Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 16 & 23, 2013 and photos!

On his way to his new area he met up with these missionaries in the office.  Handsome group!
View of the town from their apartment
 December 16, 2013

Answers to questions:  It's Nahuatl (nawattle) and no, I'm not learning any other words in that language.  The only other one I know is Quetzalcóatl, which means feathered serpent or something like that.  Our Elders Quorum president is a high school history teacher, so he knows the whole history of the town and told me what C meant.  

I email from a normal cyber cafe .

I have taken pictures of all kinds of nutsy things but my camera never wants to connect itself to any of the computers here.  What I have to do to send pictures is ask for them to lend me an adapter for my memory card to connect it to the USB port, and so far I haven't found a cyber café that has one yet.  

There's a Bodega Aurrerá here, which is basically like Kholers (grocery store), so they probably sell baby powder there.  We'll see.

There's a military base in M so lots of people work there.  A lot of people work in the coconut farms and the processing factories also.  All the coconut trees are an amazing sight here.  Miles and miles and miles of coconut trees are all that can be seen from some of the tallest hills here.  

I'm going to skype, but I don´t know with who or from where.  This Sunday were transfers, you see, so we didn't plan anything yet.  But let me know if there's a certain time that would be easier for you and I'll let you know next Monday.  

Things I forgot to mention last week:  I bought new shoes.  My old ones are completely dead.  Ripped holes in the sides where the sole connects with the rest of the shoe, and the shoelaces are also completely destroyed.  Thank you C.  The new ones were like 600 pesos, so about 50 dollars and they are way comfortable and I'm 90% sure they'll last till I finish my mission.  But if they leave me here for a long time, who knows.  Also, they were totally playing "Dominic the Donkey" in the store where I bought them.  A nice, hilarious surprise.  I was a little embarrassed to be the only person in the store who knew the song.  

This was a great week.  Monday night we went to visit the D family.  They have about a year in the church and have been inactive the last few months.  We taught them the Restoration and at the end the Dad started telling us about all the doubts he had.  The Jehovah´s witnesses had been coming over, so he was pretty dang confused, but instead of answering his questions, we just kneeled down and told him to ask God if the Book of Mormon is true.  He did and EVERYONE felt the answer come.  Even his daughter's non-member husband, M. He thanked us and told us that they would go to church on Sunday, but then Sunday came and they didn't.  So we went over that night, not really having any idea of what we could teach them.  We decided to start reading in the Book of Mormon with them, but they told us that they had been reading, so we were clueless as to what to teach.  They didn't really have a specific reason for not going to church, so we just started asking questions and let the Spirit do its work.  I asked them how they felt about their testimonies.  The dad said he felt good, he knew the church is true and he didn't doubt.  The daughter, D, said she was confused and a little sad because of the trials she is going through right now.  I shared 1 Corinthians 10:13 with her and explained that God will never let her be tried or tempted more than what she can resist.  Elder M then shared Alma 7:11-12 and explained that Christ had suffered for her sins, afflictions, pains, and sorrows so that he could help her.  I then explained that we receive help from Christ through the Holy Ghost, and we read 3 Nephi 18:1-7, 12 to show them that they can receive the Holy Ghost by taking the sacrament and renewing their baptismal covenant.  It all just clicked in their minds-totally guided by the Spirit.  They understood this time why they should be going to church and committed to do it this week.  Also, we were smart and put another appointment this Thursday to check up on them.  It was a great experience.  

Tuesday we had zone class, and we talked about the Book of Mormon.  It was awesome.  It's a small little zone, there's only 23 missionaries here, compared to the 28 that there were in Union.  Afterwards, we had a lesson with V and M.  We read 3 Nephi 11 with them, and their daughter, C was there.  When we read the part where Christ explains to the Nephites how they should be baptized, she was impacted.  I think the Spirit taught her in that moment that she should be baptized in that way, and ever since she's been golden.  We went back Saturday and she looked more excited.  She brought her husband and her three kids to church on Sunday and surprisingly her husband seems pretty open too.  His name is V and he invited us over Tuesday to start teaching the whole family.  They'll have to get married before they can get baptized, but anything's possible.  

Wednesday we visited a less active member named Y.  She's about 32, she grew up in the church but is now an active member of some other church and is sure that it's true.  We tried to teach her the Restoration, but she wouldn't let us.  Instead of trying to fight, we just pulled out the Book of Mormon and said something like this.  "Y, this is the proof that the Church of Jesus Christ was restored through Joseph Smith.  On this page, there's the testimony of three people who saw an angel who showed them the plates.  They heard the voice of God declaring that the book is true.  Here is the testimony of 8 other people who saw the plates and testify that Joseph Smith was the person called of God to translate them.  This is the testimony of Joseph Smith, who gave his life for this work.  The first prophet that wrote this book also gave us his testimony..."  we then opened up to 2 Nephi 33:10-11, where Nephi tells us that what he wrote were the words of Christ, and that we will see him face to face before the judgment seat of God and will know that he was commanded to write these words.  After that, we gave our own personal testimonies that the Book of Mormon is true.  Then we kneeled down and she asked God if it was true, and stayed silent for 5 minutes afterwards crying.     

Thursday was Virgin Day.  Lots of parties, nobody to teach. (they aren't allowed to go out around large crowds).

Friday I turned 18 months in the mission, and it was kind of a slow day also.  

Pinatas from the Christmas Party
Saturday we had our branch Christmas party.  M, C, another one of M's daughters, some non-member friends that different members brought, and another investigator named G all went.  It was great.  Our branch president started out with a talk about Christmas, then the Elders Quorum president read the story of Christ's birth from the Bible, then the Branch President's first counselor sang a few Christmas carols and played his guitar.  Yes, we were already best friends, so he invited me to sing a few songs with him since he was a little sick.  It was fun. Afterwards, the childrens broke open some piñatas and we ate carne asada.  Delicious.  It was a great chance for me to get to know some of the members a little better, and it was a really good spiritual experience for the investigators that went.  As mentioned, C brought her husband and kids the next day to church and G also came.  Sunday were transfers, and we weren't too worried but you never know these days.  We'll be staying together another transfer, but this time I'm going to be district leader again.  It was a nice two week break.  It should be a great transfer, we should hopefully have some baptisms and help the branch grow a little more.  

Thank you everyone for all the love and support; the letters, packages, and prayers.  I couldn't do it without you.  This work is God's work and this is His church.  It's been an absolute pleasure to be on the front lines seeing how He does business these last 18 months, and I'm sure the next 6 will be full of miracles as well.  Have a great Christmas break, enjoy the weather (haha), and we'll talk next week!  Love you all!

Elder Pew
Iguana in the tree

Coconut trees
December 23rd, 2013

Obviously I remembered Quetzalcòatl from my dinosaur days, which is why I investigated a bit to find out what it meant.  

This cyber cafe has what I need!  Pictures will be attached (above)!  The thing is pretty darn expensive, it's just a matter of finding who will lend it to me.  

Yes they have a big parade on virgin day, plus a lot of indian dances, mass, and who knows what other things.  We do everything possible to avoid it--the missionary handbook says to stay away from big crowds of people.  

Tuesday was district class and the first one with my new distict.  It's a big district--8 missionaries.  The zone leader, two other elders, two sisters, and us.  They're all really great missionaries and we're going to have a lot of success.  That night we had a lesson with V and C.  We taught them the restoration and they literally pulled out a pen and notebook and were writing down everything we said!  They accepted the baptismal challenge, and V said the closing prayer. After the prayer, C and her dad both told us that they had seen a light during the prayer coming from where I was sitting.  Kind of different, but they took it as an answer that the church is true.  V said he felt something good fill him up.  It was sweet.  

Wedneday we had the Mission Christmas party in C.  It was a blast, I got to see a lot of old friends.  Sister L was there and showed me a picture of M's baptism--the guy we contacted in an ice cream shop in E!  He's going to baptize his wife and daughter this Saturday!  I may have more companions than baptisms at this point, but I've left a lot of baptisms behind and it feels good to know that these people follow through with what I have taught them. We also had a training for district leaders, and I loved a quote from President Wagner: "The Leader doesn't have to be the god of everyone else.  He just has to help everyone else look unto God."  It's just a lot easier and effective that way.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, R, Breton's (Taran's friend from our neighborhood) cousin, is in the same zone as me now.  We'll be seeing each other at least once a month in zone class.  Finally.  

Thursday we had another lesson with V and C, and this time we were able to snag their 12 year old daughter, M, and teach her too.  We taught the Plan of Salvation, hoping it would help them to decide to get married so they could be baptized.  It worked.  V said at the end of the lesson "I really do want to get baptized, because I have a lot of sins.  So we're going to do everything we can to get married before January 25th so we can get baptized that day."  Awesome.  Then C said the closing prayer.  In the prayer she prayed to know how to help her daughter and how to better understand her.  At the end of the prayer, M was crying, and when her mom saw that, she started crying too.  When we left they were hugging each other and still crying.  It was such a beautiful experience.  The power of family prayer.  

Friday we went to M and found a new less active named F.  She's had a lot of economical problems lately and after listening to her talk for about 10 minutes straight about it, we shared 3 Nephi 13:31-33 and told her to stop worrying about those things.  We invited her to pray for help and she also ended up crying at the end of the prayer.  She wants to come back to church but she needs a lot of help getting there since she lives in another town.  

Saturday we had another lesson with V and C, but only their daughter M and C's mom, M, were there.  We read 1 Nephi 8 and talked about why it is important to read the Book of Mormon every day.  We brought her Jr. High teacher with us (our Elder's Quorum President) and that helped a lot.  She is really smart and super excited about everything we've been teaching her.  

Sunday was almost a record breaking day--C, V, M, M, V, and their granddaughter N all came to church, plus G made 7 investigators!  They took up a whole row to themselves!  And the members were great with them!  The talks were by two recently graduated young women who had just received their medallions and they were amazing.  The youth Sunday School teacher had to leave after sacrament meeting and assigned me to teach the class, just like old times in S.  I assigned all of them, including M and N, scriptures to read and explain to the class about missionary work, and they all did great!  Even the two who aren't members stood right up and explained their scriptures like it was nothing!  They made great friends there and are all really excited!  Right afterwards, we had to go to M because there was a district Christmas devotional and they organized a choir of all the missionaries in the zone to sing in it.  We sang like 6 songs and it went really well.  Nobody came from C because it`s kind of far and expensive, but the members there had a great experience.  It really is great to be a missionary during Christmas time.

Tis the season to bear testimony of Christ.  I know He lives, that He atoned for our sins and died so that we all might live.  I know He was resurrected and that He guides and directs His Church today through living prophets.  I know that He loves each one of us and is waiting for us to come unto Him, which we can do by repenting and making covenants.  I know that the Book of Mormon is evidence of His love for all people.  Through His Atonement, my life has changed, which is why I am now His witness.  Oh, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Thanks for all your love and support.  I love you all!

Merry Christmas, 

Elder Pew

***I had him share his testimony of Joseph Smith to share at our annual Joseph Smith birthday party.  Here it is:
I know Joseph Smith was called of God to restore his church.  He saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, received the priesthood from John the Baptist and Peter James and John, and all the keys of this dispensation from Moses, Elijah, and Elias.  He received the Book of Mormon from Moroni and translated by the power of God.  He has done more for the salvation of man than any other person except Christ.  He fulfilled his prophetic mission, sealing his testimony with his blood.  It has been an absolute priviledge to "carry on in so great a cause" and help finish the work he was commanded by God to start.  Thanks to his diligence and faith, we have all been blessed by the restored gospel and have the opportunity to return to live as families with God again.  As my favorite hymn from when I was 2 years old says, "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah.  Death shall not conquer the hero again."  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 2nd & 9th, 2013

December 2nd, 2013

The guy working here in the Cyber cafe lived in Saint George a little while back.  Let's see if he wants to get baptized.

This week was pretty good.  Tuesday was another epic district class.  Try this activity out sometime:  Make a list of the reasons for the Atonement and the functions of the Holy Ghost, and you'll find yourself making the same list twice. The Holy Ghost is the only way to put the Atonement in action in someone's life, which is why it is absolutely necessary that we invite people to be baptized and confirmed in EVERY lesson, or we aren't inviting them to partake of the Atonement.  One of the coolest things the Spirit has taught me on my mission.  I found myself yelling a little bit when I was teaching this.  President Wagner's having an effect on me...

Wednesday we had a weird, awful experience.  We were teaching a lady that we had contacted a few days earlier and it was going really well.  She's was opening up and feeling the Spirit, when suddenly her 9 month old daughter, who was in one of those baby walker things, tipped the thing over and fell on her head.  She was screaming and bleeding and everything, and then the husband came out of his room and yelled at his wife and said a lot of bad words, so we left.  Dang it.  Hopefully she'll be able to receive the gospel soon.  

Friday I was in splits.  I took Elder T to my area this time.  It went really, really well.  We had a lesson with a recent convert, F, and since her husband wasn't going to be home we had to take a priesthood holder with us to the lesson.  We brought J, who was born in Cameroon, raised in France, and married a Mexican and moved here 2 years ago.  He's super awesome, even though he doesn't speak spanish that great.  We had a great lesson and afterwards F gave us two awesome referrals, one of which she is going to invite to the next lesson. Yes!  We were going to have a lesson at 8 with the V family, but they called and said they weren't going to be there.  About 3 minutes later, the young men's president called and asked us if we could go to mutual at 8 and help them do the same activity with the young men that we did in the training with Elder Johnson.  Perfect!  After the lesson with F, we went and taught a SUPER awesome family, the D family.  The dad's an architect, the mom's a professor in ancient Mexican culture (basically "Lamanite Studies"), the 2 oldest sons are DJs and the youngest son is a drummer.  The youngest, H (16), told us he had a friend he wanted to invite to listen to us.  Sweet!  He invited him to mutual and we met him there.  His name is P and he is way cool.  He also went to church on sunday and we put an appointment to visit him this week!

Right before mutual, we had a lesson with a less active named Q.  She's a painter and sells her paintings on sundays, so because of that she hasn't been able to go to church.  When we first met her, she told us that she didn't like the Book of Mormon because it was just the same story over and over again: They behave well, God blesses them, they get prideful and behave bad, he curses them and they repent.  So we left her 3 Nephi 11, hoping she would like it.  She did.  This week when we visited her she told us she's gotten to Mormon, and that she prayed and felt an answer that the Book of Mormon is true.  Yes!  Now we just need to help her develop enough faith to stop working on sundays.  

Saturday a lot of lessons fell through, but sunday was great.  We went to teach a member family after church.  They have 3 sons, ages 8, 4, and 2, and they are wild.  They remind me of Izak, Micah, and Zane (his younger brothers) when they were that age.  So we had a tough challenge putting together a lesson interesting and simple enough that they would pay attention and learn something.  We decided to teach them the Restoration but we had them act it all out.  It was awesome!  Someday we should do it in family night.  

We got a nice little phone call today with special transfers.  Much to my surprise, they told me that I was being transferred to C, which is part of the M district; that Elder H was going to stay here with Elder R (Elder K's companion), and that they still don't know who Elder K's companion is going to be.  But we're pretty sure it's going to be Elder Y, who was in C before his Appendicitis and has been staying here in the office to recover.  I don't know what his companion (my new companion) has been doing the last few weeks, but I think they figured that Elder Y's going to take a little longer to recover and they need someone more permanent in C right now.  I don't know a whole lot about C, but from what I've heard it's a little town on the border of J and C by the coast, it was a closed area for a while and they just recently opened it up at the same time that I was transferred to E.  I'm going tomorrow at three.  It's been a big bummer, because I feel like I was just getting settled in here and I was really loving it in this ward. But I guess I'm needed in another place.  It's a little branch, so we'll see what happens.  I could be there until I finish my mission, or it could be just for the next two weeks until the transfer ends. But I'm going to make the most of it.  

I'm sending pictures 
Have a great week everyone!  Thank you for all the love and support!

A small branch he visited on the weekends.  He loved the people.

Guadalajara Temple

December 9th, 2013

This week's subject line  (Land abundant in women) brought to you by the meaning of "C" (town where is serving now) in the Nahuatl language.  

Well, straight to the good stuff.

Monday was a bittersweet day.  We had a family night scheduled with the bishop's family, and it was amazing.  We taught the restoration and it felt like a bomb of Spirit had gone off in there.  After the lesson, through tears, I explained to them that I would have to leave the next day.  They were all sad.  But the bishop told me that even though I had only been there for 6 weeks, I had made a great difference in the ward.  He said that even though we probably haven't noticed, the last 2-3 weeks the members had all been talking about how great missionaries they had in the ward, and that he had heard a lot of good comments about the talk I gave in sacrament meeting.  It felt good to know that I had made a difference.  

Tuesday was weird.  Elder T also had special transfers--another missionary had to go home early so they sent him to his area in S, so at 8:00 we all met in the offices for the great exchange.  I stayed with Elder T, we took my bags to his house and then went to district class.  It was a relief not having to teach it anymore.  After 9 months you kind of run out of ideas.  Afterwards, we took pictures with everyone in the zone, since somehow the rumor had gotten out to everyone and they were all bummed.  The sisters brought cupcakes and we had a little goodbye party.  I was in U for about 7 months and made some of the best friends of my life there, it was sad to see them go.  From there we went to our last meal, we ate in E and it just so happened to be with the C family that day.  It was great, they were one of my favorite families in that ward.  The son J was the assistant ward mission leader and the mom is the stake relief society president and had been with us on a lot of the excursions to T, so I had worked a lot with them.  

From there we took a taxi to President Wagner's house to meet our zone leaders.  It felt like just yesterday I was there being welcomed to the mission.  When we got there, the council had just barely ended so they were all eating, so President Wagner took the opportunity to explain a little bit of the situations we were going to.  He basically just told me that C is a great branch--there's a lot of priesthood and the members are great and that I was going to love it there.  He said I was going to have a very young companion and that I needed to bring him up in the ways of the Lord.  He then talked to Elder T, who is going into a little bit more of a complicated situation. Basically, he explained to us that he needed to send us to these areas because he needed somebody he could trust in both of them.  He also happened to mention that in S a few weeks ago they had a sacrament meeting attendance of 95!  It was at about 60 when I was there, so that's a BIG improvement.  

When they had finished eating, we went with our zone leaders to bus station.  My zone leaders are Elder U and Elder L and they're awesome.  We took a bus from Guadalajara to M, which lasted about 4 hours.  While Elder L slept, Elder U (who is from my generation) and I had a 2 hour long mega companionship study, which was awesome.  We got to M at about 9:00 at night, and when I got of the bus I could feel the heat and humidity.  We went to the Zone Leaders' house and stayed the night there.  When we got there I met my companion, Elder M.  He's 25, from Veracruz, and is a convert of 1 year 8 months.  He has 3 1/2 months in the mission and was still with his trainer when the accident happened, so I'm his second companion (Step-dad). He's new in the church and in the mission so I've got a lot of teaching to do, but he's a really hard worker and is really motivated.  

The next morning we took a bus to C.  It was about 40 minutes and passed right by the beach and then through the middle of the jungle.  And then it stopped in the middle of the jungle and we got out in a little tiny town, which they tell me is C.  I had never seen anything like this in my life.  It´s full of coconut trees, banana trees, iguanas, frogs, lizards, etc.  It is very hot and humid here, and this is winter.  I'm sweaty and sticky all the time.  Most of the streets are unpaved and made of sand.  The silly person who designed this town put the centro right under the hills and constructed the rest all over them, so it's basically an all day hike that we do here.  It's definitely a lot more of what you'd expect to see in Mexico--lots of poverty, but the people are very happy and friendly.  Religion is more of a topic here--not like S and G where everyone is Catholic.  There are a lot of Catholics but a lot more of other religions also, and people are more willing to listen.  Our area covers three different towns--C, B, and M.  B and M are right on the beach and there are a good chunk of members there, too.  They're about 25 minutes away and we go once or twice a week in bus.  Our house is in a 3 story building, the 2nd and third stories are ours.  On the second floor we sleep, eat, and study, and on the 3rd floor we have a washing machine and a dryer!  Can I just tell you how beautiful that is?  The downside is that we don't have running water every once in a while (like today) so we have to save it in buckets to be able to bathe ourselves.  

The members are AWESOME!  There is a lot of priesthood and almost all the leadership positions are filled.  There's a branch president, his counselor, secretary, elder's quorum president, his counselor, sunday school president, ward mission leader (awesome!), full and complete relief society presidency, young women's president, young men's president, and primary president.  There are two priests who will be turning 18 and leaving on missions soon and they're also great.  This sunday there were 55 people in church, and we could barely fit everyone in the house of prayer.  There's not a whole lot, but they work hard and do it well.  There's lots of potential.  

This week we were basically just trying to recover all the work that Elder M and Elder Y were doing before they had to leave.  They hadn't baptized anyone, but they were getting close with a few.  We were able to bring 3 investigators to church this week.  V and M went and have gone 4 times now.  The problem is that they're not married.  They're about 50 years old and seem pretty converted, but it's going to be a long process so that M can get divorced to her ex husband and get married to V.  But the Lord will provide the way.  They even came to the Christmas devotional and liked it a lot.  The other investigator was G.  That's been a good name for me on my mission since I've aready baptized two of those, so hopefully she'll be the third.  She lives in M and is the Branch president's first counselor's wife.  They've been married for about a year and have a new born baby.  She's been to church more than 5 times but hasn't felt a sure answer to her prayers yet and seems a little timid about getting baptized because her family is really catholic.  

We also received a basketload of referrals last week (like 16) but when they give referrals in a little town like this, instead of an address they just tell you "You go down this street about 3 or four blocks, turn left at the star-fruit tree, pass by the store, go up the hill, turn right at the corner and on that street in about the 4th or 5th house is where the person lives.  It's a white house with a black gate, there'll be a pitbull barking outside and 4 or 5 blue birds in the tree in front.  Across the street there'll be an old man sitting on the side walk, probably drunk, and if you need help you can ask him, he'll know who it is."  So we haven't been able to find them yet, but we've got a lot of work for this week.  I feel like I've just been sent to this area to enjoy it, for however long I'm here.  It's been an interesting adjustment but I need to learn to be a little more patient.  Nothing the Atonement can't help me overcome.  If there is one thing I've learned on my mission, it's that the Atonement is real.  "I can do all things in Christ, which strengtheneth me."  I love you all and hope you have a great week.  

Con amor, 

Elder Pew

PS Yes mom we are using the advents.  And thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the package, I got it this week.  

PPS  If anyone ends up with Anti monkey-butt powder after all the white elephant parties this year, I'd appreciate it if you'd send it on down.  Thanks.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 25th, 2013

This week's subject line  (Que guchi?) brought to you by Elder R (MTC companion).  He wrote me this week.  Love that guy.  

Well, I hope you like big, long, loaded letters, because you're gonna get one from me in addition to the one that Timo already wrote.  By far the craziest week of my mission.  Here we go!

Monday:  The last normal day of my life that I can remember.

Tuesday:  District class.  It went well.  It had to be a motivating one since some missionaries in the district have had a rough time lately, but I think it helped.  Right after, I went with Elder C, one of our zone leaders, to P in exchanges.  All that we had planned for that day was to look for less active members from the ward lists, but it turned out really well.  We got to a little gated apartment building where supposedly there were members, but it was locked.  We decided to wait a little bit to see if someone came and opened it for us.  A guy showed up selling water, and I felt like we should contact him, so we did.  He almost accepted a visit, but didn't.  But exactly when he left, another guy showed up and we asked him if he was going to open the gate.  He told us that he was the building coordinator and let us in.  We went and knocked on the apartment that was on the list, and a 20 ish year old girl came out, scared that we were there to collect her rent for the month.  After laughing about that situation, we asked if she knew the person on the list.  She didn't, but when we started to explain that we're missionaries and that we had a message about Christ to teach them, she said, "Oh, come in."  So we did and taught her and her cousin the Restoration.  They understood EVERYTHING it was amazing!  When we taught the apostasy they asked us "Wait, how can we get baptized if nobody has authority to do it?"  YES!  We put a baptismal date for them, but since they're from a little town by the coast, they're going back to visit in December and won't be back until school starts again in February.  So I've been praying that they transfer me to that area before February.  Haha.

Then in the night, we were walking down the street looking for an adress and stopped outside a photography studio because it was the only light we could find to see the list.  A girl walked out of the studio a little weirded out that we were there, but when she saw that we were just using the light, she started moving boxes of christmas ornaments that were there in the sidewalk into the studio.  So we helped her and her sister move all the boxes in and talked to them about the church.  We put an appointment for Saturday night, and Elder C told me yesterday that they went and put baptismal dates with them and their mom.  In the two exchanges that Elder C and I have been on together, we've found three new investigators, put three baptismal dates, and contacted two people that led to three other baptismal dates.  Why aren't we companions?

On Wednesday I went to E with Elder S.  We didn't have quite as much success as the day before, but all the members there love me and are super excited when I go back to visit.  Also, I learned a lot about charity in my personal study that day that I was able to teach to Elder S.  I think it helped.  We have the goal as a mission to do at least 10 contacts every day, every companionship.  They hadn't been doing it the last few weeks, but after the exchanges they were able to meet the goal this week.  

I finally came back to my area Thursday morning and we had weekly planning, lunch, and 3 hours of work before we had to go to the conference with Elder Johnson.  MAN was it good.  He started out on a rant.  He said "How many of you believe that God loves every person in this city?"  And then when everyone raised their hands, he said "I don't believe you.  How many of you have given a referral to the misionaries in the last month?   (about 12 hands went up)  These are the ones I believe!"  He then went on to say, almost yell, that the ONLY reason that God has blessed us to be members of the church and to have recieved the gospel is to take it to other people.  He explained that God's work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, which is the same as the missionaries' purpose, which is the only purpose any of us should have either.  He told the members that it is not their role to decide who is ready to receive the gospel and who isn't.  They have to give the chance to EVERYONE and let the Lord and the missionaries do the rest.  He then divided us into our ward counsels and told us to make two lists:  one of people that came to the members' minds that we could go teach, and another of less actives that they wanted us to visit. He then explained that this is what ward counsel should be like, every week adding more names to the list and planning how to work together with the missionaries to bring them to Christ.  He also gave us instructions as missionaries: never leave a house without teaching a principle from the missionary lessons, and never leave a house without the name of a new person to teach.  We've been really focusing on that and it's gone really well.  So far, we've been able to receive referrals from every single person we have visited since the conference.  Potential.  

Since it was a meeting for all the stakes in G, Elder D and Elder V were both there.  Sounds like everything's going well for them.  Also, there's a few missionaries in our stake who are in little towns outside of the city, and since we had zone conference the next morning at 8:30, two different companionships stayed over at our house that night, one of them being Elder A.  He hasn't changed a bit.  Quite the party.

The zone conference was awesome.  We invited all the bishops and ward mission leaders from the stake to come if they could, and our bishop came for a little bit and absolutely loved it!  President talked a lot about the relationship we have with ward leaders and how we can work together, and then gave our bishop the chance to speak a little bit more.  He basically just told everyone how much he loves the missionaries in his ward and how excited he is to be a part of the work with us.  Love that guy.  Later, President got to the deep doctrine part of the conference and taught us so much in so little time that I´m still having a hard time wrapping my head around it all.  He talked about the Abrahamic covenant and the blessings of eternal marriage, and told us to call him if we felt like being idiots after the mission by not getting married in the temple so that he could talk some sense into us.  It was funny, but he was pretty serious about it. What the heck it just started raining like crazy out of nowhere!  Ah, he also talked about foreordination (I have no idea how to spell that word but you'll get it), patriarchal blessings, the restoration, the Book of Mormon, Malachi 4:5-6, too much to take in at once.  I wish I would have videoed the whole thing. It was awesome.  Anyways, the conference lasted until about 4, so by the end of Friday I had spent a grand total of 12 hours working in my area.  

And Saturday it didn't slow down.  Drum roll please:  I went to T!  I went with Elder K again, and it went really, really well!  We went to visit a family that I hadn't met before.  They have 7 kids, the oldest three are members and there's two others that weren't old enough to get baptized when they pulled the missionaries out, but that are 10 and 9 years old now.  They live with their mom and grandma, the dad is in the US working.  They told us that the oldest daughter, C, who's about 16, has had health problems.  She's had anemia which has also caused problems with her kidneys, and for about a year she's been sick and hasn't been able to go to school.  It's been really hard for them.  We taught them about the Atonement and the Restoration and then Branch President M gave C a blessing.  It was amazing.  They are a really great family.  President M told us that when the family went inactive, C walked to teach by herself every Sunday for about a year until she finally stopped going too.  They all told us that they had read the Book of Mormon and know it's true and that they are going to start reading it again.  They also said that they would go to church on Sunday.  

We also visited the M family and taught them the Restoration.  It was a good lesson, I really like teaching with Elder K.  They didn't make it to church on Sunday though, so it's going to take a little more work with them.  We stopped by quickly to visit another family, where there's about 6 kids that are members but none of the parents are because they are alcoholics.  It was a sad situation to see--all the suffering those parents cause for their children.  But we told them we'd be back the next day to take them to church and they were excited.  

Sunday wanted to fit in so it also decided to be really weird.  Another stake here in G had their stake conference, but they don't have a stake center big enough to fit everyone, so they had it here in our chapel.  Which meant that we had to just have our sacrament meeting, at 8:00 so we could be out of there at 9:15 because the stake conference was going to start at 10, and that we had to be combined with E.  Oh, and just to make it a little crazier, we got a text message from our Bishop during the sacrament hymn asking us if we could help him out since three of the speakers hadn't shown up.  So Elder B, Elder R and I gave improvised talks.  I went first.  It was cool to be able to talk to the two wards sinced I'd served in both of them.  I talked about missionary work, some day I'll give you the details because it was probably the best talk I've ever given. I felt very inspired and got compliments all day about it.  I walked off the stand and out the door with Elder K to catch our ride to T.  As we pulled up to the house of prayer, C and her family were just getting there.  I wanted to cry.  They live WAY on the outskirts of town and walked all the way there to make it to church, despite the sickness.  Amazing.  The other family of little kids also made it, and all in all we had an attendance of 46 people!  It was branch conference, so there were a lot of stake leaders there, but still, it was an amazing sight.  There was no more space in the tiny sacrament meeting room.  11 less actives and 2 investigators showed up, and in the third hour during the priesthood class the Stake president made specific plans to support the branch more so that they can go to the temple, receive visits from stake leaders and the missionaries, and prepare to have full time missionaries.  If they follow through with all that, there could be missionaries there in 2-3 months.  YES!

We got back just in time for more madness.  There was a stake activity that night called "My missionary experiences" and they wanted all the missionaries to sing a special number in it.  We hadn't practiced, so we scheduled a practice at 4:00 on sunday.  We got back from T at 3:55.  After the rehearsal we had just enough time to go back to our area, contact 5 people, receive a referral, and put two appointments for Wednesday before having to run back for the activity. It was a great activity that basically consisted of different members, including Pres. Wagner, sharing experiences that they had had on their mission to try to get the youth excited to serve a mission.  By the time we got to our musical number, everyone in the building was crying.  Great experience.  

And thus ended the craziest week of my life, ah no!  It kept going today.  Apparently there was some law changed that made it so that I had to go back and sign my visa AGAIN, so I spent all day today in the Centro until about 2:00 in the afternoon.  Adios p-day.  But yeah, tomorrow everything should be back to normal.  

I've got to go now!  Have a nice week everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Love you!

Elder Pew
Elder Pew's zone after zone conference

Zone Conference candid shot

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2 Letters November 11th and 18th

November 11, 2013

What a week.  I have never, ever seen so many lessons fall through.  In fact, all of them fell through.  100%.  It was incredible.  Never seen anything like it.  But whatever.  Things will turn around soon.  

Transfers were this week and nothing happened.  Almost our whole zone stayed together, the only change was that Elder S left and Elder B is the new Assistant.  Yep, we're in the same ward again.  This is going to be sweet!

We were able to visit a few less actives this week, and R is still doing great.  The V family didn't go to church and we don't know why, but we're going to try to figure it out soon.  

We had a little training meeting for all the members about the new ward mission plan.  It went great!  The ward mission plan basically is to have all the members pray to know who to invite to a family night, invite them, then to get with the missionaries to plan it and put it together so that we are all on the same page.  The members are way excited and I am sure it was inspired and is going to work.  Lots of members from our area went, which was comforting since there's not a lot and we desperately need their help right now.  

We had the primary program this week in church and it was so great.  I had always spent all my life looking for the funny things that go on without really appreciating it for what it is.  I about cried like 4 times.  Also, we had an all time sacrament meeting attendance record this week--208!  Love this ward!

I went to E again this week, with Elder S this time.  We got to visit L and C and a few other people that I taught while I was there.  It was great to see them again and remember how much I love them.  They're going to stick with 4 missionaries in E for at least one more transfer.  Sounds like M and his family and doing great, and there's a super awesome Chilean family that lives close to them who has been helping with the teaching.  Hopefully they get baptized this transfer so I can go!

We were going to go to T this week, but we couldn't find members to stay with our companions.  It´s a little rough since Elder K and I have the assignment and we're in the same ward now.  The zone leaders said that they are going to change the assignment this transfer so that they're not two missionaries from the same ward, so we'll see if I get to keep going or not.  

Good thing I'm in Mexico, missing out on all the embarrassment in the world of the Jazz.  Unfortunately, the Mexican soccer team's been pretty embarrassing too.  I don't know if you all heard, but Mexico got down to their last World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica and either had to win or the US had to beat Panama to qualify.  They lost, so the US was their only hope, and they were losing the whole game by one goal, when in the last 2 minutes they scored two to win and keep Mexico's World Cup hopes alive.  Thanks to that, all the Mexicans love me now.  I'll be walking down the street, contacting, or teaching people and they'll tell me thank you for helping them make it to the World Cup.  It's good I guess, something had to happen so that the Mexicans starting loving Gringos.

Well, that's about all for this week!  I love you all!  Thanks for everything!

Elder Pew

November 18, 2013
It is getting really, really hard to write in English.  My companions have told me that I even sleep-talk in Spanish, so it's going to be rough to undoe this mess.  Ya que.

We had a great week.  It was super, super cold Wednesday through Saturday.  Like, in the 40s, which is ridiculous.  I haven't felt so much cold since Ciudad G.  They tell me it even snowed in T on Saturday.  Nutsy.  And because of that, there has been absolutely nobody to talk to in the streets, but on the plus side, everyone's in their house.  Today's been back to normal, about 78 and sunny.  Loving it here!

So this week something super funny happened.  It turns out that Elder K, the couple missionary that helps in the mission offices, was trying to order 25 packages of the Law of Chastity pamphlets and accidentally ordered 25 boxes! (each package has about 25 pamphlets, and each box has about 20 packages. Do the math.)  We are absolutely overloaded with the Law of Chastity, and since we live near the offices, they made us take two boxes home from zone class on Tuesday.  I think it was inspired.

Today is some kind of holiday here, and because of that Mexico decided to do its own version of Black Friday this weekend.  Wal-Mart was absolutely loco today.  But on the plus side, Tacos al pastor were 50 percent off.  Glory, glory, hallelujah!

We had a good week.  We found L, M, and Y again.  L's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying and seems a little more sincere now and more willing to change.  It's all starting to make sense for him.  And even though he was a referral from a member who lives about 4 hours from here, we've been able to get a lot of support from the ward.  Our ward mission leader had the brilliant idea to give the members a teaching record when they come with us to the lessons and commit them to watch over the progress of the investigator we visit.  It's made things a lot easier, because even though L doesn't have any member friends in this ward, we've found two members that are now in charge of acting as if they had given us the referral.  They come with us to every lesson and check up on him when we can't.  And the best part is that one of them was kind of inactive when we starting doing this but he's been to church the last two weeks now and is super excited to do missionary work.  Things are going well and we are really trying to get all the members involved in the work, whether it's with referrals or with helping us teach.  We've got some good prospects too.  One family told us that they have been praying for the chance to share the gospel with a neighbor, and another family told us that they are planning to invite a ton of non-member friends to the baptism of their two 8 year old daughters.  It is impossible that things don't pick up soon, and in a big way.  
We also found an awesome new investigator named M.  She's about 33 and has two kids, a 13 year old boy and a 9 year old girl.  We found her trying to help someone fix their car.  We offered to help, and then contacted them and she told us that she was widowed three years ago when her husband died of cancer.  We went over Saturday night and taught her the Restoration, and when we invited her to be baptized she said "Of course!"  The only problem is that she works on Sundays and can't come to church.  But that's where the Lord intervenes.  Her baptismal date is December 28th.

This week is going to be awesome.  We have splits with the zone leaders on Tuesday, and with E on Wednesday.  We have a training meeting on Thursday with the Area president of Mexico, Elder Daniel Johnson, for all the missionaries and ward council members.  Friday is Zone Conference and I have a feeling that it's going to be one of those, when president just leaves us all flabbergasted by his wisdom.  So yeah.  I'm pumped.

Explanation of picture
Ultimate Frisbee on P-day

Last Monday we went to the Metropolitan park to play Ultimate.  We played M area  vs. E area, but since it wouldn't be fair to put the two sisters on the same team, I traded teams with Sister L since I was in E before and she was in M.  Needless to say, Elder T and I led the E team to a thumping 13-5 victory.  I have never had so much fun playing ultimate.  Elder H (companion) is the skinny one doing a thumbs up with the green shirt.  

Thanks for the package and all the support.  I love you all!  Have a very happy birthday Zanzibar Zane Alexander Pompeeface Jr. Pew IV.  You've become like the Mexicans, who all have about 4 or five names.  The funny thing is, in the US when you ask a little kid what his name is, he just tells you "Timmy" or something like that, but here you ask a 4 year old what his name is and he tells you "José Eduardo Moisés Ramirez Cholán."  Mouthful.  Anyways, back to the point--have an absolute blast turning 10, Pompeeface!  I think this sunday you graduate to Pompeeface Sr.  Happy birthday, little goofball.  I love you!

Have a great week!

Elder Pew

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 4, 2013

The subject line has a story behind it. "Elders? He wants to get baptized!"
We ran out of things to do one day this week, and after contacting around where we were, we decided to go to a different part of our area.  We didn't know why, but we headed that way.  At the first corner there was a couple, and as we got closer, the girl saw our name tags and said what I put in the subject line.  Awesome!  She's a member from a little town, A, and her friend, L, who we found her with, lives in our area.  He has a lot of problems, and a lot of repentance to do, to put it simply.  We visited him Sunday and it's going to be a lot of work, but he's willing to change. He has a baptismal date for December 21st.  Yes!

Y´s doing pretty well.  She was sick this week so she couldn´t make it to church.  Bummer.  But we'll keep trying.  That's always the hardest part.  We found another investigator with the same member who gave us the referral to visit Y.  Her name is M.  Sunday we found out that she had just barely moved in with that family, so we asked them to present her to us and they did.  We taught her Wednesday and Thursday and she's way cool. She's from S, she's about 23, and very very open.  Her member friend forgot to take her to church this week, whoops, but this week she's committed.  

Another day, we were teaching a less active outside his bike repair shop, and one of his friends showed up and said "Are you talking about God?  I want to listen!"  and he sat right down and listened.  His name is A and he is also super awesome.  We're going to try and see if we can visit him again this week.  

Friday night we decided to pass by a family we had contacted and put a lesson with on Saturday to confirm the appointment.  We got there and found a bunch of kids.  They have four, ages 6, 9, 13, and 15,  We decided to go in and say a prayer with them.  After the prayer, the 15 year old girl asked us if we could say a prayer for her baby who was sick.  So we explained to them what a priesthood blessing is and gave one to the baby.  It was a great experience, I wish we would have had a member with us so that we could stay a little longer and teach a real lesson.  They weren't going to be home Saturday so we still haven't been able to teach them, but I've already fallen in love with this family.  

Saturday night we contacted two women on a park bench.  One of them is about 50 and the other about 28. They were super awesome!  Both of them told us that they like visiting other churches, that they've seen our temple and have been interested, and basically they're  both looking for the truth!  We taught them about families, invited them to church, and put appointments during the week.  They didn't go on Sunday, but whatever.  We're excited to go teach them this week.  

This ward is da bomb.

The V family went to church again!  So great!

Yes this week is transfers, I highly doubt anything changes in our companionship, other than maybe they release me as district leader because it's been about 7 months now.  But we'll see. 

I got to go now!  This week I really learned that faith leads to miracles!  I'm loving it here and I'm excited to have even more success this week!

Hasta luego!  Les amo a todos!

Elder Pew

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 28th, 2013

Well, hey everyone!  That's cool that it's Halloween this week.  Didn't remember.  But that's good news because it means that Día de los Muertos is also this week, and pan de muerto is so delicious.  Have fun!

We had a good week.  We've mostly got our area down now and I really like it.  This is the most beautiful city in the world and I am absolutely in love with it.  It is going to be really, really hard to say goodbye.  Luckily I won't have to for a little while.  

The V family is doing great!  They made it to church this week and we're going to go visit them soon.  They've been saying their family prayers and reading the Book of Mormon and they seem...different.  More light in their countenances.  It's been great to see.  And it's helped us gain confidence with the Bishop since he told us to go visit them.  We also met another less active member, actually, a lot, but another one that went to church.  His name is R, the assistents had been working with him, and they told us to go visit him and teach the Plan of Salvation.  We went and he asked a basketload of questions, but we were able to answer them and share a powerful message about the Atonement.  It all just worked out way to well.  Obviously it was the Spirit because we transitioned it right in to the Sacrament and invited him to church and he said yes.  It was awesome.  

I had splits with the Zone Leaders this week.  I stayed in our area with Elder C.  He's a lot of fun.  We spent a long time looking through all the drawers and closets to find all the weird things the sisters had left in the house through the years.  I could not write a hundredth of the things which were seen, but sufficeth me to say that they were strange and of curious workmanship.  Also, we found an awesome investigator that day.  We met a member from our area and she told us that the missionaries had been teaching a friend of hers that lived about 2 blocks away.  She called her right then and invited her over to listen to us, and she came!  We taught her the Restoration and put a baptismal date that she accepted!  Her name is Y, she has two kids, an 18 year old boy and a 12 year old girl.  They didn't make it to church, but we're hoping that this week she goes!  That lesson was one of the happiest moments I've had in a long time.  Yeah!

I also did splits with Elder T this week because I had to do the baptismal interview for their investigator, C, who got baptized this Saturday.  So I got to go back to E, which was fun.  We started the splits Thursday night, and when I got there, Elder T said that they still hadn't done any contacts that day.  So I said, "That's okay, we're going to contact a bus."  I had never done it before, but I felt like it needed to be done to help Elder T to get contacting.  So we asked the bus driver if we could make an announcement, and then called the attention of everyone on the bus and called them to repentance.  We gave them pass along cards and asked them if they would like a visit.  Nobody did, but it felt good and it was an awesome way to start the splits!

After contacting the bus, we had an interesting lesson with one of their investigators named B.  I connected really well with him because he studied Sound Recording Technology and also played in a band.  He basically told us he didn't want to keep listening, that he knew he would need to repent some day but he wants to live it up right now.  It was quite the lesson.  We bore our testimonies and warned him of the consequences of his sins, and left.  It was sad, but we left him a clear view of what he was choosing, so hopefully he makes a good choice.  

We also found a new investigator named E, who is 17 and has really messed up his life and wants to change.  We put a baptismal date with him also.  Afterwards, we went to lunch, and the members told us "Well, Elders, we didn't prepare anything, but we were just going to go to Sirloin Stockade for lunch.  I hope that's okay..." Obviously that's ok!!!  Delicious.  After that we had the interview with C.  He's way ready.  He's 17 and orphaned and literally lives in a one room house and sleeps on a piece of cardboard on the floor, but is so happy to have found the gospel.  He about made me cry.  Basically, they were the most epic splits of my entire mission.  It was fun to go back and see everyone in E again.

I'm feeling good in my ward.  President Wagner told me this week that sometimes a new beginning is better than trying to battle with the same situation for such a long time, so I'm confident that things will work out this way.  

Answers:  The two companionships in E divided up our area between themselves, so the sisters have been teaching M and his family, and they're actually progressing really well.  They've been to church twice now and have a baptismal date for November 23rd.  I took Elder T to his half of our old area and showed him the people we had been teaching.  He was able to bring a less active member named J to church this week that we had found our last week there.  Who knows what's going to happen to T.  

There's a part in Preach My Gospel that I came to understand better this week.  It basically says "As we repent, we recognize that we are children of God and need not make the same mistakes over and over again." I feel like if we could all realize where we come from, it would help us to become better people.  We are not from this world.  We come from a better place, from Heaven, from the presence of our Heavenly Father.  As we recognize our divine origins, it is easier to understand that we don't need to think, talk, or act like someone from this world.  It is in our nature to be something better.  In spite of the veil and other worldly influences, our Father in Heaven has provided us with the way to recover, and even improve, our spiritual nature here in this life through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Just as I feel like I have learned way more about the United States here than I ever could have if I had never left the country, we can learn more about our heavenly home by being away from it here, and we will appreciate and enjoy it more when we are allowed to return.  We need to recognize that we are spirits having mortal experiences, not mortals having spiritual experiences, and as we recognize this connection, it helps us to repent, live the commandments, and put off the natural man through the Atonement of Christ.  I am so grateful for this knowledge that we have of the Plan of Salvation, of our divine heritage and destiny.  It's something everyone needs to know.

Have a great week everyone!  I love you!

Elder Pew