Weird is the New Normal

Hello world!

This week was most interesting…as it tends to be here in San Francisco. I realize that I have not yet mentioned much (if anything) about the people we are teaching:

We are teaching a man named Reza. He’s an Iranian-American, has lived here for most of his life, and is a very cool guy. He’s progressing very well, although we are having to teach him from the very basics of the gospel because he does not have a Christian background. This week he offered to open our lesson with a prayer before anyone even asked him to and he said that he always looks forward to our appointments. He’s very deliberate about everything and is super awesome.

We also teach many single mothers in this ward. We are teaching one woman named Alicia who has been investigating the church for about a year now, and another woman named Myrisha who was just found by the missionaries before I showed up. They are both very sweet and humble people.

So, those are just a couple of the several people in our teaching pool right now. We are also working with a less-active member named Steven who wants to go back to church, but he has a hard time getting to church due to some disabilities he has (we don’t know what they are exactly).

We are also working with his neighbor, Brent, an active member who is a hoarder. Very kind guy, slightly agoraphobic, but loves the missionaries.

Anyway, enough about people I work with. On to the details of the week! This week was nothing but finding again, for the most part. We were very busy street contacting on the busiest streets (by the way, there are some WEIRD shops here) and tracted in some of the more residential areas like the Presidio and the Marina, both of which are very well-to-do areas. The Presidio ceases to amaze me. The homes look like they are from the English countryside, but the environment is a thick northern Californian forest. It’s beautiful.

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The Presidio neighborhoods. Look closely, and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge hidden in the fog at the center of the picture.

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We did service down by the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a weekly project to help restore the native plant life to the Presidio. It’s right by the bridge that we go to work.

Things that happen here in the city are always slightly odd. We sure seem to have a lot of strange interactions with people on the street. It’s become very normal to me now because it happens so frequently. We talk to a lot of crazy people.

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We also had exchanges this week. I was with Elder Olone (he’s an Ethiopian refugee who lived in Kenya, but joined the church in Minnesota). He’s super cool!

Before I go, I want to leave you with a quick spiritual thought from an experience I had yesterday. We were riding the bus home from church yesterday and a car broke down on one the many thin streets in the city. It broke down right in the middle of the street, so the bus was not able to pass. Elder Barnett and I, as well as a bunch of other people got out of the bus to help move the car out of the way.

Now, before I go on, let it be noted that the broken down car was on a hill, facing up. San Franciscan hills are ridiculous. It’s a workout to walk up and down them.

Now, imagine ten or so people outside this broken down car arguing with one another and refusing to compromise on one idea to move this car out of the way. The lack of cooperation was over 9,000 here. Eventually, five of them tried pushing the car up, but quickly realize the incline of the hill was too steep and the car was just rolling backward.

After that, a man INSISTED on getting in the car and slowly rolling it backward into a space between two cars that was too small for it to fit in. He insisted so much that he just started doing it against most everyone else’s will. The problem with that plan was this: if the car even squeezed into the space, it would be sticking out too much for the bus to still pass. The bus could not backup because, legally, the driver is not allowed to without another transit employee present. The car needed to be rolled back into an open curb space beside the bus, but there was no way to get it back there without backing up the bus.

Eventually, everyone got sick of arguing with each other and just left (this was only about five to ten minutes or so after the car had broken down). Elder Barnett and I stuck around and eventually the problem was fixed. Another transit employee showed up, backed the bus, and backed the car into the space.

I share this story to demonstrate the importance of patience and cooperation, two essential Christlike attributes we all need to develop. We cannot accomplish any task successfully without patience or cooperation. These people certainly did not have it and it just made the situation much worse. When we have the ability to wait patiently to work through a problem, we certainly can have much greater happiness than we could if we spent all our time getting frustrated with everyone and everything around us. Remember always to have patience with your fellow men! It’s essential to find true and lasting happiness in this life.

Thank you guys all for your support! It means a lot, especially amidst the difficulties of city work. I love you all. Have a great week!
~Elder Pike

And I leave you with a companionship selfie…
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