Monday, May 24, 2010

Green Stuff

Haha, thanks for sending those pictures Mom, it´s always good to get a taste of what´s going on back home.

Geez Louise, sounds like the gardens are really exploding over there. Even with all the snow? Insane. I can´t believe how much of those trees we´ve hacked down and how resilient they are...I thought bugs destroyed trees that had exposed bark? When I get back I´ll have to use some special mexican technique to get rid of them. Probably just tie a rope to the trunk and to a truck and gun it. Or get 50 12 year olds to go rip it out root by root.

I didn´t hear about Effie, that´s awesome! Sounds like their life is going to start working out better! Yay! And happy they can get away from their ward! I just hope she´s prepared for the new calling of bishopric Mark´s going to get over there, and her as president of the primary...
And Dad gave a talk at BYU? About what? Also, we read in the rules that we just can´t study books that aren´t aproved, but we can read anything aproved by the church. So I´m wondering if Deseret Book is technically endorsed by the church, because if it is, I could read Book of Malchus on P-Days!

What´s Dad´s next book about? Why does he need to do all that research? That all is awesome though, middle eastern history is a fascinating subject to me. I hope for a good discourse when I get back Dad!

As far as us this week, it was awesome! We have been able to really excite the members for the missionary work, and had 25 lessons with a member this week! The ward is going to explode really quickly, we almost had 100 members in the capilla yesterday. With menos activos and everything coming back to church and a bunch of new investigators, we should hit 150 before I get transfered out. It´s so awesome to have come in on a low point in the ward where everyone was kinda depressed, meetings were starting 20 minutes late, with a low number of people there, and nobody really had hope and everybody was offended at each other, to what it is now! The air is filled with optimism, people are leaving behind vices like drinking and smoking, and having more love for each other. They are just plain happier. I can see the immense blessings that this work brings into the lives of the people, and it is glorious. This church is true. God lives. And he is very involved with His work.

As far as investigators go,
Yolanda. We were really, really nervous for her this week. Her baptismal date is saturday and she was still smoking. We were talking and found out she never prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. And she didn´t believe it at all, but she did believe the Book of Mormon was scripture. So we had been talking this whole week, clearing up doctrinal questions she had and relating it back to how important prophets are. On Friday we came by and she told us that when we come over she can´t do anything around the house or go out and sell roses. This made us feel horrible, and we asked her why she hadn´t told us this before when we were fixing citas. She didn´t really have an answer. So we said we would stop coming by for a little bit and call before every appointment to see if it was OK. We thought she would become a former investigator at that point. We went by her house just before church, and she wasn´t there. But, while we were in sunday school, Elder Espinoza from the other ward came in saying she was in their sacrament meeting! We came out, greeted her, and she said she wanted to stay all three hours and that she was sorry she missed us. We went to the food after church, and get a call from Elder Espinoza also, where he said that Yolanda told him she wants to work witht he missionaries to share what she has learned with other investigators! We went by later in the day with a member and bore testimony of Joseph Smith. She eventually said, I believe that you believe it. Your testimonies are so simple and I feel the spirit, I cannot deny it. Ojala that she prays too and recieves a real witness of prophets. So we´re super excited for her again.

Pazqual and Veronica: So this was a couple that we met in the street a couple weeks ago, they said they could meet with us on Wednesdays when the husband had descanso. (Here in Mexico people usually only have one day a week to rest and it depends on the shifts) So we went by the first time, didn´t really even teach much, left behind a BoM and left not thinking much. We came back the next week Veronica answered the door. We asked her if she had been reading the book of Mormon, expecting an answer like, "Hijoles, I haven´t had any time! My kid is always here, and I have school, and we just didn´t have time" Is the usual response. But she starts shaking her head emphatically, YES! Yes, we read what you left! We read every night, me and my husband, switching every page! I thought....uh...seriously? So few of the people here actually keep comittments I was pretty skeptical. We asked her if they had prayed, and once again she said, Yes! Ya, we pray every night now! And how do you feel? Great! Just, peace, and calm. We explained that was the Spirit testifying of the truth to her and her husband. Over the next couple days we visited them and was able to place a baptismal date for the 9th! They are super excited about the gospel, and just an awesome family. They have a 13 month old by the name of Santiago(James). They were super nervous about baptism when we mentioned it, but after explaining that their child will not be baptized, there´s no sacrificing of goats or anything like that, just a simple service of hymns and spiritual thoughts, they were all excited.

Hugo and Veronica:
Yes, we have like, 5 Veronicas investigating right now. This is a reference from other missionaries, Elder Armstrong from Morelia is in another area of Uruapan and gave us the reference, and they just moved into a new house in our area. Another super nice young couple, that is very excited about the gospel. Hugo is a self taught musical master. He plays like 5 different instruments awesomly, while taking care of his 1 year old daughter, working at Sam´s Club, and giving free music lessons to people. Veronica is a very down to earth gal who works at a gas station, and has a lot of knowledge of the Bible. Hugo is super excited about the gospel, and wants to get married in the Temple, Veronica is having a hard time accepting the Book of Mormon though. We are gonig to be visiting with her specifically this week to try and help her out. They are just an awesome family though, super nice, super warm and accepting. They weren´t married, despite Hugo´s best efforts, and now Veronica is starting to change her mind about marriage. It´s funny how every time we meet with him alone he tells us how she is feeling and gives us all this advice on how to help her realize the things he has known. He is just so excited and ready.

Fma. Melgosa:
So this is a huuuuuge inactive family in the ward. They have been inactive for a long time, until an excomunicated brother and his wife invited them to a family home evening. There, the brother decided the activity was to give testimonies. So all who wanted to gave their testimony of the gospel, of family, and of God. It was a very spiritual hour, and by the end the entire family said they wanted to start going to church again, and introduced us to some new references, and they also wanted to meet with us to learn more about the gospel. It was awesome. Now here´s the kicker, this family, consists of 6 uncles and aunts, 18 brothers and sisters, 10 or so children, and a girlfriend who wants to investigate. They occupy almost an entire street. So we´re excited about them.

I find myself after certain contacts saying, "Well they were nice" if they were well, nice. The people in Mexico are generally very nice and respecting, but it´s very refreshing when somebody actually asks questions and gives us directions that we can visit (that aren´t fake) to talk with them. It reminds me of my grandmas a lot when I say that, and I thank them for showing that perfect example of patience and love.

Thanks so much for forwarding Alex´s letter, it was great to hear how he was doing. I read the comment above of how they did not find the beginning funny, then read the beginning, and laughed my head off. Sounds like he´s doing great though. I hope he can keep avoiding the crazyness of politics over there. It came to my mind today that I oftentimes feel like Alex´s mission is just to make mine seem so much easier. Especially to you back home. Whereas I am like, a day or two´s travel by car, it is impossible to arrive in Thailand that way. Where the political climate is calm and relaxed here, people are shooting each other over there. Lots of parallels that make me think, I bet Mom is happy I´m not over there...

Anyways, I think that´s all I got family!
Adios! Y yo tambien estoy feliz que no estoy en Thailandia!
Les amo!

A Great Call!



It was so awesome to hear all of you last week! It was great to hear that everyone is doing well. Than and Ben, I hope the crisis got worked out.

That´s awesome to hear that there will be so much time with the family soon! That all sounds pretty intense, enjoy it everyone! I see so many people here in Mexico that say, I have a son in Acapulco. Oh really? That´s awesome, when did you see him last? About 30 years ago. Oh. Do you have anything planned to see them again? In the next life. Oh...

Wow, you still have high school reunions? And you go to them? I thought you guys gave up on those a long time ago. Other than the age thing, I hope you had some good times.

Also happy to hear Em had a good cruise, and that she could spend some time with the girls.

Awesome that there is going to be a huge garden when I get back! I look forward to reaping the fruits of your labors (literaly)! And more chilis? Sweet! The members here have a ton of respect for you Mom because you can grow Chiles!

Yes, it is really, really hot here. Like, neauseating. We have to take little 5 minute breaks every now and again if we´re walking really long in the day to stop from vomiting. But the nights are fairly cool usually, so that´s nice. We´re also heading into the rainy season, so with the clouds and everything it should get a lot better.

The week for us was pretty dang good. We worked really hard until Thursday, were we went to Guadalajara to go to the temple there as a reward for breaking records for the mission, then we went to Serloin Steakhouse. Imagine Chuck-O-Rama, but way bigger, and slightly mexican. It was awesome, because they had mexican tacos and all that, but also, MASHED POTATOES! Every meal is rice, beans, and meat. BUT THEY HAD MASHED POTATOES! AND SALAD! Not just lettuce with lime squirted on it, REAL lettuce, with BACON, cheese, and ranch dressing! And potato salad! And pasta salad! And all kinds of other American food! Holy cow it was soooooooooooo good. I didn´t realize how much I missed a varied diet until now! I remembered something else they had, taquitos, but instead of meat and cheese, mashed potatoes. Yep. Surprised me too when I bet into it.

Another Mexican treat is beans with scrambled eggs mixed in. Or beans with Elote...corn! That´s the word.

The day after that we went to hear from Elder Bednar as a mission, and it was a revelatory experience. He didn´t teach a thing. He didn´t give a talk or anything, we just asked questions for 3 hours basically. We all learned a ton and grew a lot.

That reminds me (I have no idea why) but I withdrew 500 pesos, about 40 bucks or so, I hope that´s OK. It should be the end of my expenses for a long while, I want to get a USB drive so I don´t lose all my stuff if my camera breaks or gets stolen or something.

How´s Al doing? Avoiding all the craziness?

I hope you´re all doing well, and send you the best of wishes I have.

Qué les vayan bien, y tengan un buen dia!

Adios familia,
Elder Joseph Neil Newell

Posing for a cool shot above most of the trees.
Our bautismo last week. The one who baptized was an ex-missionary (RM) that came back for a trip that taught her.
The bishop in his home right after the call, and his dog.
One of the more destitute parts of the area. Flies are everywhere, and nobody has walls. Just medium sized rooms for houses.
Yep. That is a spicy sucker in the shape of a roasted chicken.
The cathedral of Guadalajara. This silhouette is on most of the taxis, and farmacies. It looks like a weird M with crosses on the points.
Just signed my visa. Can´t see it very well but theirs ink on my thumbs. I´M MEXICAN NOW!
That place seems strangely familiar...thanks Em for taking this! I realized once I got out I had no pictures of the house!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On Snow and Tomato Plants


That sounds crazy! Uruapan has two temperatures, hot, and boiling lava hot pocket hot. I miss snow

Haha, way to go Than! Hopefully that raised you a couple points in their eyes! I would have loved to worked with him on that. Did he stain them too? That´s awesome they are getting to cook so much, that´s something I really miss on the mission. But I´m learning all kinds of cool new recipes and stuff. Like this last week we ate some soup that had giant corn kernels, but they weren´t like yellow corn on the cob. They looked like they had a covering on them still. But when you ate it it tasted like potatoes almost. That, with some shredded chicken, onions, and chiles was suuuper good. Every soup has the same broth here. It looks like water that somebody threw a toooooooon of grease in. It gets those circles on top you get if you put oil on top of water. It´s red, and it tastes reaaallly good though.

Why is Em leaving on a cruise? That sounds awesome though, congratulations! Have fun with Euf for a day!

Hah, that dancing sounds fun. I´m happy the room is still getting some good usage while I´m gone.

Yikes Mom, that car accident sounded fun. If it needed to go into the shop it must not have been something too small. I´m happy all is well though.

Yolanda is doing good, we are going to finish all the teachings this week and she has a baptismal fecha for the 29th. We identified that her brother brings all the smokes for her, so she committed to asking her brother to stop bringing them back to the house.

A duck? Yikes. I see weird birds all the time here and think how much you would love to take a trip here Mom. Particularly around the national park area.

Yesterday we went to Guadalajara to sign my visa, which actually happened this week. We left Uruapan at 1 in the morning and slept on the way over there.

We also had divisions this week. I went with a zone leader...who doesn´t speak any English. And we were in my area, so I had to be the senior companion for the day. So that was fun. But allw ent well, and I learned a ton.

This week we were pretty frustrated because we worked really, really hard and none of our investigators went to church. We planned for 6. Later that day we were walking around, and got back in contact with 2 former investigators...who then introduced us to their whole families! They are all super interested and have the possibility to be baptized this month! We have a meta for 10, but it could be 20 if all of them get baptized. So we are super excited.

In fact, I´m so excited, I want to tell you all a MUNDANE THING OF THE WEEK!!!! So, cockfights are legal in Mexico. We walked past this house with an iron gate, with two chickens tied up on opposite ends of the gate. Elder Mata said, have you ever been to a cockfight? What!? No! That´s horrible! And illegal! He says, really? Huh, it´s pretty normal around here...

I´m going to send pictures in another card got eaten by the computer...

Adios familia! Talk to you soon!

Elder Joseph Newell