Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas time is continuing to be really strange. Our whole zone had an activity last night - Christmas Day - where we all sang in the park. We set up a keyboard and mics and the whole shindig. It turned out pretty cool, and afterwards we had a table set up with a bunch of church materials, so it turned out pretty successful too. I think I've learned a lot this week. I've learned, in part, what it means to take upon myself the name of Christ. From what I understand, that means the my motivations become equal to His. That becomes reflected in my actions, my desires, my prayers, my success as a missionary. I've become completely preoccupied by my investigators, even down to when I'm sleeping. I've woken up a few times during the night and realized that I wasn't having dreams, I was just thinking things like: What should I teach the Juarez family? What members can I bring with Lupita? When I really take upon myself the name of Christ and work my hardest, we see lots of miracles.

This week we found the Ortiz family. One of their kids yelled at us in the street, asking what religion we were from. We put an appointment, and now they're preparing to be baptized. We visited a guy who's been going to church regularly for months with his family who are all members, and he accepted a baptismal date as well. So, we've got a lot of work to do, weve just have to continue working hard. Happy Christmas!

Also, I finished reading the Book of Mormon. We started a daily reading as a mission when I was in my first area, and we finally finished. But, it literally scared me to not be in the middle of the Book of Mormon, so I read Moroni 10 and then read the whole introduction up to 1 Nephi 2 in the same study.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemme splain

Lemme splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

- Painting the new house of the Hermanas in Macapule. There were only 5 paint brushes for 8 missionaries, so I sat on the couch. That led to being dog piled by four portly Mexicans (and Elder Pearson).

- Stake Christmas Choirs. I got roped into three different choirs. It was really fun. The missionaries all sang Joy to the World, and I directed and yelled the tenor part. Elder Pearson and I sang... Campanas de Navidad, and threw in a bunch of key changes and sang a verse with no melody. I don't think anyone noticed.

- Baptisms. Giovany and Elva were baptized on Saturday. So dang cool. Giovany's sister is a recent convert. He's basically pulled a 180 from when I first met him (very grumpy) to right now (...bashful?). Elva is a woman that Elder Johnson and Elder Rendon contacted last transfer. She brought 5 grandkids (they seemed like 25) to the baptismal service, so it was pretty rowdy.- Recieved a foot rub from a Mexican mortician. ...that is all.

- I'm just super excited for Christmas. Elder Mendoza and I are getting along really well. I like Jardìn a lot. I'm starting to get to know the members pretty well - there's a ton. We're planning on having a lot of success during this transfer.

Hot dogs are okay even if you don't cook them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Activity

We had an mission Christmas activity this week. It was great. All of the
missionaries in Sinaloa went to Culiacán for the day on Thursday. We played
dodgeball. I lost every round, except for the round of Mexicans vs.
Foreigners (we sang the national anthem). We also had a testimony meeting.
My favorite part of the activity was just being able to see all of the
missionaries and meet those who I hadn't before. It's important to me to
get to know all of the missionaries that I can; I feel bad whenever
missionaries finish that I never ran into.

We're teaching a family of a less active member, who is actually a return
missionary. He and his wife have two girls, one of which - Carla - is *super
* excited to be baptized. I love their family. We taught the plan of
salvation on Saturday, but we brought materials to color, and we all drew a
"map" with the different parts of the plan, starting in pre-earthly life
and following all of the steps to finish at the celestial kingdom. They're
acually the only people that we planned for in our weekly planning session
that haven't now been dropped, so we're nearly starting from the bottom up
right now in Jardín, but that's okay. We're excited to find new people.

Elder Mendoza is sweet. I'm teaching him English and he's teaching me
Chilango slang.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Piano fiend

Hi, I hardly have any time, but here are some photos. I'm now with Elder Mendoza from Veracruz. He is a piano FIEND, and a great missionary, but he kind of fell off the chart during transfers yesterday, so I didn't manage to write e-mails. Elder Mercado headed back to Culiacán. Love that guy. I should see him this week because the mission is going to Culiacán for a a Christmas activity. Things are going great.

Monday, November 28, 2011


As I missionary, I've become really observant of specific things about people we teach or contact. For example, the various religious artifacts they might have and how that will influence what I should say. I think most missionaries tend to develop this trait, but Elder Mercado is particularly good at it. We were about to knock at the gate of a house, and Elder Mercado said, "Look: well-swept porch, rocking chair in the shade... This is the house of a a man who reads the Bible regularly." Turns out he was, extremely right. This guy's bible was quite literally in pieces and continuing to fall apart from being studied so often.

I did divisions with Elder Rendon during the week, who lives in the same house as us. However, Elder Rendon had a throat infection and could hardly speak at all, so I talked all day. At one point, we saw a woman working in her front yard and I offered to help her. When she declined I looked over and Elder Rendon was already on his knees tearing out weeds, so we just taught her a lesson while weeding her patio.

We've started teaching Angelica this week. Most of the members of her family were baptized a few months back. She's really cool, and she came to church on Sunday, and even invited her cousin. She has a lot of sincere desire to know if our message is true, and to understand why her family has become happier, but feels like she's not recieving an answer to prayers so far. We're working with her and she's progressing well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Street Contacting

This week was kind of the opposite of last week, up until the last few days. But sometimes shlumpy weeks happen. That's okay. We taught a lot, but I really don't recall many lessons that had quantifiable results or have led to much progress in those we're teaching.

As a mission, we've had a new goal this last week to do 10 street contacts daily. Maybe that seems like a laughably small number to other missions - Elder Tingey, London - but it was kind of punch for some of us in Sinaloa. Honestly, I struggled. And kind of failed. I was just super unaccustomed to street contacting. So we had twenty-three the whole week up until last night, when we just girded up our loins and started to contact everyone. And now, I love it! We went and played soccer with the zone this morning, and I contacted multiple people on every bus we took. Some people are weirded out, but oh well. Now they know who I am and why I'm here. I think the Lord saw us lacking courage to talk with everyone, and so he sent a bunch of people my way to get me in gear. Seriously, people nearly had to convince me to contact them. We were in a bus and a guy who was with his wife and kids started trying to talk to me in English. After some terse gab back and forth, he just kind of paused. "So... do you guys visit peoples houses to preach?" Ah. Yes. That's what we do. We went and taught them a really cool lesson after church, and they already had a Book of Mormon. The lesson went something like this:
"So, Jesus came to the Americas?"

A teenage girl, Jessica, also had to rattle my cage a bit. We were just trying to buy some cheese from a little store, and as we were leaving, she yelled, "Hey! You didn't teach me anything!" So we went back and taught her something, and she came to church. As we were leaving the little store a second time, the store owner yelled, "Hey! What do I have to do to receive the discussions?" So we went back. Turns out, her husband is an inactive return missionary.
Also, I played bass guitar for like five minutes. That was the first time in over a year. That's okay.
So people are just kind of coming out of the woodwork. After having been sent so many people so blatantly, I'm now ready to talk with everyone I see, and fulfill my purpose all the time, always.

The level of coolness of things that make me excited has radically dropped while I've been in Mexico. For example:
"Yes! An English hymnbook! Alright!"
"What?! Air conditioning?"

Also, I've been teaching Elder Mercado English. So far, we've got:
"Much obliged."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Offered a Quesadilla

I feel good. Really good. I love being in a hurry, and that's how it's been for a week straight. We just run everywhere. Elder Johnson did divisions with me and we managed to have a nine-lesson day. We're teaching a guy named Omar. Maybe I mentioned last week that he wandered into the chapel and stayed for all three hours and loved it. We taught him about the restoration of the Gospel, and when we came back for another lesson, the result was really cool. He told us about how a friend of his had invited him out for a drink; Omar told his drinking buddy about us - the missionaries - and they got sodas instead. He also said that he had just stopped swearing completely. We had never even mentioned alcohol or explicit language in the first lesson, he just naturally started making changes because it felt right. Jesica is on track for her baptismal service next week.She was feeling pretty unsure about it before she came to church last week. I love the impact that fast and testimony meeting can have. Jesica said she loved it, and just felt much more secure about everything after going.

Elder Mercado contacted a house, and a young guy came out. We greeted him, and he said, "Ah, you just caught me in the middle of a meal." He looked down at the quesadilla in his hand, and then offered it to us, "Would you like some?" I don't think there are many places in the world where that happens so often.

We taught a family who have a son serving in Puebla, but he is the only member of the church in the household. It was strange because I just felt like I was teaching the family of one of my companions who was also the only member in his family. They're great.

Attached is a photo of Alan Padilla and I. He's heading out to Piura, Peru on Wednesday (heads up Elder Foutz).

Elder Tingey

Monday, October 31, 2011

Los Mochis

Los Mochis is a really cool place. We've had a fun week. Elder Lopez and I just smile. A lot.
We're teaching a girl named Jesica who went to a church activity last week, where one of her friends invited her to listen to the missionaries. The lessons we've had are really fun, because a group of her friends who are members just come with us. She's progressing towards baptism really well and has a lot of support because a bunch of friends are in the church.

We're also working with Hector and his family. When I first went to his house, he showed me about fifty pictures of himself at the Golden Gate bridge, all while wearing short shorts (in the pictures). I don't know their situation as investigators really well because I'm new to the area. I asked whether they had read the Book of Mormon at all, and Hectors wife just said, "Yes, I've read about half." Wow! So they're progressing well too. Hector can't go to church for a little while because of health complications, so they're good friends for the time being.

I forgot how often Sinaloaenses like to tell me their stories about "indocumented" traveling north of the border; my first day, an old guy was telling me that he and twenty other guys swam the Rio Grande and were pursued by immigration officers, all while wearing... nothing. They put their clothes in bags to swim, and had to ditch the bags when immigration showed up. Fun times.

We had a zone conference with Presidente Cantú. We discussed the importance of being an "example of the believers" in various aspects. I can be much better in my conduct and faith. I want to be the same outside and inside, completely without hipocracy. But mostly, I like smiling all the time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My last week in San José was great. We ended up with a few new people at church, including a good friend, Manuel. He came with a tie and everything. He's been progressing really well and is really excited about everything we've been teaching. We found out that BOTH Elder Crabb and I were leaving the area, which is pretty strange. Two new missionaries are coming in our place who don't know anyone or anything, so we had a lot to do to make everything easy for them.
This morning, Elder Crabb and I went our separate ways; I got in a tiny airplane again (all of the missionaries fight to sit in the copilot seat), got on a bus, and now I'm in los Mochis! It's one of the bigger cities in the mission. So, I've returned to Sinaloa. My area is ward called Jardin. Elder Johnson, who was in my district in San José, came all the way with me to be in my district here. All I've really heard a bout los Mochis is that the tap water is drinkable, and the hot dogs are famous. My new companion is Elder Lopez, from Hidalgo, who only has two weeks remaining in the mission. We're certainly in for some good times!

Monday, October 17, 2011

San Jose del Cabo

We had our last district meeting of this transfer today. Elder Johnson and I have both been in San Josè for a while, so we don't expect to stay for the next transfer. It's been more difficult after being here for quite a while. I kind of feel like I've tried many different ways of working here, but nothing has been especially successful. It's funny how missionary work really is easier when you work harder. It seems paradoxical.

I don't know if I mentioned Ximena or the family Guadarrama, but they are some of the main investigtors we were working with this week. They've been visited by tons of missionaries over the last few years (including one of my teachers from the MTC). Ximena is the daughter, and we are helping her progress towards baptism with the hope that her parents will want to get married so that they can be baptized as well. However, they really have not progressed since we met them, and didn't make it to church again yesterday. We watched the Joseph Smith movie with them this week. We are really trying to seek the guidance of the Spirit and find out how we can help them in some way that all of the many missionaries that have come through weren't able to. They actually have a Book of Mormon that about seven missionaries have signed after visiting them for a while.

Elder Crabb, Elder Johnson and Elder Hernandez all spoke in curch yesterday. I played piano, having given talks three months in a row. We don't really have a whole lot going in our area right now, but we're pumped to do everything we can to change that for the following week.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sore Bum

We had a baptismal service on Saturday for Sarahì and Alma Rosa. The room was packed with family members and friends and ward members. They were both confirmed on Sunday as well. There was a pretty rambunctious get-together at Sarahì's house afterwards, so we just grabbed some carne asada. It was a fun day. I love baptismal services every time. The new members are always so excited, and we work so hard to help them get to that point. It's kind of relieving to just see them come out of the font. Of course, it's a big step, but not the last.

I finally had to translate "the Testaments" from English to Spanish for the first time when we watched it with a less-active family. It's over an hour long. That was a workout, expecially since I could remember the word for "betray" the whole time - which is apparently really important. Elder Crabb translated for Chayo, the pet monkey.

I had the chance to get a sore bum again from bike riding! I went on divisions with Elder Johnson from my district and was on a bicicle for the first time in the Baja. The trucks here aren't so apt to let you hang on to the back like they were in Costa Rica, but there are some giant hills.

I also had the opportunity to give my first baptismal interview, for Alma Rosa. They are awesome. Starting out, I asked if it would be alright if we could start with a prayer.
"Could you offer it?" I asked.
"Sure, that's fine."
After about thirty seconds, I asked, "Did you say a personal prayer?"
Alma said, "I thought YOU were saying a personal prayer!"
So, successful interview.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

General Conference

I have very little time, but here are some things:

We moved the baptism of Sarahì to next weekend because they had to go to la Paz for an emergency. Now, she will be super prepared!

I did get to see some General Conference this time around. Mostly in Spanish, but it was fantastic nonetheless. Priesthood Session was so direct, and so powerful because of it.

We had a great zone meeting this morning in San Lucas, so we got to play volleyball and footba-- soccer... and also counsel about what challenges the zone has been having. Most of the missionaries here in los Cabos are relatively new to the mission, so we are all learning a lot about how to work more efficiently and fighting off some attacks of laziness.

One of these pictures has three little lights in the background, which are some of those trash bag hot air balloons we used to make in the Cul-de-sac on Halloween. There were a bunch in San Lucas on Saturday! Elder Crabb and I are enjoying some bolis in another.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Via Lactea

Favorite Spanish phrase of the week: Vìa Lactea. The Milky Way. We got a ride back from San Lucas last night in a convertible. When you're in the pockets of highway between hotels and cities, the stars are really a sight. The black ocean made me feel like we were just driving at the edge of an abyss.

New fruit (or vegetable!) of the week: Betabel. Or beets. I felt like I have never really tried it before. Rating: Better on salad. Also, 5/10. With Tony's spice, 10/10.

We're working a lot with Sarahì in preparation for her batismal service! That will take place between the sessions of conference on Sunday. She's really funny and is just progressing and learning everything well. Earlier in the week we had a zone conference in San Lucas with President Cantù, which was great. I came out of that with an improved understanding of the purpose of trial and our Heavenly Father's keen ability to understand us and our needs. If we do our best, even though it may be far from perfect, that is acceptable for Him. He asks us to endure difficulties and knows that they are exactly what we need. If we are obedient and diligent, even without understanding exactly why, He accepts our effort.

We've been finding a lot of cool new people, but we've had a lot of trouble finding them afterwards... That tends to be a problem if they are going to progress. Sometimes we just can't find them when they're home, or sometimes they don't want to be found, or sometimes we do divisions and we can't find the house of the people they found while I was gone. Whatever it may be, we're looking for people who really are prepared to recieve our message, who want to come closer to the Savior and who want to really progress in the Gospel.

We were walking to the ciber just now, and we heard a weird sound in a trash can. A huge dog jumped out and nearly took out Elder Crabb. Mèxico.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dia de Independencia

We had a really cool ward activity on Friday for Mexico's Independence Day. Mexicans seem to be really patriotic, so it made for a really fun time. We ate helotes (the thing that that skeleton guy throws in that other guy's eye in Nacho Libre), did our best to mouth the national anthem, and I'm pretty sure I pledged to defend Mexico a few times. There were some dances, skits, darts, and lots of food. I lost very badly at darts (only one of them actually stayed in the board).

We've found a few really great new people this week. One is Ana, who is a good friend of Sister Pacheco, a recent convert. The first time we arrived, she just started getting out chairs for us before we had said anything. She's really cool, but she brings her kids to visit their dad in prison every Sunday, so they can't really make it to church. We're trying to find some way that she can come, but it doesn't look totally possible. But, we always met Saraì, who was able to come to church. All of her family members are members of the church, but she just didn't get baptized somehow; however, she wants to get baptized! We're the perfect guys for the job.

New favorite Spanish word: "rocanrrolear" = to rock 'n roll.