February 15th 2011
Well, the first week in the field has been quite amazing! My companion is Elder Norman, from Provo, and he is a fantastic missionary! We cover a large area of a town called San Cristobal, a beautiful town in the mountains about 1 and a half hours from Tuxtla Gutierrez...thus making it the only city in our whole mission that is somewhat cold. We also cover a few other little towns in surrounding areas, many of them have a different language--like Tzotzil or Cetal (I think that is how you spell them...)--as their main language.
The second day here, Elder Norman and I got on a bus thing, called a Combe, and rode over to a little town called Oxchuc. While we were there, we got to visit with 2 investigators who are preparing for baptism! One of them was having problems with her spouse, so we had to give advice for how they can strengthen their relationship, which--let me say--is not something they teach in the MTC. However, I am learning a lot watching my companion, in how he applies the Gospel and Scriptures with such power to every investigator. We visited this town one more time later on in the week, and will continue to visit there frequently.
Another lady in our ward had her husband leave her and do some other terrible things, and once again, (something they don´t teach in the MTC) had the opportunity to help console her. Elder Norman shared Joseph Smith´s experience in Liberty Jail to help relate to her, which turned out to be really powerful.
We are trying to contact every where we go! It is easy to just pass by people and not do anything, but we are trying to really contact everywhere, anytime, and to almost anyone. A neat experience we had with this was just the other day; we went to a tortilleria to get some tortillas for the member whose house we were eating at, and stood in line. I felt prompted to talk to this one younger looking man standing a couple people behind us in line. We talked to him, Ismael, and really clicked with him--he invited us to his house. We have taught him a number of times now, and he has accepted the invitation to be baptized soon ahead. Stories like that help remind me that the Lord is always preparing people. He had such wonderful questions and was obviously prepared by the Lord, in fact, in the middle of the first lesson he asked us, ´´So how can I learn more about Joseph Smith? ´´ with real intent, and he was just amazing!
We have about 11 solid investigators, many of them with dates in the near future to be baptized. It is so wonderful, as a missionary, to think about them all the time. During study, prayer, walking, or wherever. It is such a blessing! On Sunday, we have about 12 people committed to coming, but only about 4 came, so I can see that will be something I will need to work on: how to help motivate our investigators to make going to church a priority.
I will describe one other investigator we are teaching, his name is Fili. He is very smart, studying to be a lawyer, and is about 24 years old or so. After our first lesson, we asked him how his reading went and he pulled out a page of notes with comments and questions. He has truly come to know that the things we have taught him are true!
It has been really quite a humbling week, teaching, eating, and visiting with people that have so little and give so much. I am doing great, except for the fact that I am rather sick right now, but our Investigators are doing wonderfully!
I am in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico right now!!! I have been here one and a half days now! A quick rundown on what happened is we left the MTC on Saturday morning, flew to Houston, and then straight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. We had a few bien especial experiences in the airport: one lady told us (in Spanish) "I am a missionary too, but not for Joseph Smith." So that was a fun opportunity to teach this really nice lady (from Arriega--in our mission by the way) about the Restoration. And so after arriving in Tuxtla late at night, our President Velasco, his wife, and the Assistants came to greet us. Going through the airport was much easier than I thought, it seemed like they had even less security than the United States airport. It was a really small airport, and we had flown in in a tiny plane. Well, we spent the evening with the President, His wife, and the Assistants for about 1-2 hours eating pizza! They were trying to help us Americans feel really welcome, I think! Haha. President Velasco and his wife are so funny, but way calm. They are very "tranquilo", and I never felt like they were in a hurry all weekend.
We slept above the mission office, with the office Elders and the Assistants. As I was lying in bed, I had a million emotions going on in my head, of excitement, nervousnesss, etc., but I felt a calm reassurance that I was where God wanted me to be and that He has a purpose for me being here. In the morning, we went to church first thing (Sunday) after a really late night. Elder Hercules and I (there were four that arrived), were paired with the office Elders and headed off to a small little ward that met right next to the Temple here in Tuxtla. It was incredible, during the fast and testimony meeting there were always around 10 people waiting to bear their short, simple, but such strong testimonies. I could feel their faith and conviction very strong. It felt a little odd being one of 2 or 3 white people there, but I think I will get used to that. And after a few other wonderful meetings, we split up, so as Elder Tapia was working in the office, Elder Hercules and I took turns waiting in the office or out teaching with Elder Pape. I should say that I feel very blessed that my teachers were so good in the MTC, because I felt like I understand most of what was said, with the exception of when they started going off reaally fast. And some speak really fast here!
When I was out with Elder Pape, we taught a lesson to a young man and his girlfriend. It was a wonderful experience, and they both agreed for the baptismal date of Febrery 26. All the people I have met are so funny, always smiling and joking, and really sensitive to the Spirit. He had this big tatoo on his arm, but we could tell was touched by the message. I believe he had had 2 or 3 lessons before that. Oh, and then we went to lunch. I officially love Mexican food. It was so simple, some rice, some sort of chicken, and tortillas, but was very tasty! And the people were just so sweet and humble, telling us their conversion story, and telling us that their house is always open to us. Pretty much every person I have visited thus far, has given us a lot of food, so maybe I won´t lose as much weight as I thought.
I don't have any more time. I am going to my new area now, and will tell more later. Was trained today, and loving MEXICO!