WEEK TWO July 15
We drove to Las Vegas the first day and on to Irvine on Tuesday. As prearranged we called the Litchfield’s as we were coming into town after a bite at El Cholo, a sister restaurant to the one I used to eat at when I worked downtown in Los Angeles, on 7th and Western. They met us at our apartment, 407 Saint Vincent, Irvine, CA 92618 and gave us the keys to the place. We began unpacking both our possessions and the boxes of dishware etc. that had been purchased for us to use as the first Senior Missionaries in this mission.
I think we were surprised at how often we had to make quick trips to the store as something was needed just to settle into our new home. We visited the Mission Office and met the Ormes, a service couple from Irvine handling automobiles and referrals, Sister Kenworthy, a service sister working there as secretary, and the Litchfield’s. They said the Mission President is never in the office.
We did meet the Mission President and his wife at a dinner at Mimi’s the second night attended by all the senior missionaries (11 of us in all, but we the only ones in the field) so we at least know what they look like. However we have had two informative meetings with the stake president of the California Rancho Santa Margarita Stake, Sterling Brennan, who is a patent litigator.
During the first week we learned we had been assigned to two wards in the Rancho Santa Margarita Stake, the Lake Forest and Aliso Creek wards. We were able to arrange meetings with both bishops, Eric Smith and Shane Hunt, respectively, meet with the Ward Mission Leaders in both wards, Brett Miller and Jeff Robinson, respectively. We also met with two senior couples from the Anaheim Mission who told us what they have been doing and how they have been going about missionary work in their areas. One, Elder and Sister Davis, live here in Tustin and when the missions split 1 July they are finishing their mission in two Irvine wards, but still attached to the Anaheim, Mission. The other, the Moyes, are from Sandy, Utah and serving in the California Anaheim Mission.
So we are the sole member and leader support Senior missionaries in the California Irvine Mission. In our pitch to the bishops and the stake president we said I we understood it we had a blank canvass and could paint whatever picture we all chose to paint. We also told them that we preferred the title Seasoned Missionaries which has always brought a smile. We have discussed a number of approaches and trying some in one ward and others in the other ward.
Many have stopped us in stores, one mother to have us say hello to her children, “These are real missionaries.” Several had told us they were raised Mormon and we have followed up to learn their names and whereabouts to pass along to our referral couple in the mission home.
Most interesting has been the connections. When I was bishop of the Encinitas Ward, the Byung Hong family moved into the ward into Encinitas Estates where we lived. They were only there one year. Byung worked in Carlsbad but his wife in El Segundo and they decided to more to Mission Viejo to share in the commute. When I was talking to Jim Evans, the HC over missionary work in the stake, I learned that he was married to Jenny Hong and his business partner was Young Sun Hong who we sent on a mission to France even though his older brothers had all gone back to Korea. When we attended the Aliso Creek Ward the first Sunday, there was John Hong, Jenny’s brother, only about 12 when they moved from our ward. Later I met a sister Carlisle who was the daughter of the Karl Mendenhall family who also lived in the Encinitas, Ward.
We had a good visit with the One family, she a member just coming into activity and he a non-member who is suffering from some serious illness. We were not expecting an especially warm welcome from what we had heard, but were very warmly received. I seemed to hit it off well with the husband and we shared stories for some time with one another and were welcomed to come back “any time.” He said, “You are good therapy for me, my anxiety level has dropped the longer we have talked.”
We also visited the Two family with the ward missionary leader and one of the ward missionaries. They were baptized within the past month. A member had invited a family to the ward Halloween trunk or treat and that family and in turn invited the Two family. Both brother and sister Two were from Encinitas, he just off Cerro Street where we lived and she on Requesa. We were able to share a number of things. He was concerned that he was not yet perfect to which I welcomed him as I myself was one of the charter members. The following Sunday I took by an article from Elder Theodore Burton that I thought was particularly applicable to his concerns and later the next week he said it was spot on for him. He made an interesting observation that first evening, “You really find joy in the gospel don’t you. I can see how happy it makes you.” I told Jan as we left that whether we accomplish anything at all, maybe the Lord can use us to spread some good will. Sunday when I gave him the Elder Burton talk he said, “You brought a special spirit into our home just by you being there and it has remained since you left.”