Monday, November 30, 2015

Week one in the field!

I don't have that much time to write today, but I'll do my best!

The mission feild is tough!  I'm still alive, but ya know, I'm kind of dying.  You see, going on a mission and learning a language is like playing guitar hero.  The MTC is like easy mode.  So when you get to the mtc and start learning, it's hard at first, but it's really not that bad.  By the end of the MTC, you're hitting all the notes!  You feel pretty good about yourself.  And then you arrive in the mission feild.  The difficulty automatically gets switched to extreme.  People speak like 30 times faster, I swear!  Oh, and I don't have anybody to speak english to.  So the guitar is glued to my hands, and I'm stuck playing guitar hero on extreme mode for eternity, missing pretty much all the notes

That is how I would explain it.  In all seriousness, it is so difficult.  You feel so alone when you can't even understand what people are saying around you.  People try to talk to me, and I want to understand them so badly.  But I just can't.  Even my companions, who are around me constantly, speak so fast, and I only understand a portion of what they say.

It's hard.  But it's okay.  I'm happy to be here!  I'm struggling so much every day, but I'm still happy.  I know that the reason I can be happy despite the trials that surround me is because God is "easing the burdens that are placed upon my back."  He doesn´t take away my trials, but he makes them bearable.  So when somebody talks to me, and I don't have any idea what they said, I can smile, ask them to repeat what they said, and not be too sad about it.  It really is a miracle that I am able to feel this way, because I am a perfectionist in nature.  I know that God has helped me so much, and I am so grateful for that.

What is really scary is contacting people!  I'm not good at talking with strangers in english, let alone spanish.  It's going to be a huge adjustment, but I have confidence that with God's help, I will one day be able to contact many people successfully.

This week I was reading the story of the widows mite, and it really got me thinking.  I compared myself to the widow.  I don't have a lot to give right now.  I can't speak very well in spanish.  But I find comfort at what Jesus said about the widow.  She cast in more than everybody else, because she cast in all that she owned.  I know that if I give all my time and talents to the lord, he will be pleased with me, even though I don't have much to offer right now.

Thats all the time I have for today.  I love you all!
Elder Prieto, Me, and Elder Silvestre.  This is when I ate my first bug of the mission!  I don't know exactly what it is, but everyone eats them here!  They have people just standing outside selling baskets of them.  It wasn't that bad, but I wouldn't eat them just for fun, ha...
The candy here is terrible.  I don't know who had the idea to add chile powder to candy, but whoever it was is completely evil.  I miss american candy!  But I did find this gem!  Kinder surprises!  I was so pleased!  That is the only thing mexico has over america candywise.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Day 1 in Oaxaca

So, I guess they changed P-day to today, so I get to write you again today!!  So the past 24 hours or so have been completely crazy!  We finished up training at the mission offices and then President Madsen assigned me my area and my companions!  My companions are named Elder Prieto and Elder Silvestre.  They are both native spanish speakers, and Elder Prieto is from mexico and Elder Silvestre is from Uruguay.  Yep, sorry, messed up in my last email.  Uruguay, not Uganda.  They're both nice guys who seem to be good missionaries.  I hope to get to know them better soon and learn a lot from them!  

So our area is unique, there are a couple smaller cities close to Oaxaca city that make up our area.  Our companionship's city is called Miahuatian, and its about 2ish hours away from Oaxaca city.  The other people in our district are in a city about 40 minutes away, so we have to travel all the time!  Today we took a bus and a taxi to our district meeting.  It has been fun to see so many parts of Oaxaca already!  

Now I'm going to be honest:  I pretty much have no idea what is going on most of the time.  Me and Elder Merrill, another american missionary who arrived the same day as me, are the only english speakers in my district.  Even if there were more english speakers in my district, it wouldn't help me much, because our companionship is the only set of missionaries in Miahuatian, 40 minutes away from anyone else!  Elder Prieto and Elder Silvestre were in a companionship before I arrived, and even though they try their best to talk to me and make me feel welcome, they still talk to each other in spanish a lot, and I don't really know what they are saying.  It is a totally new experience for me.  Don't get me wrong, I really love it here.  But I can tell that the next couple months are going to be difficult.  

Also, I'm going to have to get used to the apartment!  It is really small, and pretty dirty.  Our beds take up an entire room of the house, and there are only 2 rooms and 1 bathroom.  We wash our clothes in a bucket.  There is a clothes line that hangs above the other room of the house with clothes draped on it.  There are no closets to hang up our clothes, just one small bar for all 3 of us.  It is definitely unlike any place I have ever stayed in.

However, I couldn't ask for any more.  The other day I was saying my personal prayer, thanking God for my blessings.  In that moment I felt an immense feeling of gratitude.  I was so happy, I almost cried.  I knew that that feeling came from God.  It was such a tender mercy for me!  It made me realize that I have everything I could ever need.  Blessings were brought to my mind that I had never thought about before, and I felt so grateful for them.  

This experience really changed my perception about being grateful.  I finally understand that you shouldn't be any more grateful in times of hardship then you should be in times of great happiness.  You don't have to possess a lot of "things" to be grateful.  If you come unto God with a few things that you are grateful for, he will bring more of those things to your mind, until you are filled with gratitude.  I know that we are all so blessed, and if we give thanks to God he will fill us with joy and happiness.

Oh, and the food here is great!  We had tacos last night where they just had a big piece of meat hanging over a grill, and then then cut pieces off and put them into tacos.  So cool, and so good! 

Thats all I've got for this week.  Have a great thanksgiving, I love you all!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Week 5! (the last one!)

Here I am!  I only have a few more days here at the CCM!  I have mixed emotions about leaving, but I'm mostly excited!!  True, I could learn a lot more here.  But honestly, at this point I believe that I will learn more in the mission field than I could here.  I have done what I needed to do here, and now it's time to move on.  True, my Spanish is far from perfect right now, but God doesn't expect me to be perfect right now.  As long as my heart is in the right place I am confident that I will be able to be an instrument in God's hands to teach salvation to his children.

Speaking of spanish, I feel pretty good about where I am right now!  Granted, I have a terribly long way to go, but I feel like I can teach my lessons pretty well, and communicate the essentials, and that is what's most important.  I'm excited to go to Oaxaca because I know I will be completely surrounded by spanish there, so I will be able to learn a lot!  

While I took spanish in high school, I really disliked it.  I felt like it was a ton to memorize, and that I wouldn't really use it in my life.  But being here in mexico completely changed my perspective of learning a new language!  Learning another language gives you so many more opportunities!  Every new word I learn is exciting for me, because every new word helps me communicate better with these wonderful people!   

I really love our teachers here at the CCM.  Our district has really grown close to them throughout the weeks.  I can tell that they legitimately care about us and our well being.  Our morning teacher is named Hermano Palma.  I have already talked about him a little bit.  He is super short, but he means business.  He teaches very well, and loves to joke and tease us when we mess up our spanish, haha.  We tease him back though, we call him Hermano Palmita, because he is so short!  (In spanish, when you add ito to the end of a word it makes it smaller.  For example, perro is dog, and perrito is puppy.)

Our night teacher is named Hermano Alverez.  He's a really cool guy.  I can tell that he was a great missionary when he served.  Obedience is very important to him, he taught us a lot about it.  When we first met him in our third week, we thought he was strange, and we didn't really understand him.  But now we all love him, he is really funny and gives amazing advice.  He also likes pokemon, so thats always good haha!

Me and Elder Henrie have gotten really close.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to be companions with him!  He is a great example to me.  We get along great together, so it will be bittersweet when we go to Oaxaca and get new companions.  Our district as a whole is amazing as well.  I get along with everyone very well.  They are great examples to me, each one of them.  

I feel so blessed to be here as a missionary.  I can't wait to actually teach people!  I can testify that God is always there sending you blessings.  You simply have to have the faith to receive them.  I love you all!  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Week 4

Wow!  Time really flies here at the MTC now!  I can´t believe that I will be leaving to Oaxaca in just a week and a half!!!  I´m a little nervous, because I still have a lot to learn, but mostly I´m excited!!  I can´t wait to meet the people there, to teach them, and to learn how to love them with all my heart.

This week has been good!  I´ve been working hard at learning spanish, and I am trying my best to speak only spanish...  It is way hard, and I´m not very good at it yet.  I still speak english way too much.  But I am getting better, and speaking more spanish every day, and I think that is the important thing.  Ha, speaking of which, our teacher, hermano palma, says that every time he hears us speaking english we need to buy a chocolate and give it to him, so he can put it in a piƱata shaped like donald trump for us to break at the end of the MTC.  It was just a joke, but I thought it was really funny.

This Sunday the district above us left for their missions. It was bittersweet, because our districts have become really close, but they are going on to bigger and better things.  They have been such an example to me and I know that they will be amazing out there.

On the bright side, we got a new district in our zone!  They are great, I really like them so far.  We´ve been playing soccer with them like we did with the old district.  They are way good!  Anyways, I can tell we´re all going to be great friends.  It seems like everyone in our zone is passionate about lord of the rings, so we get along perfectly!  (unless we´re arguing about which character is the best, then it can get messy, haha...)

Because we lost our old zone leaders, we got new ones this week! Elder Gunnell and Elder Gonzales are the new zone leaders.  They are both powerful people, and I know that they will do a lot of good as zone leaders!  Also, Elder Henrie was called to be district leader!  He is going to do a great job, he is a great example to me, and I´m proud to be his companion.  

Lots of changes this week!  We said goodbye to our second set of latino roomates the other day.  They were...  Interesting.  They were really nice guys.  I liked them.  They just had one problem.  They didn't know how to use the bathroom correctly, and they definitely didn´t know how to clean up after themselves.  Basically, our entire dorm smelled terrible for the past 2 weeks.  It was horrible!  I don´t understand how anybody could have messed up a bathroom that much!!  Me and Elder Henrie cleaned it one day, but alas, the very next day it was just as bad as it was before!!  We couldn´t believe it.  Anyways, they´re gone now, and even though we liked talking to them, we are relieved to finally have a clean bathroom.  (Cleaning that bathroom was one of the nastiest things I have ever done.)  ​

I had an amazing experience on Sunday of this week.  Hermana Hollingshead was feeling very sick, so us Elders offered to give her a priesthood blessing.  She accepted, and wanted me to give her the blessing.  Elder Henrie did the anointing, then we circled up.  When I started speaking, I immediately felt the spirit, very strongly.  I was surprised by how easily the words I was supposed to say came into my head.  I felt the power of the priesthood very strongly at that moment.  After the blessing the whole room was filled with the spirit.  I know that the words that I spoke were not my own.  I was so grateful and so humbled to be a mouthpiece to the lord at that moment.

Thats all I've got for now!  Thanks for your prayers and messages, I really appreciate them!  I love you all!  

Elder Lindsay
​The Elders in our zone before 11C left
Our Zone! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Week 3!

I can´t believe I have already been here for 3 weeks!  Time is really flying by now!  The first week was so slow, and now every week seems like a day!  I´m all adjusted to MTC life now, the crazy amount of studying that we do seems completely normal now!

This week was pretty much just like all the other weeks.  We teach mock investigators almost every day, have a devotional on tuesday, P day on thursday, and a lot of meetings on Sunday.  Sunday is always the best day, because the spirit is so strong, and we get some time to somewhat relax.  The devotionals and meetings are always great!
So this Sunday we had a fast and testimony meeting.  It was really cool!  Everyone in our zone has a really strong testimony, and it was amazing to hear about their experiences.  The zone before us, 11C, is really funny.  Our zone leaders are the most hilarious, awkward people, but they are great examples to me.  One of them actually played trombone in a marching band before he came, so its nice to have someone I can relate to, haha...  We play soccer with 11C all the time, and its a blast!  I forgot how fun soccer is!  Anyways, this is 11C´s last week.  I´ll, miss them, but they´ll be doing great things out in the field!  

So on Sunday, I joined the MTC choir!  It is really cool, all the songs they sing are in spanish.  It is really spiritual to hear their testimonies ring out through their voices.  Music is so special to me, and I love the spirit that it can bring.  Anyways, it turns out this week the song they were singing was the efy medley!  I love that song!  I was thrilled when I opened up the folder and saw that we would be singing this song.  We started our practice on Sunday, and I noticed that the pianist was having a bit of trouble playing the song.  I felt bad for him, it really is a difficult song, and it is especially difficult to play when accompanying a choir.  I decided to stand up and ask him if he wanted me to play it, since I learned it before I came out.  He was relieved, and said that it was fine.  It turns out that he only had a week to learn it.  I felt bad, because he really was a great pianist, but 1 week simply isn´t enough time to perfect that song.

Nevertheless, I was so grateful for that opportunity to play with the MTC choir.  I love playing that beautiful song, and it was even cooler to be able to accompany a spanish choir!  We preformed the song at our Tuesday devotional, and it was very powerful.  I am so thankful for my heavenly father for preparing me for that moment.  Before my mission I didn´t know why I felt like I should learn that song.  It was a choir piece and I had no choir to sing with me.  However, I felt prompted to learn it, and so I did.  I feel like this experience was similar to the experience that Nephi had when he was engraving the plates, even though it is on a much smaller scale.  Nephi had no idea why God commanded him to make a record.  He could not have imagined the impact his record would make.  However, he was still faithful, even though it might have seemed pointless or too difficult.  This experience that I had this week has really increased my testimony of acting upon spiritual promptings.  Even if they don´t make sense in the moment, God knows what he is doing.  He knows what he wants you to be, and he knows how to get you there.  So listen to him!!

Well, last Friday I got sick.  I felt awful.  I feel better now, but I am not all the way recovered.  It is very frustrating!  Being sick is very distracting.  I couldn´t learn as much or focus as much because of it.  I felt like it was keeping me from reaching my potential.  But ya know, it happens.  Its okay.  The other night I was feeling very frustrated, because I was still feeling sick after many days.  I prayed with all my heart for the Lord to give me some comfort, because I was feeling pretty lousy.  After my prayer, I opened up my book of mormon, praying that I would be able to find something to help me.  I opened up my scriptures to Alma chapter 32, verse 13, which reads ¨And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye, for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance, and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy, and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.¨  This was a great comfort to me.  I know that got watches out for his children, and he wants to help us.  We just need to come unto him.
I am out of time.  Thank you all for your support and love!  Adios!