WELCOME to Elder John-Gregory Sierra's mission blog! For the next two years Elder Sierra will be serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the California Sacramento Mission. We hope you will enjoy his experiences, shared through weekly letters. We will post his letters each week and any pictures he may send.

Write Elder Sierra


Missionaries love to get letters (and care packages)! If you'd like to write to Elder Sierra, please use the following addresses:

Elder John-Gregory Sierra
California Sacramento Mission
8267 Deseret Ave
Fair Oaks, CA 95628


Monday, August 26, 2013


Aug. 26, 2013

Hey mom, 

I'm happy to know you and Dad are doing all right as far as work and house stuff goes. Benjamin has been telling me some pretty sweet things he has been doing, as well. Hope he keeps on staying active. I know I am out here in the field. 

I do agree that I could've been nicer to that one lady I mentioned last week, but that was the short story of the moment and I didn't have time to explain more fully about it. Well anyhow, I got mad because she was literally blocking the way of our referral. That's why I yelled. She kept slandering our church and kept making these threats and terrible attacks on our church which, honestly, I couldn't ignore after that. That's when I snapped and then she moved out of the way. So that's why I yelled, but it was not in vain. Not only is the referral that we got getting baptized, but also that same lady, Mrs. Everton, asked us to talk with her for a moment. This was a couple of days ago after teaching Claudia.  

When we were walking back to our car, she stopped us and asked us to sit down. I did it reluctantly because my companion wanted to (he said c'mon, man, after you told her off like that, you OWE her a little chat). So 
I sat down, annoyed with the whole ordeal, as she went inside her apartment for a minute. I thought that she was getting all of her anti-mormon garbage and I was SURE that she was gonna be trying to bash with us, or whatever, and waste our time, but my companion insisted on us staying. REALLY was almost about to throw a tantrum, I was so freaking mad. However, she came out with two mugs of ice cold HOMEMADE ROOT BEER and with a Book of Mormon in her hand. After she gave us the mugs she said, "I'm sorry for what I said the other day. My husband has recently passed away and I was very angry before you came by. But after you left, I wanted to prove to you that your religion was false so I read the Book of Mormon (she broke into tears). I have read many of these chapters and have felt a stirring that I have never felt before. Will you please explain to me what this feeling is?" I almost broke down. My companion kinda gave me that "told you so" look. We taught her a beautiful lesson on the Plan of Salvation and she wants to be baptized, but we have to PASS HER OFF!!! So angry, but she wants to stop by at least once a week and we WILL, cuz she makes the best root beer known to MAN! So, in short, I learned my lesson. Don't scream at old ladies cuz in the end you will be burned!!

Love you mom,

Elder Sierra
Letter dated 8/19/2013

Hey Dad,

It's been a while since I have heard from ya. Thanks for the advice. I have been trying to lose myself in the work. If there is anything I want people to remember me by, it is that I worked hard and loved the people with all my might. 
California is pretty legit. It's hot right now (not as hot as FL), but it's all right, since I am still in a car. My companion is the "relief society president" (district leader of A LOT of sisters haha). Our District consists of Elder Lee, and me (our visa-waiter just got his call to Argentina, so he is gone), and 6 other sisters. It's tough...
We have a baptism set up for this coming Saturday. His name is Nick. He is 10 years old and we are trying to see if his father will choose to be baptized or not, since he comes to church EVERY Sunday and loves it. His mother is a member and is very excited and continues to plead with us to continue to teach her husband and invite him to be baptized. He is soooo close!!!!!!!! I know he will be baptized soon. He loves the gospel and he believes in everything that has been taught and has a firm testimony that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet (it is a miracle how he has NOT committed to baptism yet). 
Work is tough at times, but we press on. Spanish is coming along great. I can teach the lessons in Spanish without any struggle now and can keep up any conversation in Spanish. Oh, and Dad, I want you to buy me a book or something that can help me learn the Cuban dialect. I think Benjamin wants to speak more like Mom, but Dad I wanna speak like you do, porque soy Cubano CHICO! Cuba es mi herencia y me encanta la cultura. Papi, yo he escuchado que podemos volver a Cuba oltra vez si tenemos familia alli o si tenemos sangre cubano. Padre, siento que hay una familia alli que necesitamos ver. No se por que, pero si hay una oportunidad ir a Cuba, hacemoslo. Entonces, como esta trabajo? Es todo bien con Mama y Benjamin y otra familia? Estoy animado hablar con ellos en espanol. He practicado y todavia estoy aprendiendo la idioma. Queiro [hablar con] fluencia en 6 meses mas. Despues de eso he [decidido] aprender portuges y frances (es una historia largo). Me encanta esta obra papi... Te Queiro. (translation: ...because I am CUBAN! Cuba is my heritage and I love its culture. Dad, I've heard that we can return to Cuba if we have family there or Cuban blood. Dad, I feel that there is a family there that we need to see. I don't know why, but if there is an opportunity to go to Cuba, let's do it. So, how is work? IS everything good with Mom and Benjamin and the rest of the family? I'm excited to speak with them in Spanish. I've practiced and I am still learning the language. I want to speak fluently in 6 more months. After that, I've decided to learn Portuguese and French (it's a long story) I love this work, dad. I love you.)

Tu Chico,  (Your Son)
Elder Sierra

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Letter from Aug. 13, 2013
Hey Mom,
Today is transfer p-day and I have been called to go tear it up and baptize down in Manteca. Word on the street is I'll be getting a new comp named Elder Lee and he and I are shotgunning (meaning to put two missionaries in the area to replace the old ones) Manteca. My new comp will be the new district leader. We are also getting a visa waiter, so our companionship is a trio. It's gonna be a lot of fun. Can't wait to start tearing it up. Also, I am free and no longer reporting directly to Mission President. (It's such a relief.) The new ap, Elder Gurr, is cool and I've got no problems with him so, we will see where this all goes. 
Anyhow, Antonio WAS BAPTIZED LAST SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Left my area with a baptism, baby! We have 8 lined up for every Saturday of the upcoming weeks. I cannot wait!! The Lord has truly blessed us with success. It truly was a miracle. I love the work I do. I sang "Come Thou Fount" in the baptismal program and the Spirit was powerful. It truly felt like it descended upon us like a very soft and velvet blanket. It was a peaceful and wonderful feeling. Everyone in the room was moved and filled with tears. Missionary work is definitely something that I continue to constantly enjoy.  It is going to be sad to leave Rancho Cordova. I loved the ward so much. Saying goodbye to these beautiful families and to my AWESOME companion will be tough. But, it's part of the job. 
Thanks, Mom, for all you do.  I am grateful for all the support you have been giving me. Sorry for not sending pics. It's really hard to find the time to do that. I honestly don't know how Ralynne squeezes in time to do that. I am literally running around proselyting 24/7. I block out all my times in my planner with people to teach. To be quite honest, [Elder] Russell and I are exhausted. He told me today, "Elder Sierra, before we go and do sports, I need an hour power nap. I love to work hard, but we are killing ourselves here."  Gotta do whatcha gotta do to baptize, right? haha 
Anyhow, I love you, Mom, and I am starting out on my 5th transfer. Pretty insane, right?
Elder Sierra
quick follow up chat: 

Elder Sierra: I hear it's (Manteca) the dumpster of the mission so, haha, it figures that they'd wanna send me to that one lol...They didn't tell me what it was like, just that it was run by Crips and that there are A LOT of Mexicans.
Mom: Not more crips! Did any of the others get baptized? Juan too? And, can you come back for any of the ones you have planned?
Elder Sierra: yeah, they (the crips) did, by English elders, and Juan is finding a job before marriage and then he will have his baptism. And yes, I can (come back for the baptisms that are scheduled already) 
Mom: Awesome. That's pretty incredible. Did ALL 12 crips get baptized?
 Elder Sierra:Yeah, they did, and from what I've heard, most of them are moving to FAR North Cali (California) to get away from the influences down here. Smart choice.
Mom: Absolutely. John Gregory, your courage and love has made such a difference in their lives for generations to come. Proud of you. And the English elders should love you for handing them a boat load of baptisms!!
Elder Sierra: Yeah, I know. I got ticked. I even said, "President, why do they reap the benefits from my hard work?" and he says, "cuz you keep teaching crips." haha
Antonio and me right before his baptism. He wants to serve a mission, btw
Downtown (Rancho Cordova) is my area. It's nice.

My bro, Oscar Aguilar. Wonderful member.

We are both pretty crazy!

Mi fiesta!

My favorite little chico (boy). (My godson, Aaron.)
My favorite member family, the Perez family.

My dogg, Elder Russell

 The Capitol Building

Monday, August 5, 2013

 Letter from Aug. 5, 2013

Hey Mom,

Mission life is treating me good! This week, Antonio's baptism is set for Friday, Olivia for next Saturday, and Chewy for the 17th. My companion and I are trying to get a baptism for every week of August. So far, missionary work is good. We are teaching another crip haha. I don't know how I find 'em, but it's a blast. He loves the gospel and accepted a baptismal invitation for the 24th. Unfortunately, we have to pass him off since he does not speak Spanish.  It's sad, but we are counting him as ours anyway. And the bishop in the Rossmor Ward, the one Ricky is going to, is petitioning to have the Presidency allow Ricky to be baptized now rather than waiting a year to get his ankle bracelet off. We are praying and keeping our fingers crossed. 
The group is doing very well. (Elder Sierra is helping form a branch of the church in Rancho Cordova.)  I've been learning a lot more Spanish this transfer because I need to translate some of the speakers. It is tough. I ask the members if they hate the way I translate, but they all say I sound fine and I speak like a Cuban. So, I've got no complaints haha! That'll make Dad proud. Also, we talked to the stake presidents and also with the mission presidents and they are in agreement in creating a branch in RANCHO CORDOVA, BABY!!! Our hard work FINALLY paid off!!!!!!! Take that AP'S!! (They told us not to do it, BUT I DID IT ANYWAY!!!) The members are very excited. It saves them a 30-minute drive to the church and it will take, at the max, maybe 5-10 minutes to get there. So much easier and a lot of less actives (because it's hard for them to do that and, some don't have a car) can't wait. It's such a relief to know that if I transfer I left my area looking better than before. So, President Lewis is happy that we talked to all the right people to set this up and believe me, it took A LOT of work. So, in my first 3 transfers we created a new branch, a new Spanish area for the mission, divided up the boundaries to make everybody's life easier, and have brought 15 souls unto Christ (mostly English-speaking guys that we passed off and Spanish investigators that moved somewhere else to be baptized. Go figure). Love the work! It is so freaking hard, but it is SO much fun, too. If I knew a mission would be this fun, I would have gotten better prepared a LONGGGG time ago. 
Well Mom, I love you. Tell the rest of the family I say, wassup! And, I am about to pass my 6 month mark in a couple of weeks. Te amo.

Elder Sierra

p.s. Don't worry about my funds! We just moved in with a member and he makes some pretty awesome food!! (he's Italian/Russian)

A few extra tidbits:

Mom: Holy Mackerel! I cannot believe all you've done!... I thought Olivia had to be passed off? Are you still able to baptize her?...And yes, where DO you find these crips? And speaking of that, why does Ricky have an ankle bracelet on? How can he come to SLC with that on his leg?

I am so proud of all your hard work young man. And yes, preparing sooner would have been wonderful, but the Lord knows all and you are where you need to be, when you needed to be there. 6 months! Unbelievable. Miss your face.

Elder Sierra: Yeah its pretty sick. Just gotta be yourself and follow the Spirit and it all works out. Not follow all the mission rules out of fear. President even quoted me on that. I am ROCKIN THIS MISSION! Gonna turn Sacramento UPSIDE DOWN! And yes, I did bury the hatchet (with the APs), but they are still being themselves, but it doesn't matter, I still only report to President for this transfer. It's all good! Oh yeah, we still get Olivia, haha, then we give her to the other ward lol. We scored on that one. I dont know how I find the crips. Honestly, I think they find me and they are my favorite investigators. They keep me down to earth and normal... BE YOURSELF PEOPLE NOT A ROBOT! Anyhow, Ricky can go anywhere in the world as long as he wears the bracelet and he can be tracked. That's all.

He was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time but had a record from previous juvenile stuff so they sent him [to jail] for a month and he has been on parole for a while now...
He won't be going to Utah for about a year now and by then he will be a baptized and active member. The guy has not missed a Sunday since we invited him.
He loves church and they gave him a proxy calling teaching gospel principles haha
It's real cool. He teaches it in ebonics (the way young people talk haha). They love it. The ward is in love with him.
Oh, and they made new new rules for the mission.
Now I can wear more ties. They've gotten pretty relaxed with the rules. Apparently, they wanna make the missionaries look more hip. We can wear khakis and any kind of conservative sweater without having to wear a suit, as well, and we can wear tan and other colored suits, as long as they aren't flashy.
Lovin' the mission right now.
And also, we are not required to wear a part (in the hair).
Yep, we can wear brighter colored ties and also solid colors.
Love my life.
I'm floating on air right now.

LETTER FROM 7/29/2013


Well Mom, I have been out for over 5 months now! (Feels like 2) Missionary work just took another unique twist. We had 7 baptisms lined up for August, but our area boundaries got switched up a bit, so I lost 5 of them. SO TICKED OFF!!! Kinda feel like I will never see a baptism. It's all right, technically, I have a lot just haven't been able to see them. Anyway, Antonio is going through a hard time with his Mom (who is a Jehovah's Witness and schizophrenic), so we rescheduled his date for August 10th. It's very difficult. Olivia, on the other hand, has been coming to church and LOVES IT with all her heart. She has a date set for August 17 and we just passed her off (ANNOYING). I called President and just left a message saying, "Really Pres! Really?! You just took 5 of our investigators with dates away!" He called back leaving me a message saying, "Keep up the good work." Kinda hurt my pride a bit so, yeah, my companion and I are going through a rough patch. But we are still working. 

Well Mom, I have been thinking about what you said and I will try to make peace with the Ap's. I will call President and see if he can put me on a call with them so we can sort this out. A lot of "blood" has been spilt but hopefully, we can bury the hatchet.  

Elder Russell and I have been enjoying the area and he is by far my favorite companion. He knows how to work hard and knows how to play hard (I like that part). Also, we got in trouble.... Elder Russell and I were eating in Taco Bell after 9:30 (lost track of time and forgot), and President called us. He heard the background noises. So yeahhhh......gotta write a brief explanation to the mission why eating out late as a missionary is not the best use of time. I wrote only a sentence saying, "Well guys, just don't get caught eating at night. Peace out!". Wasn't really thinking at the time and I tried to make light of the situation. President called and didn't like that  Don't know what my reprimand is gonna be yet. So, gotta shape up right now.

Anyways, I love you and tell Grandma Williams not to mow her lawn with a broken arm. She has grandsons to do that for her. Oh, and tell Dad I would like to hear from him. Also, my investigator Ricky wants to write you a brief message. He is here with me right now. 
Ricky: Dear Sister Sierra, thank you so much for helping my new brotha JG to encourage him to serve a mission. He has changed my life for the better. I love the gospel and he has literally saved my life in more ways than one. I love him very much and I may be going to Utah to get a job near Salt Lake City. I would very much like to meet you while I am there. I will have Elder Sierra email after I set the date to come up to Utah. Thank you again Sister Sierra. Since you are the mother of my brother, I sincerely thank you and love you just as  much as I love your son here. Thank you.
Well Mom, hope you're proud of me in some small way, as much of a problem as I usually am. Love ya!
Elder Sierra

Some excerpts from a follow up chat:
Mom: Tell Ricky we would love to meet him. When is he thinking of coming? And yes, I am proud of you. Remember the "I will obey ALL the mission rules" pact? If you would do that, you would not be getting in trouble, right? And, when you do mess up, for goodness sake, be humble and take it seriously! That was a dumb thing to write. Take your punishment like a man! ;) I am really sorry about all your investigators, though. Good grief.
Elder Sierra: He is planning on it in about a month or two. Well, IT"S A STUPID RULE! We hadn't eaten and we were hungry!! I mean c'mon, I'm creating a branch, I am working in the 2nd biggest and hardest Spanish area in the mission, and my companion and I are not fluent in Spanish yet. Give me a break, we were weak lol! But yes, it was a dumb thing to write... It's so hard to resist a late night Taco Bell though....
I'll try to fix things with the aps...
...the branch is moving slowly, we have enough for a group and we have classes in Spanish but we can't do a Spanish sacrament so we translate in our broken Spanish (really stinks) 
Mom: That's so neat about a branch.You are at ground level with the church there. Even more so than I was in Spain. It is tough work and the president must trust you. Just work on your patience and forgiveness and anger! Try not to overreact... The Lord is throwing everything at you at once. haha
Elder Sierra: All right, will do. The branch is definitely an experiment and yes, it's tough. Well,  it's hard to work on those attributes when I'm dealing with all of them at the same DANG time!

 AND...It's frustrating. They (APs and older missionaries) are working and having us work as if we are filling a quota and it's not the way it's supposed to go which is why when, for every number I put down for a goal, I associate that number with a person...[just filling quotas] takes a lot of fire away from missionary work.

Mom: Missionary work is a tough balance between goals and people. It's so hard. You want the numbers but you have to remember they are people too...