Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

Sorry this letter is coming so late.  We went to Tapalpa again today and got back a lot later than we should have.  There are a lot of things going on around here out of my control that shouldn't be that I am going to try and take control of this week.  Whew.
Ok.  Well, it was a great week.  Remember J?  Well, his whole family is listening to us intently now.  We put a baptismal date this week with his sister in law , his neice S, his son J, and J's girlfriend D.  When we teach over there, they bring out all the chairs and stools they own and sit in a big semi circle in their living room while we teach standing.  It feels pretty awesome.  We actually had lunch with them on Wednesday, which is when we met D.  She told us she wonders some times if God really does exist, so we had her pray and ask if he did.  She felt the spirit really strong and was there the next day while we taught the plan of Salvation to the whole family.  She had a ton of questions about religion, it blew my mind a little bit (she's 13).  Questions like "Why do we naturally not want to do the will of God?" and "If this life is about falling and getting up again, why don't my parents let me make mistakes?"  She's super interested and we answered all her questions.  She really felt something that first visit and knows the church is true, but her mom is super catholic and she is scared to tell her that she is listening to us, so we are praying really hard for her. 
J is 13 and has never wanted to listen to the missionaries in the least until now.  He is a really smart kid that has been mixed up in the wrong crowd but wants more peace in his life.  We taught him in the chapel one day, and by that I mean I taught him the whole restoration in about 12 minutes while Elder A was in the bathroom.  The poor man was having problems that day.  But anyways, he understood everything really well and has been super excited about everything.  He's reading the Book of Mormon and praying and he said he wants to get baptized because he knows it will make him happy. 
We had an activity Saturday morning.  We invited all the youth to come with us and be missionaries for a day.  We did a little training in the morning, made them their own name tags, and then they came with us to proselyte.  Only 4 people came, including J and C, who both weren't members at this point.  But it went well.  Except that J and one of the other kids that came, Z, are enemies and really hate each other.  So before we did anything, we had a little lesson with those two about the Atonement and had them sort out their problems.  They forgave each other and were companions for the day, and were best friends by the time the activity ended.  That is the power of the Atonement.  It is infinite and eternal and can work miracles in our lives if we are humble enough to use it.  It was a great experience to see this immediate change between two people.  The activity was really fun, we didn't have a lot of appointments that day so we spent a lot of time contacting people in the streets, and by that I mean making 12 and 13 year old kids contact people in the streets.  It was a great way to help J strengthen his testimony--testifying that our message is true to a bunch of random people he doesn't know. 
We had C's baptism that night.  J, J, V, and S came.  It went well.  Elder A baptized her and I did the confirmation yesterday in church.  It was a great experience.  She really felt great when she got baptized (obviously). 
When we went to a Cyber cafe to print out the programs for C's baptism, the girl helping us asked us if the baptism was in Sayula.  We told her yes and explained who we are and what we do and put an appointment for the next day.  She said she would like that.  We went over to teach her and she is super escogida!  Her name is J, and she told us that she is looking for spiritual guidance in her life and that no church that she has gone to has really satisfied that.  We taught her the restoration and it all made sense to her.  We put a baptismal date for December 29th and she accepted it and said she would come to church this week (the lesson was Sunday afternoon).  She is in college and lives in Ciudad Guzman during the week, so we only will be able to teach her Saturdays and Sundays, but hey, I am not complaining.  I love it when God just blesses us with someone like that out of nowhere. 
We have been having challenges with our Branch President.  I am not going to go into details, but he doesn't treat the members with a whole lot of love and is making it really hard for this branch to progress.  And when we give him suggestions, he gets mad and thinks we are trying to challenge his authority.  It has been a struggle.  Pray a lot for him to change his heart.  He is the man with the keys to run this branch, and we have to act under his direction, but the way is doing things really has been difficult to deal with, both for us, the members, and the investigators.
Today we went to Tapalpa with the Zone leaders.  They slept over at our house last night, 4 of us in two beds, in other words, nobody slept.  We hiked to a waterfall, but it took 2 hours to hike there and back, and with the travel time that it takes to hitchhike to Tapalpa from here and the two meals the members insisted on feeding us, it was a long day.  But I took some really cool pictures that I'll send you some time. 
It was a big week. If C's brother I really works hard this week, he could get baptized this saturday.  Speaking of which, I am going to need white pants and a white tie for baptisms.  There isn't an extra pair here, and I probably won't survive the whole mission without baptismal clothes.  What would be the best way to get them?  Could you send me some, or is that out of the question?  Let me know.  Also, Dad, email probably is the best way to send music to me.  Thanks!  Also, that memory card you sent me in the package didn't make it past the mailroom, so I bought one here. 
I love you all!  Pray for me a lot this week, there is a lot of work to do here.  I love you all a lot! 
-Elder Pew

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19th, 2012

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Timo!  Ya puedes fumar, casarte, divorciarte, e ir a la misión.  Sugiero que escojas la última.  Pero en serio, ojalá que fuera un día excelente para tí.  Disfruta tu tiempo en la prepa y preparate bien para la misión.  Tendrás éxito, estoy seguro.  ¡Te amo!
Zane, you get a happy birthday in English!  Yes!  Have a super awesome birthday on Saturday!  9 years of being a pompeeface, how does it feel?  Chile con carne, me gusta.  Love you!
That's super awesome that you met Elder Heath.  He's super great!  I really wish he was here right now.  That really made me so happy that you got to talk to him. 
I got the first Christmas package with the stockings this week.  Thank you very much!  I loved the cookies especially.  Also, thanks to the Cleveland family for the Christmas package!  I'm assuming I'm not supposed to open it until Christmas, so I won't unless I receive further instruction.
It was a hard week again.  We have a lot of appointments, but I don't feel like we are really teaching a whole lot of people who actually care.  We only had one investigator in church yesterday.  His name is J.  He is living with a less active member (they aren't married) and he's a member of some other church, but as the missionaries have been working with his not-wife, he has gotten a little more interested.  We explained the restoration to him and it seemed to make sense.  He accepted a baptismal challenge but we can't really put a date because him and V will have to get married first, and that could take months to sort out here in Mexico.  But he's cool.
T didn't get baptized.  I'm kind of at a loss of what to do about her right now other than just wait, because she can't read and still doesn't remember who Joseph Smith is, even though we've taught the restoration twice.  Patience, patience.  She does have a really strong desire to follow Christ and has received multiple answers from the Holy Ghost that the church is true, and she has come to church a bunch of times.  Not really sure why she didn't come yesterday, but I´m guessing she probably just forgot since we couldn't visit her Friday or Saturday. 
C should get baptized this Saturday.  We've taught her everything and she is still reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day.  She couldn't come to church yesterday because her family went somewhere, but if all goes well, she should still get baptized.  So that's good.  I do really enjoy teaching her. 
Elder A is nice and he loves me, but he really wants to make sure I do things right and doesn't let me make mistakes.  That's been a little bit discouraging sometimes, realizing how many weaknesses I still have and how far I still have to come.  I'm learning a lot of humility here, and patience.  I want to run before I can walk, I guess you could say.  And all this has made me a little too worried about what I´m doing and less focused on the people and what they need to hear.  I´ve kind of back fired on myself a little bit.  I don't know.  I've been praying a lot for help, but it's going to take some time.  I know I'm supposed to be here and that I need to go through this to become a better person and to be able to help more people.  
In other news, I tried tongue tacos this week.  Yep, cow tongue tacos.  They were fantastic!  I really did like them a lot.  Elder Heath really missed out by never trying them because he was too scared.  Next on my list are eyeball tacos and lip tacos.  I can´t decide which I should be more scared of...
So there is this little town about an hour from here up higher in the mountains that is also in our area.  It's called Tapalpa.  It kind of reminds me of Park City, just more Mexican.  There are a few inactive members up there, and one family that comes to church whenever they have the money to pay for the bus ride down here.  We went and hung out with them today with two other missionaries in our zone.  They have a little ranch resort thing, so we went and walked around.  How did we get there?  Hitchhiking.  Not even joking.  As if it wasn't dangerous enough in the United States...  But it was fun.  Very cold, but fun.  Things like that just make me love Mexico.  That we can ride in the back of three different random trucks to get where we want to go and it's not even a big deal.
Picture from Zone Conference, Taran's companion is on the right.


Love this one!
I'm sorry if this letter seems a little discouraging.  I'd like to say that things are getting better, I really hope they are, but it's a process.  I know my Heavenly Father put me here for a reason, he knows me perfectly and he knows what I need.  Jesus Christ is my Savior and His Atonement can work miracles in my life.  It already has, and it will again.  This is His church and His work that I am doing, and if we are on His side we cannot fail.  I love you all!  Have a great week!

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

What a long week.  Wow. 
This is a very different place than the city.  Very calm, less...busy.  Like, we can meet with our investigators every day, the members have time to come with us, it's cool.  Also, did I forget to mention that we have bikes?  Pretty fun, but my legs are on fire always.  Naturally, I got landed with a tiny, Mongoose bike like the one I had when I first learned how to ride, and pedaling that little thing all over the rocky streets of this little town is hilariously painful.  But the weather is amazing, the mountains are absolutely gorgeous, I like it. 
Elder Armengol is a horse.  The man works and works and works.  Apparently, his previous companion didn't want to do anything, and now he's bursting out of his cage.  They normally had about 5 or 6 lessons with a member each week.  This week we had 18.  I'm learning a lot from him.  Obviously, there is a reason I am here.  It's sad to be away from Auditorio, but God wants me here and I'm going to find out why. 
So being in a branch is a lot different than being in a ward.  For example, this sunday I spoke in sacrament meeting, played piano, prepared the sacrament, and taught primary.  Which is all fine, except for the primary part.  THose kids are a lot of work.  They combined the whole primary this week because the primary president just moved to mexico city (I don't blame her at all) and the other primary teacher went inactive (I do blame her).  They were like a bunch of 4 foot whirling dirvishes.  I don't even know what a whirling dirvish is, but that's what they were like.  Sheish.  Anyway, this branch really lacks priesthood leadership, there are only a handful of active men, and half of them are recent converts who don't really know anything.  So that will really be the challenge here.  We are focusing more on the members than the investigators right now.  President Wagner said that if the attendance in the branch stays where it is at about 70 from now until december, they will construct a chapel here in Sayula.  Right now we are meeting in a rented out building.  It's beautiful and serves its purpose fine, but still, who doesn't want a chapel?  So we are using that to motivate the members to come to church and to come with us to lessons, because we have a new mission rule that we can no longer teach investigators without a member present unless the lesson is in the chapel.  No member, no lesson.  Pray for the members here that they can be strengthened.  We have been going around every day teaching them whatever we learned in our personal study in the morning, and it has been pretty effective.  A marvelous work is about to come forth here. 
I got sick this week.  Tamales again, dang it.  Better stay away from those.  I spent two nights on the toilet with diarrhea.  But speaking of food and the perks of Sayula, there are two members that own bakeries and one with a taco stand, so we pretty much have free reign of mexican pastries and tacos whenever we want.  So great.
We might have a baptism this week.  Her name is T and she has been going to church for a long time, but she has a really hard time understanding things.  It is hard for her to progress because she can barely read the Book of Mormon and still doesn't get how to pray.  It has taken a lot of patience.  Pray for her please!  We have a baptismal date for the 24th also, a 13 year old girl named C.  She is friends with some members and has also been coming to church for a while now.  We have taught her almost all the lessons this week and she is progressing really well. 
I just want to take a minute to tell you how much I love you.  Mom, Dad, thank you for being faithful members of the church who raised me well so I can be happy.  I have been so blessed and I know it is because of decisions you made when you were my age and younger to choose the right and serve the Lord.  It has been really hard to be all of a sudden sacked out of an area and away from the members, missionaries, and investigators that I loved so much, and to come here where I have no friends, no idea what is going on, and no one else who speaks English other than my Heavenly Father.  I have been a little homesick this week, I am not going to lie, and I don't want to be like that.  I want to be totally focused and consecrated to the Lord.  What did you do in situations like that?  I have definitely been praying a lot and learning lots of patience and humility, but I still don't feel...satisfied?  I don't want to be so focused on me and how I feel, I want to care more about the people here.  Advice? Pray for me please.
Timo, enjoy your last week of childhood!  Keep being strong in the gospel.  Read the Book of Mormon and pray every day.  You are going to be an amazing missionary, I know it.  Set a good example for the little guys.
Emily, keep being the wonderful person you are.  Smile, be a friend to everyone like you already do, and Heavenly Father will use you to bless many lives. 
Izak, you have the priesthood.  Honor it, be a good boy and listen to mom and dad.  You will be a great example to your friends and little brothers.
Micah and Zane, listen to the Holy Ghost.  He will help you make good decisions.  I love you!
Gwen, you're so great!  Smile, be nice to your brothers and your friends, pay attention in primary.  Be ready when it's time to get baptized in two years. 
I love you!  I pray for you every day!  Trust in God and in Jesus Christ.  He is your Savior, and through him, we can live together forever!  Have a great week!
Elder Pew
PS somebody tell Steph happy birthday this Saturday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 5th, 2012

C's baptism

Awesome family they have been teaching.

Another great family they were teaching.

A member's dune buggy thing--I told him I wanted a photo of it!
The baptism of G.

*We got this late and then we had internet problems.

Guess where I am right now?  Not in Guadalajara.  I´m in Sayula.
Where is Sayula?  Why am I here?  I´m wondering the same things. 
Basically, we had an amazing week.  Last week, a woman named M came to church with us.  Her daughter just got baptized in another part of the city, and she came with her husband to our chapel to introduce her mom to the church.  Obviously, we went and visited her and it was awesome.  We met her other daughter, A, who told us she was confused about all the different churches in the world and wanted to know which was true.  What?!  Yeah, super great.  So they were super cool.  Also, we went with R, J, and M, met their other sister/daughter, also super awesome and already wants to get baptized!  We found E again, he's still awesome.  The N family is still super converted and C didn't drink any coffee.  Things were going great. 
Then Wednesday we visited G to do the reteaching with her.  
We had to do divisions on Friday and because we had Canciano's baptismal interview that day, Elder Sosa went with Elder Heath and I went with Elder Brighton, who has just as much time in the mission as me.  Kind of crazy, right?  But it was awesome!  He is incredible, and I learned that it doesn't matter how good I am, if we try our best and follow the Spirit, God makes up the difference.  We taught the plan of salvation to a guy named J and put a baptismal date for him!  It was great.  Elder Brighton is now not only district leader, but he is also training a new missionary.  He is going to be the prophet.
C passed his interview and got baptized Saturday morning.  It was great!  He's a great guy, and he was really happy.  They interviewed him right after the baptism for the priesthood, too.  He got it yesterday in church.
Yesterday was absolutely incredible.  We had 9 investigators in church!!!  Which ties the record for Elder Heath's entire mission.  J, R, and the new sister M came, along with the N family, A, and a new girl that a member brought named C.  We have been so blessed this week!  So grateful.  But not only did we have all these investigators there, it was also the most incredible testimony meeting I have ever been in in my entire life!  The feeling in there was just incredible.  There was an enormous line of people to bear there testimonies, youth, children, and adults, and it was all very, very spiritual and very powerful.  I can't even describe how amazing it was and the love that I felt for each one of those people in there.  It was really bittersweet, having to leave all these people but knowing that we left the area strong.  Elder Heath left at about 3:45 for the mission office, and I hung out with Elder Quilumba, our zone leader, who also was trained by elder Heath and who´s companion also went home this week. 
His new companion.
I found out last night that I would be transferred to Sayulah in the Ciudad Guzman zone.  Sayulah is a little town way up in the middle of the mountains about 2 hours south of Guadalajara.  It's really cool, it's not super rural or poor or anything, lots of nice little parks, skinny little streets, and surrounded by beautiful, green mountains.  Also, the weather is incredible.  It's one of the coldest areas of the whole mission.  There are about 60-70 active members here in the branch.  Oh by the way, I'm the second counselor in the branch presidency.  My companion Elder Armengol is the first counselor.  He's super excited and seems like a really hard worker. He has two transfers more than me in the mission and he is from Oaxaca.  He's been a member for 2 years now and he's 23.  There's a lot of work to do here, but we're going to have success. 
Well, that's my crazy week.  It's been really hard to leave Auditorio and start over where I don't know anyone or know what's going on, but I know I am here for a reason and if we work hard, we'll be blessed.  I'm going to need a lot of prayers this week, for me, for this area, and for the investigators that we left in Auditorio.  I love you all and I know this is the true church.  Be good so we can be an eternal family! 
Elder Pew
PS  thanks for the packages, I got the Halloween and Thanksgiving ones this week.