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 :)