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

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