Hey-o. Welcome to m' mission blog. If you're interested in keeping in touch with me via mail, check out my address(es) on the right side of the page. If you're too lazy to do that, go ahead and read the posts below.Hoo-rah!
Hey, so we had a baptism. I´m going to stop saying how many people because I don´t want this to become a contest of numbers. I´m getting sick and tired of missionaries that think that way. But yeah. We weren´t the ones baptizing anyway-we´ve been getting members to do the work for us lately. It´s much more efficient. Even if they have no idea how to do it sometimes. Although I got to conduct a meeting for the very first time--and E. Roberts even came from the Jardines area to show one of his investigators what a baptism is like. He is so skinny now. Anyway, we went to Carls Jr. afterwards to celebrate. E. Rivas likes to draw, if you hadn´t picked up on that. He graduated with a degree in graphic design before the mission. He´s also an amazing companion. I hope that doesn´t sound gay. And I hope that last sentence doesn´t offend anyone.
And here´s a picture of the dust storm we got through. Our shirts were brown at the end of that day. Also, rainbows do exist here. They´re just really really hot.
Apparently I talked in my sleep while I was sick. According to E. Rivas, I was talking in Spanish. Sweeeeet. But I´m not sick now. Although Spanish isn´t really a problem/obstacle anymore either.
The youth that got baptized a few months ago told us he wants to be a mission president at some point. I almost yelled out, "YEEEEESSSSSSSS!" in his face. But I didn´t.
I got to interview a 12 year old this week, an investigator of the sister missionaries. Before, though, we taught about a few principles from the lessons. I let the sister missionaries teach most of the lesson, but I was surprised at how easy the thoughts came to my mind. I started teaching as well, and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn´t think I would, because I´ve never considered myself to be very good as a teacher of children. In fact, I´ve never really done it before. That doesn´t mean I´m going to look for a job teaching children or something, but I was struck at how much the mission will help former missionaries fulfill their callings after returning home. I´m not saying I´m super prepared for anything, but I´ll be able to use so much of what I have learned. But it was great--there have been times that I´ve taught, and after the lesson, I´ve realized that the Spirit was working through me, talking. But only a few times have I been able to recognize that during a lesson. The lesson with the 12 year old was one of them. It was cool helping confirm her in Church last Sunday.
I need to find something that isn´t about me that I can share . . . I remember a quote from E. Bednar. This is paraphrased. He was in a mission conference, and a missionary asked him what they could do as missionaries when they were working, obedient, and doing everything possible to gave success, and they weren´t having it. He looked at the missionary and said, "If you have success, it is because God has chosen to give it to you. If you do not, you have to keep on working anyway. And if you do not, you have no faith. When I was a Bishop, a member came to me and asked for a blessing. Instead of asking him if he had the faith to be healed, I asked him if he had the faith to trust in God so much that if He wanted him to die right there, he would do it. The member was shocked, and said no. I told him to come back when he had the faith to ask, be denied, and keep believing. You as missionaries have to have that faith, or you will never have success."
I enjoyed that. Adios. I hope you all are doing well.
Just to start off, if this email is unfocused or uninteresting, I have an excuse. Guess what it is? For the first time in my entire mission (probably the first of many), I HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN SICK! Yeah! So anyway, I have a pretty annoying headache, so I´m not thinking too straight right now. It wasn´t anything I ate, I think I just got super dehydrated after a really long day of walking in the sun.
Something I´ve noticed about the wards here is that everything is less organized, since most of the members are converts, and haven´t had their entire lives to get used to the Church. But because there aren´t as many members, it´s a lot easier to get up and share your testimony. People still get nervous bearing their testimony in front of 50 people, but when I tell them how many the ward back home has, they freak out.
Gah, what can I talk about? Ah, I know.
We had interviews with Pte. Velez this week (by the way, "Pte." means Presidente), and at the end, he gave each missionary a copy of a talk by Elder Holland, called "The Atonement and Missionary Work." He speaks of a lot of things in the talk, a LOT, and is very powerful. I saw the video in the MTC, and it´s even more applicable now thatn it was before. He talks about why missionary work has to be hard. "Why can´t people just accept the gospel withough struggling? Why can´t the only problem in the mission field be that people have pnemonia (did I spell that right?) for not being able to dry off fast enough after their baptism? Why can´t there just be a line of people outside the apartment in the morning, ready to hear the gospel? Why? Why can´t it be easier? I´ll tell you why. Because the Atonement wasn´t easy. Christ suffered. His sacrifice was the most difficult act ever performed in the history of the Earth. It wasn´t easy for him, and it shouldn´t be easy for you! He suffered, and we should suffer as well. Don´t get me wrong. None of you are "atoners." None of you will ever suffer as much as Him. Ever. But we cannot fully understand the Atonement unless we take at least one small step towards Calvary."
I also remember another quote by him: "Christ came into the world to suffer the will of the Father. I hope that by the end of your missions, you will be able to say the same--I have suffered the will of the Father."
LOTS of thunderstorms here. But also, great sunsets. The only downside is that it´s super humid now. Check it out. If you look closely, you can see the giant sweat stripe on my chest. That was after a few minutes outside.
Ah, spiritual experience. This week, we were able to find a young man (I say that, but he´s older than I) who hasn´t had the best experiences in his family. Or with certain substances. I won´t go into details, but he needed a blessing. It seems like I´m telling a lot of stories involving the priesthood lately. It was . . . different. E. Rivas and I put our hands on his head, and he began to shake, from his tears. As he bobbed up and down, I stated my authority and began to pronounce the blessing. In that moment, I remembered a quote from E. Nelson of the 12. "When we pray, we speak for ourselves. When we give blessings, we speak for God." Something happened after that. I stopped thinking and began to speak. I felt like I had an electrical current running through my body, culminating in my chest. Words came streaming out of my mouth. I don´t remember what they all were, but my voice was more confident than it has ever been when speaking Spanish. I finished the blessing, and the man stood up. He gave both E. Rivas and I a hug, and even though I don´t enjoy lingering man-hugs, especially while sweating in the heat, it seemed like he was holding onto us for dear life. We spoke with him afterwards, and taught of repentance. We´re going back in a few days.
I realized how crazy it is that I´m in this position. I interviewed another person this week for baptism, and I thought, "Who would ever trust a 19 year old boy who knows nothing about anything to conduct a baptismal interview?" I don´t get it. But apparently God does, and I´m not arguing.
Hey, Happy 4th. I´m ashamed to say that I had forgotten about it completely until a Mexican elder reminded me. That´s ironic. Enjoy the far-away picture of the American consulate in my area, with the flag waving in the distance.
Also, a pic of everyone after a zone-district leader meeting (companions included).
Some bad news--I don´t know if all the letters that I sent have arrived. E. Rivas and I went to the post office recently to send some more, and apparently even the postal workers there don´t have confidence in the "normal" postage, which is how I sent about 10 to everyone at home or in other missions. I´ll have to step it up and start using the super expensive, registered postage now. The only downside is that if I run out of money, I´ll have to start taking money out of my account from home so I don´t starve in the morning.
The good news is that I did get some other letters.
Please thank Bro. Robbins for his quote the last time Dad and I home taught them before I left--"You don´t have to be the best, just be the Lord´s."
I also realized the other day that my farewell talk starts out exactly like the definition of "Hope" in True to the Faith. I swear, I didn´t plaigarize.
There´s a story here that a missionary was crossing the street in the summer and the rubber in his shoes got glued to the asphalt because it was so hot. That´s comforting.
Anyway--hey, it rained here the other day. A desert storm, with lots of wind, dust, and dirty rain that is AWESOME. Except after it all evaporates and turns into humidity. But that´s fine. It was completely worth it.
Geez, I need to move on with a spiritual experience now. Okay. The family we´re teaching right now is great. We´ve taught a few lessons and they´ve felt the Spirit in each one. We´ve invited members to come teach with us, including some youth, and it is perfect. The only downside is that they won´t be able to come to Church for a few weeks. They want to, but the youngest child (5 years old, crazy like Taylor) got chicken pox. I don´t remember what I had to do, but he´s not going to be able to leave the house for 40 days, until the sickness is entirely gone. Even though that wasn´t that great, we did get to give him a blessing after finding out that he got sick. He has little . . . what´s the scientific name for the things on his skin? Pustules? Well, he has them all over his body, but he´s still running around and wreaking havoc. In a funny way. But we came, and explained to his Mom about priesthood blessings. The son continued to run around, but at the end, his Mom told him to come to the couch she was seated at. I said his name and he looked at me. "We´re going to give you a blessing now, okay? You have to stay really still. We´re going to put our hands on your head, say a few words, and if you´re really quiet and pray with your Mom, you´re going to feel better. Okay?"
He calmed down and we brought a chair over for him to sit in. He kept still, and was quiet. I anointed him, and E. Rivas sealed the anointing and pronounced the blessing. The child was still and quiet the entire time. We finished, and he looked up at us. "Do you feel better?" "Yeah." He was quiet for a few minutes, getting over the sensation of feeling the Spirit, but was soon running around again. That was cool.
Afterwards, the family showed us a ton of art things that they had, some of which they made. That´s when I remembered Glass Art. I told them about it, and they asked what it looked like, especially the Spider-Man window (the kids love Spider-Man). Unfortunately, I have no pictures.
I also interviewed an investigator of the sister missionaries this week. The experience is a little too sacred to put in an email, but it was probably one of the most spiritual experiences in my mission. I was also dead tired afterwards.
Adios, and please continue writing, even if the post here is unreliable,