Blog Archive

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tamazula

July 31, 2017
    Well now I have to give a summary of the last 3 weeks and it has been crazy.  The last two weeks in Puerto Vallarta were cool, as in not hot. We taught and walked in the rain and that is pretty much it. A lot of the investigators we had were saying that they had lots of doubts about our message.  But V. is still solid in her desire to be baptized on the 5th of August.  This last Sunday we had 9 investigators come to Sacrament meeting which is a ton for this area.  I feel like I left that area with lots of potential.  Other little things happened in the end of my time there. 

  • The ward mission leader had a stroke and we gave him a blessing. 
  • Elder Anderson had a birthday and I gave him 6 jars of peanut butter for him to eat in the next 6 weeks of his new transfer. 
  • I made a deal with a member to buy us Costco muffins for the last week of our transfer together.  It was expensive, but I have been saving money in my reserve fund so I might as well use it. I will end up donating all of it as a fast offering in the end of my mission anyway.
  • We had a really good district class and I bought a cake for another sister who went home. She is the third person in the district to go home this transfer.  I have bought a lot of cakes this transfer! haha.
  • The hermanas taught an English class where they were teaching the students how to give and understand directions in English.  At the end of the lesson, everyone had to explain where they lived. The sisters wrote down their directions so that they could follow up with them later.  I just thought that was funny. 
  • The other sisters had a baptism but had to talk to the president and he said that they would have to wait a while before moving forward. 
  • And of course there were the transfers. 
     So that brings me up to now.  I am the district leader here in Tamazula with Elder Flores.  Tamazula is awesome, but rough at the same time.  It is super Catholic.  From our house we can see 3 giant cathedrals and several smaller churches.  There is a church in every colonia.  About 5 years ago, our church was very strong here too.  We had about 100 active members, but now it is about 20 and most of those are young children.  I don’t know what happened.  Right now they are trying to get the building relocated because lots of people can’t make it up the steep staircase.  Our goal is to have 100 people in attendance by December.  We don’t even know the area very well yet.  We have lots of work to do.  Luckily the few members we have are willing to work.  Sadly, our area book has not been updated in 3 months.  There was an investigator who came to church this past week and we can’t even find him in the book.  This week has been getting to know the members and trying to figure out which investigators have potential to progress and find new ones.  Our conclusion is that everyone and their dog is Catholic, but none of them actually go to church.  There are a few people who belong to other churches and we have had several experiences where preachers and such have tried to teach us the error of our ways. Tamzula isn’t that big.  It is really just a farming town.  There is a giant sugar factory and miles and miles of sugar cane.  The landscape is mostly a jungle of jagged volcanic hills. It is super rainy right now, so everything is lush and green.  But the BEST part is that it is NOT HOT!!!!! 
     I don’t have to worry about my agenda getting soaked in sweat in my pocket.  Our house is super nice, but we don’t have a washing machine.  That’s okay, washing by hand builds character. Our house is right in the center of town so all of our necessities are close by. 

    Elder Flores is pretty cool.  He doesn’t speak any English at all so I am very happy because I am finally learning a ton of Spanish.  He is 22, a convert of 3 years, and has been on the mission for 4 months.  He talks a LOT and LOVES to sing, but doesn’t sing very well. Overall, I really like him.  He has to have a surgery which will put him in bed for about two weeks.  Hopefully we will be doing some divisions with the zone leaders during that time so that I don’t get stuck in the house.  


    Sadly, the worst thing that happened to me in the past three weeks is that I lost or rather had my iPod stolen while I was on the bus.  It was my fault because I took it out of my pocket to read and then I fell asleep. I hadn’t slept the night before so I was completely out of it, like in a coma.  Honestly I don’t even remember what happened at all.  I keep trying to tell myself that it is just a thing and it isn't important. It's not working very well.   
August 8, 2017
    Hey I'm alive just wanted to tell you guys we got permission to talk to you guys but its already 8 and I want to go look for some people and buy food. We have been pretty much stuck completely in the house since my companion’s surgery. The mission
says he has to be out of the house in ten days but I feel like most people take a month of recovery for these sort of things. He’s gonna have to be real real real tough but he kind of whines. But I don’t know his pain so I can’t judge. It’s a big incision like my index finger in length. I’m getting really good at making oatmeal in the morning and pasta and rice. I pretty much have to cook all his food and be his nanny, but its cool. I had a really bad fever last lunes of 103 and he really helped me out so this is
just repaying the favor. Pray for my comp!!!!!!!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Transfer to Tamazula Guzman


July 17, 2017

It is the dreaded last week of the change but I think we´re just going to use that as an excuse to work harder than all the other weeks instead of just dying like many missionaries.  Well let’s see what happens  next week.... pasa lo que pasa seguiré siendo misionero.

Elder Long is the new assistant. (He was my trainer, then my district leader, then most recently my zone leader!)  He was always destined for great things haha.

I really don’t have much to say about this week. We went to Cerro de la Cruz again today and it was much prettier, ya que its been raining buckets for the last 5 weeks. 


 
Just a strange note, I have started to realize how much people here stare at us. Like I know we are two white kids walking around in a shirt and tie, but its a little strange now that I think about it. One investigator told us we had a light around us when we talked, but she still refused a fecha meta. Patience...

Anyway, everything is going great, cant wait to see whats in store in the future!

Well we got cambios!!!   My new area is Tamazula Guzman, with Elder Flores (A LATINO!!!!) and man has it been a long day. I spent all night packing my stuff because somehow I have a ridiculous amount of things that I really don’t need. Anyway big news is that as of right now I have lost my Ipod.... I either left it in the offices or someone stole it from me on the bus. I got in a taxi and realized that I didn’t have it so we turned around and the bus was still in the terminal but I couldn’t find it inside. I think someone might have lifted it while I was 100% passed out on the bus ride.... whatevs.... I have almost all the photos backed up but still... now how am I going to listen to conference talks in the morning? Oh well. Just keep telling myself material possessions don’t matter... they don’t matter... they don’t matter... it’s not  working very well

Other than that nothing much else is new! Im only gonna be on for a moment today because changes are crazy. Supposedly the branch Im going to has like 20 active members. It’s a Casa de Oracion. so it should be a really cool experience!!

Tomorrow we´re talking a bus out to our pueblito. My toe still remains unfixed, but it doesn’t hurt much. I talked to the assistants but I think the changes kinda distracted them from helping me out so much. Apparently the area is big. In the whole zone there’s only 10 missionaries. We keep losing missionaries every change. I have the zone leaders and some hermanas in my district. I am the district leader.

Baptismal dates finally, and an impeding transfer

July 3, 2017
    Normal p-day not much exciting to tell.  In the afternoon I walked around super distracted after my emailing home.  I totally understand why you can only mail home once a week because it can be really distracting from the work. Later in the day we went to teach a guy in a really poor part of our area.  He is, well I think he might be a little unstable by the way he looks at us without focusing on us.  So yeah, that was our day.
July 4, 2017
    Today was interesting.  In the morning, our appointments feel through and we talked with an investigator’s crazy only grandma.  Well actually, she yelled at us.  I tried to talk in normal speech.  It was really funny actually.  First she said she went to our church and everyone made her feel dumb because they took her to gospel principles instead of Sunday School.  Then she told us that we were deceitful people and that we didn’t have God with us.  Then she started talking about how we don’t have the fundamentals.  I asked her what those fundamentals were that we were lacking.  She said, “I don’t know, but you don’t have them.”  Then I was like, “Oh Hermana, the fundamentals are faith, repentance, baptism, etc.  Christ himself taught these things.”  Then she got madder and we left.
    The rest of the day was walking around and stopping by members every now and then to say hi.  Finally in the evening we had another lesson that went really well.  This lady’s mom is going through kidney failure and doesn’t want to do dialysis.  She literally wants to die.  So our investigator was upset and worried about all that.  We decided to teach lesson 2.  It was a very good lesson even though we only taught a part of it. We ended just in time to make it home before curfew if we ran all the way.
July 5, 2017
    Today was a bit of a lazy day but it was good.  We updated the area book, looked for some people, ate in the house, had a cool lesson with V who is going to choose her baptismal date before the next lesson.  After that we had a lesson with a reference from a member.  I love reference so much!  We had the lesson in the chapel and taught all of lesson 1, which he accepted really well.  He is ready to read the Book of Mormon and go to church.  He had a little 6 year old daughter too which is super cool.  We are actually starting to find families now whereas before it was just one person.  I find it easier to teach people with a family mindset and not living the “single  life.”  I don’t know if it has to do with pride or what, but it’s just easier to teach families.
July 6, 2017
    We did our weekly planning today and I cooked in the house again. We had a weird experience today when I contacted a lady who was waiting for her parents to pick her up.  When they drove up it turned out that we had contacted them a couple of weeks ago.  We taught G with our ward mission leader and found out that she really doesn’t know anything about anything.  We saw their family bible, which was very old, but is near perfect conditions.  It hasn’t been used in a long long time, if ever.  Basically the biggest lesson I learned is that we have to teach most people very very simply in order for them to understand.  We know all this doctrine and understand scriptures, but they don’t have a clue what we are talking about half the time. You have to teach simply, boldly, and powerfully.  So yeah, I need to change the way I am teaching. Anyway for that dud of a lesson, we went and taught two investigators who don’t do anything to progress.  It was just all right I suppose.  Then we ran home like maniacs again to meet our curfew.  We were actually running faster than the cars. It felt pretty cool.
July 7, 2017
    Today was long.  We had our district class which I was not entirely prepared for so it was just okay.  Herman H. brought some no bake cookies (which were amazing) so that made everything much better.  Then we came back to our area and worked. We ate in our house again (no one has been signing up to feed us for a long time now.)  We talked with some contacts for a while.  They really didn’t want anything. The guy got started on this one subject and talked for 20 minutes without stopping.  Honestly it was creepy, and his eyes got a crazy look the more animated he got.  But they gave us tacos so I can’t complain. 
    Then we walked around some more until our evening appointment with some members and their friends.  We watched the restoration video an talked a bit about lesson 1.  The friend has some strange ideas, but that is okay.  Anything is possible if you read and pray sincerely with faith.  The night ended with another sprint home before curfew. I am tired of running, especially on cobblestone in dress shoes.
July 8, 2017
    Today was great! We taught only a few lessons, but they were really good ones.  A and E accepted a baptismal date for the 5th of August.  We took out a cement floor with a hammer and chisel.  Not exactly the best tool, but it was fun.  It was service, which always makes me feel better.  Also we were buying food (because we are still eating all of our main meals in our house) when this very drugged up guy approached us saying who knows what.  A police car showed up and the guy booked it out of there!  One cop jumped out and chased after him and the other drove off to cut him off. A few minutes later we saw the cops driving back with the guy cuffed in the bed of the truck.  Typical Saturday in Mexico!
July 9, 2018
    Well apart from church today was a little boring.  A and E and their little boy came to church today.  V. also came all by herself.  I mean, she walked by herself all the way to church.  The only problem with church is that the talks were on self sufficiency, tithing, fast offerings, and the spirit world.  Seriously.  Now, if any of them come back next week, that might be a miracle. 
    We did get fed a meal today, but had to wait forever.  We taught a lesson to F. for way too long and then we walked around in the rain for a couple of hours.  I really need to buy an umbrella, it’s kind of a problem.
July 10, 2017
    Today we had a miracle when the bus driver let us ride to Ixtopa for free.  We had interviews with President.  They wen really well actually and we learned from Hermana Clayton and the zone leader.  Nothing super new, but there is still lots of things that I have to improve on.  President basically told me that I am leaving Jardines this change.  He told me “I don’t want you buy-in property  and getting married in Vallarta.”  So I think that sends a pretty clear message.  It’s gonna be weird to move.  I have spent all of my mission by the beach.  Who knows what’s gonna happen next.  I don’t want to think about it.  


    We came home after, made some food and went out to work.  We just contacted for 2 hours and talked to a member for a while.  Pretty normal.  I'm finally starting to like contacting.  It’s a lot more satisfying when you teach doctrine and principles in the contacts.  It makes you feel like you are actually preaching.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

It's raining, It's pouring

video

June 26, 2017
    Today was pretty simple.  All we did was make appointments and walk around in the rain.  It rains and thunderstorms like crazy almost every other night, but we have been pretty lucky and it hasn’t rained on us until today.  Luckily, some members lent us their umbrellas, though we still had to walk through flooded streets. Our area is really flat for the most part so the street weren’t really as much of rivers as they were lakes of standing water. 

June 27, 2017
    We had district class and divisions today with the zone leaders.  We are having trouble getting meals with the members who aren’t signing up to feed us.  Luckily, one of our investigators said that she would love to feed us even though there were 4 of us.  That’s a lot of food! I wish I could just five that lady a hug.  Investigators sometimes treat us better than the members do. 
    I went on splits with Elder J. and we only taught one lesson during the whole day but is was an exceptional lesson.  The bishop went with us too. We taught V who basically rejected us 3 weeks ago.  At one point the bishop stopped and asked her, “If there is one thing you would ask from us, what would it be?”  She said, “Salud.” so we gave her a blessing and right after the blessing she asked, “What time does church start?”  AHH MILAGROS!  She’s never gone to church before so that is a ton of progress, especially from 3 weeks ago.  Apart from that lesson, we walked around, made appointments because no one wanted to talk to us when we passed by.  On the way back to the house we bought some food and a crazy thunderstorm started. It was both scary and funny because one of the first flashes of lightening came down super close to us, like less that a half of a kilometer behind us.  It really wasn’t that scary, just really cool.  We made some really good rice today.  I getting good at cooking.  Elder J showed me the latino style of mixing mayonnaise, butter, and salt with the rice.  It is delicious but disgusting at the same time. Mexico is making me gain weight, that’s for sure!

Peanut butter and jelly taco
June 28, 2017
    Today we finished our divisions with the zone leaders and made plans to find new contacts and work more with members.  ALL of our actual investigators right now are people we have contacted.  Seeing as I haven’t had a single baptism in 6 months, we need to change some things up.  Later, we looked for a bunch of people with our mission leader.  We ended up teaching a BUNCH of less active members. It always makes me sad because people forget the Lord so fast.  Granted, I didn’t really know anything before the mission either, but people still forget their testimonies so quickly and so many of them are passing through such hard times.  One lady doesn’t go to church because if she doesn’t sell on Sunday, she doesn’t have money for the week.  We talked to her about having faith so that God could provide for her, but she just doesn’t think that church is important or necessary.


June 29, 2017
    Well today we planned and set goals for the month and taught a reference from the missionaries of Coupinole. It was a crazy long lesson, but the guy accepted a baptismal date of August 12th.  He was very nice, but his wife doesn’t want us to visit him, so the rest of the lessons will have to be held in the chapel.  After that, we ate in the house and had our meeting with the ward mission leader.  We worked on the ward map with him.  That was our day.

June 30, 2017
    Today we had a problem getting out of the house on time.  Nothing super interesting happened in the morning.  We ate in our house again.  Later we went to say goodbye to R. who is leaving Vallarta for good.  Then we had a lesson with G for the first time in forever.  Sadly, she is pretty content with the way her life is going and has no desire to change. The bishop came with us and talked a lot about how even though things may be good now, there is something even better in store for her.  Maybe she will start looking. 
July 1, 2017
    I am so tired today, which doesn’t make any sense because we didn’t even walk that much today.  We had a cool lesson with a lady who’s husband is a Christian pastor and doesn’t want her to go to our church, but she doesn’t want to go to the Christian church either.  She is super nice, but has a hard time understanding our Spanish.  She asked us for something to read in English.  So we are going to bring her an English Ensign.  After that, we ate in our house AGAIN and then made more visits.  I pretty much scolded some of our investigators who aren’t doing anything.  Asked them who they wanted to serve and if they are willing to sacrifice to serve God.  I asked them if what they were doing right now was showing God that they loved Him and wanted to serve Him. I asked them how they would feel if their children thought that their cartoons were more important than listening to their parents.  Idk, I am getting tired and losing patience with people who don’t act.
July 2, 2017
     Sundays are great.  Testimony meeting was awesome.  One of the Americans that came today served his mission here, 40 years ago. Back then it was a tiny branch and the meetings were held in the missionaries apartment.  Sometimes only one person would show up.  V came to church today and stayed all three hours!  There was also a break the fast kind of thing that she stayed for too.  I ate way too much!  They brought a literal trash can full of jamaica to (?)  It was ridiculous, but amazing.  


     Then later we taught a drunk man who thought God was with him and that he had repented of all his sins already.  We then visited a member’s house and spent way too long there, but got a list of references so I think it was worth it.  It feels like striking gold after such a long time serving in a copper mine.  I have just got to do something else because nothing I have done for 6 months is working.

More pictures of Puerto Vallarta

Zone Conference and pictures of Puerto Vallarta

June 19, 2017
    Monday was fun, we went to Cerro de la Cruz y Mabecon, which is like a beach walk sort of thin.  It was the first time I have really done to the Centro un Vallarta.  It is very interesting.  There was this group singing and doing a group prayer at the cross, haha. It was so hard not to laugh out loud.  Mexico is so weirdly religious.  


    Speaking of weird, we were teaching one of our investigators and found out that he was baptized into our church as a child….now he is no longer our investigator, but our less active.
June 20, 2017
    Today we has a really good district class and then contacted for the rest of the day.  Towards the end of the night we made a new contact and found out that we really need to work on how to begin teaching. We’re not very good at it. 
June 21, 2017
    Today was all right.  I fell asleep in the morning, and that always makes the day worse.  We ate in the house today.  I am getting really good at making rice.  Actually we had lettuce wraps today. 

     While we were doing our studies after lunch, the President called.  It was really sad horrible news for Elder A.  His sister died.  I don’t know all of the details and I didn’t ask, but I know that she took her own life.  She is a lot like my sister, so I understand some of it.  It is a very hard situation.  We went to our ward mission leaders house to use his phone so that Elder A could call home.  He took everything very calmly, pretty admirable.  It takes a lot of faith to keep going like that and to want to keep working. Later that day, the elders from Santiago came and stayed with us for the zone conference that we are having on Thursday.  It was Elder C from my generation and his trainee.  So we did some divisions before we went home.  
June 22-23, 2017
    This was a very special zone conference.  President talked a lot about how we can increase our faith and we learned about CCE (como comenzar a ensenar = how to begin teaching) which is what we needed.  It was a good conference.  Later we ate dinner with a member and somehow ended up with 6 elders in our tiny apartment.  Kind of stinky, ha!  Elder A went straight to bed, poor guy.  Something I learned is that missionaries are very much still teenaged boys.  Many still talk in a slang manner, pretty inappropriate for their calling.  It made me think about how I talk and maybe some things I need to change.
    The next day we taught a 19 years old who seems pretty promising.  C. told us that he tried praying but nothing happened and he doesn’t want to keep trying.  He’s not really giving a fair try.  We talked for a while but he doesn’t want any more lessons. I made him promise that sometime further down the road he would talk to missionaries again. In the evening we talked to a lady who is on our lists of members, but she says she was never baptized….ugh.
    The President told me that basically this is my last transfer here in Puerto Vallarta.  I don’t know if I’m happy or disappointed.  I’ve grown to like Jardines, even if there is a lack of baptisms. 

 June 24-25, 2017
    Saturday was a lot of walking. We were both exhausted and had just an average lesson with H.  Then we taught JM and he decided that he doesn’t want to pray or go to church.  I was ready to get up and leave, but Elder A. somehow convinced him to do both.  That just goes to show that I need to be more patient and love the people more.  After that, we looked for a guy’s house but never found it. 
    Sunday was okay. Church was typical, but lunch was exceptional.  We ate shrimp soup and fish.  We didn’t have any lessons work out today, but we set up appointments to teach, so that’s something.  In the past two weeks I have learned that I really don’t know anything.  I have been relying way too much on my own skills and knowledge, which is honestly rather pitiful.  I need to rely much more on God and let the Holy Ghost work through me.  God can’t be an instrument in my hands, I must be an instrument in His.
    One thing I wanted to share with you all was a sort of allegory, example, sort of thing idk, it’s just something that I was thinking about during sacrament meeting this week: While someone was speaking about faith and practicing our faith I started thinking about how practicing instruments related to practicing faith. I am very familiar how it feels if you don’t practice all week and the day before or hours before your lesson you try and practice like crazy, but as much as you work, it never works. You always show up to the lesson frustrated and with a sense of dread (especially if your piano teacher is Lisa Marcum) because the lesson turns into an hour long practice session. It’s forced, shameful, and at times unpleasant practice. But what happens if you have practiced throughout the week? Well the lesson becomes a great learning experience, a beneficial experience, not only to motivate you to work harder, but to be better and move to greater heights. So the question is if we are consistently practicing our faith every day. I mean diligent, consistent practice, even on the "weekends" of our spiritual lives (because I almost never practiced like I should on weekends) so that when the trials (lessons) come we don’t have to look at them with dread and get frustrated with yourself. You might be a little nervous, but still with a sense of preparation that the teacher will be merciful and kind. Because even if you aren’t perfect, they will still know you were practicing. And really thats all the Lord wants. Diligent practice. He can’t work with someone who just practices once a spiritual week, much like a piano teacher finds it incredibly difficult to teach a difficult but beautiful song to a student who simply won’t put in the effort required. But if we can practice even when we don’t want to practice and even on the days when it seems unimportant, our lessons can turn from unpleasant experiences to incredible learning experiences that edify and uplift and inspire, even if they are a little difficult.  So sometimes we have to put away our excuses and our desires and sit down at the piano bench and practice for a few hours. I know we will feel peace, knowledge, and patience (and all other fruits of the spirit) as we do so in our spiritual lives. Not all practice in the same way, some are gifted in dynamic control while others struggle with rhythm, but there are drills and exercises that the prophets have given us to master and overcome all weakness. It just takes a little humility, lots of practice, and a good teacher. Luckily we have the best teacher available.