Monday, July 29, 2013

Advice for Nate....

Ben gave Nate some last minute advice before he heads off into the MTC next week.   I thought it was fun and thought I'd share.

"Nate, I think that it is completely normal to be a little bit nervous, just make sure to write back and forth with me and I will try to help you out and make the transition a little bit easier in that way. What will happen the first day is that they give you your name tags, plaques, I do not know what they are called in English, but you know what I am talking about, and then, they will do some other stuff, and then you have a big meeting with all of the new people of that day with the MTC president and you meet your companion and then you eat, and then go to class. Don't be freaked out, but from the first day, your teacher will likely be talking to you in Portuguese and you will not understand a thing, but that is alright. But, just so you know, everything happens really quickly the first day, and then it calms down a tiny bit after that.

Try to have a fun time at the MTC.  I thought that it was really hard, but you will realize once you leave there, that it is a cake walk. Make lots of friends on your hall at night, at least so that they will share their food for you when they get it. I also found that, being bigger than the other elders helped a lot as far as them sharing their food with me. EAT ALL THE FOOD THAT YOU CAN, I DOUBT THAT YOU WILL BE EATING AS MUCH THERE AS I AM EATING HERE!"

Interviews with the Wagners and.....56 at church!

The only picture this week is one that Sister Wagner took when they were touring the mission doing interviews.  Here's what she said:

"These four work together in a little town south of where we were. They are doing a great job and we are so glad to have them there. And by the way, Mom, Elder J got his package!"

Now, from Ben.......

I am doing very well. The pants fit great, and are very comfortable and seem like they are going to hold up much better than the other ones as well.   I think that I have still been losing a little bit of weight, even though my eating habits are still not great, yet they are improving. The socks and the garments are great as well, and put that all together with the new shoes that I have I feel like a new man, haha. Thank you so much for the all of the stuff that you sent and also for the nice letter that you wrote to me, you have a rare gift of being able to write very sincerely and always with love! 

56 people came to church yesterday, 11 less actives and 3 investigators! The Munoz family did not, and Oscar did not either. The whole branch seems to be more excited after seeing how many people came to church today.

The three investigators were Karen, and Mosiah who are the kids of Alicia a less active member here, and Maria de Jesus, who is the friend of a less active member, Felicita Serrano, who also came to church for the first time yesterday. They are both quite old and walked to church, and it is a little ways away, they kinda scared me, haha. A member was going to pass by for them in his truck, but he got there late. They are awesome.

I told you about Hna. Victoria, her husband died a little more than a week ago, and this week, all of their family came to church, and they are many. I blessed the Sacrament yesterday for the first time in Spanish and so that was pretty cool. The Baltazar family came to church, Imelda and her daughter Yared, and Imelda´s sister in law Estela and Estela´s brother Alfonso. Juan Manuel came and gave a good talk about the Priesthood. Viridiana and all of her kids came to church as well, but she lost her job this week, so that stinks, and Eufemia an older Lady came as well. And of course the Castolo family came.  It is about as sure that they will come as it is that we will come to church, haha.

Yesterday was a totally awesome day, so many people at church, even though the branch president was not there.  He has to work about 1 or 2 sundays a month. Then, after church, visiting the members, it just seemed like everyone was kind´ve on a spiritual rush and it was great.  We always seem to have good lessons of Sundays, we were teaching with unity and it was just awesome, the kind of days where you have the experiences when people say things like, “wow, I wasn´t even going to be here today, but I had a feeling that I should be and now I know why” sort of a day.

The only tough thing is that our money for august has not arrived yet, it usually arrives a few days early. I have a little bit of food to eat, and Elder Hernandez is lending me some as well.

Mom, I’m excited for your new calling, it is kind´ve like getting called up to the bigs right! haha, before you were playing for the Bee´s and now the called you up to the Angel´s, haha! I am so excited for you and know that you will do a great job! Here, we have a relief society president and that is it, she does not have counselors.

Thanks for all of your prayers that I am sure you offered for me this past week, I really felt comfortable with my spanish and the middle of the week went much better, it was slow as far as lessons goes, but that is pretty normal, but the difference between this week and last week was that this week, we did not get discouraged and we able to see the blessings of not doing so.

We had good interviews with the Wagners on Tuesday.   Something cool that President Wagner shared with me in my interview with him, I thought I would share with you guys. We are trying to find principles in our Book of Mormon reading, for instance, "If I do this, this will happen, or I will receive this blessing." And in our interview he asked me about a principle that I had found in our reading, and I told him that one that I had found was, “They shall not be ashamed who wait on the Lord.”  And he asked me what I thought the scripture meant, and I told him, that if I wait patiently on the Lord, he will help me get through my trials and afflictions, and he told me, yes, and it also has another meaning.  He asked me where the word wait came from, and I told him that I did not know, and then he asked me, "well, what does a Waiter do, like in a restaurant", and then, I understood, he SERVES and I thought, “oh ok now I get it”, and I thought that was pretty cool, that waiting on the Lord, can also be interpreted as serving Him.

I did get your pictures, thanks.  I do not have my camera, but did not take any pictures this week anyways, I will try to take some this week. Another big event of this week, is that the birds had little babies again, and I love to watch it when their parents feed them, and they all are screaming and trying to get the food, while watching this morning, I realized what I am going to do when I grow up, I am going to be a BIRD WATCHER, yep that´s right a bird watcher, just watch them all day long. The Urdiales family has a ton of animals at their house and I have really come to like animals a lot more since I have been out here in Mexico.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tacos, Trains and Tostados

Tendremos un bautismo en dos semanas.  Si Jenifer estara bautizada, pues, el examen, estuvo bien, mi hizo saber que necesito estudiar mejor los otros capitulos de pme. Come le fue su semana?

si, las recibi, estoy leyendo el suyo ahorita, 38 en la capilla ayer, incluyendo 3 investigadores y 2 miembros menos activo, y un buen que no vinieron, pero bueno, que puede hacer.

I am sorry, but I am going to speak in English now so that I will be able to write more quickly and because I have been feeling rather frustrated with my Spanish lately. I thought that it would be one long process of just continually getting better at it, but I guess it does not always work that way. 

This week went ok , at least at the end of it, the middle of it was quite tough again, the whole Tuxpan, very few members, none who can accompany us to the lessons sort of mentality got to me a little bit. 
We have not eaten anything yet today, last monday we bought a chicken again, and it was awful.

More people came to church yesterday than did the last week. Much of that was because one of the daughters of an active couple here came from out of town with her many, many crazy kids, haha. And because 2 members of the District Presidency were there, but we will take whoever is there. Lupita and her sister Magda came to church yesterday as did Jenifer, and a less active member, Josefina came for the first time since I have been here. 

Arel Munoz got sick the other day and she was going to talk in church as well, but could not come because she was sick.   I am not sure if I told you, but she is quite pregnant, as is the wife of our branch president, and hno. Munoz, well, about the same. 

I guess this week was a typical mission week, up and down. Friday was absolutely awful, we had nothing to do, nobody was home, all of the appointments were falling through.  Satan was working hard to get us discouraged.  The good thing was, that at the end of the day we did find someone to teach. We taught Viridiana, and her son Cesar, who is 9 years old. We had a good lesson with them, I have always really liked her son, for some reason he reminds me a lot of Zack. And I felt a little bit better after that. Things have been very tough for Viridiana, she was sealed in the temple and her husband was the elders quorum president then all of the sudden he left her and their 3 kids for the second time and now is living with another woman.  Viridiana´s son is already a member. She does not have a problem with a church, but you know that it a small town like Tuxpan things get around quickly and everyone knows what happened, including an investigator we taught this week. 

 We did not find any new investigators, but we did have a good lesson with Carmen, Lupita, and Magda, this was one lesson. We read the introduction of the Book of Mormon with them, and they understood it really well and we felt the spirit strongly. They all 3 accepted a baptismal date for the 17th of August and Magda and Carmen came to church yesterday as did Jenifer who has a baptismal date for the 3rd of August. It is also Jenifer´s birthday today, she turns 11. 

Josefina, a less active member who had not been to church for a long time came this week as did a young girl and her grandmother who are from here, but are living in the state of Mexico. A less active member who just moved here from Guzman came to English Class on Saturday and afterwards bought us Tacos. We teach English classes every Saturday at the church.

I exercised all 6 days and me and Elder Hernandez went running 2 days, during one of the which it was really foggy and cool. Also these big huge trains have been passing by here lately and sometimes we have to wait for them to cross the tracks to walk to our next lesson.I really like the trains, they are pretty cool, we can hear them, but they do not bother me during the night. We ate a ton of really good tostadas with hna. Soledad, she just kept giving us more and more and more. 

The husband of Hna. Victoria died on Saturday, he was 95 years old.  We gave him 2 lessons during the week including one saturday, but when we visited him Saturday, it just felt like he was not going to make it. He was 30 years older than his wife, she was one of the first members here of Tuxpan. 

I am so jealous Mom that you so easily talk to new people at church, maybe you should move down here for a little bit, we could use some help! I taught Sunday School Class yesterday too, and felt like it went well, I always seem to be blessed with the gift of tongues when giving a talk or teaching a class. 

I have about 10 minutes left, I was thinking today about how crazy it is that Nate will be leaving to the MTC in 2 weeks, wow it is coming up fast! I really like the letter that Nate was supposed to read before entering into the MTC.

Tomorrow we have interviews with President Wagner in Guzman. Sorry but I have got to go now, have a great week! I love you and miss and think about you all of the time!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Nothing like a clean kitchen!

Today it was funny because in our letters from President Wagner he talked about how we need to clean our houses better and I was happy because I feel like our house is clean today. This is a picture of our kitchen. 
It is so nice because our house is so small, we can clean it really well.  The house in Guzman never really got that clean because of our laziness and the size of the house. 

I really enjoyed cleaning and washing my clothes today even though it sounds crazy, whenever I am enjoying cleaning or washing I think of what you told me one time about how, one time, one of the Bundy girls told her mom that she was not going to clean her house when she was older, that she was going to hire a maid to do it, and her mom told her, “ok well, then the maid will be happy and you will not be”.  

There are so many ups and downs out here.  Tuesday was one of the best days of my life, and Wednesday was absolutely awful.  Sundays always seem to be good here, and Mondays and Tuesdays as well. Monday, we only had one lesson. It was with a less active member, Sebastian, but it was a totally awesome lesson. You know the lessons where you and your companion are on the same page, it is guided by the spirit, the person who you are teaching is paying attention and understanding, that sort of a lesson, and the best part, was that at the end of the lesson, he was super happy and so that was awesome.

Sebastian was baptized about 25 years ago, when they were building the church here, I think that he actually helped to build it, but he was not active for very long. His wife died a while ago as well and I think that that made things harder for him as well. 

Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and really Saturday as well, were all very tough days, it seems like that is usually how it goes, the middle of the week always seems to be tougher for me, there are times when I am excited to be here, and other times when I think to myself, who else can we visit, we have already visited everyone! 

Chain Contacting?.......

So, Monday and Tuesday were absolutely awesome, you know those days when you feel like you are walking around just absolutely full of the spirit? Yea, they were some of those days! Tuesday we did not have anyone to teach and so we decided to try something that Elder Gonzalez taught me in Guzman. So, we are not allowed to knock on doors now, but if we see someone outside of their house or something we can talk to them, and make a contact. And so, we saw a couple and their kids that were inside of their house but with the door open and so we contacted them, and they did not want anything.  But what we do, is, it is called chain contacting, we just ask for all of the names of their neighbors, and then they are referrals and we can go and knock on their doors because we know who they are. Anyways, they gave us some of the names of some of their neighbors and we went to contact them, and one of them, Maria de Jesus is totally awesome.  She was reading the Bible when we got there, and is not catholic. She could not come to church this Sunday, but I am confident that she will be able to in the future.

Then, later on, we were walking down that same street and saw a mom and her daughter and felt like we should talk to them, and so we did.  The mom´s name is Carmen, and her daughter is Magda.  Carmen is having many family problems right now, and it seemed like we were able to share something with her that helped her. And she willingly offered the closing prayer, without us having to convince her or anything, which is very uncommon. And in her prayer she mentioned something about how she felt something when she saw us, and it was just one of those moments when you feel like, yes! We do have the spirit with us, and it was just awesome.

From Left to right, Iselda, Carmen, and Lupita, I do not know their last name. Carmen is the one that said that she felt something when she saw us the other day.

Jennifer Urdiales, she came to the activity by herself on Friday.  Her mom could not come, they could not come to church yesterday because her little sister is sick and because they went to Tianguis. They came to the activity along with 3 investigators, Carmen, who I talked about earlier and two of her daughters, Lupita and Iselda. The other daughter who we taught earlier, Magda was not able to come.

Yesterday night we had awesome lessons with Jennifer Urdiales, who now has a baptismal date for the 3rd of August, and with Karen and Mosiah, they are the kids of Alicia, a less active member here, and they are not members, but Karen accepted a baptismal challenge for the 10th of August, Karen has been to church one time, Mosiah 2 times, and their mom alicia, 2 times, Mosiah is 8 years old and Karen is 12 years old, actually she turned 12 yesterday and they gave us a piece of her cake, tres leches, super awesome!

We have to hitch ride back, but only from Coayuote, where the first counselor and a few other members live, it is just like 10 minutes away from Tuxpan and we have never had any problems, going there and back. I still get along well with E Hernandez, not perfectly, but well. I am really lucky, all of my companions have been easy to get along with, and especially the mexican ones, both of my Hernandez companions and Elder De La Mora have just been some of the best people that I have ever met in my life. 

 I am glad that Nate´s talk went well. I also spoke in church yesterday as well, and I felt like it went well. I spoke about the Body of Christ from Corinthians 12.

Love you guys, write to you next week!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six more weeks in Tuxpan !!

Only one picture from Ben this week, and it was of his tacos :)

"My tacos and tortillas, I thought that Dad would really like this one, and also my horchata"

Every other Friday the sister who feeds us just gives us money and so we went to an awesome taco store, I bought 12 tacos and an horchata for 58 pesos, but the tacos are not very big, It is not like I am eating a ton or anything, but they were pretty good.

It’s been raining a ton, just like it sounds like it is there.   I was so happy when Jess told me that she just started to work at the ice plant!

I am very happy right now, I like the rain here, and your letters excited me a lot, I do not know, I just feel really happy right now. Yesterday was a good Sunday as well, the attendance was about the same as it was the last week, and so we are happy that it maintained itself and did not go down. Even better, is that 5 less active members came this week, and 2 investigators. Roxanne, the american girl came for the 2nd time and the daughter of a less active member who we are teaching came as well, and I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting. The names of the less active members who came to church yesterday are Maria Urdiales, Alicia, Viridiana, Hna. Baltazar, and her daughter Yared Baltazar.  We have been working with and visiting the Baltazar family for all of my time here in Tuxpan and they came to church for the first time yesterday, and the same with Viridiana!

Hoy me toco limpiar la casa, y fue muy divertido, lo disfrute mucho, mientras, mi companero estaba lavando su ropa y esta bien. Ahora, tenemos un horario y a veces yo lavo mi ropa y el limpia, y a veces yo limpio y el lava su ropa, no tuvimos cambios. Voy a estar aqui por lo menos un cambio mas con Elder Hernandez y estoy muy feliz por eso y animado tambien. 
(for you gringos like me, apparently this says that  Ben and Elder Hernandez are staying together  in Tuxpan for at least more transfer - and he's happy about it...)

And  today we are going to buy food from Bimbo Expendio, I am not sure if you remember what they are, but it is a bread store, that is super duper cheap and they also have twinkies and that sort of thing! Yesterday Juan Manuel gave me the shoes that he bought for me and they are totally awesome!

Yep, my testimony was and it was short and sweet, I always think now about what President Hinckley said about a testimony, he said, it should start with a Yo Se...I was even able to say Verdadera better than I usually do, I really struggle rolling my r"s actually I cannot do it, and I also struggle with words, such as verdadera, verdadero, and sacerdocio, which stinks because they are words that I have to use all of the time, but o well, it is alright. 

Thinking about stuff for Nate, I would say, it would be important to bring many pairs of garments, and socks, and shirts and pants, and that he maybe try to take a little bit better care of them than I have. 

I went on Divisions with Elder Mills this week and it was fun other than that we spoke in almost 100 percent english except during the lessons.  On Saturday the branch president let me borrow his umbrella and a super expensive jacket of his, it is the nicest jacket that I have ever worn in my life. He and his wife also took us to an expensive restaurant to eat and they are not rich or anything, so I kinda felt a little bit bad about that. We had a lesson with Hno. Munoz, the ex branch president and it was nice, because he was honest with us, he told us that he still has a testimony of the church and everything and he plans on coming back to church, he is just not ready yet. 

An american who talked to us a little while ago, who is here working and has 2 brothers who are members of the church in California, one of whom is a stake president there, is going to take us to lunch today, so that is nice.  Actually he is not an american, but speaks English pretty well. Also, Oscar, and luz maria had an interview with pres. Zamora this week, so that was good.  He is a less active member and she is not a member, they are going to have a baby and just found out that it is going to be a boy, and so he was really happy about that.  It will be there first child, sadly they are not married. Maria Urdiales came to church on Sunday with her daughters, one of whom Jenifer, we are teaching.  They are a family of a ton of members, the majority of whom live in the same house and they are really poor, it is really sad. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

39 People Came to Church this Week!!

 39 people came to church yesterday, up from 30 the week before!  The old branch president and his family did not come. We had a lesson planned with them on Saturday, and when we got there they were eating, and so we told them that we would come back later, but when we came back later they were not there. 

One investigator came to church, his name is Rogelio. He is 13 years old, a big kid. He and his brother and sister and mom were a referral from Juan Manuel, and they are awesome! I am going to send you a photo of me and Elder Hernandez with them. Also, a lady named Alicia came with her son.  They moved here from another part of Mexico 2 years ago, and were baptized over there, but came to church for the first time here in Tuxpan on Sunday. They were also invited to church by Juan Manuel, who also brought his nephew to church, who is not a member. The first counselors daughter from a previous marriage came to church as well. She just graduated from High School in California a couple of weeks ago, and speaks better spanish than us, the Americans here, but speaks english much better, we are pretty sure that she came here for the summer to get baptized:).We also visited many less active members and part member families this week that I think will come to church in the following weeks.
We are really excited for this week, and I think that 50 people are going to come to church this week, oh, and another less active, Miriam came to church this week as well, we have been teaching here once a week for all of my time here in Tuxpan, and she came to church for the first time this week.

This is a picture of the 4 elders here in Tuxpan. Elder Mills is the other american, and Elder Cervantes is the other Mexican, Mills is from South Sevier and Cervantes is from Hidalgo, Mexico.  We climbed up to a tribute to the virgin or something this morning.

The names of the 2 kids in the picture are Rogelio and Lalo, Rogelio is the older and bigger one. They came to the church for an activity on Friday, they were 2 of the 3 people there other than the missionaries for much of the time. Hardly anyone came because it rained.

I did 1650 push ups this week, and am just trying in vain to eat better, but oh well, I guess that is not the most important thing right now. We were not able to find Oscar and Luz Maria this week. Lola and her family did not come to church this week. Next week is transfers, but I do not think that I will be going anywhere. I passed the Sacrament again this week without any problems. We are also teaching another part member family, Josefina who is a member, and her son Juan Carlos, and her daughter Alma. She was not able to come to church on Sunday because one of her sons took drugs and got drunk again, and they went to pick them up. I do not know if you guys were praying for me this week, especially you and dad about the problems that I told you guys about last week, but if you were, thanks, because I felt like it went a lot better this week.

I am going to Guzman because we are going to pick up Elder Velazquez. His companion, Elder Rogers is resting in the offices of the mission because he had a serious surgery on his butt, and his companion was working with the zone leaders, but they have to go to Guadalajara for something. It has been kinda funny this transfer because it seems like I have ended up being in Guzman a lot, like I am not quite ready to leave yet. 

Speaking of being ready to leave yet, there is a birds nest outside of our house, and they baby birds have just left the nest, although they come back occasionally to be fed by their parents. It kinda made me think of me and the time that I was living at home and going to college before my mission, what I refer to is that the birds are too big now, they just take up all of the space in the nest and eat all of the food, maybe a little bit like how you guys felt for a little while with me there, haha, alright, I have got to go now, thanks for the great letters as always, I love and miss you guys!

The shoes that Juan Manuel bought me also got here this week, but he is going to go back and trade them for ones that are a half size bigger. I wrote to Lindsey and Zane this week and it sounds like they are both doing well. 

I am lacking a little bit right now in church pants, socks, and garment bottoms, just so you know, thanks, have a great week!