Awesome to get your email - always a treat. We've had a good, successful, and interesting week here in Villa. I don't have much time today, so I'll get right down to business.
First off, the heat is really kicking in. We were at a member's house earlier washing the clothes and she showed us online that the current temperature is 102. They have the little "feels like" part where they calculate humidity, windchill, all of that. Apparently here it feels like 118 degrees. Yeah, I'm not arguing that one. :) It's almost funny how quickly we start to sweat - and when I say sweat, I mean when we start dripping with sweat, because we're always a little moist (hah). A couple days this past week I was sweating while in the shower. Cold water is running down the front of my body and my back is sweating. Does that make sense? Oh well. :) It's actually not bad; I've gotten used to feeling like this, so it doesn't really bug me anymore. A great example is that we played soccer for a couple hours today and when I was done, I put my normal missionary clothes back on, intending to head back to the house and shower and change and everything - but then decided not to because I felt perfectly normal. So what I've discovered is that the sweat and heat accumulated after playing soccer outside in the hot sun for two and a half hours is roughly the same as how I would be just standing there. They say there's an absolute zero... I think I've found the other end of the scale. :) In reality, though, I'm mostly used to it by now and it's not really a big deal. Actually kind of neat.
Today we had a zone activity - we played soccer, football, and threw water balloons at each other for a couple hours, and then ate pizza. It was neat. I haven't been running in a long time and I became winded a lot faster than I usually do. I exercise almost every morning, but don't have the chance to run very much. It was nice to run around and have fun. We have the biggest zone in the mission - 28 missionaries - and everyone had a good time. Also, zone conference will be this Friday, and I'm really excited for it. Apart from receiving mail and talking to everyone, I learn so much and find new ways to improve my teaching and to become a better person. I'm sure I'll have lots to say about it next week - and of course I'll let you all know what I received mail- and package-wise. :)
This last week picked up a lot. We've been working hard but it seemed like things were progressing pretty slowly for a while. But this past week went really well and we had plenty of success. We have a couple investigators that are doing well and heading for baptism. One of them has a baptismal date set - June 26th. His name's Feliciano. (A mix between "feliz" - happy and "anciano" - old person. Haha. That's what we say, anyway.) He's around 60 years old and seems like he was just waiting for us to come around to teach him. We left him with 3 Nephi 11 to read and he read up to chapter 15 or so - and understood and remembered most of it really well. It was cool. He's excited about coming to church this week and is doing really well. Saira is doing well, but still hasn't come to church; that seems to be her big challenge. What we try to do most of the time is promise specific blessings in return for coming to church (peace, direction, understanding, answers to prayers, etc.), and I was curious if you all could think of a couple reasons why you like going to church - things that might draw nonmembers to come. Do you think you could help me out with that? It'd be interesting to see what you say and we might find something that will help her specifically. Dustin Montana has been working like crazy so we haven't been able to visit him this last week, but we're hoping to this week. Beyond that, we have a couple other good people who have been doing well, and additionally we've been teaching a lot of less actives and seeing good results there. It's been a successful week and I feel like it's just been preparation for this week, so we should be seeing some good things happening in the next few days. As always, I appreciate your prayers and support from home - and really, I do feel it all the time.
I'm still doing really well personally. I'm very happy. I'm having the time of my life and enjoying every new moment. (Interruption - the cyber owner is listening to music pretty loud, as usual. What's playing right now is a live version of the traditional Scottish song "I Would Walk A Thousand Miles" (brings me back to planning the Scotland trip, Dad), but the lyrics have been changed to talk about eating 1000 cakes. Pretty weird. Anyway.) I just read an email from Kevin that his mom forwarded and he talks about how he's always learning new things and he's surprised by how much he learns every day. It's exactly the same for me. It continually amazes me how much I learn each day and how much the Lord is molding me to become what He wants me to be. I love studying and teaching and talking to people and feeling the Spirit. Being a missionary is wonderful.
Gabbie: Sounds like a pretty crazy week without the AC! (Ahem... welcome to a cold version of Villahermosa... haha.) Also - have fun in Disneyland! I'm sure it'll be a great trip. Remember to ride Splash Mountain for me and to eat a giant turkey leg for us all. :) Thanks for writing and I hope your week is awesome. Remember that I love you very much - doscientos veces más de lo que me dices que me amas! :) Love you! :)
Miranda: Sounds like the beginning of summer has been pretty fun! I'm glad you've been having a good time. The camp planning and everything sounds cool too. You're right - doesn't really sound much like 'rough' camping. My life here is more camping than that! Everybody mentioned the AC being out, and trying to sleep in 86 degrees upstairs, which I found kind of funny, but I guess it's all relative. Someday everyone will have a chance to visit here in Villahermosa and then you can see what I've been talking about with the heat. :) The Asian weekend sounds really fun. Well, Miranda, thanks for your letter and for being a good sister. I love you very much! Have a great week! :)
Mom: I'm still doing really well, enjoying being with Elder Tanner a lot, and having a lot of fun. We have a really interesting ward with lots of cool/unusual people. Next week I'll have to tell you more about some of them. We still eat every lunch with members and every so often they invite us to dinner (which is always nice!). Sounds like summer has been going pretty well. Dad sent pictures of the garden box thing and it looks cool. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables every day and so it'll be nice to be able to continue that coming home - a pretty good habit to have, I think. I laughed at the description of Gabbie's swim cap for the swim team. I think it's cool that she's doing that. Sounds cool about your projects and everything. And, like Dad said, what you think is a mess is probably just normal.for most of us :) Haha. Thanks for always writing and letting me know what's going on. I love you very much and hope that you have a wonderful week! Love you! :)
Dad: Funny what you said about learning what happens in the family by reading the letters, the breakers in the house, and Reagan and swimming. Haha. What an interesting life, huh? Thanks for the scripture references; I'll look them up tonight when I get home or tomorrow in my studies. I've been learning some cool new things lately - but I'll have to share them next week. Also awesome what you said about Reagan. Very interesting, and touching as well. I like hearing about things like that. Thanks for always writing and helping me out so much. I love you very much and hope you have a wonderful week! :)
Here's the paragraph you asked for, for the stake camp thing:
Preparing to serve as a missionary of the Lord is an interesting task. There are many things that can only be learned by hands-on experience and that varies from mission to mission and person to person. However, I've learned a few things here in southern Mexico that would have helped me out had I known them beforehand. One thing is the importance of letting my own testimony and personality shine. The Lord calls us to serve with our strengths and weaknesses exactly as they are because He knows how to use us to find and recover His children. There are many people in the world ready for the gospel, but sometimes it takes the right person to find them. Testimony is an important part of that finding process, and also is invaluable in teaching and aiding in conversion. A testimony doesn't have to be perfect, for as Alma teaches us, faith is not have a perfect knowledge of things. But testimony does have to be sincere and must be shared frequently. I would have read the Book of Mormon more before my mission to help me increase that testimony and learn how to follow the Spirit. Also, I have learned just how much fun being a missionary is. I knew it would be rewarding, but I never would have guessed a mission would be so fun. Every day is filled with wonderful experiences and it's something to look forward to and anticipate with great excitement. The Lord prepares those He chooses to serve. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ and that He is our Savior and Redeemer. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and Thomas S. Monson is his authorized and anointed sucessor. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and is invaluable for us in these the latter days. I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thanks, Dad. Loved the pictures. I'll write more next week. Chow for now - two taps.
Love you all!