That's what President Castro calls it. I really hope we live up to that name, and see a lot of success. This last year was amazing; I don't know what the mission-wide numbers were, but in the Santa Maria Stake, we saw about 50+ people join the church, which is up from 27 last year, and a record since the seventies I think. Whoo!!! The work is definitely hastening, and I don't think it'll let up any time soon. All over the Zone, new people are being found, and many of these people are really very prepared. One of those people we hope to start working with is a young man named Victor. We found him while looking for his cousin, Dino, but since we didn't find him, we just started talking to Victor. We had a pretty standard conversation, and we left with a return appointment. One cool thing is that after we invited him to be baptized, we asked him "And why would you want to do that?" and he said, "I just feel like it would be the right thing to do; I'd want to follow Jesus." I wasn't there for the return appointment, (I was on an exchange) But they had a great lesson, and left him to read Alma chapter 40. We'll be seeing him later tonight again, and we've already found out that he did read the assignment! So, we'll see what happens: hopefully he's paying attention to the Spirit.
We also had the first Multi-Zone Spanish Language Training meeting this mission has ever seen. In this meeting, we ran it like a Zone Conference, but instead of focusing on teaching skills; the talks, edpeps (role-play practices) and classes were on language skills. I got to teach a short (15 minute) class on preterit vs imperfect verbs. It was pretty fun to do; and President thought it was hilariously confusing when I'd congratulate people for correctly identifying imperfect verbs by saying "Perfect!" At that meeting, Elder Bautista, Elder Mortimer, Elder Lewis and Elder Law were all there, so it was especially cool to see them all again at the same time, and see the progress they've all made. In Elder Mortimer's case especially; I was able to go on a brief "exchange" on the ride down to Solvang where the meeting was held, where it was just the two of us again, and I could talk to him about the mission and how it's going for him, and how he's holding up. It was a big relief to feel the Spirit witness of how good he's doing.
This week has been jam-packed with a bunch of crazy administrative stuff too; it's almost as weird as week 1 was. In this week, we do a Zone Evaluation Report; which is when we go through and list the strengths of each missionary in the Zone, if there's any major concerns that need to be taken account of, and even some suggestions on what transfers should be like for them. It's an intensely revelatory experience, that's for sure! We also have to do a report for the Stake Presidency on all the recent converts and progressing investigators. And finally, I've spent a LOT of time trying to crank out the Written Exchange Report, which is a unique hand-written report we have to do whenever we do a New Missionary Exchange. And y'all know how awful I am at writing letters! (There's a reason why I send so few. It takes me about 3 hours per letter! Sorry Mom!) But I'm starting to get used to all the paperwork and reports.
All in all, it's insane to think it's already week six. AND it's already January of 2014!!! This is the last year for President Castro; it's weird to think that real soon here, our new Mission President is going to be called and announced. O_O; Not to mention that the missionaries that'll be replacing our group will be finishing their papers. It's been hitting me a lot lately how much I need to step it up a notch, so that we leave behind the right culture to this mission! Either way, I'm excited to really work my tail off. I love this mission and the change I'm making in me.
I wish everyone well; I love you all and I pray for you all, especially those who are struggling. Thank you for being such amazing examples to me.
Elder Matthew David Clough