Monday, January 20, 2014

Week #66: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XI, Week 5

This past week was pretty good overall, with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. My time is actually pretty short, so I´m going to try and squeeze in as much as I can about the good parts of the week.

This week had its hard moments for sure, but it was a good week. On Wednesday we had interviews with President and Sister Bird, which was pretty good and nice. President Bird told us to read about and study Mosiah 2:17, 20-21. The first one is well known by members of the Church - that as we serve others we are serving the Lord. Verses 20-21 talk about how, if we were to give all that we can to the Lord in serving and praising him, we would still never repay the debt we owe to him, but be "unprofitable servants."

We talked about how serving a mission shouldn´t be the "best to years of your life," but rather, "the best two years for your life." They should be years used to help us leran and grow. I thought a bit about a quote, "If you don´t love somebody, you haven´t served them enough," and I related that to the scriptures. The Lord is letting us have the chance to serve Him. We are not repaying Him with our service, nor can we ever repay Him. These two years are a chance for us to learn and grow and change.

Seeing my mission in this light has helped me a bit. Feel happier, and enjoy the experience more. I need to try and refine myself, become better, and enjoy my mission. Life is like a mission too - we should use it as a chance to learn and grow, improving each day. It´s an opportunity: the Lord is letting us be here, giving us life, giving us opportunities. We need to learn and grow. We need to learn how to truly repent for whatever wrongs we do, learn, and become better.

This week we were studying about "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy" and we read what Preach My Gospel says about this commandment. One thing that stood out to me was the repitition of the word (or variations of the word) that translates as "Worship" or "Adore" related with the Sabbath, and it helped me evaluate myself a bit. I tried to have a more worshipful, grateful attitude this Sunday during Church, and I liked that. I was able to receive some personal insights and inspiration which I need to remember and apply. It was good.

I invite each of you to reflect upon how you view the Sabbath, Church attendance, and everything related to that; when you have reflected, I invite you to set some goals, and do something new. A talk by Elder Don R. Clarke from October 2012 General Conference on the Sacrament is pretty great. I invite each of you to read it this week.

We´re about to head off to an activity. I love you all and wish you well! I chatted with Elder Capiz a bit today, which was pretty good. Take care!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week #65: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XI, Week 4

This past week was pretty good. It was actually pretty full, and a bit tough too. We had quite a few appointments that we couldn´t go to because there wasn´t a man (12 years old or greater) present with us, so we had some appointments fall through, but we were still able to have many lessons this week, and it was a pretty good thing. Elder Hood was pretty happy about that too, actually.

In my personal study of the Book of Mormon, I just finished Omni and Words of Mormon today in Spanish, so now I´m going to be reading and studying the rest of the book. It´s been good to be reading it, and it´s been good to read in Spanish too. I think I want to read the whole Triple Combination before I go home, in Spanish. I need to speed up my reading if I want to do that, but it´s totally possible.

This week has been a bit tough in some aspects, but I have had so many good, spiritual, testimony-affirming experiences in my mission, and life, that I need to just remember and have faith. I´m going to keep praying, and studying, and moving forward. Today as we sang the hymn before the time of Companionship Study, I was actually pretty touched and felt the Spirit there too, so that was another experience, a reminder of what I need to remember. But, don´t worry. Things are going pretty well.

Hmm... What else can I talk about this week? I´ve got plenty of time, but not a whole ton to say. Here´s one new thing: We got a washing machine! These past few weeks we´ve been taking our clothes with us to wash at a sister´s house, or she washed for us, but now we have a washing machine! It feels good to have this, to be "independent" in this sense. It´ll help make our P-days more laid-back and good. Today we lost some time working with that, but in the future it´ll be better.

Today, we´ve just got a laid-back day planned out. After writing here, we´re going to head over to eat, then back to our house to wash our clothes, clean, and relax. It´ll be pretty nice. Maybe I´ll write some letters, read, nap, or who knows. It´ll be good, whatever we do. I like the idea of having some "down time."

Okay, I thought of something else to write about. Yesterday we had Stake Conference, and it was a special transmission from Salt Lake about missionary work with the members, and good stuff like that. Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy directed and spoke in Spanish; Sister Neill F. Marriot of the Young Women´s General Presidency shared her conversion story and how to share the gospel with others (she had a voice-over translation after saying a few sentences in Spanish); Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke to us about follow four counsels / areas of focus that President Monson has given (in pretty good Spanish too, so that was kind of cool to hear); and Elder Robert D. Hales finished up the meeting (with voiceover). It was pretty good. To start, some local people spoke or bore testimony, and to end we sang a hymn and had a prayer in the Stake Center. It was good.

The transfers are coming up, and we´ll see how things turn out here in Tamaulipas 1.1 - it could be that we stay together for another transfer, it could be that one of us leaves. We don´t know what will happen. It could be that we stay together here, but then it won´t be training. It could be that I train again, or that I leave and train or something. We´ll just have to see what happens. As for the mission, a new Zone will be opening up, so we´ll go from having 7 Zones to having 8 Zones. The work keeps progressing, moving forward.

Well, I guess that´s it for the general letter. Have a great week everyone, and be happy. This Friday I´ve got 15 months since I left on my mission. Time flies! I love you all and wish you well!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week #64: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XI, Week 3

It seems like it was only a few days ago that I wrote... Because it was. So, this is more of a half-week letter. The good news is that the second half of the week was pretty good, and full of stuff, so we´re good to go.

To start off, our English classes went a bit better this week. We had some new faces there, and some of the same ones too. What we should do is bump up our advertising for the classes. We´re going to ask the Bishopric to see if they can always announce the classes, see if we can put a sort of announcement up on the bulletin board, and stuff like that. Hopefully we can get the classes up and running. It was a bit rough this week, since it was our first week together with Elder Redford and I teaching, but it was good and pretty basic.

On Friday we had intercambios (exchanges) and it was pretty good. Elder Carbajal got to stay in the area with Elder Nay, and I got to leave and go to an area that is called Bosques de San Miguel 1.1 with our District Leader Elder Hood. It was a pretty interesting intercambio, and I enjoyed it. We were able to work well together, and we both come from similar pasts (as far as areas go). My first area was his second, and he just left from there (half of my first area, actually). I heard some good news from him.

A long time ago I taught an investigator named Nora. It doesn´t look like I mentioned her in my past letters... oops. But, the point is that she was in my first area. I remember the first time we taught her - it was the first time I felt that I could really, really understand all that was going on. She was very open with us about her struggles, and it was a good lesson. We kept visiting with her, but her husband wasn´t that interested.

Then, I got transfered to the offices. Elder López and Elder Warner (his new companion) kept visiting them, but they didn´t really progress. After two transfers, Elder Hood gets there, sees them like once and they stop visiting them because they weren´t progressing, and her husband flat out said "No." He wasn´t going to stop her from continuing, but his lack of interest discouraged her. About 4 transfers later, she shows up to the chapel, and starts going to Church, showing interest, and progressing. Elder Hood was telling me this, and it got me pretty happy.

Imagine my surprise when Elder Hood and I go to a house to see if somebody could go with us to a visit when lo and behold, I see the familia Velazco. They were the first family I ate with in my first ward. They gave us hamburgers (with avacado, cheese, and ham - Monterrey style). They were like my favorite family in the ward, and they were always supportive to us. Well, it was in their house and with them that we taught Nora. We asked about her, and they said that there were going to have a Family Home Evening and that the Elders were going to invite her to be baptized that night! Cool stuff. Planting seeds. I hope to hear that she does get baptized. That´d be awesome. I´ve attached a photo to this email of them.

On Saturday we had a service activity where we shined shoes, contacted people, and gave away Hot Cocoa, and it was pretty fun and a good activity. We´re going to do it again, it appears, sometime in the future. It was good.

We were able to teach some more people, putting our total at 10 people with baptismal dates, but on Sunday it fell down to 4 because they didn´t come to Church. Oh well, we´re going to keep on moving, working, and we´ll try to help them make it to baptism. We also gave away Adrian to the other area, since he "moved" and is now in their area. He might move back to our side, but in the meantime, the Lord wants him with them. We´ll have to wait and see why.

I also got a haircut this morning. And, that´s the second half of this week. I love you all, and wish you well!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Week #63: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XI, Week 2

Well, it´s actually been like a week and a half since I wrote. I´m going to take a second to write my personal messages first, then I´ll talk about the week... Okay, done. Here in Mexico, the Christmas tradition is to celebrate on the 24th, staying up all night and sleeping at like 5 in the morning or so. Near our house, there was some Karaoke during the whole night basically. I slept fine, but Elder Carbajal was not so lucky. New Year´s Eve has a similar tradition, so he bought some ear-plugs; but, the neighbors weren´t there / weren´t loud, so it was a pretty normal night.

So, last week I got to talk home for Christmas, and that was a really nice experience. It was nice to talk to my family, just visit, and it was pretty chill. I was the only Gringo in the entire building, so I just sat there and talked in the main room, in the middle of everybody and it was like I was all alone. Haha. It was good stuff. It was nice.

The rest of the day was just going to visit some members, wish them a Merry Christmas, and stuff like that. And, we had a week that was pretty normal after that. Some rain and cold, but it was good.

On the 29th we met four new investigators and got four new baptismal dates. On the 30th we got one more (but he might be in another ward). On the 31st we got 3 more baptismal dates. So, today we have 9 dates. The thing is to help these people read, go to Church, become converted, and make it to baptism. But, it´s been going pretty great for us lately. Tomorrow we´ve got intercambios (exchanges) and Elder Carbajal is staying here in charge. I´m off with the District Leader to his area. Should be a good experience for the both of us.

Today we were able to go the Temple, and that was a pretty great experience overall. I really was able to feel more during the time there, and it was good. I want to go back, but I have to wait until it´s our turn again. Oh well. Things are going pretty great with the Ward Mission Leader too. He´s the Hermano Villasana, and he´s awesome. They are one of my favorite families that I´ve met out here in the mission field.

So, it´s 2014. That means that it´s time for all of us to think about the past, make some goals, and work hard to achieve them. I personally have thought just a BIT about this, and need to take some more time to make some good goals. I invite all of you to think about and make some good goals for the year 2014. It´s definitely going to be a different year for me than any other which I´ve had.

I love you all and wish you well. I´m going to wrap up my time just chatting with my family. Take care and have a great week everyone! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Week #62: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XI, Week 1

Merry Christmas for starters! ¡Feliz Navidad a todos mis seres queridos! On Wednesday I get to talk to my family for my SECOND CHRISTMAS. Time flies by. I remember last year when I was talking with my family and I told my dad, "It`s so long! I only have 2 months!" or something like that. And, here I am, at my second Christmas, full of experiences, memories, and lots of learning has taken place.

Christmas is a great time of year. I enjoy it. It`s a bit interesting to be away from home once again. So much has happened in a year. Last year, I was in Colorado in the Greeley 5th Branch. I was able to drive, knock on doors, and I lived in the United States of America. Today, none of those things is true. Haha. But, life is good, and so is being a missionary.

This week a lot of stuff happened, but I`m going to focus on the important things. On Thursday we had a "Posada," which was the Ward Christmas Party. With the transfers, we had a new Elder with us. He is from the United States of America, and he is fresh from the MTC as well. We sang while Elder Bautista read the Christmas Story from Luke 2, and then we sang "Noche de Luz" ("Silent Night"). We left early for the lateness of the Posada, but it was good. We had a lot of less-active members and some investigators comes. Mireya came, and Adrian showed up just before we left. Javier was there too, as was Lucìa (and investigator). We went and got some Tamales before we left (Mexican Christmas food: we ate Tamales in Colorado during Christmas too).

On Friday night we were able to visit with Adrian and Mireya a bit, where we talked about prayer. Afterwards, we went looking for people, but nobody was there. Elder Carbajal suggested that we go and visit a family near our house, and we went. We arrived just when we were needed. The Sister told us a bit about how she was doing, some of her struggles, and we were able to come and share some stuff with her and her son. She said that we helped calm her, and it was a testimony for her that the Lord cares about her, and takes care of her needs. It was pretty special. We`re going to keep helping this family, but I loved this little miracle. Moments like these make the Misison awesome.

On Sunday we had the great miracle and surprise to have Adrian and Mireya there at Church! They had told us that she was leaving town, and he was going to be busy with her the whole day with that, but there they were! They brought her sister too. After Sacrament Meeting they left, but it was great to have them there. Javier came, but after the meeting. A less-active Sister came too. It was good.

My time is short, so I`m going to leave out my personal messages. Sorry! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas to my loved ones, family members, and friends! I love you all. I bear my testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives and loves us. May we reflect on His Atonement especially in his time of Christmas. I love you all!