Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13th 2010

1. First picture of the camera


2. I just like how this one came out. It shows off how good I am at pointing at things

3. Practicing yelling at somebody while waiting for the food.


4. Ya. A member gave us pig tongue to eat yesterday. Very nice and all but...we had ramen instead.

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Yes, it was quite a story. It was a great thing though. Mary was a referrence because she was fighting horribly with her husband, and their home life was terrible. We were talking to them and they presented us to the sister of Mary, Blanca, and they were talking about how now they haven´t fought since discovering the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were testifying of the change of Spirit they have had in their home recently, and how much better of a place it is for their children. Because they know the Book of Mormon is true, they have the desires to change their lives for the better. To improve their Christlike attributes such as patience, hope, love, etc. It honestly has been a 180 degree change from when we found them.
Sounds like everyone is doing alright. Emily! Stop it! I swear right when I left you pulled out your back too. I´m pretty sure that´s not good for you.
It´s actually pretty cold nowadays. Tonala is a ranch, and our house has no insolation, so it is pretty dang cold in the morning.
This week President had a meeting with the zone to get them all excited to complete with the Standard of Excellence. He talked about Moroni and his ability to motivate his armies, and how they were delivered from the hands of their enemies. Afterwards, we all left energized, and worked hard. Elder Flores and myself called every companionship every day after the food to see how they are doing, and to remind them about what we had learned. In the end, 4 companionships, including us, were able to get the Standard. We are very, very happy for the progress in the zone, and know it is only because the Lord blessed us to be able to do it. We ourselves had to pull in 3 people from the street to go to church to get it. We went by the house of one of these people, and found her, her two sons, and her mom. The grandma had contact with missionaries 5 years ago, but lived really far away, and never really progressed, now we are teaching them and they are preparing for a baptism on the 26th of December. The mom was walking that day to get a bus, but decided to keep walking down the street for some reason. She crossed the street so she would be in the shade, and we found her. She explained she didn´t know why she kept walking, it made more sense to stay where she was and wait for the bus, but she did it anyways. She lost her father about a year ago, then her husband about 2 months ago, then recently her oldest went to jail, and her second to oldest is living with her parents-in-law. The family is desperate for answers, and searching for something to give them a reason to keep going. Really, I know the Lord has a very special eye with them. They were able to sample the comfort only He can give in the church and while reading the Book of Mormon. They expressed the desire to continue feeling that way, and are beginning to progress to their Heavenly Father.
I love the mission. God works so many miracles so that we can grow! It is true what it says in Doctrine and Covenants, when the Spirit is there, both parties are edified. I have been so edified this week! I know this church is true. I simply know it. I have no equation to prove it, I have no personal witness of Jesus Christ, or of Joseph Smith, but I have something much better. The testimony of the Holy Ghost burns within my chest, proclaiming this as the truth. I love to share this feeling with the world, and to see them change their lives because of it.
I love you all,
Elder Newell

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 6th 2010

A banner that the ward sent me. I call it my "Motivational Poster". All the other missionaries are jealous. Thanks Orem 5th!





¡HOLA MI FAMILA!
Hahahahaha, don`t worry! I`ll have a LOT of recipes to bring back! Especially, caldo de pollo! Chicken in water! YUUUMMM!!!! I know Dad is already salivating to try it!

Mom, you`re so great at stuff like that! It doesn`t surprise me at all that you beat the experts to the punch.

Geez Luoise, I am going to have like, 20 different dance styles to learn by the time I get back. I`m so happy I have a family that will be able to keep me busy when I get home from the mission!

This week was really hard. It started out with Elder Sill getting sick and we had to stay home half of the day. Then we had Zone Leader Councils on Thursday, and we lost another half day because someone gave us bad food to eat for the day, and Elder Flores and Elder Sill were pretty much out. I was pretty good though, and could take care of them for a bit. So we basically lost three days, and we needed to do the same of 20 lessons and 200 contacts. We put ourselves to work like crazy when we could, and the Lord blessed us to be able to accomplish it. But the hardest thing that happened was our baptism we had yesterday! MARY AND JULIO!

This was a young married couple. She cuts hair, and takes care of their 2 kids, William, 7 years old, and Rubi, 5 years old, and he programs. He lived in Arkansas for 3 years, but recently came back to be with his family. And they caught him. He didn`t want to leave. But anyways, Mary was a reference from a recent convert that lives in the house directly under hers. One day they had a really bad fight, and Mary came running downstairs with the kids and stayed a bit with Elena, the recent convert. She asked her how she had such a better life, how she was happy in her family. Elena introduced her to us, and she explained the whole situation. We started to teach her alone, she said her husband wanted nothing to do with the Church. She said that if we tried to talk to him, he would just leave. So we were thinking the whole time, geez, how are we going to help this family? Then one day, we went by to talk to Mary, and he answered the door. We were like deer in the headlights! But he said, Do you want to come in? OK. We went in and he started programming. I asked him, do you program? His eyes instantly lit up! YES I PROGRAM! YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS!? Ya, I actually have two brothers that do that in California. SERIOUSLY!? I`VE ALWAYS WANTED TO WORK IN A GAME COMPANY! We started talking and he discovered the genealogical work of the Church, and he loved it, he showed his own work he has done in an independent program. He started then to ask a bunch of questions about religion, and he said that he didn`t believe in any church because he felt they were all hypocritical, and he had become really enbittered to any type of organized church. But we kept coming by, answering his questions little by little, and telling him he needed to read the Book of Mormon. He read a lot, and prayed a lot. He really wanted an answer, but didn`t really feel much. As we kept coming by, his understanding of the gospel, and his testimony grew. Up until he was to be baptized with his wife yesterday. They were very happy, and all ready when we came by in nice sunday dress.

I thought, That`s weird...nothing ever goes this well...we got to the church and tried to start filling the baptismal font during church. The boiler wouldn`t light. After a lot of searching we got an hermano to come by and get it started, and he couldn`t. We started to clean it while he looked for someone who knew better, and put a little water to clean in the font. But it couldn`t leave. We tried to turn on the pump, but it wouldn`t turn on. We asked the new 2nd counselor of the ward to take a look, he was in maintenance before, and he got the pump working. So the font was all clean, then we went to get the boiler working. We saw two brothers working very intensely to get it started, but no luck. We started the water anyways while they tried to figure it out. About 10 minutes later they told us they had triumphed, and the boiler had been tamed! But then the water stopped coming out...so we had to go get the Bishop to open up the OTHER pump to get water flowing, and he couldn`t find his key in his forest of keys he has to the water pump. He went to find his counselor that knows which one is which, and we are pulling our hair out because we have a meeting with the Stake President and all the bishoprics in the stake in an hour and we haven`t even filled the font and AAAAAAARGIUAHFIUH!ª But we tried to remain patient, the counselor arrived, and we had water again. Eventually. All in all, the baptism happened thanks to the help of God, and we were only an hour late to the meeting . When Julio came out of the water, he told Elder Sill that he felt something very special and powerful in there. I know it was the Spirit testifying to him that what he had done was acceptable unto God. I know this truly is the Church of God. I know that all who desire to know, can know it. I love this place. It`s people are industrious and spiritual, caring and strong, passionate and charitable. Truly this was the chosen land, prepared by the Lord for his faithful anciently to stand apart from the world, and to be a witness to all that Jesus is the Christ.

I love you all, hope everything is still going great for everyone! I truly do appreciate every letter that arrives, thank you so much for all of your support, every one of you!

Have an excellent week!
Elder Newell

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

HELLLOOOOO!!!!!

Sounds like everyone had a fun week! We also had a bit of sickneses going around. Elder Flores got a realllly bad cold the other day and we were shut in our house for the day. Our beds are on the second floor, right in front of a door/window and in that area there is a huge wind current and buses that go by outside of our house, combining to bring a whole bunch of dust into our room at night. We sweep it at night, and wake up to a floor covered in dust again.

Other than that though, we are really excited for how things are going! There is something called the Standard of Excellence in the mission, that is a set of goals we need to reach every week. 200 contacts, 20 lessons of a half an hour or more, 7 new investigators, 3 new investigators at sacrament meeting, and 3 new baptismal dates every week. If we do that, we have the promise we will baptize every week. It is the push of the mission to be able to complete it every week, but almost nobody has done it to this point, and only one companionship has been able to do it consistently. This week, we had almost everything by Sunday, except the hardest of all, 3 new people at church every week. We brought a family we´re teaching, but only the Dad was new. We visited another family in the morning and they said they would go after finishing some housework. We offered to help, but they refused. We arrived to the church with only one new, but we saw the husband of a recent convert in there that we had dropped a while ago, so that climbed on up to two! We instantly ran out, Elder Flores and I, to go find the other family and bring them there. We arrived, gasping for breath, and they explained to us that the Mom was sick. She tried to convince her kids to go, but they wanted to go together. So, defeated, we left back to the church. In the third hour, Elder Moberg, my first comp. here in Tonala, now an assistant, called us to see how we were doing. After having explained the situation, he said that this other companionship that is completing the goals every week pulled someone in off the street and taught him a lesson after church, and that if we could do that, it would count. We sprinted outside brainstorming who we could bring. We couldn´t think of anyone, so we decided to just bring someone out of the street. We contacted a lady with her kid who practically ignored us. Then I saw a worker walking across the street. I ran over and started talking to him, and invited him to Church. He said, "Are you kidding? I´m not presentable or anything!" "So what? What matters more to God, that you arrive with bad clothes, or not arrive at all?" "Good point!" So we excitedly ushered him into priesthood meeting and taught him a little bit during the lesson. He loved what he saw, and said he wanted to come back next week in a white shirt and tie like the rest of the people. We saw the blessings of the Lord upon us so greatly there. We had worked as hard as we could, done everythign in our power, and we thought it all was over. But we didn´t understand how much we really could do. The Lord aided us to come to an awakening deeper and more profound of what we can really do as missionaries, and completed His promise. I truly know and testify that if we have a commandment of God, he always prepares the way for us to complete said goal.

This family that couldn´t make it is really prepared. They asked us in the first visit, Why are there so many churches? Well we have an answer for that! They live in a really weird place though. We went looking for a direction one day, and saw a bunch of white houses that we had never seen before. We started walking to them, but they were completely fenced off with cheap chain link, or with small cliffs and vegetation. Eventually we found a small gate made of rebar in the side of a street, and we entered. Every house was white, but more than half had no one in them. There were dogs, like lions prowling on balconies on second floors, having claimed some of the habitations for their own. We looked a little further in, and saw that after one street, it was just pure walls. They never finished 90% of the houses, and they were covered in weeds, trees, and dirt. It felt like the Neighborhood that Time Forgot. We half expected a dinosaur to come running out of the jungle. But of the houses we knocked, half let us talk to them, and two are families that are really prepared. One is about to have a new kid, if she hasn´t given birth already on Sunday. The Lord truly guided us there, but it is a strange place.

Yikes, looks like Merlin´s leg is going crazy there. Hope he can finish his days peacefully. Pizza is good. Even better with Chorizo and Bacon. I found out that the Tenochititlan Market over there is a really good Mexican market. The daughter of the Bishop here went to BYU and bought there a lot. Something you need to see if you can make is called Carne en Su Jugo. Or, literally, Meat in Your Juice, WAIT! It actually tastes really good! It´s like a Beef broth with strips of steak or something, it´s a type of cow meat that is much more tender, and bacon, cilantro, onion, and salsa (hot sauce). You serve it with beans, cooked or refried, and tortillas. I usually eat all the broth first, then make tacos out of the meat and beans. It´s reaaaaaallllly good. You might look up Karna Garibaldi´s Carne en Su Jugo. They hold the world record for fastest food, and we eat there a lot for mission conferences and all that.

Geez Louise, sounds like Al has a rough time ahead of him. That is an absolutely huuuuuge District. And Hermanas too...that´s tough. You can´t talk too much about pure numbers, or yell at them, because then they start crying, and you feel awful. It requires a lot more tact and ability to talk than other Elders. It certainly has been a growing experience having to deal with Sister Missionaries. But they can do a lot of stuff that honestly, we can not do. They also usually have real desires to serve. There are not many, if any, sisters that came just because, "they´re supposed to." All have the desire to aid in the work.

It´s weird to see the mission changing. Now having 10 months, things have changed a lot. Elder Tibbitts, my comp. from the MTC, is a Zone Leader now, as well as the Elder I trained, Elder Rojas. Elder Aguilar from the MTC is a District Leader, and with the other Elder I trained in my old area. The mission is truly a miracle. I remember our first day inthe MTC, all scared and not knowing what anything was or meant. But really I have seen the transformative process of the mission in their lives. They have become much better people, stronger in their knowledge of the Gospel, and in their abilities to follow it. We are still the same, but so different at the same time. Exactly who we were, but someone entirely different. It´s hard to describe. I know this church is the true Church of Christ. It´s claims to the authority of the Priesthood, and the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ are true and He is truly at the head of it.

I hope all is going well back home still, sounds like Em is doing great! Thanks for writing! Hope all goes well in school. We have an investigator named Julio that lived in Arkansas for acouple of years and is a super gamer. He is excited for Thor. So there´s one. I love you all, y que tengan una semana EXCELLENTE!

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Newell

video video

November 22nd 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Hey, so, this week is also going to be a bit short, sorry. What happened is that we had emergency changes. I´m no longer with Elder Fuentes, and another Elder from the zone, Elder Flores is my new companion. So, I´m in the offices, and we had a chat with President on what needs to happen in the zone, and I am using one of their computers to write. Wanted to let you all know I´m doing great still, we´re at the point of completely changing everything in our area, we´re really excited.

Thanks to everyone who has written me, Em, Ef, Mom, Dad, other letters I have yet to read because their on paper and we haven´t gotten them yet! I hope you´re all doing great, and I PROMISE! NEW VIDEOS NEXT WEEK! LIKE, 5. I hope all is well and that things keep on going...well. You´re all in my prayers and I know this church is true.

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 14th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!
If you don´t get the letter out on Sunday, no worries, the earliest I check the mail is at 12. Sounds like everyone is still doing great. Happy to hear the garden is still progressing. I can´t believe how big Ava and Myla are! That´s ridiculous! I think it´s time to throw a Mexican super-easy snack recipe your way!
MOLLETES:
So this is a little treat that Elder Fuentes and myself have been eating like crazy. The basic version:
2 slices of bread
1 can of refried beans
Cheese
Hot sauce
Just put the beans on the bread, butter it up first for more flavor, then put on the cheese and throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds. After the cheese is melted, pour on some hot sauce, and you´ve got a good treat. The more complicated way is with a type of bread called Bolio that is kind of like baggett. You could probably find it in the mexican markets, it´s super common. It´s like baggett, like I said, and you cut it in half, scoop out the bread to make a cup, then toast it. Then you put in the beans, and cheese, then toast it again until the cheese melts. It´s soooooooo good.
By the way, I got the retainer all taken care of, thanks so much for all the support Mom and Dad. I took a lot of money out, but most of that is in reimbursments. The actual retainer only cost 1000 pesos. A whole lot cheaper than we thought. I also had to buy a new iron. The Elder that had our iron had changes two weeks ago, and we really needed another one.
We´re still working hard here in Tonala, or as we say, Tonaranch. I´m going to have some videos ready for next week, so get ready!
This week was strange. We picked some old investigators of the other Elders, and started teaching them as a favor to the Elders, give them one last chance sort of thing. I have learned a lot of how important it is to speak wich clarity when teaching people about the Gospel. When there is clarity, the spirit testifies of that plain and simple truth. When you are embarassed, nervous, or otherwise confused while teaching, the person will not feel the spirit without much effort. These people didn´t understand what was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why we were there, or why they needed to follow Him. I remember an investigator that thought to violate the law of Chastity was to be in the same room as a girl alone...clarity is good. We have also found people who just weren´t ready when the other missionaries were there, but now are completely ready to accept the Gospel. For an example, an Elder that served in this area told us about a family that was really good, but never went to church. We went by, and the husband, who had always been "working" when the other Elders were there, was there with us. They explained he had been to prison the last couple of years, but now released and they want to hear the missionaries now. They could never go to church because they were visiting him in Jail, and were too embarassed or somethign to tell the missionaries. They came to church two weeks ago and are slated for a baptism this week. It has really strengthened my testimony that the Lord has his ways of preparing us to accept him.
Elder Fuentes and myself continue to make huge strides in our personal development, and when we fall we pick each other up again. I´m so happy to have a companion. I can´t imagine doing this without someone to help and support me. Elder Sill is also doing great. He looks almost exactly like Stephen Colbert...it´s kinda creepy honestly. We´ve become great friends, and are working hard to serve the Lord.
My time´s almost up, but I hope everyone back home is doing great. Thanks Aunt for writing all the letters! The stories about Grandpa were great, and have really inspired me to increase my level of committment! I love hearing about the lives of you and your family, and about how the gospel has influinced your lives.
I hope everything is well with everyone else, and that we can continue having success in our efforts of life.
¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!
Elder Newell

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Hawhahaha, that all looks like soooo much fun! Looks like the costmes wereall out this year! There is also a lot of foodhere that is...less than great. Especially in the really poor homes. But they seem to be the ones with the most generosity , and that never let you leave without eatin something. The people here are honestly super nice, and friendly, andhumble, andgiving. Sounds like Alex is really having some good time too. If you`re comfortable, you`re not bein a missionary. Our nations definitely seem very simillair. Even the people look similair.

But the Lord has His ways of making us grow. Our first week to get the goals of 20 lessons and 200 contacts, we needed 3 and 60, the second week, 3 and 100, then 5 and 60, and this week was 5 and 114. We got them every time. It requiered workin until the lastsecond, but we got them with the strength of the Lord. Honestly it is amazing what we can do if we embark fully in the service of our Lord, and allow him to mold us into the people we can really be.

I have an appointment with the doctor in an hour for my retainer to get it fixed, thanks Mom and Dad! Also I am planning on cooking a fake thanksgiving dinner for some members in the ward, and use it as an excse to get them excited for missionary work :)

Not mch to report this week, and not much time, but we`re doing great, I have some videos to send but...I don`t have the camera with me. Sorry! Oh, new companion, Elder Sill. We are in a trio now! He is American, from Las Vegas.

I hope everything is going well over there, and that we are all still etting along well. Hope Em is stil doin well with her group at UVU, and getting some more schooling and all! Aso that Thor is doing well, and that Dad`s book keeps cimbing up! They said I can read it when I get home. I`ll be in the airport reading it :) Effie and Mark, hope all is wel with you

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Newell

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 1st 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Halloween was something interesting here. Nobody really made costumes, just bought a bunch of reaaaaaalllly grotuesque masks for their kids and let them run around the city. Congratz on the realization of THRILLER!

All of your costumes looked really great, way to go Jen on winning the prize! I laughed pretty hard when I saw the arms for the Dalek, because it is probably what they used originally to make it. I have seen those skeletons, but I didn´t know they had a name/story.

I think I might be starting to send a lot more videos, because I almost don´t have time now to write much :(

I got the letter, I´m going to be sending it by fax to the number it says, and also by DHL home so it gets there fast. I am still in the process of getting an appointment, we´ll see how it goes.

Don´t worry about my feelings when it comes to Merl. If it´s his time, it´s his time. I know I´ll get to see him again. If Joseph Smith gets to see his favorite horse in the afterlife, I better get to see my dog!

Sounds like Christmas is going to be a blast. Let me know what happens so I can live vicariously through your emails.

I cannot believe so much time has gone by. We´re about to hit the 10 month mark, which is almost 1 year, which is half of the mission, which is a lot of time!

Well, we are really trying hard to put the example for the zone, me and Elder Fuentes, working hard to meet all the goals that have been set. Goals like, 20 lessons, 200 contacts, 7 new investigators, 3 people at church, and 3 new baptismal dates. We were one of the only two zone leaders in the mission to get it all this week. We´re happy, but still not very happy. We didn´t baptize anyone this month, and the zone suffered for it. We feel super bad, but at the same time are super excited to move forward to find those the Lord has prepared to recieve his Gospel. AAAARGH NO TIME! I hope the movies and pictures can satisfy your curiosity here, OH! Real quick answers to questions I can remember off the top of my head!

No we don´t have a car, we are in charge of Tonala, and a good chunck of Guadalajara, We almost never have contact with other Zones unless we have the monthly meeting with President, with the other Zone Leaders, no we don´t get a lot of sleep because usually we are fixing things in the Zone, and no, we do not have horns.

I hope everything keeps going well over there, have an excellent week!

BYYEEE!!

Elder Newell

A baptismal service for the stake we had.
Elder Fuentes showing off in front of a cow standing in garbage. I was going to get a picture too, but it started walking away when I tried, and it was a really big cow.

Being bored on P-Day with Elder Fuentes

Practicing for a spot in a Gatorade commercial, right after having taken a swig of it.



video video

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25th 2010

HOLLLAAAA MI FAMILIA!!!!!!
Sounds like veryone is doing awesome, like always, because we are just an all around awesome family. Well, I´m going to try something new. I took a video on super low settings, and the other Elders said I could send it like that. We´ll see if it´s true.
Mexico is good at a lot of things. Tacos, chili, ceramics, getting conquered by the spaniards, but one thing they can´t beat, is Dad´s salsa. I miss that so much. They don´t really have that type of salsa here in Mexico. It just plain doesn´t exist. That info about the hole is DEFINITELY useful. There are a lot of random holes in the dirt here, and it would be very good to know if it is an ant hole, tarantula, or scorpion. We got all three down here.
Effie´s so amazingly creative. I´ve always been super jealous of her ability to just think of new things. CONGRATZ EM! Sounds like you´re really helping people out over there that have no other place to go. Wow, the only place!? That´s crazy! Way to go Em.
Congratz Dad on the book! Stop being so humble and admit that you´re a writing genius! I knew everybody took your class for a reason. By the way, Elder Moberg, one of the assistants in the mission, says he wants to take your class.
Well, it sounds like everyone is having success, congratulations to everybody. Hooray!
Here in Tonala we have been having some fun times. We get to marry 2 couples, and talk to a crazy old husband that hates the Church! WOOOH! This should be a super fun week with a lot of stories :)
One of the couples we need to marry is honestly a miracle. We were talking tot ons of people, but nobody wanted to hear. We went to a nearby hill, and prayed to God, where do we need to go? We instantly felt....nothing. We stayed there for about 10-15 minutes and just had no idea what we needed to do. I told Elder Fuentes, Well, the Lord can´t guide us if we aren´t doing anything. We started going down the hill, and talked to the first person we saw. A young women and she said we could go by on Saturdays to her nearby house. We decided to check if it was a real house or not, and found it was a complex of 4 houses in the same building. We knocked the door for the heck of it, and a lady came out, Ooh! Hold on, I´ll be right out! In about 2 minutes she came out and we started talking. She committed to baptism this next week in the first lesson. She has 5 kids, and a husband. The husband works all the time, but she tells us he is super interested too. They came to church this week, and LOVED it. Even the kids loved Sacrament meeting. It´s probably because I talked :p. We were honestly completely lost, but the Lord guided us to a family that is completely chosen. I LOVE this work! I have never felt more alone in my life, but never so SURROUNDED by love from my Heavenly Father! Never faced so many trials, and never been so strengthened by the Lord. Never so prideful, and never sooooooo humbeled.
I hope everything stays good with you all. I´m praying for your success, and that you might all find happiness. Let me know how things are going! I know a lot is happening that merits an email/letter.
Alright, I had to help out my comp and it cancelled out the video I am sending...it´´ll have to wait till next week. Sorry.
I LOVE YOU ALL!

ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

BYYEEEE!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 18th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!
Thank you so much for just getting on all of this. But I was afraid when I read the title, "rotting skin" and thought that the orthodonist said my skin was rotting away...I will definitely be talking to sister jersperson about all this.
Hey, so, I have no time this week.
This week was very good for the zone. We were 5 of the 11 companionships that completed the goal for lessons and contacts in the mission, so we are super happy. We bought pizza for everyone for being so awesome, and the assistants came by and congratulated us. Elder Fuentes and I were the only Zone Leaders to do so. We´re super happy for Reforma. Sorry, I hope all is going well, that everything stays good!
BYEEEEEE!
Elder Newell
PS: I forgot my camera this week...soooooooory :(

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

The City is definitely a city of ceramics. And the people certainly speak English...at least some words in English...rude words mostly, but hey, their trying. And ya, Tonala is the most northern part of the mission I think, but it`s only like 20 minutes outside of Guadalajara proper. I`m super happy to hear that the house is doing well, sounds like I`ll be coming back to something that is really cozy :)

I`m not surprised at all to hear that Dad`s book is doing well. Way to go Dad!

Can`t wait to get pictures next week, I`m sending some this week too, I hope they all get there.

Ya, dogs = bad, I have learned this lesson a looooong time ago. I haven`t been bitten yet, but some close calls. Rocks seem to do the trick. I hate to do anything against them, but I hate having a big ol hole in my leg even worse.

Sounds like everyone is doing good, many congratulations on Ben`s project working out! Good to hear that Than and Chi are happy. The building is next to UCAS? Where? There was just fields and an elementary school last time I was there. That is something I`ve always admired about Jen, she is always ready to take on a challenge! Like Ben! Hahaha, just kidding, I love you all. How`s Rowan with her hair? Still red? The sisters in the ward are really jealous.

As a Zone Leader I`ve learned a lot about how the mission functions. Like, apparently packages almost never get lost in the mail. Unless they have dollars. Also that my letters arrived super late because I left them behind to be sent, and the Elders were really slow getting them out. And that Dear Elder apparently still works. Go figure.

Life is certainly an adventure here. I almost don`t really have time working in my area. We are going around to all the other Elders, seeing how they are doing, checking their houses, doing interviews, seeing if there is anything we can do to help them, etc. We had changes last night. That night is super fun for us. We were reporting our numbers for the week until about 11:30, and got to bed. At 1:30 we recieved a call from the assistants, and till 3:00 we were recieving and transmitting about where the Elders were going for their new areas, how they were to arrive, everything. It was pretty intense. We slept instead of going somewhere for P-Day.

But we found this new investigator this week, by the name of Mayra. We contacted her in the street, and she was carrying her 3 kids, one that`s 8, one that`s 6, and one that`s 4. The one that`s 6 has some type of Down Syndrome, and is super white with blonde hair. She`s my favorite person in the world. Whenever we are in a lesson she is always doing some crazy thing and just laughing her head off. But Mayra has a lot of problems with her husband. He arrives every night completely drunk, without money to buy food for the family, and screams at them until he falls asleep. It`s amazing to see the peace that has come into Mayras life since she has learned of the Book of Mormon, and that Jesus has paid to help her through her times through the Atonement. She told us, "We all have really hard trials. Mine are especially hard in this moment. Dealing with my husband, taking care of 3 kids, one of them being VERY special. But I know now we just have to move on. And do so with a smile." God is truly working a miracle in her.

EFFIE! I just remembered, I found a recipe for you, and everyone else who wants to try it!

MEXICAN PIZZA:
OK, so you have your pizza crust, and you put on butter, get it all melted and crispy, then you put on refried beans instead of tomato sauce. Cheese, veggies, if you can find it, chorizo, or other assorted meats follow. It actually tastes really good. They eat beans with everything here, seriously. One of my new favorites, is eggs with american cheese melted into them with hotdogs chopped up and mixed in, placed in a small taco-tortilla with beans and hot sauce. It`s sooooooo good.

Well I think that`s all family,

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Newell

1. Just before leaving Uruapan
2. With my 2 sons
3. HEY! Remember that guy!? Yep, I`m the Zone Leader of Elder Aguilar from the MTC again. We played soccer.
4. The Zone



October 4th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

HEYYYYYY!!!!! Ya, the changes delaid me a bit. BUT! We`re not where you all thought I was!

I went to the bus station at 6 in the morning, got into a city called Morelia, met up with Elder Tibbits from the MTC, then we went to Guadalajara. There, I was met by Elder Fuentes and Elder Moberg, two Zone Leaders in the best zone in the mission. They said, "Hey Elder Newell! Ready to be our new companion!?" "What? No, I`m going to Chapala..." "They didn`t tell you? You`re coming with us now! You`re a Zone Leader!" "......" "Ya!" "No. Nonononononononononono." But they eventually dragged me over here. So. I`m now in Guadalajara. A municipalitie called Tonala. The zone is called Reforma. I don`t have much time this week either, being a Zone Leader is craaaaazy! We almost don`t have time to do anything. But it was excellent to hear that everything is going so well back home! CONGRATS DAD! I HAVE to read it when I get back! I`ll definitely be praying for it`s success.

Yes, we watched conference in English. WHAT!? Can you believe it`s already been 6 MONTHS since last conference when I was in Morelia with Elder Tyler!? WHAT!? My companion Elder Moberg is leaving today to become an assistant in the offices, so soon it`ll be just me and Elder Fuentes. There`s a lot of new challenges here, and I`m super excited to get started. By the way, I really wanted to write last week, but we got in on monday at like, 11, and all through the week we just had absolutely no time. Really sorry. From here on out, better.

BYE!

Elder Newell






Monday, September 20, 2010

Sept 20th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!
That`s super exciting about the book! Congratulations Dad! Family reunion? Without squirt guns? I thought Utah had everything at every second if it had something to do with families. Hahaha, I`m sure Merlin loves that combo. Elder Rojas haaaaaaaates peanut butter, and every time I eat a sandwich or something he wants to through a bunch of guacamole on it...OH! I sent that email again, it said it was still a draft, so we`ll see if it works better this time. The other one in that picture is Elder Barnes, one of our Zone Leaders here. I`m going to be travelling with him and the other leaders in Uruapan to Guadalajara for the week, where we will be recieving MORE TRAINING YAAAAA! WOOOOOOH! Yep, another week where I will be seperated by half a country from my investigators...speaking of which, I`m still in Uruapan! Apparently their still looking for the house, and said I might be here another 3-4 weeks. Also that I`ll be going to Guadalajara probably, next to a really big lake.
If a zone got closed down in Guadalajara well...usually that means not good stuff happened there, but I`m going to hope we just didn`t have enough missionaries to cover it all. It`ll be a huge change of pace from quite little Uruapan. Guadalajara is one of the biggest cities in the world. They have gas stations. Do you know how huge that is? There`s maybe 3-4 gas stations in this entire city.
Hurmm...my camera doesn`t like this computer or something, I`m going to try and send some photos, but we`ll see. Mostly because, we had another baptism yesterday! Wooooooh! Eraclio, we contacted him in the street a couple of months ago, and told us he leaves in a place that is really far away and we never go there, but one day we went by, and he was there. We started to teach him, and everything was going well. Eventually we found out that he goes to another church, Spiritual Doctrine or something like that. It`s a locally made church in his neighborhood and...well...it has some weird ideas. The problem was that he always visited the other church after our meetings, and didn`t want to give it up. We started talking to him about the First Vision and Joseph Smith, and he says, I believe Jesus Christ restored a branch of his truth through Joseph. We started to try and explain everything in the world to him, but it didn`t matter. We told him to pray, and the next day brought over the DVD of the Joseph Smith movie. We watched it, he prayed, and the next day felt like he received an answer that the church was truly restored through Joseph Smith. It was such an amazing shock to us. He was pretty deep into this other church, and he just straight up told us, it`s true. Thanks God! Honestly, people do NOT change like this! I am so amazingly humbeled to be able to see God working such miracles among his children. I know that God loves each and every one of us. He knows us individually, and desires the salvation of us all.
I have been thinking a lot about that. Every single person we see is a son or daughter of God. He worries for them. He wants them to be happy. He loves them just as he loves them. It is something that has really changed how I view this work. We`re not here just to help people be happy, to feel closer to God, whatever. We are here to invite this precious souls, brothers and sisters, to come unto Christ. To know their true father in heaven who is desperate to reach out to them, according to their faith. It is something amazing to think about walking down the street.
Things are going well though, I finished my food that I bought a while ago, so it`s time for another trip to WAL MART. Which apparently doesn`t exist in Peru, according to Elder Briceño. By the way, when I get to Guadalajara, I will probably be training again...wooooooh. Three children in 5 months is not natural! Oh well. We push on and do what we need to do in our lives.
Sounds like Elder Peacock is doing awesome, and future Elder Newell 2! CONGRATULATIONS! I hope he can really study like crazy this next bit that he has. I wish frequently that I studied more effectively in my time I had at home. Not just the scriptures, but also Preach My Gospel.
I hope all the siblings are doing good, I haven`t heard from any for a while. Effie every now and then, thanks Euf. Em? Than? Ben? How are you doing all? How`s Thor coming along? I dreamed you entered into a competition for best new combat system and you were pretty confident you would win. What? I`m still a Newell.
Anyways, that`s all I got this week family. I know this church is true. I know God lives. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, a tool in his hands, and that God truly does loves us.
¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Sept 13th 2010

¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Cooler? No. More hot if anything. I`m jealous. Thanks for the pictures Mom! It`s always good to see the family, even if it`s just simple pictures. You can learn a lot from a picture. Like how Rowan has apparently turned Mexican. That is what all the woman do down here for some reason. Everyone dyes their hair red. Nobody knows why.

Sounds like everyone had a relitavely calm week, which is good. Everybody needs those kinds of weeks. Mom you have always been so awesome at telling stories. You seem to just have a natural gift with talking with people and spinning a tale. I have no doubt those kids were enthralled.

Merl will survive...probably. Sleeping alone won`t kill him at least. Sounds like everyone`s pets are kicking the bucket unfortunately.

Well, this week was interesting. I got a call on Saturday from the Zone Leaders saying I have transfers! Yep, I`m going to go to the state of Guanajuato, the most catholic, party time state there is in Mexico, and Im going to open up a new area. *tear*. There just looking for the house right now, as soon as they find one, I`m out of Uruapan for good. Maybe. This Sunday Bishop Martinez (Phew, four capitols in a row), asked me to say goodbye in the sacrament service. All day during church people were coming up to me, don`t go Elder Newell! Others gave me their email and everything, and all in all it was a fairly sad experience, but good to be moving on. I got a call from the Zone Leaders yesterday at 11 at night saying, Packed your bags? No. Well, go pack them, your leaving at 5 in the morning. I heard some shouts in the background, and he said laughingly, no no, don`t worry you still have some time. Apparently they were going to not tell me until 5 in the morning that it was a joke. HAH. BUT! I do have probably at least another week...so...next Sunday is going to be awkward. Hi everyone! Remember how I said I was leaving and everything? Surprise!

But oh well, life goes on. We have something that Dad would love down here. It`s called, caldo de pollo, or chicken soup. But not just chicken soup! This soup is: 1. Water 2. A carrot 3. A squash 4. Chicken leg. Yep. Delicious. We had the most watery version this week and I remembered Dad.

We had a family home evening with a family here, and the Dad started it out with, well, welcome to the family home evening and....we`re going to see what happens. I thought, huh, that sounds like something that would happen in my family...

We had a Noche Mexicana this week in the stake. This week Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence and 100 years of something else. I sported a super stylish sombrero, and tried to imitate having a moustache for a bit. While we were there, I saw my first baptism from Morelia! She moved over here in another ward, but is still active in the church. We talked for a little, and she didn`t believe that I remembered her, but I DID! I was so happy to see her, it was amazing. To see that someone was still active, despite all her challenges, I was filled with joy and the Holy Ghost. I felt like, in part, Ammon when he found his brothers and Alma after their missions, and fainted from the happiness that he felt. Honestly, this work is so much MORE than just faith in God! It is the portal to everlasting life! The waters of life that will never leave us thirsty! I have felt the amazing mercy of God and the Atonement in my life more strongly than I have ever felt them in my life in my mission, and it is my everlasting pride and joy to be able to invite others to come unto Christ in this same way!

I`ve been thinking a lot. I have 8 months in the mission today, I can`t say I`m new anymore. This time goes by so fast. To see the changes I have seen in myself these last 8 months...how fast it all went by, everything that has happened...it has truly been a miracle. All of it.

Well, speaking of miracles, I`ll try and finish, THE MARRIAGE!!!!!!

So, we got to the capilla, and President was there and everything. We decided to call the judge again to see if there was ANYTHING we could do. We called and he said he might be able to get the birth cirtificate online through their system if he had the information, so we passed it all along and waited. About 20 minutes later we got a call, They can get married, YA! We waited 20 more minutes for him to finish his papers, and got another call. They can`t get married, NO! What happened!? Apparently the government worker filled out the papers wrong for something, instead of putting Maria Jesus, he put the more common Maria de Jesus, and with that they can`t get married until it was fixed. Elder Rojas stayed on the phone trying to find something that we could do, and the judge said, OK, well I can marry them, but this needs to get fixed first thing on Monday. If someone else gets married that day before you fix it, the marriage is invalid. YAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! After a couple more hours of waiting, stress, and prayer, the judge arrived, performed the cerimony, and directly afterwards the kids were married and baptized. The next Monday we went to get everthing fixed up and they are now legally married. At the end, we could breath again after about 3 days of pure suspense. We were happy to have it done.

And so, basically, that`s the story of Maria and Mauricio. I have it a little more detailed in my journal at home, but I think that will have to suffice for now. I hope you all have an excellent week, maybe I`ll be writing you from Guanajuato next week. Talk to you all in a couple months! Thank you all so much for your love and support, maybe I don`t get to it, or remember very good, but know that I love you all and hope that everything goes well!

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Joseph Neil Newell

Monday, September 6, 2010

September 6th, 2010

HAHAHA, OK, I get it, thanks Mom and Dad. Just for good measure, I never missed a meal, you don´t have to worry about that ever. Even if we don´t have food in the house, Mexican people are so generous with what they have it´s ridiculous. If we really needed to, we could go knocking doors and we would find food in like 5 minutes. BUT DONT WORRY THAT WILL NEVER HAVE TO HAPPEN.

AH! I just noticed this computer is really bad, and doesn´t let me upload photos...I´ll try and slip them in today, but if not, expect a LOT next week!
Hah, sounds like everyone is doing really well back home. Socializing, graudating, campaigning, truthinesizing, everything sounds like it´s good. I´m super jealous of those pictures of the back yard. Grass doesn´t really exist here, and it is raining like crazy.

This week has been awesome. We had 3, count ´em, three baptisms. The mom of those kids that got married (sorry, I forgot the next part of the story last week, ahorita viene), and Rogelio and his nephew Jorge.

I don´t know if I´ve mentioned Rogelio and Jorge or not...we found them knocking doors, and started talking to Rogelio that explained he had had a lot of problems with drugs and everything, and that he is searching God. Later his nephew came into the lesson, but sat a far ways away. At the end of the lesson he came a little closer. The next lesson we gave them each a copy of the Book of Mormon, and Jorge stole it out of my hands, and imediately started reading it. After that, Jorge always had questions of what he had read of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We found out about a week ago that before that, he had never read the scriptures. We were absolutely dumbfounded, this kid was pulling stuff that we hadn´t even heard of! In his baptismal interview he taught about idolatry to Elder Barnes, and he requested the scriptures he used in the Bible so he could teach others. We had a scary moment with them though, when Jorge told us he talked with his mom, but she said he couldn´t get baptized. We said we would talk with her and help her see that this is a good thing, not bad, that we don´t sacrifice goats, etc. We came by the next day, and she was very kind with us and gave permission rather freely. This last fast and testimony meeting, Jorge got up to give his testimony, this guy has 16 years and is super nervous, and stood up in front of everyone, and said, "I know this church is true. After my mom told me no, I told God, Lord, if this is thine true church, let me be baptized. And it happened." Afterwards, Rogelio gave his testimony, and it was so super special. Rogelio brought his family that I talked about, and they looooved the church and his baptism. We think they will get baptized this next sunday. If that happens, we will have 4 more baptisms this next sunday!

The Lord is blessing us so amazingly. Truly, this is his work, the gospel that Jesus Christ himself has placed in the Earth. I am so privileged to be here in Uruapan and see miracles happen.

Oh! I have another kid! Elder Briceño, an Elder from Peru is now with me and Elder Rojas. So now I have two sons in the mission. That is what it is called when a new missionary arrives, kid and dad. The leaders told me that in 5 weeks I´m going to leave to open up a new area...in Uruapan. I´m also going to be training an American. So if that happens, I will probably have something like a year here in Uruapan, and have 3 kids. Yikes. But at this point in the transfer it is nothing more than rumors.

Alright, so, part 2 of THE MARRIAGE!!!!!
So, Mauricio arrived to the presidencia, and we got their papers all ready. The next day, we went to their house to get the papers they needed and deliver them to the judge. They went into their house, and came out about 5 minutes later...emptyhanded. Apparently the papers had been left in the presidencia, BUT IT DOESN¨T OPEN ON SATURDAYS!!!!! They just had the birth certificate of Mauricio, and some other miscellanious papers. All the day we were calling the Judge´s secretary, the Judge, the hermano that has these connections, trying to work something out while praying our hearts out and serarching the home of this couple. It got to be at about 5, and we couldn´t do anything more, since the judge never answered our calls. The baptisms were at 7, but we needed to be there at 6:30, and start traveling at 6. We said, well, you´re going to go to the capilla, the Lord can still work a miracle. Have faith, everything will work out, we have seen too many miracles to say that this is NOT the will of the Lord that you are not married today! We then left to bring some investigators to the baptisms. We arrived and...and...AAAAND! YOULL HAVE TO FIND OUT NEXT WEEK!
Yep, time´s up, but know that I love you all, I miss you, and I will see you in a year and 4 months! BYYYYEEEE!!!!!

Elder Joseph Neil Newell

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010

1. We got a ride in the back of a gas truck. These trucks drive from neighborhood to neighborhood with their loud speakers screaming EL GAAAAAAAAS! Followed by the trumpet sound just before you usually yell CHAAAAAAARGE!

2-3. The construction pics. The man thought it was just HI-larious that I was trying to use that sledgehammer. I love those pictures :P




¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Hahaha, ya, I´ve changed color a bit. There is another Elder from Utah that is in an area called Apatzingan that is in the same zone as Uruapan, and he is now blaaaaaaack with hair as white as snow. Apatzingan is like Utah in the summer...but hotter...and all year long. Not to mention humid. They never turn on their boiler, because the sun already makes their water to shower super hot. Someone has been there now for 9 months. Poor guy.

Thanks Mom, we certainly are working our tails off. We had 30 lessons this week, 5 every day, and had 8 investigators this week at church. We totaled up our numbers and found out we have talked to almost 1200 people this month about the gospel. In my time here in Uruapan I have invited nearly 6000 people to listen to the gospel. It´s a lot of work, but it is rewarding in more ways than I can describe, and it really forces one to grow into new areas they didn´t feel possible. I know that the mission is honestly the best thing someone can do for their life. I heard someone describe it like a 2 year fast for the rest of your life, and it´s really true.

That is something I miss here in Mexico, museums. There is the park here, but nothing else. The cultural centers are more like a room with a couple of paintings, which are nice and interesting, but not quite the same as we have in Utah. Sorry to hear that all your plans went kaput. I told Elder Rojas about the curse, and he didn´t really believe me. I said he needs to go to Utah one day and we´ll go camping.

Wow, Grandma´s birthday is soon? Well...for ideas from Mexico...the usual is carne asada with lots of drinking. The parties here are super heavily focused on dancing and music. The mexican people LOVE their music. Maybe people won´t have cars, some walls, doors, or other things, but EVERYONE has a super nice stereo. Piñata? Yes, they really do have those here, I thought it was something we made.

Thanks Effie otra vez for keeping the blog all nice and updated. I can´t wait to see it when I get back! It will be such an awesome resource for ME to remember how my mission was. Honestly, this counts for all Christmas and birthday gifts for 10 years. Maybe 9. I need to do some calculations...

Thanks for being so generous Mom and Dad with the money, I know it isn´t easy. I have about 1000 pesos waiting for me in reimbursments, but they are being really slow to send it. I was wondering if I could charge breakfast to you guys, we barely eat anything in the morning, and don´t eat dinner. Usually missionaries are fine, but our area doesn´t have buses, pure taxis, so it is pretty expensive to get from place to place. I´m going to go buy food for the week, if it is too much, PLEASE tell me in the letter so I can pull it back. The last thing I want is to be more of a burdern here, and it isn´t a big deal, we eat sufficiently, I just don´t get really full when we leave the house. Honestly, if I spend too much I want you to let me know. Also, I need to get a new backpack...ya...I don´t like the idea either. I need one that is small, but the only small ones are supposedly super posh and cost a lot. We´ve been searching for a couple of weeks here and I might have found one here that doesn´t cost 300 dollars. No, I´m not exagerating, we found a bunch that were 300 dollars.

But our week has been great, and will be even better this week! We didn´t have a baptism though. We had 3 planned, but through various problems they fell through. But, we have one slated for tomorrow! Rogelio. He was a contact we made knocking doors, and he invited us to share our message. Throughout the process we found out that Rogelio, according to him, was a terrible father. He drank, beat his kids, and yelled like a fiend. He says that he has since repented from all that, but his wife left him with their kids to live with her parents. We´ve been talking with him now about how he can truly repent of his sins through a baptism that is valid before the eyes of God by someone holding the proper authority, and he is super excited. He studied the Bible a lot, so everything we said he said, Oh, ya, just like it says in such and such scripture in the Bible! He has made a lot of changes in his life, and has been talking to his wife about them. They want to be here for his baptism tomorrow, and now they are very interested in the church, to see what helped their father/husband turn his life around. I am so amazingly humbled to be blessed by God so much to see this family start to heal itself, and take the first steps towards being an eternal family. I have seen the effects of the Atonement take place in this man´s life, and it is miraculous.

Also, his Nephew, Jorge is ready for a baptism. The first discussion we had with Rogelio, Jorge came in half way through, and sat far away while we talked. Jorge has about 14 years, and seemed a little rebelious. When we started to explain the Book of Mormon, he came a little closer. We came by the next appointment, and told him we had a gift for him, his very own copy of the Book of Mormon! He immediately snatched it from our hands and started reading it. Since then he has gained a love for the scriptures, both the Book of Mormon, and the Bible. Rogelio says that he never read the Bible before, but now he is reading them every day of his own free will. I have seen young Jorge change from an insecure teenager that wants to fit in, to a son of God, filled with the confidence of the knowledge of who he is.

We also had a miracle yesterday! A couple weeks ago we were talking to some women investigators outside of their house, we can´t enter if there isn´t a man present of 18 and older. Someone called for our attention, and Elder Rojas left to go take care of him while I continued the lesson. Later he told me that this guy wants a Bible in English, that he knows how to read English but not very well Spanish. A couple days later we dropped of a Book of Mormon in English, pretty sure that is what he meant when he said Bible, and left. Yesterday we were by his house, when Elder Rojas remembered him and said we should go by his house. When we knocked the door we heard, "They´re here!" Uh-oh I thought. He actually wanted a Bible...this is going to be awkward. He starts running down the stairs with the Book of Mormon in hand, hurridly he tried to open the door, threw the padlock into the bushes, and opened the book to 1 Nephi 12, where it talks about the church of the Devil. He asked us, "Who is this church!?" We responded, well, we can come in for a few minutes if you like and talk about it. He enthusiastically responded, ya!
We went up to his room and started to talk with him and his aging mother, and he was asking us all these questions about what happened in these chapters and everything. We explain it all, and give a description about the Book of Mormon about how Jesus came here, and this event is recorded in the book, and he responds, "OOOOOH! I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED THAT! WHY WOULDN´T HE COME OVER HERE!?" He already has a firm testimony in the Book of Mormon, and is so amazingly child like it is hilarious. I can´t wait to keep meeting with him and see him progress to baptism. In the United States he got in a car accidnet, and they had to surgically reconstruct almost all his face, but now he is grateful to God that he is fine, and that he can work again.

So, it´s time for, ONLY IN MEXICO!!!!!! (I think)
So, on almost every block here in the centro, downtown, there is a place where you can buy and sell dollars for pesos. In total there are probably about 1000 stores that do this here in the small part of the businesses. Before I came here, I didn´t think many people went to the United States, but I have been shown wrong time and time again.

Well, I think that´s all for this week. Talk to you all in 2 more months!

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Joseph Neil Newell

PS: That book cover is awesome! Way to go Dad!

August 23, 2010

Familia Zuñiga Gaona now, right before the baptism.
Familia Gaona. Elder Lopez snuck in the picture...if any of you see a missionary try and pull a thumbs up or anything during a baptismal photo, tell them Elder Newell kicks them in the shins.

Mauricio signing the papers.


¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

I have hard copies of the demolition pics, I`ll try and get them over there digitally next week. But we went back with this family yesterday to help them out. They are there every week on sunday trying to get the house livable, so we decided to go help them out. This week we didn`t do anything since it was raining, but we were able to do what missionaries do best, talk about Jesus! Is it wrong that I just remembered Jim Gaffigan`s bit about talking about Jesus and the Pope off-hours?

Kyle...geez, I don`t remember them. Have our neighbours changed at all? It was sooooo weird to see those photos of the back yard. So many memories came flooding back. Not to mention I was distracted with how gosh darn handsome I am....*cough*

Ya, I want to have some of Dad`s salsa please. We have salsa in every meal here, but it isn`t Dad`s salsa. Salsa also means sauce in Spanish, so it is basically anything suacey that also usually has chili in it.

That`s awesome that you`re coreographing now! Congratulations! There is a toooon of Zumba over here, and apparently the dad of Elder Rojas is big into it too. I can`t wait to see all your great works when I get back!

Ya...guns...not fun. The cops here walk around with a lot of them. I`ve never seen anything used, or even pointed, but still. DONT WORRY! There`s no danger here, but the cops have to have a strong influence in certain parts of town. We don`t go to those parts of town :)

Well, this week...hijoles, it was pretty intense. This familia Gaona, they are the investigators I talked about last week. The problem is that they are super humble, and they don`t have any documents. Like, at all. Mauricio, the husband, cuts avacado from the trees, where he climbs up with nothing more than a stick with a knife on the end, and a sack. He is up in these super tall trees with no sort of safety equipment. People like him are called changos, or monkeys. anyways, we went with them to get some studies done, so that they could start the process to get married. I coached them through getting blood drawn, thanks Mom for all your help in getting me poked so many times, they were really nervous. We got all the papers we needed except one, which is the most important. We needed to go to the civil offices in order to obtain it, but both had to go, and it only opens in the morning on weekdays, when Mauricio works. He asked his boss to miss work, but he said no, and that he could do it this wednesday.

The problem is that we had a super special baptismal service planned with President Jersperson, and we needed to do everything we could so they were baptized. So we told him to go talk to his boss again after we all said a prayer. He waited for his boss from 7 until 9, but he never showed up. When we arrived he told us what happened, but said he had the cell number of his boss, so we called him using our phone, and passed it to Mauricio. He said, "Hey, I can`t work tomorrow, I`m getting legaly married." The boss said it was OK. So that was miracle number 1. Honestly, I probably won`t have time to get to all of this today...it`s gonna be a series! WOOOOOOO NEW FEATURE! We went to the offices the next day, and something AMAZING HAPPENED! BUT YOU ALL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK! Hah.

Outside of that, the week has been really good to us. We have seen much success in our efforts. Oh, sorry about withdrawing so much money Mom and Dad, there was a bit of an emergency, I even had to dip into my reserve fund. We can count that as the money that Aunt sent for me. I have to take out just a little more today so I have money to live this next week, but after that I should be OK for a while.

So, Mexico continues being interesting. The more I am here, the more I feel bad for these people. In America, we have our culture. We took what we felt was the best from everyone, and there we are, our own little world. Mexico isn`t like that. Everything has to do with the conquistadores. There is a constant clash of culture between the indians and the spanish and the catholics. All of the cultural heroes are spañards that came over to conquer their land, or catholic priests and nuns. The only american hero I have seen is Monctezuma, the last Mayan(?) king, and it`s basically a simbol of desperation. I have thought a lot about how it would be if America were conquered by Japan or something 400 years ago, how would it be? Weird.

Anyways, it`s time for ONLY IN MEXICO!!!!!!
So, everybody here has dogs. The problem is that nobody has a pet cemetary or anything, and there`s about 8 dogs on every street corner. So, what do people that have no money do when a dog dies? Yep! Put it in a sack, go down the road a bit, and throw it as hard as you can away from your house. It makes for interesting smells, sights, feels, and sounds. I have yet to taste it except to smell it, but I feel like the 4 are enough.

Anyways, I think that`s all for this week fam. Hope everything goes well for you all this next week.

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Joseph Neil Newell

August 16, 2010

Baptism of Jose.
TACOS! Those are real tacos, and they are sooooooooooooooooooooo good. About 3-4 inches in diameter and *Homer sound*. They are called tacos al pastor. They are tortilla, meat, celantro, and onion. You put a salsa and salsa de guacamole, which is NOT guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, and if you want, lemon and pineapple. Amazing.

Cars get wierd here.

Familia Gaona. This couple is going to get married, and baptized this saturday. I am so happy their daughter will now have a secure place to be raised in, a place where she can find true refuge, and an example.


¡HOLA MI FAMILIA!

Haha, no, the knee is doing great, and I`m very careful to not do anything that would hurt it, after all, I can`t invite others to come unto Christ if I can`t walk :). Ya, that was one of the exercises that she gave that I have been doing. The problem is I have to give a call in report every morning during exercise time, but I can at least do that one while I`m in the chair giving the report. Thanks for the reminder, I have forgotten about that today.

I`m happy to hear that all is well at home. Especially Merlin, I honestly expected to hear that you had put him down this week. Ya, that sounds like a movie that Ben would like. Definitely have to watch when I return. That`s awesome that the Facebook thing is finally oging to leave! CONGRATULATIONS! Other thing on the list....this thing is going to be huge really quick. But, I completed 7 months this week. Can you believe 7 months have gone by!? It`s intense.

Ya, there is a very odd culture here that is beautiful and...something else at the same time. They have their traditions of the indians, but then it is mixed with spain and catholicism, and EVERYBODY here is catholic. Honestly, it`s like the entire republic is Utah for catholics. So you`ll see elements of native indians mixed with crosses or bloody Jesuses. They even crucify people here. No, seriously. For certain holidays there are people that are paid to be crucified. Ya.

Well, this week was super interesting. We have an assistant to the president with us until he finishes his mission in 2 weeks, and he is training us all basically. President is putting a toooon of emphasis on Uruapan. In our District Meeting last week, to end Elder Burciaga, the asistant, said we are all going to give each other blessings. So we all gave blessings to the person on our left, one by one, all participating in the same blessing. By the third, everyone`s arms were really tired. By the 11th we had to rest every time. On the last one, I noticed that I was a little less tired than everyone else, I will hold my hands up a little so that the others can rest on my hands, and the person recieving the blessing doesn`t snap his neck. I decided also that this would be a symbol of how I would work in the week, and resolved to not let up. About 5 seconds in, my arm started hurting. I thought, Uh oh. I started praying for strength to keep my arm steady. By the end I was just pleading in my mind, please, please, move your arms. I can`t do this, please, just stop being so heavy! But I endured, the blessing ended, and we were able to rest. I realized afterwards, that is a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering for us all, pleading, stop! Stop sinning! Please stop, but I will suffer it all. In an infinitely small way, I have understood the Atonement a little more.

Afterwards we worked super hard. Nos negreamos. (We negroed ourselves. Yes, they really say that here. It`s really weird.) But we have seen some amazing miracles.

We had a baptism this week, a teenager of 14. He is the first of his family to be baptized, and his sister and brother in law will join him this saturday. They needed to be at church one more time to be able to do that though, and they told us there would be no problem arriving solos. But they weren`t there when we arrived. After the sacraments, they still hadn`t arrived. I had been praying, God, I`ve done all I can this week. Me and Elder Rojas have worked hard. It is out of our hands now though, help them to arrive. But they didn`t. I honestly faltered in my faith. I started to wonder, I have done everything the leaders have asked of me, I have been obedient, and they told us that if we do it, we will have success, but we have none! I started to think, maybe I could have done more, I don`t know. Elder Rojas came to me asking, what do we do? I said, I want to go for them. I then thought, Seriously? I want to do that? Whatever, let`s role. We jumped in a taxi and went to their house. They weren`t there. We returned to the capilla, had a meeting with the ward and Zone Leaders. Afterwards I told the situation to Elder Barnes, our Leader, asking for suggestions about how we can improve. He just said, I`m sorry. And then, a split second after that, I saw the family leaving from one of the rooms! We ushered them into the next wards sacrament meeting, and baptized Jose an hour later. It was truly after I had given all, that God blessed us to be able to participate succesfully in His work. It was an honestly amazing experience, and lesson on what truly is faith.

And now it`s time for my, MICELANIOUS THINGS OF THE WEEK!
I can`t really think of a category for these two things, so they started this new segment.

1. We contacted this lady in the week, and she responded, Oh, no thank you, I believe in God. I explained that we too believe in God, and Christ. She asked, Wait, you`re not atheists? No...Oh, OK, I thought you were athiests. Well, when can we share this message? Oh, no, I`m Catholic...fantastic...thanks...

2. People marry young here. Like, super young. Like, 17. That seems to be the average, 17-18. We have one investigator that is 14 and wants to get married with this 24 year old creep. Think Utah`s bad? Try Mexico. Honestly, these people are so amazing, but they just...lose focus really easily.

Well, I know this Church is true, I know that God wants to give us blessings according to our faith, and that he is very involved in the lives of His children.

And I think that`s all this week family.

¡ADIOS MI FAMILIA!

Elder Joseph Neil Newell