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

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21,2013

Friday  we had our interviews with President Wagner.  I talked to him a lot about the challenges we were having in the area-- nobody gives us referrals, the leaders don't trust in us, etc.  We were really pretty discouraged at this point, especially after Sunday when we had a meeting with our ward mission leader, bishop, and relief society president to fix the meal calendar.  We were going to try to modify it so that we could all eat in our own area separate every day so that we didn't have to waste so much time going to lunch and back.  The feedback wasn't positive.  So we told President about the situation and he said that if I felt like there wasn't enough work for 6 in that ward, to just let him know, and he'll pull some or all of us out.  I said that we still weren't to that point, that we wanted to keep trying to see what we could do to save the situation.  But later that night we got a call from the Zone Leaders telling us we had special transfers.  They closed our area and sent Elder V to the I stake, and I would be opening an area in M here across the street.  Sad news.  We came home and packed everything up and got ready to be in the offices the next morning.  It was one of the most depressing nights of my life.  I felt like we had failed, that we shouldn't have said anything and kept working.  But, it was the will of the Lord.  
My companion is Elder H.  He has about 5 months in the mission and is from Mexico.  He reminds me a lot of Elder A.  Quiet, focused, and a really hard worker.  The area we were in had sisters before, but they were also mysteriously taken out that night.  The good thing is that it's a neighbor ward to E, we meet in the same chapel here by the temple and I already kind of can get my way around here.  Also, I already knew a couple of the members of this ward.  There are also 6 missionaries in this area--the Assistants and Elder K and his companion.  I'm still Elder T's district leader but the sisters are in another district now.  It's nice only having to take one phone call every night.  The round-abouts are decorated with mayan-looking pyramids, fountains, statues, etc.  There's a lot of mansions and really, ridiculously fancy buildings.  The members are really awesome and it's a much bigger ward than E, population wise.  We have a bunch of less actives to work with, which will be a nice change.  

Our first night we did divisions with the assistents so that they could show us the area.  I went with Elder S, and after talking for a few minutes I came to find that he is Amber's cousin!  (which we knew, didn't realize he didn't know that!) The world is very small when we're Mormons.  Anyways, we were walking down a big highway at the end of the day when a car honked at us and pulled over.  We turned to see what was going on, and the guy rolled down his window and said, "Hey, this is kind of embarrassing but...could you help me tie my tie?"  He was on his way to a wedding and for the life of him could not figure out how to tie his tie.  So we helped him tie it and contacted him.  He's super cool.  His name is L, he lived in the US almost his whole life, and he gave us his address and phone number and told us to call him during the week to put an appointment.  When I was 12 and first learning to tie a tie, never in my life did I think that having this skill would lead to the salvation of some soul someday.  But hopefully everything goes well with him.  

We visited the bishop yesterday and he told us of a less active family that he wanted us to visit.  We went and they let us in.  Their names are R and S.  They're an older couple, their kids all live in different parts of Mexico and they've been members for about 5 years.   They were very, very friendly with us and we had a great lesson with them.  They said they want to come back to church but that it's going to be hard.  They can do it.  They also want to introduce us to all their neighbors--awesome!

Glad to hear everything's going well at home.  This has been a rough stretch for me, and I've noticed there's a lot of things I need to change and do better.  I was studying today about repentance and it really stuck out to me where it said that our faith and our love for the Savior are what lead us to repent.  He is our light, our hope, and our guide.  If we trust in him and learn to love Him as He loves us, we will be able to become like Him and live with Him some day.  This is his church and I know He lives, which is why I will never, ever give up.  I love you all and thank you for all your support.  Have a fantastic week!

Elder Pew

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 14, 2013

The soccer game went well.  We divided the zone into three teams: Americans, Mexicans, and Central/South Americans.  Before our first game against the Mexicans, we huddled up in a circle swaying back and forth around Elder S.  Then we sang the national anthem and the game was on.  We were just playing to one goal and then the losing team left and the other team came on.  It was a tough match, but finally after about 10 minutes they scored on us.  We walked back to the sidelines ashamed of ourselves, and Elder S said "Dang it, guys, we just let Obama down."  The South Americans destroyed Mexico, then destroyed us, then lost to Mexico.  So we had another shot at the Mexicans.  After about 5 minutes I stole a pass in the Mexican defense and scored a goal.  We went wild.  The whole team lifted me up on their shoulders like we had just won the World Cup.  It was pretty epic.  The sisters took a picture, some day I'll have to get it from them and send it to you.  My new nickname in the zone is "Landon Donovan" because I'm the only American that knows how to play soccer.  

Well, this week went about the same in E.  Other than that the one investigator we had, F, is now out.  We were teaching her  when her Grandma came down the stairs and chased us out of the house. 

M. the popsicle seller, is back in the teaching pool.  We found him in the street this week when we were going to visit a member from our area.  It was kind of weird to find him there since she lives in a gated community, but he told us he lives there too, in fact, 3 houses down from her!  We always taught him in his ice-cream shop so we didn't actually know where he lived.  But now we do and it seems like he needs a lot of help.  He told us he went to the chapel the other day to pray, but it was locked.  Sounds like he's had problems with his wife and really needs the Gospel.  He told us he's been reading the Book of Mormon and he wanted to go to church on Sunday but couldn't find anyone to cover him in the ice cream shop.  But hopefully he goes this week.  

I got the Halloween package.  Pretty dang awesome mom!  Thanks a lot! Gwen's masterpiece is now hanging on the wall above our new couch in our apartment.  Also, everyone was fascinated with the candy corn (it doesn't exist here).  And I gave everyone some Mike and Ikes also and Sister B had some kind of weird allergic reaction to it.  Her tongue swoll up and she started talking with a lisp.  We thought she was joking, but that night when I talked to her companion for the daily report, she told me that she had kept talking like that for about 2 hours after, even during the lessons!  So I guess she wasn't faking.  It was pretty funny.  

Crazy experience of the week:  Wednesday night we got home and I went to take out the keys and they were no longer in my pocket.  How that happened I will never know.  I looked to see if they were in my backpack and they weren't.  We went back to the bus stop where we were earlier to see if they had fallen out there and we couldn't find them.  So we called our Landlord to see if he could come give us the spare key, only to find out that he had been confined to a hospital bed and couldn't come over at that moment.  There was no locksmith open because it was 9:00 at night, so we had to go sleep in the offices.  The next day we got to our house at about 8:30, waited until 9:30 for the locksmith to open, waited until 10:30 for him to get to our house, only to see that he only had one arm and had a really hard time opening the door.  What?!  He ended up having to call his wife to come help him, and we finally got into our house at about 11:30.  We hadn't showered, studied, or done weekly planning yet.  It was a crazy day.  

This Saturday and Sunday we went to T.  This time I went with Elder K, who is from my generation.  It was a blast!  We visited a less active family that got baptized in Utah and moved back a few years ago.  We taught them about the sacrament and eternal families and committed them to come to church.  They came on Sunday!  The other group that went to visit people on Saturday also brought another less active family as well as an investigator, so in all there were 5 less actives and 1 investigator in church in T, and an attendance of 23 (normally there's about 10)!  It was great.  After sacrament meeting, the stake relief society presidency had come to show the Relief society general broadcast to all the women in T, and we stayed with the men and taught Gospel Principles.  It was so great!  That little branch really has so much potential and is progressing really well. Sometimes I wonder if it shouldn't be backwards, stay in T all week and every other weekend come to E to help out. 

Have happy birthdays (Gwen & Emily) this week!  I love you all!  Thanks for everything!

Elder Pew

Sunday, October 13, 2013

3 Letters(sorry so behind) September 23rd & 30th and October 7th, 2013

September 23, 2013

Responding:  It rained a lot this week but no floods.  Nothing abnormal.  I don't think the rain from the east coast makes it all the way here.  We've survived.  It's actually super hot right now.  I'm kind of sweaty, in case you were wondering.  

What kind of tacos? All kinds.  Tacos de Barbacoa, de Chorizo, de Arrachera, de lengua (tongue), de cabeza (other weird parts of the head), etc.  You'll have to look up these words in English because I don't know them.

We called S and we'll have to start hopefully this week.  His friend that brought him to the activity told us that he's had problems with his wife lately, so he really needs help.  We haven't seen C in a while.  He sent us a message on Tuesday saying that he's going to be busy working all week, but his member friends have seen him and have been challenging to baptism in our absence, so that's good.  

I'm pretty sure the whole zone went to the activity mom, and yes, we all brought investigators.  It was amazing.  

It started raining again.

Before I forget to mention: I remembered this week that Madison Beardall's future mission president, President Mejorada, was Stake President here in the stake where I'm at up until he left on his mission.  I've heard lots of good things about him.  

We had a good week.  We found a few sweet new investigators.  One of them is M, who works in an ice cream shop.  One day while it was raining super hard we went in for a moment to take out our umbrella, and we started talking to him.  He lived in California for 14 years and has just been back 1 year.  He is married and has 3 kids-18, 15, and 9.  He was super interested when we taught him the restoration and when we invited him to be baptized he said "of course!"  The struggle is going to be that he works on Sundays and hasn't been able to go to church.  But he's cool and he gives us free ice cream bars every time we go over.  

We found another awesome family.  It's a single mom and her three kids.  Her name is B, and she has a 17 year old daughter named I and a 13 year old son named C and a 4 year old daughter who's name escapes me.  The kids are really great--when we told them about mutual they got really excited, so we're going to see if we can get them to go this week.  B is nice, but didn't seem so convinced when we invited her to be baptized.  It was one of those "well, let us read and pray and we'll see."  But we're confident that if her kids gain testimonies, she will too.  Just like the N family in A.  

We taught J the restoration this week and he loved it.  He is super excited for general conference and accepted a baptismal date for November 9th.  Yes!  We're going to try teaching the rest of his family this week.  His wife is awesome and has already listened to us before, and he has 2 sons who are married and live there with their wives and another son that's 10.  Potential.  

T was great.  The stake leaders didn't go with us this time, just Elder T and I working with their branch president and Brother C that went with me last time.  We split up and I went with C, without really having a plan.  We went back to visit E and B, the investigators we found last time.  They're great.  We read 3rd Nephi 11 with them and they loved it.  They're super excited to read the Book of Mormon and since that chapter talks about baptism so much, they started saying, "oh, wow, we need to get baptized!"  So I said "Oh what the heck!" and put a baptismal date with them for November 16th.  Hopefully we'll be able to go back often enough to get them ready.  We also visited a less active grandma named C, who told me that she doesn't go to church just because she's lazy. She said she would go on Sunday.  We also asked E who else listened to the missionaries before they took them out and she gave us a bunch of referrals.  We contacted a few of them and everyone seems to have a great impression of the missionaries there.  It's really great to see.  Also, the members have a really good culture of work.  When the missionaries come, everyone gets out and preaches with them, even though there's only like 6 active members.  So if we can bring more people into activity and baptize a few more while keeping that culture, this branch is going to grow super fast.  We were going to go on Sunday also, but the member of the High Council who was going to take us was sick and couldn't go.  But I think we are going to go this week again.  

Did I mention that they're branch president is blind?  I don't know how he does it, but he guided Elder T through the whole town visiting less actives.  He really is incredible.  He's got such a great, humble spirit about him and is really making a difference, despite all that's against him.  They should make a movie about him some day. 

You're probably asking yourselves what's up with the subject line of this email--A Kiss from A Rose, Sort of.  Well, Saturday night after getting back from T, we were walking back to our apartment at night and this drunk guy on a bike stopped us by the side of the road asking for money.  Elder V told him to get out of the road so they wouldn't run him over and asked him where he lived.  He said in a really drunk voice "where did you find me?"  So Elder V asked him again "where do you live?"  "Where did you find me?"  And just then he turned and saw me for the first time.  He did a double take and said "Wow, you're really handsome!" then grabbed me by the ears and pulled me in for the kiss!  He was about 3 inches from my face with his mouth wide open before I realized that yes, this is really happening and escaped as fast as I could.  His breath smelled horrible and he only had about 3 rotten teeth.  Elder V was laughing so hard he couldn't stay standing. And he kept laughing the whole bus ride home.  It was kind of funny I guess, even though it was one of the more traumatizing experiences of my entire life.  

That's it for this week.  It's the last week of the transfer, so who knows what will happen.  Probably nothing, but we'll see.  I love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Pew

September 30th 2013

Aloha!  It's been nice and sunny the last few days and its starting to look like the hurricanes have finally passed. We'll see if it's not raining when I finish this email.  I hope you're all enjoying the cold.  I know I wouldn't be.  But we can't all serve our missions in the promised land, can we?

This was a great week.  We've found a bunch of awesome investigators and we've got a few new prospects also.  Remember B?  We almost convinced her to let her son C go on a young men's campout that they had this Friday and Saturday, but it looked like it was going to rain so she said no.  But we're going to invite him to mutual this week along with his sister N.  They're awesome.  Also, while revising our area book, we found a few old sheets of future investigators.  We decided to go visit everyone on the list to see what would happen, and we found a new investigator named A.  She was a referral from the old mission president, President S.  She said the missionaries only went 1 or 2 times to visit them and she doesn't know why they stopped going.  She has 2 teenage kids and already basically lives like a Mormon--she reads the Bible and does family prayer with them as much as she can.  She is also super interested in going to church, but she couldn't go this week because she twisted her ankle and has been on crutches.  But she'll be there in General conference this Sunday!  

Also, a few weeks back we met a new member named A in church.  He's 22 and was baptized about a year ago.  He found out about the church through a friend in a different stake, so he's always gone to her ward even though he lives here in our area.  He came a few Sundays ago because he was running late and wasn't going to make it to the other church where he normally goes.  So we asked him for his address and went to visit him. It turns out that he's the only member in his family.  His sister is interested.  Her name is F, she's 18, and she's way awesome.  We taught her the restoration this week and it went really well.  The only problem is that her mom is not going to be very supportive.  Also, she works on Sundays.  But her brother's great and will help her progress.  

We still haven't been able to teach S.  He asked us to help him find a place to stay, so we've been working on that.  His member friend brought him to church this week, and he seemed to enjoy it.  Poor guy.  We're going to have a lesson with him this Thursday or Friday, and I really hope we can help him.  

Our ward mission leader got married last week and hasn't really had a whole lot of time to help us the last little while, and it really has been hard.  But he's back now and ready to go to work!  He talked to the stake president about doing the Plane Crash activity again but as a whole stake and he gave him the green light!  So we're going to start planning it.  

On Thursday I started feeling really sick.  After lunch I could barely stand up, so we went home for a little bit to rest, and it got so bad that we couldn´t go back to work for the rest of the day.  I had a fever of about 100, my nose was really runny and I just felt weak.  That night it got worse.  I couldn't sleep, and I started to cough and have congestion in my chest.  We ended up staying in the house all day Friday also.  Sister Wagner told me that it was just a virus and all I could do was treat the symptoms and wait it out.  So that's what I did.  I've been taking cold medicine (basically dayquil) and cough syrup and it seemed to help.  Saturday I was finally feeling a little better, so we went to work and everything, but I was still really weak and felt pretty awful.  But I was just glad to not be in the house anymore.  This was the first time in my mission I'd been so sick that I couldn't go out and work.  Nothing like a bad cold to make you count your blessings.  Anyways, because of all that we didn't get to go to T this week.  Sunday my fever went away but I still was feeling pretty nasty.  But don't worry, today I feel great.  Just a runny nose.  I'm excited to finally be able to give everything again.   

Today were transfers and I'm staying here with Elder V for one more at least.  We're thinking he'll probably end his mission training here in this area, and since he's only got two transfers left after this one, this is probably my last transfer here. But it's going to be a good one!  Man it has gone by so fast.  The only change in our district was that Elder M is going to V to train and open an area, and Elder T is going to be training here.  We're pumped.   

The package still hasn't made it to me but it's probably sitting in the office waiting.  Maybe I'll get it tomorrow.  

Have a great week everyone!  I love you!  

Elder Pew

October 7th, 2013

This week everyone we found last week decided to stop listening to us, other than F.  We had a nice lesson with her and she's still not convinced, but at least she listens.  She didn't make it to conference because she works on Sundays, but whatever.  We are completely out of ideas on how to find new investigators, but we're going to keep working and see what happens.  We tried straight up contacting one day but it doesn't work here.  If we contact 15 people, only one of them will live in our area, and the chances are even slimmer that they want us to come over to teach them.  The members all tell us that they've already talked to everyone they know, and they´ve all rejected.  In most of their cases I know they're telling the truth.  We've been asking ourselves why there are 6 missionaries in this ward, because the last two transfers all three areas have been about like this, but there's some inspired reason behind it.  There's hardly even work to do with less actives.  There are only 8 in our area, and only 2 let us come over.   Surprisingly, almost all the members in this ward are already active.  Which is great, but it leaves us feeling a little useless sometimes, especially when we don't have investigators.  But something's got to come around.  Just to prove that this IS the true church and that it IS the Lord's work.  Because Elder V and I couldn't turn this around alone.

Conference was great.  Favorite talks:  Pres. Uchtdorf in Priesthood session, President Monson Sunday Morning, Terence Vinson Saturday afternoon, and Elder Ballard Saturday afternoon.  It just gets better every time.  The church is so true.  

I've got to go now.  No, I haven't got that package.  Still waiting.  Sorry this letter's a little short, but what we really need is some good soccer to get us more motivated.  Just like President Uchtdorf said, "Sometimes we think that because we've fallen in the past, our destiny is to fall.  But our life isn't defined by how many times we fall, but how many times we get back up."  We're going to get up. NOW!  

Have a great week everyone!  I love you all!

Elder Pew