December 28, 2015

Christmas on the Mission, Round 1

Christmas! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year, make all those new year resolutions and then forget about them!...
Dressed up to act out Luke 2 #shepherdlyfe

All is well in Farsi land. The streets have never been colder and our apartment never any warmer. I should be a poet. We were definitely taken care of this Christmas, so many wonderful families who took us in. We also were able to see almost all the Persian members here in the area this week, which was very cool :) I fall in love with the people and the culture more and more everyday. 
Christmas dinner

We are on the search for a second lesson with someone at the moment. We have had quite a few first lessons with people, some we even extended a baptismal invitation too, but we seem to be struggling with getting a second lesson with anyone. It may be the holiday season, we hope it is. We are very excited to hit the new year off though and get some solid work happening :) 
Christmas Devotional

Thought for the week: Goals. They are awesome! As cheesy as the new year resolution thing is, set some goals! They can be simple! For example, I set some goals yesterday to do little things to help me either feel the Spirit, be more obedient, or simple just be better than the week before. It could be as simple as writing down your ponderize scripture this week (How well is that going for everyone who was on a hype after conference?), or it could be to be out the door ready to work 5 minutes earlier, or to catch up on a journal, read one more conference talk, do a few pull-ups, eat better, jump higher, write down realistic new year goals, what ever else makes you a better version of you. Don't try to be someone else. The Lord loves you and will help you to become the person He wants you to be. :) Let Him. 

Have an awesome week! Happy Holidays! Thanks so much for everything! :) 

Elder Ekberg

December 21, 2015

کریسمس مبارک (!Merry Christmas)

Hello all,

T'was another great week! Its getting cold and windy, but no snow, but I'm used to not getting a white Christmas. Another week full of contacting, walking up and down Westwood talking to all kinds of people and sharing our message about Jesus Christ. It really is amazing. The gospel is simple, yet it applies to everyone perfectly and those who are willing to stop and listen and answer a few simple questions really do see that we aren't here to take away their faith, only build upon it. "The Gospel is sick" - Missionary

This week we got the Area Book Planner on our iPads. It is supposed to make everything super organized and effective but it definitely takes some time getting used to. It is cool though and the mission is excited to start using it! :) I attached a pic of our rough weekly plan this week. It's a rough draft, we are only transitioning into it but it's an idea. :) 

Another solid week! We were able to meet with a couple of new people and we are excited to see what's in store for them! Cool experience. We were up by UCLA campus and talking to an older lady, then all of a sudden this car pulls up, this guy comes out and over to us "Hey, are you guys the Mormons?" "yeah!" "I don't have much time but can you guys take my name and number, I want to learn more about your church.." WHAT? :) Super cool. 

Church was awesome, we had 3 people at church this week and 2 more down in San Diego! About every month, the Persians from SoCal get together in SD and have a church service of their own. So almost all our Persian members go down there and this week they took two of our investigators! It was super cool and we are excited to hear how it went with them! 

We also had our Christmas Devotional as a mission. I know I bagged on choirs before the mission, but really Christmas hymns and choirs are one of my favorite things. If only I could sing better. Im grateful we had a great devotional, where we still had effective training to help us become better, yet focused on having a "mission-Christmas" experience. There is such a special spirit around the Holiday season and I am SO grateful to not only be remembering Christ, but to be representing Him this year. 

I love you all! I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve and be here sharing what I know to be true. Thank you! :)

December 14, 2015

Only in Farsi

Only in Farsi do we have more people come to church than lessons we taught during the week. It's awfully strange, in Spanish we taught some 30ish lessons and were lucky to have 1 or 2 people come to church. Ohh how the tables turn. We had 6 people at church! WHAT?! It was crazy, I've never been so stressed at church before. It is a lot of people to look after, especially if there is only 1.5 people in the companionship that speak Farsi! Gahh! But it was great! 

This week we got a TON of referrals, which is gold to us Farsi Elders. We were able to set up a few return appointments and are super excited to meet these people. We are being super blessed right now and couldn't be happier. We met a couple of older ladies the other week on Westwood and one of them told us that she would like to invite her friend to our church! We gave her our number to call us and didn't really think much of it but to our surprise Sunday morning she calls and says "I'm here! I brought my friend!" WHAT? So she was one our good friends at church this Sunday. Also one of the Persian members here, Sam (who we call baba or daddy..haha) invited his persian neighbor a couple weeks ago, she just showed up at church without him knowing! We were even able to go to the VC after church and have an awesome lesson with her. Seriously it seemed like this week, this weekend was on fire! I love the mission! 

Sunday night, Elder Sugden and I were able to help out some missionaries from the Long Beach mission. They brought their Persian investigator (and half of their ward) up to the VC for a tour. It was really cool and a different experience. Mehdi is super prepared and will be an awesome member of the church for sure and we are glad we could help him and the other Elders at the VC. 

Its starting to rain here.. and get really cold. It was tough getting out of bed this morning haha. We are prepping for El Niño.. which means lots of wind and rain.. brr. 

Its crazy how fast Christmas is coming up! I love being so close to the temple, I get to see the temple lights every day! We've had the opportunity to go to some of the musical events up here at the VC with investigators and its been such a huge blessing and a great way to feel of the Spirit of Christ this time of year! 

Also, I am no longer the youngest in the Farsi program! Which is weird, my time was super short. Elder Wiedrich is the new guy and he is awesome! He's like 6'5" and a skinny white Texas boy and he'll fit right in. It's an exciting time in the Farsi program for sure! 

Thank you for all your love and support! I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to be on the Lord's errand and serving here in the Farsi program! I love you all! 

P.S. I have gotten crafty. 

December 7, 2015

Tis the Season of Farsi!

This week was SO fun! And SO awesome, we really were blessed a TON this week. 

We did triple splits this week. Tuesday I was with Elder Ross, Wed with Elder Ah-You, my ZL, and Thursday with Elder McCracken. I also got to go on mini splits with the Chinese Elders and our mission assistants as well, so many crazy different things happening! We had our ward Christmas party, which was awesome! And what was even more awesome is we had about 30 Persians come!! Probably 25 of which were non-members. Farsi win for sure. 
Elder McCracken and Elder Ekberg at the doctors office during MiniSplits.  No one died.  (Thanks for that, Dan)

So to the miracles this week. We received a referral from the Visitor Center for a baptismal date. WHAT? So on Thursday we met Hamid, our new Persian friend, and he is awesome!! Seriously soo prepared and wants to find that peace and comfort in his life. We had a sweet lesson with him on Thursday, gave him a Book of Mormon, he prayed, it was awesome. Then we met again on Saturday and we brought Sister Mead and Bro Wood from the ward. We taught a super good lesson about planting seeds of faith, church and the importance of the sacrament. Hamid asked great questions, wants to change, is super willing and excited to move forward towards his baptismal date! We had to leave to make dinner but Sister Mead stayed with him for a bit, but we found out later that they stayed there for almost 2 more hours talking, asking/answering questions and such! It was awesome! Sadly, he had a commitment this Sunday, but he promised he would keep Sunday open for now on and he will bring his daughter next Sunday! boom! gahhh miracles! 
Hamed at the departing Missionary fireside.

Friday, we are about to go out contacting on our good ol bud Westwood, when we get a call from someone from Farsi class. So Elder Sugden is talking to them and a young guy comes up to me in the parking lot and asks if I speak Farsi.. umm yeah a little. So for a couple of minutes I struggle with Farsi and he struggles with English to try and communicate, basically what I thought I got was he wants to be a Mormon! Sick! His aunt and grandpa show up just as Elder Sugden gets off the phone and we ask them if they want to go to a concert tonight, they said yes and we had an awesome night with them! Super cool people! Hamed asked so many questions and has super sincere desire to learn and he really wants to join the church. He even came to church the next morning and then with us to the departing missionary fireside to hear Elder Ross's testimony. He had met Elder Ross just earlier that day! Honestly a super nice guy and he is super prepared! We have been super blessed this week! 

At church we had Hamed come, as well as a lady Elder McCracken and I had invited to church about 4 weeks ago and this guy Reza who showed up at the Christmas party! It was awesome to have so many people at church and especially in Gospel Principles, our Sunday school that the Elders teach in Farsi. 

We also had a super good week of left-overs, always makes the missionaries happy. Let's just say that we didn't have to go shopping this week. Score. Also, the church came out with a sweet video 'A Savior is Born", go check it out! 

Transfers... Elder Sugden and I are staying together another transfer!! Woo! we are super excited to continue to work with these new people together and help them learn and accept Jesus Christ! BUT!! As Elder Ross is leaving, we thought Elder Demond would come back, but no! Elder McCracken is training a NEW FARSI ELDER!! GAhhhh! So SOON! This has never happened. Usually there is like 2 or 3 transfers between new guys, but its just one between me and Elder Wiedrich, the new new guy. We will meet him tomorrow! Super unexpected! 
Ekberg, Ross, Sugden, McCracken

Farsi is coming along! It was super good this week! I had some good solid classes with Sister Mead and I loved spending time with Hamed. He practiced English and I practiced Farsi to each other. Very cool :) I'm also excited we have these new investigators cause now I can practice teaching more! :) Super excited for the next little bit! 

How is your Book of Mormon challenge? You gonna finish by Christmas? I finished it this morning and boy its been such a huge blessing to study the Book of Mormon looking specifically for commitments and promised blessings. As we search the scriptures, there are SO many blessings the Lord promises us if we do these simple little things! Also, I read my patriarchal blessing this morning and did the same. Looked for commitments and promised blessings. For me, it helped to make a list and look at, man there really is only these few things I need to do, and Heavenly Father will bless me with all that. He really does love us. He knows us perfectly and wants to be there to help us as much as we will let him. 
I love you all! Thank you so much for what you do! :) 
Farsi silliness.

December 2, 2015

Persian Thanksgiving!

So this week was Thanksgiving up here in the good ol Santa Monica! I had 3 dinners with members and we got left overs from all 3 of them so in all, I think I've had probably 8 or 9 plates of Thanksgiving food and desserts to last a lifetime. And yes, there is still some in the fridge, to say the least, we bought basically just fruit at the store this week. HA! It was really a great blessing to spend Thanksgiving with such great people from the ward, it was definitely VERY different, but I'm grateful that they invited us over and we made some good memories and food times. 

Yes, it is getting quite cold here. I'd say on average its in the 70s, but the coastal breeze KILLS me. Its not my favorite, but sweaters are always a good time so. Also, our apartment does have a heater, but we still wake up every morning freezing. We live in an apartment that is like a literal cabin across the street from the church, which is 5 minutes from the temple. Also, some of you have asked if I play the piano, guitar, bass at all.. not really. BUT, EVERYONE in the ward thinks I'm a musical genius, and I don't know why.. its kinda of creepy. I play occasionally on p-days but its mostly just hymns cause thats all I got.. Maybe some hymn arrangement sheet music for Christmas? #spiritualjams

Also, I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting with Elder Ross, he goes home in 2 weeks. It was super cool and I'm glad I had the chance to prepare and speak in the Westwood 1st ward. Persians? Here in the Farsi program, there has been 17 total baptisms in 2 years, since it started on Nov 13, 2013. I would say that there are 6 solid ones, a few who have moved away and a few less-actives. They all LOVE the Farsi Elders, its just a matter of getting some of them to church and such. But, its awesome! Speaking of coming to church, we had a new investigator come to church this week! 
Farsi Missionaries

So we teach free English classes here twice a week and one of our buds, Farhad has been coming for a while and know we are getting him excited about the gospel! We had a sweet lesson about the sacrament and church, and also what it means to be a missionary on Saturday after English class and then he came to church on Sunday, although his cologne made our ward mission leader burst into an allergic reaction we are pretty sure.. HAha...

We also met this super nice girl Nikoo on Saturday! She is a student at SMC (Santa Monica College). Anyway, the Visitors Center is having a concert, musical performance every night in December and there was a special one last night and we really wanted to get someone there, but weren't finding anyone. Then we thought of Nikoo, called her and she was super interested! She ended up bringing her mom and they loved it! It was super cool, they felt the Spirit, even if they didn't know it, and we are super excited to met Nikoo again this week and talk to her more. 

Pas, this week was super good! We are loving the work and loving our time here in LA! BOOM! 

I love you all soo much! Man shoma ra doost daram! Va man midanam k ein kelisaw dorostast!