Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Week 57

I made my companion and me pasta with tomato sauce, onion and sausage, yum! 
(Before I went to the hospital since I now can´t eat things like this:P)

It feels like I just wrote back home...guess that´s because I wrote last Wednesday instead of Monday! Anyways, it was a little rough getting back in the swing of things after leaving the hospital since we didn´t have any appointments to go off of, and since this week is Spring Break, or "Semana Santa" as they call it here, everyone was out of town or had family visiting. Honestly, we weren´t able to find anyone new, at least with a good interest, and our past investigators that we did find, seemed to have lost track of their growth. We had high hopes that our investigator Lupito would make it to church this week, but he ended up sleeping in again :/

Saturday night when I got back to the house, I felt pretty discouraged and went to bed early with a head full of worries. Luckily, church services the next day helped me a TON. It´s the first time in a while I feel like I truly came to church with a broken heart and contrite spirit. With a soul hungering for relief from my worries and stress and mistakes. I was able to take the sacrament with a determination to continue onward despite all that and an amazing peace came unto me. I´m so grateful for the opportunity we have to renew our covenants every week and receive the energy and motivation we need, I love the sacrament!!

Funny story, after the sacrament, they announced the speakers. First was Sister Tonge, then Sister Castro, two sister missionaries in our ward. I thought "Oh how sweet, they called the sisters to speak" but then they announced the intermediate hymn and followed by the last speaker, Elder Lightheart. Elder Lightheart..Elder Lightheart...wait a sec that´s me! Yikes! I freaked out for a second thinking they never told me I was going to speak in sacrament meeting, but then I remembered that the 2nd Counselor talked to me last week in church, after Priesthood, asking if I could talk about the resurrection for about 10 minutes. Since it was during Priesthood I figured he was talking about for the next Priesthood class. It never crossed my mind that it was an assignment to speak in sacrament meeting! Anyway, long story short, at least I had prepared something to talk about and was able to improvise the rest, but man did that scare the heck out of me!

About my stomach, everything seems to be improving well. The hospital visit was more of a precaution like I explained last week. I´ve been caring for my body more with a diet and it seems to be helping. I see the doctor in 2 or 3 weeks to see the results of the biopsies to make sure there aren't any bacteria remaining. I´m happy to be back in the work of the Lord and ready to work hard this week!

It started raining today, finally!! But it´s supposed to be hot this week, even with cloudy skies, the worst! To answer my mom´s question, no I haven´t grown any taller, at least I don´t think so...and I have been going up and down in weight, but overall haven´t changed much. In fact, I weighed myself yesterday and I´m exactly where I was when I left home. At one point in December, after leaving the hospital and following a super strict diet, I lost a decent amount of weight, but gained it back little by little later on, so that´s why I´m back to normal now. I am following a diet now, but it´s not as strict and it´s only until I see the doctor again so I don´t think I'll lose much weight. 

I love you all and wish you all the best of luck this week!:D

We have pigeons as friends outside our house!

When we made chicken hamburgers with red hot dogs and a ton of other ingredients!
 (Also before the hospital haha!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Week 56

Well it's been quite the interesting week for me to be honest and I'll try to explain what happened as best I can. First of all, Friday I went to see my stomach doctor and I was honest with him that, although my stomach has improved overall, it still has been bothering me. He was concerned that after having taken medicine for so long it still wasn't back to normal and he looked back at the studies from when I went to the hospital in December and found something that led him to suggest maybe I have gallstones (stones in the gallbladder) and wanted to run some tests and depending on what it shows maybe have my gallbladder taken out through surgery. I asked if it's something I can deal with and wait until after the mission to see into, but he explained that it could be dangerous if I do have gallstones because it can cause severe problems if the gallbladder clogs up with them. Long story short, he wanted to have me admitted to the hospital as soon as I could to run the tests. I talked with President and Sister Bird and they agreed that it would be best to have it checked out to be safe and that I should go Sunday after church ends.

Sunday evening I entered the hospital to begin preparation for a few tests. Sunday night they did an ultrasound, which didn't show any initial problems in my gallbladder, which was good to hear. Then I had to fast until Monday morning when they did an Endoscopy (fishing a camera down through the throat into the stomach) which showed that I have gastritis still, but the doctor explained to me later that it does look a lot better than the first time I had the test done in December, so that's good news:)
The Doctor wanted to run a "special test" out of curiosity and wanting to see clearer results in a real life situation before concluding that my gallbladder is fine. In the afternoon, they did another ultrasound as a base test, directly followed by an intake of high fat content foods, and another ultrasound an hour after eating, when the food passes the gallbladder. I felt like I was in the middle of a "House" episode because it's just the type of crazy outside of the standard procedure type schemes Dr. House would do:D They fed me 2 hamburgers full of avacado, mayonnaise, and ketchup, with a mountain of french fries and a Coke. It sure did the trick! I felt pretty inflated and had a lot of pain in my stomach for sure, but hey I did it for science! Turns out it did make a difference in the study, but the doctor told me that it would affect anyone that way. Also that my gallbladder is functioning 100 percent and I'll keep it inside me. Phew! 

After the "special test", they started prepping me for the last test on Tuesday morning, a colonoscopy. It's something they didn't do last time I was admitted and figured it would be a good idea since I was going to be there anyways. They gave me this horrible tasting medicine they mixed with Sprite to empty my stomach. It was quite the long night running to and from the bathroom to say the least...but Tuesday morning I had the study done and waited the results of everything until today in the morning when my doctor finally came by to explain everything. Basically he was wrong and there's absolutely nothing wrong with my gallbladder, I just still have gastritis, which we'll continue to treat with medicine and diet. I feel like it was a huge waste of time, but at the same time it was necessary to make sure something else wasn't causing the problems. Also he took biopsies again and I will find out the results of the tests they are going to run for bacteria and such in 2 weeks. I was released today at around 2 from the hospital and am trying to adjust back to everything now. It was a crazy experience for sure, but I'm super glad that everything is working fine in my body. I just gotta keep pushing forward with patience that the stomach problems will continue to decline.

The mission work has been great, we have found a ton of new people, but no one we feel is truly prepared for the gospel. We have a guy who we found the first week here named Lupito who has started reading the assignments and even tried to go to church but got lost! He is truly making an effort to change his life and I hope we can continue to help him do it through the gospel:) Also a young woman named Martha who is Catholic, but loves everything about the Mormon church from what we have taught her. The problem for her is her belief in the Virgin Maria. There's nothing wrong with having a high respect for her since she is the mother of Jesus and God didn't choose just anyone for that responsibility, but it's another thing to worship her and pray to her since it's against the commandments of God. We are trying to be very respectful of her beliefs, but at the same time explain to her why it's wrong. I hope she can understand and be guided by the spirit to an answer to this dilemma in her life. Anyways the time flies by, got to get back to work. Love you all and hope I didn't scare anyone too much, I'm doing fine. I'm just super happy that I'm back to serving the Lord:)

My companion and I bought "Pastor" meat and made our own Campechanas!!

All my watches have broken and I finally bought a new one. I love it!


Week 55

Elder Ollis and I with our campechanas in exchanges:D
 (Sorry I forgot to take pictures with the other Elders in exchanges,
 I'll try to remember it this week!)

I can't believe another week has passed by, it just goes faster and faster! So to explain a few of my responsibilities as Zone Leader:

-Attend Leadership Council Meeting every first Thursday of the month
-Hold a zone training the Tuesday after the Council to explain the new goals and rules to the Zone
-Direct Zone Conference every other transfer (We have one coming up on March 22)
-Make calls to all 3 District Leaders every night and take down their results and talk about how their District is doing and what we can do to help
-Have exchanges with at least all District Leaders (but we are having them with every companionship this transfer) so we basically have exchanges every Tuesday and Friday
-Report how are zone is doing and give the results to the Assistants Monday mornings
-Organize Zone activities for Mondays and also special Missionary Activities like the one we are planning this Friday in a market to get out the word about the new Easter video "Hallelujah"
-Answer all the questions and resolve any problems that occur in the Zone
-Always be the best example we can to the rest of the Zone

That's all I can remember, for now, it seems like a lot, but I'm starting to get used to it and my companion helps me get through it :) Anyway, this week was a little frustrating because we worked hard, but weren't able to see the results we would have liked. We had our first exchanges this week and I got to know Elder Cerezo from Vera Cruz and Elder Ollis from Utah. Elder Cerezo is a new convert from about 3 years ago. He started his mission in Mexico City, but had to return home for 8 months and got called to finish here in Monterrey and he's only been here since January. He knows a lot about the Bible and actually studied with Jehovah's Witness's for 2 years before he found the church and they generally know the scriptures really well. I went with him to his area which is up super high on the hill called "La Silla" and all the streets are super steep. I was super exhausted after that day! Then, I was super impressed with Elder Ollis and how much he knows and how hard he works, especially since he was inactive from age 13-18, just coming back in time to start his papers...he felt super unprepared coming into the mission, which we all feel that way, but he has truly worked hard and is a wonderful missionary.

On Saturday night, my companion and I went up super high on the hill "La Silla", in a neighborhood called "Country Sol", which is filled with huge mansions. It was rough finding people since no one is ever home and when they are they say they don't have time. The highlight of the day was that we saw an amazing view of the whole city of Monterrey!!! We could see both the missions. Since our area is actually on the border, we pass by it all the time. It's a lot different than Cadereyta, which was the farthest area almost from the mission border.

An amazing spiritual experience this week was our Zone Training we had on Tuesday, to explain to the Zone what our new goals and rules for the mission. We also gave a short instruction that we prepared beforehand. We started preparing it Monday morning and finished it a little late Monday night. I was a little frustrated with how long it took to prepare it and had never planned something out so well. At the end, I still felt nervous to have to teach the whole Zone, especially since I still don't know them too well. When it came time to lead the Zone Training, I was amazed to feel the spirit talking through me! We talked about being constant in diligence and used the story in 1 Nephi 3, where Nephi and his brothers go to get the plates. They try 2 times without success and the whole time Nephi kept a positive attitude and at the end he was the only one to finish the task, which was because he was constant in his diligence, despite the difficulties he faced. Also, we used a scripture in the Bible (don't remember where it's at, sorry) which explains how we are only limited by our lack of faith and explained how Laman and Lemuel could have succeeded if they had had the faith sufficient, like Nephi. And by faith, I don't mean to just believe they can do it, but to act upon that belief like Nephi and go and do :)

Love you all:)

My companion and I satisfying our constant hunger!

Chocolate milk and a Conche (type of sweet bread) with PB!! Yum!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 54

The Bike Repair Guy named Memo made me a keychain
from a bike chain to remember my time there in Cadereyta on bikes:D

I got called as Zone Leader!!! It's been quite the crazy transition this week moving from my area super far away in the countryside, to an area in the huge city with everything close by. It's like 5 minutes away from the Mission Office in an area called "La Pastora". I am really loving this area from the beginning. Yesterday I met the ward, which meets in a tiny little church building, but the members are great and we have a bunch of cool recent converts from past Zone Leaders. Oh and my companion is Elder Azuara, whom I met in my last area since he was a District Leader in our last zone. This is only his second transfer as Zone Leader, so we are both pretty new at this. There are a lot of responsibilities as Zone Leader and so I've had to try to take things one step at a time and try not to overstress myself. It's something I've been learning in the mission that I know will help me throughout my life, to focus on one thing at a time and not worry about getting everything done at once. Also, to have patience with myself, my companion, and the Zone because no one is perfect and we are all in the work of the Lord together :)

We don't have investigators close to baptism or anything in our new area, but we are working hard to find the people God has prepared for us because we know they are out there waiting. Oh, this week we had Leadership Council last Thursday, where all the Zone Leaders, Sister Leaders, the assistants, and Pres and Sister Bird meet together. I learned more about how the mission runs and could feel the Spirit really strong, seeing inspiration come to the leaders. The one thing that really sunk in is something I learned when someone asked the question of why do we sometimes see disobedient missionaries have more "success" (meaning higher numbers, baptisms, etc) than the more obedient missionaries. President Bird responded by talking about our personal conversion and how the correlation that sometimes occurs is to test our obedience to the Lord. We shouldn't work just to see higher statistics like lessons, contacts or even baptisms. We should give our all because we love the Lord and want to give him our best. I did a really rough job of explaining it, but for me, this conversation really helped because it's something that sometimes discouraged me. However, I've been pondering the true reason behind my hard work and whether it's to serve the Lord, or to find recognition of others.

I've been reading in Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, and finished the book this week. I've learned so much from what I've been reading, but just to share a brief scripture I loved in Mosiah 28:3

"Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble."

Here it explains the Sons of Mosiah's true desire to preach the gospel to everyone. I love how they could go from being the "vilest of sinners" to completely turning around their lives to serve the Lord. Let us learn from these servants of the Lord that it's never too late to change, and let us strive to obtain such a desire as them to save every soul on the Earth.

Last night Edgar stopped by to say goodbye, I'll miss that guy :)
(a recent convert who lived on our street, 18 years old)

A hint of what my new house is like, now with all my stuff set up:P

My new companion, Elder Azuara!!!
I finally found a frame suitable for the family;D I LOVE MINIONS!

We made MEGA-mac and cheese (adding in a bunch more pasta and cheese)