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.
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
Big random group picture, The Three Amigos with President Clark, and The Three Amigos.