Hey everyone! Good afternoon!
It's a warm, sunny day here in Mina, and the smell in the air is that of summer back at home. And for me, it totally feels like back home - that is, until I remember that we're halfway through November. Weird. I read Josh's email (I think from last week) and he has pictures of Halloween and Thanksgiving things. Not having more than one season is kind of strange. :)
Well, it's been a great week, and there have been a few surprises. First, let me talk about Juan Carlos's baptism. The baptism part went off without a hitch - he asked me to baptize him, the branch showed up and was very supportive, and the service was beautiful. All cool there. I've got a picture that I'll try to upload in a second here. In his family, his mom and younger sister (age 10) are members. He has another younger sister of 7 who also attends church. His dad's your typical deadbeat drunk (sounds harsh, but it's true), and doesn't really give him a lot of support, but doesn't stand in his way either. His mom's really strong in the Church and emphatic about her chilren being faithful too. The baptism was awesome, but there were a few complications with the confirmation. It's a bit of a long story, but here are the details - Juan Carlos was electrocuted about a month ago (I think I mentioned this last week-a live cable near his eye, traveled through his body, tore part of his foot on exit), and so his left foot's in pretty bad shape right now, so he needs to wear flip flops everywhere. Yesterday morning he wanted to wear church shoes to church, and his dad told him not to, and that turned into an argument, and Juan Carlos got angry and refused to go to church. I went to Canticas Ward this week (we switch off every Sunday), and so after sacrament I headed over with a couple members and his mom to talk to him, but he had ransacked the place and was nowhere to be seen. I guess he did the same about a year ago (looking for money and then bailed by train to Mexico City), so we were kind of worried, but later his mom called us and had found him down by the railroad tracks reading the Book of Mormon. (Kind of a neat end to a worrying situation.) I think he's still pretty emotionally affected by his childhood and the way he's been living since - it's been rough - and that he just needs some time to get used to things. He says he's going to church for sure this Sunday. I hope so. Regardless, he's a cool person, and it's been fun getting to know him.
Javier and Susana still haven't made it to church (he works every other week), but they're doing really well; we had a very powerful lesson with Javier last week - the three of us shed tears - and he's devouring the Book of Mormon. Perfecto, in Canticas, is getting baptized this Saturday and it should be awesome. Cristina has been hard to get ahold of, but seems to still be interested. Deysi and Guillermo are still there, just waiting on paperwork. Another woman named Reyna, from Canticas, is just waiting on a birth certificate to get married and baptized. So we're teaching quite a few people, and should see lots of success in the next few weeks...
...and I won't be there for any of it! :( Yep - special transfers! (Mission-wide special transfers, so it's not my fault haha.) Turns out we're getting a batch of 28 gringos tonight, and so the President is making some huge changes, opening and closing areas, etc. Who knows why they're coming today instead of in four weeks - maybe they've been waiting on visas or something, who knows. It's kind of strange, but oh well. So Mina's getting six more missionaries and things are getting moved around. (Also, an entire zone - called Los Tuxtlas - is getting closed. I didn't know that even happened...) My companion's staying in Paquitál with a new companion from somewhere else, and I'm going to the area Palmar, still here in Mina. My companion's name is Elder Valencia; I've seen him around, but don't know him very well. And I'll still be District Leader - but they're dividing the zone, and I'll end up in the other one. It's pretty crazy; the whole mission is having changes like this. I totally didn't expect this - who would? - and was a little sad to be leaving Paquitál, since I've really enjoyed being here and was looking forward to the upcoming weeks. However, I know that Palmar is where the Lord wants me right now, and I have the feeling that great things await me there. So, it's kind of a mixed bag, but overall I'm excited and looking forward to the changes. Tomorrow morning I head over to the new area, and next week I'll be able to tell you all about how it is.
Well, that's really all the big news of the week. Oh, Saturday morning we went to Canticas to help a sister and her daughter out with some yard work, and I mowed her lawn! With a lawnmower! Yards are rare here, and I didn't even know lawnmowers existed, to be honest. :) It was pretty fun; I haven't mowed the lawn in a while. Cool stuff.
Yep, I think that's about it. On to the replies! :)
Let's mix things up this week...
Dad - I figure that for once you can go first, so that I can finally say everything I have in mind. :) You asked about our daily routine and knocking doors. We usually have a couple appointments in the morning, but if not we use that time to contact in the streets and knock doors; it seems to be more effective in the morning or right after lunch. We try to talk to as many people in the streets as we can in between appointments, and then we go street by street, depending upon where we are, knocking every door and looking for people to teach. The number of people who accept us changes depending on the hour, the place, and the day - sometimes everyone opens up for us, and sometimes we'll get 30 houses before even talking to someone. But, for the most part, people are pretty willing to let us in, even if they have no interest in the message. I forgot to take a picture of a typical house/street - I'll do that this week - but they're pretty small and painted lots of strange colors. :) haha. It's true though. Most people seem to have jobs - practically half the city works for Pemex (petroleum company with a bunch of plants here). You asked how it compares to Chile - I think the closest is the house of the old branch president we visited. Mina reminds me a lot of being there. It's really not that big of a city, to be honest. As for the native missionaries, there are a lot of them that want to work hard, but I'd definitely say that many native missionaries are much more (how shall I say?) relaxed? (lazy missionaries). I've met Elders from Peru, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Bolivia - oh, and I've heard of some from Canada. :) The rest are gringos or Mexicans. I really liked your comments on the stake conference from last week - I found a cool correlation between the two talks. The one talked about standing in holy places, and carrying that holiness with you - well, the phrase "lift where you stand" from General Conference (in April, I think) came to mind, and then I thought, "purify where you stand." Kind of a neat idea - disciples of Christ carrying His light around the world and making different places and people just a little more holy by their example. That, of course, ties in perfectly with the tapestry idea from the other speaker. The two ideas kind of came together in my mind and it seems cool. We should all make the world more holy, wherever it is that we are, and in that way we create just a little bit more of the Gospel tapestry. In the President's email today he talked about how we should focus every day on doing things that we won't regret - filling our lives with goodness. Kind of goes along as well, in a way. Oh, and that poem was wonderful (the one from last week). I absolutely love it. I have read it a bunch this week, and really pondered on it. Very cool. Thanks for sharing that. I really liked your comments this week on hymns. Cool thing - I have a Tabernacle Choir disc called "Called To Serve," which I have listened to many times now, and two of my now-favorite hymns are from that disc - Redeemer of Israel and How Firm a Foundation. Funny you mentioned both of them. Man, what good lyrics and powerful messages. They inspire me every time I hear them. Hymns truly have a lot of power. Also cool your thoughts about them. Well, as always, more next week. Thanks for everything, Dad. I really appreciate it. I love you very much. :) (Oh, and - two taps!) :)
Mom - Hey Mom! :) Thanks for sending the Christmas packages and stuff (no, I haven't received them yet, just thought I'd thank you in advance haha). I'll let you know when they arrive. You asked about church responsibilities - I teach Gospel Principles every other week (trade off with my companion), and every month or so they have a missionary speak in sacrament meeting. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to do so here. Rats. Doing splits with the youth is cool; it lets me get to know them more and is a good experience for them too. No rush on the new address for Grandpa and Grandma Greer - I probably won't head to the post office until December. I should have a bunch of letters ready to mail by then, though. It was cool to hear about what Reagan's been up to; sounds like he's happy and having a lot of fun. I'm glad. Miranda and Gabbie seem to be doing well, too. And Neeks? I'm sure she's still zipping around. I can't believe it's snowing there... :) Sounds like this week should be a busy one! I hope you enjoy it, though. Thanks for everything, Mom. I love you very much! :)
Miranda - Still excited for Harry Potter 7? I'm sure you'll have a good time. Also, tell me a little bit more about The Kite Runner and what else you been reading? How's school been going? Did you get your English paper finished? ;) Mom said you finished the Book of Mormon and your Personal Progress - that's awesome! You'll have to let me know more about that next week too. How's everything with your calling in the Laurels? Keep me up-to-date on the BYU application and everything else that's going on in your life. I hope you have a wonderful week! I love you very much! :)
Gabbie!: Hey Gabs! :) I have to say, your story about riding Goose last week sounded pretty cool. You're getting to be quite the horseback rider girl, aren't you? :) From this week, I recognized the first Toy Story quote, but not the second one... I'm sure it's just the English-Spanish confusion. Haha. How's your reading coming along? Did you ever pick up The Westing Game? You asked about the number of youth here - in the ward, about 15 altogether, and about 7 in the branch. Not many, compared to at home, but still not too bad. I'll let you know next week about the new ward. The Bishop's Youth Discussion sounded pretty cool too; I'll definitely have to try that activity you mentioned with some investigators sometime. Gabs, thanks for being so awesome. Have a great week and enjoy the nice weather! :) I love you! :) PS - congratulations on your grades! Woo! :)
Thank you, everyone, for all the things you do for me. I'm having the time of my life out here. I love you all very much, and know that the Church is true. Be strong and faithful and seek the Lord's blessings. Have a wonderful week, everyone! :)
Con mucho amor,