Monday, April 29, 2013

News from Josh

Wearing my rain jacket for the first time
 - it worked really well!
April 29, 2013

This stuff is the BOMB here in Mexico!
Sooooooo this week hasn't been terribly exciting since Monday i didn't leave my bed, Tuesday only to go to email, and Wednesday for the food appointment and to go to a district meeting, but one man's boring day is a bunch of family members' excitement for the week....or however that saying goes so here goes nothing.

             I guess we should start on Wednesday night since that's when we actually started doing things haha. So apparently a Grandfather in one of the other wards passed away this Thursday morning- not funny....and then me and Elder P who don't know the family, their name, which hospital, or said hospitals location...were asked to go and visit them.  Soo we get this call at about 6 asking us to go visit a family in the hospital about 20 minutes walking from our house, and the only details we get from the zone leaders are that the grandfather died, his name is riberto....or roberto....or robierto....they didn't know which and that the family asked if we could pass by though we don't know why. But i'm still feeling pretty sick so we tell them we will go in about an hour around 8....but then at 8 our bishopric swings by to talk with us. Sooo we begin the trecherous journey (in the rain) to the mysterious hospital at about 8:30. We get to the hosptial and it is under construction (yay) so we dont have anyyy idea where to go and the map is no longer accurate -haha- so we run upstairs and we find an "Urgency Office" and while we dont think the man is going anywhere anytime soon we ask there and they don't know anything but direct us to the other side of the hospital. Then we get there and find a lady who tells us maybe to check the other building in the basement. Then the other building security guard tells us they don't have a basement....but you cant blame them, we are just asking about a name of someone who passed -- not much to go on. But finally we find a security woman who works in the basement of A building and she tells us she might know of someone. So we are like yessss, and we follow her down a hall.....that is eerily cold, and then through a door....into a very cold room....and then she opens another door and we look in and there are a ton of stretchers inside that hold dead bodies and we are like woahhhh lady!!  Haha, we're missionaries but if he is dead he is dead!  We dont wanna see him. BUT she couldn't find him anyways. So we told the Zone leaders and sorry the story doesn't end well but we to this moment have no idea what happened to the man, and the family had apparently already left....sooo moral of the story.......i serioulsy have nothing for this one, i just thought it was ridiculous, haha, sorry.

The Mexican Military is always just chillin around here
- nobody knows why
              So Friday we woke up and had to go to the immigration offices to get my visa because right now i'm on like a temporary visa thing. So we went to the offices and all is well until they call my name and i go up to the desk and they are only speaking spanish. It was a rude awakening, but it ended up that i understood most of what he was saying and got the instructions and filled out everything alright. But then when i went and sat down Elder P had been talking with the Mission Secretary who is on a Couples Mission and he was like woah, wait did you go by yourself?!? haha and he was like super proud that i could communicate with them. He said usually your comp goes with you so he can translate haha. Friday we also had interchanges which is where you switch companions with another companionship and the junior comp goes to the other persons area and the senior companion stays in his area!! Yayy....except for the fact that the zone leaders decided that i was going to be the ONLY one of the new missoinaries/junior companions to stay in his area. Which means that i have to set up appointments and take the other companion around who doesn't know the area or the people....so it was a bit scary but my comp was one of the zone leaders so at least he could speak spanish. But it went really well. Turns out i know my area really well and i could communicate pretty well with people and overall it was awesome. Our zone leaders are really cool too so that helps - haha.

               So that's about it for this week, but i wanna finish as always with just a quick spiritual thought. This one comes from....an experience this week we have been teaching a man who is thuroughly frustrated. He is having problems with the law of chastity which we all know can be very difficult, but he is also very, very faithful and he wants to serve the lord so badly. During our lesson he was very literally pulling out his hair in frustration. It just reminded me how hard it is to stay focused with an eye single to the glory of God. In Mathew 6:24 we read that you can't serve two masters, and it's so true. This man is feeling torn because he is trying to serve both God and the world. When I was in sunday school one time our teacher made us memorize Joshua 24:15....well she didnt make us but if we did we got a jawbreaker so needless to say i memorized it haha - but it says "choose ye this day whom ye will serve..." We told this man that he needed to decide right now who he wants to serve more, God or this worldly pleasure that is temporary and empty. When we make that decision who we want to serve, every decision after that one will be easier!  If we choose to serve God we may not want to go to church, but we know in serving God that's what we have to do so we do it. When we are tempted to do something we know is wrong, if we have that choice already made to serve God then the choice really isnt a choice. So that is my invitation today, Choose ye THIS DAY whom ye will serve. Not tomorrow, not the next day, and not next week, but Today. And i can promise you that when you do, you will feel a burden lifted and you will then be able to view all future choices with clarity. Choose your side, and fight for it.

People are obsessed withLightning McQueen cars here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The busiest week of my life.....so far

A field we walk through 
Sooooo first things first, i feel that i must address why this letter is coming on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. First thing I gotta ask, is have you ever had it coming out both ends?? For all of you who answered no, thank your lucky stars. Monday morning i woke up and felt really really sick. And to make matters worse it was literally every 30 minutes. I dont even know how i had that much junk in me to begin with. But it was pretty bad so we called the Dr and he told me what medicine to get and then we called a lady in our ward who was nice enough to pick up the medicine for us since we couldn't even leave the house. Soooo in summary....worst P-Day EVER, haha, but i'm feeling just a bit better today and the vomit-iarrhea has stopped so we came to internet to write the fam and tell them we are still alive...barely ;)
             So like the title says, this has probably been the busiest week of my life. We have had soooo many appointments every day this week, so many that at times we were literally jogging from appointment to appointment. We have been having great success though! We are teaching 4 full families right now which is pretty much unheard of in the mission and we also have a bunchhh more investigators like single or have just one kid. So we have been greatly blessed. This being said we have absolutely noooo down time.  Lunch is now an hour long exactlyyyy and we never get back to the house before 9:30. So the week has been fulfilling but also draining haha but i have a lot of cool stories this week soo buckle up!
My desk area!  I try to keep it clean for the most part.
                    So me and Elder P are walking home one day this week at about 6 oclock and we are walking alongside these houses by this highway when a car pulls up ahead of us and a dude gets out and opens his trunk. We didnt really notice him until right as we pass his car he closes his trunk and steps quickly out into the road in front of us. He had this long thing in a paper bag under his arm and started talking to P and motioning us further off the road. So the situation is already gettin sketchy real quickk. Then we get to the side wtih him and he makes a motion with his hand like "hand it over" and says "Da me todo que tiene..mrphsnfe...mmsmfemf." Now my spanish isnt great, but i usually do pretty well with hand gestures and i definitely heard "Give me all you have...followed by some mumbo jumbo" so im already confused. Then P started saying okay and taking off his backpack and I'm like YO WE ARE GETTING JACKED!!! And I'm like son it is broad daylight, next to a highway, and it's one dude who is probably 50 years old, i am nottt about to let this happen right now! So i literally clench my fist and am about to punch this dude in the mouth and runnn, when he turns to me and says "Da me todo que tiene...para leer."......soooo in English that's "Give me all you have....to read." In other words this was an investigator. haha. He started talking about how he had seen us in the street before and wanted to read all that we had before he died and how he was interested in having a real Book of Mormon, so i gave him a Book of Mormon and he was so excited. I sure hope my spanish improves before i end up hurting some poor seeker of truth haha.
Elder P collapsing in the grass after finding agenda
             Okay third and final story of this week also has the spiritual thought with it. This week and for a while now i have been thinking a lot about the concept of faith and what exactly it is and how we can grow it etc. So i know i told you about that 30 minute short cut that me and my comp took through some field with grass up to our waists to get to a food appointment. Well this week we had a food appointment with the same family and i wasn't about to not go the same way -haha- way too much fun. So we were going through the field only this time it was harder...apparently my comp has a fear of snakes and horses and there were horses there this time and i swear i stepped on a snake and it was soaking wet and what ended up happening was two missionaries were screaming and running like a couple of crazy people through this field as if being chased by some imaginary terror. So we end up laughing it off afterwards until later that day Elder P realizes he doesn't have his agenda. So we are brainstorming and im like bro, what if it fell out when we were running and jumping through that field. So we check our house and we call the food appointment people and ask them to look but no luck, so we figure the only possibility is that it is in the field. So we were just gonna leave it until we realized that it has all the phone numbers and ward adresses in it and we need it. So i tell him for whatever reason, that if we pray to be able to find it and have faith, we will be able to find it because we need it to do the Lord's work. So we have no time because of investigators, so we wake up the next morning at 6:30 and head over to this field. We get to the field which is roughly the size of 2 football fields, and say a prayer asking for us to be able to find it and then start trudging. Its morning so there is dew all over the grass and we walk alllllllllll the way across the field trying to follow what very vague remnants there are of our footprints and we are soaked up to our waists without an agenda. So we start back accross this field again and at one point we are on the path that we can now see clearly because we had followed it moments earlier. About halfway back I just stop for some reason and then turn around. Elder P was like "hey it keeps going this way" and i was like yah i can see that, but for some reason i had turned around. I looked closely at the grass behind me and noticed very concealed footprints that we must have missed on the first combover. I followed them only 4 steps and saw deep in the grass a soaking wet, but very usable agenda. We freaked out and then said a prayer of gratitude for what was clearly a miracle from God through the Holy Ghost. I was so glad that my faith had paid off in such a big way as a gift from Heavenly Father! That experience has helped me to know a little more about faith. Faith isn't always going to pay off that way, sometimes we have to pray for help and have faith that it is God's will that we not receive it. I don't know how many times i prayed yesterday when i was sick out of my mind that God would take away the pain or the nausea. And God let me suffer through it because it was a test in my life that i apparently needed to have. Sometimes that's how its gonna be. We are gonna pray and he is gonna be next to us through that trial but we are going to go through that trial. I have always loved the story about the man and the footprints in the sand. How there were always 2 sets of footprints as the Savior walked beside him through life, but in the hardest moments there was only one set of footprints. The man asked the Savior why he abandoned him when he needed him most in the hardest times. The Savior said that in those moments he didn't abandon him, but instead, in these moments, the Savior had carried him. I know that the Savior is with us through trials. This week has been hard for all the new missionaries and we have been thinking alot about home. But i know that all the feelings we are having or have had during trials are the same feelings that the Savior felt. He knows our pain and he will help us through.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Investigate the Investigators


April 15, 2013
Popo

Holaaa! So this week has been pretty average i guess....well as average as you can get on a misison in Mexico but ill try to do my best to spice things up.

        Speaking of spice, the food here is pretty spicy. We can pretty much buy anything we want off the street but the motto is dont be stupid haha if it looks like its gonna make you sick dont eat it, unless a member is serving it to you in which case you choke it down and ask for more. But things are pretty good here. We get to shop at Walmart on pdays but they don't really have the things that they do in the US. Dont get me wrong its much better than most places around here but it definitely is different. You can find some of the same things in the Walmart here that you do in the US but they are all either different brands or maddd expensive. I usually get some bread and peanutbutter and some cheap oatmeal. We found milk that we can drink and although it tastes kinda wierd it is moneyyyy after not having any for a while, and the only problem is that its expensive just like everything else here that tastes good haha but hey what can ya do.

           We have been lucky so far. We have a member in our ward who lets us use her washing machine most every monday and that means that we havent had to wash much of our clothes by hand!! So as of yet im lucky but the norm is that you use your own brute strength, the likes of which i am unfortunately lacking. On pdays we pretty much do laundry, email people, eat somewhere, and then try to do something fun. So far we have been really lucky, my comp says he has never had such awesome pdays as he has these past 3 weeks so we are off to a great start...and unfortunately the rumor is its going down from here haha but im definietly enjoying it while it lasts.

Popo was freaking out on Saturday.  Dont know why but the next day we got a little bit of the smog
            Best thing about pday is that we dont have to be anywhere at a certain time. We have been sooooo busy this week...like literally more busy than i ever have been in my life thus far. We have appointments with the investigators and members ever 90 minutes and we are often running to get to an appointment on time. This week we kept recieving contacts and references just like last week and so over the past 2 weeks we have 18 new investigators!!! For those of you playing along at home, thats a TONN haha the missionaries have been saying i will be lucky to get that many again in a month...but well see haha

The burning of Elder Gs shirt for his one year mark. I wont send you the picture of
 it actually burning but it was awesome. I was on interchanges that day with Elder A.


            Sooo we did get a little excitement this week. We were out on splits with our ward mission leader and we saw some people dressed up with instruments clearly in a mariachi band. So he was like hey you want a picture with these guys and im like nah itd be wierd to ask and he was like sweet ill go ask....either my spanish is REALLY bad or he wasnt waiting for an answer haha so he went and told them that they are real Mexican heritage, and representatives of the spirit of Mexico...blah blah blah, and along story short we got to take a picture with them and it was really cool! They are pretty popular around here and had just finished playing in a huge catholic church!

Some really coool grafiti by some guy named Cirbek.....oh yah btw we contacted him haha.
He's an investigator...im gonna get him to do something sick for me
           I went on divisions this week and taught with a different Elder from our districts. Divisions lasts a full 24 hours. You wake up and do studies with your normal companion, then you switch companions and work all day in another area of the mission. Then you stay the night in the new area and wake up and do studies, then switch back. My new companion was an Elder from Ucatan and was a native who didnt speak english. they arent kidding when they say the best way to learn is by immersion. It was a good time.

            So spiritual thought this week comes from Matthew 8 in the Bible. In verses 23 to 27 we read the story of the disciples on the boat with Jesus when the storm comes up. Right now we are working with a woman who has a fear of water and thus says that she doesnt want to get baptized. In the story, a great storm comes upon the ship and immediately the disciples begin to panic. The sciptures say that they woke Jesus saying"Lord save us, we perish." How interesting that even when the disciples were on a boat with Jesus they were able to feel like they were going to die. Then Jesus says "Oh ye of little faith. Why are ye fearful?" and calms the storm. The lesson that we were trying to teach this woman was that the disciples werent in the wrong to have fear or to call upon Jesus for help. Many times in our lives we are going to have trials and we are expected to feel fear and there is nothing better to do than call upon Jesus saying "Lord save me." But the reason Jesus says oh ye of little faith is because they dont just say lord save us....they say lord save us, because we are going to die. If we go to our knees we need to go with an attitude of faith and a knowledge that our Lord can save us, but without the spirit of doubt and worry. This woman has a legitimate fear and we are encouraging her to place her trust in the savior and call on him to save her, but with the belief that he can to all things and that she will not perish. We have to call on the Lord in all of our sorrows knowing with surity that we will one day rest from all our afflictions. Have faith, apply that faith, and fear not.

Monday, April 8, 2013

So abundant, that there would not be room to receive it


Sun over Popocat├ępetl

April 8, 2013

            Soooooo much has happened this week!!! So we really need to dive right in if we don't want to be at this computer all day....and trust me i got stuffff ta dooooz.

Some gorgeous but sketchy path we walked down on a 30 minute "shortcut"
            So like i have been saying we really teach a lot of less active members in our ward and we don't have a lot of investigators. So this week Elder P. and i made it a goal to mention that in our prayers, more that we would be able to find the people that God has prepared to hear the Gospel.....soooooo we have about 8 new investigators this week with 3 of them being families and more coming!! God has totally blessed us this week in that regard and we found out that we have so many new investigators we can't even meet with all of them this week so we have to plan appointments in 2 weeks, thus where the title of this post comes from. We were also able to help a family who is struggling with the passing of a close friend and boyfriend of one of the daughters. They were catholic and went to their church trying to find some kind of comfort but the minister just told them that the boyfriend was stuck in limbo and he was lost. They have a cousin who is an older lady in our ward and she invited them to an activity where we talked with the family and taught them about the plan of salvation, life after death, and how God knows each of us personally
Elder Hamm and his club
and wants us to return. Then we were able to give them all blessings...here's the interesting part.  haha.  So there are 4 members of the family and it was Elder P. and i, the bishop, and the first counselor. Elder P. blessed the daughter, then the first councilor stepped in and my mind started calculating......now we all know how absolutely awful i am at math so it took me a bit but i realized that there were 4 of us and 4 of them so either someone was going to be blessing twice....or i was gonna have to put on some big boy pants. The dad was last and i didn't even know if he was going to get a blessing, i was thinking hey he is tough he doesn't need one....but then he stood up and sat in the chair. The bishop looked at me and motioned with his hand in my direction. I turned around and kindly informed him that the woman behind me was indeed a woman and therefore couldn't give blessings. But he of course was motioning to me. I stepped over and looked at Elder P. who gave me a look of confidence...mixed with the emotion a parent has sending their child off on a bike with two wheels for the first time knowing they are going to fall. He told me what to say but i couldn't repeat it now if i wanted to.  The dad's name was very hispanic and very long the likes of which i can also not recall. But as i approached this brother and placed my hands upon his head the words began to flow. I was able to say what the spirit wanted and i didn't know half the things i was saying. The spirit was truly speaking through me and i gained a testimony of the gift of tongues for sureee. Then later that week i also had the opportunity to do divisions which means my companion goes with a brother from the ward and i do the same, meaning i have to teach a lesson by myself. it was a little bit hard at first but sure enough the spirit came to the rescue and i was able to teach a lesson filled with the spirit. This week we alsooo had General Conference!!....oh i know, so did everyone else, but i bet you watched it in English! No i'm kidding, luckily there was the stake technical guy and he hooked all the americans up with English conference for 2 sessions on Saturday and the 2 sessions on Sunday. That being said, priesthood session is another story. We tried and tried to get the session in English but it just wasn't gonna happen so we had to watch it in Spanish.....yah that was nottt enlightening haha but luckily halfway through we found the urim and thummim in the form of English subtitles and we finished conference understanding what the heck was going on. Fun fact the translators are translating directly from the words but not with the same emotion. When people with emotion speak the translator doesn't change haha and then at one point he was getting choked up with the spirit while the speaker remained calm. Just interesting.
Elder Hamm and Elder P with a lion cub
               So this Pday we got to go on an Africam Safari which was actually really cool. it was like 20 dollars a person and we got to see all kinds of crazy animals, the likes of which i will include with pictures. But it was a really fun day today.
The Crew

Flamingos
               Lastly, the spiritual thought for the week. This week's spiritual thought comes from conference which i'm sure you all watched but whether you did or did not, just hear me out. When i was coming out on the mission, to be honest i didn't know what the heck i was doing. i didn't really WANT to go, but i really knew it was what god wanted and what i SHOULD do. I would at this time like to speak to anyone who is facing a similar situation in their life. Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about belief in his talk and mentioned the story of a young man. This young man said to him Elder Holland, i don't KNOW that the things in the gospel are true, i just believe them and WANT them to be true. He went on to say that this is not a problem, in fact this is one of the greatest starting places you could ask for. he says "Even if you can no more desire to believe, let thy desire work in you until it is belief." When i came out on the mission, i didn't know it was the right thing, i didn't beliveeee that it was the right thing...but i had the desire to follow the commandments of God and like the story of the man with the seizing child, said "Lord, help thou my unbelief." We don't know why we do some things in the church or in life, we only know that we have been asked by righteous prophets of God and church leaders and if we can just have the desire to believe, we will be able to come to a knowledge. He finishes saying "Fan the flame of your faith. All things are possible to those who believe." Hold fast to what you know and pray that more knowledge will come with experience through walking in the light. I know this is a true concept because i have seen it work in my life. I know it, and you can know it too. You only needs desire.



Monday, April 1, 2013

All aboard that's comin aboard

April 1, 2013

              So I don't really know what's up with the title of the letter for this week but what the heck, it sounded good so i threw it in there.
              This week has been all about work!(surprise surprise) No i'm kidding this week has actually gone by really fast. I can't believe I have already gone 2 weeks here......and also can't believe i still have about 97 more to go! This week has been all about menos activos, or less active families. We don't have too many new investigators at the moment so the thing we have been focusing on is getting the less active members to come to church and feel the spirit. It's been quite the time. Our ward is awesome though. They work hard, they are willing to help out, and they are almost always coming to church ready to lend a hand in a new class or reach out to investigators. Sooo funny story, this week we have been teaching a family with three little kids and we are trying to help them get baptized. The missionaries have been working with this family for about a month now and they are progressing so quickly and are very excited. They have a baptismal date on the 30th of April and so we are trying to get through all the lessons. But we were teaching a lesson about the commandments the other night and we got to commandment number 7: thou shalt not commit adultery. When we began to explain to them how adultery is sexual relations outside of marriage, the mother of the family stops us and asks if that applied to them....we were like ummmm yes. But then she went on to explain how they weren't ever actually married! haha. So now we are working on getting the papers ready and the parents married so we can get them all baptized.
                 The food has been MUCH calmer this week (haha) as is to be expected following last weeks lineup. On a normal day we will have either oatmeal or pb sandwiches or nothing for breakfast, then each day we have a food appointment at 2 o'clock and that is usually pretty normal food (normal being an obviously relative word in this situation): its usually some type of chicken or pig or cow meat with some vegetables and soup...and lots and lots o'beans haha. Then for dinner we usually have some type of pasta we buy at Walmart or pb and jelly or pb sandwiches. So not too diverse but the pb sandwiches are good after a crazy mexican lunch. Much to my dismay the chips here are VERY different. The only types that i have found are the same are pringles and stax. The chips are also VERY VERY expensive along with any other American food you can find but believe me it's worth it when you have mexican food all the timeeee. We are allowed to brush our teeth with the water and rinse/spit the water out....but if you swallow it you will die.  
 
          Nah i'm kidding but it will make you really sick so we have to boil water for soup and the rest comes from a giant jug of water we buy from the store down the street. We use that for water, ice, cooking when it isn't gonna boil, and anything else that means this liquid is going into our bodies. But it isn't too bad, they have tiendas or stores on every corner in the city, usually 2 or 3 per block selling the exact same things with a little variation, so we just buy a drink there or i carry a water bottle around with me that we fill up at lunch at the members home.
So fun fact, and yes this is a confirmed fact by the locals. There was a study done of the most dangerous places in Mexico and Puebla was second from the bottom. So we were like wow why is is so incredibly safe.....apparently it's because all the family of the drug lords live here and so nobody wants to mess with them....it's pretty logical if you think about it -haha- but yah that was a cool thing to find out. This week we also went to Centro or the central part of Puebla and got to walk around in a cathedral. It was pretty sick. The whole place had a very European feel to it with the buildings and I'm pretty sure it's one of like 7 places in Puebla that have grass and trees. Apparently the volcano had a mini eruption this week too and the people near it had an earthquake type experience. Darned if we know anything about that being from the US -_- They were like do you get those in the US?  I said, come see me in San Francisco haha but it's been fun.

                      Spiritual thought of the week comes from D&C. Now i know what you're thinking and the answer is yes, i did finish the Book of Mormon finallyyyyy, but anyway I'm only into section 6 but i have already noticed a concerning pattern. In 3 of the sections the lord is calling Joseph Smith to repentance....yes, Joseph Smith. And all i can think about when I read this is if Joseph Smith had to be called to repentance and rebuked by the lord how much more do i have issues with that. But the relief comes in verse 10 of section 3. It is right after the lord has rebuked Joseph and told him that he has transgressed. But the scripture reads: But remember, God is merciful, therefore, repent of that which thou has done which is contrary to the commandment which i gave you and thou are still chosen and art again called to the work. The lord doesn't care if we have transgressed, he only wants us to come back and be healed again. Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk a few sessions ago and said the Lord doesn't care how far away we have strayed at one time or how rough the journey has been as long as we return to him in the end. He wants all of us regardless of our current or past states, and it is no coincidence that in the very next section it talks about the final harvest and the time to repent being now. Turn to the Lord so that he can heal you. You are never too far, you are never too lost, and you are never too deep in the water that the lord cannot reach in and pull you out.