Hello from California!
We had an amazing Thanksgiving week here in Westlake Village! Transfers are next week! Crazy how time flies on a mission but I just try and cherish every second of the experience!
There are a lot of pictures for this week so I will just explain in order!
1- It has been turning cold and rainy here in Westlake Village the last week (relative to normal.) It is averaging in the mid to low 50s and 60s! I thought I was serving in a place that was just constantly sunny and 75… It was funny though because we were tracting in the rain and there was this little old lady that saw us and felt so bad that we looked cold. We asked if we could come inside and share a message with her about Christ to warm up! She said no… but hey, at least she was loving and sympathetic to us!
2, 3 and 6- On last Pday we got a chance to go hike on a day that clear and little warmer. It was an amazing hike!!! It was called “Sandstone Peak” and from the summit we could see the ocean, LA, Ventura, and the entire Canejo Valley. We spent about 30 minutes driving on these windy two lane roads without guardrails and hiked a good hour and half to the peak! As pictured it was the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains! On the way down we got to watch the sunset out on the ocean and it was an amazing moment to soak in the scenery and appreciation God’s creation.
4- Elder Allen and me at Thanksgiving at the Gates home! The have a beautiful home and had a lot of non-member family and friends over in their 14 million dollar home… ITS HUGE!!! There is this homemade strawberry jam they make that is to die for…. We got a jar of it but Elder Allen dropped it in the kitchen floor and shattered the jar. Oh well. They are a wonderful family in our ward and Brother Gates is the one that invented high density WiFi for college campuses and corporate businesses. He joined the church because he was able to do some business at BYU-Idaho and the men he meet with introduced the gospel into his life. If you were like me, I have always been wondering if they are related to THE Bill Gates. Their response was, “Yah, we call him Uncle Bill!” Interpret that for what you would like!
5- The Elders in our district was able to go to a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving day in Oak Park! It was a great opportunity to get out and know the ward in Agoura Hills. We had a lot of fun and just reminded me of home and the tradition. P.S. I was told that it is Bedlam this week between OU and OSU and apparently both are ranked 8 and 10 respectively. Boomer Sooner! Hope my little brother Daniel cheers for the right team this time, haha.
This week we have been able to witness so many miracles, but I would like to mention two! We have been working with a less-active family here in the ward and they committed to go to the temple in early 2017 to be sealed. They are overcoming physical health road blocks but have a strong faith and desire to do what they Lord asks of us. We were able to share the Christmas message of #LIGHTTHEWORLD with them that is on Mormon.org and they want to strive to serve others as much as they can with their limitations! What an example of faith! At times we feel like our physical or spiritual limitations are too great to help others but when we turn our efforts over to the Lord, He blesses us with the ability and strength!
On Saturday we have a baptism for a 9 year old investigator, Ciomara! She is a daughter of a less active single mom that has 8 children. Ciomara really wants to attend church and grow in the gospel together in hopes that it will bring them more joy and peace. She is an example and a witness as to how the gospel truly blesses families.
I am so grateful for the gospel in the life of my own family. It has brought us through the thick and the thin situations. It allows us to have greater joy and purpose in this life because we are closer to God. This gospel has the ability to enrich your life like no other thing on this earth!
Thank you to Todd Turner, Christa Jones and Cheryl Neuberger for the letters this week! It really lifted my days when I got them!
Elder Austin Morgan