Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We built our character!

Hey, family!

Well, I dunno why, but today was another one of those great “reading all the e-mails” day! It just feels good! I just started to think . . . It’s amazing that I have written to you all so many times and I can only type with two fingers . . . LOL . . . That’s talent!

Anyhow, thanks for answering my questions once again and for giving me all those updates on your lives!

How cool about Elder Smith’s Mom’s Mom! That’ll be sooooo nice for us! Tell her thank you a million times for me! Well, I guess I’ll just tell her thanks ‘cause she reads my e-mails, right? Well, thank you sooo, sooo much, Smith Family! The cool thing is that I almost have all the gifts ready! I just gotta get you something big and nice, Mom! Of course, you’re the most important! Question, though . . . Does she want the package in the Mission Home? She’s gonna eat with President or something? Or does she actually want it in the Mission Office in Euro Plaza? Another question . . . Does anyone wear or use the gifts I sent last year? Hopefully I can do better this time. As for me, I really don’t need anything, Mom. I really don’t . . . Maybe just hold onto the money and help me buy a laptop when I get home. The gifts I enjoyed most from last year were for sure the letters from everyone and the muddy buddies, of course! I’d be sooooooo, soooooo happy if my package only consisted of those two things! And maybe some of the good Old Spice deodorant, the blue gel type, that I always use. That’s really all I can think of though! Thank you!

We are getting there on our Stake Conference . . . Just one by one . . . We are a li’l stressed out right now, though, trying to do everything we can to get the Moreno family baptized. We fasted on Friday and Saturday and, of course, as an answer to our prayers, they came to Church! Now we have to do everything we can to get ‘em baptized this weekend! It’s lookin’ tough, but I know with faith and hard works, we can get it done! Boy . . . Last night I almost couldn’t sleep because this is sooooo heavy on my mind! We will get it! We will! I know it! If I know anything, it’s that God answers prayers (the oooooonnnnlllyyy thing I learned from the Book of Psalms, by the way . . . LOL) . . . It’ll happen . . .

I will be waiting on the drawing from Aaliyah with sooo much enthusiasm! Also, I have not received your envelope yet, but I’m hoping to receive it on Wednesday or Thursday.

I talked to a missionary in my Zone a li’l this week . . . His name is Elder Hale. He went to Arizona State before the mission. Know who he says he met three years ago? A tall, skinny, black guy from California that played on the ASU basketball team. He said his last name was . . . What? Hill?? Hahahaha . . . He met Jamal! Is that not suppppperrrrr weird? LOL! He helped him in a study group . . . LOL . . . Dallas or Dad . . . Have you guys talked to Jamal or heard anything about him in a while? LOL . . . Just a funny, random story . . .

Oh . . . Quick favor . . . There is a member here that wants sunflower seeds (David’s) and beef jerky (seeing as they don’t sell those items “good” here). So, in the Christmas package, could you include some of those items for him? He says he will buy my KFC (oh yea . . . Dad knows what I’m talkin’ about . . . LOL) if you do! LOL . . . Thanks!

This week I got to go on divisions with Elder Morrow, an 8-month elder from many states . . . LOL . . . But he lived in California, in Manteca, for three years before going to BYU and serving his mission. He was a very cool guy and made me some delicious food for lunch and dinner! Ooooo! I got big time spoiled! So, yea . . . Good, good buy and very good elder! He teaches well and speaks very good Spanish, especially for being so new! He is one of the District Leaders in the Zone. Anyway . . . He is also an Office Elder, so he lives with two other Office Elders and with the Assistants. It’s a huuuuugggggge house by the way . . . .LOL . . . And they live in what seems like an American colony. LOL . . . It’s weird there. Anyway, on divisions, we walked around aaaaalllloootttt ‘cause the Office Elders never get to work in their area because they’re so busy in the Office! I got very tired as did Elder Morrow, but I couldn’t show it because I’m his leader and a missionary that is in the field every day! Sooo . . . When he was like “There’s nothing left to do or go visit”, I was like . . . “Where else can we go??” C’mon! Give me another name! LOL . . . So he kept giving names and we kept knocking doors and, well, no one let us in! LOL . . . But it built our character! And it was a great day! The only time of the whole day that we entered a house was to do a baptismal interview for 35-year old Mario at 2pm. From 3pm to 9pm, we were walking around in the street . . . LOL . . .

The interview with Mario was interesting . . . LOL . . . He has been an investigator for over eight years!!!!! When I asked him what changed that made him want to be baptized, he changed the subject. He started to tell me that he had been observing me . . . Weird . . . I had barely spoken to him at all and he started to tell me what kind of person I am. He said, “I would imagine that you like to play and joke around a lot” (which is weird because everyone that I meet here says I’m waaaay too serious and uptight). “I would also imagine that, in your home, you are the one to mess around with everyone and that you love hugging on your Mom and Dad.” Then he said that I had a special something about me, like a good feeling and that I am going to bring lots of people to the Church throughout my life, if it be my desire. Then he said that I will become a big Church Leader . . . LOL . . . And he said I have a type of experience that not many missionaries have. He said I know when to be quiet, when to joke, when to lift my head and when to drop it, when to look people in the eyes and when not to. He said it means I am from somewhere that not many other missionaries are from . . . It was very interesting . . . I didn’t know him at all and he was able to hit things right on the dot. Sure, some things were just apostate revelations . . . LOL . . . But he really hit some things on the head. Some things that others have never been able to do with me. After telling me all that, he said that he just observes people a lot and that, for that reason, eh wanted to be baptized. He had thought it out well and knew it was something he needed to do. It was really cool. Of course, he passed the interview and was baptized. Pretty cool experience.

So, that division was on Wednesday and Thursday. Then, later on Thursday, I went on divisions with my boy, Elder Williams. I loooove that kid! He’s one of my favorite missionaries and one that I will still be friends with after the mission. Anyway, I did a baptismal interview there in his area, too. It was with a 70-year old lady and she was also baptized this weekend. With Elder Williams, we just mesh . . . Our teaching together is fire . . . LOL . . . Just like me teaching with Maradiaga. We had a great day, though, and it was great for him ‘cause it got him all animated again. He was “disanimated” a li’l ‘cause of some things going on in his life right now . . . So, it was cool to work with my boy and to be able to “reanimate” him and do an interview at the same time. Great three days of divisions! I slept bad in other beds, though . . . So getting back to my own bed was money in the bank, homie!

Well, I think that’s all I have to say for now! I sure love you all soooo, soooo much! Lemme know if I can do anything! Oh . . . And, Stacie . . . Thanks for your li’l letter! I appreciated it! I love you all soooo, soooo much!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Generations are changed by faithful followers of Christ

Hello, family!

Thanks for all the great info once again! You never let me down!

Thanks for sending the Clippers scores! Looks like we have been bums lately . . . LOL . . . But I’m sure we aren’t playing Davis, Gordon or Kaman much right now. Well, we shall see when I get those game recaps from you. Thank you!

Sorry . . . I forgot that I only told Dallas the idea of selling lots of my shoes. I asked him to send me a DearElder with a list of all my shoes. But I don’t think he’s going to do that on his own, so could you help him? Send me the name of the shoes and a li’l description of them in case I dno’t remember which ones they are. I told Dallas that I want to sell them so I have money for a laptop when I get home. I would also like to be able to buy more things from Guatemala. If Dallas hasn’t told you this “shoes” idea, I imagine that he hasn’t told you guys that I’m probably going to go to Gavilan and live at home . . . LOL . . . Did he tell you? So, that’s where Dylan has to go with me.

Sounds like you guys had a pretty exciting week, huh? I’m glad . . . We had a pretty good one here, I’d say! So, I’ll share some of it with y’all!

To begin . . . Last week, I said happy birthday to Randy and James, but not Megan! Sorry! LOL! Happy Birthday to Megan! And Randy . . . Happy Birthday again for this week! Also, of course, Happy Birthday to my baby Aaliyah! Her birthday this year was not neeeeaaaaarly as terrible as last year . . . Sure, I thought about her all day again yesterday, but it was happy, not sad like last year. I can’t believe it’s been a year since that day, though . . . I remember it perfectly . . .

Hey . . . Question . . . What do you think would be the cheapest way to send a package home to you guys for Christmas? Do you have any ideas? Is there anyone comin’ out to Guatemala who could bring a package home to you? Or should I just start doin’ my research? Let me know ‘cause Christmas is gettin’ close!

Well, this week we had Zone Conference. I didn’t have to do anything this time which was nice and, of course, a lot less stressful! My Companion gave a very good talk . . . His message was about teaching investigators and not lessons. It was great. Elders Castro and White also gave talks that day and they did very well as well. President and Hermana Torres also gave some great talks and we got to do some good practicing. It was the best Zone Conference I’ve been to, for sure! I think it’s just a li’l more special now ‘cause they only happen once every two changes and not every change. I quite enjoyed it . . . Oh! And, at the end of the Conference, Elders Chesley and Solano gave their last testimonies. Ooooo . . . They go home soooo soon! Just a li’l more than three weeks left! Weird!

After Zone Conference, President let me go visit some of my converts (seeing as Conference was in the Ermita building where I served for six months). My companion and I visited Luis, Paola and Cindy who were inactive when I left Ermita. They had bad grades and their mom wouldn’t let them go to church, so I wasn’t quite sure if I was gonna lose them to inactivity forever. Buuuuut . . . When I got to their house and started talkin’ to ‘em about it, they said that they have been goin’ to Church every Sunday for the past three months! They now have church books, hymn books, more scriptures . . . They have really progressed! Ahhhh! It was such a cool feeling to know that my converts are doing soooo well! I start to think about all the generations that will be changed for three faithful people being baptized . . . It was a very cool visit . . . I couldn’t have been much happier . . . Unless all of you had been with me! LOL . . .

That same day, after Zone Conference and the visits to my friends in Ermita and some visits in my real assigned area, my companion and I had a meeting with President Torres and President Mendez (the Stake President) to get some plans prepared for Stake Conference. It will be held on November 6 and 7. I think I already told you that Elder Falabella will be here, so we are very excited and nervous! LOL! President Torres gave us a goal to have thirty investigators from each area at Stake Conference that Sunday. Ooooo . . . That’s a lot! But I’m workin’ on my faith to be able to do it! So, we are getting started early to get ‘em invited! I really know we can do it . . . We just gotta work on it every day! President Mendez said something later in the week that I really like . . . I said that miracles are brought to pass by everyone. He said that they are brought to pass one by one. It’s so true! Sooo simple but true. All we have to do is invite everyone, one by one, and pass their house one by one to remind them and help them get there! We can SO do it!

Well . . . That’s all I’ve really got for now! I sure love you all and appreciate all of your support! Take care and I look forward to hearin’ from ya soon! Lemme know if you’ve got questions or anything!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"By humbling myself, I've learned a lot"

Hey, yo!

How are you all doin? As you know, I’m so thankful for the letter that I received from you yet gain. You know I love all the comments and updates!

Ummmm . . . I’m glad you guys found the pictures from Elder Jack Winn’s mom! I saw him at the Temple and it made me super happy. I thought he had already left Guatemala and that I wasn’t gonna see him for almost a year. But I saw him! LOL . . . And I met his parents. They were very nice people and his mom told me that you guys are friends! LOL . . . Gotta love Mission Mom things. Don’t be sad about the pictures, though! I’ll be home so soon . . . There’s no time to be sad! What is weird to me is that those pumpkin patch pictures you sent me for Christmas last year are already a year old! Weird, huh? Sounds like you guys are gonna have a ball this time of year! I’m excited because everything that is happening right now is the last time that I will ever miss them with my family. And that li’l Dylan makes me so proud. I can’t believe that he’s already getting ready for college . . . LOL . . . ACT and SAT tests stink though. He should just go to Gav with me . . . C’moooooonnnnnnnnnn . . .

Well, I do have a few updates that I would like to hit ch’all up with today!

First to answer your question . . . Today for P-day, we had interviews as a Zone with President Torres. They started at 10am and ended around 3pm. LOL . . . Yea . . . It was a long time of waiting. Especially since I am Junior Companion Zone Leader . . . LOL . . . Which makes me the last interview of the whole Zone! LOL . . . It was a great interview, though. The first time that it has actually been a real conversation in an interview after fourteen months of interviews with him. We talked about the challenges in our Zone . . . We talked about the progression of all the missionaries in our Zone . . . We talked about what I can do to help . . . We talked about Elder Chesley and what I’ve learned from him . . . And he told me we gotta baptize again before Elder Chesley goes home. He said he knows we will and pointed out that I’ve baptized a lot in all of my areas and that we will be able to do that here, too. Kinda cool . . . Talked about what we can do to prepare for our big Stake Conference that is coming up at the beginning of November. Elder Falabella will be here . . . He is a member of the First Quorum of the 70 . . . Soooo . . . It’s a big deal! LOL! It’s a lot of pressure, but it will all be good! We just gotta get down to it! It was just a very good interview all in all. After the interview, we played some ping-pong and then ordered pizza to the Church with six other missionaries who hadn’t left the building. Usually, on Mondays, we do all our shopping but this Monday (today),we won’t have time so we are gonna do that tomorrow morning.

Did you guys send me the list of all my shoes yet? The Clippers schedule? I got Dylan’s DearElder, but I think I will have to write him back next week because I don’t have time today! Sorry! Oh! And how is NBA pre-season goin’ for the Warriors, Clippers and Lakers?

How much time does Jeff Rose have in the mission now? He’s gotta almost be home by now if he isn’t already . . . And how ‘bout Brad? What mission is he in exactly?

Guess what?????? I think I get home just the day before Dylan’s graduation! Cool, huh?!?!

Happy Birthday to Megan, Randy and James! Two of the people I want to hear from the most! Randy and James! I sure hope you had and have great birthdays! Be safe and smart! I hope to hear from you soon!

This week I went on divisions with Elder Vindel. It was fun to be back with him because he was in my District for three months when I had been on my mission between four and seven months. At that time, his best friend from home was the District Leader (Elder Martinez, my second trainer, or Mom). Elder Vindel has grown so much in the past few months and is such a different missionary. He is animated to work, he is so good to everyone and we had some great spiritual lessons together. He’s really doing a great job. I’m loving doing these divisions because I’m learning so much even though I’ve been called to be their leader. Elder Vindel is a good friend and we can share missionary stories and what not. Good, good guy. My companion went with Elder Kjar and they put three baptismal dates in Durazno! So, they did great too! We will see if we have time to do divisions again this week.

Really cool . . . This last week, my companion and I got to fast for our Area and Zone to see what we could do to improve it. Well, when I was in the Temple in the Celestial Room, all I could think of was just to work even harder and to be humbler (if that’s not a real word, you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout) . . . I was thinkin’ at the time, “Man, that’s a lame answer to my prayers ! I already know that!” But, it wasn’t lame . . . LOL . . . By humbling myself, I’ve learned a lot. Being humble was really weighing on my mind because I was talking to a return missionary and talking about baptisms . . . Anyway, he started telling me when he did and didn’t have baptisms and why. Then I told him how up and down my times of baptizing have been. He said it was ‘cause I was prideful about it. I had never really thought about that ‘cause I don’t brag. But I thought maybe I carry it around too much in my heart like I’m pilas (cool) or something. But I realized that I have to recognize the hand of the Lord in all things. It’s funny how I had heard the phrase since Primary, along with all the other famous phrases, we have to learn the reality of them by ourselves. Since that fast, though, I have felt a major shift in the Zone and I know that the Lord has answered my prayers and has blessed me for fasting. I was talking to Elder Williams ‘bout it today (He’s a District Leader in my Zone . . . And a really good friend of mine because he entered with me and we can talk about just about anything together) and he said that since Tuesday he has also felt a huge shift in the success in the work in his Area. He didn’t even know that we had fasted at that time. LOL . . . We laughed because the Church is sooooo true . . . We just have to do our part to be worthy and willing to receive the blessings that God has prepared for us . . .

One of the huge blessings that we (my companion and I) received from this fast was this . . . We had baptismal dates with a family (Family Moreno) over a month about buuuuut they ran into some problems . . . They got kicked out of their tortilla shop for listening to us and goin’ to Church with us . . . Then, in the new tortilla shop where they moved, the owner didn’t let them listen to us either. So, we thought we had lost ‘em. Plus, they always had to work on Sundays. Theeeeeeen on Tuesday, we found out that a member opened up her own tortilla shop! Aaaaaand she invited Sister Moreno to come work and live with her!!!!! So now, the Moreno family came to Church already again this Sunday! We’ve taught them again and they have accepted baptismal dates again! Ahhhh! I know for a fact that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. Honestly . . . I know it. I think that’s why when I’m obedient, he can’t deny the blessings that come along with prayer and fasting. It was such a cool experience! If you guys aren’t fasting and praying and putting everything in the hands of God (during prayer, when you’re not praying, you gotta work everything out like it all depends on you), well, you should do it!

Well . . . I think that’s ‘bout all I got for you! Hit me up! I love you all soo, soo much and I really appreciate all of your support! Be safe, smart and loving! Take care!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Angels for Guatemala

Okie dokie! How are you all????

I dunno why but today was just kind of an emotional day reading your letter. It almost got me in tears when you said that Dylan’s graduation was moved back a week!!!!! Ahhhh . . . I wanna be home sooooo bad for that! I should be able to for sure, I’m thinking . . . I gotta be honest with you guys. I’ve been thinking a lot ‘bout extending my mission, but now that extending my mission means I would miss the graduation, hahahaha, no way I’m extending! LOL! Great news!

Thank you for being so kind as to send me those Clippers things. I, to, am so excited for this year ! With Griffin, Aminu, Bledsoe and Foye al coming in, I’m thinking we could make a play-off run this year, buuuuut . . . We shall have to wait and see! LOL!

I loved your Aaliyah and Zander stories. Those babies are sooo, sooo special. I was thinking a lot this week about when Aaliyah was born. (I guess probably because her birthday is just around the corner.) I was remembering how much I anticipated her being born . . . Staying up all night, going back to the house and then driving back up to San Jose just a couple hours later. And then, when I held her for the first time wearing my black beanie, my A’s jacket and sweats . . . And just starting to cry because of how happy I was. Ahhhhh . . . She is so special to me. I remember last year Aaliyah’s birthday was the worst day of the year ‘cause I couldn’t get her outta my head. I sure miss her. And I sure hope I’m stronger mentally this year than last so that my day isn’t so crappy on her birthday! LOL! We shall see soon, though!

As for General Conference, of course I watched in English! I would never watch it in Spanish ever again! Listening to the real voices is sooooo special and having to listen to the talks through a translator just one time makes you realize how really blessed we are to speak the language of the restoration and the language of the true church on earth. As for me, I enjoyed many talks as well. I really loved the talks by President Eyring (he, of course, being my favorite of everyone) and President Monson. My boy, Elder Costa, also spoke which was really cool. I really liked President Uchtdorf’s talk on patience. Elder Christofferson and Elder Anderson also gave great talks this Conference. I thought Elder Scott’s talk was just full of great one liners. He gave an amazing talk. I also really, really loved President Packer’s (my second favorite) talk and Elder Ballard’s, too. In the Priesthood session, I looooooved the talks by Elder Uceda and Elder Kearon. I think those two might have been the best . . . Well, two of the best . . . LOL . . . I can’t say which was the best. Soooo . . . Yea . . . Those were my General Conference thoughts. I watched it at the Stake Center in a li’l room with just missionaries and a couple random members who speak English. I learned soooo much, though, and took some great notes. I can’t wait for the Liahona to come out so I can read the talks again ‘cause I can learn a lot by reading through and marking them.

As for changes, I did not have one. I am staying with Elder Chesley to kill him. I am really excited ‘cause I feel like Elder Chesley and I are really getting things down together. We are soooo, soooo different, but we have learned a lot from each other and I know that I have a lot more to learn from him in these last six weeks. I’m very excited to kill my third Companion. As for my Zone, Elders Davis, Ixcoy, Garcia (finished his mission), Housley, Godfrey and Mays all had changes. In place of them, Elders Vindel (we were in the same Zone almost eight months ago) Calero, Gallo, Hale and Winkle all came in. It’s still a very fun Zone, just very, very different of course. As for other notable changes, Elder Legua went back to Polochic and I was and am not too thrilled ‘bout that ‘cause I probably won’t see him for a while again now. Elder Larsen went up to Zone Leader! So, I’ll be able to see him for the first time in over a year ‘cause he’s been up on Polochic as well. Ummmm . . . That’s most of the notables . . .

Yesterday, my Companion and I received a great comment from a long time investigator from a different Ward. We always do service for her. She told us that we are angels for Guatemala because no matter where you go, you will always find two guardian angels watching over that area. She told us how thankful she is for all the service we do, for all the love we show and for all the selflessness. She said she feels like we are the ones who hold up the Church. They were just really, really nice compliments that made me feel good. I hope it makes you proud, Mom (smiley face).

I was able to go on divisions with Elder Lainez from Honduras this week. He has two months in the mission. He’s a super smart kid. He’s read the Bible thirteen times and has explained some great stuff to me. Buuuuut . . . He has a lot to learn. LOL . . . He’s doing what my favorite companion, Elder Maradiaga, always did. That is, he tries to prove things with the Bible. It makes people progress because of the knowledge they gain but, in the end, they won’t be baptized because they haven’t been taught with the Spirit and haven’t been truly converted. I was able to teach him some good stuff, though, about missionary work. It was a very fun day.

Well . . . I think that’s ‘bout all I’ve got right now! I sure miss you all, but I sure appreciate all the good news and all the joy you bring me! I can’t wait ‘til next week! Love you all soooo, soooo much. More than you know! Be safe and smart!