Monday, March 24, 2014

2014-03-24: An Eye Opener and Lots of Room to Learn and Grow.

Well this past week was interesting... I spent Monday and Tuesday saying goodbye to the people in Palencia.  It was pretty hard leaving the area after being there so long, and I got attached to the people, and the area in general.  An update, so we went to say goodbye to the family I talked about last week and they are planning on having a wedding and a baptism in 3 weeks.  I am so happy for them!!!

Well I learned a lot from Palencia, the area and the companions, but it is time to move on.  As we were leaving the area at 6 in the morning on Wednesday in a taxi to go to change conference, I was just thinking about where I will be going.  I get to change conference and meet up with missionaries I know, I saw Elder Farr, and I go into the room to receive my change.  My new area is Zone Alameda, Area Alamada1.  Smack dab in the middle of Zona 18 of the capital.  My New companion is Elder Mendonca from Brazil.  Alameda is a zone where no one wants to go to... Every missionary I have talked to in the mission jokes around about how dead and how no one wants to come to this zone.  My companion and I are reopening this area because they closed the area about 5 months ago. 

So we leave from change conference and get to the area, and we eat lunch and unpack etc.  Then later we leave to work.  And I kind of have a feeling now when they say that this area is kind of dead.  There is so much poverty here, our area is basically a hill and on this hill are tin houses stacked on tin houses with dirt floors.  The walkways are alleys between these tin houses and there is just nothing here.  There are very few members here, and the hearts of the people here are closed due to the poverty, the lack of hope here, drug wars, gang wars, it is so bad that the military has a temporary instillation here across the street from where we live.  There are some members that live in our area and they are friendly, but these past 5 days have been the hardest 5 days of my mission. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014-03-17: Ya Me Voy De Palencia!

Well my time in Palencia is up... last night we were waiting all night for the changes, but they did not call because Presidente did not have them finalized, which was weird for the mission.  But this morning they called and told me that I am leaving.  It is kind of a mixed feeling leaving the area...  I love it here!  But I know that wherever I go I am supposed to be.  I will find out where I go on Wednesday at change conference.

Well this week went by really well, and like I told you guys, last Monday we went to the old folks home and gave service and talked with them etc.  Tuesday we went to Potrero Grande and got in a bible bash with this guy, which was really funny because at first we were trying to explain why it was important he does not push us out of his life, but then he starts saying crap about us so we just start questioning him about his church and how is it possible or how does he know he is in the right, or how does he know that his priest has authority to do what he does etc.?  Almost everyone we meet here is from the same church... and whenever we ask them questions like these, they don't know why they do what they do.  They were born in their religion, but don't understand why they are there. 

This Sunday we had a lesson in Sunday School with the youth, and the teacher asked each student to come up and answer a question.  The questions all were basic, like why are we called Mormons, what does the BOM talk about etc., but none of the youth could answer them.  He asked the youth how many times have they read the BOM and none of them could say they have read it all the way through.  A lot of people in the church, youth, and a lot of the adults even don't know how to answer these basic questions.  But many do, and that is what sets us apart, that we know why we are there, but those that have not done their part in learning the doctrine or why they are in our church need to step it up, so when heat comes they can take it.

Wednesday we just found new people and just explored Palencia with a member, so it was a fun day, taught a few people.  But Thursday was the highlight of my week and I think that this experience was one of the reasons that I am here in Palencia.  We went again to Potrero Grande today and in the night we had a lesson with a couple that is not married, have 3 children together, and have been living together for 9 years.  The mom has been surrounded by the church for a while now, and her whole family were baptized in the church 3 years ago, but she could not because of her living with her husband.  Her husband is a man that had bad thoughts about the church and for all three years have let her assist the church meetings, but would not go himself.  Up until Farr and I talked to him in Potrero one day, and we got to teach him in their house one night.  Ever since then he assisted church 4 times, and Farr and I taught him the 3 main lessons and he was softening up to us.  The second week with Hakanson, they did not show up to church and we did not see them until this past week.  They asked us to come to their house on Thursday and they needed to talk to us.  So we show up and the lesson turns out to be marriage counsel for them.  They would not tell us what happened... but something HUGE happened between them, and they went from a normal couple to a couple that did not want to look each other in the eye.  So we just listened and they told us that recently they had been thinking of separating and just forgetting about each other and how they had talked about it and they could not settle the differences etc.  So all the while Hakanson is giving them tips about how they should talk, when they should do it, how they should have respect and consideration for the other etc.-the normal marriage tips.  And then she just looks up and says " No more, Better that we break up than continue." 

And this whole time I have just been listening.  Sitting on the couch next to Hakanson, just listening, and I have not said one word in the lesson yet.  Then Hakanson turns to me and says, "well I don't know what to say, do you have anything to say?".  I look up and the next few minutes were some of the most spiritual moments I have had that I remember in my life.  I start off and ask them "When you had your 3 children how did you feel?" and they said "good".  I then told them "In my imagination, you have a lot of love for your 3 children, and why do you not feel this kind of love now?" I continued and said "My parents are so special to me." and I stopped, haha to this moment I don't know why I shared or how I even remembered, but I shared them about that time a few years back when there was a lot of crap going on back home, and how things were a little rough, and how you guys as parents pulled through, and that made all the difference in the family that we have now.  Haha I started tearing up and I looked them in the eyes and said "The both of you have a duty as parents to stay together.  You will not seperate, and you will work hard and talk to recover your love for each other and for your kids.  Your 3 children need you, and the Lord needs you, and I promise you that once you find this unity in your family, there will be nothing that can tear or separate you!"  They were crying and she looks up and says "Your Right".  Later they agreed to talk about it.  As I was speaking I have never felt a power like this ever before.  I don't know how to describe it, but It just fills you, and I know and I testify that the Holy Ghost has the power and ability to change lives. We are just instruments that play the music of the Lord, and that music touches the hearts of others through the Holy Ghost.  This past Sunday they were in Church sitting together with their whole family.

Friday we had a meeting with Elder Ochoa from the quorum of the 70.  He talked a lot about the missionary work, and how our job is to baptize and retain. and that we need to work together with the members to retain too. 

All in all good week... sorry the letter is so long! Well I love you guys, and Have a good Week!

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014-03-10: Rain, Volcanos, and fútbol

Hey guys! Another week down and things are going well.  This past change has just flown past and we had a kind of slow week though.  

This week Elder Hakanson was sick with a fever, and a cold for most of the week so we went out and worked, but some days we had to come home early for him to rest.  We taught most of the new people that we found last week, and we had to drop and keep finding people, because a lot of the time they just are not ready for the lessons etc., but we did okay this week.  

One of the highlights of my days here is finding new people because when we do contacting, we just explore.  We just go where we feel like we should go and when you see a door that you feel needs to be knocked, you knock.  We kind of have a competition of who can come up with the most inspiring question to ask people at the door, and we are really having fun here in Palencia.  

Saturday we had a fútbol tournament, and lots of nonmembers and members showed up to play. They had trophies and everything for the teams that won.  But on Friday it started to rain hard here in Palencia, and it continued until Saturday right before the tournament.  We played anyways rain or shine, and I am coming to like this sport (even though dad thinks it is boring...).

Today we did service at the old folks home, singing and talking with them.  So our day was good.  Next week for pday, we will climb one of the mountains here.  Other than that everything is going good here in Palencia!  Changes are next week Wednesday, on the 19th.  We find out on the 16th if one of us goes.

Well it was smoky and voggy all week so the volcano explosion would make sense for that.  But, no we are not impacted by the volcano explosion.

Well have a good week and I love you guys!

 Our Zone following today's service project.
Check out the new mission wheels!  Nah-just kidding.  I had no idea Honda made a 125 sport bike.
 God and his angels smiling on Palencia.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014-03-03: Have No Fear!

I cannot believe it is already March... time flies.  This past week went really well.  We found more new investigators and are starting to teach them.  Our area is starting to look the best it has been in 7 months.  The ward is growing because a lot of members are getting reactivated, and the members are starting to see our work.

Wednesday we had a zone meeting where they split up the companions by older and younger companions, and they taught us separately.  There are many examples of companions in the Libro de Mormon.  The Zone Leaders taught about our roles as companions, but one of the hermana in our zone shot them down and told them that they were wrong and that there should be unity in the companionship, where both persons are equal, and none has the upper hand on the other.

Yesterday, we had a noche de hogar with a family in the ward, and the topic was on marriage, and how just like missionary companionships, there should be equality and unity in the home.

Tuesday and Thursday were just normal days of working that went by really quick.  Friday we had divisions with the Zone Leaders and my companion went with Elder Galvan his old companion to the Zone Leaders area named Azacualpilla.   Elder Jensen the other Zone Leader came to our area.  We went out to an area called Potrero Grande a little pueblo about 15 minutes bus ride away from Palencia.

I learned a lot from Elder Jensen and after today I really look up to this guy.  BASICALLY he does not give a crap about anything other than what the Lord wants and thinks about him, and what the needs of the investigators are.  He doesn't take crap from anyone and he does not care if you think he can't do something, he just does it.  In the lessons, he is very straightforward, but he has a genuine love for the people and would listen with real intent and you could see it.  He spoke with love, but with authority and understanding too.  At the end of the day, I really learned a lot from the guy.  He showed me just how I want and need to improve not only teaching and the work, but also in my personality and character.

Some of the tips he gave me as we talked and walked around is:  1) To not care about anything other than what the Lord wants from you.  You change and conform your life to what the Lord wants you to be, and all other influences from the world and from friends do not change you because you are focused on one thing.  2) That there are a few things that you can trust in the world.  It’s God, the gospel, and the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and yourself.  You put your trust in God and the gospel, and all things will be well.  3) The last thing I learned is to have no fear.  Have no fear and don't be afraid to fail

That night we were lying in our beds and Elder Jensen and I were talking, and we stayed up talking story until about 11:30 (bad) but it was good.  And as Elder Jensen was talking I realized that I finally am doing something with my life.  I am actually very happy about what I am doing.  It is kind of funny but I feel like this place is home.  I feel comfortable here, and I feel like I am supposed to be here.  I have never felt better before in my life, and I know that I am supposed to be here, and that there is no other place that I would rather be right now!

The rest of the week went well.  Yesterday, I started a small fire next to our house and it turned into a wildfire that burned all the dry brush.  I will send pictures.  All in all good week!  I Love you guys!
 A little friend Elder Hakanson found for us.
The result of our fire we had while burning our trash.