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