Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Lord works in mysterious ways

Jenson and Elder Vega 2.0 

Dear All,
Guys Mexicali is nuts. In so many ways.
I really don't even know where to start. We found 21 new people to teach this week. I have no idea how we did it. I am so tired. My feet hurt. I broke a pair of shoes. The good thing is that I didn't touch a bike this week thank goodness.

So on Monday when we started to work we went to look for a contact that we had done about a week ago. We get to the house and we start hearing some super loud rock music. We get closer and it's Avenged Sevenfold, a band that I liked for a while. So we knock on the door and this stereotype skater dude came out, gagues lip ring, everything. We start talking to him, he lets us in, and then he starts telling asking us some super weird questions about how to cast out demons and stuff cause there's a demon that lives in that house and as much as he wants it to mess with him it never does so he's mad at the demon and wants to get rid of it. Stuff like that. But anyway we taught the Plan of Salvation and set a baptismal date. So yeah the Lord works in mysterious ways.

On Tuesday we had our conference with the President, and it was super cool. It was awesome. We left super excited and had another way cool experience in the taxi on the way home. We get in the taxi and contacted the dude driving, he tells us that he believes in God but doesn't see why we have to go to a church to show faith. So we started asking him questions, and all of the sudden a question came to my head. And as I was about to say it, my companion beat me to it. The exact question that I was about to ask. If that's not the Spirit I don't know what is. Anyway this dude gets quiet, and the starts breathing really weird. Honestly the first thing that came to my head was that part from the book Hatchet when he's in the plane and all of the sudden the pilot has a heart attack. I thought the dude was dying. Turns out he was crying. Thank goodness (I think?). Then he tells us how he started believing in God. Then he tells us that he's never told anyone that story ever, except his wife. We take turns bearing testimony of the Plan of Salvation, get his address and phone number, and then he tells us that he saw us far away, and in that moment something told him that we were going to get into his taxi, and that now he knew why. It was super cool.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were about the same, we just walked A TON, I broke a pair of shoes (but don't worry I have an extra pair that a sister in my ward gave me), and we found a bunch of new people to teach.

Saturday was a pretty alarming day. For having spent so much time in lessons where we were just knocking doors and teaching who we found, we neglected a little bit our baptismal dates. We found out that several weren't going to go to church on Sunday. So we were kind of worried.
But then Sunday was pretty good. Besides having very few investigators in church, we had a good day. We were able to find a reference from a family that we had taught a week ago but hadn't been able to find the whole week. So we taught him, and he told us that, of all the churches he had ever gone to, none of them even came close to what we had, which he described simply enough as "la verdad de todo". It was pretty powerful.

I was listening to a talk from Elder Holland the other day and he quoted a scripture that is super cool. It's Ether 12:37, made famous because it's the scripture that Hyrum read to Joeseph just before their martyrdom. 'Thou hast been faithful; therefore thou shalt me made strong...even unto the sitting down in the place with which I have prepared for you in the mansions of my Father." But what I love about this scripture is what comes just before that. Moroni prays that the Gentiles (us) will have charity and not make fun of his words, and the Lord pretty much sets him straight, like "Look, none of that matters. Just be you, do what you do, and if you do it well I'll take care of everything. Those other people have nothing to do with what you do, if you're doing it for me." It's a powerful lesson for all of us. When we are rejected or cast out and we think what am I doing wrong or how can I make these people see what I can really do, the Lord sets us straight. Just be you, do it well, and the Lord takes care of the rest. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear"

Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Another pic of Jenson and his Companion Elder Vega

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First bike experience as a missionary

(picture of dust storm, which are fairly common in Mexicali)

Dear All,
Guys it is so hot here. And people are walking around with like fall type clothes cause they say it's quite "fresco". I don't understand it. 
But yeah this week was pretty cool. I went on exchanges twice, which was pretty fun. The first time was with another Elder in my district who is training right now, and it was pretty fun. It was my first time on bike, and that just made it special. I remember thinking that missionaries would have some pretty sweet bikes or at least decent cause like they told us to have a certain amount of money to buy it, but that is definitely not the case here. I don't know if you guys remember that blue bike I got for like my 8th christmas? I think we still have it, but anyway, that was about the size of the bike I was riding on Tuesday. I was dying. I had to pedal about 4 times for every one time that my companion did just to barely keep up with him. So I got home and slept really well. But the best part is that there are 4 Elders who live together, the Zone Leaders and these guys. And the Zone Leaders are two Americans. And they're insane. Like literally. So spending the night with them was absolutely crazy.
Wednesday and Thursday were pretty solid too, we walked a ton, but we found some good new investigators and we got some who started to progress really well. I also had the most efficient contact of my mission so far.
So this lady was walking down the street, we stopped to talk to her and she kind of gasped and was panting and so we asked her if she was tired. She started to laugh and said no, that she was about to use the bathroom. And she was kind of dancing. It was hilarious. Anyway about three seconds later we had her address, she had a pass along card, and we had set an appointment. It was super cool.
On Friday I went on exchanges again, this time with the Zone Leaders, so it was a day spent in English. It was way fun. And again it was on bike. This bike was a little bit better, but not by much. It was my size, which was nice, but the left pedal was like slanted outward, so as it would go around the circle my foot would sway back and forth. Plus I couldn't really put any pressure on it cause my food would just slip off. So I got home that day with a weird cramp in my left leg and with my right leg absolutely dead. But I did sleep really well again. 
We spent Saturday, as usual, committing people to come to church. At the end of the day we had 18 people committed. And I'm not gonna lie, my first thought was that I was finally going to beat those Sharon Springs Missionaries with their 16. Haha missionary thoughts.
Sunday came and it was looking good. We had rides set up for a bunch, and we called the rest with cars to make sure they were coming. And they all said yes. So we got excited. And then we got to church and there were a few, and then a few more came, and then a few more came. We ended up with quite a few, not 18,but enough. And then a less active family came with someone we didn't recognize. It was one of their friends who decided he wants to listen to the missionaries. So we taught him right after church and bam. Baptismal date. And then we got a super cool call. There's a less acitve family here who just sent their son on the mission, and their other son is getting ready to go too. Anyway, the older son left behind a girlfriend, and she also wants to get baptized. So we taught her after the ward Family Home Evening and bam. Baptismal date. Mexicali is pretty fun.
I finally took some pictures this week too haha. There just isn't anything interesting here. Its all flat, the houses all look the same, there are zero physical features, there isn't even color. So I'll try to find stuff to send you, but I don't know. Maybe I'll send you a pic of my pet, his name is "Mátelo" cause that's what we yell when we see him, but he likes to hide a lot and eat our food when we aren't looking. We're gonna go buy him some special food today. ("Mátelo" is a mouse and if you aren't laughing at the name you probably don't speak spanish).
Anyway I'm doing good. I'll see the president on Tuesday, so I think that's when I'll get the packages. Hope you all enjoyed your Spring Break, and didn't do anything too dumb or get too burned.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings
Elder Vega (Jenson's new companion, not to be confused with his first companion also named Elder Vega) doing magic tricks.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mexicali, "The Promised Land"

Dear All,
What a wonderful weekend. Conference was super cool, it wasn't super super hot, and I started to see why they call Mexicali "The Promised Land". 

So we started off going to work on Tuesday with a district meeting, which was different because there are only 2 companionships in our district. So it felt quite empty. But it was alright. Then we started working and right off the bat that day we found 3 new people to teach and set a baptismal date. On Wednesday we found 8 more people and set 5 more baptismal dates. And the rest of the week went pretty much like that. It was pretty dope.

Mexicali does have its downsides though, especially where we are at. Our area is quite large, but we don't have bikes because they would get robbed really quickly. So that should give you an idea of what this place is like. The places where we go at night are much fewer than the places we avoid. And everyone here drinks SO MUCH. It is insane. Literally every single house on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday had at least one person on the porch with their giant beer. And they play music really loud. But aside from that, this place is sweet. Its crazy flat. Like I've been trying to think of a way to describe to you guys how it is, and this is the best I could come up with. If you were to set a marble on the ground at any given point in the city, it would not roll unless you pushed it. It is so weird. And because it's so flat, there really aren't any cool views or anything notable to take pictures of, so yeah.
But yeah the conference was super awesome. We had 4 investigators come with us. 3 of them are part of a family, but the couple isn't married. And they were there in the first session, when the whole theme was marriage and the blessings it brings. So they left with that in their heads. It was pretty cool. 

The one talk that stood out to me the most was the one from some Seventy or something. It was the one where he talked about "I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music." That really hit me. I started thinking about how, as missionaries, we study the scriptures and PMG every day so that we can know how to help people and to be able to teach and defend what we know. Therefore, we know how to dance. And it's fairly easy to teach our message with pure logic, but what really counts is the music, or rather, the Spirit. If we aren't fully in tune and in step with the Spirit, our teaching won't get anywhere. We'll end up teaching people once and then never seeing them again because we couldn't help them feel "the music". So really it works both ways. We as missionaries have to know how to dance according to the music, and then when we teach others how to dance, they have to hear the music so that they have the confidence to bust a sweet move (and get baptized). 

But yeah. That's my week.
Les quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Transfer to Mexicali

Jenson  and Elder Lopez saying goodbye to Hermano Adan, his dear friend who sold burritos off  from his Moped and would give his extras that he couldn't sell to the missionaries

Dear All,
Hello everyone from the (less beautiful and much hotter) city of MEXICALI! Yep, I got transferred. My new ward is called Robledo. And what they say about Mexicali is all true. It is wicked hot and super, super flat. Basically the opposite of Ensenada. But it'll be good. And my new companion is also named Elder Vega. But it's not the same one that trained me. This guy is from Mexico City, and he has the accent haha. But he seems like a good guy, hes the district leader.

But yeah this week was pretty fun. On Monday a couple in the ward invited us to go eat some tacos in this place thats supposedly famous in the whole state for having super good tacos. And they were. Wow. It was legit. And then we visited a guy named Alejandro, because we had to review the baptismal interview questions with him because yes, he got baptized on Saturday.

So this dude was a miracle. We were way far away from home one night, and as the appointment we had fell through so we started to knock doors. We knocked one where we saw light, heard voices, and had a car, but no one came out. But then as we walked down the street we saw a guy washing his car. Which was kinda weird cause it was like 8:00 at night. So we started talking, and when we told him we were missionaries he opened his gate and told us to share whatever we had with him. So we taught the first lesson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and set an appointment to come back. And we left like "wow...that was kinda cool". The next time we went back he had read the first 5 chapters. That never happens. And then when we invited him to be baptized, he smiled so big and told us what had happened. The morning that we met him, he had prayed for God to show him a better path in his life. So he was outside waiting for someone, anyone, but didn't know who, when we met him. He told us that when saw us he knew immediately that it was God who had sent us to him. So that was absolutely incredible.

Then after about a week we taught him the Word of Wisdom, but we honestly taught it super bad. We kept getting distracted. And we left like well crap. Cause he was drinking a ton of coffee every day. But when we went back two days later, he told us that he had stopped drinking coffee. And that he had bought about 50 apples so that they would help him stay awake. We gave him a blessing, and from that moment on he told us he didn't need coffee to stay awake.

Then the problem was his job. He had changed his day once to come to church with us, but the next week they fired the guy with whom he was switching. So he couldn't come. And the next week it didn't look like he was going to be able to come. So we invited him to look for a new job. And he said he would. When we went back he told us that his boss had refused to give him Sundays, so he said he was going to quit, so his boss was kinda like "oh dang this dude's serious" and gave him a 1 hour break that Sunday and all of the Sundays after that.

Then the best part. This guy was living alone because he had had problems with his family. And the first time we came into his house, it was literally covered in cockroaches. And ticks. It was disgusting. But every time we came it kept getting cleaner and cleaner. And then one day he called us and asked us to come like right now. So we hurried over and found out his son, who had hated his dad, had decided out of the blue to come live with him. So that was amazing.

And then on the Sunday before his baptism, we asked him if he could help us with a ride for two investigators that live close to him. And he said for sure he would help us out. And he did. (That day was sweet cause we 10 investigators in the church) and then after church he told us that the night before his car had died completely and he had to push it home. But he didn't have minutes on his phone to call us and tell us he couldn't help with the ride so he just said a prayer that his car would start and stay on long enough to take us to church. So we all piled in, and when we went to go get the other people Elder Lopez and I got to go get em. And we heard him turn the car off, which in the moment didn't seem super important to us, but he told us later that it was one of the biggest acts of faith he's ever had to do in his life.

So basically this guy is incredible. And I had the honor of descending into the water with him. That was a pretty cool moment. And the Sisters in our district brought investigators with them, and they told us that it got them really excited for their own baptism.

And then on Sunday it was rough. Saying goodbye to so many people. Its like that saying, "You don't know what you have until it's gone." There were times when I was so blasted frustrated with the ward in Universidad, but really they just did the best they could. It was nice to feel loved for a few days. Hermano Adán even made special burritos and brought some to me. So yeah I'll miss that place. But yeah. Here I am. Now it's time to make this ward love me too. And yes I am taking pictures, but Elder Lopez just takes many more. And sometimes it takes a while for the pictures to upload, and its easier just to forward the ones he sends to me.

You guys are great, I miss you all. Thanks for everything you do.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Baptism of Alejandro
with the Bishop of the ward in Universidad