Monday, June 27, 2011

Baja: I ate a McMuffin this morning.

I'm in a whole different world here in the Baja. Sinaloa: I didn't see a single white person (excluding the missionaries) for six months. Baja: I ate a McMuffin this morning. In one of my first days here, a car stopped in the middle of the street and someone called out, "Hey, are you Elders?" in English. Turns out, they were a really nice Mormon couple from St. George, who took us out to lunch. Of course, we ate Thai food. But man, that was so strange. I've had to get used to responding in English again pretty quickly, because there were more Americans in church on Sunday, and people are more generally bilingual here. Other than that, it really has been a pretty trying week. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When arrived in my new area, there really wasn't much going on. I have had to work really hard through the week, and we've found a few new people to teach. Towards the end, people started to appear out of nowhere. For example, a woman pulled up next to us in her car and said, "Hey! Where have you been? You two never came back to my house!" She was a former investigator, and we'll definitely go back with her. A few other people we've found: Gilberto and Gabi: After a long day of trying to meet all of the active members in my area and knocking on a lot of doors, we hadn't really seen much success. In the evening, Gilberto and Gabi were sitting in front of their house, so we contacted them and taught a lesson. The Spirit was extremely strong towards the end, and we challenged them to be baptized next month. Gilberto was really prepared to talk to us. During the beginning of the lesson, he was saying to his wife: I'm going to want to meet with them again; I want to go to church with them on Sunday. Hey! That's what we want too! Roman: We were walking towards our apartment, and Roman stepped out of a house and blocked our path, so I shook his hand and we presented ourselves. He was extremely drunk. He said, "You preach, huh? Preach to me!" and invited us back to his house. We told him we would definitely like to come sometime when he's less drunk, but he told us that if we didn't come, he'd punch both of us in the face. So, in the end we went to his house. Roman told us we had to cook, or we couldn't be friends. (If this story doesn't make a lot of sense, it's because Roman wasn't making very much sense). My companion started whipping up some eggs and quesadillas. The next day we went back when he was only hungover; he is really interested in coming to church with us, and is also preparing for a baptismal date next month. So, things are quite a bit different, and really quite difficult here in San Josè. We'll be working really hard this next week.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I am in los Cabos! It's been a pretty crazy day. But I'm going to start this story a little further back.

In Angostura, our stove tried to kill me. I was electrocuted through an egg, and then a fork, and then through a piece of ham. The cursed electricity knows all my weaknesses!

My final week in Angostura was really great. The area really is a place were we are building the church as missionaries. I went on a division with Elder Blanchard for a day, and we spent most of the time discussing the best ways to help the church begin to grow in our relatively small areas. A lot of missionaries come and go, and the ward may not be strengthened when they leave. It might even be a little worse off. There are a lot of inactive members, the majority of whom were baptized, but weren't really prepared. Each time someone is baptized just so the missionaries can report a baptism, it weakens the branch.

My last day in Angostura, we had a branch conference. We worked to help a lot of less actives come out to attend the conference; I hope that Angostura was strengthened somewhat by my being there. Those less actives are a bit stronger. The members are a bit closer. If I'm in a small branch again, I'm really going to focus on helping everyone to gain responsibility within the branch and strengthening the members. For branch conference, President Cantù and his counselors came and spoke in the branch. I also directed another musical number put on by the Relief Society.

Elder Monroy gave me quite a bit of advice in our last compansionship inventory, when we discuss our relationship as a companionship and how we can improve it. Some of the advices he gave were: truly enjoy the mission, always be a friend to your companions, listen to the members just as you strive to listen to the investigators, and fight drowsiness. I learned a lot in Angostura. I almost feel like it was a bonus level with a cool power-up; we woke up at 5:30 every morning, and so now a 6:30 wake up time is nothing!

But this morning a left. And, miraculously, I ran into ALL of my old companions in Culiacàn. Elder Merrell, Elder Brassard and Elder Davis. Honestly, it was so cool. All of them are in the generation of missionaries who are leaving this transfer, so I won't be seeing them again for a while. That made it a real opportunity to see all three of them. I boarded a small plane, and landed in los Cabos. My first thought was, "Woah! White people!" I haven't seen a real gringo in six months, but there are lots here, speaking English and everything. So we'll see how it goes. I'm really excited to work here. I'm in the area San Jose 2A, which is in the city of San Jose. My companion is Elder Cerbera from Veracruz, Veracruz. He says that the area has a lot of hotels, and most of the people here are hotel workers. So things should be a whole lot different. Also, I'm in my first ward so far!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Actions instead of words.

We're teaching one guy named Armando, who is the son of our recent convert, Guadalupe, and the brother of another recent convert, Agustín. He's funny. He doesn't speak a whole lot, and seems to try to use actions as often as possible instead of words. He can talk fine and respond normally and everything, he just wants to sign things out for some reason. It gives his communication a lot of character; when he says "no," he just shakes his finger. We were watching the Restauration video with him, and it came to the main part - as Joseph Smith is kneeling in the grove - and he got up and motioned that he was going to eat and would be back in a second. Hold yer horses, Armando, we're just getting to to the good part. We were teaching him and I said, "Armando, did you like church last Sunday?" He just patted his stomach. "So, yes? No?" Later on, I asked, "Armando, who is God for you?" and he just patted his stomach again. "Hmm... yeah, God is everything, isn't he?" At thirty years old, he's the second youngest of seven, so we left him a reading task the chapter in the Book of Mormon when Laman and Lemuel are wailing on Nephi and Sam with sticks.

Another investigator, Benito, is really cool. He's intelligent and well-studied in the Bible, and really genuine about learning the Gospel. Because we were a bit disorganized, we didn't manage to teach him for a while after we first met him when he sat it on another lesson. Since that time, he went to church twice ON HIS OWN. That is particularly miraculous here. It's a battle to get any investigator to go, even when they really want to. We visited him last night, he told us that he had been praying, and felt strongly that investigating the Book of Mormon and the church is a really good path to follow, although he still has his doubts. It's so cool. That's how it works. Simply, through prayer with true intent.
Congratulations Elise! BYU is awesome, enjoy it.

(No pictures, this computer doesn't work for attachments. Next week, there should be a bunch.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

"No Bees in My House!" and Other Plagues

This week has been a bit more difficult than most. I'm trying to become humble, but I'm not particularly good at it. I want to become a lot more focused on the people we are teaching, to be more worried about their needs in the present. I sometimes look at my mission almost in hindsight, and I think, "Oh, this will make for a good story later."
Hermano McFadyian, one of our teachers in the MTC, mentioned something I really liked. "Being prepared for the future is good and all, but we live in the present. Let's focus on that."

Elder Monroy and I were having a normal, albeit sleepy, companionship study. His announcement that there were two bees on me woke me up pretty quick; so I went and opened the front and back doors in hopes that they would just fly out. Turns out not. I went into the bathroom and there were SO MANY BEES. We still can't figure out why, but there were a lot of them. Armed with a big fan and a broom, we tried to get them to leave for awhile, to no avail. So, I sprayed them with Raid. Most of them flew out, but we had a little collection of tiny bee corpses in our bathroom.

In stead of a drain in our shower, there's just a big rock. I thought that was strange, so I moved it. Bad idea. Apparently, that was the Roach-Blocker. Once again, Elder Monroy alerted me to an insect-related threat, and when I arrived the bathroom there was A TON OF COCKROACHES. This time, I just got really good at making them grab onto the broom and then catapulting them over the back wall. Also, they fly here. That was pretty exciting.

Biting Beasts
Before we go to bed each night, Elder Monroy just sprays the can of Raid at the cieling of our room, and then we watch as a bunch of mosquitos and spiders and flies fall. And then we put on some "Off!". But, that doesn't deter all of them, so I've ended up with a good bunch of bite marks! Very fun.

We have visited six different women this week who want to be baptized, but for various reasons, their spouses won't let them. Six! It appears that the unfortunate husbands of Mexico are holding back the general salvation. Two of these women were our baptisms planned for the week, which have now fallen through. I spent a long time talking with one of the husbands, and he was a lot more worried about the expenses of a divorce than his family. It worries me, so we're continuing to do all that we can for them.

The mission is focusing very strongly right now on changing the way we work a bit. The idea is that we can choose to fish with a pole - or, alone - and catch one or two fish, or we can choose to fish with a net - the members - and help a lot more people choose the right and remain faithful. A lot of the manners in which those changes are put into practice are pretty difficult for me, but I want to begin applying them as well as I can.

That concert on the roof of the Willardsen's looks extremely cool. Thanks for the shoutout!


Elder Tingey