Sunday, July 28, 2013

Riley - #27 - Lomita, CA - Palos Verdes Pennisula, Peacocks, and Seasons through Movie Posters

                                                                        July 29

Hi Everyone,

  The pictures I attached are on the Peninsula where most of the Branch lives.

(Click to Enlarge Photos)
     The Peninsula contains four cities, but usually we just call it Palos Verdes which is one of the cities there. As I mentioned in an earlier letter, the animal of Palos Verdes is the peacock, and they have them roam wild. These are a few pictures of some male peacocks, which are less common than the female. 

     By the way, it would be nice to read another of Mollie's emails; I haven't heard anything from her in awhile. 

     English class is growing. We had 14 people on Tuesday. There were only a few on Saturday because people went out of town, but we also had a new student as well. 

     We also had a few students come to the Pioneer Day activity on Saturday. 

     The website is being left as it is for now. A friend of our Branch Mission Leader, Eric Chen, agreed to help us make it, so he is going to make a separate site over the next couple months and then move it over to ours. It should be awesome. 

    Elder Hsiao and Casey are doing fine. I don't see them as often as I used to, but they have been working on UCLA's campus. This is Elder Hsiao's last transfer here. In about three weeks, he will return to Utah, and about 10 days after he gets back, he will start at BYU for the fall semester. We should be getting a new Chinese missionary when he leaves. It will certainly be different without Elder Hsiao here. 

     Speaking of changes, it actually rained hard enough for me to get wet. It has "rained" maybe 3 or 4 times since I have been here usually no more than a light drizzle. I still hope that will rain hard one day. It seems like the weather never really changes here and I miss the seasons. 

     The movie posters are the only real way to tell the passing seasons. We have had a recent change from Minions and Snails to Smurfs and I am still not sure what else. 

     Also, somewhat interesting, last Tuesday they had us come home a little early and told us to avoid being out late in areas where there are a high population of Black people due to recent riots over a court decision. It wasn't a problem for us, as most of the places we go would be safe, but some other missionaries have had to be careful about which places they go. 

     Last note before I go, make sure you are maintaining a $200 amount on my debit card. I am thinking about buying a voice recorder to help me learn Chinese, which would be a little more costly than usual purchases. 

               Elder Bowman


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mollie #38 - Angol, Chile - Comics, Hermana Chavez, Repentence/Integrity

                                                                                          July 15, 2013
Hey all,

   So, you all are going to need to write me a little early hopefully the day before or something like that so that I can get your letters before I write you, but don´t worry too much about it this week. 

Lot of things happened this week...

Anyway, here is something weird that happened in comic form. One day we had eight drunk men individually approach and talk to us. Usually we get about two in a week, but this day we got eight! I know because I counted them.

The next day we happened to talk to this man who only worships women...he was kind of creepy. 

But, hey this is part of the art of contacting and looking for people to teach. We get hippies, gypsies, atheists, drunks, and every type of face - really- passing our way. It has given me a new perspective about people and the faces we share with others.
"I only worship women."
(Click to Enlarge)

Goals vs. Reality (Click to Enlarge)

    So we have a new sister in the house her name is Hermana Chavez. She is twenty  - a sweet, patient, and silly soul from Peru. Her Spanish is beautiful, and she speaks and constructs what she says very cleanly. She is always understood. It is something I would one day like to have.

     We shared our Wednesday night doing silly things and getting to know each other, like playing with this hairpiece that she inherited from her ¨mommy¨of the mission. What do you think? I am not sure long, dark hair suits me.

     I have been reading a bit through Jesus the Christ. A fantastic book that is almost scripture. It is a slow read but very good. It makes me think about a lot of different things, such as conviction. Do I practice what I teach? How does this play into integrity?

     Many people say that they believe things but don´t show it in their actions. It is like the people that only say I repent and believe that this is repentance. But repentance is truly a change, forcing yourself to go in a different direction, so that you can progress as a person. If we say we believe something we need to be able to match it to an action; if not, it is not true belief. We are not saved if we only say so. We must work out our salvation.

So I invite you to go to work -  to up your integrity level. 

 Lots of love,
           Hermana Bowman


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Riley #26 - Lomita, CA - Baptism, Cooking Unprepared Fish, Finding People

                           July 15
Dear Family,

     I didn't take any interesting photos this week so I borrowed some from Elder Bergeson. The pictures are from a baptism in early June. The person being baptized is Michael who is next to me. He is back in China for the summer, but will be coming back in the fall for school. His baptism was right after transfers, so he had learned most of the lessons before I was in the companionship, but I got to be there for his baptism. He is about 6 months younger than me and is awesome. 

Thanks for the curry recipe, Father. It was more complicated than I thought I would be, but I might get around to trying it some time. 

    It is great that Russel was able to leave on his mission. It is a little later than he had hoped, but I know he will do great as a missionary. 

     As for Facebook, we are working on getting more photos. 

     Scaled fish sounds alright, but how do you cook catfish? I still have some left and would still like to know. Also, we bought it at the Chinese supermarket, where they have live fish in tanks and dead ones that aren't prepared at all. In those cases, I think it might take more than wrapping it in Saran Wrap with butter and a microwave.

     This week was the start of the new transfer and went fairly well for us. We still are holding off on going to USC, as we still need to clarify policy. We did stop by a couple other small colleges to see if they have potential. It looks like we are probably allowed on those campuses, but as far as finding Chinese people, we aren't sure if they are that helpful. 

     English class is going great. The class I taught Saturday had ten people in it. We also have someone working on our website. By the time it is done, it should be easier to find through online searches. Right now, it doesn't even show up if you search for it. We have some other ideas we are going to look into this week and have some members who offered to help us. 

        I have a few things I need to ask you for. First, I still need my insurance information. If you could email it I can print it out and carry it around. Also, I need to know the exact time I was born. Don't ask.  

    Last, I loved to get to see a picture of Jake.

             Elder Bowman


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mollie #37 - Blueberry Pancakes, A Baptism, and Details of Slaven's Effect

                                                                July 9
Hi Everyone,

    I got the box. I have already used up most of the mixes. They were all great!. I especially loved the blueberry muffin mix. I made blueberry pancake stars for the fourth of July. Happy Birthday, Sister Jolley! Still young in the journey of eternal life. I hope you have a fantastic year.

 I loved hearing about Daddy´s shaved head last week. Funny how they made money that way. You should send me pictures. Still, how hard for the Utley family.

    Anyway, remember the guy I drew a profile of months ago? He was baptized this last week! Here are pictures of the baptism. He was so excited; he got the church almost an hour early. The good thing was we were also there.
     The bishop wasn´t in town. So his second counselor was in charge of the baptism. We have been banned from the font since the sisters flooded the chapel. Guido, the 2nd counselor, didn´t know that it takes almost three hours to fill the font. He left only an hour to fill the font. The water line was really low and the water was cold because both taps were on to fill the font faster. We ended up boiling pots of water and carrying them to the font so that the water was at least room temp. 

     It was crazy but the baptism was great. I really hope he will continue in the church and continue sharing the gospel with his children.

  About the Slaven's Effect - Slavens is a missionary from the MTC.  He told me this philosophy, and it stuck.

Sorry, I don't have much time today.

Lots of love,

         Hermana Bowman


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Riley # 25 - Lomita, CA - 4th of July, Looking like a Girl, Catfish

North Torrance

        July 9, 2013
Hi Everyone,

      It is transfers this week, so Pday is Tuesday. There hasn't been a change with us. The Chinese elders are all staying just as they are.

     It is great to hear that you are making progress with the Family History. We are planning a fireside in the Branch for September in which the focus will be Family History. I still don't really know how much the church has for Chinese as far as family history, but we should be able to help somehow. We haven't really tried seeing if there is much of an interest in it, but I think there definitely would be for some people.

    My Fourth of July was pretty fun. We had to be home by seven, so it was somewhat of a shorter day for us. We helped out all day at the Ranch Palos Verdes Independence Day celebration held by the city. We helped out at some booths and with the activities they held. It was good to do some service, and we got to eat some pie from the pie eating contest.

     In other news, a Chinese woman said I look like a girl! I am still a little confused. 

    I was at church in Santa Monica talking to another Chinese member, and she just walked up to me, said it, laughed, and walked away. I had never even met her before. To be fair, a better translation would probably be "You have delicate features like a girl," which I am not sure is all that much better. I am trying not to take it to heart. She turned out to be really nice and told me I can call her to practice my Chinese, which is a big help as I am terrible at understanding Chinese especially on the phone.

     Also, I bought a catfish last week and tried to cook it with little success. In other words, my companion sat on the sofa laughing as I tried to salvage edible pieces off the bottom of the pan. No matter what I did the flesh would always stick to the pan. I remember you cooking catfish in Florida which tasted great. Do you have any advice? Also, if the Father would like to share how to make curry, I could give it a try one night.

     I haven't seen the new mission president since last I saw him so not much to tell from personal experience. He seems very involved in our work and seems to trust us all a lot. He is really helping us find a way to work on the college campuses. It has been an effective way of finding people for Chinese missionaries in other missions and has a lot of potential for us. We have SMC, UCLA, and potentially USC. We aren't sure about USC yet, because it is private, but the other schools should be fine.

     We are still looking for other options as well closer to the Branch. We still have a lot of things we are working on - a lot of half formed ideas which we hope we will eventually be able to use.

             Elder Bowman


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mollie #36 - Angol, Chile - Cat Funeral, Primary Talent Show, Slaven's Effect

                                July 1

Dear Family,

    We only have forty five minutes now to write every week. Some people were using more than the hour, so we've been cut back.

    Right now, I am in a different city, Los Angeles, with two other sisters Hermana Lopez and Rivera. They are both great.
Hermana Lopez
Hermana Rivera

     I love these two sisters even though I only spent a day with them. Hermana Lopez has a beautiful voice when speaking that invites people to listen. It is a gift I wish that I had.

A LOT has happened this week. Life as always is crazy. 

I can't send many pictures this week, because of the computer. 

     I bought a new pair of boots this week. The others started shedding the leather and looking hoboish, hence I needed a new pair. I went to this shop where all they sell is used boots. It`s a tiny store with these tables that are stacked high with right boots. You have to search through and find one that you like and then the owner Jorge (who is a Jehovah Witness) goes and hunts for the other. We were probably there for about an hour scrambling and scrimmaging for a pair of boots large enough to fit me with a good sole. Still I loved it. These old boots were from all over the world. I eventually settled on what I think are a pair of old military men's boots, but they might be for women it is hard to tell.

    Still they fit like a sock and don`t have to be broken in which is a blessing given all the walking I do every day.

     Other fun stories. The elders were telling me the other day about the cat funeral service they had to perform. While they were at lunch, some cat who had been playing with the engine of a car up and died. The family who loves and has like 15 cats went to see what was wrong and well... they found a dead cat. (I do feel bad for them - really.) Anyway, evidently the elder had to dig a grave and give a blessing for this cat in the rain. Still, I know they loved it. 

    We had a Primary talent show. I read and acted out a parable with my companion. The decorations were beautiful, but I couldn´t get pictures. There were balloon-flower creations strung together - hanging high in the gym with streamers. Everyone came and had a good time,and a lot of menos activos were there, too.

I am still working on my poncho I think I may be able to finish it next week, but I am not certain.

Hermana Garcia returned to her home today. This is why I am in Los Angeles. 

    Four people live in our house. There is my companion - Hermana Nelson, then also Hermana Garcia y Hermana Calsina. Hermana Garcia was my part-time companion - as in 1 or 2 days a week when our companions went to do exchanges with other companionships. They are kind of like women zone leaders. Anyway, Hermana Garcia went home. I am not sure why, but I think it is something that happened in her family. She said she would return to the mission as soon as possible. 

     Los Angeles is more of a city. Today, we went to this little spice shop, and I bought lots of things.
    One thing we have been working this week is unifying the ward. We held this Cine or Movie Night the other day. We cooked popcorn and kettle corn watched a movie and played games. It really helped. I think this past Sunday's attendance went up by 10.

     By the way, I have a new testimony of callings. Boy do we need every person! I miss half of the callings that we had at home. It would be fantastic to have a ward greeter or a Beehive secretary. I mean., no one greets the new people.
     And I found a 13 year old recent convert by knocking doors. She just got lost after loving the church. She didn't show up one week, and then never went back. No one did anything or really noticed, I guess. But if we had a Beehive secretary, there would be attendance, and people wouldn't get lost. EVERY CALLING IS SIGNIFICANT AND OH SO NEEDED. We don't have half the main callings, and everyone could even be helped by the smaller callings.
Spiritual Thought

    I have been thinking about influence - about what I write on other people souls. How do people feel when I am with them and when I leave them.  I want to achieve what I call the Slaven's Effect which is:

^`You never know what someone else is going through, so just try to make their day a little brighter.^

    I have been working on this. For example, I brought pancake mix and cooked it for the sisters here in Los Angeles this morning. Find moments to make peoples lives a little brighter., like giving away some of my flowers. 

Enjoy the heat it is winter here.

Lots of love,

      Hermana Bowman

PS I have been reading out of a small, green book called Member Missionary or something like that. It is great! If you can get Riley a copy or see if he has read it, I know it would help him out.  It is oriented to the American mindset, but there are a lot of things I can use here in Chile. 


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Riley #24 - Lomita, CA - President Weidman, Plans for Expansion, Previous Companion

                                 July 1

Hi Everyone!

    This week our new mission president arrived. President Weidman and his wife arrived in LA Thursday and spoke to us on Friday. A member told us President Weidman has his own page on Wikipedia so you can look him up. I think his first name is David, and he is the former CEO of a company.

      It is somewhat odd having a new mission president, because we are not sure if the old mission president's policies remain in place. For example, President Baker had us run every morning, but is that still a policy Pres. Weidman will uphold?

President Weidman and his wife arrived. President Baker and his wife have left.
     The meeting Friday cleared up some of the questions. President Weidman also talked to the Chinese missionaries briefly after the meeting. He told us that he was interested in expanding the current Chinese program in the mission. He talked with us a little about what we had been doing and some of the things we haven't quite figured out yet. From what we talked about, it sounds like he will be ready to help us use some of the resources we have that we haven't quite been able to use. We all have high hopes.
     This past Sunday, the Chinese missionaries presented a few brief messages for the fifth Sunday. Elder Casey and I shared ours together. It went all right. Our Chinese isn't very good still, so it was a little bit of a struggle, but the Branch was very patient and supportive. They are a great help when it comes to learning Chinese. When they didn't understand something I would say, they would clarify for me.

     I also had a chance to talk to Elder Smith this week, one of my previous companions from the MTC who is serving in Arcadia. He gave us a call to let us know about a Chinese member who doesn't speak English moving into our mission. We didn't talk long, but it was surprise to hear from him.

Michele, tell me about your new place in New Jersey.

              Elder Bowman