This is a letter that Braden sent last June, and I just noticed that it was not published in his blog.
This week we were really busy, but I like it that way. My camera is a Kodak easy share m530. I really do not need anything right now, but thanks anyways. This week there was 2 missionaries hospitalized for health reasons and one who went home for his bad knees so we had a special changes meeting. Because we are getting close to the mission split they assigned my new companion, so right now we are 4 assistants, and it is a little crazy. His name is Elder Bringhurst from California. Elder Ostler played ultimate frisbee with him at BYU, and he is really awesome. He just loves the work so much and works really hard so I am really excited to work with him because I feel like we are going have a lot of success. I don´t know if I told you very much about my other companions. Elder Gonzalez is from Monterrey and finishes his mission in 3 weeks. He is the short one standing next to me in the picture. He is training me as an assistant, and is really good. He actually was a secretary before, and was one of the secretaries that picked me up from the airport. He loves the work and has very high expectations that he expects to complete. Elder Cordova is from Tobasco, he is a little more laid back and is the assistant that will go to the Southeast.
Ok, María and Diana. They are a mom and daughter that were baptized the week before. Maria doesn´t have work and they are barely getting along right now. Diana read the Book of Mormon and knew it was true. The story that is really cool is that they were thinking about being baptized and were leaning towards no because the hermana wanted to work Sundays and didn´t really want to pay tithing, so we just told them to read and pray. They did and when Elder Cordova and I went back to check how it went they said "We are going to be baptized." It made me so happy because that means that they prayed and read. The Book of Mormon is the best missionary, it is so powerful that when the hijos de lehi read it with a sincere heart, they know it is true. Their faith was so strong that they agree to change houses to be baptized because there was a situation in their house that didn´t allow them to keep some of the commandments, how awesome is this? I love this so much. I love it even when it´s not easy, it wasn´t supposed to be easy.
Through our faith in Christ we are waging war with Satan, and he has no power over us. It is such a simple concept-be obedient with exactness, work as hard and you know how, and always be looking for things to improve through Preach My Gospel and you will be happy. We are opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom (PME). I love it so much.
I sent the picture of Carolina and Rubi who were baptized this week. They are really funny, the mom Carolina goes to a Neurotics Anonymous group. When we are even 2 minutes late to an appointment she leaves and she always wants to flip a coin to see who will say the prayer, so we had to teach her about the sacredness of prayer. They were really iffy about whether they were going to get baptized, but we told them to read and pray. Rubi had a dream that she got baptized in warm water, and Carolina knew it was true...and the Book of Mormon has another pair of converts.
We don´t have very much time to email because a new sister got here today and we were training her and taking her to her area, so I will write more next week. I love you all so much and am so glad that we are all in the same fight. I will answer the rest of the questions next week. I love you a bunch.
Monday, September 26, 2011
About the tired thing...that’s kind of a funny question. I have noticed that every week I get more and more tired. I didn`t really notice being tired until about 13 months hit...but I guess that means I`m doing my job. If I weren`t tired then I guess I would be a bad missionary. It seems like I close my eyes and 2 seconds later it’s 6:30. But I love it and wouldn`t have it any other way. There is a scripture that is probably my favorite of all time. It is in D&C 123:13. Por tanto consumamos y agotemos nuestras vidas en sacar a luz las cosas ocultas...we will use and wear out our lives in bringing to light the hidden things (something like that). In the end that is all that matters, how and with what attitude you served your God. After it is all said and done your profession, your interests, your hobbies don`t matter at all if you didn`t give your all in the service of God. Therefore I will wear out my life in the service of God and will trust Him to work out the rest. And He will.
I am still improving in Spanish...it is a never ending battle but it is pretty natural now. I am glad Kolby is taking lessons again, it will bless him so much later on. Elder Bringhurst does play piano. He plays pretty well too. I don`t really play because he can and there is a lady in our ward that plays the organ so she plays every Sunday. I haven`t practiced for a long time so I’m a little out of practice but there’ll be plenty of time for that when I get home.
This week we had monthly planning with President and 2 zone conferences...so by the time Thursday was over we had worked a total of 9 hours in our area. But the Lord has blessed us so much and we ended up finding several really elect people. Fresvinda (I thought that name was funny) and her daughter Karen. Also we are teaching the son of Ami that was baptized last week. God always compensates for our assignment. He just asks us to put our trust in him and work as hard as we can...then He gives us success.
This week we had baptism of a youth named Eduardo. He is 18 and is the boyfriend of one of the daughters of a recent convert. She brought him to church one Sunday and he really liked it. Then he read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. He said he just felt this emotion in his chest that he had never felt before. It burned...but felt good kind like electricity. Another convert for the Book of Mormon. The Book is so powerful you just have to put it in their hands and get them to read it and understand it and pray about it and they are practically asking to be baptized. I love just how simply complicated that is. All you have to do is read it and pray about it and you will know it is true. Yet the complicated part comes in recognizing the impressions of the Holy Ghost and knowing and accepting that that is an answer from God.
Also, last week on P Day we had an adventure. I don`t remember if I told you this already. We had heard from several sources that there was a Taco Bell in Mexico City. So naturally we wanted to go eat American Mexican food in Mexico. We got on a bus that was going to a plaza we had never been to and headed off into the city. Unfortunately when we got there the restaurant was called "Taco Beef" not "Taco Bell." Haha. It sounds almost the same in Spanish. That was pretty disappointing. But while there we found asparagus and nectarines in the super market so the trip was not a total loss. Well it seems like I am out of time. Dad thanks for the letter, I love to hear how BYU is doing. Grandma...I still have 10 months left in my mission so I think we could wait a couple months before setting up dates...but thanks for looking out for me. I love you all so much, I hope everything is going as well as it sounds.
Posted by BAN Clan at 7:52 PM
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
To answer the questions, transfers are in 2 weeks from tomorrow. No I will not have changes and nor will Elder Bringhurst. At least we don’t think so because I’m pretty sure that President would have talked to us about it before now if one of us were going to have changes. Also...those weren’t pyramids in Tulancingo those were the Teotihuacan pyramids but just the view from the highway passing them. I don’t actually know how long it is to Tulancingo, but it is about 2 hours in car. But there is really no speed limit so I don’t know how fast we go. I would guess it´s about 150-200 kilometers.
|Tall "T" to clean in|
This week on Thursday we had to be in the house at 7 pm because it was Independence Day. The 15th of September is when they celebrate independence...and they really know how to celebrate here. The pictures of the dancing people were from our ward’s "Noche Mexicana" which is a pot luck thing kind of like a ward party for the 4th of July. They were doing a traditional Mexican dance. Since we had to be in the house way early Elder Bringhurst and I had a movie night...we watched "The Testaments" (we have a little portable DVD player that the church recently gave to every pair of missionaries in the mission. It is to watch the PME movies and for training purposes...but we can also watch videos produced by the church) and ordered a picsa (that’s how they pronounce pizza here.) We figured we would celebrate American style since on the 4th of July we had tacos.
Before I forget I have a funny story. We were contacting over by the chapel one morning when we saw a fat old woman about 20 meters away. She yelled us over by yelling "¡Hermanos de Dios!" and waddling over to us. She had a huge mustache (I thought Kolby would think that was funny) and greeted me first by taking my hand and kissing it. We thought she was pretty crazy so we were asking her where she lived so we could invite her to church and get away from her when all of the sudden she put one hand on one of my shoulders and one hand on the other and started going in for the kill. My stomach jumped up into my throat and I thought "oh no, my first kiss with a fat old crazy Mexican lady with a mustache..." But luckily she stopped (she must have seen my fear) and the crisis was averted as we ran away quickly.
The people we took to the visitors center was the Family Perez. They were a member reference and are going to be baptized this Sunday. I will talk more about them next week. The baptismal picture was Ami. She was a street contact who was having a lot of family problems. Her son recently got out of drug rehab and she is really looking for a change in her life. She read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, knew it was true and wanted to get baptized. Her husband is also in the picture...we are still working with him. He is heavily involved in a Christian church and is a police man so he is never home to teach him. But in her baptismal interview Ami commented that she had had a baby die stillborn. Elder Falslev (who was doing the interview) testified that she would see her baby again and would be able to hug him and talk with him. Her eyes got about as big as saucers (I guess she really hadn’t understood the plan of salvation the first time) and just said "wait till I tell my husband about this." So we´ll see what happens.
Elder Bringhurst and I are just going to give it all we have this week. This is the first time I have been with a companion since Elder Llanos that really had a huge drive to work hard and have a lot of success. I am so grateful to be with him. I really want to just work so hard that I have to drag myself to the house at night. I realize now that time is going by really quickly and that I need to take advantage of the precious opportunity that God has given me to leave my nets behind and feed sheep. Don´t worry Mom, I know sometimes it sounds like I´m beating myself up...but it always works out in the end. I love you all so much.
p.s. the other picture is of me cleaning the house last p-day. I love it when the house is clean. I found a tall t in the house in Pachuca and have been making use of it.
p.s. the other picture is of me cleaning the house last p-day. I love it when the house is clean. I found a tall t in the house in Pachuca and have been making use of it.
Posted by BAN Clan at 8:34 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
|The Christus in the Mexico City Temple Visitors Center with the Family Perez|
What a week we had. I think I will start with the questions. We do have stake and ward and regional conferences. The last regional conference Elder Bednar spoke. But that was way back in November when I was still with Elder Llanos. He actually gave the same talk he gave in General Conference about light.
My pants are doing fine. I think they will probably last until the end. I still haven’t opened the shirts you sent me because all the shirts I brought are still in reasonably good shape...although they are a little more yellow than when we started. I have been saving the socks and the shirts for my last 6 months...or maybe for when I go home. The socks I will probably have to start using because I have developed holes in several pairs...but I will be fine until the end anyways. Everything we bought seems to be holding up really well. I am still using the same pair of shoes that I have used all along (so I still have a pair of brand new shoes waiting to be used). I don´t know if I have been gentle or if we just struck gold when we bought that stuff but I´m fine. Also...I could buy anything I need here except shirts. There is a distribution center in the temple which is about 10 minutes from my area so I bought my new triple there and if I ever need garments I could buy them there. They sell really good shoes for about 60 bucks...so it would be better here than there I think. But I will let you know if anything makes fault.
|On the way to Zone Conference in Tulancingo|
|Independence Day in Mexico (September 15)|
|Pyramids of Teotihucan on the way to Tulancingo Zone Conference|
I have a good (well, not good) story for this week. We have been teaching a 20 year old named Eduardo who has been progressing really well. The first time we taught him we gave him a Book of Mormon and he prayed about it. He said he felt something in his chest that he had never felt before. He always talked about the changes in his life that he was seeing as a result of the gospel. He was really excited for his baptism this week because he was excited to "become a new person." He passed his baptismal interview with flying colors and was just really excited to do it. Then he didn’t show up to sacrament meeting...we called and called but he didn’t pick up. Finally he showed up with his friend Gibran. They said they wanted to talk to us. So they started telling us about how they had stayed up until 2 in the morning talking about the baptism and if he was really sure and if he thought he would fail after making a covenant with God. At 2 in the morning they decided to say a prayer to ask God if this was something that he should really do...he didn’t feel anything so he took that as an answer. Like mom said....nothing good happens after midnight. He told us that he was no longer interested and thank you very much for being my friends and teaching me but I no longer have interest in anything. I was pretty devastated. As we were emptying the pila I just thought and thought and thought and just got more and more and more frustrated. I couldn’t figure out what we had done wrong...how we had failed. There was nothing that we could have done, that we should have done, that we hadn’t done. And when I thought that I remembered D Todd Christofferson´s conference talk about the currant bush. What I realized is that we had gotten comfortable having success and that I had not been progressing very much as a missionary. I realized that slowly but surely Satan had been whispering little lies, "you are a good missionary, you don’t need to get better because you are having success..."and on and on. I had listened because it sounded good...and I just kept listening until God had to hit me over the head with something like this to wake me up. But I am grateful that it happened. I am grateful that God allowed me to see what was happening so that I can now set goals and make plans to become better. It´s funny how sometimes we see ourselves as something that we are not. But I am infinitely grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has the vision of a currant bush...nothing less. It hurts...but I know that that is what this whole mission or life thing is for. We must overcome our faults...and sometimes we can´t see those faults until someone hits us over the head with them. If the mission didn’t hurt it wouldn’t be worth it...and I am willing to pay any price to accomplish the will of Heavenly Father. As I teach and teach I begin to see how God teaches us..and how much more effective He is. I love this gospel and I love the opportunity that each of us has to always strive for more. To always be hungry. I read this week that "Success, is not everything...it is the only thing." And it is true...but success as God sees it and not as we do. I love you all so much. I hope you are all being happy and successful. Look for the blessing and you will stop seeing the afflictions. I love you all so much...
P.S. The pictures are from our trip to Tulancingo to do Zone Conferences this week..I love the one of the Pyramids.
Posted by BAN Clan at 11:13 AM
Monday, September 5, 2011
|American ? Food|
Well I think I’ll just start with the questions this week. The root beer floats were really good. It´s not so much that I like root beer floats...it´s just that they are American. We are really blessed in this house because I have my own mini fridge that has a little freezer built in. Elder Bringhurst also has his own. As far as cooking, it´s not that I don’t like to but we just don’t have that much time for it. But I cook pancakes and eggs and quesadillas. Also we buy popcorn for our microwave if you can call that cooking. Elder Bringhurst cooks refried beans and eats it with salsa and tortillas...but that is about as adventurous as we get. It is much better just to buy tacos because you don’t have to clean the pan and they taste a lot better than anything we could make.
Nestor is doing ok. We brought members this week that had been through the same type of situation that he is going through. Namely someone who belongs to Alcolicos Anonimos (Alcoholics Anonymous) and joined the church. He was really excited and is super ready to be baptized....just that Sunday morning he got shocked really bad and had to go to the ER. Here in Mexico lots of times the poorer people who can´t afford gas heat their water with a resistance. It is little metal coils heated by electricity from the wall submerged in water. Also many times they don’t have plugs...so they just stick the loose wires in the wall outlet. I guess he was heating up some water to bathe himself when he touched something he shouldn’t have. He’s ok, but will have to be delayed a week in his baptism. His wife doesn’t really want to talk to us very much because she loves to play soccer on Sundays so she doesn’t want to come to church. As far as getting scriptures we always give them a copy of the Book of Mormon. They usually have a bible already because everyone has a bible, but when they are baptized and confirmed we sometimes gift them a triple, but usually they just buy it on their own. I really don’t know if Nestor has ever gone to jail...but seeing as how he has a history of delinquency and drug abuse I would assume so. We never go to teach there. Two white boys in a Mexican jail doesn’t sound like a fun idea to me.
Also....I suffered a major tragedy this week. Probably the worst thing that has happened to me on my mission. Someone stole my triple. I was using it in the church to train new missionaries that had gotten here from Peru and accidentally left it in the room...then we went back and it was gone. It was so heart breaking. It had all my thoughts and impressions and growth and experiences since the beginning of my mission. I had to buy a new one. I am now starting from scratch. But maybe it will help me to know better the scriptures...
|Santa Muertes we took from an investigators apartment. We smashed them to bits!|
I am with Elder Cisneros who is on his way to Medina, Argentina when he gets his Visa.
|Beti and her sons|
Until Next Week,
Posted by BAN Clan at 8:22 PM