Monday, April 28, 2014

Week #80: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 24

I`ve got some good news to share with you all: I`m staying in Tamaulipas for at least one more transfer. I really do love this ward, and the area is good too. Sure, the work is hard sometimes and it`s been hard to see results for the efforts here, but I`ve learned a lot and I feel good here. I love the members in the ward, and life is good. Last night we got the transfers, and Elder Anderson and I are staying together for another transfer. I will have at least 30 weeks in this ward by the time I leave, if not more. So, basically, Tamaulipas will be the biggest one chunk of my whole mission (in the offices I was in two different wards). I feel good about that.

This has been a good transfer for me as well. Elder Anderson and I are getting along well, and we`re both learning together. He is a good missionary, and we`ve been doing well at practicing in our studies and learning how to work well together in lessons and contacting people in the street. This week we had a pretty average amount of street contacts for us, but we had some good moments as far as progressing investigators is concerned.

Lucía is progressing pretty well still. She came to Sacrament Meeting for the fourth time now, so she`s really close to having her five minimum visits. However, I do not feel that she is ready to be baptized just yet - I want to help her make friends in the ward and have a strong testimony of the gospel. Obviously she feels something, because she is coming to Church and came to a baptism too, but I want to help her be ready to endure to the end. We started this process a bit on Sunday after Sacrament Meeting: we introduced her to some members, but she hasn`t ever stayed past the first meeting, so she hasn`t made a lot of friends yet. We`re going to see what we can do to help her make friends and be ready for baptism this coming May!

Narciso is doing well too - this Sunday they announced his baptism, inviting everyone to attend. I get to conduct his interview this Wednesday, and I`m not too worried about it. I hope he`s good to go and ready for baptism. I`m looking forward to it. Me and Elder Carbajal were teaching him until we split the area, so the Sisters took over the teaching. Now he`s feeling ready for his baptism, and his family supports his decision too. The Sisters asked him whom he would like to baptize him, saying it could be a missionary or a member - preferrably a membre - and he said he wanted me to do it! That`s pretty great. I hope everything works out well. It`ll feel good to have a baptism after so long.

We had a training meeting for trainers and valientes on Friday, and it was good. We did a ton of practicing - teaching basically like 6 lessons in the practice time, and evaluating that. It was good stuff, and we`ve tried to put that more into our actual teaching - more balance and team work, and it`s been good.

So, basically, things are good here. I love you all and hope that you have a great week! Take care everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week #79: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 23

This was a pretty good week. Last week I felt pretty satisfied for writing an epistle home. This week I`m going to keep it a bit shorter, but this week was another good week full of good moments. I`ll start with Tuesday.

Earlier in the week I was thinking about what to train in my capacitación, and an idea came to me of something cool that we could do during the "practice time." Each District Meeting we start up with a hymn, prayer, thought, then we talk about our areas and some needs we have. After that comes the training. It´s usually training, then practices, then evaluation, then more practices, then a wrap up. I had the idea to train on sharing testimony often (as found in Preach My Gospel, chapter 11). The idea came to me to have each of us bear our testimony during the meeting as a sort of "practice." It was a really cool and spiritual experience. I loved the cool feeling that was there - the Spirit was pretty strong. Bearing our testimony really makes a difference. I´ve been trying to remember than and bear testimony often in contacts, lessons, etc. I know that it´s something special.

On Thursday I got to have my second baptismal interview, and this time I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience. Once again, Elder Bautista and Elder Redford had an investigator ready for baptism. His name is Victorino, and he´s an older gentleman who lives in their area. I had the pleasure of conducting his interview, and he was very ready and very excited. I just felt great after his interview - it was cool to see somebody so excited to know about the gospel. It was great.

Friday we had intercambios with Elder Bautista and Elder Redford. I went with Elder Bautista to his area, and we had a pretty great day and good time. I´m going to miss him when he leaves the ward (he´s been here since August, so it´s very very likely that he leaves). He´s a great missionary, and he´s been very successful here in Tamaulipas.

Saturday was the baptism of Victorino, and it was good. Lucía was able to come with us, and before the baptism we taught her about baptism and confirmation as commandments, and she seemed to understand pretty well. Narciso was with us actually, accompanying us to this and another visit. It was pretty cool. His baptismal date is currently for May 3rd, so we´re hoping it stays good and strong.

On Sunday we were able to find six new investigators in two lessons, which was pretty nice. Two were some sisters who may be able to progress, and the other four was a family that accepted a baptismal date as a goal. I see the father of the family as the most excited about the idea. We´re going to keep working with them and helping them to make it to that final goal (which is really only the first step). Overall, a pretty good week.

I bear my testimony that God the Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that daily scripture study and prayer are essential to our spiritual health, and our faith. I know that what I´m doing is good, and that it has helped and will help me while I remain here in the field. I love being in this ward, Tamaulipas, and hope to stay here for a while longer. I know that God hears our prayers and that the Holy Ghost is our friend, and that He will help us know the truth and guide, strengthen, and bless us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week #78: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 22

This week a lot of things happened that were pretty cool, and worked out well.

To start off from the start of the week: Tuesday we had our Zone Meeting, and it was a pretty good meeting. They talked about a lot of various items, and then trained us on the street contacts that we do.

About a year ago, we received the challenge from Presidente Walker to invite people to be baptized from the first contact - in the street, as a spiritual preparation for the visit we had from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was pretty cool, but then we stopped doing that. Well, the new training that they gave to us, coming from Presidente Bird, was that we are to do that again, with every contact. So, now we invite a lot of people to be baptized the very first time we meet them, and some even accept baptismal dates. This has been an effective method in improving the quality of our contacts, even if they do last a bit longer than they used to. I like it.

On Sunday we saw some results from this new focus on street contacts. We contacted some investigators earlier in the week, and tried to find them on Friday, but we didn´t. So yesterday (Sunday) we went back with a young man who was accompanying us named Carlos, and we found them. We shared part of "the Restoration" and this time they did accept a baptismal date. It was pretty cool. Hopefully they can progress towards baptism.

The Zone Leaders also decided to train us on helping get our investigators to Church, that being one of the greatest difficulties which we have. It was a good training, and I need to put it in practice. They came up with a lot of good ideas to help people make it to Church, and a good indicator of when they aren´t going to progress, and when it´s time to drop them. Sometimes it´s hard to drop investigators, but sometimes it´s just the best thing to do.

On Friday we had interviews with Presidente and Hermana Bird, and it was nice to see them and be able to chat with them about how things are going. It´s always great to see the Birds. They´re awesome, and I´m so grateful for the chance I had to be with them when they first arrived to our mission, and to have been in the offices with them for as long as I was. It has been a real blessing to have them here with us, and in my life. President Bird and I spoke a little bit more about "becoming" and he told me a bit about something he´s going to teach in a future Zone Conference (at least he´s thinking about it). It sounds good. I enjoyed seeing them.

The next big even was on Friday. I had my first baptismal interview with a youth from Elder Bautista and Elder Redford´s part of the ward. It was something new, and it was interesting. I ended up telling her that she was ready to be baptized, and we carried on with that decision. Afterwards, I felt a bit unsure about that decision, about if I had said the right thing or the wrong thing, but as I´ve thought more about it, I´ve felt a bit better and more comfortable with saying it was alright. The only real thing that made me unsure wasn´t really a big obstacle at all. She was baptized on Saturday, and it was pretty good service. She and her brother were baptized (and we had an investigator come with us, so we were able to attend). We almost didn´t go to the baptism.

The original plan was to go with Lucía, and maybe some other investigators to the baptism. So, we show up to Lucía´s house, and she´s still getting ready, so we came back after receiving some missed calls from her (I miss a lot of phone calls, when I have the phone set to just vibrate - and my parents can testify to this from my pre-mission days too) and it turns out that at the last minute she was going to her brother´s birthday party, so she couldn´t come with us! NO!! We moved on to another investigator, and we arrived just in time to go with him in his car to the baptism, and he seemed to like it, and it was a good experience for him. His name is Jesús.

Jesús is a pretty cool investigator. We can tell that there will be a few obstacles to his progress, but he can overcome them. He told us that he believes that the Book of Mormon is true, but is unsure about accepting a baptismal date just yet, since he´s between his old beliefs and the new ones. But, we´re going to keep visiting and helping him to understand and feel the Spirit. He actually told us something really cool. He had a dream before we showed up to teach him (we found him through contacting in the street, and he lives on our street actually), which he described with the following words, "Un ángel me dijo que iban a venir dos personajes a mi casa... Después escuché una voz que me dijo: Haz lo que hace Mi Hijo Amado" (Which translates to "An angel told me that two personages were going to come ot my house... Afterwards I heard a voice that told me: Do what my Beloved Son doeth"). So, that´s pretty cool. My first investigator like that - with a dream of that type. I thought of us and baptism when he told us that.

In other news, Nora (an investigator that I helped start teaching in my first area over a year ago) and her son Emilio were baptized on Saturday. I asked one of the Elders in her area about her a few times, and he said that she remembered that it was "Elder Erekson y Elder López" that started teaching her, or something. That´s pretty sweet. She was one of my favorite investigators, and I´m really glad that she did end up getting baptized.

Today we hiked up "El Cerro de la Silla" and it was pretty fun. It was a steep and tough hike, but it was really cool. We also go to go in "civilian clothes," and that was cool. I got some good pictures that I hope I can send home (we´ll see if switching to a different memory card worked). Today we were going to watch a movie, but it didn´t work out. Next week then.

I bear my testimony that the Lord loves each and every one of us. Jesus Christ and God the Father live. Christ did die for our sins, and He gave us the blessings of Repentance, which are available to all of Heavenly Father´s children. I bear my testimony of the Resurrection - that we all shall live again after death, with perfect and glorified bodies, free of disease, disability, and free of all frailties. I testify of Their love, and I hope that we can all remember and feel this love this Easter Sunday. These things I share in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I wish you all well, and love you very much! Have a great week!

Week #77: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 21

This week was pretty good overall. I really enjoyed Conference.

We ended up doing some of the "super intercambio" that I talked about last week. On Saturday we ended up doing what I had said, but at night we returned to our normal companions. It was refreshing and nice to be with Spanish speakers again. I think I´m going to miss it when I go home. Being with an American companion has helped me see how much I like Spanish, and see how the Lord has blessed me to be able to understand it pretty well.

As I said, Conference was really good. I am going to need these messages in the next 6 months, and afterwards of course. In the words of Conference I will find the help and guidance that I need to be a better missionary, friend, and servant of the Lord.

Starting Sunday, and a bit today, I´ve felt a bit frustrated. I feel like I need to improve in my efforts, work harder, and be a better missionary. I´ve talked a bit more about this with my family this week, but it´s what I´m feeling right now so I´ll go ahead and share it in my letter to everyone anyway. It´s kind of frustrating when people don´t fulfil their commitments, even when we´ve tried and tried to help them do it. Sometimes I´m not sure if I´ve failed somehow, or if it´s just their use of agency. I know that there is a lot that I need to improve as a missionary, leader, companion, and friend.

With these feelings and thoughts in mind, I am drawn to think of Elder David A. Bednar´s talk about our burdens, and "spiritual traction," and of course the enabling power of the Atonement. I enjoyed his talk. I feel like when I first read his talk about the "Enabling Power of the Atonement" which he gave at BYU before he was an Apostle, it changed my understanding and perspective a bit. It´s been a great help for me to be sure. He touched on the same theme this weekend, and I liked it. The burdens which we have are there to help us progress. It´s true.

I also liked President Uchtdorf´s talk about gratitude. So many different talks were really good. I can´t begin to list of the good stuff, it´d take too long. I´m very grateful that my family has begun the great tradition of studying General Conference for Family Home Evening every week. I have gotten more out of this Conference of October 2013 than I did out of April 2013 for sure, which has been good. I hope to get a lot out of the latest Conference, and I hope my Ensign doesn´t take too long to get here. I´ve got March´s edition now, so I´m not that behind.

I really liked Conference. I bear my testimony that the words which were spoken are to guide us for the next six weeks. I really enjoyed testifying of President Thomas S. Monson in preparation for the Conference Weekend with the people we visited, and I am grateful for the Gospel and it´s blessings in my life. My wonderful family has always been active and strong, and that has helped me carry on in this life. I am very grateful for the life which I have been given. I am grateful for the example that surround me. I am grateful to the Lord. I invite all of you to listen to, read, and study the latest General Conference as soon as possible, and keep it up until the next Conference. I love you all! Have a great week!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Week #76: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 20

This past week and a half has been pretty good. Things are still going well with Elder Anderson and I, but we should be speaking more Spanish. We have gotten a bit better, and I´ve tried to talk more Spanish with him, but we´re still lacking in that department, and I feel / fear it may be affecting my abilities a bit. We´re going to work on it though, this next week we´ll speak a lot more Spanish.

Let´s see, what happened this week and a half? We went on intercambios with the Zone Leaders, and it was really cool and really fun to work with Elder Quevedo again. We got along great, had some good lessons, and remembered old times together. I´ve mentioned here multiple times of my plans to try and come back to the mission in May or June of 2016, and Elder Quevedo liked that idea too. So, we´re going to be in touch to coordinate that. We had some great lessons trying to help people attend Church. Overall, it was really good, and it was nice to speak Spanish with him.

What else? Lucía came to Church for a little while on Sunday! That´s her second of the five times! Hopefully she makes it this Sunday to stay well on track for her baptism. I hope to see her baptized soon! She´s awesome, and I want another baptism. It´ll be good stuff.

We had intercambios with Elder Bautista and Elder Redford on Tuesday, and that was pretty good. We had some good lessons. One of them was when we went with a Sister to visit her friend, to start teaching her. We were there teaching Mari, and she wasn´t really understanding a ton. Lo and behold: Hermana Mancha (another hermana in the ward) shows up and is her friend too! She bears her testimony, and it was better. It´s pretty cool how the Lord works sometimes.

So, this weekend is going to be really good. We´re going to watch Conference. We get to watch all of the sessions, which is really nice. Conference is available in Spanish and in English. In Spanish we can watch it here at our chapel, but the English is only at the Stake Center. So, guess what we´re going to do? A "super intercambio" for General Conference. Elder Bautista and I are going to stay here in the ward and watch Conference in Spanish, receiving all of the investigators, etc., while Elder Redford and Elder Anderson go to the Stake Center to watch Spanish. It´s going to be pretty awesome. I look forward to spending a lot of time with my friend Elder Bautista, and speaking Spanish, and watching Conference. It´s going to be awesome.

We´ve found some new investigators, we´ve got people we´re visiting, and life is pretty good. I love you all and wish you well. Enjoy General Conference this weekend! Be sure to pay lots of attention to what is said. These past few days we´ve spent a lot of time focusing on "Follow the Prophet" and helping people "get to know" President Thomas S. Monson. I invite all of you to do the same: get to know him, pay attention to his words, and then act on what he shares with us.

One cool little fact: this year´s statistics of "convert baptisms" include the people I helped teach and baptize! Here´s hoping for people in 2014 too! I love you all and wish you well! Oh, if you could all pray for Lucía, our investigator who seems closeset to baptism. Please pray that she will continue progressing, make it to Church, and feel conversion. Thank you!