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 :-)