email, and maybe a few others, but I promise more details next week!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Most Average Weekly Update of Your Life

So, if that doesn’t say anything, not sure I can say much else. But, that’s not a bad thing! Most of the time on a mission, you have your ups and downs, and then there’s a rare stretch in between the two. That’s pretty much been my life for the past week or two. And I really can’t complain!
So, in the Laguna Niguel ward, they’ve been planning TONS of activities to invite their friends to, and¬†Saturday¬†was a really great opportunity. Our ward came together with a local Lutheran church in the area, along with the city and a couple businesses, and hosted an emergency preparedness open house thingy. Tons of people showed up, it was a hit! It was also really good to break down a few of the barriers between our church and theirs. We even met a few members that had decided to join the Lutheran church!
In Aliso Niguel, we’ve been pushing family history super hard (although I know very little on the subject). We have the stake family history guru in our ward, Sister Davis. She’s like a family history Jedi or something. I swear, she pulls names out of nowhere. It’s amazing. But! we’ve taken some of the members with us on splits to go trackting, and when people open the door we just talk to them about family history, let them know about the family history center, etc. We’ve seen some cool things come from that, a couple people said they would even be interested in learning more about the church and why we place an emphasis on genealogy. Who knew?
Well. It’s the week before transfers, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure Elder Crone and I are going to be split up, we’ve been together two transfers, and he’s been in the area for 6 months. But, they could also split the wards again, and the two of us each get a companion in either ward. I think that makes the most sense, but we’ll see. You really never can know for sure what’s going to happen around here.
That’s all, folks!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom