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


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Letter from June 16, 2014

Hola Mamá

Things are going better. We have been adding new investigators and the most recent is a young couple by the names of Oscar and Dolores (she likes to be called Lolita). They are so nice and very open to hear the gospel, not to mention very humble. They have been to many activities and to church, once, and they love what they are learning. They always invite us over to eat with them and always have wonderful and cheerful questions for us. They are truly a blessing. 
So, I am kinda freaking out because the transfer is going by pretty quickly. My companion and I were sitting down for weekly planning and he said to me, "Whoa Elder Sierra, you're getting old!" "Whatchu talkin' about? I ain't old." "Yeah, you are. After this, you've got only 5 transfers left." "No Elder Martinez I have 7!" "Where did you learn to count?! I'll show ya!..........see??" "WHAT?! I'm old!"
Never thought it was gonna happen. I am becoming a veteran....and I hate it. Just got a call from President the other day. My companion totaled his bike and he called the Assistants asking for a new bike. I wasn't paying attention when I was in front of him and I didn't warn him about a drop in the road and he nailed it. I got a call later and President said, "Elder, how come you didn't warn your companion? Now we need to get him a new bike." I'm all, "Whoa! When did this become my fault?" "Ever since I made you senior companion. Everything's your fault now lol.....better get used to it." 
So other than that, life is good. Life here is fast and is rolling downhill even faster. I lose track of things easily now and then when I look at the time, I think to myself, "Where does it all go? Yesterday, I came out of the MTC. I don't know what's happening." It's crazy. I love you Mom I will talk to you soon.

Elder Sierra didn't have a lot of time to write this week becasue he was sending words of wisdom to a good friend about to enter the MTC. Here are some of his thoughts:
...My only words of advice for you right now are to BE YOURSELF! Do NOT let ANYONE try to change who you are and where you came from. Love your companion, show abounding charity to ALL you encounter, Be an Example, Lead from behind, and when the time comes, Lead in the front as well. Follow the Spirit and heed its counsel. There is no better way to do missionary work than that. 
Also, remember to be patient with yourself. We are [Terrestrial] beings trying to perform a Celestial work. At times. we may feel [unclean], but that is only natural as we are sinners that are striving to become like Christ. However, we are the "LIGHT of THE WORLD". 
Also, be COURAGEOUS as you declare the gospel. Do not falter and trust that the Lord will show you what you need to do and what you must say. 
Be teachable. My greatest problem on the mission was the fact that I was not humble enough to change and to accept certain correction that held me back and hampered my relationship with my Mission President (for a while). However, the Atonement allows us to feel that humility and that alone is what motivates us to be Obedient. Obedience is the price, but it means nothing if it is not fueled with love; that is the motive. 
Above all, remember that missionaries are NOT ANGELS! We are NOT perfect. We make mistakes. When we accept that, then we will not beat ourselves up everyday. When I realized that, I was then able to humble myself...Remember again to follow the Spirit. He will let you know how to act. As we begin to perfect ourselves in Christ and accept that stumbling is part of the process, that is when the growth begins. The cure to all of this (at least for me) is the pure love of Christ. With this we can look past our faults and the faults of others. Jesus Christ loves unconditionally...
Always remember that the Lord's love is unfailing, I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Buena Suerte (good luck),

Elder John-Gregory Sierra
Letter from June 9, 2014

Dear Mom,

I have reached that point in the mission where everyone is beginning to call me old now. The irony! I would always make fun of the guy older than me for doing that. But now, I'm one of the most experienced elders in the zone and it still feels like I don't know much. I just know the schedule. That's it. lol.

I have met many people out here that are struggling but I see the changes and the faith that they have. It is truly inspiring.  Our dates fell through. It's a pretty sore topic. Let's just say members can make or break anything in the mission. We found Edgar drinking again...and a member was very rude to our investigators and they want nothing to do with them. It really hurts us but, whatev, I'm not eating with them anymore, that's for sure. We are not giving up on Edgar, but Bishop wants to meet with him to try and help him get in addiction recovery. 
I gotta go now, Mom, but I love you. Always will and always HAVE! You are my best friend, too. I  have missed your cooking, your smiles, your singing, and your kindness. It is that same kindness that I have tried to emulate as I serve here. They feel it. They ask me how I do it. I reply, "My Parents taught me to be that way."

Elder Sierra

Letter from June 3rd

Hi Mom,

Work is good. We have a date for the 14th. His name is Edgar and he is a great guy. I love him to death. He is from Colombia. My new comp is an old friend who has finally returned to the mission field after having had to go home to handle some health issues: Elder Martinez. He was already my brother and an amazing friend. Now he is my companion, and I am his senior. I will be getting Martinez back into the swing of things.
I am SO HAPPY to have Elder Martinez as my junior (you have no idea how happy I am)...  I do love to serve the Lord and my brothers and sisters, as well.... I was with Martinez when I first came out to the mission. He and I were both relatively young and we served around each other for most of our time together. When he had to go home, I almost cried. Now, he is back and I had NO IDEA he came in five days ago. And now he is my companion. I am SO excited.
I'd like to stay in my area for two more transfers. It would be a lot of fun and me encanta este barrio mama. No puedo explicarlo. Me encanta mi area. (I Love my area. I can't explain it. I love my area.)
I feel like I have been hitting my stride lately and right now, I just need prayers to go the extra mile with my Spanish. I need to speak a lot more fluently and I need to be able to hear and pick up a lot more. I can't struggle with the language anymore.

Letter from May 26, 2014
Dear Mom,

Happy Memorial Day! Time is still flying by. Next week will be the beginning of the new transfer. I think I will have 7 transfers left after this one. So not much more time left. I have been busy myself trying to put together activities for the ward. We have an activity called Salsa con Salsa (I did not think of the name) and it's gonna be a salsa contest and also a dance contest. Obviously, we are trying to bring in as many people as possible for this event. It's gonna be awesome!! We've got a lot of invites going out. As for Fernando, Jr. and Aranza, they had to get pushed back later in June again because they have a trip to LA to see their grandmother, who is not feeling too well. She is pretty advanced in age and family comes first, so we pushed the date back a bit. Unfortunately, we haven't been getting many new investigators so we are going to see what we can do in that field this week. Elder Mata wants to leave me with a good teaching pool. The poor guy is ready to go home. He has done his time and MORE! 25 1/2 months in the mission field. Even I would be running on empty. But anyway that's the mission right now.
 Anyway not much to talk about. This week was kind of bland. So I will talk more later.

Luv ya!

Elder Sierra
Letter from May 19, 2014
Hey Mom,

I so sorry for not emailing last week. I didn't forget, but I couldn't get a computer available to me long enough to write you because the Family History Center was closed off and no one could get on. We just got permission to go to the libraries and email you all if we don't get the chance to on P-Day. So, if it ever happens again, you will hear from me later. 
First off, I loved talking with you and the rest of the family. I can tell you are all very happy and are really enjoying your friends and home right now. I am happy that Benjamin is getting a lot of opportunity to be able to do soccer, martial arts, etc. and that you and Dad are also doing alright.  Now, I can't help it if I am learning TOO many things on the mission. It's like my mouth is open and they are spraying me with a fire hose. It's just too much.  I appreciate the compliments on my teaching. That is something that I have always taken pride in. My motto for teaching is if the Spirit is there and we testify of it, then we did our part. 
Missionary work is becoming more like a schedule to  me now. I have felt complacent as I work from time to time. It's something that I'm really trying hard to work on because, when you become complacent, you lose your sense of urgency, and if you lose your sense of urgency, then you're going to miss a lot of spiritual promptings. And you don't want that on your conscience. That, and Elder Mata is almost done with his mission and the poor guy is really trying his hardest to go out knowing he has done his best and he is stressing himself out in more ways than one (which in turn stresses me out). So yea, it's been a challenge, but we have been working hard and we have been seeing the results. Fernando, jr. and Aranza (the son and daughter in the Delgado Family) want to be baptized now. The parents mentioned that church is going to be hard to attend because of their work schedule, so they are going to let the kids go on and get baptized and they will go get baptized later. They are really trying hard to get their schedules changed to try and make it to sacrament. Their desire is so sweet and sincere. Mata continues to nag me saying, "You better continue to serve them in any way possible when I leave." I'm all like, no pressure, right? 
We also witnessed a baptism in the ward last Saturday and I was able to see my favorite companion, Elder Russel. I have missed that guy so much. We were going down memory lane and just talking about old investigators. Man, Mom, I will tell you what. I have gained so many brothers on the mission. The bonds you make with them here are just above and beyond explanation. You sweat with them, you teach with them, you starve with them (haha), you share EVERYTHING with them, you shed tears with them when everything goes rock bottom, you become their family. It's not just my companions (all of which are my brothers), but others that you serve with. You have always got each other's back. We encourage each other, motivate each other to be better, we press forward, and in our darkest hours (I have shared many of those with my brothers) we are all we have. I can't even mention the members that we serve with such passion without choking back tears. The mission so VERY HARD. It is exhausting, it is gut wrenching, it is easy to lose hope and give up, you are always tired, the work is non-stop, you have to continue to go the extra mile, and usually, you are always sick with something. However, it is rewarding.....but we get no reward out of it. We see lives change, people grow stronger in faith, their self-confidence rises, a light sparks in their eyes, their hearts are warmer, their families closer, and our spirits and our drive feed off of that. I love the mission so much. It is so hard though, but it is so worth it. Frustration comes all the time, but so do the small miracles we see. I can't imagine how much meaning my life would have if I did not serve a mission. I testify that this is the place where I need to be. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. The Atonement of Christ will cleanse us, strengthen us, and we will feel His healing touch. Know that we are NEVER alone. His Love is unfailing, I so testify in the Name of Jesus Christ Amen. 

Elder Sierra
 Letter from May 5, 2014

 Hey Mom,

The Delgado family has their date for baptism for June 14th and they are very excited. We would do it earlier, but their father is going to be out of town for a bit and he was all like, "You guys better not do it without me! I wanna be baptized too!" Talk about excitement, right? haha. So, the work is great. We just picked up more investigators and now our teaching pool is 25. Elder Mata and I are just having a blast ripping it up here... So all is well here in Sacramento. 

Man, everybody is getting married and having babies now. And now a lot of my friends are beginning to return home from their missions and I am over a year out. Man, life is just killing me right now. Way too fast. Oh, and hey Mom, I need you to send me some information so I can begin working on genealogy on p-days. I'd like to get started on Dad's side of the family, too. It's just something that I really wanna start doing.

This might make you laugh. President told me,
"Elder Sierra, I know you don't want to be a leader."
"Not really, but I'm not trying to run from it."
"Really?! Because I keep asking why your district leaders and zone leaders put your abilities down as 'junior' and they keep telling me you threaten to strangle them if they don't"
Haha good times...I like working with people on a personal level and when you become DL or ZL things as far as proselyting go are just not the same.

And please don't remind me that I only have about 9 months left *cry* *sniff* it hurts to think about it. lol.

Anyway Mom I love you and I will talk to you later.

Elder Sierra