Sunday, February 22, 2015

The week I turned into a "real" missionary in Mexico

Dear All,

Anyway this week. Well that family of 7 told us they don´t want to get baptized anytime soon, so that kinda sucks, but I´ll just leave it at that. As one door closes, (or 7) others open. We left the house of that ¨chosen¨ family and found some truly prepared people that actually want to progress. Even one guy who wants to quit his job just so that he can come to church with us next week. So that is super cool.
Also this week, I turned into a real missionary in Mexico. That´s right ladies and gents I got bit by my first dog. And it hurt like nothing else.
So we went to do service for this guy cause we were talking and it came up that before the mission I learned carpentry and how to work with power tools and stuff. So we went to go help him build a shed and fence and stuff and his dog was back where we were going to work, so he grabbed it to take it out, and as it passed us, it pulled him just enough to reach me and BAM right on the bottom of my leg. I was just lucky that I had my trusty boots, cause like half of his mouth got my boot and the other half got my leg, so it barely broke skin, but it bruised and swole up pretty good. But yeah. Now I´m a real missionary.
So that´s that.
We also had some cool lessons this week. One is a guy whose whole family recently got baptized, but he never really listened to the missionaries, but one day, Elder Vega and I had an appointment that fell through, and we both felt like we needed to go visit that guy. So we did, and all of the sudden he let us into his house. And we taught him. And it was super cool. But that was back near my birthday. And then he went off to work for like a month and so we didn´t see him for that whole time. But then he came back, and on Monday we had a FHE with their family and the Bishop, and we watched The Testaments, which made everyone, including him, cry. On Wednesday, two members of the ward went to visit him, kind of a like a home teaching thing, and they left and called us and told us to get over there as soon as possible cause he was super excited to get baptized. So we went on Thursday, and really we just talked, but we threw in scriptures and guided the topic carefully, and at the end he accepted a baptismal date. So here´s the lesson. Never give up on partial member families, and two, having members in the lessons or even members who can give lessons by themselves is incredibly powerful. So everyone who is reading this, go get a Preach my Gospel and study chapter 3. The missionaries wherever you are at will be so thankful it´s not even funny.
We also had some cool experiences with Erika, the wife of Hulk. In fact, I don´t know if my last letter seemed kind of short, it´s cause I had to cut it off short because something came up with her. But she is progressing really well, and also has plans to get baptized. So that´s awesome.
And then today we had a pretty dope day. We went to this place called Holdman Studios, the company that makes the glass for the temples. And so we got to see them making the stained glass for the Tijuana, Paris, and another temple in Peru. And it was way cool. I wish I could send all the pictures I took, but they told us that we can´t until after the temples are dedicated, for privacy reasons. But it was way cool.
Anyway, that was my week. Not super exciting, not super boring, but definitely had it´s moments.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The week we met "Hulk"

Dear All,
This week has been like super up and down, but it was way good.
We started off on Monday like normal, we had a FHE with a family, and it was pretty good. Nothing really special though.
Tuesday was pretty cool, we had a ward service project to clean the chapel, and they had us missionaries and another brother clean the tennis court. And then all they gave us was brooms. So as we worked, other people finished their jobs and then came to help us, and eventually pretty much the entire ward was there, sweeping the tennis court, and it was super cool to see. I should have taken a picture, but I forgot my camera that day :( On Wednesday we had a meeting in Tijuana for all of the trainers and trainees. And we got chewed out super hard. They had every one write down how many contacts they had done in the past week, and the numbers were pitiful. 10, 15, 12, numbers like that. In a whole week.
Ourselves included. Then President told us that as a mission, we only baptized 8 people last week, which is lower than several US missions.
And we were previously number 4 in Mexico and top 15 in the world. So that was unacceptable. But we came home from that meeting and contacted 19 people. It was awesome. And I think I mentioned last week that we can knock doors now. So that has been super fun.
Thursday was a pretty normal day, nothing super special happened, but Friday we did exchanges. And it was Sadie and McKay´s birthday. And I think they were my good luck charm that day. As we knocked doors, looking for a less active member who we still don´t know, we started talking to this lady. And as we talked she got really interested. And then we asked if we could share a message with her. She said yes, let us in, and then called all of her kids to listen too. It was a family of 7. And now every single one of them has a baptismal date. So gracias Sadie and Mckay, por haberme dado ese regalo. It was super cool. They are super awesome.
On Saturday we had an appointment with a reference that we got from a sister in the ward. This lady has come to church for a few weeks now, but she had never let us come by to teach her. But finally she did.
And we walked into her house, and we met Hulk. Her husband is like a bodybuilder slash competitive weight lifter by hobby, and the dude is Huge. Like he would fit in well as an NFL linebacker. LIke HUGE. So we´ve been doing our excercise a little bit harder in the morning so that when he gets baptized we can do it and not make ourselves look dumb.
And then Sunday was ward conference, and it was pretty good. The Stake President came and spoke, and it was a pretty solid day. Then as we were walking around in the afternoon, trying to find new doors to knock, we saw some young men from the ward with shovels, and so we asked them what they were doing. They told us they were going to do some service so that they could save money to pay for their temple trip. So we went and helped them. And it was kind of interesting. They basically went to mow a lawn, only it was on a hill, and there wasn´t a whole lot of grass, and all they had was shovels. So basically we just dug up the grass and threw it into some of the holes in the road to smooth it out a little bit. But it was pretty fun haha.
Anyway that´s my week. Happy Birthday Sadie and McKay again, and congrats on the Presthood bro.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I love being a Missionary!

Dear All,
Fun week. The first half was pretty normal, the only really exciting thing we did was exchanges, and I went to another area with an Elder who came out at the same time I did, but he's from Bolivia. And he and I get along super well, so that was way fun. Also, something cool: the rule in Mexico for all missionaries for about about 2 years now is that we are heavily discouraged from just knocking doors, because it can be dangerous and it's not super effective. But our Zone has been way down in success as of late, and Ensenada is probably the most peaceful city for 1000 miles. And just so you know why, it's cause all of the cartel member's families live here, so it's kind of a neutral zone. Or so they say haha. But anyway due to the lack of success and the peacefulness of the city, we have now been given full access to knock every single door we see. So that has created some fun experiences. For example, with Elder Peralta, the dude from Bolivia, he always tries to open the doors after he knocks. I don't know why but it's super funny. Anyway we knocked a door, and as he started to turn the handle, we hear a voice: "Elders...Elders..." and we are like what the actual heck. And then it kept going: "Tell me about José Smith Elders..." and then the door opened and this old dude was there.
He had a peephole that we didn't see and was talking to us from behind the door. We just thought it was like when the angel appeared to Alma and the sons of Mosiah.  So that was on Thursday.

 Now I'm gonna go back to Sunday real quick cause it relates to Friday. On Sunday, the ward secretary came up to me, pulled me aside, and said "Hey man, so I'm getting sealed in the Temple on Friday, and I don't have a suit, but we're about the same size, would you help me surprise my wife?" So I was like "do you want this one that I've got on or the gray one?" And so he borrowed my gray suit, and then got sealed in the Temple. So I'm just basically the ward wingman.

Also on Friday, we went to work, and it was starting to get a little bit cloudy. But we were like yeah whatever let's just go it won't rain. So then as we are teaching our first lesson, on the front porch of a lady's house cause she was alone and so we couldn't go in, it started raining. Hard. So we tried to make the lesson super long, but it kept raining. Eventually we just ran. And to where we ran, they weren't home. So we ran to the neighbor, who is a less active member, and taught a lesson there. Then we got a phone call that the lady with whom we were going to eat was stuck at work and if we could please go and buy something ourselves and she would reimburse us. So that meant about an hour's worth of travel to the nearest grocery store to buy something cheap but filling. And then as we leave the store, it had started raining again. But this time we had nowhere to go. So we walked home in the rain, and when we got there, we had mud up past our ankles and we were soaked through. Except not really, cause we were walking fast and uphill the whole way, so only the front of us got really wet. It was super funny and I should've taken a picture, but I was too worried about getting into dry clothes and eating haha.

Then on Saturday we had a baptism. It wasn't technically a convert baptism, but I'm gonna count it like one. I don't know if you remember the first picture I sent you guys of me and Elder Vega with a recent convert who had just reactivated, but that dude got to baptize his daughter. And we have gotten super close. Therefore, I know most of his life story. This guy was a drunk, he would cheat on his wife, and he was using some pretty hardcore drugs. Then the missionaries came by and he decided he wanted to change. He shaped up enough to get baptized, but he still had a lot of bad habits and he would mess up bad sometimes. But then, the last week in December, he called Elder Vega and I over to talk to him. And he said he really wanted to baptize his daughter, and that he was going to fast to be able to do it, and asked if we would join him. We said heck yeah, and then that Sunday, my birthday, he told us that he felt so good, and finally felt worthy to baptize his daughter. So after Elder Vega left, Elder Lopez and I have been passing by their house two or three times a week to help him memorize the prayer, understand the doctrine, and basically help him to not feel so nervous. And it has been amazing the change.

He is a different person. It is absolutely incredible to watch. And the baptism was so cool. This dude, who was basically a street thug, started to cry he was so happy. It was amazing. I freaking love being a missionary.

Anyway, that's my week. Hope everything goes well this week, and Sadie and McKay HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! You're turning what, 9? I remember being 9, it was like 10 years ago. Love you kids.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I can use a machete...I'm an Eagle Scout

Dear All,
Pretty solid week. I feel like I say that a lot. Maybe this week I'll think of a new phrase do describe life.

So this week we started out with a conference with the Mission President on Tuesday, which was super good, as usual. Then we ran from there to go eat, cause we said we were going to go do some service for a lady in the ward at 3 and we left the conference at 3:15. So we ran, ate about as fast as humanly possible, and then went to her house. She had this giant tree that had fallen down in her "yard" and asked us to come cut it up and take it away. So we show up expecting hatchets or an axe or something but all she had was a machete. And then she asked my companion if he knew how to use it, and he said yes, and then she was like "ok so then you're going to be in charge of the machete cause I'm certain Elder Rawlings has never even seen one of these before" and I'm like excuse me eagle scout here and so I grab the machete and start hacking away. It was super fun actually, but it got old really fast. Just imagine cutting through a tree about 8 or 10 inches in diameter with nothing but a machete. So that kinda sucked. But then this lady's son who was working with us slipped and fell and broke one of the pipes in their yard (most of the plumbing here is above ground cause the people do it themselves) and so all of the sudden we have to deal with a geyser and a fallen tree at the same time. Meanwhile, the lady had to leave cause she had meetings in the church. So she leaves us with the son, a fallen tree, and a geyser. Then the son sprang into action to fix the pipe. And I wasn't really paying attention I just knew he was gonna try and fix the pipe. And from what I could tell, he did. The water stopped spraying. So I got back to cutting the tree, but pretty soon my hand started to hurt, so I switched with Elder Lopez. And I went to go see how the fixing of the pipe was going.
Turns out in order to fix the pipe this kid had done nothing more than stick his finger into the opening to stop it. And every 30 seconds or so the pressure would build up to more than he could hold and launch his finger out and spray him right in the face. I was dying. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. But then I had a genius idea. I remembered seeing duct tape in their house the other day when we were there (I remember cause duct tape is impossible to find here; you have to go to the US to buy it) and so I ran to grab it. And like anyone from the South would do, we covered that pipe with about 10 layers of duct tape. And it worked, for the most part. But then Elder Lopez finally finished off the tree, and came over to help. And then he added his Mexican flair to the duct tape job by grabbing a lighter and using it to melt a plastic watter bottle and drip the melted plastic over the leaks. It was the ugliest repair job I have ever seen. But it worked so heck no I won't complain.
The rest of the week was pretty cool, we have an investigator who started out super cool, but then she went to go visit her in-laws and they told her a bunch of stuff about how we have 7 wives and don't believe in doctors and stuff like that so when we called her to confirm the appointment we had with her, she was like, "well probably I think I want to stay in my church, but come over anyway." So we went over there, and we didn't really know what to say, but we just started talking. All of the sudden she started spilling her whole life story to us, all of the problems she has, everything. It was super cool and weird at the same time. But it gave us a chance. We just bore testimony of the things we know, and she was like "you know what. I think I want to go to your church." So we left like heck yeah. But then on Sunday her husband didn't let her go, so she called us and she was like "I just know if you guys can come and talk to him he'll change his mind and we will go to church." So yeah. We have an appointment with them tonight. Wish me luck.

We also had a missionary fireside on Sunday (yesterday) for all of the youth that will be able to go on a mission in the next year. And it was super cool. We sang the EFY song, but in Spanish, so it was super cool. And then at the end, they asked everyone who wanted to go to stand up. And a ton of youth stood up, and that was cool, but then a little bit after everyone else, another person stood up. It's a young woman from my ward who just got baptized in July. And before, she had told us she hadn't wanted to go because she was going to study. But she changed her mind in that very fireside. So that was super cool.

And yeah. That's my week. Hope you all have an even better one.

Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings