Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A great week in Villahermosa

¡Buenísimas tardes! Les escribo desde un cibercafé que se encuentra en una calle muy linda acerca del centro de la ciudad de Villahermosa, Tabasco. Espero que puedo expresarme bien y relatar lo que pasó esta semana para el beneficio de todos aquellos que me escuchen. Hemos tenido una semana muy exitosa, y quiero compartir algunos experiencias con ustedes.

I thought about writing the whole email in Spanish, but figured I'd stick with just the opening. It still suprises me sometimes how easily it comes to mind. In any case - hey everyone! :) This week has been a good one. Let's get down to it.

First, the investigator Estefania. I mentioned her last week - she was introduced to the missionaries by a friend of hers in the ward (named Noé Gabriel, which I thought was a little ironic - speaking of, I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but back in Tuxtla we once contacted a man named Julio César who had a brother named Marco Antonio - and he said that their names were pure coincidence, which I doubted - but anyway, back to the point). She's pretty much ready for baptism, but a couple things are holding her back. She has the permission of her parents, she has a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon, and she prays a lot and listens to the Spirit. The problem is, she hasn't made it to church yet. Last week she couldn't go because of an event in "her church." We realized it's a little tough for her to let go of old habits and traditions - she knows the Church is true and everything, but it's sometimes hard to make that transition. So we taught her a few times last week, helped her strengthen that testimony, and then had her friend pass by for her on Sunday morning - still nada. She had "a previous commitment" in her church. So Elder Enriquez and I prayed about what we should do - whether or not we should keep working with her, or give her some space and try again later. We decided to give it another shot this week and see what happens. We're going to watch the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie with her tomorrow, which I hope will help her realize that going to another church won't help her with her salvation. That movie's great for a variety of purposes; it's helped us out a lot. I know if she goes to church this Sunday she'll want to be baptized for sure - the church is really strong and the members are great at... friendshipping? fellowshipping? (hermanar is what I'm thinking of). Anyway, they're good at that. We're praying for Estefania a lot and I know that the Lord will help us get her to church and to baptism.

We have another investigator named Maritza. She's pretty much a golden investigator on a lot of things. For example, she read the GEE in one night of her own volition. (GEE = Guía del Estudio de las Escrituras. It's found at the back of the Spanish Book of Mormon; it's like a mixture of the Topical Guide and the Bible Dictionary, in that it has definitions of key topics and an index for scripture references. It's a good 200 pages, and she read it in a night. Pretty awesome.) She has the triple combination and the Bible and reads every single day without fail. At church they gave her the Gospel Principles manual and she's been reading through that too. And her friend, who's a member, gave her James E. Talmage's "Articles of Faith," and she's been reading that too! She probably studies more than I do every day. It's incredible. And, what's more, she understands really well what she reads. She tells us all the time that she feels like she's already read and learned all of this, and that she's just remembering it right now. She has a wonderful spirit and desire to learn. The one concern for her right now is that she hasn't yet prayed about Joseph Smith or baptism or the Book of Mormon. She says she knows they're true (and that baptism is necessary) because she feels it, but still hasn't asked God directly. We're not really sure why that is, but we're confident that she'll do so in the next day or so - the last lesson we had with her was really powerful. I think she could be baptized this Saturday, but if not, the following. It's really been fun getting to know her and teach her - she pretty much teaches herself.

We have another investigator right now that's progressing really well - her name's Angelica. She's a single mom with two kids - Karen, who's 13, and Eduardo, who's 5. She was a contact from about a week and a half ago, and since then we've taught her several times and it's always gone really well. It took a couple days for her to start reading the Book of Mormon and to pray, but she finally kept those commitments, and saw immediate results. She told us that when she prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, she felt so happy and peaceful that she wanted to cry, and that the feeling stayed with her for the rest of the night and the day after. She intended to come with us to church yesterday, but didn't answer the door when we stopped by before sacrament; we later found out that her son got really sick the night before and she was up all night. She felt pretty bad about it, too - she really wanted to go. We're going to work with her a lot this week. I know she and her daughter are headed for baptism - I can just feel it.

That's most of the significant news of this week. We have a few other people we're working with, some less actives and everything too. We've got lots of work to do, which I love - this is going to be a great week. Also, we have a sort of zone conference thing on Friday - Elder Daniel Johnson of the Area Presidency is coming to speak to us. I'm really excited for it. It's going to be a great experience and I know I'll learn a lot.

Speaking of learning a lot - my scripture study has gone so well this week. I've really been focusing on learning by the spirit, on personal revelation, and on coming to know the Book of Mormon really well, and I've seen the blessings in a very real way. One thing I liked that I read this morning was a talk by President Faust in the October 2004 General Conference. He talks about trials and being tested and holding firm to the gospel. There's a section where he quotes a Dr. Something-or-other and then President Kimball, and I really liked the point those two quotes make together. If you have a chance, look up the talk and give it a read - good stuff. Another thing I learned this week was how much joy the company of the Spirit brings. It's something I've learned many times before, but it's always amazing to feel the joy and peace that comes from the Spirit, from prayer and scripture study, etc. It's what gives us the courage and desire to keep going and to have many more experiences of that kind. The power of inspiration is great.

And now it's time for another Q & A session with Elder Greer. :)
Questions from this week. Memory card - if you send a memory card, I can find a way to copy my pictures to it and send it back. That would be a good idea. I'll check around here to see how much a card costs, but I think it'd be about the same as at home, so feel free to send one when you can.

Thanks for forwarding the missionary emails from everyone. It's really cool to hear from all my friends and see how they're having similar experiences to what I'm having. It's also cool to see the differences in the work in various areas of the world.

The food here is pretty much the same as in Tuxtla. They seem to eat more fish here, which makes sense because it's closer to the ocean. (Mom - we ate a good three pounds of shrimp and fried fish a few days back. Delicious!) They also have gringas (female Americans? haha), which are quesadillas (which, in America, is basically a taco - I know, kind of confusing) with pineapple, fried meat, and jalapeños. They have them in various parts of Chiapas and Tabasco, but I hadn't ever tried them before coming here. They're really really good.

The people here talk a little faster than those in Tuxtla, for the most part. They also have a tendency to drop the s at the end of a word and to slur some words together. It took some getting used to, but I like the way it sounds a lot.

Gabbie - Your trip to China sounds pretty fun! ;) Haha. Your shopping spree sounds like fun. What exactly is a sit-n-bounce? (Well, you see, you sit on it... and bounce.) I'm jealous of playing in the snow - the last few days have been quite the toasty ones, and we keep hearing from members how this is a fresh spring breeze compared to what happens around here in April and May. Oh boy. :) Let me know how FHE goes, I'm sure you'll do great teaching it. And thanks for always writing me every week! Keep doing well is school and having lots of fun! I love you very much! :)

Miranda - How's the lacrosse been going? How do you think your team will do this year? How's the new term started out - same as usual? (Haha.) (Random insert directed more at Dad - on the radio right now at this cibercafe a song by Kylie Minogue is playing - the first time I heard it was when we had dinner on the university campus in Edinburgh. Remember, we ate at that lounge thing and went outside to eat, and you had your shank of lamb? Hah. Funny how memories are tied to music like that).  I've been meaning to ask you - how's the Book of Mormon coming? Did you meet your goal of finishing it by the end of the year? Any cool new insights that you've had? What about journal writing - how's that going? Well, as always, I look forward to hearing from you and hope that everything's going well in all aspects of life. Remember to rely on the Lord, and also on Mom and Dad. Despite what it may seem, they really do know a lot about life, and can help out in any type of situation, so listen to and follow their advice. I love you very much! :)

Mom - I tried thinking of a way to explain how to say "Villahermosa" after your letter last week. I came up with "bee yair mosa" and then slur it into one word. Villahermosa. Haha. I'm sure Dad has been able to teach you how to say it, though. I think it's a little funny that you have to get adjusted to me being in a new area - isn't that my job? :) haha. But don't worry - it's a wonderful area, very safe, and the members take really good care of us. Just this afternoon we ate spaghetti and pork chops, and it was prepared almost exactly like we have at home. I haven't had a chance to see the temple, but it is pretty close to where we are - hopefully I'll have a chance to assist (er, attend) while I'm here. The Cliffs of Insanity is a pretty good reference for the Cañon del Sumidero - it was definitely an amazing experience.

The water in the river here is very, very brown indeed. The mission actually gave us these water bottles that filter out and sanitize the water, and they say that you can fill them up with the dirtiest water there is and it'll still be safe to drink. I've just been filling it up with tap water, and have been using it for the past month or so without any effects, so I think I'm safe. The area's definitely pretty, though - you'll be able to see that in the pictures today. So far I've only received Dad's letter, but at the conference on Friday I think they'll be handing out mail, so we'll see if anything's arrived so far. I think the trend is that usually companionships live alone, but every so often they put a couple of them together; it really just depends. The zone leaders are the ones living with us; one is from California and the other from Monterrey, Mexico (I think). He actually speaks English really well, too, so in the house we speak a lot of both Spanish and English. It's pretty cool living with them - we get to have a lot of fun, learn from each other, help each other out. I appreciate the company. For food here it's the same as in Tuxtla; the sisters cook lunch for us every day. We've been washing laundry at the bishop's house. His family is awesome and we really have a good time with them. I laughed at the story of Reagan and the Smashed Snowball (I think every story should have a Hardy Boys title). 162 days? Really? Wow. That's a long time. I hit the 5-month mark last week - I think I forgot to mention that. Time goes by so fast. Miranda playing the piano with Reagan sounds like a lot of fun too (Reagan and the Played Piano? The Curse of the Keyboard? Haha). I was sad to hear about Mrs. Stahle. I remember Gabbie talking about her a lot. I'm glad Gabbie's taking it well. It's always sad when someone dies, but can help reinforce our testimony of the gospel because we know what lies in store for them.

Congratulations on the new calling! That's really exciting. I'm a little worried about Dad and Reagan alone though - maybe you should have them go stay with Grandma Bown while you're gone, just to be sure. haha:) That should be a lot of fun, to help with the planning and to be able to go with the girls. The theme sounds really cool too. I don't know if they do girls camp here; I should ask.
Thanks for always writing, Mom, and for all the love and concern. I'm doing great here and having a wonderful time. I love you very much! :)

Dad - "The cliffs were down in Dingle." Haha. That's a pretty cool catchphrase (and a fun time there in Ireland). Also, coo loo coo coo coo coo loo coo! right back at ya :) Always very funny to read your letters. Oh, and the reference to my Spanish video - de las manzanas! Haha. That was a pretty good one.

What you said last week about the work being endless and how we have to focus on every hour of every day and do the most possible is definitely true. Every hour is precious and can be used to further the Lord's work here. It's hard work in that it requires a lot of effort, but the blessings far outweigh the effort I give every single day. I liked what you said about how often we just pray for ourselves and our own benefit and are a little selfish in our supplications. I've worked on focusing on other people in my prayers this last week, and boy, it has made a huge difference. Not only have I received inspiration for how I can help the people I pray for, but I also receive guidance in my own life - without even asking for it! It's been something really cool to learn about.

Pretty cool that you could see the Grijalva chapel on google earth. Our area is indeed on that side of the river. The area lies between the river and a highway, and extends outward from both sides of the chapel. It ends on one side at a road called Torno Largo; I'm not sure about the boundaries on the other side. It's a pretty fair size; not huge, but big enough to do a lot of work. The weather is supposedly a lot, lot hotter here and more humid than Tuxtla. So far it hasn't been terrible, but we'll see how that goes. The bus ride here was pretty awesome too, straight through the mountains and everything. Nothing like the road to Machu Picchu, but still an adventure. The Spanish is still steadily progressing, and I made a goal this week to really study hard and do my best to learn all I can and improve my Spanish - I don't want to fall into a rut and stop learning. Ah, that's right, I forgot to mention the inactive's name - it's Carlos. He came to church again yesterday, and is even more excited about being back than before. We gave him a white shirt and tie, since he didn't have one, and he was really grateful. He's reading the Book of Mormon a lot; we stop by to visit him at least every other day, at least just to say hi, and he always has something new that he's learned and wants to share with us. It's been really cool.

I think it's neat that so many people read the blog - if any of them ever leave comments, I'd be interested to know what they say.  It's cool to know that other people can benefit from hearing about the experiences that do so much for me.

What you said about President Uchtdorf's message sounded really cool. We should be getting the Liahona soon, and I'll read it as soon as we do. What you said about testimony reminded me of a quote from Harold B Lee that I heard in Seminary once and wrote in my scriptures; "A testimony is like a moonbeam. It has to be recaptured every day of your life." It's true, what you said - we're either progressing upward toward more light or falling back into the shadows. We can never just stay still in one place. The reference to 2 Nephi is very good as well - the devil slowly leads us away, little by little, until we realize, like you said, that he's been lying the whole time. One thing to remember is that he knows us extremely well, having been around us since the beginning. If something ever seems like, "Oh, it's not that bad - just a little sin" - that's when we need to be extra careful, because Satan knows what will catch us. (no, I'd never heard him referred to as Scratch before.) There's a lot more to be said on this subject, as always - I'm going to study testimony this week and learn a little more about it.

Okay, I'm winding to a close. Lots to say, but that's why I keep a journal and a study journal and take pictures and all that. As usual, I'll write more next week, and let you know about the conference and the investigators and what I've been learning. I'm still loving every day of the mission and having a great time. The Lord is so loving and will help us with whatever happens in life if we put our trust in Him and keep His commandments.

I love you all very much. Thank you for all your support and love. Until next week!
Con amor,
Elder Greer

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Villa Hermosa - A Beautiful City in Tabasco Mexico

AGUAAAAA Solo Diez Pesos!!!!!
That's the chant I hear every morning. Since the water has to be purified to drink it, they sell it in big jugs, and of course peddle it in the streets from dawn until dusk. But anyway...

Hey everyone! :) I hope this email finds you well. I'm doing awesome. This week has been a lot of fun - getting to know the new area and my companion, adjusting to the city, teaching and contacting and studying and all the rest. It's been a good time.

My companion, Elder Enriquez, is pretty cool. He's only a couple of months away from finishing his mission, which is both good and bad. Good, because he's a good teacher and teaching me better ways of doing things - I've learned a lot from him already. Bad, because he's a little trunky and sometimes gets a little distracted. Not very often, actually, just every once in a while. But I prod him back onto the right track and all is well. :) I think I'll learn a lot from him and will enjoy this companionship. It's helped me quite a bit with my Spanish, too. I have a pretty good grasp of the language, but sometimes I feel more fluent than at other times; having a companion who pretty much only speaks Spanish has really helped it come more naturally to mind. He actually speaks English okay, but I've really been focusing a lot on improving my Spanish. I've heard at least five times this week that I speak Spanish really really well for how long I've been in the mission from different members, which makes me feel good. :) I still have a ways to go, but I can tell I'm steadily improving, which is good.

The ward here in Grijalva (that's the area and ward name) is pretty awesome. The organizations are well set up and they have lots of ward activities with good assistance. The ward mission leader is awesome too; he's 20 years old and preparing for his own mission. He's only been a member for 9 months, but he's a great missionary already with a great understanding of the gospel. He's very eager to accompany us and really helps out in the work with the investigators and less actives. Basically, the ward is wonderful and helps us out with everything, and the people here in general seem pretty open and receptive; I think we'll be having lots of success here. We have an investigator right now with a baptismal date for next weekend (not this coming weekend, but the following). She's 17 and her name is Stefania (or Estefania, I guess. haha) and she's really excited about learning about the gospel. She has a very very powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon; it's practically become her life. We just have to work on getting her to come to church (she says she's really busy) and she'll be ready in no time for her baptism. Other than that, we have three families we're working with that are preparing for baptism; with just a little more work we should be able to set dates for them too. And then we have a couple people we contacted this week that seem pretty promising. I'm really excited about the work here. I really feel like this area is ready for lots of baptisms - now it just depends on us having the Spirit and working hard. That's what it always comes down to. This is the Lord's work, and if we work our hardest, He'll make the miracles happen. :)

Oh, and this week we were working on reactivating an inactive member that we met Wednesday or so. We taught him twice, and both times he got really emotional about the church. He kept saying he wasn't ready to go back to church, that he had a lot of repenting and preparing to do, and that it would be really hard but "someday" he'd come back. We brought Luciano (the mission leader) with us, and he pretty much laid it all out for the less active with a powerful testimony. He said, "I need to see you in church this Sunday!" It was accompanied with some chest pounding, pointing, and various gesticulations. (Sounds comical, but it was really moving, actually.) The less active still said he wasn't ready, but the following day (Sunday), there he was, sitting in church! It frankly surprised me, considering everything he said about how he wasn't ready yet. He later said that it was really easy for him to come back and that he felt really good being back in church. It was awesome. He made such a quick turnaround; I can tell that the Spirit was really working on him very strongly. We're going to keep visiting him, and so are the members, so that it's easy for him to stay active and keep going to church. It was a really cool experience this week.

It's been pretty cold lately - rained yesterday pretty good and was really windy - but today the sun came out again and it looks like the warmth is coming back. (Rats.) The city's really pretty though; I love it. We cross over the bridge every day, and it's really neat to see the river. There's a lookout tower in the middle of the bridge; we haven't had a chance to go up yet, but hopefully this week we will. I'll take some pictures and send them next week.

That's about how the week went - lots of work, lots of study, lots of fun. I'm having a really good time getting to know the area and continuing to learn new things every day. It's amazing how the Spirit will speak to us if we just take the time to listen. If we really take the time to pray, read the scriptures, and meditate, there's so much personal revelation and guidance we can receive. Elder Jackson, one of the zone leaders, shared a quote last night that I really liked: The Holy Ghost wants to help you even more than you want the help. I thought about that for a while - even when we're on our knees, really searching for an answer, the Holy Ghost wants to help us even more than we want the help. It's something to think about. We've been promised so many blessings if we are obedient and if we seek them. Heavenly Father wants to help us; we just need to let Him. When we do, we receive more than we could have imagined. I've definitely seen that throughout my life, and more so on the mission.

Okay, answer time for last week's email.

Gabbie - How goes the scripture study and the journal writing? Mom talked about having you do that every night. I think that's a really good idea. It'll help you develop good habits for when you're older. If you want, in your weekly email you could tell me about a favorite scripture you read, or what you've been reading, and we could talk about that too. Just a suggestion, though. I've glad to hear you've been reading a lot lately. I really like the Percy Jackson series. You'll have to tell me about the movie when it comes out! I remember now what a ripstick is -I tried using one once, but kept falling over. Haha. Sounds like fun though. Well, keep on having fun and reading lots! Good luck in school, too! Love you Gabs!! :)

Miranda - Sounds like you've been reading a ton this last little while. That's awesome. Keep it up! Those books sound really cool too - you say you could  only find the fourth downstairs? Maybe check with Josh - I might have given them to him to read.  You asked about my transfer. Being transferred is kind of like starting over - not completely, because I have more experience this time around, and I know what to do and how to get started, but with all new people and places, it is pretty different. But a cool experience, too. Congratulations on your grades! Sounds like you did really well. I'm proud of you. Keep it up and improve that math grade so you hit 4.0! :)
As you requested, I'll keep myself safe for Mom's sake. Haha. I love you very much - have a great week! :)

Mom - I'm glad you liked the pictures of the canyon. To be honest, they don't even do it justice. It was amazing. Our zone went - about 30 missionaries or so. The whole trip took around 4 hours. And yeah, everyone's P-day in the mission is Monday. Reagan taking his playdough collection into the shower sounds like lots of fun (for him). Haha - I laughed a lot reading about that. Every week there's some new story. Same old Reagan, huh? I really think it's cool that he watches the family videos and my senior video and such so much. Hearing about how he's doing makes me feel really good. It seems like things are good and that he's improved a little, which is really cool. The Lord, as I said before, really blesses us in all things.
I really like reading missionary letters from Cameron, Jason, Kevin, Matt, etc. Feel free to forward them on to me every so often - I can always print them out to read later. Tell Nikka I say hi back. In response to your question: I'm taking good care of myself, having a lot of fun, and learning a lot every day. Keep up the good work with the storage room! :) Reagan and Nikka sound like best friends, but definitely a love/hate relationship, like you said. I still think it's neat to hear about their adventures though. I'll have to take a lot of
pictures this week of the area and send them to you so you can see what it's like. I'll tell more about the members, investigators, and area next week too. Until then - remember I love you very much, and don't worry too much about me. :) Love you! :)

Dad - Last Wednesday I actually did receive your 19-page discurso letter you mailed for Christmas.  I guess somehow the zone leaders got ahold of some letters and packages for our zone. (We live with the zone leaders; I'm not sure if I mentioned that before.) I've read it through a couple times now. Simply put, I love it. I learned so much from reading your talk and your experiences; in fact, I had an experience of my own with receiving direct answer to prayer after reading about the "Nikka Experience". I'll have to tell you about that sometime. Honestly, though, I loved reading that letter and will continue to do so for quite a while. Thanks for sending it and for sharing so much; I know it has and will help me a lot.

Yes - I got my copy of the Gospel Principles lesson book last Sunday. I really like how the book looks, with all the artwork and everything. I've started to study it on my own, because I like the depth and clarity it gives to a lot of important gospel subjects. I really liked what you said about the concept of who God is and deification. I've definitely seen that here - people have an innate understanding or recognition of the truth, even though that's not what their religion professes as doctrine. And really, the gospel makes perfect sense; like you said, what Father wouldn't want everything He has and more for His children?

Speaking of what other religions believe, remember that pamphlet you used in Mission Prep that explains the basic beliefs of a bunch of religions? If you could somehow find another copy (I don't want to take yours) and send it to me, I'd really appreciate it. I think that would help a lot; I realized there's a lot I don't know about the specific beliefs of other religions. I've learned more being out here - Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, etc. - but I remembered that pamphlet and I think it would come in handy. Like I said, if you can find another one, I could sure use it.

I also liked I liked what you said about Bishop Bell's talk - especially his quote "Be who you say you are." I mentioned that Elder Jackson shared a quote with me - well, he has this little book called "Missionary Quotes" or something like that, from Deseret Book, and it has a bunch of quotes from all sorts of people (philosophers, General Authorities, the scriptures, etc.) about a variety of topics, and he decided to give me the book a few days ago. I've been reading through it often; there's a lot of quotes that I really, really like. One of them that I wrote on a post-it and stuck in my agenda is the following: "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. - Socrates." It relates with what you were talking about. Often we have an image that we present to the world of the person we'd like to be or want to be known as. Really, though, the best way to gain a good reputation, or to portray ourselves in the best light, is to actually have that "best light" - to just be ourselves, but have ourselves really have those qualities. (I hope that makes sense.) I think that's really good advice; it's something I've been working at this past week. Good stuff. The song on that topic from Saturday's Warrior was awesome too - I really enjoy those lyrics. And what you said about prayer, about stepping it up, praying at least 2x per day, and then slipping back to "normal" (nothing better than a "once-a-weeker." Haha. I really liked that) - In anything, it seems like you try extra hard one day, and then the day after that slip back to what you were doing before, and suddenly things go worse, you don't feel the Spirit, you have bad luck and just feel down, worse even than before you actually tried. The adversary works a lot harder the harder you try. But the key is exactly what you said - if the devil's going to work twice as hard, well, I've got to go four times as hard. And the only real way to do that is to rely completely on the Lord. When we do that, He helps us overcome the extra temptation and we come out stronger, more faithful, and with greater testimony. Overall, we've got a lot to learn, so might as well start right now and work hard every day. I know I've seen the blessings for doing so.

I liked what you said about Mom's reaction to not getting the email, haha. Just be aware that sometimes that might happen, but I'll always write the day after or so. I'm glad you liked the pictures, too. Someday you'll have to come down here and see the sights - it's really pretty. The canyon was super awesome. Just like
in a movie or a book. Yes, I think I've lost a bit of weight, like you noticed :) and I feel absolutely great. I'm eating healthy and exercising as much as I can. I have a multi-vitamin and have been taking it, so for now I'm good. Also, what you said about the Resurrections - I'll go more into it next week, but we covered that in my Book of Mormon class back in college, and it's pretty interesting stuff. I'll see what I can remember and say more next week though. Really cool that you did more of Uncle Wayne's work. That's simply awesome. It's too bad about Josh's papers, too - I'm really really excited to hear about where he's going when he finally gets the call. Hopefully they'll be off soon. I'm glad he's still coming over for dinner and stuff; I think that's cool. Adelante! (It's hard to find translations for things sometimes. "Go for it!" or something, I guess. Also, I've found that I say "pues" even when I'm talking - or thinking - in English. It's mostly just a filler word, as I'm sure you know, and I've gotten pretty accustomed to using it. Kinda cool.)

As always, there's more I want to say, especially from this week's letter, but my time is up - it'll have to wait until next Monday. As for the question of if I want anything sent - Book of Mormons (let's not get started on that conundrum again) are pretty easy to come by, so I think I'm okay on that, but CTR rings or other little things like that would be pretty cool to give out to members. Anything church-related and like that it always nice.
I'm having a blast here and, as always, learning a whole lot. Thank you very much for the support, the prayers, and the emails. I can't wait to hear from you next week. I love you all very, very much!! :)

Con mucho amor,
Elder Greer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Hola! Hey everyone!

So, today's Tuesday. (Thought I'd get that out of the way first.) The reason I'm writing today and not yesterday - well, there were transfers! I was transferred to... (it's hard to keep up suspense when your readers can skip the big long pause, so I'll just go ahead and say it):

Villahermosa, Tabasco.

It was pretty surprising to me. We got the information on Saturday, and Monday morning I hopped on a five-hour bus up north. I thought I was going to be staying in Tuxtla for at least another change, but guess not! So right now I'm in Villahermosa, the capital (I think) of Tabasco. Yesterday, like I said, I took the bus up here; arrived around 4 pm and met my companion and got a little settled in and stuff. My comp's name is Elder Enriquez; he's from Mexico (and the city of the same name... ha, remember that from our trip to Atacama desert, Dad?) and is almost done with his mission - he leaves in April. Our area is called Grijalva, and we're sort of opening it; for the last couple years the missionaries from the Centro also had to cover our area, but now there are enough missionaries that this ward gets their own. We took a little tour of the area last night, met some members and investigators, etc., and we're going to do the same thing tonight and start working tomorrow. We haven't met them yet, but the zone leaders say that both the bishop and the mission leader are really strong members and really excited about the work, so that should be awesome.
Man, this city is beautiful. It reminds me of Santiago as far as the modernization is concerned - definitely a step up from Tuxtla. Clean streets, nicer houses, and the like. Most people have cars here. The area looks a lot more manicured or cultivated - lots of trees and gardens and fountains and things. There's a river that cuts the city in half that's just awesome. It's supposed to be pretty hot here, but right now it's nice and cool - couldn't ask for better weather. I absolutely love being here. I'll have to take and send some pictures of what the city's like, or find out our address so that you can look it up online. It's beautiful though. I'll be able to give you more details about how the area is, the ward, and the people next week, when I've actually spent some time here. For now, I'm just really excited to work hard and enjoy the surroundings. :)

Since I didn't write much last week, I have quite a bit to catch up on. I'll do what I can for right now, and then try to send a couple pictures of the canyon. Dad: First off, they didn't give us any mail at the zone activity, so I'm still waiting on that, but we'll be having our zone conference probably next week, so I'll let you know then. Also, I forgot to answer this for a couple weeks now, but the picture mom sent came through just fine. I'm able to just open it up and check it out, though for the cost I don't know that I'll print them out. New Year's Eve/Day sounds like a lot of fun, even though the tradition was a little changed. :) The story of fixing the water thing was pretty funny and the computer a bit more typical of how things usually go. I was glad to hear that you got some of Uncle Wayne's work done; that's really exciting. I can't believe it's been so long since he passed away, but at least now his work is being done. I loved your comments on repentance and feeling the remorse for sins long after you've repented; those feelings definitely help us stay away from those mistakes and continually strive to be better disciples of Christ. Yes, I did get the Ensigns you sent; thanks for them. I love reading the conference talks over and over again; each time I gain something new from them. The scriptures you quoted in Alma (7:41 and chapter 5) are really good too; I really like Alma 5 now. Lots of great examples in those verses. I like your comments about Enos, too. (And who can forget all your movie quotes?! They always make me laugh.) Pretty much I love reading your letters every week. I learn new things, am strengthened, and enjoy the memories of home. Thanks, Dad, for all of your teachings and support. I'm glad to hear that things are still going really well at home. Your experience with prayer sounds pretty meaningful too (more on that next week). Check out Villahermosa online; it's pretty neat. Life is wonderful here and I appreciate very much the love and prayers from home. Can't wait to hear from you next week. I love you very much. Chow!

Gabs!: How many days do I have in the mission now? ha :) It sounds like you've been having a lot of fun with your ripstick. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what one is haha. I think I know, but I'm not positive. It sounds fun though. Good job on your grades from school! Just the way I raised you, huh? :) I laughed when Mom told me about you and your new sweater. I bet it's a pretty awesome one. Well, Gabs, I love you very much and am always very excited to read your letters and hear about what you've been up to! Keep having fun and being awesome! Love you! :)

Miranda: Hey hey! It sounds like you've been up to a lot of fun things lately, what with movies and books and school (fun sometimes, right?) and all the rest. How goes the snowboarding? That Avatar movie sounds pretty cool - I haven't really heard anything about it. The book you talked about, The Hunger Game, sounds pretty neat too. Yes, you should definitely read Percy Jackson and the Olympians; I liked them a lot. You asked about my most favorite and least favorite parts of the mission. My most favorite... getting the chance to interact with people every day and help them find more happiness and blessings - and being in Mexico, too. :) My least favorite part? Showering in freezing cold water. This morning it gave me a headache, it was so cold. Takes my breath away every single day. Oh well. :)  Well, it sounds like you're having a really good time with everything. Keep up the good work! :) I love you very much! :)

Mom: I laughed when you mentioned riding Gabbie's bike on Christmas Eve. I remember that. It was pretty funny. I, too, like Cameron's letters - he says 'em just the way he sees them. Pretty cool. For the district present exchange, I had Elder Holbrook (from California... I think), and I bought him a cake and then spelled out his name with pieces of Oreo cookies on top. I thought it was pretty cool and I think he liked it. Those bottle caps on the window sill we were saving for something called wiwichus - it's this collectible thing you can trade in for. They have a cool story behind them, but it's a little long, so I'll save it for next week. Thanks for answering me about Sadie and Will - I wanted to know how they were doing, and I try to remember them in my prayers and pray that things will get easier for them. I bet you're glad now that everyone's back in school, huh? :) Always nice to have the house to yourself again. How goes the storage room organization? Time is slowly dwindling... :) Reagan sounds like Reagan lately... I laughed to hear that he kisses my picture and likes watching family videos and stuff. That's really cool. Mom, I'm very appreciative for everything you do for me, and I love reading your letters and hearing about what's going on at home. I'm doing great and loving where I am and the work. I love you very much!

Okay, that's about all the time I have this week. I'm going to get off a few pictures, too. I'm having a wonderful time on the mission. I'm learning a lot, having fun, and making some great memories. Thank you for all of your support and love. I hope this week is a wonderful one. I love you all very much!
Con amor,
Elder Greer