Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016

Hola!  This week was good, we worked really hard to find new people to teach, and to improve our teaching.  I have really seen my teaching skills improve this week, and I know that is through the atonement of Christ and the holy ghost that I have improved.  My time here has really improved my testimony of Ether 12;27, which says that God gives unto us weaknesses so that we will be humble, and if we humble ourselves before him and have faith in him, he will make our weaknesses strong.  I like how it says HE will make our weaknesses strong.  It isn't us.  It is through the cleansing power of the atonement that we have this wonderful opportunity to improve.  Whenever I try to contact someone, or teach a lesson, and I'm not focused on recieving help from him, it isn't very successful.  But when I come before God in humility, saying "I can't do it on my own.  Please help me."  that is the moment when I have success.  My time in the mission so far has been very humbling, and I realize now that these humbling moments have been preparing me to rely completely on the Lord.  I am thankful for these moments of tribulation, where God refines me into who he needs me to be.

This week we worked and worked and didn't seem to have much success despite our hard work.  We were both a little frustrated as we visited appointment after appointment, and nobody seemed to be home.  We walked a ton, trying to find people to teach, but hardly anybody was ready to listen.  Elder Silvestre decided that he wanted to fast to find people to teach, and so I agreed.  After our fast, we started searching once more for people to teach, but just like before, nobody seemed to be home!  It was hard to not see an immediate result.  But we kept working hard, and finally we found someone that surely was prepared by God.  One of our appointments fell through, and so we went to visit one of the members.  A friend of the family was visiting, and so we asked her some questions.  Turns out she took lessons from the missionaries before, and had been attending church.  She said she wanted to be baptised, she just didn't know how to do it!  So we set a baptism date for her and started teaching her.  It was cool, all week we had been working so hard without hardly any success, and then we "just happened" to stumble upon somebody who was pretty much ready for baptism, she just needed a gentle push.  It strengthened my testimony that this is the lord's work, not my work.  All I need to do is become an instrument in his hands.

This wednesday, we had an awesome opportunity to watch live the worldwide devotional for missionaries.  We heard talks from Elder Bednar,  Oaks, Anderson, and others, specifically directed to us missionaries!  I loved it!  It was like General Conference: missionary edition.  There were a ton of things that I needed to hear, so I have a bunch of stuff to work on now, haha.  I really liked a quote from elder Anderson which says "Always keep his (Jesus's) name on your lips."  He taught that whenever we don't know what to say as missionaries, we can always testify of the savior.  For me, this advice is really helpful, because I don't know what to say a good portion of the time, haha...  But as representatives of Jesus Christ, we really should testify of him in everything we do.  Another part I liked was in Elder Bednar's talk.  He said that our role as missionaries is to always be a worthy vessel in which the spirit can teach.  I always need to remember that the spirit is the teacher, not me.

Well, now I would like to take a bit of time to talk about roosters.  Here in Mexico, they love roosters.  They're a bit obsessed with them.  One of their favorite things to do is to have rooster fights.  They all bring their prized rooster and pit them against each in a grand rooster tournament.  I've never been to one of these tournaments, (cause I'm a missionary and all, and we don't have a lot of time to attend rooster fights) but one day, I would like to see what all the hype is about.  They literally train their roosters.  We visited someone the other day who is a rooster trainer.  That's his profession.  Rooster Trainer.  He showed us all of his training methods, and basically, now I know everything I need to know to be a rooster trainer myself.  I think all of this is super hillarious.  It reminds me of pokemon, in a way.  So yeah, they are a lot of roosters here.  Every morning its like a constant stream of cock-a-doodle-doos. 

Welp, thats all for this week.  Love you all, adios!

Elder Lindsay

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week... I'm not sure what week it is anymore.

Hola!  So this week was pretty normal.  It was bitter-sweet.  The beginning of the week was really good, and the end was kind of rough.  I'll start with the beginning!

This Tuesday we had divisions!  Elder Silvestre went with our district leader, Elder Weaver, and I went with his companion, Elder Merrill.  Heres the cool thing:  Elder Merrill was my friend before the mission, he was in my stake, and in fact, he was my companion in our stake missionary camp, Helaman's camp, about 2 years ago!  Crazy right?  So for that one day we were companions again, this time for real.

The not so cool thing was that we are both new to the mission, so neither of us speaks spanish super great.  So that was difficult.  Usually when I stumble in words or don't have anything to say, Elder Silvestre takes over for me, but with Elder Merrill, I couldn't do that.  So I wasn't looking forward to this division.  But I had a really good experience actually!  I found that my spanish is better than I thought it was, and even though there were rocky moments, we were able to teach the lessons effectively.  We had a sucussful day!  I really felt the gift of toungues that day, and realized that I am making a difference here, despite my weaknesses.

That day and the day after I really felt God's love and approval for the things that I am doing here.  It was very much needed, because sometimes I get down on myself because of my shortcomings.  I know that when we put in our best efforts, even if they aren't much, God is pleased with our offering, and blesses us exceedingly.

But like I said before, the rest of the week was kind of rough.  We have been working really hard to teach our investigators, and find new people to teach, but lots of things didn't turn out like we wanted this week.  Our investigator Juan said that he recieved an answer from God that the catholic church is the true church.  It was really sad.  He says he is happy to keep meeting with us, but he doesn't believe in our church.  With any other investigator, I could have told them to read the book of mormon to know for a fact that this church is true, but Juan is blind, so he can't!  It was a very frustrating moment for us.  We'll keep working with him and trust in God that everything will be alright, but that was definitely a let down.

Also, our investigator Nataly, who is about 15, has been progressing really well in the past.  We had her baptism date set for 6 of Feburary, but this week she didn't come to church, and we couldn't find her at her house afterwards!  We are going to have to move the baptism forward 2 weeks at the least, so that was also a let down.  We hope that despite all this, she will be able to continue forward and progress toward baptism.

This week was hard, but I have high hopes for the future.  This week I am going to work even harder to find people to teach, and try my very best to help the investigators we already have.  I know that God will help me and my companion as we do everything in our power to bring people unto Christ.  I know that this gospel is true, and I want to help others know it as well.  With God's help, I know that we will find people who are ready and willing to progress in the gospel.

Love you all!  Adios!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mexicans love to party.

Hola again!  This week went by really fast.  Elder Silvestre and I are really trying to work hard to find new people to teach and to help the investigators we have to progress.  We are improving a lot I think!  We found a good amount of people this week who seem interested in learning more, so we're excited!

One of the people that we found is named Juan Silva.  He's a really cool guy, he's about 50 years old and is a Catholic.  And he's completely blind.  We knocked on his door and he was happy to let us in to hear about our message.  Unlike many of the people here, he was open and ready to hear about our religion.  I'm certain that God prepared him to hear our message, because of how receptive he has been!  We had 2 lessons with him this week.  It is a little difficult to teach him, because he is blind, and can't read the book of mormon on his own.  So we read out loud to him, and he seems to like it.  But we are very excited that we found him, and have high hopes for his future.

We are working a lot more with the members of the branch here in Miahuatlan, and I think that is going to help a lot in finding new people to teach.  It is really cool to see the work progressing here!  

So we got a new district leader this week, his name is Elder Weaver.  He is from Utah as well.  He's really cool, and helpful!  He and Elder Silvestre were in a district in the past, so they're good friends.

So, yeah.  Mexicans love to party.  I thought the festivals and stuff would end after new years, but apparently not, haha...  They have another big holiday on the 6th, called el dia de reyes.  It is a day where they celebrate the 3 wise men who brought gifts to Jesus.  Its a pretty cool holiday.  They eat a special kind of bread on that day, called rosca de reyes.  They hide little dolls inside, and whoever gets one of the dolls in their bread has to make tamales for everyone else.  Or something like that.  It is definitely different, but cool!

But yeah, even after dia de reyes, the parties don't stop.  I don't even know what they're celebrating anymore.  But eh.  Whatever floats their boat!

Well thats about it for this week!  Adios!
This is Rosca de Reyes!  It has peppers on top of it!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy new year from Oaxaca!

Hola!  Happy new year everyone!  It has definitely been a different experience this year here in Oaxaca...  They have the strangest traditions here!  For new years they have this giant doll thing of an old man that sits outside of their houses.  It is as big as a real person.  And when the new year hits, they blow it up!!!  It's really strange to me, but hey, whatever makes them happy I guess...  Also they celebrate with piñatas!  At least I understand that tradition, piñatas are the best!

As for me and Elder Silvestre, we didn't stay up until 12 to celebrate the new year, cause of mission rules.  It was a weird feeling to go to bed in 2015 and wake up in 2016, because I always stay up until 12 on new years eve! 

But anyways, this is how new years went for us.  We came into the house after our appointments and found that we had no electricity!  It was random, because every other apartment had electricity, but not ours.  So we decided to go up to the roof to celebrate, where there was light.  Elder Silvestre bought a chocolate flan, so we ate flan, drank soda, and played uno on the roof.  It was really fun, I enjoyed it!  

New years day was kind of boring, to be honest.  We were trying to find things to do, but everyone was with there families celebrating, so there was nobody on the streets!  So yeah, we didn't get a lot of teaching opportunities that day.

This week was very different, because now it is just me and Elder Silvestre.  We both decided that we want to work harded, so this week we have been doing a lot more work than before.  I really like it, I want to be as productive as possible!  But it is also a hard adjustment, every night we are both really really tired.  I just hope that our work pays off, and we are able to find people who are willing to listen and act upon our message.

The people here are kind of crazy!  First of all, there are a ton of Catholics.  It makes it very difficult to find people to teach, most of them are really stubborn!  It's frustrating at times.  Also, the people here love to talk!  It makes it very difficult to teach at times, cause they often don't let you finish your sentances.  

And then there are people who have... interesting beliefs.  This week we taught a man who claimed that he had a vision.  He said two beings (I don't know if they were angels or what, it was hard to understand a lot of it) grabbed onto his arms and ripped his spirit away from his body and took it up to heaven.  There he said that he saw 2 giant angels stand before him.  One of them was holding a flaming orange.  (no joke)  He said the angel brought him to the throne of God, who had no face and had black skin.  And yeah... thats about all that I understood.  

Anyways, thats how teaching is!  It is an adventure every time, ha...

Today for P day we went to Oaxaca, because Elder Silvestre's old companion is finishing his mission and he wanted to say goodbye.  We visited a bunch of shops there, and it was fun!  We also visted the temple grounds, and that was cool!  Oh, and a woman punched my back.  I don't know why.  Probably because I'm white.  I didn't take the time to ask, I just kind of kept walking.

So yeah, this week was full of adventures!  Thats all I have for this week, Adios!
This is me at the Oaxaca city temple!!
These are some of the dolls that they blow up at the new year here!
This is how we celebrated the new year here.  It was good fun!