Monday, December 29, 2014

Just pictures this week

Because we were able to Skype with Jenson on Christmas Day, we only received a brief email from him  with details about our Christmas call.  He told us they had a shortened p-day due to Christmas.

He did send us a couple of pictures however.
 Jenson and President Garcia and his wife (mission president)

Jenson and Elder Vega and shepards at the mission Christmas Social

We were able to Skype with him on Christmas Day and I am happy to report that is his doing well.  He loves the people of Mexico, he love serving the Lord, and he loves Mexican food!  His Spanish is great and feels fairly fluent in the language.  At the close of the call, we asked him to bear his testimony in Spanish, what a powerful moment for our family, to feel of his great spirit and of his testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and His work here upon the earth.

Angela (Mom)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

...After a trial of your faith

Dear All,
I feel like I say this every week, but what a week. In the zone conference we had a few weeks ago, they asked us to start writing an attribute of Christ to work on every day. This week I was trying to work on Faith. And for that, I think everything happened this week. It was a like I was living Ether 12:6 "You recieve no witness until after the trial of your faith." My faith was tried like never before this week. It was the first time since I've been here that I have genuinely not enjoyed. It started off on Monday night, with a bunch of people telling us that it was going to be cold this week, but you guys know me, I'm like psh cold what's that. And Elder Vega too, so it wasn't totally my fault that I didn't prepare for the cold. So then it got cold on Tuesday. Like cold cold. Like I had a sweater, and long sleeves and it wasn't enough. So I woke up on Wednesday good and sick.  But not sick enough to stay home, and even if I was I'm not gonna let being sick keep me from going to work unless it's like I'm missing a leg or something. So we went to work on Wendesday. But it was raining.  A lot. So we came home and I was more sick. Thursday it rained too. By that point it was like I could barely breathe my head was so clogged.  But I could still work, so we went to work. The best part was giving a blessing of health to a Sister in the Ward, and the whole time I was sniffling. So I asked Elder Vega to give me a blessing, that night, and then woke up on Friday good as new. So that was good.

I hope you guys have all seen the He is the Gift video. Because it really is something special. And it is flooding the earth. All of the missionaries here in Mexico, and I imagine much of South American too, have a goal to give out 10 pass along cards for the video every week.  And we are working hard to hit it. On Tuesday we gave out 15. Planning that night was super easy cause all we had to do was make back up plans for the all the references we had from the cards. So we started Wednesday with a ton of excitement, all pumped up to go do it again.  And nothing. There was no one. And it was muddy, I was sick, it just sucked. We came home straight whipped. Thursday morning was the same.
Muddy, sucky, no one in the streets, no one let us into their house, the people who were outside straight up rejected us, it sucked. But then the rain stopped. It got a little bit less muddy. We went to visit a less active member. She made us hot chocolate and gave us pan dulce, so that helped a little bit. Then she told us she wants to go to church. Also that her daughter wants to get baptized. So that helped a lot.

After that we went to go see if the family from the camera was home.
We have passed by a few times, but they've alwasy been busy or gone, but we were like what the heck we have nothing else to do. And they were home, they let us in, and we realized they are super cool. The dad was a pastor when he was 15, but then he got married and because his wife wasn't baptized in that church, he couldn't be pastor anymore, so he stopped going. But we taught them the Restauration and they ate it up. It was another time where the Spirit was practically visible. It was awesome.

Then we had Stake Conference on Saturday and Sunday, and two Seventy's came. They asked us not to come to the Preisthood session, and Elder Vega told me it was cause he thought they were going to drill all the brethren because honestly there is a bunch of just pure laziness here.  Like the city itself is just chill, and the people reflect that. And that suspicion was confirmed on Sunday night at dinner. Apparently they railed everyone. But the adult session later that night was awesome. They told us to be there for that one, and then Presidente Garcia and his Wife showed up, so we knew why. He gave a solid talk, and so did his wife, and then the first seventy, Elder Hugo Montoya, had all the missionaries stand up, and basically strongly encouraged the members to give us work. Service, references, time, rides, whatever, so that was cool. Then his talk was puro fuego. It was amazing. He talked about how going the first extra mile is sacrifice, but the second extra mile is in the territory of the higher law of consagration. Like bam. There it is. And then the other guy, Elder Valanzuela, gave an even better talk about the impact one person can have on the history of the world. It was a perspective changer. Like wow.
Sunday morning was the other session, and it was good, but not pure fire like the night before. They talked mostly about love and prayer, the things that missionaries need, so that was good.

Then we went to dinner, and after dinner, we went to go look for an address a contact had given us. She told us she wanted to meet with us, so it was one we had to find. When we finally found it and knocked on her door, she opened it and started right in telling us about how she had been waiting all week for us to find her, and not three seconds later was telling us how she was going to invite all of her friends for the next time we come visit her. She is literally better at missionary work than us. It was amazing.

We then went to go visit a less acitve guy who lives a few houses away from us. We read Luke 7 With him, where Christ heals the centurion's servant. And then this dude blew my mind. Remember how I was working on Faith this week? Yeah. He was like, "well the best part about this is that it was his faith. He was roman, and they hated romans at that time. But he had enough faith to make Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Creator of all things, marvel. When we have faith, nothing else matters, the Lord will take care of the rest." BAM. Right in the Spirit. i'm never going to forget that.

Hope you guys are all well.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Good Week in the Mission Field

Playing Spanish Charades with Elder Vega and a family
Dear All,
I´m just gonna jump right in by saying that I made one of the best
(dumbest) choices of my life this week. And it was monday, so it set the tone for the week.
So we were shopping for food, and we are supposed to focus on buying fruits, veggies, ya know, stuff that we are supposed to eat but never do. But Elder Vega and I have both been trying to eat more healthy, so we were buying fruits. And that´s when I noticed that the watermelons were really cheap. So of course I put one in the cart. Then I was like hey smoothies thats basically fruit right? So then I went and put a gallon of milk in the cart too. And then other stuff, apples, oranges, bananas, good stuff, and then we paid and then we left. And that´s when it hit me. The grocery story is at the bottom of a hill. A big hill. And we live at the top of said hill. So guess who had to carry a watermelon, a gallon of milk, and a ton of fruit up the side of a mountain. I couldn´t lift my arms the rest of the day. Just to describe this hill, I´m gonna compare it to the one between Publix and Aberdeen (my GA buds know what´s up there). So yeah.
Tuesday and wednesday not a whole lot happened, but then on thursday we had FHE with a family who had invited a less active sister with a daughter-in-law who isn´t a member. So we taught the Atonement, how it had to be infinite, how every single person living, that has lived, or will live will recieve those benefits, and how we can use it to be clean from sin and sadness. And it was powerful.
And then after the lesson we played a game, as is tradition with a Family Home Evening. And it was movie charades. And it was in Spanish.
And I rocked it. I had to act out ¨transformers¨ and then at the same interpret titles of movies rapidly in my head because most of them are named super differently here. But it was way fun. Mexicans know how to party.
Friday was good too. We were at lunch with a member (she works so she just had us meet her at a restaurant so that was cool) and we got a call from an investigator who we had set a baptismal date for Saturday with, but she hadn´t been progressing, and so we had stopped visiting her. But she called to ask us how many lessons she still needed and if we could give them all to her that night so that she could be baptized the next day. We kind of laughed and said no, she needed to attend church a few more times before we would be allowed to baptize her, and she was like ¨ok, when is the soonest I can get baptized if I go to church?¨ And so we went to her house right after that, and set a new date, and then she came to church on Sunday, and is super excited. So that´s super exciting.
On Saturday, we decided to go up to an area of our Area that´s called Sauzal. I think I told you guys my area is HUGE. We usually only work in the bottom fifth or so, cause that´s where all the members live and where we´ve had success in the past. And even that part is huge. But we decided to take the 30 minute bus up to Sauzal to look for all the less-actives up there and contact the heck of it, and it was awesome.
Most of the addresses we had were bad, but there was one that we both felt determined to find. And finally we found it, at the top of an apartment complex. And we knocked on the door and a young lady answered. We asked if the name we had lived there, she said no, but then we started to do our missionary thing and talk about Jesus. She loved it. We gave her a pamphlet for the Plan of Salvation and she started reading it in front of us as we talked to her. When we asked if we could come back to visit she pretty much jumped in the air as she said yes. So that made us feel good.
Later Saturday, we went back to the area where we normally work to eat, and it was so good. It was with the lady who gave us the gigantic bananas, and this time did not disappoint either. It was a stew with beef and what I thought were jalapeños (but no, but I´ll get to that in a sec), and beans and rice and carne asada and zuccini and basically enough food to feed us for about a week but she wouldn´t let us leave until we ate all of it. Worth it.
We left to catch a bus to go visit a recent convert who had stopped coming to church. He is super hard to get ahold of, cause he goes to school from 8am to 2pm and then works 2:30 til 11pm. So we had prayed a lot to be able to go visit him. And we get on the bus and who do we sit next but this guy. So that was cool. And then it got cooler. He told us he was going to get off earlier, but at the last moment decided not to. So we taught him, reminded him a little bit of his testimony, and then he was at church the next day. So yeah that was way cool.
Sunday was a heck of a day. There is an american in my ward who just moved here after getting baptized in Ohio, and he´s getting ready to recieve the preisthood. He just needed an interview. But he speaks zero spanish. So I got to translate the interview. And holy cow. What I testimony I was able to gain for the power and authority of the office of Bishop. It was kind of like I was the straw through which this american was drinking the Spirit. Weird metaphor I know, but I can´t think of a better one at the moment. So that was super cool.
Then we had ward council after, and that was hilarious. All these leaders of organizations yelling out suggestions for what we are gonna do for the Chirstmas activity. The best part was the Bishop yelling back that he was gonna set the schedule and just make assignments. And then he told us the schedule was gonna include a dance because he missed going dancing with his wife. And people cheered. Lol. It is so different here.
Then we got home from church, and we had some down time, so I made a shopping list. That´s when Elder Vega told me that if I like the ¨Napoles¨ from yesterday then I should buy some cause they´re cheap.And I  was like uh what what´s that? Turns out that what I thought was jalapeño was FREAKING CACTUS. I ATE A CACTUS. And it was so good so good.

Dad asked me if I could share a little bit of my testimony, so I´ll go ahead and do that here.
I know that Christ lives. I know that he is my Savior, that he loves me, and that He knows my name. He has, just as he always has, extended His merciful arm to us here on Earth in the form of living Prophets and Apostles who lead and guide us today. I know that along with that, He has restored his Holy Authority to the Earth. I know that there is real evidence of this truth that we can all have, and that evidence is the Book of Mormon. I testify of the power of that book. It will answer any question of the soul, and, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, we can grow closer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. I invite everyone to read, pray, and find out for yourself. I promise, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that you will find peace, safety, and security that only the Spirit of the Lord can bring.

Que estén bien es mi oración,
Les quiero,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, December 7, 2014

First Thanksgiving in Mexico

Ensenada Mexico

Dear All,
Happy late Thanskgiving!! And guess what. I ate super thansgiving-ish
food: beans, rice, and tortillas! and a chile that made me want to cry but whatever. I was celebrating in my heart.
This week was really slow, then really fast, then really slow. No miraclses, but some cool stuff. First thing, tuesday night and wednesday I did exchanges witht the Zone Leaders, which was way cool.
Theyre in a trio right now, so I got to go with the two while the other went with Elder Vega in Universidad. And the two I was with were super cool. One just finished being an AP and the other is gonna leave at the end of this transfer, so I learned a freaking ton from them. We taught a lesson to this person whose whole family except her is a member, recently converted, but she doesnt want anything to do with anything, but she still talks to the missionaries and goes to church and stuff (fun story: apparently a few weeks ago she went to sacrament meeting wearing a "daughter of Satan t shirt lol) but it was super different than any of my other teaching experiences. It really just made me grateful that I´m here where the majority of people believe in Christ, and not like in Europe or parts of the US for that matter.
Then on Thursday President Garcia came down to Ensenada to give a special training for the #HeIsTheGift initiative for the Church. Which if you guys haven´t seen it, holy cow. It´s special. During my last week at the MTC, the director of church media came to talk to us about it and show us the video before anyone else besides the quorum of the Twelve, but we weren´t supposed to talk about it, but this is a project that has been in the works for a few years now. And it is HUGE. Like years worth of tithing huge. So, I´m inviting all you guys, just like I´m inviting the people here, to share the heck out of the Video. It really is incredible. It´s gonna do some amazing things for the church.
That was Thursday morning, and Thursday afternoon, we went to go teach a guy that Elder Vega had cotacted with the Zone Leader. He told me he didn´t really expect anything, because they had pretty much forced the appointment on the dude, but we went anyway. And we started the way that we normally do, with the whole "we are gonna be like your tour guides, so if you see or hear something you dont understand, tell us and we will go back and help you resolve everything." and then we started talking about prophets and right off the bat he goes "so do you guys have a prophet?" so of course we said well yeah thats kinda the whole point of this message. Then we kept going and when we started talking about the Apostasy and how many people sincerely searched for the truth, and for that they formed many of their own churches. And then he said "yeah but you guys have the prophet so yours is right, right?" Now this is super different than most lessons here. In our area, because it´s so poor, most people don´t have much higher than about an 8th grade education, because they can´t afford school, so we have to explain things very very clearly and then they still dont get it. But this dude put it together in like 2 seconds. So that was way cool, and super spiritual.
Nothing much happened the other days, we ran into Jose, committed him to come to church, and he didn´t go. In fact, none of our investigators went. So that sucked. But the good part about church was that I have now officially given a talk in church. It was short, but it was good (I think). I also got the assignment as official bishopric interview translator, because it´s tithing settlement and there are about 5 members who speak absolutely no spanish. And it can´t be a member cause of rules, but I can be in those interviews because I´m gonna leave in three months so it doesn't  matter. So yeah that´ll be fun.
Also a ton of people have asked me for English lessons and let me just tell you that is the funniest thing you can do in your life. The first thing I ask is if they know the numbers to twenty. And it is legit hilarious. But I can´t laugh. So that makes it more funny. And the dude that I gave pickup lines in English too bought a doll for his daughter that sings "I´m a little teapot" So guess who got to translate that and then show them the dance for it. Haha yep. This is what I have become. It was cool though cause he sells burritos and always gives us his leftovers. And they´re really good.
Then Sunday night, we had a ward FHE, so that members could bring friends and we could teach a massive first lesson. And the entire ward pretty much came. But there was only two investigators. One who has already come to church a few times but doesn´t live in our area, and another that idk kinda gave off a vibe like she likes the fiestas if ya feel me. But she asked us when we could come teach her, so I probably should be happy about that haha.
Today was also pretty solid. Elder Vega has been talking smack about basketball, so this morning we went to a court by our house to settle it. We decided a game of 21 was most fair, and at the end it was 20-16 him. Then he missed the free throw to win, I got a layup, missed the freethrow but got the rebound and hit a long two, and then buried the freethrow. So just so you all know who the champ is, its the white guy. And then we celebrated by going to an all you can eat asian buffet, which may turn out to be a horrible decision, I´m not sure yet. But it only cost 80 pesos, which is like $7.00 so worth it.

Les quiero mucho, y espero que estén bien.

Elder Rawlings
Christmas Package arrived :-) 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The parable of the lost camera

Bus "selfie" on the way to Tijuana

Dear All,
Holy this week has been the best week of my mission so far. And the time keeps flying. Like I feel like I just wrote to you guys yesterday. But yeah. What a week.
So it started on Monday afternoon. After we finished writing, we went and found a little hamburger stand that sold two burgers for 25 pesos so we were like heck yeah score (but based on the aftereffects we probably wont do it again) and then we caught the bus up to our area so that we could be there before 6 when we had to start working. And as we sat down on the curb to eat, I noticed that the pocket where I keep my camera was empty and my camera was missing. Now when I say that you're gonna think that me saying this was the best week of my mission was sarcastic. It wasn't. Just wait.
So I'm pretty upset. I thought I had left it in the little cybercafe where we were writing, but Elder Vega thought that someone had stolen it. Either way, there was a very small chance that we were gonna find it.
So let me backtrack a little bit. On Sunday, we heard a talk about praying for specific stuff, that way its number one easier to recognize when a prayer is answered and two so that we Heavenly Father can know exactly how to help us. So we were praying on Monday morning, before we left, and Elder Vega out of nowhere pauses and says "And please let us find a family of 4 to teach" and I was like wow ok that would be pretty sweet.
So anyway we lose the camera and at that point it was too late to go back into town to look for it, so we decided to just go the next day, cause we had zone conference, so we would be passing by anway. And of course we said prayers to find it and all that good missionary stuff.
So zone conference the next day was super good. It was all about how there are 4 types of missionaries: the ones that get sent home, the ones that should get sent home but don't get caught, the ones who do what they want but come home the same person, and the ones who completely lose themselves and are completely different when they come home. It was all about who we want to be. So that was awesome. And then we went and stopped by the cybercafe on the way home, and they told me that no, and that even if I had left it odds are the next person took it. So that kinda sucked.
BUT THEN. We were standing at the bus stop to head to work and this teenage girl comes up to us. And shes like "hey did you guys lose a camera yesterday?" And I'm like who is this angel coming to help me yes I did indeed lose a camera why do you ask? And she told me that her brother had gotten onto the bus after me the night before and sitting in my seat was this sweet camera with some pictures of a gringo and a morenito in tie and nametag. So he took the camera home.
Turns out this girl was his sister. So she told us she was headed to the same place as us, we could just follow her to her house and pick it up. So we did so.
So of course when we got there we started talking to her mom and brother and her about missionary stuff. They returned the camera and the lady said she would like to talk but wasn't sure her husband would be down. But she promised to talk to him and let us pass by sometime this week to find out whats up.
And then as we left Elder Vega was like "hey did you count how many that was?"and it freaking hit me. Ä FAMILY OF FLIPPING 4!!! Like what the heck. Holy cool.
Then that night we were walking home from mission coordination meeting and instead of us contacting people on the street, people contacted us and told us they were interested. Which never happens.
Then on Wednesday I had an interview with President Garcia. Holy cow I am so grateful that he is here. What an example and leader. And he told me some good stuff.
Thursday we went to Tijuana for a checkup of all the Trainees and Trainers, and I left with this awesome feeling of gratitude for Elder Vega. There are more than a few whose trainers aren't obedient, who waste time, who don't do the things that missionaries should do, and I don't have the displeasure of having a companion like that. So that was good.
Holy Friday. We contacted a lady about a week ago who told us that she wanted to talk to us so that she could convert us to her church. Lol some people. But oh well we arranged a meeting in a member's house, and when she got there we just kind of let her run things. She told us what she believed and we just kind of established common ground. Then after a while we asked if she wanted to just listen to a shortened version of our message, and if she didn't like it well no harm no foul. So we started lesson 1 from the beginning. And she got more and more into it. Every time she threw something at us, we calmly pulled out scriptures that clarified everything. Then we got to Joseph Smith.
Which is my favorite part. And I got to talk about the First Vision.
And as I recited those amazing words, the Spirit freaking kicked down the door, guns blazing, testifying the heck out of it. She kind of sat there for a sec, then she was like "well its beautiful, but it says in the Bible that no man can see God so I can't believe it." I looked at Elder Vega, who had his eyes closed. The dude was either praying or asleep, and so I had to answer. I told her how I think that God is all powerful, and if he wants to show himself to someone, He's gonna do it. And then Elder Vega opened his eyes, pulled out Exodus 33:11 where Moses talks to God face to face, and that was that. She believed it.
She ended up accepting a Book of Mormon and promising to pray and ask.
But it was so powerful. It was the first time that I have genuinely felt the Spirit testifying and opening hearts and minds through the words that He was putting into my mouth. Holy cow.
Saturday we found a lady, taught her lesson one, and set a baptismal date for her and her daughter, then Sunday we found two teenagers, taught them lesson 1, and set two more baptismal dates. So right now we have 4, with 4 more that we have set, but theyve missed church or haven't kept a commitment, But December is looking good. 

Les quiero mucho, y no puedo esperar hasta nos veremos. Cuidense mucho.
Hasta ver,

Elder Rawlings

Snap shot of Jenson's desk

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Missionary Wingman

Dear All,
Holy cow I´ve already been here for a month. Like dang we already find out about transfers on Saturday. Elder Vega thinks he´s gone. I certainly hope not. He´s super cool.
Anyway some cool things happened this week, but I´ll get to those later first off. First I wanna talk about the cars here. Holy nuts. I swear every single car has some form of modified exhaust, so being in the city is probably the loudest thing I´ve ever heard. Plus we have to take Micros (basically short buses) everywhere. And those things scare the heck out of me. These drivers are weaving around cars and then suddenly someone yells that they want to get off so they swerve across all traffic and mount the curb and then open the doors. Holy heck. Plus the seats aren't quite big enough for two missionaries, so I´ve gotten really good at sitting with one cheek on the seat.
Also there was this huge race here last week called the ¨Baja 1000¨ Basically it´s a 1000 mile monster truck race that begins and ends in Ensenada. It´s super cool actually and something I wanna come back to see. But the city was a straight party all week. People were going nuts for this thing. So yeah that happened.
Also we have been talking a lot in our ward about being prepared. Idk if you guys have heard of El Niño, but its this massive storm, basically a hurricane but they don't call it a hurricane, that´s supposed to happen this year. And apparently this year it´s supposed to be the worst in decades. So basically we are going to have a ton of service. Which is gonna be super dope.
I´ve spent a lot of time this week teaching Elder Vega English. Which is probably one of the funnest things that I have ever done. You should try it sometime. You´re going to realize how freaking little sense English makes. I have no idea how I learned. I have no idea how anyone learns. It´s insane. Also I have to explain things in Spanish, which has actually helped my Spanish a ton. I´m going to ask President Garcia to put me only with companions who don´t speak English so that when I get back I don´t speak it either lol. But seriously that would be so cool.
Also there´s a brother in our ward named Adán. Which is Adam in English, but here it´s Adán. Anyway he makes a living riding around on a moped selling burritos. Which is also why we visit him periodically.
Cause when he has extras, guess who gets em. Aw yeah. But anyway he sells a lot to American tourists who come in on cruises and whatnot.
But he speaks no English. Like none at all. Like maybe hello and that´s it. So we go to visit him and he was like ¨hey you speak English right?" And I said yes of course and then he asked me for his help. He told me that there was this lady who had been buying burritos from him all week who was rather pretty and who he wanted to talk to, but who only spoke English. So guess who played missionary wingman and wrote down some suave phrases for him to use. Heck yeah. I also wrote down some other stuff like how to sell a burrito in English, but mostly smooth stuff that he could use to woo this lady. So that was fun.
I had the first food I didn't like yesterday. It was a bowl of what appeared to be cat food. The Sister handed me a giant saltine to eat it with and so I dug in. It was straight nasty. I found out later it was Seveche. Which is basically cat food. But for people. And then I muscled down that bowl, and she offered seconds. So guess who had seconds of the cat food. Yeah. Ugh.
Investigator Update:
J__- haven't seen him in a while. He promised to go to church on Sunday and we even stopped by on Saturday night to remind him and he still didn't go. We have an appt with him tomorrow, but if he's not there we are going to drop him.
T__- Haven't seen her very much either. She has a real desire and I think a testimony, but her dad is a pretty hardcore user of drugs and doesn't like us very much, so he doesn't let her or her mom go to church. We even passed by one day and when we knocked we heard him yelling not to answer the door. So that's really sad.
We also found some new people. The first is named I__, and she's the daughter-in-law of a less active family. We've been trying to teach her for a while, but she's never had time or really a desire, but we set a date and when we invited her to be baptized, she told us how she had seen the temple in Tijuana and felt like that's where she needed to be. So shes pretty solid.
We also found a guy named L__ E__. He's super strange, and he knows enough English to think he's fluent. He also happens to think that since I'm white I know no Spanish. So he talks to me in English and I respond in Spanish and I hope one day he gets the hint but for now it's just funny.
Also a lady named S___. Which means relief. Like Relief Society in Spanish is Sociedad de Socorro. But anyway she is GOLDEN. She's already reading the BoM, she's doing her best to keep commitments, but SHES NOT FREAKING MARRIED. LET ME JUST SAY THAT IS BASICALLY A DAGGER TO THE HEART OF A MISSIONARY TO HEAR THAT PHRASE. She's been with her "spouse" for 15 years but "they just never got around to making it official." Holy heck. So yeah there's that.
Anyway, that's my week. I'll be on the lookout for any packages. I get em once a month when President Garcia comes. Same with letters. So I'll let you know.
Love you all and hope everything there is just dandy.
Mucho amor,
Elder Rawlings


Friday, November 14, 2014

The Problems We Have With Water And Electricity In Mexico.

Dear All,
Holy this week seems like it has flown by. I don't know why, but I feel like I was literally just here writing to you guys. Oh well, mission life I guess.

First things first. I like to call this story The Problems We Have With Water And Electricity In Mexico. So last week I told y'all how sometimes our water or our power goes out randomly. But the good thing about that was that if we didn't have it in the morning, we would have it at night, or vice versa. But starting Monday night we had nothing.  Then Tuesday morning nothing. Then Tuesday night nothing. And then on Tuesday night, as we were sitting there planning with our flashlights so we could see, Elder Vega had an epiphany. He looks at me and says "holy crap I havent seen a bill for the lights yet and its already November!" So we went outside and looked everywhere, but couldnt find anything. So we called the Ward Mission Leader and he told us where to go to pay, so we made plans to go on Wednesday morning. That would take care of the lights.  But we still didn't have water. But whatever. We figured that would be back by morning. Funny thing is that it wasn't. So we put on sweats, packed some soap, and ran to the chapel (which is actually just a giant house) and climbed the fence, went inside and showered. It was so cold. But so worth it. So then we headed to the light commission, and we had to copy the number of the box outside our house so that we could look it up and pay it. But we live in an apartment, so naturally we had to guess which box was ours. So we take the 30 minute bus ride to the commission, to find out that we copied THE WRONG FREAKING NUMBER. So we had to go back, copy the right number, and then go pay. And guess how much it was. 200 pesos. Like $20. Seriously. That's with a late fee tacked on. So so so worth it.

Also some fun things that happened this week. We did exchanges on Saturday, and I stayed in this area with an elder who has the same amount of time as me. He's from Bolivia and hes super cool, but since it was my area I was technically Senior Companion, so I had to plan and direct the area for the day. In a language in which I am barely proficient. So that was a solid opportunity to turn to the Lord and rely on His help with the gift of tongues and the guidance of the Spirit. Overall, super super good experience.

One of the lessons we taught that day I will never forget. Elder Vega is a great missionary, but he sometimes has a hard time being direct with people. And there's a lady we've been teaching for a long time who just isn't going anywhere. So Elder Peralta (the dude from Bolivia) and I passed by her little store and we both felt like going in. Now a little preface. There's a word here: planchar. Literally means "to iron" but when you use it for a person it's like "straighten out" or "call to repentance". So we decided to planchar this lady with amor. We started talking, got into some gospel stuff, and asked her if she had a chance to pray and find out if what we have been saying is true. She said she had, but wouldn't say what happened. So we both got really direct like "look Hermana, all we can do is invite. If you dont do your part we cant do anything. It's on you now." She told us that she liked what we said and that it made sense but she wouldn't ever get baptized because she had already been baptized into another church. All of the sudden Elder Peralta (kind of a quiet dude) burts out "frankly your baptisms arent worth anything in the eyes of God." and then went on to bear one of the most powerful testimonies of the authority of this Church that I have ever witnessed. Crazy powerful.  We all kind of sat there. I finished with a "I add my testimony to that of my companion's" and we left. Idk what's gonna happen. but holy did we planchar that lady.

Also, Sunday morning. I was sitting on my bed reading Jesus the Christ, and Elder Vega left the room to go shower, and kid you not as soon as he got in the shower the phone rang. So I answered it, and wouldn't you know it was a member of the bishopric, We all know what that means. One of the speakers had called in sick and now it was time for the brand new missionary to save the day. So I whipped out my dictionary and started to write a talk. Now this was at like 8:20, we have to leave for church at 9:30, and it's in a language that I'm still learning. So yeah. Then we get to church, and after the sacrament the little 2 year old son of this member of the bishopric comes waddling up to me with a note in his hand. It says "Elder, Gracias, pero ahora tenemos discursantes completos. Ya no es necesario su discurso." Like what the heck. It's like getting to the top of a roller coaster and then going slowly backwards down to where you started. I was so fired up to give my first talk in Spanish, and then just no. Oh well. I saved the talk, it's freaking good if I do say so myself, all things considered.

In terms of food, we have a scheduled lunch every day, since lunch is the main meal here. And it's all good, usually some kind of chicken, rice, beans, and a monstrous stack of tortillas. I've gotten pretty good at rolling up tortillas to use kind of like an extra fork, but one that I can eat.

De Mexico con amor,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Visit to TJ

View of the Mexico Tijuana Temple at night.  Nearly completed
Dear All,
So this week has been pretty fun. Monday I had to go to Tijuana to
finalize my visa stuff, so we woke up at 5, took the 7:00 bus to TJ,
finished at the consulate at 10, and then had the rest of the day
free. It was super cool. We walked around the city, found the Mexican
equvalent of Cici's, and then went to the temple.
Lemme just talk about it for a sec. It is straight up breathtaking.
Like dang. The outside is pretty much done, and the grounds behind the
temple are done too, so right now you can get a pretty good picture of
what its gonna look like and dang. Dang dang dang. This city is gonna
be so blessed.

Then we spent the night with the assistants and like 20 other
missionaries who had come in for a District Leader Training, and Elder
Vega is our District Leader. That was wild. And the funny thing was of
the twenty, like 17 were Americans, so it was the first time I've been
able to speak English freely in like 2 weeks. It was weird cause it
like took a minute to switch modes from Spanish to English and even
then it was like Spanlish. It's already happening haha.

The rest of the week was alright, we did lots of good work, but didn't
really get anywhere. We had to drop J, as well as A and
T, from our list of investiagators with baptismal dates, cause
they missed church two weeks in a row now. Also, we've been hearing
rumors that Jose isn't exactly the most honest dude in the whole
world. We went over and taught him the 10 commandments and had him
read the "Thou shall not rob" and it was super funny.

ALSO I MET MY FIRST JESUS. We left the apartment and elder Vega was
like "hey did you bring any money? cause lets just take the bus, I
dont feel like walking" but for some reason I had this super strong
feeling like nope we are gonna walk and so we did. We got about 1/4 of
the way there when this van pulled up next to us and this dude said
"hey elders, hop in" I didn't know him and the look on Elder Vega's
face told me he didnt either but we got in this dudes van (which btw
didnt have door handles, just ropes tied to the edges of the doors
lol) and went off. Thats when I found out that his name was Jesus. He
was taking the discussions from the Missionaries in Tijuana, but then
he moved to Ensenada and hasn't seen missionaries since. We told him
where the chapel was and who the missionaries in his area were, and
then he dropped us off and we havent seen him since but still. Super

More fun things. They've started this game in our neighborhood called
"lets wait until the elders are in the shower or about to wash dishes
and then turn off the water" and also "lets wait until the washer is
halfway done and then lets kill the power." So yeah that's annoying.

Speaking of water, there is no such thing as "juice" here. Everything
is "auga de..." and then a fruit or a country that is somehow
represented by grape juice. It makes me laugh every time.

Speaking of fruit I ate one of the world's largest bananas on
Saturday. Actually that's another funny story. So we were walking home
and we saw a lady at the bus stop and Elder Vega was like "hey go
contact that lady" So I did. The whole shpeal. We're missionaries
representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we
would like to pass by your house and share our message with you. The
lady looked really interested and then said "sure, how about tomorrow
when it's my turn to feed you two." I turned around and Elder Vega was
dying. She was a member. Sweet. But anyway she has this banana tree
and the bananas she grows are straight up huge. They're like the
length of normal banana but I couldn't fit my hand around it. It was
so dang good.

Two good things and one bad thing from this weekend. Good thing:
because of Halloween, evey time we go to a house the parents make
their kids give us a piece of candy. So that's dope. Good thing:
There's no cemetery in our area, so Dia de los Muertos was basically
nothing. Bad thing: the only thing from Dia de los Muertos was that
the neighbors had a party that started at 10 with a live freaking
mariachi band. So that was nice to fall asleep too.

Scripture of the week this week: 2 Corinthians 3:17. I started reading
the BoM in Spanish and its amazing to me how many propecies about
America there are, so I looked up some others. This is one.

Also I started reading Jesus the Christ two weeks ago and I'm already
3/4 done. That book is straight spiritual dope.

De Mexico con tanto amor,
Elder Rawlings

Jenson in front Mexico Tijuana Temple, Temple soon to be completed

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Another Solid Week in Ensenada

Jenson and Elder Vega

Dear All,
Another solid week here. .
First things first...The scripture of the week is Job 38:3. Super dope.

Second, last Monday after I finished writing we went to a lady whose daughter had just been baptized and she had a baptismal date but didn't go to church enough to qualify. So we went to go teach her a little bit and re invite her. Anyway turns out she had been feeling really sick and wanted a blessing. So guess who gave his first blessing in Spanish. This guy. But it was so bad haha i butchered it, used the wrong tenses, didn't know how to say any blessing type stuff, everything. It was still kind of cool and gave me something specific to work on.

Next, Jose is coming a long, kind of. We went by on Tuesday and he told us how ever since he came to church hes been getting more and more work, and he feels peaceful and happy. But ever since then we haven't seen him and he didn't go to church on Sunday, so who knows. I really hope hes doing well.
We did find another super cool family though. We went to go visit a guy who is less active, who lives legit in a shack with a wheelbarrow, two shovels, and a bed. And hes 88. And he cant hear so we just yell stuff and occasionally i speak english just to mess with him. Am i a bad missionary? But anyway he wasnt home so we kinda stood outside his shack and looked for someone to talk to. We saw a lady outside her house cooking over an open fire. We went and talked to her and her daughter and found out that over the weekend someone had stolen literally all of their wordly posessions. Their stove, their washing machine, their fridge, even the lighbulbs, fixutres, and wirings in their house. So we started talking about how this gospel blesses everyone no matter what, and they liked that. Anyway they both accepted a baptismal date, and when we went back the next day the daughter was alreay reading 1 nephi chapter 2, after already reading the intro and all the testimonies in the front. Shes super smart and as we were talking to her i had my LdM out and was making notes from stuff she had gotten from the chapter. Good stuff.
Funny thing. You know how in america there are ice cream trucks? Yeah so here there are trucks that drive around selling tortilla. No joke.

This place is so Mexican I swear.

Right now I´m in a ward, but there's only about 80 active members. The bishop is super cool, he reminds me of the chief from pochahontas.
Straight up lamanite but the dude has a testimony like none other. The ward mission leader is also super cool. Hes new, so we are helping him know what to do, but hes willing to go to the end of the earth to help us out. Awesome guy.

In terms of our area, it is straight massive. We only work in a small, small part, because it is the ward farthest north in Ensenada, and it basically goes all the way up to the next city, about an hour by car.

We work in the southern little bit because that's where all the people live. The entire north is just the occasional farm and mountains.
Pretty, but no one lives there haha

Elder Vega is from mexico, basically as far west as you can go and right on the border with Texas. Hes a super super cool guy and as I get to see it more and more as i learn to speak haha I have no idea what my address is or if we even have one. If you're looking on google maps, there's a square kind of dock thing in the ocean on the north side of the bay, and we live about half a mile inland from that, straight east basically. On the subject of where i live, turns out right down the street from us, opposite of where we work, is the rich part of town. Some of the nicest houses i have EVER seen. Like holy freaking crap. And two miles the other direction people are living with absolutely nothing. Its kinda hard to handle, but oh well.

Also there is this soda here called lift and it is the best thing ever. Its like apple fanta. holy good.

As always, hope everyone is doing well,
Con mucho amor,

Elder Rawlings

Jenson's Apartment

View of Jenson's area 

Another view of Jenson's area

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Greetings From Ensenada Mexico

Elder Vega, a recent convert, and Elder Rawlings

Dear Everyone,

Whats up from Ensenada, Mexico!! It really is as beautiful as Grandpa said it would be. Well not my area but the city as a whole. My area is called Universidad, and it's basically cut into the side of three mountains. It's a 30 minute hike from our apartment to the place where we work, but it's worth it. The place kind of reminds me of the field that was behind our house in Utah, super dusty, super dry, super rocky. But the views of the bay are just awesome.

The people are great. Mega, mega, like mind bogglingly poor, but they are super nice and everyone knows us and wants to hear what we have to say. We've already set 4 baptismal dates since I've been here, but I'll talk more about that later.

Already some crazy stuff has happened. First off, right off the plane to get here, we put our luggage into a taxi van so that we would all be able to fit into President Garcia's car. But then the taxi driver got really mad, and asked for at least one of us to go with him. I had told President Garcia that on a scale from one to ten my Spanish was about a 7, which was by far the highest of the group, so he asked me to go. Aw yeah. As soon as we get in the car I asked the driver if he spoke any English and he said no. Less Aw yeah. But then he started asking about the church, what we believed in, if we were Christian, all that. Long story short I ended up teaching him the first lesson.  Super cool.  And then I met my companion, Elder Vega, and found out he speaks about as much English as Dad speaks Spanish (none, and with a terrible accent) so guess who has had to become fluent enough to converse in about 10 minutes. This guy. Aw yeah. He's a super cool guy though, hes been out here for about a year and he's a really good missionary.

Another funny thing. Freaking absolutely no one can pronounce my name.
That is, until I tell them it's like the Rolling Stones. EVERYONE here knows the Rolling Stones for some reason.  Then we were on the bus this one day and this guy got on with a straight up karaoke machine and starting singing about how 666 and how bad Halloween is. Lol cause he also chastised us for not having Bibles and Elder Vega and I just kind of looked at each other like, uhhhh, lol got em right here bro. Weird dude. Also we were walking and there was some chalk on the ground and Elder Vega was like "hey don't walk through that" and I was like "uhh why?" and he was like "well that was an exorcism and we dont mess with that stuff" oh good.

So our baptismal dates. The first one was just ok, I didn't feel like the lady was really learning anything, she just wanted to say yes so that we would leave her alone, but oh well. But then later that night we went to check on a reference we had received and ran into this lady named A.... We started talking to her, she said she was JW but she was willing to listen. So we started teaching. We got about 10 minutes in when her son came home. Turns out he had seen us walking around and had been praying to find someone to answer his questions cause he just had a baby. So were like "Hermano! Aqui Estamos!" (Brother! Here we are!) So we started teaching again and this dude was eating it up. We taught the first lesson and both of them agreed to be baptized. The son also asked if he could come to church with us on Sunday. Dude of course you can come!  So we are sitting with him in church and it was the primary program and he was loving it. All these little kids bearing testimony that their families now and their families to come would be together. This dude (named J...) was basically in tears. So was I, not gonna lie. And then in Gospel Principals we talked about Eternal Marriage and I sat next to J... and I could practically hear his thoughts like, yeah, I want this, i want this a lot. We have an appointment with him on tuesday. Ill keep you posted.

I do miss the MTC. I miss hearing English too haha. I miss Elder Sanchez. 
Anyway I'm doing great. I still feel super lost, but hey, its more fun that way.
Con mucho amor,

Elder Rawlings

Elder Sanchez and Elder Rawlings Provo West MTC

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Last Week in the MTC

Dear Everyone,

Woo! Its my last PDay!! I still don't feel like I'm ready to leave but I'm getting there quickly. I got the contacts and I'll check for the calling card. And thanks for loading money too. But anyway as this is my last PDay in the MTC I'm not sure when the next time I'll get to write is, But it should be sometime before next Tuesday.

So I've had a couple cool experiences this week; the first was on Thursday. We had the chance to Skype with a member of the Church who is a native Spanish speaker. When they showed us the list of people I could Skype, I noticed one was in Tampico. I chose him cause, ya know, maybe he knows Chelsea or something. That would've been cool. So we started to talk to him and he told us that he had actually just recently moved. So now he was living in my mission!! Super cool guy, he said that the weather is great, that the members are strong, but that there is plenty of work to be done. And then during the afternoon session on Sunday, our Branch was assigned to usher, so we had to be there early to make sure everything was set up the devotional room for everyone to get there. Anyway, as the amount of people coming in was winding down, I got to talking with one of the District Presidents who was there. He saw my nametag and started talking to me in Spanish, asked me where I was going, how much longer I had left, all the usual stuff. I come to find out that he used to be a Mission President in Uruguay, and so he was telling me how he learned Spanish and giving me all these tips and tricks, most of which I'm planning on doing. And then when he heard I was going to Tijuana (cause before when he had asked me I just said Mexico) he told me how he grew up in San Diego and went to Tijuana all the time and still goes back whenever he can.
To quote him directly, "I just can not think of a more FUN mission than Tijuana. Perfect weather, great food, and now a temple." So guess who has two thumbs and is super excited to go there now. Hashtag this guy.

The other cool, but also really sad, thing, was saying bye to Javier.
Our last time teaching him was on Friday, so we got to the end of our time and he was like "Nos vemos en...Lunes? Si?" and Elder Sanchez and I kind of looked at each other and said "actually we think this is the last time." Holy he looked so bummed. He told us that we had genuinely answered many questions that he had had and wished us the best of luck. It was really hard. But it also made me super jazzed to actually have real investigators that I get to feel the same love for as we help them come unto our Lord and Savior.

Ok and also conference was straight up magic. I don't know if you guys heard this but people kept throwing around the words "largest missionary force of all time." That's not a lie. We are by far the biggest group of missionaries ever assembled in history. The speaker at the devotional last night, who works in the missionary dept, said that as of today, there are 88,034 missionaries in the field. That's up from about 53,000 5 years ago. Santa freaking vaca. The speaker last night also pointed out that based on worldwide averages, the
2,000 of us in the MTC right now will convert about 10,000 people to this Church. Again, santa freaking vaca.

Another huge thing I pulled out of conference was right at the beginnning, from Elder Packer's talk. When he told the story about going to Oxford and showing the professor there all the scriptures we had on Jesus Christ, I had the distinct impression that  as missionaries, our belief in Christ alone will open doors, both literally and spiritually for us. The more we trust Him, the more he will be able to help us. One of the big points that we have been taught to teach is that Christ WILL save us, IF we have faith in him.
That never really occurred to me before, the importance of faith coming before repentance. Super cool. Super simple, but hey, simple is good.

Les amo mucho,

Elder Rawlings

From Mom: Translation to "Santa freaking vaca" means Holy freaking Cow...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

MTC Week 4

MTC Week 4

Dear Everyone,

Lots of stuff has happened this week. On Thursday, I went to the Mexican Consulate to verify my visa and officially be allowed to enter the country. Let's just say it was about 7 hours of travel for about 15 seconds of stuff I actually had to do. Very frustrating. And it was hot and I was in a suit. And the bus to get us from TRAX was about an hour late, so that was fun. It was super cool talking to people on the trains though. It felt really cool to be out of the MTC and into the "real world". On Tuesday another group went and as they got off the train there was an Elementary School field trip that was about to get on. So all these little kids lined up and all the missionaries shook all of their hands and gave high fives and cheered. One Elder in my zone had one kid come up to him and say "You're my hero. Go to work." Man do I wish I could've seen that. How freaking cool.

In other travel news, I get my travel plans in exactly two days. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Like I'm ready to go, cause of course that's why I'm here in the first place. But it also kind of feels like I'm leaving home again. Oh well. I've still got two weeks.

Some fun things from this week: and Elder in my zone had a birthday party, so we went over to his apartment after class and had a little mini party. In the words of his companion: "We have milk and party hats. This is the biggest thing to happen in the MTC since the last time Elder Holland came to speak." It was super fun though. I'll have to see if I can get pictures to you guys; they aren't on my camera.

Speaking of food, we had to say goodbye to another district this week. This one was a lot harder cause their class was right next to ours so we did a lot with them. Some really good guys. But anyway we got another inheritance. Only this time it wasn't all food. Basically anything they didn't have room in their suitcase for they crammed into boxes and made us take them. So we came home with about 100 envelopes, 30 hangars, some nerf guns, a rubber rat, a bunch of rocks (?) and $7.58 in change. And more food. So basically instead of eating lunch now we just go home and eat what we have. And we still haven't made a dent. 

In weather news, it's freaking cold. There's already snow in the mountains. I kinda want it to snow at least once while I'm here and at this rate it looks like it very well could. But it's not like this cold has been gradual. Just like all of the sudden since Sunday. I'm not sure what's up. 

I think I told you guys last week about TRC, where we get to teach a volunteer investigator. Anyways Elder Sanchez and I were teaching this guy named Javier. He's from Spain, and he was rather grumpy. He asks really hard questions too. For example, the first day we were there he asked us how God could be considered fair and loving if we wake up rich in America and other kids our age are living with literally nothing in Africa and other parts of the world, if they even reach our age. So we talked about how part of God's plan is to have opposition in all things, you know, a pretty good answer normally, but he didn't like it. So we went home and studied and basically went back and taught the plan of Salvation, how even though we don't all have the same advantages in this life, we are all given an equal chance to return to our Father and accept his Gospel. He seemed ok with that, but then he asked, "If God is all powerful, why did Christ have to suffer for us? Why wasn't it just 'ok you did good, you're saved, you did bad, you're going to hell?" Holy question. He followed it up with "Hitler and Mother Theresa were both Catholics. Are they both in Hell?" Luckily we ran out of time in that meeting so we had a chance to go home and study instead of looking like complete fools. As we were looking for answers, we realized that we were going to have to teach out of the Book of Mormon, which was kind of scary, because this guy hadn't even accepted the concept of a loving God yet. But we went back and taught the scripture from Alma about how after we are resurrected we will be judged for our works. He really liked it. We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked if he would read the introduction before our next visit (the next day). He said he would certainly try.

This is where it starts to get good. When we went back and asked him how he liked the introduction, he told us that he had read the first ten chapters of Nephi and was fascinated. We spent the first half of the lesson answering his questions from those chapters, like how God commanded Nephi to kill Laban, even though it was against the commandments, and why it was written in Egyptian, even though it's evident in the Bible that God doesn't like Egyptians. And then we taught the restoration, which is seriously my favorite thing. Every single time I get to recite or hear my companion recite "Vi una columna de luz, más brillante que el sol...¨ it is so powerful. He really liked that too, and so we left on that high note with an appointment to come back on Monday.

We went on Monday with a plan to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we only got through Repentance. It was ok though, cause that was one of the most fluid and spiritual lessons that I have ever been a part of. And then at the end I said the prayer and I felt like I should just say pray for Javier instead of my usual things. When I finished I looked up and he had this huge smile on his face and it was just super cool. Honestly I'm not sure what I said, but it was good. The gift of tongues is a super real thing. And then the next day, yesterday, we went back and taught Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to be baptized and he said yes. I know it's not real and he's already a member and all, but it still felt super great. Like all of our hard work had paid off. 

In other news, my toe is slowly but surely getting better; I stopped playing basketball and now it's almost exclusively volleyball, which I think is helping. And my lip is back to a normal color now, thank goodness. It was really gross looking there for a couple days.

Unfortunately I will not be in the choir. Something about having "no experience" and "the voice of a toad" or something I'm not sure ;) I will get to watch all of the sessions though, so that'll be good.

Les amo mucho.

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, September 28, 2014

MTC Week 3

MTC Week 3

Dear all,

This week has been another super good one. First things first, Elder Sanchez and I got "promoted" so we are now the zone leaders. Which is kinda cool I guess. Mostly just means more meetings and longer prayers but still I feel honored for the opportunity to serve even more people directly. Also it means that we got in inherit all of the old zone leader's food, and that was a lot. And its all good. We have a stack in our shelf about a foot high of bags of cookies... :)

So my teacher that I told you about last week. He is seriously the man. Like wow. If I could grow up and be like him that would be the dream. For the past two days he's taken like an hour of class each time he teaches just to talk about scriptures that he's been thinking about. Super deep and super powerful. That man knows how to study the word of God. Also, one of his companions was Adam Hine and he has been keeping me semi updated on the Cougs so there's some extra cool points. He also had another money quote this week. "Grace isn't the light at the end of the tunnel, but the train that takes us there." Wow.

We started doing this thing this week called TRC. I'm not sure what it stands for, but it's basically volunteers that come in and let us teach them. The first time we did it the people were members and just acting like themselves, so we just basically had a little devotional for them. The first guy we taught was named Doug, but he said his name didn't sound good in Spanish and told us to call him Pedro. He served his mission in 1961 I think but he said that he still knows Spanish cause every night he prays in Spanish and reads his Spanish scriptures. Cool guy. At the end he gave Elder Sanchez and I homemade cards with all of the articles of faith on em in Spanish. Also very cool. Then the next time we did TRC, we had people who were either real investigators of members of the church pretending to be investigators. And that's where we met Javier. He is by far the hardest investigator we have had here, and it's not like he's only hard for us, he has a legend around his name. It's good though, I've had to study super hard and learn lots of new Spanish to be able to answer his questions, which basically challenge not only the basis of our church, but all religion. It's frustrating. Plus he's from Spain so he speaks that weird lispy Spanish and idk it just doesn't sound right. That doesn't matter though haha

On Sunday we had a pretty cool opportunity. The Ogden Temple got rededicated and the Brethren authorized the MTC as an extension of the temple so we all got to go to that. Seeing 2,000+ missionaries doing the Hosanna Shout is a sight to behold lemme just tell ya. And then on Tuesday for Devotional, we got to hear Elder Ballard speak to us, which was way cool. He began by saying that he didn't have any notes, but he just wanted to talk to us like a Grandpa would speak to his Grandchildren. Tan poderoso.

Ok so some other things. I'm like 30% sure my toe is maybe slightly broken. But it's ok it only hurts when I walk weird and it's been less and less each day so I'm not worried. Also yesterday while playing basketball I got hit in the mouth with an elbow. I didn't think too much of it until I tasted blood and then I wiped my mouth with my hand and my palm was straight red. So yeah my right check is super swollen and half of my bottom lip is blue. Not purple, not red, blue. Navy freaking blue. It's awesome. I look so tough. But don't worry about me I promise I'm ok.

Ok so is BYU like making SportsCenter and stuff? Cause from what I'm gathering they are looking really really good. I wish I could just watch the games haha the Senior Missionaries all get to go. Maybe ill just buy and old guy mask and make elder sanchez wear a dress. Idk.

The MTC is really really awesome and I'm having a blast. Hope you are all feeling the same way. Also sidenote I found out that my branch is moving to Main Campus the day after I leave. So heck yeah I don't have to deal with that place. West Campus is where it's at.

Con amor,

Elder Rawlings