From December 6, 2010
Hey everyone! It's another beautiful afternoon here in Mina. This past week we had a couple of pretty chilly days (I actually had to use a blanket at night - imagine that!), but yesterday and today it's warmed up a bit. It's still pretty cloudy today, though, which is nice. (They say you shouldn't start a novel with a weather report, and I think the same applies for a missionary letter. Let's get on to the stuff that matters.)
Well, the first cool thing to relate is that Yaqui (Yaquelin) was successfully baptized and confirmed this weekend. The baptism had a good turnout with lots of family and friends, her sisters spoke, the Primary sang a couple songs, and her dad baptized her. Yesterday her dad was able to confirm her and, since it was fast and testimony meeting, practically her whole family bore testimony. It was really neat. They're a strong family and everyone looked so happy to see Yaqui be baptized. It was a cool moment for us too. We've become good friends with her, and her family. I have quite a few pictures I want to send, including of the baptism, but unfortunately I left my cable in the house (do we call it a cable in English? The USB connection thing...), so those will have to wait until next week. Which is really a shame, because I have some pretty awesome pictures... more on that in a moment. :)
So, the baptism went through wonderfully. Our other investigator, Julieta, seems to have moved to live with her daughter... we haven't been able to get a straight answer on that, but looks like she won't be baptized this Saturday. Hopefully we'll be able to at least pass on the referral. We're now in a desperate search for people to teach, since we're kind of lacking in the area. One cool thing is that we received 12 referrals this past week from members. That's a lot for just one week, and we're in the process of visiting them to see if they're interested. This week should be a good one - lots of door-knocking and meeting new people, which is always fun. I'm excited for it.
Last Thursday we had our interviews with President Castañeda. The interview went really well, as always, and he gave me some great advice. I asked him about having the family come down to Mexico when I finish, and he said that won't be a problem. He told me that in March you should call the Missionary Department to coordinate your flights with mine and the details and stuff, and they'll arrange things, and at that time I'll set things up on my end with him, but that there's no need to worry about it until then. Kind of cool to know that it's more of a sure thing now. Are you still planning on coming down? I think that would be awesome. But no need to worry about it for another three months.
I received a package and two letters, the letters from Lisa and the package from Grandma and Grandpa Bown, Laura, Lisa, and Ben. It was great. They sent me candy (much to the delight of my companion), a BYU shirt (which I am currently wearing), a Libro de Mormón, and an instrumental cd called "Take Time to Be Holy" (which I really like. Very beautiful music). Please pass along my thanks to them; I really appreciate it. Yes, the present were all wrapped, but I couldn't resist the temptation and opened them up. Haha. :) So far that's all I've recieved, but I'll keep you all updated. Oh, and we were told that we can have the phone call home between the 22nd and the 27th, and we have an hour(ish) to talk, like the last time. Since this is the last week of the transfer, I'll wait to set things up until next week, but when would be a good time and day for you guys? Just let me know and we'll discuss more next week. I'm looking forward to it.
The President had some cool news for us - we're having a special mission-wide Christmas activity this Thursday. We're all heading to Villahermosa, and we're going to listen to a message by the President, watch some sort of video presentation, eat, take a photo together, and go through the Temple. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a wonderful experience, and I just can't wait. :) It's been a while since I've been able to go through the Temple, and it'll be cool to meet up with old companions and such and chat with everyone.
Speaking of Christmas, we had the opportunity to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional last next, and man, I loved it. What a special message. I liked the fact that President Uchtdorf incorporated the Grinch into his message (which only started up once more my old nickname, "Elder Grinch," among the members here haha - their pronunciation of "greer" sounds like grinch to them anyway), and the themes of service and love. I loved the music of the Choir, especially "O Come All Ye Faithful" - I could really feel the power and beauty of the season with that hymn. I know the Savior loves us, and what a glorious thing it is to be able to remember him more fully in this month. I hope we can all find the true spirit of Christmas in our lives and can make this time of year one of service and love.
Well, that's all from me this week. I have a couple quick responses for this week's email...
Gabbie: Hey Gabs! First off, your Spanish is coming along nicely! And secondly, your emails are getting more and more inventive every week. :) They always make me smile. I'm trying to think of things to suggest to you for Christmas, but nothing really comes to mind, maybe because I've been away from civilization for 15 and a half months. :) Haha, just kidding, but I'll give it some thought and let you know next week. Mom says that you have a lot going on in school this week - I hope it goes well and that you can have a lot of fun while getting everything done. Thank you for writing me, Gabs, and I hope you have a great week. Te amo mucho! :) Adios!
Miranda: Sounds cool about the college plans. Whatever happens is cool with me, though I do think it would be a lot of fun to go to BYU together, still be living at home, sharing a car, all that. We'll have to see how things play out. But yes, a Jeep would be fine by me. :) Hopefully you are able to go snowboarding this week and that you enjoy it. Make the most of the snow and cold - I'm missing it down here! :) You mentioned how you like to live day by day... there's a quote by President Monson where he talks about how we need to learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present... something like that. It's good advice. Set good habits now so that when you hit college you can enjoy it to the fullest and don't miss out on anything. Also, enjoy where you are in life, because it only happens once. Those are my brotherly words of wisdom for the week. :) Thanks for writing and for being a good sister and friend. I appreciate it a lot. I hope you have a wonderful week. I love you very much! :)
Mom: Hi Mom! :) Is it still snowing? Steve emailed me this week and mentioned a blizzard warning or something this past week, but said that nothing out of the ordinary happened. It made me miss the snow and the cold. The only thing cold here is the ice cream from Dairy Queen that's right down the road. :) I can't believe there are only 19 days left until Christmas. We don't have any specific plans yet, but I'm sure we'll spend the day with members and celebrate it that way. We might do another gift exchange among missionaries, too, so that will be fun. No, no one recorded me singing... I hope. :) haha. It was cool to hear about the baptism of Wil - it's crazy to think that he's the last grandchild for them. Also, I enjoyed hearing about Reagan's trip to the dentist, and I'm surprised and glad that it went so well. That's cool - it sounds like little by little he's progressing and getting better. It'll be interesting to see what he's like when I get home, and to see the differences. Thanks for keeping me updated on the family and on what's been going on. I hope you have a wonderful week. I love you very much - thanks for everything! :)
Dad: I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures; you mentioned the "squishy pulling meat off the bone" sound I used to hate, and now that I think about it, it doesn't really bother me anymore. I guess if I can handle pulling legs off a whole turtle then the turkey should be no problem! Very interesting about the blog, and that it gets so many hits from all over the world. I figure it's okay if we just leave it how it is - unblocked. And, hey, maybe someone stumbling upon it will become interested enough to request more information about the gospel. (anyone interested should go to http://www.lds.org/ and request some free literature, or a free bible! :)
I really loved the symbolism you mentioned about the Temple and the degrees of glory and all that. Since I can't always read thoroughly the email, I only scanned through that part, so I'll take some time to study it this week to really understand it, but it sounded pretty cool. Next week I'll also take some time to mention some of the cool things I've been learning lately. Thanks for sharing all that with me. Home teaching here kind of wavering between "decent" and "doesn't really exist," which is kind of sad. I've never heard of an investigator having home teachers assigned before baptism, either, probably because here most members don't even have home teachers that actually visit them. But that's why I'm here, right? - to build up the kingdom! :) I hadn't heard about Janessa - that's very cool that she's planning on serving a mission. Good for her. (I give my vote of approval. Hah.) Well, Dad, thanks for everything, and for always teaching me something new. I hope you have a great week. I love you very much!
Thanks, everyone for all your prayers and support. I love you all! Have a wonderful week! :)
Con mucho amor,
From December 13, 2010
Hey everyone! Thanks for having me on the show today - it's great to be back. I see some new faces here today, as well as some old fans, so hopefully this will be interesting for everyone. You know, a funny thing happened to me on the way over here...
Haha. :) I'm not really sure where that came from. But it's been a great week, and I'm excited for this next one too. I don't have much time to write today, because with transfers and some other things we've been a little short on time. So I'm going to try and write as much as I can, and I'll make up for it next Monday when I have a bit longer to write.
First off, transfer calls came in yesterday. They usually call us Saturday morning, so we almost thought there weren't going to be transfers, but finally around 7 pm the zone leaders called and let us know the deal. My companion is taking off, as expected; he's heading to Benemerito, an area in Tabasco right on the border of Guatemala. He's pretty excited about it, though sad to leave Palmar. It's a great area, and he's been a really good companion; I'm sad we didn't get to spend more time together. I'm staying here in Palmar as district leader, and I've been given another assignment... trainer. Yep, that's right, I'm receiving a new missionary. :) The ZLs told me he's probably going to me an American, but nothing's definite yet. My comp heads out tomorrow morning and the new guy will get here around noon on Wednesday, so in the meantime I'll be with another companionship in our district. I am really excited for the chance to train. It's going to be different - if he is American, it'll mean a lot more talking and teaching and everything for me at first, until he gets a hang of the language - but I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I think I'll enjoy it a lot. Next week I'll be able to tell you all the details about my new companion (starting with his name). For now, I'm in waiting mode. :)
That means I'll be spending Christmas here in Mina, and New Year's too. That will be fun; the ward members are awesome, and it will be fun to spend the holidays with them. There's a stake activity on Friday and a Christmas devotional Sunday, and more things to come as we get closer to the 25th. I'm going to set everything up for the phone call this week. I'll figure out the day and the time (and, of course, the phone number), and I'll be sure to let you know next Monday. I'm really looking forward to the phone call - it's been 7 months since the last one. And this weekend I hit 16 months as a missionary... yikes. Time flies. :)
So that's that for what's coming up this week. Oh, and we have a special conference with President Johnson, the Area President. Should be cool. We're slowly building up our teaching pool; the referrals and door-knocking of the past week helped a lot, and we've met some good people. More info on that next week as they continue progressing. This past week was a good one, especially with the Villahermosa trip. We headed out in the wee hours of the morning, but I dozed on the three-hour bus ride and arrived in Villa ready to go. We took a mission photo, went through the Temple, ate a delicious meal, watched a video of the history of the mission (all the baptisms since July, video of when the President and his family arrived, different activities, etc.), sang Christmas songs, and received lots of candy as presents. :) No packages or letters for me, though I hope for something to come this week. I'll keep you posted, as always. Going through the Temple again was a wonderful blessing. I love feeling the Spirit there and being able to learn so much more. It was a chance to receive a lot of personal revelation and direction for my life right now. I'm diligently keeping a day-to-day journal, a study journal, and a "spiritual experiences" journal, so even if I don't remember to write something here, it's getting recorded. :) Also, I've mentioned having a few experiences in the mission and haven't given much details, and it will be awesome to be able to share those experiences when I get home. Anyway, this paragraph has been a bit rambling, but the trip to Villa was great, and I loved going through the Temple. :)
What else, what else... I forgot to mention this last week (I think), but I played Santa in an elementary school last Monday. A sister in the ward works there, and asked me to dress up as Santa so the kids could have their picture taken. It was an all-around awesome experience. It was so much fun to shout "Ho-ho-ho!" and "Feliz Navidad, niño!" and see the kids' faces light up. A couple kids were scared, too; one girl burst into tears upon seeing me. :) But the rest were excited, and several ran up to give me a hug and show me their letter. It was pretty neat, and the sister gave me a 2011 calendar with my picture there. If I have time, I'm going to send the photo today; if not, I have a bunch of them to send next week. It was cool to be Santa. :)
Well, I think that's it for me. Sorry it's a bit short this week. A few quick comments, and I'm outta here.
Gabbie: Hey Gabs! What awesome Spanish! :) Oh, and good luck with your health test! Except... I guess you've already taken it by now. Oh well. You'll have to tell me next week how it went. You are an awesome sister and I hope you have a great week. I look forward to talking to you too! See you next week! I love you very much! :) PS Chow for now! :)
Miranda: Hola! Sounds like you've been having a fun, Christmasy week, what with school activities and snowboarding and all that good stuff. I hope this next week is just as good and that things go well for you. Thanks for being a great sister and friend. I love you very much! :)
Mom: Hi Mom! It was funny to hear your description of the Blizzard of 2010 and also very cool to hear about the things the family's been doing the past week. Please send my condolences to Grandma Greer.... or just tell her I hope she gets better soon, because "condolences" sounds way too formal. :) Anyway, wish her a speedy recovery from me. Thanks for all the love and support I feel. I hope you have a great week. I love you very much! :)
Dad: Hey! :) Quick comments from your letter - first, I used what you wrote last week about the Temple of Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden in my district class last week, and tied it in to humility and standing in holy places. It was pretty cool. Thank you for all the cool things you teach me and your great example. I love reading and rereading the weekly emails. I think about all the great times we've had, and look forward to more. In the meantime, though, the Lord has a work for me to do, and I'd better get to it. Have a great week! I love you very much! :)
Well, everyone, thanks for everything. Enjoy this Christmas season and do lots of good in the world. Enjoy the beauty in your lives and have a wonderful week. Hasta pronto!
Con mucho amor,