Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recieved Tue July 6, 2010

Dear Family,

This is kind of a weird e-mailing session knowing it will be my last and by next week I'll by flying on an airplane at this time on my way home. I of course have mixed feelings...it is weird to stop doing what you've been doing for 2 years, but I am of course excited to be back home. I bet by the time I am on my way home my mixed feelings will all just be happy feelings. We are going to have a good week this week still though.

No, we did not sing any patriotic songs in sacrament meeting. I thought it was weird. We did have a combined activity with the English ward yesterday to celebrate the fourth of July. Since it was on Monday, our P-day, we actually got to go. We had a pancake breakfast, then we played soccer for like 2-3 hours on a nearby field. It was awesome. It was a good P-day. I did get a little bit of a sunburn. I've got myself a pretty good collar tan on my neck, and since I was wearing a t-shirt, all that white skin was exposed to the sun and it got scorched. Its not that bad though. It is pretty funny to see like a 3 inch line around my neck of sunburn and nowhere else. It was a good P-day. It was my last one too. Next P-day I'll just be going to the mission home and we'll have an interview, testimony meeting and a dinner. Then the next day I'm not sure whats happening other than going to the airport. I got my flight plans in the mail...I think I'm arriving in the afternoon sometime? I'm not sure...I'm assuming you got a copy of that too. If not, just call the mission office to get all that information because I didn't think to bring it.

This weekend the Mendez family will be getting baptized. I am pretty excited about that. The best thing about them is that they've had a full social conversion as well as a spiritual conversion. They go to all the activities, Jesus, the father, has volunteered to go help out with service when they needed it. We did an FHE with another family nearby. They will be a new strong family to help out the ward.

Sunday was a good day in church. We had several different less actives who are in the process of reactivating come and bring their kids. There were a lot of good testimonies, including one other family who just got baptized last week. They all got up, even the 6 year old, to bear their testimonies. It was awesome. They are a good example to the Mendez family. One family who is reactivating also came and had their baby get blessed. They are from the Dominican Republic and they are definitely one of my favorite families in the ward. He is a chauffeur. He has a really nice Lincoln that he drives around and picks up rich people and drives them around the city. Anyway, their parents just moved in with them and they are really active. The dad who just moved in blessed the baby and I got to stand in the circle with the bishop and him. It was a good experience. It was a good Sunday.

Good things are happening, good things will keep happening and that's pretty much the story of this area. I really hope something clicks in my companion's head and he can start remembering where stuff is, because he's got to take over the area next week. That will be one of our focuses this week.

It sounds like everyone at home is doing well. Thank you Mom for the full update. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad! That day is my 24 month mark and I will be going to the temple here in Houston one last time on that day. That is a good way to celebrate it. I love you all and I will see you next week!!!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Received Mon, June 28, 2010

Dear Family,

I am going to start this week by answering all of Mom's questions to make sure I don't forget any. I realized last week after we left that I forgot to say what I was planning to do with my bike. My bike is pretty thrashed and I think I am just going to leave it here. It costs like over $100 to take it home, so I don't think its worth it especially because I have my own bike at home still.

The rain: We had a HUGE thunderstorm come through here this week. You probably remember from my e-mails that the thunderstorms here are pretty crazy. The thunder is so strong it sets off car alarms all over the place. Well one of those storms rolled through here on Wednesday last week and we were trying our best to stay dry, but after a while we got so soaked that we just stopped caring and pretended like it was perfect weather. We walked through this one complex that was completely flooded, and we walked through water that was up to our knees. We also walked up and down the streets trying to talk to people who were standing outside of stores too afraid to go to their cars. It was a good way to start a conversation. Hopefully people didn't think that we were just crazy.

The temperature: It has also been really hot all week. Its been in the upper 90s, including the days that it rains. We are always wet from either the rain or sweat, or both.

Watch Tan: Its almost gone now because for some reason I started to get that itchy rash thing that metal sometimes causes for me, so I took my watch off for 5-6 days. Now its pretty hard to see. I definitely still have a pretty hardcore collar tan on my neck and a farmers tan and a white legs tan/lack-of-tan.

I think those are all the questions! On to my week. Things are still going really well. The Mendez's are still planning on getting baptized on July 10th and were still hoping to get at least one more person on that weekend. There are a couple potential people...we'll see what happens.

I've heard all about the world cup too. That's the reason why so few people showed up to church. And that's the reason why so many people decided to drink the night away on Sunday night.

This week we've been running into tons of people from Colombia. Most of the people in our area are from Guatemala...I think I've written about the part of our area we call Guatville which is just packed full of thousands and thousands of Guatemalans. But whenever we're out of guatville we run into people from everywhere. This week we've found like 6 new Colombian investigators. I love teaching people from South America, because since its so far away, only some people make it all the way up here, and generally they are a lot easier to work with. My companion is pretty funny. Whenever he talks to people he always tries to copy their accents, but we talk to people from all over the place so hes constantly talking in random different accents, but hes barely starting to learn Spanish so he has a pretty thick gringo accent, then when he tries to mimic other accents it turns out to be some pretty creative Spanish. It is pretty funny.

It has been a weird past couple of weeks knowing that these are my last weeks here. I usually don't think about it very much. I think my companion thinks about what I'm going to do after the mission more than I do. It definitely makes things pretty stressful knowing that this big change is going to happen soon and its constantly coming closer and closer and closer. I am of course excited, but hopefully I'll have some really good last couple weeks here.

That is all I can think of to write about. Last P-day we had an awesome P-day. We played volleyball and soccer against the English district, which was awesome. I scored a double hat trick when we played soccer, so I obviously enjoyed that a lot too. I like played pretty much every sport, except for basketball. It was a good P-day. Next Monday we are going to go to an activity with our ward, combined with the English ward, where we will have a 5th of July breakfast, then play baseball and soccer. I am excited for that one.

It sounds like everyone is doing really well. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Recieved Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear Family,

My first story for this week will start with what is going on right now. There is a crazy guy sitting a couple computers away and every couple of minutes he turns around and says something that makes no sense like "I'm a level 3 italian, the michael angelo theory is the only true theory. So what about them JEhova witnesses?" He is absolutely crazy. It is some good entertainment as I write my e-mail.

Its been another good week as normal. Our people are progressing, the Mendez family is still progressing well to their baptismal date of July 10th. We've got 2-3 other really good people as well. Oh and a guy who hasn't been to church for 12 years showed up last fast Sunday and got up and bore his testimony and said he's ready to come back and be an active member again. We only visited him once or twice, and I guess that little push was all that he needed to help him make that step to come back. That was good to see.

I'm looking through my planner to see if anything else particularly newsworthy happened this week. There is one lesson that sticks out in my mind. We got out of the car one day in this parking lot and I started talking to this guy, and this emo kid with his hood up and his hair across his face walked past as he was listening to his ipod. When I finished talked to the guy I turned around to see if the emo kid was too far away to talk to, and he turned around and just stared at me, so I went up and started talking to him. When I talked to him he just stared at me in silence for a good 15 seconds, then he began to make deliver a speech to me on a bunch of 100% random topics. But the funniest part was that he was trying to talk all biblical. After his random speech I asked him if he would be open to having missionaries come over and share a message. He said he could listen right then, so we sat down on the curb and said a prayer and started teaching him. He was like 18 years old and he had dropped out of high school and he was basically just wandering around in life. I think he was trying to be a philosopher or something and that's why he talks strange and constantly tries to say profound things. It was a pretty funny lesson, I wish I could remember some of his sayings he said. Unfortunately it didn't really go anywhere, so we just ended it and left. Hopefully we left a good impression on him and he listens to missionaries when he gets past this emo philosophical phase.

Training has been going good. I've definitely been learning a lot. It takes a LOT of patience. Its definitely built up a lot of stress too. My companion is very excited, which is good, but were still working on the importance of planning, instead of just wandering around the streets aimlessly. I'm also still trying to convince my companion that it IS necessary to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom. I think its gross, but apparently its just an urban myth.

That is a funny story about Zak fainting after giving blood. I don't think I've ever fainted before. One time playing miniature golf I started seeing spots and I almost passed out, but I sat down and drank water. Then there was the time I was going to get lung surgery the first time and they put the IV in and it squirted blood all over me, I almost passed out that time too. Definitely not a good feeling. That is good it all went well though.

Well, I cant really think about anything else to write about for this week. Things are still going good. Its been reeeeally hot recently. We drink tons of water every day. I am glad things are going well at home. I love you all and hope you have a great week!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Received Mon June 14, 2010

Dear Family,

It has been a great week this week. One of the few things I remember President Saylin told us in our trainer's meeting is that the new missionaries always have really high expectations and dreams. He said that we can help them learn little by little to be realistic, but don't crush their dreams. I know I've mentioned before that we have a goal in the mission for each missionary to talk to 70 people a week (10 a day). Well Elder Bunch said that he heard a quote by Elder L Tom Perry and he said that if we double the number of people we talk to, we double our baptisms. He said he thought we should shoot for 140 people a week. So I said ok. We talked to people every second we had open, and we miraculously hit our goal. Ive never heard of anyone getting anywhere close to 140 OYMs. We found a lot of new people to teach and we taught a lot of lessons.

Here is the highlight of the week. We have been teaching this family, called the Mendez family. I've probably talked about them before. The husband was baptized in Mexico 8 years ago, but his wife wasn't. We randomly OYM'd them in their driveway last transfer, and at first Jesus, the husband, was almost upset to see us, but we got him to let us come back, and we've been teaching him, his wife, and his 2 kids. On Sunday our lesson was on baptism and I talked to them about how the mom and the 3 kids could all get baptized together. It just so happened that there was another family getting baptized that night, so we invited them to that. They had a really good experience at church, then at the baptismal service, and we extended baptismal dates to them and they accepted! Their youngest son is 7, but he turns 8 on July 5th, so the Saturday after that, the 10th, they will all get baptized together. They are very excited about it and so am I.

Training has been a good experience. There are a lot of different challenges that I didn't expect. I've started to see how much missionaries learn from being on a mission for 2 years. My companion is just starting that process. I not only need to teach him good missionary skills, but also good social skills, etc. Like, don't leave your shopping cart blocking the entire aisle. Or, you need to wash your hands with soap, not just water after you go to the bathroom. Or, don't just rinse off our dishes in water, use soap to clean them (we don't have a dishwasher). And the list goes on. It has been a good experience though. I'm glad hes still excited.

Here's my next story. We talking to random people in the street one day as we waited for a member to show up to an appointment we had with investigators and this lady leaned out of her car and yelled something to us, so we came over to talk to her. She said her family was going through some really tough times and shes been praying to God to help her, and she recognized us as servants of God who could help her. Well, it turns out her son killed somebody a few days ago. We don't know all the details because obviously its a sensitive situation and we didn't want to pry, but apparently he was in his apartment and this other guy was in there and was threatening him, so he went into his room and came out with a gun and shot the guy. The son is completely falling apart right now. He's caught up in a lot of other things too. You could just see how apparent it is that sin never leads to happiness and how Satan really does just try to drag people down and he will if you let him. So he is a big work in progress. The mom is awesome though. They are from Colombia. They are really wealthy too. They live right in downtown Houston in the Galleria (huge famous shopping center) area. They actually live across the street from the Williams tower, which I'm like 90% sure that's the tower CJ was talking about that is the tallest tower in Houston. They live right across from that thing in these high rise apartments in the penthouse/top floor. We taught the Mom 1 time, she read in the book of Mormon, prayed, got an answer, and accepted a baptismal date. We are really excited about her. She is pretty stressed out about her son though.

I have heard alll about the World Cup. A lot of people here take work off for a lot of the World Cup so they can watch every game. Its pretty much their life right now. So I've heard most of the results of the games. Keep me updated anyway though.

I am glad that everyone is getting involved in active things this summer. There is a young family here where the dad loooves to play video games whenever he can. They have a 6 year old daughter and I asked them what they were going to do with her during summer to keep her occupied, thinking along the lines of swimming lessons, sports, etc. The dad goes, "Well I'm not sure yet, I cant decide. I'm trying to decide between getting her the Wii or the Nintendo DS." He didn't even think for a second about anything outside of video games! I thought it was pretty funny, but sad at the same time.

Today we are going to have a zone activity. We are going to go to a big park and play sports and eat ice cream. It should be fun. Last week we played basketball at the church, and I ran around a lot. It still definitely feels like my left lung is a lot weaker than my right lung. My right lung feels 100% normal, but my left lung still gets irritated when I run a lot or breathe hard. I guess the doctors down in California just did a better job than those ones in Utah. I'm not sure, but at least I can still run around an have fun.

Here's my last gross story for you. One night this week I was sleeping good and in my sleep I went to scratch my neck, and when I went to scratch it, I grabbed a big bug that was crawling across me. I threw it as hard as I could at the wall across the room and hopefully killed it. I'm not sure what it was, but it felt like a cockroach. There are tons of cockroaches around here. Thankfully when I wake up I'm always really drowsy and I fall back to sleep easy. For the next couple minutes I slapped at everything that felt like a bug, but eventually I fell back to sleep.

Last news update: Sadly the chickens didn't hatch! (Remember Lars bought an incubator and 4 chicken eggs). They were supposed to hatch on Saturday, but they didn't. Lars is going to buy some new ones. It takes usually takes 21 days for them to hatch, so hopefully I get to see them. He is also planning on eventually buying some rabbits and he's going to start raising those too. He would get a cow, but its illegal in Houston and cows are too hard to hide.

Alright, well that's about all for this week. Happy Fathers Day on Sunday Dad!! I love you all and hope you have a good week!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Received Mon June 7, 2010

Dear Family,

It sounds like you had quite the Sunday yesterday. Believe it or not, I actually got sick this week too and it was pretty bad, and it was bad timing. On Wednesday morning (our transfer day) I woke up and it felt like someone was wringing out my intestines, then I started to get nauseated and I think I threw up 7 times by the end of the day. I still managed to get to transfer meeting though. I just brought a bag with me in the car, which I used. Then I went into our trainers meeting where President Saylin trains all the trainers. I had to leave twice to throw up in that 40 min meeting. After a while I just went to go lay down on the couch. I'm not sure what I had, but it wasn't good. The next couple days I started feeling better, but my stomach still hurt and about 15 minutes after I ate I would always have to run to the bathroom (not to throw up). I feel pretty good today, but I'm not sure if its totally gone.

My new companion is Elder Bunch. He is from northern California. He is a very very very excited missionary. It is pretty funny. He is pretty much exactly what you imagine when you imagine a greenie. Except he has absolutely NO fear, unlike most new missionaries. He loves to belt out hymns as we walk down the street and his absolute favorite thing to do is to talk to people in the streets. He literally runs after people yelling "HERMANO HERMANO! TENEMOS UN MENSAJE PARA USTED!!" It is hilarious. One day in the morning we opened up the front door and it was raining pretty good, and Elder Bunch paused for a second, then he ran outside singing some song about rain drops or something. The best thing about him is that he speaks Spanish almost 100% of the time, so he is picking it up pretty fast. He knew 0 (zero) Spanish before the mission, so he doesn't have a whole lot of background, but he's learning quick because we talk to each other in Spanish pretty much all the time. He is going to be a great missionary.

Ok, time to answer Mom's random questions:

Yes I have heard of the P90X workout. That is what all the guys in the movie 300 used to get ripped. It sounds pretty intense.

People yell stuff at us every single day, usually several times. They are usually all pretty funny. People try to think of creative things to try to offend us, but it just turns out sounding ridiculous. We had someone this last week stick his head out the window and yell out "GET A JOB!" that's one I never heard before...I thought it was pretty funny. We get a lot of fan honks too though. The nice people usually don't yell at us, they'll just honk and wave, which I think is the best. Sometimes people will pull over and talk to us, but that just uses a bunch of time and we always end up being late to wherever were going.

We are allowed to teach pretty much anyone. Muslims are the only ones that I know of that are that extreme and I've taught a couple different Muslims in my mission. Basically the rule is to just be careful. I ate dinner at a members home before and they grew up in Iran, where most people are Muslims. Even though they've tried to keep it a secret that they joined the LDS church, they are sure someone found out and they are probably black listed. They said if they tried to go home to Iran, as soon as they got off the plane, some government CIA type guys would go take them to a car, and they would drive off in the car and they would never be heard from again. It is pretty crazy.

I have a couple last questions for you now. I was wondering what the possibilities of finding some place to give me a scholarship for school. I might have to look for myself when I get back, but I hear people all the time talking about how they go and apply to all sorts of different scholarships and sometimes they'll get accepted. That would be awesome. I wonder if CJ or ST know anything about that.

And yes, I did get my contacts and my memory card. Thank you very much.

One last questions for you. I don't know if its possible, or even worth it, but I was wondering if there would be an easy way to burn the EFY 2010 CD so I could enjoy that for the last couple weeks here. Like I said, I don't know if it would even be worth it, but if there is an easy way, I figure you might as well.

And last but not least, Happy Birthday Mom!! I always forget that I only e-mail once a week so I have to say all my happy birthdays the Monday before. I've got Mom's birthday written on my calendar and I knew it was coming up, and I hope you have a fabulous birthday Mom, and I hope you enjoy the P90X DVDs.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Received Tue June 1, 2010

Dear Family,

Here is the transfer news! Elder Johnson is getting transferred and I will be training a new missionary. I am sad to see Elder Johnson go, but I am also pretty excited to train. Elder Johnson and I will hang out after the mission since he only lives a couple minutes away and were going to the same college. All the transfer changes will happen tomorrow, so I'll let you know who I've got next week.

It is a weird feeling knowing that this is my very last transfer. I don't really think about it very much, and I probably wont until it actually happens. I tell all the members and everyone that I've been out around a year and a half. The last thing I want is to have people bothering me about that. I'm hoping to have a really good transfer this transfer though.

This week was pretty good. We hit all out sit-down lesson goals and our OYM goals again. Elder Johnson and I went an entire transfer without getting less than 20 sit downs and an average of 10 oyms a day. We were pretty excited about that. Hopefully we can do the same this next transfer.

We have got several people who are right on the verge of baptism right now. There is this one lady in particular named Rosy Vasquez who knows she needs to be baptized, her husband is a member and is supporting her, but she is afraid that she is going to fall after her baptism. We have 1 or 2 other people who have that same fear. We have had a lot of good lessons on replacing fear with faith and the Holy Ghost and other things like that. They are very close.

I got news from the missionaries in League City that one of the people I taught back there got baptized on Sunday. That was awesome news. It was Bri Wells. I'm sure I wrote about them before. They were the ones where the husband is a member, but less active and doesn't ever want to go to church. They came from Washington and over there the missionaries played video games and wasted time with them. We started off really slow with this family and it was a big accomplishment to just get inside, then we slowly started teaching, then we got her to commit to coming to church, now shes getting baptized. That was some awesome news.

I've tried to really think through my week and think of good things to write about and I thought up of a few funny stories.
Here's the first one. In our room our beds are up on stilts high up in the air, like the top bunk of a bunk bed. Our desks are underneath. I'm not quite sure why they have it set up like that, because all the hot air rises and it is always waaay too hot at night, but that's how it is. The beds are around 5 1/2 feet up in their air...they are pretty high. There is a ladder at the end of the beds we can use to climb up, but I always just put my chair by the end of the bed, then just jump up. In the morning I slowly slide off the bed onto the chair below. Well one morning I was really tired and the alarm went off and I woke up, but I started falling back to sleep right away. Well I caught myself and jumped up really quickly and started to roll over to get off the bed, but apparently I was a lot closer to the edge than I thought and I came tumbling down. There was a lot of stuff, like cabinets and other random stuff I could have landed up and smacked my head up, but I somehow landed sitting down in my chair. It was pretty crazy. The wooden armrests left a mark across my back, but that is probably the best way I could have landed. I was so tired I didn't really realize what happened and I started to laugh and said my morning prayer and carried on with my day.

Next story. Have you guys ever heard of the fruit called Papaya? Back in Richmond, that Haitian family made my companion and I a papaya smoothie and it was waaay good, and I've told other missionaries about it and every single missionary who has tried papaya before has told me that it is one of the most disgusting foods they've tried. I don't know what that family did to make that smoothie good, but nobody else seems to have tasted a good papaya. Well on Sundays here we eat with the same member every Sunday and he always makes way good food because he worked in a restaurant. Last Sunday he had a papaya sitting there on the table and I made the mistake of asking what fruit that was, then he told us it was a papaya and he went on to cut it up so we could try some. I was pretty worried because of what all the other missionaries said. Plus this was after Elder Johnson and I stuffed our faces, so we were full. He brought us both out plates full of papaya. I sniffed it first because I was a little apprehensive and it smelled aaaawful. It smelled like something rotten. Luckily he had put a bunch of sugar on it, so I got a piece and loaded it up with as much sugar as I could and took a bite and it tasted just as bad as it smelled. And there was no hiding it. My companion laughed as he watched me eat it, and he asked me how it was. I told him it was not good, but he had to try it anyway and he had the same reaction. I thought it might have been a rotten one, but they were all eating it and they all said it was good. I guess our gringo taste buds are not use to that kind of stuff. We have a good relationship with the member, so he wasn't offended or anything and he just thought it was funny, but that was honestly probably one of the grossest things I've eaten before.

Weather: It has been pretty hot here. Its been in the 90s all week and it also rained a little bit a few times this week, which means it was really humid too. Everyone always gives us bottles of water, so we stay hydrated...its not too bad. A lot of Hispanics here start up little businesses in their apartments where they'll sell drinks, chips, snacks, phone cards, etc. A couple members have these little businesses, so they'll give us Gatorades whenever they see us. There are also these guys with cards that walk around all day selling paletas, and ice cream and stuff, so elder Johnson and I keep a few dollars in our backpacks to buy some when its hot.

Alright well that's about all I can think of for this week. Happy birthday to Heather! Have a good week!! I love you all!!


People at bus stops: We talk to crazy people all day long every day. You meet allll sorts of people wandering up and down westheimer. Some of them are literally crazy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Received Mon, May 24, 2010

Dear Family,

BYU Living arrangements: To be honest, I don't know anything about any places to live at BYU. Wherever CJ and ST think will be good, I'm good with because I don't know anything about any place.

Congrats to CJ on getting the new job. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

My week here has been a pretty good, normal week. We still have a whole bunch of people to teach, but were trying to help them make that next step of coming to church, so they can really progress. Everyone is always so busy, or something comes up last minute that prevents them from coming to church. I am glad that we do have a pretty good sized teaching pool now though. We are still having a lot of success with less active families. So many people stop coming to church because they got offended by someone or something. We always talk about the reasons why we go to church, which is basically to renew covenants with God which are necessary for salvation. And by letting themselves be offended they are missing out on blessings which makes life harder, and they will not be able to have salvation. It usually works pretty well...it gets people thinking. We got 2 new families to come this week and they were really excited to be there. Once people come back, they always feel good and always want to come back the next week.

We found a new guy to teach this week who has a lot of potential. His name is Victor Raul...hes from Peru. The missionaries used to teach this guy all the time and he came to church several times, but he started to get really busy with work, so he slowly lost contact with the missionaries. Well, now he has some sort of health condition...thyroids or something, and he has to sit at home and just rest and recuperate for a couple months. So now he has all the time in the world to listen to us and come to church. Unfortunately he didn't come this Sunday because he was out playing soccer, so we'll have to talk about that, but were pretty excited to be teaching him again.

I don't really know what to write about this week! Here is one story I can think of. There is this family in our ward who just got sealed in the temple. They are the familia Madora...they are awesome. When I met them the first time they both said they were from Mexico. We've visited them several times since then, and I've always noticed that hermano Madora has an accent, and he looks just like an Argentino. Well, this last week we were visiting him, and he had all these different Argentinian foods and then I saw a mate cup in his kitchen. So I asked him why he likes Argentinian stuff so much and he told me that its because hes Argentinian. I was like whatt?? That's what I thought the whole time, but you told me you were from Mexico. I don't know why, but he said he just tells people he's from Mexico because his wife really is from Mexico. I told him how Christopher and Dad served their missions there, and he told us allll about Argentina. He gave us some alfajores and they were goood. He said its the best brand you can find...it was the Havana brand. He is an awesome guy.

Well...that's all I can think of for this week. By the way...I sent a memory card with pictures home a week or two ago, did you ever get that? Hopefully it didn't get lost in the mail.

Next week I'll have transfer news! Elder Johnson is probably getting transferred, but we'll see.

Ok I love you all!! Have a good week!