Sunday, January 25, 2015

Who owes more...

Sweet picture of a car Jenson sent to McKay
Dear all,
Holy week. Training is a real challenge I tell you what. But it's pretty dang rewarding.
Since I last wrote on Monday, lots of stuff has happened, but I'll just fill you in on the highlights.
On Tuesday, we went on Exchanges with the new District Leader. He's a stud. And he speaks English. So that was fun. I learned so much in the few hours we were together. He just has a way to talk to people that they always feel comfortable and then he teaches like no one I have ever seen. It's awesome. But the best part was speaking English. It was so dang hard. Like I had forgotten how to do every day tasks or hold a conversation about missionary work in English. It was super weird.

Then on Wednesday not a whole lot happened, but on Thursday we had kind of a cool experience. Since we don't have a whole lot of investigators right now, we decided to go through the ward list one by one and visit all the people we don't know. To give you an idea of how big a job that is, there are about 350 names on the list, and only about 85 are active. It's crazy. But we've had some cool experiences.
And one super weird one on Thursday. We picked out all of the names on the street where we were going to eat, and then we started knocking (not really knocking cause here you just yell until someone comes out) on all of their doors. And as we were knocking on one, a lady came out of the house next door. We started doing our missionary thing, and she said we could come by and share a message with her. About 5 minutes in we realize she's a member. So we invite her to church, share a message, and she commits to go. Then as we were leaving I noticed a few cigarette butts and a beer can behind her house. Kind of normal here, but it set off a bell. Then as we were eating, we asked the sister if she knew this lady. She was like "uhh yeah why?" So it turns out that on New Years the son of the Less Active lady came over to the party that was going on in the house where we were eating. And here was there for a while, and then he left but said he was gonna come back in a few minutes. And when he came back he had blood all over his face. And he said that his mom had done it. SO by accident we tried to reactivate a child abuser. HAHA wow. So we were more careful with the list of names after that.

Later on Thursday, we went to go visit a contact that I did on Tuesday with Elder Huld, the DL. She was super cool, and at the end of the lesson she told us that while we were talking she felt the same way she did when she started to go to church again. And then we invited her to get baptized and, with enthusiasm, she said yes. So that was pretty cool.

Friday was a pretty normal day, we walked a TON, because I'm trying to show Elder Lopez the whole area, and so we are walking way more than normal. 

Saturday I had a few experiences that I will never forget. Another ward in our District put together "A day in the Mission" for all of the youth. They all got dressed up like missionaries, and the missionaries in their ward trained them on contacting and stuff. And then us and the other missionaries in the District came and we did mega splits. Elder Lopez and I took 3 youth and went to go visit a list of people. Meanwhile, they told us to contact everyone we saw, but after the first hour or so, let the youth do it. So we did it. And it was super cool. And then super weird. First some guy stopped me (which happens a lot being one of few americans here) and asked me about my name. Then he told me he had a question for me. Somehow those questions are never good. He asked me why my country kills so many Mexicans. So yeah. That was fun to answer surrounded by Mexicans.

Then a little while later another dude stopped us to tell us that he was also sent from God to preach the word to a wicked people. Then he started into his "who owes more, the one who pays less or the one who pays more, and which one will be forgiven first" speech which was cool because as the youth sat there not knowing what to say, I jumped in and started teaching about the atonement and how we can all be forgiven, no matter what we owe. And he looked at me and said "are you sure?" and I said "Señor, yo sé que lo que estoy diciendo es la verdad." And then we argued for about thirty seconds before he was like "oh ok, you know I think you're right" and so we left. And I didn't really think about it, but then at the end of the activity, the youth went to go bear their testimony, and one from my group shared what happened. And then he said my answer surprised him, and that it made him really think hard about if he had a testimony. And then he kind of started to tear up and said, "yeah, I do. I'm going on a mission." Holy cow that was cool.

And then sunday was sunday. The person who was supposed to feed us forgot, so we ate with the Bishop, about which I have no complaints. Except he made me eat a super hot pepper and then started laughing at how hard my nose was running. But yeah. And now we're here. Another Monday, and the beginning of another adventurous week.

Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Birthday and new companion

Birthday Celebration

Dear All,

First off, I AM SO SORRY FOR NOT WRITING BUT FEAR NOT I AM ALIVE. I was stuck in Tijuana all day to collect my new companion. And when I say collect, I mean collect, cause he had just gotten off the plane.

Yeah, I'm training. So that's cool. Its like hey you look like you might know a little bit about what you're doing, here's a new missionary, oh and by the way his whole mission depends on these 3 months so please don't screw it up thanks! But yeah its been good.  It's been hard, but good. And funny too, our first lesson with a real investigator he taught that the Pope is a prophet like President Monson. Haha.

But yeah let's start at the beginning. New Year's is indeed crazy here, it's basically a competetion to see who can get the drunkest and not die. And then blow stuff up. So yeah that was fun. It sounded like a gunfight all night. And then on New Years Day we went to Tijuana cause we had a training check on Friday morning and we had the whole day on Thursday free. So we went up there about 2 in the afternoon, got there around 4, and then another Elder we were with sent a text to a family he had known in his old area, and they came and picked us up and took us around Tijuana. And it was SO COLD and we didnt have anything besides sweaters so they bought us scarves and gloves. So that was way cool. And then we were gonna go to this restaurant called Pampas, which is a brasilian steakhouse, and we were gonna eat until we puked, but it was closed. So we went to this place called Sirloin, which is basically Golden Corral. And it was awesome. I ate so much I was so happy.
The next day was the training check and they basically just wanted to make sure that our trainers weren't teaching us how to disobey or anything, and then at one point President Garcia was like "well really you should be ready to train the day after your training, right Elder Rawlings?" And i was like Oh cool yeah guess what I'm gonna be doing.

And then on Saturday they called us and told us that Elder Vega was gonna leave to be a Zone Leader and I was gonna stay and train a new Mexican.

Sunday was my birthday and it was pretty cool. On sunday everybody wished me happy birthday, and I felt pretty cool, and then we went to the food. The family who we were eating with normally honestly doesn't cook that great or give very much food, but this time was different.
She pulled out her best stuff and it was way good. And then we were talking to the dad, and all of a  sudden he bursts into song. I turn around and the rest of the family is standing behind me with a cake.  So that was super cool.

The rest of the day was spent saying goodbye to converts and members that were close to Elder Vega, and it was cool to see how much the Ward really does care about the missionaries.

Then on Monday we said goodbye, he got on the bus for San Louis Rio Colorado and I headed to Tijuana. There I met Elder Lopez, my new companion. And he's a chill guy. He's 23, and he spent his high school playing football (not soccer, football football) and then worked driving taxis and restoring cars to get ready for the mish. He's got a lot to learn but he's getting there. And it's funny cause he's this short stubby little dude and I've gotten into the habit of walking really fast, and it makes me laugh every 10 paces or so he starts jogging, huffing and puffing to catch up to me.

So this week has been spent meeting all the members, showing him where all the less active members live, and walking way more than necessary so that he gets to know the area. So I'm exhausted. But excited. These next three months are gonna be super chill.

Sorry again for not writing, but it sounds like you guys had a pretty sweet New Years as well. Also thanks for all the Birthday wishes, you guys are the best.
Les quiero much,

Elder Rawlings
Bus selfie with new companion Elder Lopez

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No email this week :(

Transfers were this past Monday (January 5th), and unfortunately we did not receive an email from Jenson.  When we spoke to him on Christmas he felt like he would be staying in his current area of Ensenada, but his companion Elder Vega would be transferred.  We are anxiously awaiting his email tomorrow and hear what he is up to..  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Feliz Navidiad

 Jenson proving to his mom that he wore  his Christmas tie on the Sunday before Christmas and matching with his family

Dear All,
Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año!! So since I couldn't write last week I've got two weeks to fill you in on. And they're two weeks where a ton of stuff happened.
First off, the day after I wrote last (So Tuesday the 16th) we had our Christmas dinner with the President and all the other missionaries here. And it was super good, instead of training we just talked about some of the great missionary talks from Elder Holland and other General Authorities. It was basically a day long pump up session with food. And it was good food. Nothing Mexican, but good.
After that, we did a little sketch. Our zone put together a number where we sang hymns and read scriptures and acted out a live nativity.
Which sounds really lame but it was actually pretty cool. And that's where the Shepherd costumes come from. After that we exchanged ties and went home. Good day.
Then on Wednesday they asked us to come back and do the skit again, but this time in front of all of the stake leadership. So we did it again. And then we got more food. But let me backtrack a little bit.
Wednesday morning we were about ready to head to work when we got a call from a member. He was like "hey what time are you guys coming? My wife already has the food ready" but on our calendar we had another family scheduled. So we called the other family to see if they would be able to switch, but they had already made food too. SO we decided to make a small sacrifice and eat at both places. And they were both so good. But I wanted to die. I was fighting the urge to throw up I was so full. But it was so worth it. The Lord really does bless us for our sacrifices :) That Friday was the ward party. And let me just tell you that ward parties here are like nothing else. This one featured a karaoke machine, 6 Pinatas, a dance, TONS of food, and two missionaries with ties that play music (thanks mom). It was so much fun. And then we came home and Elder Vega said he didn't feel so well, so we planned really quickly and went to bed. And then he woke up the next morning and said he still didn't feel good, but not bad enough to stay home.
So we went to go visit the father of a member who was visiting for the holidays but had a question that the members couldn't answer so he wanted to ask us. And that was the most frustrating lesson we've had so far. The question was super super deep, so we did our best to answer it, but he still wasn't satisfied, so we talked about how there will always be mysteries of God that really we don't need to know in this life. But he still wasn't satisfied. So we just kind of ended and left, but Elder Vega was getting worse. I was watching him walk and saw that he was shaking and said that he was cold but it was rather warm, so I called it a day. I made him go home, we called the Mission Doctors, and about 10 minutes later he started throwing up. So good thing we weren't in a lesson. But yeah we didn't work on Saturday, so I watched all of the church videos we have and read about 100 pages of the Book of Mormon. So yeah.
Sunday was a good day, Elder Vega was felling alittle better, so we went to church, But then after church we ate tomales and thats basically the worst thing you can do when you're sick and so he got even worse. So we barely worked sunday or Monday either. So that kind of sucked. But he's all better now.
Wednesday this place got crazy. Here, the big day for parties is the 24th, and the 25th is "don't do anything all day" day. So people were getting ready all day. making tomales and pozoli, cleaning the house, and then as soon as it got dark, lighting off fireworks. And there is a reason that Mexican fireworks are illegal in the US. They're basically bombs. We were at a house and the son, who is about 14, showed us the firecrackers he was gonna light off. He was complaining about how small they were. These things were easily about an inch in diameter by about 4 or 5 inches long. And then he showed us how they worked. He put one under a five gallon bucket, the ones you get at home depot, and it blew the thing to pieces. It sounded like a shotgun. And he was disappointed. Meanwhile, I was super jealous. If nothing else, I'm coming back to buy fireworks.
That night we got permission to go to dinner and spend time with a family, preferably an investigator or a less active. We went with a guy who is a fairly recent convert, but is single. It was a blast. He invited another recent convert family over and we ate ribs and played musical chairs and then to cap it off had an animal noise contest. It was incredible. We of course had to leave early, and as we were walking home, about 10 police cars and firetrucks passed us, all on their way to clean up the messes that these fireworks were making.
Christmas day was pretty cool. Calling home was awesome; I miss you guys a ton but honestly that call made me want to be here more. I know I'm on the Lord's errand and he's happy that I'm here. After that we kind of hung out with the family that had the computers. One of the guys was visiting from Utah, but he used to drive trucks through Georgia so he knew exactly where we live so that was cool.
Then on Saturday we got our biggest Christmas present yet. We finally baptized someone. She is the daughter-in-law of a less active family, and it was super cool to watch her progress. The missionaries have been visiting that family and her for about 2 years now, and she has never wanted anything to do with the church. But then, on my first day here, we left her a pamphlet of the restoration. Apparently she read it later, and thought about talking to us, but decided not to. Then the Bishop invited her to go to a Family Home Evening, and he talked about how families can be together forever. Apparently that's what she needed to hear. After that she called us and asked us to teach her.
This was back in about the second week of November. So we taught her, and we set a baptismal date, but then she never showed up for church.
And we have a rule that we can't baptize someone until after 5 time attending the Church. And when we called her she didn't want us to come cause her husband wasn't home, so eventually we just stopped so we could focus on people who we thought wanted to progress. Then, on Dec 5, one day before her previously scheduled baptism, she called us and asked us if she was still getting baptized the next day or if she needed to do more. So we went and visited her, reset the date for Dec 27, and from then on it was super easy. She went to church even though her family didn't, she kept all of her commitments, she read a ton of the Book of Mormon, and then on Saturday got baptized. And it was wonderful.
Then on Sunday, she asked me if I would confirm her and give the gift of the Holy Ghost. So that was neat. I've given quite a few blessings at this point, but never in front of 100 people and without a microphone so basically shouting. I was nervous and honestly I don't remember most of what I said, but I felt good after and I think she did too. So that was the highlight of my mission so far.
Whew that was tiring to write. Hope you guys are doing well too. May this New Year be one of great successes.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

 Jenson and Elder Vega with a family in their Ward in Ensenada

Jenson and Elder Vega at their Baptism this past week