Sunday, December 27, 2015

Temple Dedication Blessings

Dear All,
This might be the shortest email so far, but here goes.

I'm good.

We are teaching a man who speaks almost no spanish. It's different, but when he gets baptized he will be my favorite convert. I'll tell you more about his story when I have more time.

This was a good week, this city is still quite sinful, and the temple and the dedication have sparked some pretty dope stories. My personal favorite so far, shared in a sacrament meeting in my stake:

A lady who lives near the temple wakes up at around 3 or 4 every morning because she has to cross the border to go to work. And she asked one of her member friends if there was some kind of devotional in the temple at that hour because she always passes by and hears a choir singing. Obviously, there is no one in the temple at that time. Holy cow.

May the force be with you all. (A young man "accidentally" put the star wars trailer on YouTube while we ate at his house. It looks pretty freaking awesome.)

Los quiero mucho!
Elder Rawlings

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tijuana Temple Dedication

Temple Dedication Cultural Celebration
Dear All,
If only there was a 13th month. Then there could be 13/14/15. That'd be cool.
Anyway this week was pretty dope, with the dedication and the cultural event and stuff. Solid. We didn't get to see any of the General Authorities from any closer than across the stadium, but it was still cool.
So yeah this week. Started normal, with a FHE with a recent convert family, which of course has to have an activity. We played a game called "Gallina ciega" (blind hen) which about killed me (from laughing so hard). My companion put a blindfold on, and then had to grab all of the little kids (approx. 11 plus me) HAHAHA I died. It was so funny. SO funny. I took a video but it won't fit in an email so I'll show you guys when I get home but dang. It's good.
Then the rest of the week was pretty normal, until Friday. We had our Mission Christmas Party. It was pretty chill. A brief training, and the we just watched slideshows about cool Mormon stuff like ruins here in Mexico and stuff like that. And then we played "Team Building Games" but it started to rain so that ended fast. Then we ate, and then we had a tie exchange.
So in tie exchanges, you are expected to bring a pretty decent tie, hoping that the others also bring nice ties and you leave with something better. That's how it should be. But I got to switch with the only Senior missionary here. And the tie he gave me was just awful. First off, it's ugly. Second, and worse, there was a mashed potato stain on it. And it was fresh, like right from the mashed potatoes we had just eaten. AND THEN, he takes a clothespin out of his pocket and pins it onto the tie, saying, :"Look I even got you a tie holder too!" So I faked a smile, said thanks, and sat down. My companion, along with everyone else, was on the edge of laughing so hard they fell over. It was pretty funny, but I gave away this beautiful silver tie and got that piece of junk in return. Oh well. I guess that's what charity is right?
Then Saturday was the cultural event. Honestly, leading up to it, we had seen a few of the practices, and it's not like we didn't have faith, but it kinda seemed like a hail mary from their own 1 yard line. It's gonna take Tanner Mangum and miracle to get something good. But we went anyway, adn when we got there, they offered all the missionaries the food that they bought for the youth that left over. I had some pretty tasty chicken and a roll and salad, but we'll talk about that later.
Then it started. First off, there were A TON of kids. More than I thought. It was pretty cool. And then they started dancing, and it turned out super dope. What they did was have each stake practice a little part of each dance, and then they each had their own little part of the field. So instead of there being like 10 different acts, one for each stake, there was like 4 or 5, and it looked pretty cool. The Russian dance stole the show; by far the best, but then at the end they used white sheets and some decorations to make a mini temple in the middle of the field, and then all the kids ran through it with their costumes. The coolest part was that while they were inside the temple, they all got these giant white T shirts and put them on so they ran in with their costume and came out dressed all in white. Way cool.
That night, I had my first real case of Montezuma's revenge. I pretty much slept in the bathroom. That chicken came back, and came back hard. And then on Sunday morning I found out that all of us that ate the chicken had the same thing. By the grace of Peptol Bismol was I able to sit through the dedication.
Speaking of the dedication, it was amazing. The talks were way cool. Elder Oaks talked about how one of the things we do in the temple is take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. Then he mentioned the part in Jesus the Christ where Talmage mentions that the names of the Gods represent their power. Therefore, as we take upon ourselves His name, we obtain the right to His power, which is pretty cool. In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Uchtdorf blessed this city so that the process of conversion would be hastened and that the message of the resoration could be preached with more power, which we as missionaries loved. It was just an amazing experience. This whole week. Awesome.
If you want to see the cultural event in its fulness, go to and it's righ at the front. Click on "eventos de la dedicacion del templo de tijuana" and the first thing that comes up is the cultural event. 
Los quiero mucho!

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quick email this week

Dear All,
Another week gone. Transfers came, and we stayed the same. Found out some people I taught in Lago finally got baptized, and that Elder Priego is going to train this transfer. So that's cool.
But yeah this week was pretty normal, I set a new personal record for lessons in a week, and we had a few investigators in church on Sunday. So yeah. All in all, good week.
I don't have a whole lot of time cause the whole freaking zone got changed and people didn't find rides and stuff and so guess who has to do all that stuff, but I'll write what I can.
About and hour ago, a very gay man cut my hair. It was not my intention to have him cut my hair, but we walked into his haircutting place and he asked us which one of us was going to cut our hair. And my loving companion, I know he would give his life for me, but this is a different story, goes "He wants to go first!" and pointed at me. Yep. That was awkward, but the dude (dudet?) knows how to cut hair. I look good haha.
Other than that, nothing too great happened. President Garcia came with us to a couple lessons, and so that was dope.
But yeah. That's my week in a super small nutshell. Hope you guys are all good and enjoying the Christmas Spirit. The devotional last night was awesome; if you haven't seen it, go look it up. Good stuff. I liked that there were more speakers with less time each. Elder Bednar's talk was sick.
Los quiero mucho!

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thanksgiving in the mission field

At the Tijuana Temple
Dear All,
Pretty solid week. Went to the temple 4 more times, 3 of them with investigators. It. Is. Awesome. We also started teaching some of the references that we've gotten from the open house. One lives in literally the worst part of the city. I would tell you the stuff we've seen, but it would be a sin just to read it. Just suffice it to say that the corner before getting to their house has strip clubs on all 4 corners. Yep.
But yeah there were some pretty cool experiences. We had one reference that we got the first day of the open house, and we had been going to try and find her every single day since we got it, and we never caught her at home. Finally, on Sunday night, we got her, but she said to come back on Monday. We went back, and wasn't home. We decided to leave a note on the door, and usually we just write that we will pass by another day, but this time we felt like we should put that we would come by the next day, at the same time. So we go. And she was there. And it was one of the most powerful lessons of my mission, and it only lasted 15 minutes. When we were leaving, she told us "You guys needed to be here today. At this time. Not yesterday or any other day before. Right now is when I needed you." Wow. Things like that just prove and re-prove to me the truthfulness and power of this calling and this work.
Thanksgiving was a pretty good day; started off giving my first Multi-Zone training. It was pretty cool. I'm pretty used to getting up in front of people and talking so it wasn't too hard. Then we went to go eat with a sister in our ward. Supposedly, we were getting a turkey dinner, but at the last minute there was a change and instead the sister gave us carne asada, probably my favorite. BUT, sadly, we couldn't eat too much. Partly because of an appointment, and party because we had already been invited to eat Thanksgiving dinner with and American guy in another ward. 
Which turned out to be the weirdest Thanksgiving dinner of my life.
So first off, my first day here in this area, we ran into an American guy who told us he was a member of the church, and also a member of a local motorcycle club. He's werid. There's just no other way to say it. He's had a rough life, but he's a strange man.
Turns out, that same man is the one who was going to give us Thanksgiving Dinner. But holy moly did the dude go all out. A giant turkey, 3 types of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cooked carrots, rolls, everything. It was all pretty good, but it wasn't like being at home. And then the dude tells us his whole life story. Turns out he's an ex-NYC Bounty Hunter. And he looks the part. He's probably about 50, gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, beard, flowy white hawaiian type shirt, the works. Nice guy, served us well, and we ate everything. The whole zone was there (except the sisters haha whoops) and we all spoke English. It was funny cause there's a brand new american kid here who is still struggling with the language, and there is another new Mexican kid who doesn't speak any English. So we are all chatting in English, and the new american turns to the new mexican and says, in broken spanish, "How you feel right now is how I feel every single day" haha it was just a weird turn of events.
Sunday was pretty dope, cause we got to go to the temple, just missionaries. They opened it just for us. So President Garcia took us through the temple and gave us lots of time to admire and ponder and pray and it was amazing. And that's when it's still not dedicated. It's gonna be so special, even if we can't go as often as we would like. But yeah. That's all right. 
This really was a good week. We've seen some miracles, and even though it's been super rough lately with baptisms, it's all good. I'm just happy.
Hope you are all getting ready for a great Christmas season, and I hope you are all sharing the heck out of the new video "Nos Ha Nacido un Salvador" (or whatever it's called in English.) If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out. It's good.
Los quiero mucho, 

Elder Rawlings
with the Robles Family

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tijuana Temple open house visits

 Bus the ward rented to visit the Tijuana Temple
Dear All,
This week. It's over. Phew. Busy week. We went to the temple two more times, once with the ward in some rented buses (I'll send the pics, cause its something words cannot describe) and once more time (which will be mentioned later, no os preocupéis).
So Monday was pretty normal, we ate some more tacos, which were pretty solid, and we set a new baptismal date with a lady who is married to an inactive american dude. And she's pretty legit. When we invited them to come to church, her husband was like "Nah its just that I work at night and Sunday all I want to do is sleep" and his wife was like "Ok no not acceptable. Look, I'll get everything ready for this Sunday so that we can go to church." And we were like DAAAANG IN YO FACE SON. Then, on Sunday morning, we called to make sure they were going. The husband tells us that their baby is sick and they haven't slept and they're not going. So dang. BUT THEN. Halfway through sacrament meeting we get a call. It's the wife. She tells us she's trying to find the Church, but doesn't know where it's at. WHAT. So we go find her and bring her to church. Exhausted, alone, pretty much in pijamas, but she came to church. It was pretty legit. She told us,
"I know my husband said we weren't coming but I wanted to come. And so I came." Boom. Lesson learned. It's not over till it's over.
Tuesday, things began to get interesting. First, I didn't feel great in the morning. It wasn't enough to stay home, but I was definitely not at 100%. And then we went to go visit a less active lady. I don't like speaking bad about people, but this lady is insane. Here goes her story, quoted as well as I can remember it:
"When I was a girl, about 5 or 6, I had a friend that was a rat. I would talk to him and he would talk to me, and we were friends. Well, one day my brother saw me talking to my rat friend and he called [The President of Mexico]. One day, the government came and took me to their lab and they did an experiment on me. They put a cell phone in my head. And that cell phone is what they use to tell me to do bad things. So when I sin, it's not my fault. It's the government's fault. It's this cell phone here in my head."
I have never, in my life, had to supress laughter as I did in that moment. First off, the lady is ancient. Cell phones definitely did not exist when she was 6. According to what my companion told me, when his old companion took him to her house to meet her and she told them the story, he asked "Could you give us your number so that we can call you?" HAHAHA. But yeah.
So yeah anyways after that we got sick. Those tacos betrayed us. My companion puked his guts out and I about fainted. But don't worry we all good in the hood now. But I will extend a warning to all who come to Mexico. If the taco stand doesn't have three walls, don't trust it. 
Wednesday was normal.
Thursday we went to the temple with the ward, in some buses that were straight bumpin. I'm talkin light jobs, sound jobs, the whole package, Let's just say that when we got to the temple, people noticed. BARRIO INDEPENDENCIA HA LLEGADO. The only thing that was missing was a fog machine so that when we got off it was more dramatic.
Friday was pretty normal again.
Saturday was amazing. In the morning, we went to the temple, because all of the wards from Mexicali were coming, and among them converts of mine and members and everyone and wow was I excited. And it was awesome. Several of my converts are still active, preparing for missions and stuff. Others that I taught got baptized after I left, others now have the preisthood, callings, everything. It was a great day. It's just wonderful knowing that I had, even though it might be small, influence in the lives of some of God's children, and that those changes that I helped them make lasted. All of the tiredness, the stress, the pressure, the long prayers looking for answers about how to help these people payed off. Of course it's sad to know that a few have already gone astray, but that's just part of it. From what I heard, the rescue effort is being launched towards all of them.
Sunday we saw lots of miracles. Also, a 4 year old child pulled the Spanish equivalent of "Hey look, someone wrote gullible on the ceiling" on me and it totally worked. I fell hard #humbled.
But yeah this week was pretty dope. Had some fun, taught some people, saw the hand of God in my life, all in a day's work. 
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Jenson and Elder Alegria on the bus 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Esta iglesia es la verdadera.

Found this Santa suit this week 

Dear All,
This week was a pretty fun week. Some good stuff happened, and some bad, but I had fun. So that's what counts, right?
We started the week with an all-Elders District Meeting, cause the sisters are all in the temple open house (which is pretty cool). So it was a fun District Meeting. We called it the Tie Party. 
That night we had a lesson with a lady who we just met, who has two of the funniest kids I have ever met in my life. They're like 2 and 3 and they are hilarious. The little two year old girl just follows her brother around doing everything that he does, exactly like he does it. And it's funny cause that little kid is, as they say here, tremendo. He was running and screaming and throwing stuff and his little sister was doing the same thing. We were laughing so hard. And then this little kid starts throwing water jugs down the stairs and his sister tries but she can't and she flipped out. I felt bad laughing but it was hilarious. Little things.
On Wednesday and Thursday we set apart time to search for less active members and stuff in the farthest parts of our area. Our area is much larger than we thought, and with many more hills. It's pretty cool cause you can see San Diego on one side, and the Temple on the other. It's pretty dope. 
Speaking of the temple it's amazing.
We also went to go visit a guy we are teaching and his neighbor was there with him, drunk of course, and the neighbor all of the sudden starts asking us what he needs to do to stop being a bad person (of course that's the clean version, the way he said it to us was a string of well-used swear words) and then he started bragging about all of the crimes he's commited, including showing us his collection of stolen cell phones and a tablet, and many other things we did not want to hear or know. So we told him to repent. Plain and simple. It's not a hard thing, but it's what needs to be done. I don't know how well he took it, but yeah. It was kinda cool.
On Friday we did surprise exchanges with our other District Leader. He's a super cool dude from Quito, Ecuador, and their area is famous for having the most hills in the whole mission. To get to the house, you have to climb over 300 stairs. It's insane. The view from up there is incredible, but the actual getting there is a little bit hard. It was a fun day though, it seemed like every door we knocked was either a Testigo de Jehova or a Catholic but those catholics that are like 70 and super hardcore entrenched. By like the third one we were kind of annoyed. So we had some fun with them, confusing some of them on their very own doorstep. None of them let us in though, so that was kinda sad. One I thought would let us in, but then he was like, "No, no, I don't want to have to travel to get all the way to your church. My church is here crossing the street." Like oh man oh well. Nimodos.
On Saturday we went to the Temple again. It's so cool. We've already gotten some references from people that went to the open house, so that's exciting. I think the best part about it is that, in spite of the fact that its right next to a busy road and a mall, once you get on temple grounds you don't hear the city unless you pay super close attention. The peace and Spirit that can be felt there is just off the charts, and everyone is feeling it. It's such a blessing to be here in this moment and be part of this whole thing.
Esta iglesia es la verdadera. Cristo mismo la dirige. No cabe ninguna dude ni en mi mente ni en mi corazon que el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios, dada a los hombres para que sepan la verdad de todas las cosas. Testifico que Thomas S Monson es un profeta de Dios. El habla con Nuestro Senor cara a cara y nunca nos guiara por el camino equivocado.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Also found this donkey head

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tijuana Temple

Outside of the Tijuana Temple 
Dear All,
Another week. This week felt like it lasted FOREVER. Like I really have no idea what I wrote last week. I know it's right there and I can just read it but eh flojera.
This week was pretty chill. We started Operation: TJ giving away as many cards as we could. I went on exchanges with one of our District Leaders and we gave away 450 in two hours. So that was pretty dope. Also we had a lesson that day with a man who was an expert in using swear words. And without asking he began to teach me some. You learn something new every day haha.
So last Monday we decided to start work early. We took a couple of hours in the morning to go look for Less Active members and stuff cause we have a list of about 500 names and that's just from Relief Society. So yeah. There we are, walking down the street, we weren't finding anyone, and all of the sudden we see a little alleyway that we hadn't gone into before. We go through, and come out close to some other investigator's house. Right in front of us was a little apartment complex. We felt like we needed to go in, so we checked for dogs, and, finding none, went in. We knocked the first door where it seemed like a person might be home, and as we knocked, a man came out from the next door. We contact him. He tells us that he came here to Tijuana from Monterrey to "get away from it all". We keep talking. He tell us that his wife died 10 months ago and he's been thinking about how to kill himself for a week now. He goes on to say that he had been praying in that moment for God to send him someone that would help him. BOOM. Holy cow. I love the Lord so much. I am so glad to be part of this great work. There is no doubt in my mind that I am His servant, one of many here on this Earth. It wasn't coincidence that we went into that alley, that day, at that exact hour. He hears our prayers, and he answers them. There is nothing He can't do. This is His church, His work, we are His children.
So that was a great way to start the week. We saw several other miracles, and a few really funny things. One of which I'm not sure if I dare share it but what the heck I alreay led you on too much here it goes.
So. We go to visit an investigator. She's supposed to be getting baptized soon, but I still didn't know her because every time we had an appointment with her we went on exchanges. So my companion told me to pay close attention to the Spirit when we went to her house because he had been feeling like there was something off there.
So we get to the house, and we go in, and she sits on one couch, and on the other are two people sitting down. At first glance, it was a youngish man, like 30ish, with his girlfiend. The young man was drunk. We come in and shake their hands, and all is normal. The drunk tells us he wants to be a Mormon, so that was cool but remembered that we don't drink and decides not to. THEN IT HAPPENED. Up to that point the "girlfriend" hadn't said a word. Then it spoke. IT WAS NOT A GIRLFRIEND. I was left speechless. WHAT THE HECK. This freaking world is so messed up. Like dang. I think maybe I should have put that spiritual experience at the end. 
While we were in the lesson with the girl/boyfriend, apparently the Naval base in San Diego shot up an experimental missile and I kid you not this whole freaking city thought it was the second coming. We didn't see it, but from what we heard it looked like a giant firework that went up way higher than a firework should, and then exploded really big. And the explosion just stayed there for a while, like a giant bright light in the sky. It was nuts apparently. 
BUT the best part of this week came at approximately 1:30 pm on Sunday. We were heading out of the church, when we get a call from the APs. My companion answered, and they start talking and he goes "No! En serio?! Es verdad?!"
Background: Starting last Saturday, special VIP tours of the temple have been happening, like the ArchBishop of Tijuana and all the government and stuff, accompanied by the Area Presidency of Mexico.
Back to the story: Turns out the Area Presidency decided that the people giving tours needed more practice or something, and so they decided to invite all the missionaries, with their investigators, to have a special tour of the temple. WHAAAT. So yeah. We went. We took investigators. They're getting baptized.
But guys. Let me just tell you. The temples that I have been to so far rank in this order of beauty (personally): 1.San Diego 2. Manti 3: Atlanta 4: Provo. Tijuana blew them all away. This temple is AMAZING. It is not big, it's smaller than it looks, but the details and the finished and the woodwork and everything. Holy cow. It's amazing. I might be biased but whatever. And we went at night. The temple at night is stunning. There just aren't words to describe it. It's amazing. Wonderful. Breathtaking. Gorgeous. I am so excited!! This open house is going to be incredible for this city and for missionary work. People are going to alreay know exaclty what the end goal of all this is: exaltation. It isn't about baptisms, it isn't about numbers, its about making eternal families. Its about helping people get home with their Heavenly Father. 
This church is so true.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Another view of the Tijuana Temple

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The best tacos ever

With the Bishop of the ward he is serving in  and another set of missionaries.  (His comp is the Mexican without the glasses)

Dear All,
This week was pretty fun. My area is the whole downtown of Tijuana, so it is therefore also the most sinful place I have been in my life. 
So there are two streets in the mission that we are supposed to avoid if possible, and on those streets there are two blocks that we absolutely 100% cannot cross. They are both in my area. And last monday, that was the freaking first place we went. Not to the blocked zones, but one block away. And in a freaking hotel. It was a reference we got from the offices of the mission. That was weird. I'm not sure exactly how I felt going into a hotel, in an area famous for sketchy hotels, and even more with my companion by my side. Weird impression of mormons we must have given some people. It was a great lesson though, a less active guy who used to live in Ohio who got baptized and has the preisthood and wants to go to the temple and get sealed. The only thing, and poor guy, he told us the sisters that taught him that they promised him that they would come and see his sealing. He took that to mean that they would come get sealed to him. Haha whoops gotta be careful what you say.
The rest of the week was lots and lots of meetings. We had a leadership counsel on wednesday that started at 9 am and was supppsed to end at 2, but surprise we didn't leave there until 5. Woo. It was pretty cool though. I had always thought President Garcia was just a warm and friendly guy, but when it's just the Zone Leaders, and someone screws up, he let's em know. It was pretty fun. 
On Friday we decided to start doing something cool in the zone. We do surprise exchanges. We just show up at the house of a companionship and let them know that we are going to do exchanges that day. So we picked one and showed up, right at the hour that they were supppsed to be studying. Fun fact., Not home. They were at the mall. Que oso. So that was a great way to start out being a ZL, chewing out a missionary for not studying.
But the rest of the day was pretty chill. I got to see "La mona" which is this gigantic statue of a woman that's like hidden in this canyon slum. But when I say gigantic I mean freaking huge. Like easily 50 feet tall. According to the story. some guy just up and decided to make it, like no big deal whatever. Just gonna sculpt a giant woman here on my back porch. Like what the heck.
But the best part about this area are the TACOS. Holy good. Tacos of every kind you could imagine. Pescado, adobada, asada, cabeza, birria, everything. So good. And everywhere. Every corner has its little stand and then there are like 3 taquerias on every block. If we come back, we are going to get some fish tacos that we ate, gigantic and only 13 pesos, less than a dollar. I ate 3 and was super full. It was pretty legit.
The ward is pretty cool, our chapel here is the oldest in Tijuana and I think the second chapel in all of Mexico. It looks like the old chapels that you see in Utah, just not as big. But it's pretty legit. Lots of seasoned memebers, and the Patriarch is in our ward too. That's probably the coolest part. When my companion introduced me to the Partriarch, he looked super familiar. I didn't know why. But then I realized. When Elder Zundel and I went to San Diego to the temple, he was the one who did our session. Cool connection.
This week we are starting operation TJ, meaning that we are going to stand on street corners and just hand out as many temple cards as we possibly can, like the TJ's (Testigos de Jehova). We shall see how that goes.

Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

View from apartment window

Monday, November 2, 2015

Transferred to Indepencia

Last Sunday in the Gospel Principles class before his transfer

Dear All,
So yeah, I got transferred. I'm still here in Tijuana, but in a different area called Indepencia in the Tijuana Stake. My new comp is named Elder Alegria (Elder Happiness haha) and we are the Zone Leaders here. So that's kinda cool.
But yeah this week went by super fast. And it was probably the best week Elder Priego and I had the whole time we were together. We almost hit 40 lessons, we took a few families to church, and had a ton of fun. It was pretty legit.
The best moments were these:
We visited a less active man, who we have gotten to go to church about three times in a row now, but who still hasn't stopped drinking. So we go to his house. He is PLASTERED but like HAMMERED it was sooo funny. He's an old guy and his wife died a couple years ago, and there was going to be a fancy black tie dinner on Friday in the church to raise money for the cultural event of the temple, and so he was begging us to give him the number of another single sister in the ward. And then he told us he was just going to go to the church and ask her. And then we kept talking and trying to teach and then he tells us he can't go to church on Sunday. I was well aware of the fact that he was not in any way going to remember that lesson, so maybe I did a bad thing. I started to play with him a little bit. I started calling him out on little stuff like that. I was like "No but wait literally about 5 minutes ago you said you were going to church what happened in these last 5 minutes?" and he started saying something about how he had to work, but he was also bragging about how much money he makes, so I said "Wait but you said you make enough money that you only have to work one or two times a week?" and "well you would have more money if you didn't buy beer, you know that right?" Elder Priego was dying. I was having fun. After it all, he didn't go to church. He spent Sunday drunk. So sad.
Another: I think I told you guys about Chuy, a guy with mental problems that is a member of the church and who always sees us in the street and steals our pass along cards and pamphlets to give them to "all of his references". So anyway on Sunday we get to church and BOOM there's Chuy in an olive green suit and a Winnie the Pooh tie. Such style. I never, but like never ever, expected him to come to church. And then when he found out I was leaving, he hugged me and almost kissed me and then sat next to me in preisthood and was caressing my leg the whole time. Haha awkward...
ALSO: there is this club here in Tijuana (actually its in my new area) called "Las Pulgas" (The Fleas) which is like the big hot thing to do here. And we have been knocking doors to give out temple open house invitations, and when we knock doors people are like this:
"Que se ofrece?" (What do you want?)
"Disculpe, podriamos regalarle una invitacion?" (Could we please give you an invitation?"
"Para que? Las Pulgas?" (What for? Las Pulgas?)
HAHA holy sin. Even the little viejitas said stuff like that to us. It was pretty funny explaining that no, quite the opposite. Its been legit though, we almost gave out 1,000 invitations, and as a ward I would estimate about 10,000. So it's gonna be straight dope.
So yeah. That's what's up in good ole TJ. There was not even a hint of a hurricane here, don't you worry. They say "El Nino" is coming, but who knows really. It was supposed to hit in August, then September, and then until February. Let's just say Mexicans and the weather doesn't go real well together. They are a wonderful people and I love them, but they never quite get the weather even close to right.
Keep being cool, don't do drugs, and Congrats McKay and Sadie! Ballin' hard. Allie, you too, for pictures and stuff.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wonderful visitor to the mission

Jenson pictured with his entire mission.  He is literally in the exact center of the picture.  Dark suit and purple tie

Dear All,
I guess I'll just start right off with the surprise.
Yeah. The guy sitting in the middle there is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Yeah. THAT Elder Holland. Also Elder Benjamin de Hoyos of the Seventy. That was kinda cool. He totally shook my hand. And he looked me in the eye. And then when he started his talk he said "The cool thing about being an Apostle is that I have some privileges that come with my office. One of those is the Gift of Discernment. In that handshake, I interviewed all of you." That was kinda cool. He talked about lots of things, read some scriptures, and cried a little. It was an amazingly powerful meeting. Something I'll never forget like ever. 
Other than that we had a pretty solid week. We were walking down the street one day and we saw this dude smoking a cigarette who was staring at us. And he calls us over. He looks like a kinda shady dude, but we go over to talk to him. As we walk over he puts out his cigarette. Good sign. Then, humbly, he asks us if we will please give him a Book of Mormon. As my companion took it out and wrote our names and number in it, I started asking him if he was a member of the church or anything. He said no, but a couple weeks ago he was in Utah and went to General Conference, and he was going to go to the fireside that Elder Holland was gonna have with the YSA. Blew us away. That was a moment I probably won't forget. "El Senor no hace acepcion de personas" and neither should we.
Also, this morning we went to IHOP to celebrate the last week of the transfer, and it was way close to the temple, so we decided to walk over and see it (us, the Zone Leaders, and the other District Leader). So we are standing outside and we notice that there are some American guys outside, which usually means that there is someone important there. So we start talking to em. Turns out its the guy in charge of the whole temple construction project, coming to visit and see how things were going. He let us on the grounds and took us on a tour of the outside. We couldn't go inside or take pictures, but oh well. Let's just say this is the prettiest temple I have ever seen. It's breathtaking. I might be biased, but it is something truly, truly special. I'm so pumped for a month when we get to go in for the Open House. 
But yeah this week is the last week of the transfer. So probably, I'm gonna be changed. I'm gonna miss Elder Priego. One of my favorite companions so far. Quiet, but when he talks it's with straight power and he always makes me laugh so hard. He's a stud.
Keep being good, read the scriptures, pray, and go to the temple as much as you can.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Missionary work in Tijuana

Dear All,

I don't know if I feel like this week went really fast or really slow. It's a weird feeling. It was a really normal week. There wasn't anything too great or too bad or anything. We had meetings with President  Garcia 3 times, once for a Training Control, once because he came to the Stake Center to review the Stake's numbers, and then Interviews. So that was cool. I have a lot of respect for the guy and he loves me. Whenever we are in a Zone Conference or something and he there is any form of a math problem, he yells out "Elder Rawlings! The one that's gonna be an Engineer! What's the answer?" Cause he was an Engineer. So yeah that's kinda funny.
But yeah this week we really tried focusing on having lessons with member present. We were supposed to have 15. We ended with three. That
I counted. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we had 9 Member Presents planned, and all but one cancelled. WOO MEMBERS. But oh well.
We got 800 more temple invitations, and we are gonna give em all out before November. Game on.
Today we went to a Restaurant as a Zone called "Princess Tea Party Family Restaurant and Spa" that was fun. You may ask what a group of missionaries could possible do in such a place, but let the picture that I'm gonna attatch do the talking. So worth it.
In terms of investigators, 
Jose and Gabriela have everything they need, we just have to set a date with the Judge so that they can get married. But the judge isn't answering the phone like ever so that's frustrating. Prayers appreciated.
The family we met in the park is super cool. The kids (ages 6 and 9) are the ones who are reminding their mom about reading the Book of Mormon and going to church and praying and stuff so that is super cool. They're really special.
We are also teaching a whole car wash. That's kind of a funny story. So last monday we were walking past and this girl asked us for something to read during her down time. It was P-day and we were going to get our hair cut, so we didn't have our backpacks, but we set an appointment to come back the next day. So Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we sat at a little table that was there and we would teach whoever wasn't washing a car. It was kind of interesting and kind of fun. They all need to repent a lot, but they're good people. The best part was when one guy (who was blackout don't-know-how-he-was-functioning drunk) started telling us about a video he saw on YouTube of a temple marriage. It was kind of a sticky situation answering his questions because of the whole "Pearls before swine" concept, but it really just made me sad. Satan is good at what he does and things like that are such a huge tool that he can use to make the sacred nature of those things not so much so. It was hard. But oh well. 
So yeah. That was my week. Nothing great, lots and lots of walking. I gained a testimony of the power of fasting, but that's a story for when we get home. This week there is going to be a surprise, but you'll have to read next week to find out what it is. It's a jaw dropper.
You guys are awesome, Go BYU, and always remember to read and pray.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ether 12:6

Dear All,
Pretty freaking cool week. The Lord blesses us, but in his due time. I feel like my whole mission to this point has been an Ether 12:6 experience. We get no testimony until AFTER our faith is tried. And with faith comes dilligence, patience, obedience, everything. Two weeks ago just sucked. It was a hard week. This week was awesome. We just had to pass the trial of our faith, humble ourselves, be diligent and patient with people, and the Lord did the rest. 
We had one day this week, I feel like it was Tuesday, where no one was home. That kinda sucked. So we just decided to contact. All day. And when it was getting to be evening time, we saw a park in our area, a park that we pass by almost every day, but we had never gone in because there are always people doing drugs and other stuff there. But this time we felt like we should go in. I was not sure, so I didn't say anything, but then my companion was like "hey why don't we go to the park?" and we are in the point of his training where basically he's in charge, so I followed him. We walk in the gate, and we see a lady who was walking with her family stop, and stare us down. So, following normal missionary instinct, we contacted them. Turns out her friend had called her the other day and told her that she needed to go to church. So she asked us if we would please come and teach her and her family. The whole family was at conference on Saturday. Then we kept walking and saw another family sitting down. We talk to them and recognition floods over us.
Story: There is a guy in our ward with special needs. His name is Chuy. He's hilarious. He never goes to church, but he knows the whole freaking world. So every time he sees us, he asks for 50 passalong cards with our name and number on em. So we spend 10 minutes in the street frantically writing on the backs of these cards, and then we give them to him. Within half an hour he's calling us and asking for more. It's kinda cool. But anyway we were talking with him one day and he all of the sudden yells out "HENRY! VENTE!" (Henry, come here!) (also he has a funny way of calling everyone by the wrong name. He thinks my name is Sammy haha) so we didn't really even look up from writing. But then we notice that a guy is coming towards us. So Chuy introduces him to us, his name is actually Henry, and Chuy tells us he's gonna take us over to Henry's house to teach him. That was like 2 months ago. Chuy never took us to the house. So we contact this family and BAM there is the golden boy. He tells us he has been waiting for us, and asks us if we can't go on Saturday to visit him. We said yes, he lives close to the church where we were gonna watch GC and yeah. So in between the sessions we ran to his house, taught him, gave him a Book of Mormon, and set a quick little baptismal date. Pretty legit.
Also on the list of cool things I did this week, I gave myself an ingrown tonail surgery using a pair of sharp scissors and some tweezers. Don't worry I dunked em in alcohol to sanitize em. That hurt really bad but it was worth it. I just didn't want to go to the doctor cause they say that the shots they put into your foot to numb it hurt worse than just taking it out, so yeah. Logic. Plus Mexican Medical services are kind of hit or miss. If you doubt it, read one of my emails from april where I mention the lady with the hole in her foot and the pus that leaked out. Que asco.
Anyway yeah this week was chill. The Conference was awesome, I loved Elder Holland's talk. It made me miss you, Mom. You're awesome. Also I totally met Elder Montoya, he came to the stake conference in Ensenada when I was there. That was before he was a real 70.
This church is so true you guys. Yesterday some people tried arguing with us in the street but I was like "I'm not in the mood for this" and so we planched em. My companion was laughing when we walked away and he was like "I've never seen you like that" haha it was kinda fun.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"You don't sound American anymore"

The street that Jenson lives on.  It was flooded from the rain they had been experiencing

Dear All,
Another week passed and gone. And it was kind of a funny one. Some stories not exactly email appropriate, my companion got peed on by a dog, and we walked a TON. WOO.
So Monday was pretty good, we visited a girl who was supposed to get baptized this week, but wasn't really progressing, and so I was doubting her readiness. So we had a lesson kind of "planchadora" (I'll let you guys hit up the translation there) and so that was kinda fun. Then we went with some recent converts and had the most uncomfortable lesson of my entire mission so far. I can't even express all that happened, so just ask me in a year.
Tuesday we had a Zone Meeting, and then we went to eat with the seafood lady, and thanks to your humble prayers we ate flautas, which are among my favorites. It was a nice relief. The rest of that day was spent visiting person after person that we had appointments with, but that weren't home. Also, we went and visited a member family that's super cool, and they asked me to pray in English. When we finished my companion (who speaks decent English) said to me, "dude you don't sound american anymore" NOOOO that hurt. So I'm gonna dowload a bunch of talks in English so that I can hear a real American accent and get it back. 
Wednesday and Thursday were pretty normal days. Thursday after our Mission Coordination meeting, we took the mission leader to go get hot dogs because there is a hot dog stand next to the church and the lady that owns it wants to read the Book of Mormon. So tips for all missionaries out there: if you need to gain the confidence of your ward mission leader, go grab some hot dogs or tacos or pan dulce or something. It really works.
Friday looked like an amazing day. Apointments every hour on the hour from 11 am to 8 pm, with double appointments at 4 and 5. Plus we had to do a baptismal interview, so we had mini exchanges with the Zone Leaders too. Busy day. But not one of our appointments was home, not even the interviews that we had to do. So that was rough. And it was hot that day too. 
Saturday was pretty much the same, a little bit more success but not much. It was really just a test of dilligence. We had about zero success last week, but for our efforts, the Lord blessed us this morning with a super chosen person. So that was cool. This week is going to be better.
Spiritual experience of the week:
In the mission we have been trying to focus a lot on developing the Gift of Discernment, meaning that we are trying to be able to recognize what people need, their doubts, concerns, questions, everything, without them directly telling us. So we are focusing on teaching the doctrine clearly and simply, making an environment where the spirity can testify, and then trusting that the Lord is going to help us to help his "lost sheep". So we visited a less active family that we reactivated last week, and we both had the feeling that something was wrong. We taught the second half of the Plan of Salvation, the part about where we are going after this life. And as we taught, I began to notice, just from they way they would react to certain words or questions, actually I'm not really sure what it was, but I just knew that they had some problems. And then, all of the sudden, they told us everything. Exactly what we had been thinking. And the lesson that we had taught was exactly what they needed to hear. It was super powerful and it really gave me a testimony even stronger of the love our Father in Heaven has for us. If he lets us, as his imperfect servants, know a little bit of what's going on the hearts of His children, how much more must he know? How much more perfectly will he be able to help us? I love this gospel and everything it teaches us. I testify of its truthfulness.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings
We had been bugging Jenson about the lack of pictures he had been sending, so we got a selfie of him writing to us :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"El Dia del Grito"

Dear All,
Pretty normal week. It started off with a fun district meeting on Tuesday. Fun fact that I feel like I already mentioned but I don't feel like checking is that we as Americans have been tricked our whole lives. Mexican independence day is NOT in fact 5 de Mayo. It is, in fact, the 15-16 of September. The 15th is called "El Dia del Grito" because at one point in history someone shouted and it was meaningful so now every year the president of Mexico goes out onto a certain balcony and yells stuff like "VIVA MEXICO!" and other inspiring things. How fun. But anyway that day we also had a district meeting, and I didn't feel like doing an official "grito" inside the church would be an appropriate activity, so I brought a bag of tree peppers. If you don't know what those are, the make Jalapenos look like child's play. And so we had a competition. Who could eat more peppers without drinking anything. I took a video cause it was hilarious. But it's way to big to send so that'll have to wait for a year.
So right after the district meeting we went to go eat with a member. And guess what. OCTOPUS SOUP ROUND 2!!!!!!!! Except this time, better! This time, it featured (fijense bien, eh) OCTOPUS, MANTA RAY (which is actually super good), SQUID, and the best part *drumroll* SEA SNAIL!!!! It wasn't that bad at first, I recognized the octopus and the manta ray cause I've eaten it before and I just thought the chunks of squid and snail were just weirdly shaped chunks of normal fish. So I dumped a bunch of hot sauce into the soup and squeezed about 5 lemons into it, and then my companion decides to ask, "and what's the soup made of?" At this point I had no idea how to say "snail" in spanish, so when she said it, I had no idea what it was. When the sister left the room I leaned to my companion and whispered, "what does [caracol] mean?" and he starts thinking and says, "you know Gary, from Spongebob? Yeah you're eating that." WHAAAT UGHHHH EW PUKE. I almost didn't finish the bowl. And when she asked if I wanted more I faked a stomachache. I'm such a bad person but seriously. Who does that to a person. Feed them snail. We are gonna eat with her again tomorrow, pray for me please.
And then that night was the Noche Mexicana in the ward. I was so pumped. This is the only Mexican Independence day that I get to experience in the mission. And guess what. The call came at 5:00 that we had to be home by 6:00 for security. NOOOOO.
Another cool thing this week. We started passing out the official invitations for the temple open house. They gave us as a companionship 600 invitations. We set the goal to give all of them away in two weeks. Game on.
Other than that, nothing super exciting happened this week. It rained a little bit, and yeah.
Well BYU put up a fight, hopefully this doesn't drop em too far down. They'll pick it up again I'm sure of it. Now let's go take the Big House by storm woo!
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Tolerance is the mask of sin"

Tijuana Temple in the distance
Dear All,
So transfers came yesterday, and I totally didn't get changed. WOO! I actually am really having fun, even though this area is a bit harder than the ones I've had recently. Training is much better the second time around, and now that I know how to make my companion talk, it's been going a lot better. Also we got to watch the Mexico City Temple Rededication yesterday, so that was pretty cool. Pretty much just pumped me up for the Tijuana Temple, which is gonna be even more special and not that far away. They told us that the goal for non-members coming to the openhouse is around 100,000. The goal for baptisms in the following months are 800 per month. IT IS GONNA BE SO FUN. 
Usually I don't like doing this, but I feel like I should tell you guys a little bit about the investigators that we've found here. We have a couple families that we are teaching. One is the husband of a less active lady who wants to get sealed in the temple. So yeah thats kind of a solid goal to work with right? But they aren't married. They're working on it, so probably this coming month we are going to have a wedding in the morning and baptism in the afternoon. WOO.
Another family we are teaching are super cool. We saw them from super far away and they were walking away from us but we both felt like we needed to talk to them, so we basically chased them down and talked to them. When we contacted them, the husband didn't want anything to do with it, but his wife did. So we showed up at their house, and the husband was like "oh well might as well support my wife" but now the dude is reading the Book of Mormon, he loves the church, he's a stud. The other day we took another family with us to go visit them, and he was like "Man, I want a family like this one. What do I have to do to do it?" It was pretty legit.
Other than that this week was pretty normal. We spend the vast majority of our time street contacting. Just because when we got here the senior companion before us was in his last transfer, so he didn't exactly work that hard to find any investigators. We literally started from 0. But it's ok. It's all about learning. The ward is pretty cool. There are definitely those who want to work and those who don't, but those who do, work super hard. It's pretty cool. 
Fun Fact for you guys: Cinco de Mayo is not actually the Mexican independence day. It's tomorrow. But the best part is that most people work tomorrow and have the next day off. My companion said it's so that they can sleep of their hangovers HAHA this country I love it.
I got called the f word the other day too, in english, that was weird. I hadn't heard that word in a very long time. It kinda surprised me how offended I was by it, when in High School it was a word that I heard every day, many times over. I was thinking about a talk I heard a long time ago about how "Tolerance is the mask of sin". It's true. We become numb to such things; we start to think they don't matter or that it's not a huge deal, but it really is. Like Christ himself said, "it's not what goes into the body, but that which comes forth that corrupts it" (Something like that I'm not sure I'm trying to translate). 
Speaking of the Bible someone gave me a bible. It's super legit too. Its hardcover, red, and the King James version in English. So that's def something I'm gonna bring home with me.
In other news, GO COUGARS! Of course, the year I can't see they decide to be the miracle comeback team. I just hope you guys are recording the games and never delete them so I can come relive everything. Haha but seriously.
Como dijo el Elder Jeffrey R. Holland ayer, "Dios vive, la iglesia es verdadera, el evangelio es poderoso, y les amo con todo mi corazon."
Los quiero muco,
Elder Rawlings

PS here's a pic of the temple (top of page)  and of the giant Christ 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

One year down

Jenson's Zone

Dear All,
This past week I passed my year mark!!! WHAAT. 
Other than that it was a pretty good week. One morning during companionship study we heard a knock at the door and when we opened it it was none other than a couple of friendly JW (Jehovah Witnesses). What a great way to start the day. Usually they don't knock our door cause they know that the "Big Scary Mormons" live there but I guess this one thought she was brave. And I was kind of in a bad mood. So nicely, I told her that would accept whatever she gave me as long as she took some of our stuff. I don't think she liked that, and so she started asking questions about our church intended to trip us up, like why we only preach for two years instead of our whole lives like them. Let's just say that the promises of the scriptures are super real "and ye shall not be confounded before men". I won. Every single time. The church is true.
Anyway that day I was already in a bad mood and that just made it worse so I took it upon myself to work harder than I ever have ever. We contacted 33 people that day. It was pretty legit and I felt pretty good after.
Another fun story: I ate some of the weirdest stuff this week. Backstory: Every time anyone sells seafood here they always have giant, whole octopi for sale. But I've never seen anyone buy one ever. And then on Tuesday guess what I ate. Octopus soup. WHAAAAAAT. The worst part was once I put a tentacle in my mouth and I kid you not the sucker stuck to my tongue. Like the physical sucker on the tentacle attatched to my tongue. That was weird. I have never experienced anything like that before. Not highly recommended.
I really don't know a whole lot more that happened this week, this area isn't that exciting besides lots of high people that talk to us in the street and lots of pregnant teenagers.
That's pretty cool that we got the ward split, like obviously it stinks that you aren't gonna see some people as much but whatever you all still live super close its not like its the end of the world. The Lord is hastening his work in the whole world. Be a part of it.
I just want you guys to know how much I love this Gospel. The changes it makes in people, starting with oneself, are amazing. The doctrine is perfect. It is full of joy and hope and love and happiness, and it's for everyone. The invitation is there, you just gotta accept it.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Monday, September 7, 2015

Teaching the Lord's Way

Dear All,
This was a pretty solid week. We had Elder Piper, from the Seventy and part of the Mexico area Presidency, come visit. It was way awesome. He taught us how to teach "The Lord's Way". It was way powerful and the few times we had a chance to put it in practice it was way dope. It was all based on two talks from the New Mission President's Seminar in 2014, from Elder Bednar and Elder Nelson. About "Teaching the Lord's Way" and "See the End from the Beginning". Way cool and definitely some serious revelation.
We also had stake conference this week, which meant that we had about 3 real days to work. So that hurt some numbers, but it all turned out good cause WE HAD A BAPTISM! We baptized one of the kids of a less-active family. It was kinda cool cause he wasn't going to be home on Saturday, because of a family activity, and didn't tell us until Friday, and so we had to do an emergency shift and have the baptismal service on Sunday before the Conference. So we were at the church at about 6:30 filling the font. Which was weird.
So in order to fill the font here you first have to make sure the drain is closed. The valve for the drain is found in a hole outside about 6 feet below ground level. And we had no idea how to close it. So we grabbed a broom handle, and then we took turns leaning into the hole and holding the one leaning into the whole, and whacking the heck out of this little knob, trying to get it to turn. Not exactly effective. But it worked finally, and so never fear the water was able to stay in the font. But then we realized the water heater was broken. Actually no it wasn't broken that's a lie. When we went to go check it I thought it was turned off and so I started pushing buttons and by the time we realized it had already been on, it was off and did not want to change it's state of being. So the water was rather refreshing. Let's just say when this kid was getting down into the water he let out a little squeak and when I put him under he started to yell. And when he was coming out he was shivering and gasping. Whoops haha at least he's gonna remember the day.
But yeah this week was pretty normal other than that. We had and amazing "I'll share this one AFTER the mission so that Mom thinks I'm safe" experience, but like the title says, you'll have to wait a year ;)
I think it's way cool the ward is getting divided. Lots of new opportunities for lots of new people. When I tell people how big the ward was, how many were in Seminary with me, how many Preists there were, they just kind of freak out. It's unreal how blessed we are.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, college football kicked off this week. Maybe I'm wrong but either way a general update would be dope. Maybe you can get McKay to do it.
You guys are way cool. Keep being as good as you can be and remember, if the prophets in ancient times could be here today, they would go crazy for being so happy. We need to apreciate these time, resources, and chances we have to share the Gospel and hasten the work. We've seen amazing increases in these past years but here comes the question: Will we (you) keep up the pace?
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

PS I got to see Elder Vega the other day. That was way cool. He's going home in two weeks so it was good that I got the little chance to say goodbye. He's a solid dude. And I'm gonna get pictures of the Temple and the giant Christ this week so you can see what's up.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"El Arma Secreta"

Dear All,
Pretty solid week. I got to watch my newly arrived companion stand up in front of a bus and contact the whole thing. That made me rather proud. That was definitely the highlight. Some people were asking about my comp. Hes a stud. I can't really say more. I call him "El Arma Secreta" because he is super, super quiet, but when he talks its with power. He's a beast. He's from Toluka, Mexico, which is about 45 minutes from Mexico City, and his dad is an Engineer for the church. He told me he helped design some of the temples and the new Stake Center design here in Mexico. So that's pretty cool. 
The ward here is pretty chill, there are a lot of people who speak English, so that's fun. Lots of RMs and lots of Youth. Attendance is about 105 or so, and we meet in the Stake Center, which I think is the largest chapel in the whole mission. Its pretty legit. The actual area is GIGANTIC and we have to walk or go in bus everywhere. So thats been nice getting back into walking from after being on bike for a while.
To answer your question Mom as a District Leader I am in charge of half of the stake. In this case it's my ward and one other. So it's pretty small. I'm supposed to go on exchanges with the other companionship and help them out and make sure they're doing what they need to be doing. But I can't cause they're sisters. So pretty much all I do is give a training once a week, take their numbers twice a week, and give a report to how they're doing to the Zone Leaders and President. So yeah its pretty fun. Because my district is so small, its not that different from normal work, just with more responsibility. So that's nice.
We really didn't have any super weird or crazy experiences this week. Out of nowhere we had a few people tell us they wanted us to teach them in the street, so that was kinda cool. We passed by the giant statue of Christ in our area but I forgot to bring my camera (yes I got the cord) and so I didn't take a picture. Oh well. Next time.
Also regarding traditions for the year mark, supposedly there's a thing where you burn a sock at three months, a tie at 6 months, a shirt at the year, and the suit you arent going home in right before you head home. But I didnt do the sock or the tie thing and I doubt that I'll do the others either haha. 
Hope you guys are all good. Keep reading the scriptures, keeping looking for references for the missionaries, and keep keeping the Sabbath Day holy. You'll be blessed.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Best bus experience of my mission

Dear All,
 This week was better. It wasn´t a great week, but it was better. We are getting to know the area and the members and figuring out how to find people. We had a zone conference on Tuesday and we talked about how if we want to be a normal missionary we do things that all other missionaries do. If we want to be excellent missionaries we do things that no one does. So we put it in practice. The next morning we stood in front of the bus and contacted everyone at once. Half of the area is apartments, so we made a list of all the members that live in the apartments and went and tried to visit them. And if they weren´t home we knocked all the doors on their floor. We´ve gone to the farthest parts of our area, where I don´t think missionaries have ever set foot, just to contact and look for old references. Hopefully we start seeing some serious fruit cause honestly I am super exhausted.
But yeah this week was chill. We did exchanges with the Zone Leaders and had some fun. There was one point where we got on a bus and it was the best bus experience of my mission. First off there was a very heavily tatooed lady with several piercings in various parts of her body, holding a newborn baby in her arms. About 3 minutes later, she starts breastfeeding the baby. Which actuallly is not that surprising in this country. And then the bus started to climb a hill. A really big hill. And as it went up it went slower and slower and the smell of smoke grew stronger and stronger and then all of the sudden the motor stopped and we started rolling backwards down the hill. WOOO rollercoaster but without any form of security. I may have peed my pants. Luckily the young bus driver got it under control before anything got too bad and guided us to saftety at the bottom of the hill. So yeah. What a wonderful experience. 
But yeah the ward here is pretty cool. We went to go visit a family where the grandpa and all of the kids are mailmen in the US. So they all speak English and are super cool. And then I come to find out that they have a relative that lives in Georgia, but it´s not close to where we live unfortunately. 
Also hahaha I almost forgot there was one day that a truck crashed into a light pole by the apartments in my area. And a sidenote to that: everyone here is stealing electricity. The main power cable runs along the side of the street and from that main cable string many other little illegal cables that hook to houses. And the government comes and cuts the lines from time to time and so there are probably hundreds of these little power lines hanging down. Its pretty ghetto haha. But anyway the whole power thing is just kinda sketchy here anyways, so when this truck hits the light pole, like 3 transformers blew cause some lines crossed or something and anyway long story short the whole neighborhood was without power. So finally everyone came outside of their house. It was kinda cool cause we could just contact everyone. And it was way funny cause probalby 9 out of ten people told us they were dying without being able to have internet and get on their facebook. Moral of the story, go outside once in a while, you probably won´t die.
Anyway that was my week. Not super exciting but definitely not a bad one. You guys keep being cool and always read your scriptures and pray.
Los quiero mucho, 

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Transferred to Lago Tijuana

Dear All,
So I have two weeks to catch up on. Let´s see how well I do.
The last week in Mexicali feels like forever ago. The temple was super duper legit, and yes we did as many ordenances as we could in Spanish. It was cool cause we got to do every single one. We started in initatories and then we went to sealings cause we had some time before the session and then we went through a session with the whole ward. That was way dope. Also my companion got sealed to an American girl there, so that was pretty funny. It was like a glimpse right into his not too far distant future. Lol I´m gonna miss that dude a ton.
The highlights from the week: Another baptism, which put our total at 9 for the transfer (one shy of the record) and that was way cool. It was the daughter of a Less Active family and her dad got to baptize her. It was pretty legit hearing her dad say ¨Habiendo sido comisionado por Jesucristo¨. It was way cool.
And then we got the call and my District leader was like ¨Dude are you ready for this? These are the craziest tranfers I´ve ever seen.¨ And then the dude freaking hung up on me. So that was sick. But then he called me back and told me that I was leaving, that I had to be in Tijuana at 10am to pick up my new companion fresh from the MTC. And then he told me I was going to be opening an area. And then he told me I was moving up as a DL. BOOM. All of it just kinda hit me. I don´t think I slept at all that night.
So now here I am in Lago with my new compa Elder Priego, from Taluka, Mexico. He´s a pretty quiet guy but he´s a good missionary.
My new area is super huge and we don´t have bikes so that´s kinda hard, also in terms of drugs and sin this is definitely the worst area I´ve been in so far. So we shall see how this all goes. We´ve already had several encounters with drunk people (including some drunk members) and we have knocked on several doors to have people with needles in their arms answer them. So that is definitely very sad. It´s hard because those are the people who need the gosple most but they are also the hardest ones to accept it. So that´s a challenge. But it´s alright. We are just gonna baptize a ton. This is gonna be a solid couple of transfers. I can already feel it.
Other cool things about my area is that is has two of the best religous sites here within or just next to the boundaries, one of them being the Temple, and the other is this HUGE Catholic church with a giant Christ statue that overlooks the whole city. Literally the two churches that are mentioned in 1 Nephi 11-14. So that is kinda cool. I guess. The temple looks super duper legit, way better than when I saw it a year ago, but from what I´ve been hearing I´m not gonna be able to help in the open house cause it´s only gonna be Sister Missionaries and Members. Oh well. We shall see.
The other cool thing is that all of the Americans in my district are from the south. I´m from Georgia, there´s a sister from North Carolina, and there´s a Zone Leader from North Carolina too. WOO. 
Today we all went and played ping pong and other activities and ate pizza and basically just had fun  as a zone and it was pretty fun. I took second in the Ping Pong tournament just so you guys know. 
Anyway there really isn´t a whole lot more to talk about. Hope you all have an excellent week and always read your scriptures and say your prayers.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quick email this week

At the San Diego

This is pretty much just to let everyone know that i am still alive. I got switched areas, im now in Tijuana Estaca Otay Barrio Lago I am training again and opening sector and I am also now a district leader so yeah a lot has happened but i dont have time to tell you all about it but yeah hope you are all good and well and yes just to be clear i am alive and well.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

***note from Mom. Jenson asked me to monitor his Facebook page, and when I logged on to his account this past week, he had numerous friend request from those whom he had met and served in this last area of Nactionalista  in Mexicali.  I found lots of great pictures that others had posted of him, and was so grateful to see these pictures, and thought it would be fun to share some of them

 Cleaning the church

Teaching the Gospel

Helping put a roof on a member's home

Cleaning the church

At the church...goofing off a bit ;)

Cleaning the church

Working on the roof again

Riding bike (Jenson is on the left) 

With the Bishop and his family of the Nactionalist Ward