Hey everyone! It was great to read this week's email and hear how everyone's been doing. This past week has been a great one and I'm excited for yet another. It seems like the hot season is mostly over, because it's been a bit cooler this week, and they tell us the rains are coming up in July. Pretty cool; I'm looking forward to it. I might actually get to use those rain-proof shoe coverings I've been carrying around since I left home. :) Speaking of, today I cleaned out my room and luggage and stuff and reorganized everything, and I decided to throw out the three tubes of sunscreen that have also gone unused thus far. I never used it at home, and now that the hottest part of the year is drawing to a close, I think it's safe to say that I won't be using it anytime soon. I actually didn't throw it out, but left it in the cupboard, in case a future missionary wants it. Haha.
A couple interesting things happened this week. First off, the investigators. Things kind of took a dip, but we're confident (and praying) that things will still work out. None of the four investigators with baptismal dates showed up to church yesterday, so we had to go find them in the afternoon and figure out what was up. Feliciano's wife told us that his boss switched his work schedule around at the last second and so he wasn't able to come. We're going to stop by tomorrow in the morning to talk to him. He won't be able to be baptized this Saturday, but his wife said he still reads the Book of Mormon every night after work and that he's been really happy in the last couple weeks, so we're pretty sure he still wants to be baptized and that it'll happen soon. (By the way, his wife is a member of some other church - I think "La Iglesia de Dios en México," which seems kind of a weird name, and a bit presumptuous, but oh well :) - and it's funny because she tells us she's been trying for years to get him to church and he's never wanted to go, but now he's finally going to a church and it's not hers. She always says, well, maybe he's rejected my church, but at least he's going somewhere. Hah. It's kinda funny.) The lesson we had with him last week was, as always, very spiritual. I'm sure things will go well tomorrow. As for María Luisa, Ricardo, and Rosa - well, María Luisa is around 70 years old and her arm sometimes bugs her from a fairly recent injury, and she didn't feel well the morning of. From what she's told us about wanting to go to church, I know it wasn't her will to stay home. Ricardo and Rosa didn't show up either, and Rosa's mom told us that they aren't legally married (a big problem here, and it's kind of difficult to get married sometimes, which is hard too). So, we're going to work on that one as well - we have an appointment with them for Wednesday. I'm confident María Luisa will get baptized as soon as possible, and it might take a little more time with Ricardo and Rosa but they seem really desirous to be baptized, so I think it'll happen. Your prayers will definitely help. Saira is doing pretty well - still hesitant about the whole baptism thing, and she didn't come to church yesterday either, so tomorrow we'll see what's up, but she's doing well with reading the Book of Mormon and everything. She keeps saying that she'll be baptized eventually, and mentioned August and then said, "That's pretty far away, isn't it?" So I think it'll be fairly soon that she makes that decision - but we'll just have to wait and see. We're working with some other people, but those are the strongest right now. We've also started working with a few less-active families and are seeing some good results, so the work in general is going well and there's plenty of it. We're pretty busy - which is great.
Another thing I wanted to share was something cool that happened on Wednesday. We eat on Wednesdays with a sister named Adriana - I mentioned her a while back, her daughter's name is Taira, she recently returned to church - and afterward we wanted to share a spiritual thought with her. We hadn't really planned anything, and what we do in those occasions is just pull out the scriptures, pick one that we like, talk about it, and let the Spirit be our guide. (I don't want it to sound like I don't put any thought into what we're teaching, just that we hadn't planned this one.) As I pulled out my scriptures, I said a quick little prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me know what to share. The number 15 came into my mind and I had the impression that I should share verse 15 of whatever page I opened up to. Now, I've done that before just jokingly - "I'm going to open up the Book of Mormon and the first verse I see is my answer" - and it usually doesn't work so easily. But, of course, it's possible (Dad, your experience with choosing to extend your mission came to mind), so I decided to give it a shot. I opened up the Book of Mormon to Alma 46 and read verse 15 to myself, then sort of put together an idea of what to say and went with it. Basically, I shared what I called "the Moroni Formula." In that chapter it talks about how Moroni makes a stand (creating the Title of Liberty), prays for the Lord's help, trusts in God, and then goes out among the people to rally them to his side (he acts upon his decision). I talked about how that is a good example for us - we need to make firm decisions about our moral standards or who we are or what we are going to do, pray for guidance, trust that God will help us, and then go and do. It was a pretty cool little lesson, and it was 100% on-the-spot inspiration. It was really neat to have been a part of that, and just another testimony to me that God loves His children and wants to help them.
This week I also completed 10 months in the mission. As always, it seems like time is just flying by. I only have 14 months left. It's cool, but makes me want to work even harder to make the most of those months. Being a missionary is a great opportunity and I want to make the most of it. I'm starting to be more outspoken, a little bolder, talking to everyone and proclaiming the gospel and teaching them about the Restoration. It's neat to see the changes in other people and to also see them in myself. It's amazing what the Lord can do with a willing heart (1 Nephi 16:29... "by small and simple things..."). To sum up (because there's just too much to explain): I'm loving my time out here and becoming even better than I was before (if that's even possible... haha just kidding!). This is a wonderful experience and there's nowhere else I'd rather be right now.
That's about it for cool things this week - on to the good stuff.
Gabbie: Pretty exciting about Girls' Camp! That should be a lot of fun for you - especially with Mom and Miranda there. You'll have to tell me all about it when you get back. You can pretend you're down here in Mexico when you're out in the wilderness hunting iguanas and building fires... oh, wait, that's what I did in Scouts. What exactly goes on in Girls' Camp? Haha. :) I can't wait to hear about it! I hope you have a great trip. I remember the Autopia ride in Disneyland, and the drivers licenses they give out. Actually, I remember getting a license from Legoland and keeping it for a while - I may, in fact, still have it somewhere. Pretty funny that you got yours laminated. Now it's official! :) Mom's been telling me about you on swim team. I thought it was funny that you didn't go to the one in Payson because it was too early. Drive! Ambition! The will to conquer! ;) haha. Anyway, Gabs, sounds like a lot of fun things have been going on, and I'm excited to hear next week about your time at Girls' Camp. Have a great trip, be safe, and have a wonderful week! I love you (un sinnúmero de veces más de lo que me amas)! :) Adios! :)
Miranda: Yep, still going with the hammock, though the past few nights my companion has been giving it a try. It's really comfortable, but yeah, you can't really be on your stomach. The hammock at home has pieces of wood at either end to hold the hammock in a square position, right? Real hammocks come to a point, and it's a little easier to sleep on them that way. (I'm learning so much out here! haha.) I'm totally fine with being in the new mission. For one thing - wherever the Lord wants me to serve is fine by me. :) Plus, the new mission includes part of Veracruz, and it'll be interesting if I end up going there. Also, like you said, it'll be cool to say I served in two missions, and fun to get to know the new president and his wife and everything. Tabasco's the hottest part of the mission, and in Chiapas it rains more in the fall. I think there are more "roaming animals" in Chiapas - there's a lot more jungle and more little towns there. So it will be interesting to get to know Tabasco better, though it'd be cool to be in Chiapas too - I guess what I'm saying is that they're both good, but I'm happy being in the new mission. Tell Chantelle's parents I'm doing well and having a good time. I think that's cool that they ask about me. As for the earliness in inviting people to baptism - we try to do it as early as possible to get people focused on that goal. That's really the point of us teaching them, and if we have that set right up front, it makes the lessons a lot more focused and motivates the people more. It takes courage to accept the invitation so early, but the people who've been prepared usually have enough to say yes. But yeah, it's pretty neat that people do say yes so early on.
I bought a handful of drink packets (Tang) of various flavors that we don't have in the States. I'm going to try to send them home one of these days. The flavors include tamarindo, guayaba, jamaica, maracuyá, and tuna (no, not actual tuna - it's a fruit). They have some cool candies here too - sweet and spicy at the same time. Weird, but cool. Toy Story 3 sounds like it was really good and the story about Reagan grabbing a handful of a stranger's popcorn made me laugh a lot. Good ol' Regs! :) Give him a hug for me, just for doing that. :) Girls' Camp should be exciting and it'll be cool to be there with Mom and Gabs. I hope you have a fun week and are safe. Talk to you next week (on my birthday!). Love you! :)
Mom: Come to think of it, it would be a pretty close race between Grandma Bown and Sister Velasco. I've seen some really short people here. :) Yeah, the picture was the entire zone. And yes, the split does take place on Monday - or maybe July 1, I'm not positive. But I probably won't be going anywhere for a couple more weeks, so that's cool. I like where I'm at and who I'm with. It'll be neat to see the changes in action. Don't worry about the fact that other things you've sent didn't arrive - I'm sure my birthday will be more than memorable enough, and they'll get here eventually. :) I took out some money a few days ago from my debit card and my companion and I might get pizzas or do something cool (and allowed) for my birthday. So don't worry about it at all. Plus, getting the family email on Monday will be present enough. :) Girls' Camp (as I've said for the third time now, haha) sounds like it's going to be really fun and I'm sure you'll all have a good time. You'll have to tell me all about everything that you did next week. I like how all you said this time was "Dad and Reagan should have fun." Haha. Acceptance at last! ;) I thought what you said about making Miranda eat fish on my birthday was pretty funny. You celebrate it there and I'll do the same here! :) Thanks, Mom, for all that you do for me, and thanks for writing. Have a great week and I hope everything goes well. I love you very much! :)
Dad: I really liked what you said about Gideon, and also loved what you said this week. I want to read that a couple more times and really think about it, because I like the concepts a lot. The whole idea of continuous improvement, the Atonement, and coming to know God is really interesting. Seems like a cool book, too. Also, about how we must submit ourselves to the will of the Lord, and the parable in the Gospel Principles book (we had that lesson yesterday too!) is really neat, and very true. I laughed at "2-27 weeks" too - and don't worry; I'm perfectly fine just waiting until what was sent arrives, whenever that may be. No big deal. (I do it all the time... huh?) Saira says her name Sigh-ra. There's a sister in the ward named Viané - I really like that name. Thanks for the compliments and what you said about me - reading the emails always boosts my confidence and excitement a little - and thanks for answering the church question. That's a pretty good point, too - you'll never regret going to church. I remembering hearing, and enjoyed remembering, the story about not going out for Chinese food on your mission. A good lesson to be learned from that one. I'll definitely keep that in mind this next Monday. :) But really, it makes me think about how important it is to be choosing the right all the time - because God is always watching, isn't He? Also the question about going into town to escape missionary life - isn't that the opposite of what we should be doing? I smiled at the "two taps" part and it's cool to think about things like that. Grandpa Greer emailed me today, as he does fairly often, and wanted me to let him know through you if I get his emails. So, if you can tell him that yes I do, and appreciate them very much, and am planning to respond when I can - and that I do love reading the letters and that they help me out a lot. I'll do what you said as soon as I can. Tell both sets of grandparents thanks for me too. Thank you, Dad, for everything you do for me, and I hope you have a wonderful week. It should be good, just hanging out with Reagan. I love you a lot. See you next week!
Thanks, everyone, for all of your love and support. I'm doing well and loving the missionary life. Have a wonderful week! :)