Monday, February 28, 2011

Elder Bolliger - San Bernardino, CA Week 27: One of the Most Rewarding Experiences!

Wow this past week was filled with one of the most rewarding experiences of my mission so far. It was LaLa's Baptism!
This has been an event that we have been looking forward too for a long time! As you know she has been waiting a long time to get baptized and a week ago from last Friday we got the word that she could get baptized. We organized the baptism for the following weekend. She was nervous but the thought that she could be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and her thirst for knowledge helped to carry her along. So for the baptism I was to give the talk on the Holy Ghost, I'll admit I forgot that I was supposed to so I went into a room, said a prayer and then constructed my talk on the Holy Ghost to her. In the process and unbeknownst to me, I wrote down John 3:5 as John 3:26 and actually said that in the talk, whoops. But in the Talk I made sure to take my time as there was a Deaf Interpreter there for LaLa's mom and for a sister in the ward, and I knew, don't rush and just take your time and let the spirit do the talking. I am really not sure what I said in that talk but I know that the spirit was there and I felt like I did a pretty good job.
The Following Sunday she was confirmed in a circle of about 9 people and it was a very spiritual prayer. So thats another baptism that we had here in San Bernardino, California.

Well one of my roommates Elder Joaquin who is the Elder in that photo that I sent home last week, is leaving to go be with the APs today, its sad because he has made it really fun in the apartment. I like having roommates that are Spanish then I start to pick some up and different words, etc. But he is leaving back to San Salvador,El Salvador tomorrow morning. Its crazy when Missionaries go home!

Another big thing that happened today is that I turned 7 months old. Yes, 7 months ago today I was reporting to the MTC in Provo. That is absolutely mind boggling, the time just seems to fly and fly and fly so much out here on a mission! I can't believe that in a month is general conference. And in like 2 months I turn 20 years of age. As well that in one month a year ago I drove Katie to the MTC with Tiana and helped to drop her off!

This past weekend we had a big snow storm come in through the San Bernardino Mountains ( Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead etc) and frost the tops of them, it reminded me so much of Utah back when we used to live there and also back when I was there for school @ BYU!
Well today we had a "Last Bowling Day" With Elder Joaquin, the one that is going home tomorrow. And on my third game I bowled higher than I ever have bowled before, a 184, I got 4 strikes in a row then some 9s and then 2 strikes near the end. So it came up to be a 184, 53 points higher than my personal best. It was pretty fun, we had about half of the zone there because the sisters, yes Katie I am nice to them, my apartment and the south apartment were all there, and yes too Elder Johnson that one that saved the guy from the plane too was there as well.

So thats the happenings that have been here in San Bernardino California, things are picking up here in this zone finally, every missionary is different and so is every leader, so sometimes combinations work better than others.

Sister Bolliger - Lemoore Week 45: Painfully Getting to Know Every Couch in the Church, I Understand Spanish!!!, Sister Austin, No Way Jose!

Well things have been a bit interesting here. This week I have been plagued with sickness. Hahah. Such a joy!
We had an awesome zone conference on Thursday, and I was able to stay in my seat for most of the meeting, but then as my Mission President came up to do his amazing thing and then BOOOOOM. The pain hit. I found myself collapsed to the floor in the hallway outside. Just bawling. Poor Sister Lemalu had no idea what to do! She went in and got our mission president's wife who is our medical contact, and I just started sobbing. It was highly embarassing. Hahah. Then, I was commanded to go lay down on yet another couch in a church building. As I was laying there, just breathing, I came to the realization that I have indeed laid down on every couch in every building I have served in! Oh the joys of consistent pain. Hahah. This week I have been knocked out of comission far too frequently. But thankfully I have been blessed with a calm, wonderful, laid back, understanding polynesian companion. :) Aren't those the best?
However, the beautiful thing is that we have been able to teach many people in Spanish this week and I have been able to understand!!!!! I am attending the Spanish Gospel Essentials class and Spanish Relief Society class and while sometimes my brain feels like it's on overdrive to follow how quickly they're speaking, I am able to comprehend!! I am voraciously going after reading "El Libro De Mormon" and I think that is really helping. :) While my Spanish is certainly not perfect, I am for real seeing miracles as I am able to talk and testify about the truth with those that we visit!
I continue to be teased that I am from Austin, Texas. The favorite joke of the ward is that both of the sister missionaries are foreigners: an Australian and a Texan. :) These Californians are just so jealous that they don't reside in the BEST STATE EVERRRR! Because many can't pronounce my name, I have been given nicknames such as "Sister Austin," "Sister Texas," "Hermana Loca," "Hermana Tejana" --- the list continues. :)
I had the privilege of meeting a very special person--no other than Jose H. Sister Lemalu is quite hot stuff and many many males are highly intrigued by her slender Samoan form and her amazing Aussie accent. This week we visited one such individual who is infatuated with my companion. He had contacted Sister Lemalu and her previous companion, by yelling out to them as they were in an apartment complex. They went to talk with him, and gave him their information to get him on a Church Tour. Well...instead of calling to come on a church tour, he called to invite Sister Lemalu to the movies last week. :) After explaining what we do as missionaries, and how we are off limits for this eighteen months, he sounded like he understood. We were in his neighborhood yesterday and went to visit him, and now I think our suspicions of his intentions are confirmed. :) Hahah. It was hilarious. I was trying so hard to stay focused and hope that this man would want to learn more about the gospel...but sadly no. We have concluded we will not go visit him again. Hahahha. I told Sister Lemalu she just needs to stop speaking and start eating. Lol.
In all this week has been full of laughter, tears, spanish, reading, working, and basking in the fact that Lemoore is so small and the streets are so easy to learn!!!!!
"Sister Austin," "Sister Texas," "Hermana Loca," "Hermana Tejana" --- the list continues. :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Elder Bolliger - San Bernardino, CA Week 26-B: Great to Keep in Touch with Awesome Families in Colton, "Love Going to the Temple"... That's Important!

Well this past week we had some pretty sweet things happen.

For one on friday LaLa got interviewed by president godwin and she got the okay to get baptized, we didn't go there looking for her to get baptized but after talking to her for a little while he started giving her the baptismal interview questions but at the end he said that she was all ready to go and get baptized. And after that we were talking and she is planning to get baptized on Saturday Feburary 26th! Holy cow its so soon but its so good though and we can't wait for it.

So this past week has been filled with a lot of different stuff. We Had a Zone Conference yesterday over in Rancho Cucamonga where we changed up a lot of different ways that we are calculating key indicators (pretty much how we track how we are doing) so that is going to trip us up for a while as we are thinking in our heads on whats good whats bad but in reality the new change will help us to increase our member referrals because last year more than 75% of baptisms resulted from member referrals ( part member families with reactivations, friends of members). So the new changes will push us to focus most on asking members for referrals and that should help to boost the mission even more than it is now.

Today is a P-day, yes it is normally on Monday but today we went to the Redlands Temple and it was amazing as ever. I love going to the temple especially on a mission because to me it gives me a similar spiritual boost as reading the Book of Mormon does, and allows me to think and ponder about different things that are on my mind.

So I have included 3 photographs, one is of me Sister Bowler, Victoria Briseno and her kids ( one of whom I am baptizing in August ). Its great to know members and keep in occasional contact with them over time.

The 2nd one is of me and Elder Joaquin outside of the temple, here it isn't a sunny day, kind of overcast and muggy...I dont know something like that. But we went to the temple and thats the important part. Elder Joaquin is from El Salvador & is leaving us in about a week back home, it's crazy when people leave.

The third photo is of Cucamonga Peak here in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of San Bernardino, outside is like 65 and sunny and here you see snow way up there. It's sure a funny mix here in Southern California.

So I am looking forward to Lala's baptism on Saturday.

Elder John Bolliger

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sister Bolliger - Lemoore Week 44: ... Suffering for our "fish?", Still Strong New Mission President, Supportive Ward, Best Prep Day on Mission!

Hello again.
Are you ready to hear of my Spanish glitch?

Well, I was teaching the Atonement at a Spanish family's home. We were discussing Alma 7:11-13 about how Jesus Christ suffered for our sins. Spanish the word for "sin" is "pecado" and the word for "fish" is "pescado". Yeah. Well, in a very spiritual moment, I testified that Jesus Christ did suffer for our fish. :) The laughter that followed was priceless. As soon as I uttered the wrong word in Spanish I began to chuckle along with the family. It was quite hilarious. While it did kind of change the tone of the lesson, it was quite a memorable moment. :)
We found out about our new Mission President--no other than Larry Gelwix--the Highland Rugby coach! I have been super nervous about who will replace President Gonzalez (because he is amazing) and it is exciting to hear that we'll continue to have a dynamic Misison President! We already have members that are watching "Forever Strong" in preparation to meeting him. Haha.
We're having lots of fun down here. Lemoore is a town of a bit less than 25,000--a big change from Fresno. But...the people are kind and the ward is amazingly supportive! Sister Lemalu and I are very excited for this week as we have a lot of promising appointments with potential investigating families and are just ready to get down to work!
This last preparation day was probably the best of my mission. A family in the ward, the Sargetis, have a son on a mission in Argentina. They offered to let us do their laundry at their house. And, in the meantime, invited us to come and sit on their couches and write our letters while the wash was being done. It was AMAZING! We rushed around like crazy Monday morning after studies, cleaning, washing the car, doing grocery shopping, and getting everything we needed to done for the day so that we could relax at their home! I have missed couches so much. We wrote tons of letters, watched The Testaments DVD, and just had an amazingly fabulous time. :) To top it all off, the Sister has Oxiclean which really helped get stains out of our clothes! What a miracle product. Hahahah.

Elder Bolliger - San Bernardino, CA Week 26: Cool things going on soon

Well this email is to inform you that next week I will be e-mailing on Wednesday probably in the afternoon.

Yes, I know Elder Johnson very well (the one who pulled that guy out of the plane). He is in the other district. That crash is like 2 miles away from my apartment.

So some cool things going on soon. Next week is zone conference and then temple trip. On March 5th, we are meeting Elder Richard G Scott as a mission for 3 hours. And on the 20th D Todd Christofferson is coming to our stake to reorganize it.

Well, one of our investigators got permission to get baptized and she is doing it on Saturday! So exciting!

buenos noches familia!
Elder Bolliger

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sister Bolliger - Lemoore Week 43: Dreams... "I-Am-Stressed-And-Cannot-Stop-Thinking-About-This-Dang-Language"

Hello everyone from the very nice public library of Lemoore, California--a teeny tiny little town that is full of spanish speakers and valentine festivities.
It has been a crazy week. But I have a feeling that I say that every single week. Haha.
Transfers were Wednesday, but I got deathly ill early Wednesday morning and I actually had to delay leaving to Lemoore. It was incredibly painful and I couldn't even get up from my bed. The stress of speaking Spanish probably had something to do with the severity of the pain. Haha. Poor Sister To'a had to be my nurse and it just prolonged the goodbye. Hahah. My ride to take me to Lemoore wasn't available when I finally was well enough to move, and so I got to do the fun missionary thing of calling around for huge favors from ward members trying to find someone who would immediately be able to take me on the 45 minute journey down south to Lemoore. I was able to find a family and was whisked away just ten minutes later. It was so hard to say goodbye to Sister To'a! We'd had conversations each night since the transfer call that ended in tears (we're such girls) but I was drugged enough the day of to where I didn't really feel like anything was real. Hahah.
Well, Lemoore is amazing. Apparently the Assistants called Sister Lemalu before transfers to ask how many investigators that spoke Spanish. She answered 25%. However, it is more like 50%!! I have already committed someone to baptism in Spanish, am memorizing the First Vision, have taught probably four lessons in Spanish, and semi-translated for a meeting. Hahahah. SERIOUSLY. I feel like I'm getting an ulcer already. I dreamt last night in Spanish, but it wasn't one of those "Yay-I-Am-Fluent-Now-Because-I'm-Dreaming-In-Spanish" dreams but a "I-Am-Stressed-And-Cannot-Stop-Thinking-About-This-Dang-Language" dream. Hahah. But, I have made a personal goal to read the Book of Mormon in spanish before the end of this transfer----March 23rd. That's about 17 pages a day. I have finished the book of 1st Nephi already and am about five chapters into 2nd Nephi. Ahhh! I do about 50/50 reading on my own and listening to a CD of El Libro De Mormon. It's crazy. I'm not quite sure why I decided to do something so drastic, but the only reasoning I have thus far is that I'm trying to keep myself busy so that I don't think about people's eternal salvation at the mercy of my spanish. :)
It is so fun to have another repeat companion!! Sister Lemalu and I are crazy. And the same height. Which is a real treat. It is fun to see how much we have both grown since her 2nd transfer and my 3rd transfer. There is a lot of work to be done here and we have just hit the ground running! Did I mention that she's crazy? The ward says that they've never had two foreign companions--one from Australia and one from Texas. Hah. Hah.
In August, when I was serving in the Visalia area, we did a Special Ops program with the Hanford Stake where Priests and Laurels went out with missionaries for a full weekend. The girl that came with us, Kelli Ashby, actually lives in the Lemoore ward! We both freaked out when we saw each other on Sunday. Hahah. It was so fun! I taught her how to flick Tongan style and we've been writing each other, but I'm excited to take her out with us on teamups here!

Sister Bolliger

Elder Bolliger - San Bernardino, CA Week 25: Missionaries jumping into action, New Companion, Good Lessons, Filling My Spiritual Gas Tank Daily!

Well last Monday, an Elder who lives in the other
apartment ( there are two, mine has the Spanish North and San B 1st North while the other is Spanish South and the San B 1st South guys) jumped a 9 foot fence and helped to pull out one of the passengers and then left before the fire department could get there before going the hike. Yes he is in my zone and yes I see him and his companion almost every other day... Actually where that plane crashed is like less than 2 miles from my apartment.

So he really didn't like all of the publicity but in reality its been good for public relations, like everyone has heard about it and pretty much last week when I was e-mailing he came in and said oh I pulled a guy out of a plane, I was thinking really? You look fine but yeah he did and he kind of risked more problems because he could have injured him more or more. But he did the right thing at the right time and helped save a guy, amazingly one of the guys in the crash was moved out of ICU into a much more stable area but he has not gone and seen
him yet.

Well me and my companion, Elder Southworth from Utah have been here in San Bernardino California now for 2 weeks. And this transfer is starting to fly by. This past week we have been going around seeing less actives and looking for new people to teach... And we are updating our area book and the ward directory. This past week we had some good lessons especially with an investigator who is anxiously waiting to get baptized. We didn't have any "miracle moments" as
we do sometimes, but since the Gladys Knight Saints Unified Voices choir we have some referrals from friends of people that are interested in hearing about our message. This week we will be meeting with the main one of them. I'm hoping that we can start teaching them.

Well my religious thought for this past week comes from filling our spiritual gas tank every day.

A couple days on my mission, I'm not perfect but I wouldn't study out of the book of Mormon and study other materials (bible, pmg, other scriptural insight commentary etc) and every day I did that, I would feel depressed inside, well it wasn't depressed but I felt empty in a part of myself. So I was thinking and found a book of Mormon reading card, and now I am reading at least 2-3 chapters per day and have read 21 since last Tuesday. Holy cow. I never realized how much of difference reading the book of Mormon does to you if you read every day, it seems to satisfy your spiritual hunger inside of you and helps to bring the spirit in abundance in your life, for me I have found that having a reading card with one of those cross off once read really helps because you are always wanting to read more and more chapters and out of all the things that I do I would have to say that getting in a chapter or two in the morning will help you out more than almost anything else that you can do. And now I have made a commitment to myself that I will read at least 1 chapter a day if not 2 or more.

Well thats my email for this past week, I hope yall are doing good wherever you are!
Always remain true and steadfast in the lord!

Elder Bolliger

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sister Bolliger - Fresno Week 42: From Fresno to Lemoore, Spanish Speaking, Amazing Investigators, Still Bugged in our Apartment, Polynesian Sisters!

Greetings from another kind of weird public library.
Well, the news is I am being transferred! I am going to Lemoore, a little town close to Hanford, CA that is where the Naval Air Base is. Here's the kicker though, I am going to go serve with Sister Lemalu! The sister that I step-trained! Another kicker.........I am going to speak Spanish. The area has always had spanish speaking missionaries, and the sister that I am replacing was a Spanish speaker. Sister Lemalu speaks NO spanish. I jokingly wrote President a weekly letter in Spanish and I'm thinking that joke is coming back to haunt me! Sister To'a served there and LOVED it so I am excited and incredibly nervous to go and pick up this spanish nonsense. There is a spanish group in that ward and investigators and members that are only spanish speakers. Gah! This gringa is kind of freaking out but I am excited for the challenge and have already started studying my "Precidad Mi Evangelio" again. Lol. What was President thinking?!!??
We have been working closely with a part member family and they seriously have the cutest kids ever! The little kiddos are half-Hawaiian and are absolutely adorable. We have loved going to their home and the best part was they were able to come to church this Sunday!
Country music got in our way again. Haha. An amazing investigator was on her way to meet us at the church for a lesson but she got stuck in INSANE traffic on her way over because of the country music concert at the Savemart Center. Haha. She had to cancel her appointment with us that evening as she sat for at least an hour in a standstill. Haha. I knew there was a reason I didn't like country! Lol.
The cockroach saga continues. So, we had them come and spray again, under threat from our Housing Coordinator that they would move us if things were not resolved. We also got a complimentary carpet cleaning out of the deal. So, we moved everything out of our cupboards again and let the bug man do his thing. The next day was our carpet cleaning so we moved EVERYTHING from our apartment into our kitchen. And this is a realllllllllly small kitchen. We stacked our desks on top of each other, moved our bedframes, the bookshelf, kitchen table, dressers, and everything else you can imagine. However, things have not changed. If anything they have gotten worse. We now have some new kind of bugs in addition to the cockroaches, and they are EVERYWHERE. Hahahha. The sisters will probably be moving soon. It has been quite the adventure!
I am apparently a giantess and our service as of late has involved using my supposed height to reach things for people. Seriously. I've taken down curtains, dusted on the top of cupboards and fridges, and anything else that would require someone of my height with my arm reach. Haha. Imagine their surprise as I tell them I'm the runt of the family! Their eyes get really big and they just look up at me in shock. Hahahha.
Sister To'a got the call that she is training a new missionary and I am so excited for her and the Fresno 5th area! Things are seriously on fire here with missionary work and I know that things will continue to progress as she does her training thing. Lol.
This has been quite the transfer with an unusual dose of ridiculousness and laughter. I've had so much fun to get to know Sister To'a better and am seriously going to miss that Tongan girl! My trainer, Sister Tupou, finished her mission last week so these Tongans are leaving me left and right! At least I'm going with a Samoan, so we're keeping it on the polynesian family. :)
Peace be the Journey,

Sister Bolliger

Elder Bolliger - San Bernardino, CA Week 24: A new companion and a car / Sickness on a mission sucks

Hello from San Bernardino California where this past week we had
transfers and I found out that I am staying here in San B and have got a new companion, his name is Elder Southworth from Cedar Hills,Utah and he has been out for more than 20 months and also brought a car with him. I am so thankful for that because now I won't get super sick anymore like I have in the past.

Well I am really looking forward to this next transfer with him as it is good to get some new blood in the area and things are looking good for the next 5 weeks here.

This will probably be a much shorter email as we really did not do all that much this past week as he can't bike and we didn't get a car until Saturday.

A Missionaries drive to work. Well this past week I was at a doctors and he recommended to me that I rest and not bike around with some of these respiratory illnesses. He is not LDS but we are working on him and he was saying truthfully to me that missionaries make it harder on themselves as even when they are sick and its raining and everything, they still have that drive to work work work nonstop and actually make it harder on themselves and push themselves deeper into sickness. I can see that this is very true for one as the best way to pass the time on a mission is to love the people and work hard, since we don't have things like video games or movies etc to pass the time as we used too back home when we were sick and also back home we weren't constantly on the go from place to place all of the time and always trying to get stuff done.

But one of the most important things that comes to being sick on a mission, and it seems like missionaries have flipped the normal reaction is to " Fix yourself then get to work". This statement is very true as we need too fix ourselves first and not try to go on and on while we are sick and then digging the hole deeper and deeper, it also tells us that we need to fix things as soon as they come up and not let little sores get bigger and bigger until it becomes harder and harder to fix it.

But as a missionaries we do not like to get sick as it really is hard to have that drive and reel yourself back and get better.

Elder John Bolliger