Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two letters August 19th & 26th

August 19th

Transfer day and...I'm in a trio.  Elder D and I are still together but we got a new companion today, Elder V.  He's got 18 months, he's from P, and I met him in Ciudad G where we were in the same zone for my first transfer in S.  He's cool.  I'm still district leader, but Elder V is also senior companion--who knows how that works.  I kind of don't think we'll last very long like one of us will probably be training once someone gets their visa and makes it to Mexico...but we'll see what happens.  It'll be an interesting experience but we're excited.  As for the rest of the district, Elder M and Elder T are staying together, Sister L went to V, and Sister L, who was just across the street in a different ward in the same stake for the last two transfers, is here now with Sister B.  So that'll be fun since we're already all basically best friends.  

When we went to the offices to pick up Elder V, I saw everyone.  Elder R is going to C...but I don't remember with who.  R is going to be with someone who was in my zone the last few transfers.  Elder J is still in T, his child is going to be with Elder D in T (a teeny little branch in the same zone as S), Elder E is zone leader now, Elder B finally escaped from A, and Elder A is in his house.  Don't ask.  It was pretty fun. 

Keeping up with the S flashbacks:  We had a lesson at the temple on Saturday Morning.  As we went walking up to the temple, I saw a green mini-van pulling out of the parking lot way too full of people all screaming as if Justin Bieber had just walked by.  Upon further examination, I realized it was everybody from S who were just leaving from their monthly temple trip.  I didn't get to stop to talk to them but MAN were they screaming when they all saw me!  And then on Sunday, Elder Q (who took my place in S) had to come to the offices because he ended his mission that day.  And since he was here before and we live close to the offices, he called us to see if we could find someone to give him a ride from the bus station to the mission office.  And I guess he was with J at the time, because before I knew it I was talking with my convert!!!  It sounds like he's doing great.  He's still active and everything and he's learning how to play the guitar I gave him when I left.  That was a nice surprise.  I was half-worried they were going to transfer me back there after all these strange ocurrences.  Some day I'll have to go back and visit.  

Yes, E's sister is a member.  

This week we found some awesome investigators again.  A member family gave us the referral of their neighbors, so they took us over to meet them and they let us right in!  Their names are C and C.  He told us that he was in prison in the US 9 years ago and while he was there he started to read the Bible and became converted to Christianity.  (When they say Christianity here, they're talking about any religion that's not the Catholic Church or the Jehovah's witnesses).  He got baptized in some church, but he's not active.  His wife is Catholic and they have a little 2 year old girl.  We had two great lessons with them this week, but for some odd reason they didn't come to church.  We also found a new investigator named C.  He's about 55 years old, lives alone, and absolutely loved the message of the restoration.  He couldn't come to church, but he committed to come to the activity this Saturday (plane crash) and begged us to not forget about him and to come back and visit.  If you insist.  Also, we contacted an older lady named M that one of the members knows, and she invited us over to her house Saturday.  We got there and her daughter and son-in-law were also there.  They live within the boundaries of the Guadalajara east mission, but we taught the restoration to everyone there and I think we were there more for them than for M.  They understood everything--the son-in-law even explained to his wife that the Pope can't really have authority from God because he was chosen by other men!  Finally someone who gets it!  So we're going to pass that reference on and I'm excited to know what happens with them some day.  

M disappeared this week.  The member that introduced us to him saw him on Thursday and said that he had told her that he wanted us to go over Friday because he needed help (he's alcoholic) but he wasn't home.

Basically, we're super excited for this transfer because we're going to have a lot of success.  The activity this Saturday should be sweet, and we still have a bunch of referrals to contact this week.  Pray that the investigators go to church this week!

I'm out of time, but I love you all!  Have a great first day of school tomorrow!!  Adios!

Elder Pew

August 26th, 2013

Where to begin?  Basically, being in a threesome is a big party.  We've realized that there are so many advantages to having two companions instead of one.  Plus, how many members of the first presidency are there?  3.  How many members of the Godhead are there?  3.  How many sons did Alma have?  3.  How many times did the Nephites here the voice of God before Christ descended among them?  3.  How long was Christ's earthly ministry?  3 years.  How long was he in the tomb?  3 days.  How many testaments of Christ are there?  3.  How many books are in the triple combination?  3.  How many prophets have been named Joseph Smith?  3. How many Israelites ended up in Gideon's army? 300.  How many years will President Wagner serve as mission president?  3.  It's just a more spiritually powerful number.

This Wednesday we found out the reason Elder V is here.  Sister Wagner called and told me that Elder V suffers from serious migrains and that lately they have been getting worse.  He was knocked flat three days the week before they transferred him here.  He's been to the hospital 2 times before but they haven't found anything wrong with him.  So she told me I had to take him to a Neurologist as fast as possible to try and get all this sorted out. So that day we went to the hospital (which is about 40 minutes from our area) and they told him to go to a radiation clinic to have some studies done on his brain.  So we set up an appointment for Thursday morning at 8 am.  We got horribly lost trying to find the stinking clinic, so we ended up getting there at about 9 am.  We were on the right bus and everything, but we got mixed up and ended up late--long story.  They told us they wouldn't be able to fit us in that day, but we took advantage of the fact that we were there and asked them if they accepted our mission insurance.  They said no and that his studies would cost 5,200 pesos (which is WAY more than what we had on hand) so we wouldn't have been able to pay for it anyways.  So we had to go from there all the way to the mission office (which is close to our area, about 1 hour from the clinic) to pick up money so we could go back Friday.  Friday morning we made it on time, he got in and they took a bunch of pictures of his brain.  Then they told us to take them back to the doctor at the hospital so that he could analyze them to find out what was wrong.  So we went back to the hospital and the doctor said that he had some inflammation in his brain that was causing the problem.  He prescribed him a 1 year treatment of pills that make him super tired, and after 2 hours of waiting for them to give us the pills, we gave up and went home, deciding to go back for them Saturday.  As you can imagine, our area kind of suffered from all the travelling.  But this week should be back to normal.  

Despite the madness, we were able to see C twice this week.  He's started to read the Book of Mormon and is doing really great.  He even came to church on Sunday and looks like he'll be pretty prepared for his baptism on the 7th.  Yes!

Saturday was a special day.  There's a little town about 40 minutes outside of Guadalajara called T, which is, coincidentally, the T capital of the world.  There is a tiny little branch of about 6 active members there, and it belongs to our stake.  There haven't been missionaries there for about 2 years, but the stake presidency has been working a lot with the branch to help it grow.  On Saturday, they organized an activity to go visit some less active members in T, and they asked President Wagner if they could bring four missionaries from the stake with them.  And I was one of those lucky four!!!  I went with Elder B, our new zone leader (who knows Marci Johnson, a friend from high school, by the way), Sister L and Sister H, along with about 12 different stake leaders.  The drive there was beautiful.  Full of little agave plants, a little bluish plant that they use to make T.  Also, there were lots of really tall, big green mountains and I was loving it.  Tequila is a sweet little town.  It's a little bit bigger than S, and it's super classy.  It just felt good from the moment we got there.  We had a little devotional with the members of the branch and then they divided us into 5 or six little groups and assigned us a less active to visit.  I was put with a Canadian member of the high council here, the Stake President's son, and a member from Tequila.  We went to the house where we were assigned, and the lady who answered the door told us that the person we were looking for was her daughter, who had gotten married and moved to another part of town.  But she let us right in and told us that she had also listened to the missionaries, but lost track of the church when they left.  Her name is E.  So we decided to take the opportunity to teach her family the restoration.  Her son and her maid also listened to us, and it was a very spiritual lesson.  At the end, they all accepted the invitation to go to church and to get baptized.  It was incredible!  Afterwards, we still had a little bit of time, so they gave us her daughter's address and we went and visited her.  She was also super awesome and told us that she's going to start going to church again.  When we all got back to their little house of prayer, we heard similar stories from the other groups.  Between the 4 missionaries that went, we found 10 new investigators who are willing to be baptized and a bunch of less actives who are ready to come back to church.  It was such an amazing experience to see how the Lord has prepared His children to receive the Gospel in that part of his vineyard, and I was so grateful to have been a part of it.  I hope there are missionaries there soon.  

We got home just in time to set up for the activity.  It went super well--we had only planned on doing 2 rounds of plane crashes but we ended up having to do 4!!!  Also, a member in our area brought a family of investigators that we're going to start teaching this week.  I don't have much more time to explain it, but some day I'll show you the pictures and videos.  It was sweet.

I'm out of time, but I love you all!!!! Have an excellent week!

Elder Pew

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letters from August 5th and 12th, 2013

What to write?  Other than that I'm only a little bit jealous about you guys going to Disneyland.  Only a little bit.  Because I'd much rather be here.  

This week we became detectives.  We could seriously make a movie about this one family in our ward and all the things that are going on there.  I won't go in to details, but basically we've been teaching--individually--different members of the family to find out what exactly is going on and how to help them. It's nothing the Atonement can't fix.  And this same family has given us a bunch of referrals.  One of them is E, who didn't seem super interested at first but ended up accepting a baptismal date for the 24th after the lesson.  But she didn't come to church and was nowhere to be found on Sunday, so we'll see what happens.  Another one is M, who insists that everything is true, that she believes everything we say, but doesn't want to get baptized, read the Book of Mormon, or go to church.   

We are still working with D.  We had a lesson with her on Thursday.  On Friday I was on splits with our Zone Leader, Elder D. We decided to teach her the Restoration AGAIN, to see if she'd really catch the idea this time.  We focused the whole lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ--really explaining that it means Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  I've found that we use the word "Gospel" a lot because it's a word the investigators are more comfortable with, because it's something they hear in the Catholic Church.  But if they understand that the Gospel of Christ is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Endure to the end, they're not as surprised when we invite them to be baptized after the first visit.  They understand that these principles are ordinances were lost in the apostasy and the need that there was for them to be restored.  It was an awesome lesson--one of those lessons where I even learn a ton--and she was able to commit to go to church this week and get baptized the 17th.  But then she didn't go to church.  Bummer.  Not sure what to do there.  We went by her house and she said she felt sick to her stomach.  But she went to work that day and everything, and her job is literally 2 blocks from the chapel and she entered just an hour after sacrament meeting ended, so...yeah.  I don't know if it was a legit excuse or not.  But we'll keep trying.  As President Wagner said, if it was my child that wasn't a member of the church, I would keep trying all my life until she got baptized.  And when Elder Christofferson was here, he said that when an investigator is still willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true, there's still something to work with there.  

Friday night Elder D and I went for tacos.  We got them to go and when we were eating them in the house I noticed something black and unusually large mixed in with the meat.  After closer examination, I realized that it was a dead beetle!!!  Ruined my appetite.  But luckily the tacos didn't make me sick.  I think after two years in Mexico my stomach will be immune to anything.

Saturday we had a baptism for S.  It was great.  His mom, who isn't a member, and his uncle, who also isn't a member, came and said they liked it.  Someday they'll listen to us!!!  It was a very spiritual service.  His grandpa baptized him and that was really special.  There weren't quite as many members as L's baptism, but it was still good.

Remember that little red VW Beetle (there's that word again, hence the subject of this letter) that we taped a fridge to a couple weeks ago?  This week we brought a family of 5 less actives to church in it, plus my companion and I and the member who was driving.  8 people in all.  That little car has become about as legendary as Buster.

Also on Sunday, our Elder's quorum president pulled us out of Sunday School to tell us that he wasn't feeling well, that he wanted us to teach the class in Elder's Quorum and that he wanted it to be a training on how to use Preach my Gospel.  Elder D made me do it by myself, but I think it went well.  Also, the Bishop asked me to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting, so it looks like we're starting to gain a little bit more trust from the leaders of this ward.  I hope I can stay here for a while longer to see what happens.  

Have a fun trip!!!  See you in 10 months!!!  

Elder Pew  

What a week.  Good times.  Not Disneyland, but hey, good enough.  

So basically, over there by the Volcano, there's a little neighborhood of people who live in little houses built illegally--because the construction of houses there could cause the volcano to wake up and destroy all of G.  L's family lives there and L's sister-in-law's brother's family.  And the wife of L's sister-in-law's brother knows every living soul in this neighborhood and is one of those people who is "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16).  And one day this week, in a three hour span, she gave us 4 referrals, brought us to contact 5 others, helped us find 4 new investigators, teach 3 lessons with a member, and put 3 baptismal dates.  Whazzup!  So basically we spend all our time up there on the hill, because the rest of our area is full of apartment buildings and condos and people who generally don't want to listen to us.  

One of the new people we met this week thanks to that one member was a family of 6.  The dad is an excommunicated-Jehovah´s witness, the mom doesn't claim to be part of any particular religion but is very religious and loves learning more about God, and they have four kids, all under the age of 12, 3 of which are baptismal age and also are very interested in the Bible, religion, and all that.  We still haven't met the dad, but the rest of them seem pretty golden.  The bad thing is that we can only visit them 1 or two times a week, but we're excited to go back to teach them.  

Another one of those people was M.  She introduced us to him on the street. We put an appointment to visit him on Sunday and it went really well.  He told us that he thinks he should be baptized now that he's older and responsible, that he wants to change and be a better person and that he'll get baptized on August 31st!!!  So the plan is to have a "Volcan del Colli" branch by the end of the next transfer. (just kidding, but it would be pretty sweet).  

We found another new investigator this week named E.  She is our neighbor and lives in the same apartment building.  We met her a few weeks ago and she had told us that we could visit her this week, because her brothers were coming from out of town to visit and she was going to be busy.  So we called her Friday night and she told us to come over Saturday in the afternoon.  We had an awesome lesson with her.  She told us that in the past few years, she has lost her mom and two of her brothers and that those experiences have helped her feel the presence of God more in her life.  I felt like I should ask her "What does it feel like to you when you feel the presence of God?" And she responded with a powerful story about how she had an amazing spiritual experience a few nights before her mom died.  It was amazing and completely changed the tone of the lesson.  She started crying and the Spirit was really strong.  We taught her a little about the restoration and baptism and she accepted!  She couldn't come to church yesterday but she is going to come this week.  

I think the coolest experience this week was a baptism Saturday night. Remember the baptismal candidate I had to fail the other week?  He got baptized this week.  His name is V and he is 15 years old.  The other Elders have been teaching him for almost two transfers now, but after going to EFY about a month ago he decided to get baptized.  His parents aren't members--they're actually from a little town in Oaxaca and their first language is a dialect called Zapoteco.  They listen sometimes when the missionaries go over but have never really progressed.  They live in a little neighborhood full of other people from Oaxaca and they are all related somehow.  The cool thing was that V invited all his little friends to his baptism--5 kids from his neighborhood came!  His parents also went and loved it!  They were both crying the whole time and his dad told me at one point "There's a really beautiful feeling here.  Now that I'm here, I'm going to come back every Sunday!"  After the baptism, I asked him when he was going to be baptized, and he said that after a few weeks of coming to church he thought he'd be ready.  It was quite the experience.  He came to church with his wife yesterday, and they were crying the whole time again.  Another young man from the ward baptized V, which was awesome.  Also, they asked me to give a "missionary message" while they were changing after the ordinance, so I pretty much made up a 7 minute talk on the spot and it turned out pretty cool.  Someday I'll teach the same lesson in family night :)

You may be wondering about the subject line to this email. These are the reasons:

Yesterday I come walking into the church when I look over to the right and see someone strangely familiar.  E from S!!!  She had stayed over night with her twin sister who lives here in the city and she decided to come to our ward just to visit me!!!  She's so great.  She also brought be Sayula pan (bread).  Yum.  Sounds like everything's going well there with the change in Branch Presidency.  

Reason #2 We had a zone activity today.  We went to the chapel to play basketball, eat pizza, etc., when who should I see but Elder Al!!! What?  Apparently, he had special transfers a few weeks ago and is in a little town outside the city that belongs to the same zone.  Also, he's with Elder A's trainer, and was Elder R's companion for the last three basically we've had all the same companions, just in a different order.  Elder A hasn't changed a bit.  

How do I feel?  Allergic.  I'm taking Claritin and a cold medicine (it's the best remedy I've found down here so far) but they still bother me a lot.  Especially when I'm around horses, cats, dogs, and gerbils.  One day this week I felt a little druggy--like there was too much medicine inside me.  But I'm surviving.  My little amigos are all gone, as far as I know.  My stomach hasn't bothered me lately.  
This week we should be finding lots of new investigators, and we've made it our goal to work harder on bringing them to church.  We'll see what happens.  It's the last week of the transfer, so who knows where I'll be or who I'll be with next Monday.  I really don't know what to expect.  A dónde me mandes iré.

Have a great week everyone!  Love you!

Elder Pew