Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28 2014

This was the last week of my first transfer in the mission field. It went by so fast! The beginning of the week, we had our last meeting as a zone. So we got to take a bus to Piedras Negras early in the morning. And, even better, I got to see my brothers from the MTC. Elder Gibb who is serving in Piedras Negras, and Elder Bradley who is in my zone serving in Acuña.  That is me and Elder Gibb. The missionary in the back that kind of looks like a James Bond villain is my companion Elder Torres. He is talking to another Elder.

This week was a little better than last week. We had a lot of people in the chapel. Here in Zaragoza, the Elders are in charge of just about everything. Mutual, Family Home Evening, and we teach the Primary and the Young adults as well. And we were able to get a lot of our investigators in the chapel for the activites. And yesterday, we had three investigators in the chapel for church. That was exciting! We jumped back up to over 50 people in the chapel this week. But I still just don´t understand what happened on Easter with only 14. 

Another thing that is pretty exciting is that this next Sunday we have two baptisms! They are brothers. One is 10 years old and the other is 9. And, they asked me to baptise them! so I have been practicing the Spanish that I need for that. It is also possible that we will need to push the baptism back one week because this week is going to be a little crazy.  The boy next to me is Ángel. He is going to be baptized. His 10 year old brother, Eric, who is also going to be baptized was with his dad when we were taking pictures. Their family is really nice.

The reason that this week is going to be really busy is because my companion is actually being trasferred this week. He is leaving tomorrow. It is going to be wierd because it is my first time changing companions in the field. I am still in my weeks of training, so I am still the junior companion, but it will be a little different because for now I am the one that knows the investigators and how to get around the town. So I do have a little more responsibility. But I can do it.

I have a lot of really great investigators. The only thing stopping them from progressing even more is that they don´t want to go to the church. They love listening to us, but none of them like to go to church. Because none of them have been to the true church of God yet. But I know that if we can get them in the chapel for Sunday, I can have 5 or more baptisms this transfer. 

But I am doing well. I am growing a lot. In Testimony. Luckily I don´t feel like I am getting fat yet. 

Elder Earl

April 21 2014 Easter

This week was pretty difficult, but it was good for the most part. A lot of working, and a whole lot of walking. Which is fine.

Our lessons this week went really well. We had one really good lesson with a woman that we have been teaching since the first week. She likes to listen to us, but we have not been able to talk her into going to the chapel on Sunday. But we finally did, and she said that if she felt good there, that she would be baptized along with her 10 year old son who already has expressed his desire to be baptised. We also had a few lessons with an inactive family this week. We got them to commit to going to the chapel as well, and set a baptismal date for two of the boys in the family that have since come of age. 

But, something that I have learned about the people here is that it is really easy to get people to agree to things. But whether they will actually do it or not we have no idea. Almost always, people agree to scheldule a lesson with us or to read something or to attend the church with us. But the day will come around, and they wont be home, or they will be sleeping. It is really frustrating. So yesterday, Easter, we spent all morning trying to round up our inverstigators for church, but nobody came. Before we came to Zaragoza there were 14 members in the church every sunday, but every week it has grown. Last week we had 54 people in the chapel! but this week it went down to 20. 

Which is pretty sad, especially on Easter. The day where we celebrate the miraculous ressurection of The Messiah, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Which made it possible for all of us to be ressurected after this life and live in Eternal Happiness with our Heavenly Father and our families forever! 

I also had to give a talk yesterday. Apparently, every third Sunday of the month the missionaries give talks. This isn´t just for my mission, it is everywhere in Mexico. I ws super excited when I found that out Saturday night right before I went to sleep. But it went fine. The Spanish wasn´t great, but I got through it. 

For some reason, I thought that in Mexico, Easter would be really Spiritual and not very commercialized. But at least in the part where I am, it is just like the U.S. The Easter Bunny hides eggs for the kids, but they are filled with confetti instead of candy. And they have a big fiesta! Some of you may be thinking ¨What´s the point of Eggs if there is no candy?¨ but don´t worry. They also have a Piñata filled with candy for the kids durring the Fiesta.

One thing that I was able to do this week which was pretty cool was help paint a house! It was a lot of fun! I was with my companion, and one of the sons of the family who lives there. She is a single mom, and we eat at her house every Friday. Her son is really funny. He is 11 years old and his name is Eric. He wasn´t too happy with the color of the house though. He told me that his favorite color is Black! I think it looks pretty good!

I have talked about how the food is always really similar here, so I won´t get into that again. But this last Tuesday, we ate with a family who makes the best food in Zaragoza! I can not begin to describe my joy when I saw that we were eating Espaguetis, Spaghetti! So that was cool.

Today has been pretty good. I definitely needed this P day. But I am also ready to start working hard this week. It is the last week of my first Change in the mission! It went by so fast!

Elder Earl

Some questions Jordan aswered...

Ok son.....I have asked you so many questions and am not getting them answered so hit forward and answer the questions then send to me.....please!!!

1) Where do you shop for your food? Take a picture of the store.
There are two stores. Oxxo, and Farmacia Guadalajara. I will take a picture of them this week

2) What is the strangest thing you have eaten?

Tortillas. Seriously everything is normal. But the strangest thing is that we eat tortillas with everything. I don´t really like it.

3) Do you have an inside working bathroom?  Take a picture of your bathroom and each room of you apartment.

Ya. The shower is cold with no water pressure. But the toilet works.

4) Have you found anything food wise or treat wise or little Mexican cart wise that you love?

I love those chocolate eggs with the toys inside. Like the one i got in Ensenada. And there is this thing called Agua de Frutas that is pretty good. Water of fruit.

5) What are the homes like of those investigating right now?

All are really small and humble. I have a picture of one in my email this week. It is pretty standard. A few have bigger houses.

6)  What type of work do the men do to support their families?

The same in Moses Lake. More ranches though.

7)  Did you get your box we sent?

Nope. It will be a while. I will let you know. It is also possible that I will never get it. Did you tape pictures of Jesus on the box?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16 2014

This week was pretty good for me. We had a lot of lessons, and a lot of contacts, and I was able to make a lot of progress in my ability to talk to people in Spanish that I don´t know. One of the days this week for our companionship study, My companion and I studied the things that I want to say when I first contact someone. Then we went outside and contacted every person that passed us on the street. We were really successful. We now have 22 progressing investigators. And we got two Baptismal Dates set as well. And by the end of the day, I was able to do an entire contact while my companion was buying water in the store. That really helped my confidence a lot.

Also yesterday was the Confirmation of Ximena! The girl that was Baptised this last week. It was great to see how excited and happy she was to have the Holy Ghost with her. And, the other missionaries in Zaragoza had a Baptism yesterday as well! A 10 year old boy named Brayan. Yesterday was a really good day for the most part.

I say for the most part because yesterday one of the missionaries in my district found out that his cousin died in a car crash. He is a gringo like me, but has been here for a year. Two of his family members have died while he has been gone. It is amazing how strong he was about it and how happy he was for the rest of the day. It got me thinking a lot about my own family. I also have been having a lot of dreams about my family this week. So, I have been thinking a lot about familes this week, and how much I love my family. Even if I am not great at showing it all of the time, I do really love every single member of my family immediate and extended. Last night the Elder that lost his cousin asked me to write out the lyrics to ¨Families can be Together Forever¨ because he couldn´t remember them in English. I want to say, that I do know that our families can live together in Eternal Happiness with our Heavenly Father after this life if we are obedient to the commandments that God has given us. 

I also want to say congratulations to my cousin Bryan who recei

ved his mission call to Torreón Mexico! We are going to be really close! Torreón is in the same state as me!

Elder Earl

Oh ya! I forgot to mention. I am also teaching English every Saturday with Elder Hutchins the other Gringo in Zaragoza. It is pretty tough. I never thought that I would ever be teaching English to anyone in my life. And this week my companiona and I are going to start teaching Seminary as well! Every day at 6:30... No doubt he will be doing most of that because he can actually speak Spanish. But I will do what I can.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 3 in Zaragoza April 7 2014

 Elder Torres, Ximena, Me, and Elder Hutchins. You can see Elder Gonzalez, Elder Hutchins´ Companion in the background
Well, this last week was really great for me. A lot of really great things are happening. A lot of things happened this week. One of them was zone conference. At zone conference, the mission president comes and speaks to all of the missionaries in the zone. There are 6 missionaries in my zone. The conference was really good. I understood quite a bit of it. I am to the point where I can understand the main ideas of the person talking, but not all of the details. And I can understand much more than I can speak. I also found out that my mission president is extremely good at playing the piano. He could be a professional concert pianist. There is another missionary in my district who is a very good piano player. He also plays the trumpet, trombone, tuba, and guitar. He is from Puebla, Mexico, and we have become good friends. He can speak English fairly well. He had trouble with pronounciation and with some of the grammar, but he can speak English much better than I can speak Spanish. The amazing thing is that he learned English just by speaking to missionaries from the states serving in his home town.

This weekend was really great, and General Conference was amazing! I even got to watch three of the sessions in English! The first two sessions on Saturday were really rough, because I had to watch them in Spanish, but I can read those ones later. And, we had 4 investigators show up for one session each of conference! That was a really great feeling. I could really feel the love that God has for me as I was listening to conference. Many times the idea that as we show our love for others, it will be easier to feel the Love that God has for us. I testify that this is true. Many of the times that I have felt the happiest here were when I was serving someone else. 

After the last session of Conference we held the baptismal service for Ximena! a man named Presidente Juan De La Cruz performed the baptism. He is the man that baptised the rest of Ximena´s family. It all went really well. Just before the baptism, I found out that I was giving the talk on El don del Espíritu Santo. In Spanish! I had about 3 minutes to prepare. It wasn´t long, and it wasn´t great Spanish. But I got through it, and I think that everyone understood me and I hope that everyone felt the Spirit.
(Ximena and Juan De La Cruz)

We had a lot of lessons this week, and a lot of new investigators as well. I feel really blessed that the Lord loved me enough to send me here. And trusts me enough to allow me to teach and serve his children.

Elder Earl
There is a family with a pet racoon here. I want a racoon when I get back.

Elder hutchins found this turtle shell on the banks of the river today.

There are a lot of cockroaches in this part of mexico. This is the first one I saw. It was in our apartment. And it was ginormous! Isn´t it beautiful!

Week two in Zaragoza March 31 2014

I can´t believe another week has already passed! I am still having a great time here, and a lot of stuff has been happening in Zaragoza!

We have a lot of people we are teaching right now. A lot of them are less-active members, and the rest are investigators. But a lot of the less-active families have children that have not been baptised yet. I am really lucky to be here in Zaragoza. The people here are so kind. I feel really popular here, because almost everyone here waves to me and my companion as we are walking. Many times a day while we are walking to a lesson, people will call us over and ask us about our Church. A lot of the time they are inactive members who want to come back. It is great. Every single person we have asked has agreed to talk to us. The people here are very humble, and the Lord has definitely been preparing the people of Zaragoza for us to come. Just this last week we got 12 new investigators! And, this Saturday we have our first Baptism! Her name is Ximena (the X makes a H sound) her family has been inactive for a while, and she is 9 years old. Her and her family were at Church on Sunday! We have also been teaching Ximena´s cousin Emiliano and his family. He is 10 and he is also supposed to be baptised this weekend, but I am not sure if it is going to happen. He really wants to, and his Mom has also agreed to be baptised, but can´t decide when she wants to. This Sunday, we called them to remind them to come to Church, and they said that they would be there. But, it turns out that the Father of the family ended up telling them that they couldn´t go to Church, and that Emiliano could not be baptised. It is really dissapointing, and unfortunately, we haven´t had the chance to meet his father yet, because he works everyday until 10 p.m., but we are trying to talk to him as soon as possible, to try to work things out. 

Now I want to talk a little about the town I am in. Zaragoza isn´t small, but it isn´t really big either, and there are quite a few people living here, and almost all of the houses are really small and close together. Somehting that I love about here is that there are a bunch of different animals here. A bunch of birds, including Eagles, goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, squirrels, and billions of chickens. I wouldn´t be surprised if the chicken population was larger than the human population. There are also big turtles in the rivers, and a bunch of Dogs. Dogs everywhere. I am not to fond of the dogs, but there are also quite a few cats, and I like the cats. A lot of people also have pet rabbits and hamsters as well.

There are also a bunch of rivers here. They built this city on top of and around the rivers. In some places there are holes in the sidewalk with a river flowing under it. I have also seen houses built on top of the rivers, and rivers flowing in the middle of a sidewalk, it is really cool. 

The food here is good, but it seems like I am eating the same thing every day. We are fed by a member everyday, which I am extremely grateful for, excpecially since the people here don´t have a bunch of money. But everday, it is meat, rice, beans, tortillas, and juice. Another thing that is kind of funny is that everyone calls the juice Kool-Aid. Even if it is not Kool-aid. They call Tang Kool-Aid, and I have even heard someone call Coca-Cola, ¨Kool-Aid de Coca¨, So when people ask me if I want some Kool-Aid, I don´t know what I am going to get. Thankfully, they also have a lot of Hamburgers here, so I have eaten a few of those. There is a stand near where I live where I can get a Hamburger, fries, a jalapeño and a soda for 25 pesos. about 2 dollars! It is pretty sweet. And one time I even ate the jalapeño! my companion gave me 12 pesos to do it, and I may have cryed
a little bit afterwards, but it was so worth it! The Jalapeños here are much spicier than the Jalapeños in the states.  

It is also really hot here. It is 90 degrees Farenheit just about everyday. But one day this week, there was a big Thunder Storm in the morning, and it was overcast all day! It felt so good! But all of the people who live here were freezing. They were all wearing coats, and huddling under blankets. It was a little bit funny. Thankfully, I am in a desert, and it is not humid here, because that would be really bad. It is supposed to get up to 120 degrees here durring the summer. Every town in my mission is really hot except for Saltillo, because it is at a high elevation. We will see how that goes. Yes mom, I will remember to drink lots of water. Lots of clean water. 

Well. All in all, it was a really great week, and we are having tons of sucess. Sorry for my spelling. Spanish is messing my spelling up, and I don't have spell check on the computer I am using. Every word has a little red squigly underneath it.
Elder Earl
This is the Catholic Church in the middle of town next to the Plaza
This is the Plaza in the middle of Zaragoza

Rivers everywhere 

River under sidewalk

First Week in Mexico March 24 2014

Well. I am in Mexico now. I have a lot of stuff to talk about. On Monday, I left to to Salt Lake Airport and took a plane to Houston. I was super excited to find out when I called my parents that I was going to be able to see my sister McKayla at the Houston airport. It was a great experience. And I am extremely grateful to have been able to see her. It was definitely a tender mercy from the Lord. My second plane to Saltillo was really great. It was really small. I couldn't stand up straight in it. I talked a lot to the man that was sitting next to me about the Church. He was really nice, and knew a lot. But he also had many questions that I was able to answer. He said that he really respected what I was doing, but when it came down to it, he refused the Book of Mormon I offered him...three times.

The Mission President, his councelor, and the Assistants to the President picked us up at the airport. My first thoughts when I met my president were, "He is really short" (he is literally like half the size of me), and "What language are you speaking?" (because it was definitely not the same Spanish that I learned in the MTC). But seriously, everyone here speaks super fast. I probably ask people to slow down like 50 times every day. Even my Native Companion says that the people who live here speak really fast. He is from Mexico City.

The first night all of the new elders slept in the AP's house. It took us about half an hour to walk there. There are 4 new elders from the United States, and like 8-10 from Mexico. It was a strange night. 

The next morning we walked back to the mission home. We had a lot of classes and stuff. Then we met our trainers. My companion is really awesome! His name is Elder Torres, and he know no English at all, except for Fat, and Ugly. Which are about the only two Spanish words I knew before I entered the MTC. He is 22 years old, and has only been a member for 2 years. He was actually engaged before he came on a mission, but they called it off, and then he decided to serve a mission. He is an awesome missionary! and he wants to be a Seminary Teacher after his mission. He has been out for 3 months. 

The next thing I learned was about my first mission area. I have to admit I was a little bit scared the first time I heard about it. It is a fairly small town called Zaragoza. It has been closed to Missionaries for 2 years, but I am helping to re-open it. There are only 14 active members in the town, but there are many many inactive families here. Our main priority is reactivation. It is a difficult area to serve in especially with my limited Spanish, but I really love it. The people here are really humble, but I will talk more about them later.

In order to get to Zaragoza, we had to take an 8 hour bus ride to a town called Allende. We spent the night there with two elders both from Mexico. Luckily one of them knew English, so I wasn't completely left out of the conversations. The next day we were driven to Zaragoza by an extremely nice Brother. Then we set up our stuff in my new house. I love my house. It has humbled me a lot. The floors are cement with rocks sticking out of them. Perfect for praying! The neighbors are great! (Giant Spiders) and I never have to worry about using all of the hot water, because I get an entire bucket for myself! I know it sounds like I am being sarcastic, but seriously I do love it here.

Like I said, the people here are really humble, and really nice. Not one person has refused to speak to us. And we have had lots of success here as well. In the first two days we were here, we already had three baptismal dates set! Mostly the children of inactive families who have since turned eight. Yesterday was District conference. (like Stake conference). We asked the inactive family members to go to church with us next sunday, but we told them about the conference. We did not excpect them to go, because not many families have enough money to travel to Acuña. which is where the conference is held. But, Two of the inactive families actually showed up for conference as well! I know that the Lord has been preparing this town for us, and I know that he helps me every single day, all day long.

I need to tell you about my first attempt at a street contact. So I went up to this man, introduced myself, and then offered him a pamphlet about The Restoration. I couldn´t understand him, becasue he talked too fast, but I was still trying to give him the pamphlet. He kept saying I don´t know, so I thought that he just wasn´t sure if he wanted it or not, so I was trying to encourage him. But, my companion then explained to me that he was actually saying that he doesn´t know how to read! so that was a great experience. But he did agree to let us stop by and talk with him, so we will see how that goes.

The food here is really great. There has only been one time that I couldn´t hadle the spiciness very well. But I downed it anyway. The family was amused. I also tried donkey meat. It tastes like cow. 

But ya. I am having a great time here. I learn more Spanish everyday, and I love missionary work. I love trying to talk to the people here, they love to joke around with me. I feel really tall here. little kids stare at me on the street all the time, because I am a giant. 
Elder Earl
President and Sister Rodriguez

My Companion Elder Torres