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.