Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week 83

Me, getting creative with my food's the Jicama I was talking about, but
I made a Sun and decorated it with Tajin (the lime salt powder). Delicious and attractive!!

I am being transferred!!!! It's been a long journey here in the Pastora Ward and I'm very sad to leave my family here that I have come to love, but I know it's the Lord calling me to serve in another ward, where I can continue to help build the kingdom of God. I don't have much time to write since actually Saturday was my preparation day...sort of. What happened is the Assistants called us on Friday and asked us if we could change our p-day to Saturday so we can work with new missionaries on Monday. We said we could, but we had appointments in the afternoon already planned. What we ended up doing is dividing the two days and worked the afternoon Saturday as normal, and we're writing Monday before we have to go work with the new missionaries.

We had our Zone Conference on Friday, which was incredible! President Maucotel decided to focus it on personal consecration and invited all of the mission to become more consecrated while explaining how we are to do it and promising blessings. There have been some changes in the mission to help us become even more focused on the work. The one that threw me off guard was that we can no longer have instruments in our apartments...which meant I had to return my keyboard that I have loved so dear. It turns out it was never supposed to be allowed since it's a rule in general for all missionaries and actually it says in the packet they give before we come out that instruments aren't allowed. But here in this mission that had been forgotten and many have been practicing piano, guitar, and other instruments. It was hard to let go of the keyboard, but I am grateful for the opportunity and great blessing it has been in my mission and will be in my life to have been able to learn so much in such a short time. I have my investigator Ismael from my first area to thank, and will forever be indebted to him for such a blessing. :D By the way his family still hasn't been baptized...but they finally got married which is a start!

Other than that this week flew by and we had many great lessons, my favorite of which was with Juan Uribe because he asked us "when is my baptism again?" So we explained to him that he still needs a little more preparation, but can be baptized as soon as 2 weeks. Although I won't be here to see it, I have faith he will prepare himself and be baptized soon, as well as his wife soon after since she's told us she want's to follow her husband:)

Anyways I am so happy to be on the mission serving and wherever I go I will serve the Lord and work hard because I love him and want to share that love with all those I am able!! Have a wonderful week everyone! Love you!

Gelatina de Limon con chamoy y tajin, delicioso!!!
(A lime freeze pop with sweet pepper, lime and salt. Delicious!!)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 82

Let me introduce you to JICAMA (a weird root fruit that tastes like water in
fruit form, but i love it with chile/limon powder:)

cada vez que escribo no puedo creer que ya haya pasado otra semana en el campo misional. Wow that was written on it`s hard to adjust to English sometimes! As I say each time I write home, I can`t believe another week`s over. September is already coming to a close and that means....GENERAL CONFERENCE  time!!! And my last one in the mission field for that matter....:,( It`s going too fast!

Anyway, this week improved a little, although it was pretty tough working with all the festivities and parties this weekend for Independence Day. The whole town came together in the center where the Catholic church and park are at and did what`s called a "grito" which is a big chant they do in the town centers, state centers, and in the country's center in Mexico city. They do the town one at 10, state at 11 and country at 12, with fireworks and loud music and chanting. Some members warned me it would be dangerous and others tried to convince my companion to take me so I can see what it`s like, but he refused and I wouldn't do it anyways, at least not as a missionary...

This weekend a bunch of members including the Bishop went to Cancun, since the fist counselor had his wedding there, so this Sunday was interesting...I gave a talk on the importance of each member of a team, talking about a comparison of a sports team, a mission, and a ward. The point I wanted to get across is that the ward success in both retention of it`s members and growth of new members depends on each member's faithfulness in keeping their covenants. I used an article called, "Keeping Covenants: A Message for Those Who Will Serve a Mission" by Elder Holland in the January 2012 Liahona. He explains how miracles in a mission, or in my talks case a ward, when he said

"if we really want to succeed in our callings, if we want to have access to every help and every advantage and every blessing from the Father, if we want to have the door of heaven thrown open to us that we might receive the powers of godliness, we must keep our covenants!"

"It is when an entire (ward) is united by the strength of every (member's) integrity, every (member's) personal covenant keeping, that we move mountains. "

I leave my testimony along with Elder Holland that when we start to truly do all we can to keep our covenants and magnify our callings, we can move mountains in the mission, the ward, or even our own families and I share this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

P.S. Shout out to Devin Taylor who got his mission call to Guatemala! You`ll love it there. I have met several missionaries who lived there :). Congrats! Do all you can to prepare yourself physically, economically, emotionally, and most important spiritually (not just knowledge of the gospel, although it is important, but more important is to live the gospel!) 

JICAMA, yum!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Weeks 80 and 81

Almost Mexican Independence Day!!

Week 80

This week I had a wonderful experience with my fast, which I based on two investigators specifically, Yhoana and Juan Uribe. Turns out my prayers and fast were answered because both Yhoana and Juan Uribe made it to church yesterday and they hadn't gone in weeks!

It was Juan´s third time attending and he went up to bear his testimony again, and this time he explained how he has felt God´s hand in his life guiding him to this church, but he worries he´ll flake out since he´s had a lot of other opportunities that were missed. It was interesting, but very humbling to see him speak so honestly in front of everyone and the Ward was able to encourage him quite a bit. We are hoping he can be baptized soon, even before transfers, but if not as long as he makes it to baptism prepared, I´m happy as can be:)

Yhoana now has been to church four times and this week finally accepted a baptism date!!! She chose the 15th of October, which was a little further than we had hoped, but she had never felt ready to choose a date before so it´s progress! And if she ends up feeling ready before that date, we can always adjust it:)

This week was SUPER packed with meetings and things to do. First of all, our 3rd companion left us on Tuesday to go to another area:,( but he did manage to make us hot dogs, which were delicious yet simple (that´s all we had:P). Next, on Wednesday we had a Gira de la Mision which is a big meeting where an authority comes to train us. Elder Valenzuela and his wife came and gave a wonderful meeting focused on how to work with members and obedience to the mission rules overall. Something I took from it was that we don´t come on missions to receive help from the members, we come to help and serve the members and strengthen the Ward we are in. The goal is to always leave the ward in a better state than it was when we arrived (I learned that in Boy Scouts, thanks Scout leaders!). Obviously, we hope that the members will actively seek to help us, but that doesn't mean if they aren't willing, we can justify not working with members in our missionary work. We need to actively serve, invite, and teach members so that they can participate and we can fulfill President Monson's goal that the missionaries and members can come together in purpose and action.

On Friday we had our Mission Leadership Council, which Elder Valenzuela also attended. (That doesn't happen every day!) It was an amazing experience and we learned a lot about our responsibilities, like how we are to care for our sheep, which as Zone Leaders means starting with our District Leaders, and other missionaries in the zone where possible. Also the mission is focusing everything on working with members and obedience, which we all came unto an agreement to implement in our zones. I can´t even begin to explain how wonderful these experiences were with Elder Valenzuela, but the Spirit felt is not something I will soon forget. Also I played the piano at both events. I can´t believe how far I've come:D 

Week 81

Listening to uplifting music with my bowling tie I found in a market:P

I`m still trying to accept the fact that it`s September already...and I just realized it's almost half through, yikes! I try not to think about it though, because I still have SO much to do in these next few months. It got hot again this week, REALLY HOT. Or at least it felt that way, but I hear it`s supposed to rain this week again, so that`s good, I love the rain! It reminds me of Oregon:)

Speaking of Oregon, this week I had exchanges with a fellow Oregonian named Elder Rosenbalm, a giant red-head with just as big of a personality as he is tall. It was cool to be able to talk about places in Oregon and experiences we've had. He lives in a small town north of Corvallis, which I always forget the name of since it`s a little strange...but he worked as a firefighter before his mission and plans to continue with it as his career, my respects! He made me toaster waffles in the morning, which was the first time I've eaten those on the mission:P

We faced many challenges this week with our investigators, but hey, not every week can be as wonderful as they have been or else it would all seem plain and normal. Our investigator closest to baptism is struggling to rid himself of his coffee habit and his family doesn't help him since they all drink it, even his little grandson, Axel, who`s just 5 years old. That bugs me a little...but who am I to judge. He also told us he still has doubts about Joseph Smith, which was a big blow to us because he had been telling us that he believed him to be a prophet of God before. Also he slept in and didn't make it to church, despite calling him, knocking on his door, and having reminded him the day before. We just need to be patient, I know he`s making a lot of adjustments in his life which isn't easy.

Fidel Martini, our recent convert, received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday!! He was super happy and all the brethren came up to hug him and congratulate him:) He`s excited to bless the sacrament next week. Love this man!

This week on Friday it`s Mexican Independence Day, so there will be a lot of parties and noise and fireworks, so that should be interesting. On Thursday there is a ward activity to celebrate and we are hoping to bring some investigators with us to have fun with them. Also the Ward`s 1st counselor to the Bishop is getting married in Cancun on the 16th, so half the ward is going to be out of town this weekend. That should be fun this Sunday with an empty chapel!

Anyways I am so grateful for the experiences I have and will continue having as a missionary, it truly is a blessing. And thanks to each and every one of you for all your support and prayers, I love you guys!

Flashback to my first district at the Temple!!! Good ol`days :,)

Jenga isn't only good for making a plain old tower:)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Week 79

New companion from Argentina, Elder Romero!

The weeks just keep getting better to be honest. This time it's because we had the baptism of Fidel Martini on Wednesday and his confirmation was yesterday :D! The program went amazingly! The Bishop was able to leave early from work, even with very important things to do, and he directed, President Maucotel attended, which was great since he´s already good friends with Fidel. Also us missionaries did a special music number of "I´m trying to be like Jesus" in "spanglish" (we sang both Spanish and English verses). It was super good even with little time to prepare...but the most amazing part was when I had the opportunity to enter the font with my great friend Fidel, to perform his ordinance of Baptism. I've never been so close to an investigator before since we truly opened up to him and visited him as much as possible as well as get members and President involved, which resulted in a very special bond. He gave me a hug and President greeted him as we left the font. After the program, all the members came up to congratulate him and his wife even gave him a hug! (She's a less-active member and they have some major marriage issues.) Then we all ate tacos and cake since it was also the birthday of the wife of the Ward´s mission leader. Finally, yesterday he was confirmed by my companion Elder Gayosso at the Bishop´s request, during which Elder Gayosso´s hands started trembling. Later, when I asked him about it, he said he didn't know why that happened because it never has happened before and he wasn't nervous or anything. All we know is that the spirit was super strong in that moment and I´m glad I got to be in the circle for the confirmation.
Also behind such amazing experiences was the help and effort of many members and missionaries. The day before the baptism we left with the assistants in their new area, which is far away, so we had to finalize our plans by telephone. The mission leader had trouble getting keys to empty the old water in the font and refill it and when we came back the morning of the baptism it was still full of dirty water...I called another missionary for the other ward who assists there and he knew how to get the pump working to suck out the water, but it still wouldn't get emptied in time, so once again we went in with buckets to empty it faster. It was tedious, but I must admit, it made the baptism that much more fulfilling for our efforts as well as the members :).

Pre-baptism photo. Aww his wife came to support him :)

Post-baptism photo with the ward!! What a great event:D

Finally, yesterday we received a new companion, temporarily, so I am in my first trio! His name is Elder Romero from Argentina who I already met in Cadereyta, but he will be with us for a few days since there were a few problems in his last companionship. President should tell us soon where he´ll end up. He´s a wonderful missionary, but he slipped up and fell into things he shouldn't and now wants to repent and serve his other half of the mission with dedication. I´m happy to see that he hasn't given up and has the desire to press forward. We are trying to motivate him and keep him on track during the time he´s here with us. Oh and he´s a chef! Looking forward to his cooking the next few days :D!

My pancakes didn't turn out too bad, giving the welcome to our new companion:)