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,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom
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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,
– Elder 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

Well hello there!

Sorry this one’s coming a day late, but we got roped into a massive service project that ate up our whole yesterday. We spent three hours shoveling dirt out of a U-haul. It was good exercise, and it put my protein shake to work for sure!

Well, this past week was great! A few highlights from the week:

District meeting on Thursday, we talked about focus and developing love for everyone.

We met with Nevaeh, she is a foster child living with some members in the ward, the Cooks. She is almost ready to get baptized, but they just need to get permission from her birth mother. It’s exciting!

We got together with the whole zone and painted an elementary school classroom. It was lots of fun! It reminded me of painting stuff in the garage.

We’ve been over to the McCarrolls a bunch, helping them with work in their back yard and talking about well, nearly everything. We’re hoping they come to an activity at the stake center tonight, we think it will help them a ton.

Tonight we’re meeting a returning inactive, Nathan. Last week, he walked into church for the first time in 20+ years and said he was wanting to come back. We gave him a blessing last week, and he agreed to take the lessons to refresh his memory. I’m interested to learn more about what has brought him back, but I can tell that the Lord has been in his life recently, guiding him back home. I’m so grateful for a Loving Father in Heaven who is willing to help us when we remember Him and ask for help.

So, since starting the 40 day Book of Mormon challenge, Elder Crone and I have been reading the Book of Mormon like it’s our full time job or something. 13 pages a day. But, I’ve been learning so much! It’s amazing how much better my studies have been. I don’t remember if I told you all before, but, I decided to read the book from back to front, starting in Moroni and working my way backwards book by book. It’s been interesting to read about these things happening to the Nephites and Lamanites, and then to go back and read all the prophesies and connect the dots. It’s really helped me get things in order as well.

Well, that’s about it for this week!
Love you, miss you,
Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Dinner with the Voice

Hi fam!

This week we had 7+ hours of church, which was different. It was cool to be able to be in Sacrament meeting twice, so that you’ve already had one to focus, and two hours of meetings, then you have another to really get the spirit of the Sacrament. And then you still have two more hours 🙂
So, Tuesday we helped out with a super dope service project, we were teaching kids with special needs to ride bikes. It involved lots of running, so I got some good cardio in! Most of them will never be able to get drivers licenses, so a bike is going to be their main form of transportation on their own. I got to work with some amazing kids, and the other volunteers were super nice, and it felt amazing to be able to help them learn and see the progress they made.
Then, we helped an investigator with service, putting together office chairs and helping them get an office set up. Pretty good stuff.
Wednesday, we went back to that service project and helped more kids learn to ride bikes. They were getting faster, so it was harder to keep up. We were also teaching them how to use the brakes 🙂 Then we spent the rest of the day trying to track down some potential and former investigators, so that was cool. And then we tried to go and meet a bunch of the people in our other ward council, but nobody was home 😦 No matter, we met ’em Sunday.
Thursday was District Meeting, we played a bunch of get to know you games and talked about what we want to accomplish this transfer. Then, we tried to find potentials and former investigators, and alas, nobody was home. I’ve learned that people in California are just never home, they live at the beach.
Friday, we helped some members move out of our ward, got some lunch, and did our weekly planning. Oodles of fun. Then a member took us out to dinner, and I ordered a carnitas sandwich, which had jalapenos in it. Way more than I thought. I took one bite and my mouth was Mt. Vesuvius. Fire and brimstone style. But the sandwich was so good that I ate the whole thing.
Saturday, all the missionaries in the Stake got together and pulled weeds and planted trees at an Elementary school in the morning, then went to a youth baptism in our ward. In the evening, we met our new Bishop, Bishop Swanson. He’s a cool guy, really missionary minded. The ward has an entire month of activities geared around missionary work coming up in September, so we’re super excited about that.
Sunday, 7 hours of church. Then dinner at our ward mission leader’s house, Brother Eyre. His daughter Hannah was on the Voice. I don’t know if any of you watched the show or have seen it, but it takes tons of talent to get on the show. Super cool. I had dinner with a semi-celebrity!
Well. This next week we’re gonna be teachin like mad. Our investigators just doubled, and we have tons, metric tones of people to work with.
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

I Freakin’ Love California

      So, transfer calls came in what feels like ages ago (Saturday night), and we got some good news, and some unexpected news. The good news, Elder Crone and I are staying together another transfer! I was super happy when I found that out, he and I have hit a good routine that is working really well. But, BOOM unexpected news came in:
Elder Crone and I are taking over the Laguna Niguel ward as well as the Aliso Niguel ward.
     TWO WARDS!? I know, some Utah missionaries are thinking “lulz, that’s easy, we cover two stakes”, but, I’ve never had two wards before. I’m super excited though, the new ward is super cool, and there’s lots of work to be done. It’s gonna keep us busy for sure.
     The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It gets the ward members more involved, since we can’t be in two places at once, we have more members to sign up on the dinner calendar so we get into more members’ homes, and we have a broader range to find and teach. It’s another thing that adds to my faith in President Clark to be making the decisions that at first don’t make sense to the rest of us, but the more we think about it, the more we understand. I love being a missionary!
      So, stuff that happened this week.
Monday, the usual P-day madness. Shopping, lunch, talking to you guys, and we got together and played water balloon volley ball with the Elders in the zone.
Tuesday, we had district meeting, and a super cool senior couple, the Nygrens, came and talked about using our agency to navigate life, and being agents to act, rather than waiting to be acted upon.
Wednesday, we had dinner with an investigator, Sheri, and three of her friends. It went really well, they were all super nice. We had a lot of gospel conversations, and at the end, we were running out of time so we decided to just share a quick scripture. Elder Crone shared one of his favorite scriptures, and it was exactly what they needed to hear. They all really had a good time, and hopefully we can go back this week!
Thursday, I cannot remember a single thing that happened Thursday, and I don’t have last transfer’s planner to see what we did. But, it was a good day.
Friday, we had another ton of service. We helped a new family move into the ward. It was the hottest day of the summer. I got a nice tan though! Then, we helped a member paint their kindergarten classroom, so that was fun! We had a good time chatting with them.
Saturday, we did weekly planning since Friday was so full. And in the evening we had transfer calls.
Sunday, the last relaxed Sunday for the foreseeable future. Our new ward starts at 9:30 and goes until 12:30, and our first ward starts at 1 and goes to 4. Church all day! Yaaaaaaay!
Well, that’s it for this week!
Love you, miss you,

– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Cleanin’ Crew

So. This week. Went by. So fast. It feels like this transfer just started. And now it’s week five of six.

Monday, we did the usual P-day shenanigans, frisbee and volleyball, shopping and the like.

Tuesday, we had district meeting at the Laguna Beach building because the Stake Center parking lot was being re-done that week. I played a hymn on the guitar for the closing hymn, it was If You Could Hie to Kolob. Then we had a lesson with a less-active, we got together and read Jacob 5 with her. We usually go over every week and read with her in the Book of Mormon, and she started to read on her own, but then got to that chapter and well… even I still have trouble with that one. But the lesson went well and she felt the spirit.

Wednesday we helped with some service, helping someone that recently moved in organize her stuff. There were like, 8 Elders there and we got work done! Cleanin’ Crew, comin’ through!

Thursday, we spent nearly the whole day trying to track down some former investigators that haven’t been responding lately, and no such luck was found 😦 But, we saw another less-active that we work with, and had a great lesson with her. Towards the end, her older son walked in and sat with us through the end of the lesson. He knows a lot about the Bible, and was really nice. His girlfriend is a recent convert up in Irvine, so he’s been to church a bunch up there. Hopefully we can start working with him too.

Friday, weekly planning day, metric tons of fun. I forgot what I was going to write about, crazy library people seem to feel like I’m a listening ear today. But, it was a good day, we met with the Ward Mission Leader and coordinated for the next week or so.

Saturday, the whole Zone went up to Newport Beach to help clean the temple! It was so cool. The temple usually asks the mission to help when they close every six months for the deep cleaning. It’s amazing, because we get to see cool parts of the temple. And I saw some members from my greenie area.

Sunday was super great as always, we had a 5th Sunday meeting all about preparing for natural disasters. There was a couple that was in the Tokyo earthquake with their 5 kids, and they talked all about what they had done to prepare, and the revelation they got in the months before the disaster. It was super cool to hear them talk about their experiences, and another reminder that the Lord is in the details of our lives.

That’s about all for this week folks!
Love you, miss you,
– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom

Bean-Boozled!

Hi everyone!

This week was great, we didn’t have the chance to teach too many lessons, but the few that we did teach, we made good progress with them.
Monday was p-day, we got together at a park and played volleyball and frisbee. Boat loads of fun.
Tuesday we had district meeting and played a game to help us remember certain points in each lesson, and each time a team lost, they each had to eat a bean from that bean-boozled game. Which, by the way, is a horrible game if you team loses every round, and that’s exactly what happened to my team.
Wednesday night, we had dinner with our investigator Veronica and her two kids at a member’s house, and afterwards we showed a video of Elder Holland talking about the Atonement of Christ, and the Spirit was really strong. She had some questions, so we started talking about the restoration, the Book of Mormon, and the Priesthood. We were able to answer her questions and she is still very interested in learning more. She has brought her kids with her to church four weeks in a row now, so they are pretty solid.
Thursday, we had interviews with President Clark and Sister Clark, which is always amazing. I have grown to really love and respect them so much. President mostly asked me about school plans, they’re starting to plan my travel info… That’s weird.
Friday we had weekly planning and coordination with Brother Wilson, our Ward Mission Leader. He’s awesome, really on top of things and loves doing missionary work.
Saturday we helped our investigator Sheri with a bunch of service around her house, fixing bookshelves and such. Her friend John came over with some power tools, and we found out he was a missionary (for a different church) in American Samoa back in the day. He was super nice.
Sunday was great, a missionary gave her homecoming talk. She was serving in North East Brazil, and she spoke a lot about the sacrifices people there have to make to go to church. It reminded me how lucky I am to be here. This mission is seriously amazing, I couldn’t think of a place I would rather be called to serve.
Well y’all,
Love you, miss you,

– Elder Jon Peter Ahlstrom