Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Week 2

A cool painting (on real canvas) that is in the auditorium lobby.

It's been almost two weeks now which means the oldest group in my Zone have left this week and we will be getting new missionaries in our Zone! I can't believe how fast time is flying, but more incredible is the amount of growth my district and I have done in such a relatively short period of time. This week has been full of excitement and lots of amazing stories. On Wednesday we had our first service activity as a District and it was pretty nice to be able to give a couple hours of work back to the amazing workers here at the CCM. Btw, my District somehow ended up with all 8 of us being Elders which is really rare, but it's been a blast having a strong group of Elders all working together to learn and grow in both the Gospel and in speaking Español. We were paired up with this worker named Fernando who had us take down curtains out of the rooms of the departed missionaries that were to be washed. It was really funny talking to Fernando because he was trying to learn English from us but also helping us practice Español at the same time. 

Me in front of a mural in the main reception office.
The stone cut off a little at the top is a real artifact that has hundreds of references to Lehi's Dream, SO COOL!
There was a vitally important turning point, at least for me, in our experience here and that was when our teacher Hermano Tinoko checked on both how well we were using our planners, and also if we were making and keeping daily, weekly and goals for our time here at the CCM. I wasn't taking my planning and goals seriously for the first little while partly because I felt as though I was already overwhelmed enough without adding in taking time to elaborately plan and track goals. That's where the need for humility came in. I realized that I'm not going to reach my full potential unless I allow others to help me and in this case my teacher knows exactly what he's talking about because he just returned from a mission not too long ago. There is a reason he was chosen to fill the teaching position for missionaries, and I'm so grateful to have his instruction. After trying hard to take the time to plan and make daily goals, I slowly began to realize how effective it can be to go about your day when you have already scheduled out what you are to do. Now it's been just under a week and I can already see the difference. I hope to continue to find ways to improve my study so that I can serve the Lord in my highest potential possible and fulfill my purpose as a missionary.

One of the coolest moments of this week was when our new teacher to give us lessons in the afternoon arrived. It was supposed to be a huge surprise because he was the first "investigator" we taught, but we had figured out that he was already a member and that he was going to most likely become our teacher in the future and we were right. That is super smart of them because he knows first hand what our strengths and weaknesses are and how to help us grow. His real name is Hermano Cayetano, and the coolest thing is he served his mission in MONTERREY EAST and only came back a year ago! It's so amazing because half of our District will be going to that same mission! It's been so cool to talk to him about his mission and what we have in store for us. Also it's really nice to learn from him because personally I can understand him when he speaks Español fairly well. Overall though I've been amazed at how much more I can pick up in Español, and I know it's all because of the blessings we receive as missionaries and the hard work we dedicate. 

Now we have two new "investigators" this week, each being actually our teachers, but the cool thing is they are playing the part of investigators they really taught on their missions only a short time ago, so it's very good practice for when we get out on the mission field. My companion Elder Clark and I taught our first lesson yesterday to "Alberto" whose a 25 year old living alone and trying to find a job. In preparation for this lesson we talked about what his needs are and what we should teach him and all the necessary planning and then resumed working on our Español. I was trying to put into action the wisdom we received in a Devotional on Sunday given by Elder Bednar. The specific words were how too many of us wait for the spirit to fill our mouths before we speak when what we really ought to be doing is have the faith to open our mouths first, and then the spirit will fill our mouths with words. Of course this doesn't rule out preparation, in fact it makes preparation that much more vital. We need to be so prepared that we have the faith to trust in the Lord and open our mouths. I went into our lesson with only my scriptures in Español, and a few notes to help keep the lesson going, but all my notes were in English. Basically I had no help whatsoever with the language part. Amazingly I was able to speak to "Alberto" and did fairly well. Looking back there are a lot of things my companion and I could have done better, but overall our improvement is quite amazing! Just a few days ago I was still reading off phrases I had translated previously to teach the lesson, which is really ineffective considering you can't look the investigator in the eye. I am so blessed to be in the Lord's work and see the amazing program that helps missionaries like me prepare to go out into the field.

Mi Casa

Sunday was again by far my favorite day this week. Nothing else really compares which is saying something considering every day here I can feel the spirit stronger than most spiritual experiences of my life combined together. It was fast Sunday here which is a little different in Mexico because lunch is generally the biggest meal of the day comparable to the way dinner is back home. The trend here is to start fasting after lunch on Saturday and then not eat or drink until lunch on Sunday. I was worried at first because I had never really fasted a full twenty four hours before since back home I usually ate up until bedtime Saturday and broke my fast around 4 or 5 Sunday. In reality I think it was a lot easier because I never got too hungry Saturday night and then I slept through most of the hardest part, plus in the mornings I usually am not all that hungry anyways. Although this was different than I was used to, the biggest change was the significance of the fast. I felt a lot more confidence that my fast would effectively make a difference, and I know that is because I represent Christ as a missionary. Sacrament meeting was really nice this week. I was able to hear the amazing testimonies of quite a few members of our Zone, including many that would be leaving shortly. I love living among incredible missionaries that have the same beliefs and standards that I have and live them. It's been a huge change from when I only had a handful of LDS friends I went to school with in high school. It makes it so much easier to stay busy and work hard when I have so many wonderful examples around me in every direction. After Sacrament meeting we had a Sunday school of sorts we call Lessons with the MTC Presidency. We had the pleasure to learn from one of the counselors President Call. He's one of my favorite people to hear talk because of his amazing faith and simpleness in teaching. He gave some amazing teachings on the difference between having a testimony and being converted and for the most part it is that if you are truly converted, then you are willing to act upon the testimony you have. One of my favorite quotes from his lesson was that "God is not going to answer your prayer if he knows you aren't willing to act upon his response." I think that is so accurate, but I had never thought of it in that way before. It's something I need to work on as well and I hope I can be ready so that Heavenly Father can give me all the guidance possible. 

Later that night was when we had the wonderful devotional by Elder Bednar. His overall message was on how to become a Preach My Gospel Missionary, but here are some of my favorite quotes and highlights from the talk. He reaffirmed an idea that has been emphasized throughout my time here saying that " A release from service as a full-time missionary is a call to becoming a life-long missionary." This is an amazing concept and I hope that I can take that to heart and always continue to strive for growth throughout my life. Another thing he said is that our job as missionaries is to bring the word of God unto the hearts of the people. Then comes their personal responsibility to allow that message to come into their hearts. Bednar gave us the counsel that once we bring that message unto them, we need to then "constantly do our best to get out of the way." I thought that was pretty funny to think about it that way, but it's very true. Lastly the part that touched me most spiritually was when Elder Bednar took the time to tell us "You can do this" over an over, expressing his love and comfort. I could truly feel his love for each and every one of us. That kind of experience is what keeps me going with confidence that I really can do this, with my Heavenly Fathers help of course. I am so happy to be out here doing the work of the Lord and I'm becoming more and more excited each day to be able to get out and share his message with the people of Monterrey.

An awesome CCM T-Shirt I bought at the store

That's just a small piece of the experiences I've had here spiritually and I wish I could tell them all. I found out that it's basically Summer here in Mexico City which explains why its been in the 70´s-90´s most of the time with clear skies. It really hasn't been too hot though, so I've enjoyed the weather here. I am starting to miss the rain though and I'm sure that'll only get stronger as the days go by. The food has still been really good and it's funny how often we have "american" food like hamburgers, pizza and such. I think my body is finally for the most part adjusted to the food here, which is nice but it never was a big issue from the get go. I've been able to play a lot of soccer, basketball and volleyball here. In fact today we played cage soccer for almost two hours, and I forgot to wear sunscreen so I probably got a little burnt today. I think my skin is already getting used to the sun though. The tienda (store) they have here is really cool and is full of good stuff. I was happy to find that they have Manzanita Sol here!!!! It's the apple soda I've been talking about that could only be found on the fountain drinks at Taco Bell back in Springfield. I bought some today for the first time and it was AMAZING. 

My obsession with Manzanita Sol (JK I love it but I've only bought one so far)

Also on random thing I didn't know is that in Mexico, for the most part they don't have public hymn books so everyone generally has their own. Luckily when I went into the store to look for one they had a couple nice mini bound Spanish Hymnos so I bought one. Turns out they've been out of those ever since! It's really nice to have because it even fits in my suit jacket pocket. Luckily the nights aren't too hot here so I haven't suffered too much without my fan at night. I've been able to continue to use their really nice weight room here and I'm going to miss it when I get out into the field and have only my body to use to stay in shape. I wish I could continue on but I don't have much time so one last thing. Besides the missionarypackagemx thing, a good idea for sending me either things I need or just want is to shop online at walmartmx and have things shipped straight from the walmart closest to my mission home. That way it gets there a lot quicker and also won't get lost like packages from the US.  

A map of all the missions in Mexico, there are a lot more than I thought!

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