Who knows how long this letter will be but there is a lot to tell about!
Last week when I didn't write I didn't have too much happen. The highlight was a big multicultural event that the stake had been planning to do for a little while. There were a lot of booths set up for different cultures and food/clothing from each one. There were lots of dances by the Hmong, Tongans, Latinos, etc also that were cool to watch. There was a pretty good turn out and it was a lot of fun!
Last P-day something cool happened as well. We were playing soccer in the gym when someone flagged me out in the hallway. I walked out, out of breath and sweating profusely. The lady said that she found this guy and he only spoke Spanish so she wanted me to talk to him. This is more or less how the conversation went: He told me his name is Miguel Sanchez. He came to the church because he has a friend from work that told him about the church and that the missionaries come visit his friend. He said he wants to feel the same peace and happiness that his friend has and wants to meet with the missionaries and come to church. He had just barely moved to the area from another part of California and didn't even know his address. We got his phone number, got his information to the sisters that cover the area and now he's going to be baptized at the end of this month! It was definitely a miracle.
This past week has been full of excitement.
I met a really cool family that lived next door to our members and they're a Spanish family. We talked to the mom for a while and she was really interested. She said her husband is Catholic and her family is Jehovah's Witness but she doesn't believe in either. She asked us about our beliefs and was really interested in learning more. We decided to come back another time when her husband was there. We went back last Saturday and just like in every Mexican family the dad told us to go away and that they weren't interested. He wouldn't give us a reason or even tell us what church he went to, just said no. I was really heart-broken because I was excited for this family and had been looking forward to it all week and the dad had shut us down. We'll keep going back and trying to get in the door.
We have been working recently with a less active guy named Martin. He's been trying to get a truck so he can leave and go up to his kids that were taken away by the government and put in Idaho. This past week about 5 elders were at his house and we were pushing an old truck out of his yard so he could hook up his new truck to the trailer he has. As we were pushing the car out, a silver Honda pulled up right behind the car in the driveway and parked. A guy got out of the car and asked if the guy we were helping was named Martin Fitzpatrick. As he did another 5 cars pulled up in the next 15 seconds. All of a sudden the guys were yelling at him to get on the ground and pulled their guns on him. They arrested him and took him away. We were all stunned and had no idea what was going on. The police officers were nice to us and just told us we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The didn't say what the guy had done but they said there was a $2 million dollar warrant out for him and he would be in jail for life. They got our information and then let us leave. That was a really interesting experience that I probably won't have again on my mission.
We also had a little bit more fun and decided to go do "The Blazin' Challenge" at Buffalo Wild Wings. Working up to the moment we did it was probably the most nervous I have ever been in my life. Elder Baryshnikov had done it once last transfer and told us how hard/painful it was and that they had gotten blisters on the top of their mouths from the hot wings. The last time I had tried them was on my 16th birthday and I remembered them being really hot. Nevertheless, we did it! It was a crazy experience. Our faces were red, we were crying, snot coming out our noses, and my whole face was tingling/numb but it was a great experience. Unfortunately I felt like vomiting so I only got through 6/12 in the 6 minutes and Elder Bennet only got through 5/12 but Elder Baryshnikov did it again! It was a lot of fun and I plan on doing it again soon so I can actually win this time! It was a tender mercy as well because we were there at the exact time that Bayern Munich and Chelsea were playing in a final game so I got to see most of the 2nd half and a PK shootout at the end!
Today was the mission wide Spanish activity that they had been planning for a long time. Normally today is our P-day but for all the Spanish missionaries it got moved to tomorrow. Since I'm not in Spanish work anymore I had to ask permission to go. I was allowed to go but I had to sacrifice my Pday to do it. It was a lot of fun. The activity was a big soccer tournament between 8 teams, zumba & tai-chi classes, jump houses, and a big carne asada (bbq). I ended up playing soccer with everyone and it was a lot of fun! I played with the Lodi team until we lost, then they recruited me for the Manteca team, and eventually I ended with the Stockton team and we won! I'm really tired now but it was a lot of fun. It was good to see my ward families from Stockton, Elk Grove & Rancho Cordova, and Lodi and Galt again. I had a lot of fun and was surprised at how many people remembered me by name. It was great to see so many friendly faces that I haven't see in over a year.
Well anyway that's most of the big events that have transpired lately. I'm working on developing my love for the English speaking people again. I feel like I've lost a fire I had for missionary work because I had come to love the Latino people so much. The highlights of my day are when I get to speak Spanish and when we teach Latino families that speak both Spanish & English. I'm trying to find the love for the English speaking people again. I'm trying really hard to get it without losing the passion I have for the Spanish.
Anyway, things are going great! I hope everyone is well!
Les Quiero Mucho,