Sunday, August 14, 2016

My final testimony as a full time missionary

Dear All,
Well, it has all come to an end. Today was a pretty dope day. Since the zone broke the baptisms record last month. we asked special permission to have a super cool activity. So we ordered two 28" pizzas and bought some fried snacks and watched "Buscando a Dory" on the ward projector. Don't ask how we got ahold of it, suffice it to say in Tijuana you can get whatever you want for less than a dollar usually ;) haha it was super sketchy but way cool. If you haven't seen it yet, it was pretty good. Or maybe it wasn't and I just haven't seen a movie in two years to compare it haha yeah it's probably that. 
I am glad to say that I feel very satisfied with the work that I have done. I have done my best, and I know that even though I leave the mission, the work that I started here hasn't come to an end. President Garcia says that the mission is like a river. (I always think of that dumb song from Napoleon Dynamite "Some say love, it is a river...") and that it's always changing and moving and we are just little droplets floating along until it's our turn to leave and help in another part of God's vineyard. There is a quote from M. Russel Ballard that I have in the front of my scriptures that says "Debemos estar anhelosamente consagrados a la obra misional antes, durante, y despues de nuestro servicio misional." That's the key. Know that even though the callings or the circumstances may change, the covenants to serve and to consecrate ourselves are still in play. I had the opportunity to go with Miguel to the temple this week when he recieved his endowment. What a special opportunity, and I learned a lot from being there.
I am ready to come home. It's time to go on to even bigger and better things.
Quiero terminar con mi testimonio. Es algo que atesoro y que mas valor tiene para mi. Se, sin ninguna duda, que Jesucristo vive. El esta a la diestra del Padre y ellos estan a la cabeza de esta gran obra. Lehi dijo, "Todas las cosas han sido hechas segun la sabiduria de aquel que todo lo sabe." Testifico de eso. Al acercarnos a el, aprendemos que nosotros desempeñamos una parte muy pequeña en todo esto. Nuestro Padre y Jesucristo se le aparecieron al joven profeta Jose Smith, y desde alli ha habido comunicacion directa entre Dios y un Profeta viviente. Las escrituras son el registro de esa comunicacion y nos dirigiran para bien el la medida que las leamos y apliquemos. El Sacerdocio es el poder de Dios y obra milagros. Nuestras oraciones son contestadas. La vida no se acaba con la muerte. Lo se y se lo testifico en el nombre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Amen.
Nos vemos el martes :)
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Translation (from google translate)
I want to end my testimony. It is something that I cherish and more worth to me. It is , no doubt , that Jesus Christ lives . He is at the right hand of the Father and they are at the head of this great work. Lehi said , "All things have been done in the wisdom of one who knows everything . " I testify that. As we approach the , we learn that we play a very small part in this. Our Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith , and since there has been no direct communication between God and a living prophet . Scripture is the record of that communication and direct us for good measure that the read and apply . The priesthood is the power of God works miracles . Our prayers are answered. Life does not end with death . I know and I testify in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen .
See you on Tuesday :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Saying goodbyes

 With members of the ward he is serving in at the Tijuana Temple

Dear All,
Its August. I go home in august. WHAT.
I spent the day today saying goodbye to people, and found out my convert Lucila, the JW from Independencia, passed away a week ago. What joy I feel to know that I will still be able to see her in the Celestial Kingdom someday. 
Other than that, it was a good week. Its always a good week when we baptize and when our zone breaks the baptismal record for a month.
Well that´s all I have time for, next week will be my last testimony. Holy heck.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

With Lucila at her baptism

Sunday, July 31, 2016

3 more weeks

Dear All,
I feel like by now I'm just repeating myself in my emails, its not like I've been writing them every week for two years now or anything, but yeah.
Good week, super hot, but this morning it was thundering (First time I've heard thunder since my training) and I was like "No te apures, clima, todavia no me voy" haha hope you understand that cause I have no idea how it comes out in translate, If not I'll just tell you in THREE FREAKING WEEKS. What the heck. So weird.
So yeah today we went all over Tijuana looking for a money suit, found it in the 4th store we tried, and I look good. So there's that.
Everyone asks me how I feel and I say normal, I'm honestly, truly, trying super hard to work evern harder now than ever, even though there is a real temptation to just say, "yeah, I'm done, I've done what I needed to do," but I know that if I do that I won't ever be able to look back at my mission as fondly as I should.
I'm not sure what else to write, things are doing well here in TJ, the soccer season started a little while ago, for all you soccer fans out there. 
So yeah. I've also been writing my talk for sacrament meeting.The hardest part will be the english haha I'm sure I'm just gonna start speaking spanish without even noticing and then I'll just see confused faces and remember I hope.
Enjoy your last few weeks of summer, I'm certainly going to enjoy mine.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It is coming to an end

Dear All,
So yeah last week was nuts and this week too. I only have like 15 minutes but I'm gonna try and get everything I can into here.
In each Multi-Zone conference, the new missionaries and the ones who are leaving that transfer give their testimony. Last week was our Multi-Zone conference, and therefore I gave my last testimony. It was super weird. Never ever expected that day to come. Right now we are setting baptismal dates for when I won't be here anymore. Things are just kind of coming to an end and its super weird.
I spent the day today buying souveneirs for me, but I'm also open to suggestions from family members if you want me to try and get something for you here, there isn't really anything here that is tradional mexican cause it's all fake stuff that they sell to silly americans who come here to buy cheap stuff, but there are plenty of shot glasses and funny t-shirts if you want one or something along those lines haha.
We had a good week this week, I did a baptismal interview for a girl who was going to get baptized and when we finsished I asked her if she wanted to play a joke on her mom, saying that she failed and wasn't going to be able to get baptized. You should have seen the look on that mom's face and then even more the face of the missionaries. HAHAHA. #Priceless. She did indeed pass, but their hearts about jumped out of their chests through their mouths.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Working hard in TJ

Dear All, 
Right now im writing this from my neighbors cell phone cause today has been nuts. Ill write more next week when i have time for right now just know that everythings all good here in TJ and we are working super hard.

Los quiero mucho!

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Favorite Book of Mormon Chapter, Jacob 5

Dear All,
So this morning, I woke all of the american Elders in the zone up with a hearty rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" sung over the phone. It was a great way to start the day. My companion got kind of annoyed though. Oh well, national pride. I've got my white shirt, blue pants, a red, white, and blue tie, and my american flag socks on. So yeah. We are also gonna throw a mini party with the ward mission leader (who lived in Houston for 8 years) tonight.
In terms of the changes, I asked president a few weeks ago to let me stay here in this area for my last transfer, and he let me do so. I feel like we have started something good here and I want to keep it up. Our zone got bigger this transfer, it is now 22 missionaries, and we are going to go so hard this summer. It's gonna be awesome.
This week was pretty cool, lots of nuts experiences, and lots of fun. We have been working hard with the Young Men, cause they're on vacations, so they can come with us and work. It's way fun. 
I spent a couple days this week studying Jacob 5. I think it is my favorite chapter in all of the standard works. Every time I read it I make like 10 new notes in the margins and highlight a bunch of stuff. I think it is one of the best parables of missionary work that has ever been written. Some of my favorite verses:
 20 And it came to pass that they went forth whither the master had hid the natural branches of the tree, and he said unto the servant: Behold these; and he beheld the first that it had brought forth much fruit; and he beheld also that it was good. And he said unto the servant: Take of the fruit thereof, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self; for behold, said he, this ong time have I nourished it, and it hath brought forth much fruit.

 21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

 22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

Who are we to judge whom the Lord has prepared to preach the gospel? Anyone, as long as we are diligent and full of love and charity, can accept the gospel, if it is the Lord's will.

 41 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept,and said unto the servant: What could I have done morefor my vineyard?
I love the Lord's attitude here. He loves us and will do anything and everything to help us "bring forth fruit".

 48 And it came to pass that the servant said unto hismaster: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not thebranches thereof overcome the roots which are good? Andbecause the branches have overcome the roots thereof,behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots,taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not thisthe cause that the trees of thy vineyard have becomecorrupted?

Loftiness=pride. Beware of pride.

 50 But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of thevineyard: Spare it a little longer.

I feel like this is what our Savior says to his Father many times, wait just a little, I'll help them out, and we'll see if they can bring forth fruit yet again.

 65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away thebranches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to thestrength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall notclear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereofshould be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereofshall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.

As we repent and help others to do so, we must be patient with ourselves and with them. We must build up good principles and habits that will end up blocking out all of the bad stuff we've got inside. If we try to do all at once and if we are not patient, out discouragement and frustration could be our downfall.

 74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according tothe commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even untilthe bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and theLord had preserved unto himself that the trees hadbecome again the natural fruit; and they became like untoone body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of thevineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit,which was most precious unto him from the beginning.

 75 And it came to pass that when the Lord of the vineyardsaw that his fruit was good, and that his vineyard was nomore corrupt, he called up his servants, and said untothem: Behold, for this last time have we nourished myvineyard; and thou beholdest that I have done accordingto my will; and I have preserved the natural fruit, that it isgood, even like as it was in the beginning. And blessed artthou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring withme in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments,and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that myvineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away,behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of myvineyard.

"Behold, ye shall have joy WITH ME". I love the thought that this is not MY work. It is not the President Garcia, the APs or even President Monson. It is the Lord's and he will bless us with the same joy that he feels as we come unto him.

I know these things are true, and wanted to share them with you guys. 
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Last (possible) transfer

Dear All,
Is it weird that next Monday is my last (possible) transfer day? How crazy is that? I'm making my last agenda, putting baptismal dates for my last weeks, everything is just coming to an end and its like WHAT I JUST GOT HERE. It's a weird feeling.
So this week was good, we had two baptisms, one of which was super chill. Definitely the highlight of the week. Also, in the mission, we are starting something called "The Model Area" which is where the APs and the ZLs have to maintain the highest numbers, most baptisms, strongest support from the members, everything, and then all of the companionships come and do divisions with us so that we can train them and explode the area. This is a change from the old exchanges, where one of us would go with one elder in his area and the other in our area with the other elder. The idea is to keep the best missionaries in the best areas for the most time possible, so that the general success can be greater. So we brought two companionships to our area, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and all four of us worked together, covering double the ground we would normally do. For example, on Friday, for my part, we found 10 new investigators and put 7 new baptismal dates, while my companion had several lessons with member present and helped a family sheetrock their house. So its a pretty sweet system.
But more about the baptisms: one is a guy that's my age, he just turned 21, and his buddy is a recent convert in California, and so his buddy sent us his address, and boom there we were the next day, and 5 weeks later he was getting baptized. He has come to be one of my best friends, and he really is going to do amazing things as a member of the church. He told us the day after his baptism, "Well, I work in the afternoon and I have every morning free, if you want I can come do visits with you guys whenever you want. I kinda wanna hear how you guys preach your sermons to other sinners like me" hahaha I about died but hey how cool is that. The dude wasn't even confirmed yet and he wanted to come visit with us. I'm gonna make sure he goes on a mission.
The other guy is a sister's dad, and when we announced his baptism, everyone got super surprised. No one believed that he would do it. Apparently he had listened to the missionaries a few times and had never wanted anything to do with the church, but then one Sunday he showed up, so we went to go visit him. It was kinda cool, when we invited him to get baptized, his daughter whipped out her phone and started recording, we felt like the Elders from "The District". And then in his baptism he shared his testimony, and most of his kids and grandkids were there, and he told them, leaning on his cane, "I'm doing this so that you can all have a good example to follow. I've studied years and years with the JW, with Christians, Catholics, everyone, and it only took me a month to get baptized here." We were all like wow. This dude is legit.
So yeah we've been having some really good weeks recently. I like feeling like I know what I'm doing, like there really isn't any situation in that I feel unconfortable or out of place or don't know what to say, and I think it's cause I'm finally getting good at listening to the Spirit."Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea,behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." Alma 26:12
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Power of the priesthood

Dear All,
Welp. Less than two months left. How freaking weird is that. I went on exchanges with guy who is going towards his first year, and I told him that the last big song that came out before I went into the MTC was one called "Shake it off" by Taylor Swift and he was floored. "That was sooooo long ago!" he says and I'm like "well yeah like two years more or less" and it was crazy.
But yeah this week was pretty good. Lots of spiritual experiences again. We also had a baptism, which was nice, it's been a while since I've been able to say that. But yeah it was pretty cool, I'll throw some pics on there later. She is a reference from a family in the ward where we almost always go on Mondays to do FHEs and she started coming all of the sudden but she didn't really show any interest and then one day she called us aside and she was like "Hey I want you to teach me cause I need to find a church." And it was like ok well that's what we are here for. But then she straight up disappeared. We had no idea where she was for like a month. And then we went to that family's house and boom there she was. We taught lesson 1 super quick, set a baptismal date, and 5 weeks later (the minimum here in this misison) she got baptized. It was way cool. Super chosen, and going to be a super good member for the rest of her life.
Also before I forget, HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO ALL YOU DADS OUT THERE, especially MY dad. Here in Tijuana they started the celebration Saturday night, cause the Mexican national team played against Chile in the Copa America, and that means that they started drinking at like 5pm and then Chile started winning and they started drinking more and then the game ended 7-0 Chile, which if it were a football score would be like 70-0. Embarassing. And my comp loves soccer and when he heard he almost cried it was super funny but the point is people were all super drunk on Saturday night, and then they woke up on Father's day hung over, and how do you get rid of a hangover? Drink more!! There are so many bottles and cans in the streets and in the trash cans and in the gutters it is ridiculous. These people need the Gospel.
But yeah there was a ward party, of course, complete with live music (in the chapel), and all kinds of fried Mexican goodness. Honestly Mexican ward parties put US ward parties to shame. They're way fun.
But we had a pretty cool moment during the party cause the sisters in our ward brought and investigator, and out of no where the dude just started crying. The sisters came over and asked us if we could give him a blessing. So we all went into an empty room and the guy started to tell us all about his life, and man was it rough. He told us he was crying because he was having a hard week, with sickness and disability and stuff and to see all those people happy and dancing and with their family was just too much for him. We gave him a blessing and taught a little lesson but it was just so special, in spite of the music and the noise and the whole environment in general, there was like a little pocket of the spirit right there. I started to think about that moment a lot this week. I feel like it was kind of a model that I want to have for my life. In spite of all the things that are out there in the world, even though they might be good things, there has to be at least a little pocket, or a little place, or a little time where we can feel the Spirit and get closer to our Heavenly Father. With that little space as our foundation, everything else falls into place better. After the lesson we took the guy back out to the party, and the ward mission leader introdcued him to another guy in the ward, who took the man by the arm, sat him down, went and got him food, and spent the rest of the night talking, joking with, and conforting him. It was really special and a true testimony of the power of the Preisthood and the need we have to use it worthily in every moment.
So yeah. Lots of stuff still to learn. But poco a poco vamos mejorando.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, June 19, 2016

First earthquake

Dear all,
This week was a good week. We didn't get to knock down any houses, but it was still fun and full of good work. There was also an earthquake here, and I have always wanted to feel an earthquake, but guess who has two thumbs and was fast asleep at the time. This guy. It was like 3am or so and supposedly my companion woke up and felt the ground moving, but just thought, "Holy crap I am REALLY tired" and went back to sleep. In the morning he told me about it and I was like haha weirdo. But then we go outside and everyone was like "Woah hey did you guys feel the earthquake too?" and my companion was like "told you I'm not crazy".
But yeah as I think about this week, a few things come to my mind. One was going on divisions with a member of the bishopric who is kind of new here and not exactly the friendliest guy but we are working on winning him over so we went on exchanges with him, and while he and my comp were in a lesson, some guy crashed into his parked car. Actually it's not his car, its the church's cause he works for the church. And its not just any car its a 2015 Corolla with all the bells and whistles you could ever want. So that kinda ruined the lesson a little bit but apparently it's all good, he's gonna do divisions again today with us so we shall see how that goes.
We were also part of another miracle entrance into the hospital, I think I told you guys what happened the first time we went a couple months ago. But this time we went to give a blessing to some sister's investigator, cause they had sent the Elder's quorum president, the bishop, the ward mission leader, everyone, and no one had actually gone yet. So they called in the big guns (haha not really my comp and I are both really short) and told us to go. So we get there, and there is a door in front that has a security guard. We already know how to get past him, we just walk in looking like we know what we are doing and he doesn't say anything. But then there is another door like 100 feet farther down the hall. And that door is a lot smaller and there is guard covering half of it. So we try the same tactic, and boom, "where do you think you're going?" um to go give a blessing and excercise God's power here on earth why? "you need a pass" um ok the guy has it upstairs and he cant' come down cause ya know if he could he wouldn't be in the hospital "ok then call him from your phone and let me talk to him" deal. So we call and the dude doesn't answer. We call the sisters and tell them to call and he doesn't answer them either. The guard said "come back when you have a pass or a direct family member and I'll let you in" and we said ok fine.
So we walk out of the hospital, somewhat defeated, and all of the sudden a man holding a small dog approaches us. He says hi, and then he walks away. Meanwhile, I'm calling the sisters to tell them that we couldn't get in after all. Bummer. But then the guy with the dog comes back and says "Hey do you guys need to get into the hospital?" and we say yes but we don't have a pass and he says "don't worry my nephew works here and he's friends with security gimme a sec and I'll let you in." So he makes a call, passes the phone to a guard, and shazam we are in. It was way freaking cool. Turns out the dude is a recent convert from another stake, and he is just an awesome person. I could have given him a huge hug but he disappeared when we went into the hospital. The blessing we gave was super special as well, cause my comp forgot his oil and so I pulled out mine and when I looked inside it looked like it was empty but I tried getting a drop out anyway while offering a short prayer, "Padre, haz que haya aceite por favor" and boom there comes a little drop of oil. It was super special and I def cried a little.So yeah those are the highlights of the week, among others that I'll tell you about next week. The church is true and Christ lives.
Los quiero mucho
,Elder Rawlings

Monday, June 13, 2016

quick email

Dear All,
This week we knocked down a house, and I shattered a sliding glass door by running into it thinking it was open. It was a great week. I don't have any time right now, but I love you guys and hope you are all super well. 
Congrats on graduating, Allie, and have fun at camp this week, Mom.
The church is true.

Los quiero mucho,

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A week of service

Dear All,
This week was nuts. So many meetings, exchanges, service projects (that weren't) and other things made it so that thursday was the only day we worked in our area before 1pm. It was pretty fun.
Things have been going good here, my companion and I have been getting along pretty well, he's learning lots of stuff as a new ZL, but it's kinda cool cause it's like I'm training again but not really cause he knows what he's doing. We should have lots of success.
So with these transfers, half the zone here is new, and so we decided to get all together on Tuesday after the District Meeting and do ice breaker games, and it was so chill. We played "Jamás he hecho" (Never have I ever) and a game we kind of invented called "Gigante, Mago, Elfo" (Giant, Wizard, Elf) which is like rock paper scissors, but instead of rock its giant and instead of paper its wizard and instead of scissors it's elf. The idea is that two people stand in front of each other and on the count of three, the act like one of the three characters. To be a giant they get up on their tip toes and growl and wave their arms around, to be a wizard they hunch their shoulders and wave their wand, and to be an elf they crouch down and put their hands behind their ears and screech like an elf. Giants squash elfs, wizards cast spells on giants, and elves outsmart wizards. IT WAS SO FUNNY. I don't think I've laughed so hard on the mission. It was way cool and I think we all got way closer even though it was the first time we had gotten to see each other.
We also had some cool stuff happen this week. On friday, my comp went back to his old are to baptize an investigator that asked him to baptize her, so we were trying to find people to help us do divisions, but everyone cancelled. So at the last minute we went to the chapel, and there was a guy from another ward just hanging out there. So we asked him and he said yes. That was chill of him. And so Miguel and I stayed in the area, knocking doors and working on clearing out ward lists. All of the sudden he turns to me and asked if I remembered someone named Sofia. I said no, I didn't know anyone in this area with that name. He said he knew who she was and that we needed to visit her. So we went, and turns out she was home. And her family. At first it was just Sofia, her daughter, and her two grandkids. But then she told us about a few other people who lived there, and then even more peoples showed up. It's a giant family. And they are super cool and ready for this gospel. I love Miguel.
Speaking of big families there is a part member family here with 10 kids from the ages of 17 to 2. And when we go teach, we all cram into a room about 10'x10'. It is insane, especially cause all of the sudden there's a dog and a cat that come join us too. And when Miguel comes with  us, there are literally 17 living creatures in that tiny room. It is very unusual but its cool cause its something new that I've never had to deal with before.
Well yeah. Things are great here in Mexico. This morning I passed numbers to the AP and he was like "Hey que se siente que le faltan 11 semanas?" And I said "Cállese que a usted le faltan 5" haha I hadn't thought about it like that until today dangit.
Los quiero mucho!

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A week of miracles

Eating one of his new "favorite"treats....see below for the "treat"
Dear All,
Last week I didn't write and I'm sorry. It was a crazy day of zone activities and my companion travelling all over Tijuana to say goodbye to converts and getting there late to a meeting with president and having him get on your case in front of everyone and yeah good stuff. But that's ok. Today I got a new companion, Elder Rojas, from Puebla, MX, and in a way I get to train him cause he's a brand new Zone Leader. So it'll be fun.
But yeah these past couple weeks have been nuts. We ate a ton this week cause everyone invited Elder Ortiz to come eat and I didn't really complain. We found a super duper chosen lady too, check this story out.
So we were knocking doors one day, and we talked to a lady, about 30 years old, outside of a pretty shabby house. She had a little kid, and as we talked to her, we felt like something was out of place, like she wanted to tell us something, but couldn't. I'm not sure exactly how the question was that we asked her, but the point is she told us her Grandpa, who had raised her, had died the day before. Of course, we testified of the Plan of Salvation, and we set up an appointment. When we get to the appointment, we started talking, and she told us that when her grandpa died, they were going through his stuff, and found a picture of him, dressed in white, with two Americans with black nametags standing in front of a picture of Jesus Christ. She said when she saw us, she immediately thought in that picture, and that's why she let us come back. The spirit was felt as we testified that we met her because her Grandpa had guided us to her house. It was a pretty special moment. 
We also got a call early one morning from a member who said that she needed us URGENTLY in her house. So we ran over there, and there she was, sitting on the couch, with another lady that we didn't know that was crying. Check this out. So the crying lady just barely got here from SInaloa, because she has a son in Prison here in Tijuana, but they were going to release him early because they diagnosed him with terminal cancer. She had been meeting with the missionaries in Sinaloa, and when she found out that the lady was a member, she went and looked for her and asked her to call us. 
That by itself is pretty cool, but here goes the other part: The member is a recent convert, and she told us she still hasn't told a lot of people that she's a member of the church. But the day before, she ran into a neighbor, and felt the impression to tell him that she was a member of the church. So then this lady from Sinaloa was going from house to house, looking for people who would let her do odd jobs for a little bit of money to help her son, she ran into said neighbor. As they talked the neighbor told her "Go over and visit my neighbor, she's Mormon, she can help you". 
To quote D&C 88:72-72 "Behold, and lo, I will take care of your flocks, and I will raise up elders and send unto them. Behold, I will hasten my work in its time." and 2 Nephi 27;20, "...and I am able to do mine own work". I testify of these scriptures. The Lord does his own work. Are we ready for when he blesses us with the people the He has prepared to share the gospel? Are we Spiritually sensitive enought, like this sister, to follow the prompting of the Spirit, even though we may not understand why? You never know the impact that your words can have on someone. Recently, I was told that a missionary in Ensenada was having a lot of success in Universidad, where I started the mission, and his success came from finding Old Investigatores that Elder Vega, Elder Lopez, and I had left behind. According to the story that I heard, they still remembered us, and had been prepared in this past year or so in ways that only the Lord understands (Isaiah 55:8). 
I was studying a lot about the next life in these past weeks, and I feel like I am truly, 100% converted to this gospel now, I have had a testimony for a while now, but I think my true conversion is really happening. We were talking with the Stake President this morning cause he gave us a ride to take Elder Ortiz and his suitcases to where he needed to go, and he said something that really impacted me. He said "Your true mission starts as soon as you get home. That's where you get to see what kind of missionary you really were." I hope in these last few months I can get the habits that I need to be not only a successful missionary, but also a successful husband, father, preisthood holder, and one say, an Exalted Being at the head of an eternal family. There is nothing more that we could ever desire in this life or the next. There is no other work more important than this one, because it is God's work and glory.
Los quiero mucho, sigan siendo excelentes personas, obedezcan a sus padres y sus lideres en la iglesia porque son inspirados por Dios. Este es el Evangelio restaurado, completo, y perfecto. En esta iglesia se encuentran las llaves del sacerdocio necesarias para que volvamos a nuestro hogar celestial. Lo se y se lo testifico.
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

PS enjoy these pics ;)
grasshopper treat

petunia the pig, before

petunia the pig, after

Sunday, May 22, 2016

No email this week

We didn't receive an email from Jenson this past week. :(  We will wait anxiously for his email on Monday to find out what he has been up to

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cold, wet week

Dear All,
So this was kind of a wet, cold week, lots of mud and lots of wind, but it was good. Also lots of meetings and food and all in all a solid week.
Before I say anything else, Happy mother's day mom, I'm pretty sure I forgot to say it yesterday, but as soon as I hung up it came to my head and so whether I did or didn't, there it is. I hope it was a great day.
So this week we started with a crazy monday, cause we decided to work 3 extra hours, so we didn't have a lot of time to do anything. The reason that we worked extra was cause on Tuesday my comp's ex-companion was coming to Tijuana from another part of the mission for the Leadership Counsel on Wednesday, and the ex-comp of my comp has a companion that was with me in the MTC, so we decided to go to dinner together at this place called Sirloin, which is literally the same thing as Golden Corral or Chuck O Rama. So that was pretty chill. It was a good time. Then the whole day Wednesday we were in meetings, then on Thursday we had another meeting in the afternoon with the Stake Presidency, where we report all the numbers from all the wards in the stake, which can go really good or really bad haha. This time was good. The last time we had that meeting I was half dead with some serious diharrea, so I didn't talk a whole lot, but this time was a lot better. The stake President is in our ward and he's awesome.
We also taught a less-active family of 12. Yes, that number is correct. There is a mom, a dad, and 10 kids. And when we taught them we all crammed into a room about 10' x 10' and yeah lets just say lots of little kids and lots of voices and those parents have got to be the most pacient people ever. They are super chill though, I know the missionaries that baptized them, so that was kinda cool to talk about old times. 
But yeah I pretty much said everything yesterday. I don't know if I told you guys about the paralyzed lady that got baptized? If not, here goes, there was a lady in the ward next to ours that comes to our same building, and she's like 76 or so, and half her body is paralyzed, but her son is a member and she decided she wanted to get baptized. So she got baptized. It took 4 of us to get her and her wheel chair into the water, and then between the 4 of us we lowered her into the water. Then at the end, they asked her to bear her testimony, and she just started crying and telling everyone how happy she was. It was super sweet.

I hope you have a great week and that you give at least 1 new referral to the missionaries. They'll love that.
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ward Conference

Dear All,
This week was pretty chill. It was Ward Conference, so the whole week we had activities that were supposed to unite and pump up the ward so that the Conference was super chill, and so that was kinda fun. We started the week with mass visits, which they told us an hour beforehand that we were supposed to be in charge of, and then the next day was a sports day, which we were also in charge of, and the third day was a Talent show but no one brought talents to share they just did a giant FHE haha so that was cool. It was just funny how it was like "hey let's just have the missionaries do everything." It means that they trust us, but it was like "ok cool but guess what I have to teach and preach and work as missionaries do as well haha".
We had some cool experiences this week too, about a week ago a sister gave us some hand made chorizo from Zacatecas, which is supposedly super super good. And so our ward mission leader, who is from Mexico City and knows how to cook, came over and taught us how to make Pambazos, which are like sandwhiches with chorizo and potato, but the sandwich is dunked in salsa and then fried and then you put lettuce and sour cream and more salsa and cheese on it and wow it is soooo good. I ate 3 and then woke up with such a stomachache it was not even funny but it was so worth it. And I wrote down the recipe so that I can make it when I get home. You're gonna love it.
Also this week we found a whole street of chosen people. We knocked one door and this lady let us in and then told us that her brother died a month ago and that she was also looking for the true church. That was cool. Then we started walking up the street and we met her brother, who told us he was looking for a church because ever since his brother died he had started to drink again. There were a few others on that street that let us in, and it was pretty cool. It was definitely following the Spirit.
We also thought we were gonna get kidnapped, but since it didn't happen I can tell that story here. So we started getting weird messages from some guy who said he was an inactive ward missionary and that he needed to talk to us. But it was really weird like he kept insisting and insisting and we were like ok fine be in the chapel at such and such a time and we will see you there. Our plan was to get there early and kind of scope it out from across the street, but we were running late and so we didn't make it in time. So we got to the church, ready to punch and kick and not get kidnapped, but turns out it really was an inactive ward missionary who needed to talk to us. It was also mutual for another ward in our building, which we didn't know, and so there was plenty of people there and it was all chill. Just so you know that I do try to take care of myself and not get kidnapped or robbed or anything.
Anyway I hope you are all doing great. Keep reading the scriptures every day and saying your prayers. 
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawings

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I love the Temple

At the Tijuana Temple with Elder Ortiz
Dear All,
Don't have like any time to write, this week we worked super hard and it went well, we lerned just how big pur area really is (HUGE) and I went on exchanges with an Elder who just finished his training and I brought him to my area and me and my companion decided we wanted him to see what real work was like so I worked the kid (for lack of a better term) like a mule. We went up and down and pretty much at a jogging pace, to the point where we would get to houses and he would just collapse in the seat. It was good though, we got along well and I hope he learned something. 
Also, super cool, we got a call from President on Friday, telling us that an ex Missionary from here who had been my companion's companion was getting sealed here in Tijuana and had invited Elder Ortiz to go with him to his sealing. We got to the temple, and I was supposed to stay with the comp of the other elder who was going to the sealing, but they didn't show up, and so Pres looked at me and was like, "Well, do you wanna just do a session real quick?" and I was like "HECK yes please por favor." and he was like "alright go for it." AND IT WAS AWESOME. I LOVE THE TEMPLE. 
But yeah that was the highlight of the week. Love you guys. Keep being great.
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

PS one of the pics is from a while ago when I had to break into my house

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Writing in "spanglish"

Dear All,
Para aclarar, yes I'm still in the same area. Also, no me dan ganas de translate, so if I can't think of how to say things in english I'm just gonna throw em out in spanish. Have fun.
So this week was pretty good. We had a baptism, for the second week in a row, and also for the second week in a row they didn't get confirmed. This time was cause it was a 15 year old kid, and he failed 4 classes, and so his parents were like tomala you can't go to church on sunday. So that sucked. But other than that we went super hard. It was the first time in my mission que logre 40 lessons, which was super dope. We took an atheist ex-bartender and her husband to church, and we had lots of fun. It was pretty chill. 
But yeah. I can't really think of anything that really stands out from this week. It was just a good week of work. 
Just one thing that I do remember. We contacted this lady on monday in the grocery store. We thought she was like 25, young mom, maybe a kid or two, and she gave us her address and we set an appointment. When we went, we found out she was freaking 15. That was weird to start off with. But then we are sitting outside her apartment, because obviously we coulnd't go in, and this xolo comes home and sees us and runs away and then starts yelling "quien me echó la policía?!" I thought I was done. But yeah people confuse us for the cops all all the time. We knocked another door and this little girl came out and then screamed and yelled "Dad the cops are here que hicicte??" That was hilarious cause then the dad comes out and sees us and yells at the little girl, "those aren't cops those are testigos de jehová no los abras!" hahahahahaha almost fell over laughing. 
But yeah this is weird the whole my mission is almost over thing. I don't like that. It's not a fun feeling. But yeah I'm pretty sure I'll finish my mission in this area. I hope they don't change me my last traslado. That would just not be fun, but at the same time Pres likes doing that. The only thing that would be cool would be Mexicali so that I can come home tan and say bye to a lot of converts. That would be chill.
Well yeah that's my thoughs this week. Hope you are all doing great. 
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Companion

Getting his hair cut at a salon owned by a member in Tijuana
Dear All,
New transfer, new companion. My new comp is named Elder Ortiz. He's from Oaxaca as well, and it's his last trasfer. Which is kinda cool, and the cooler part is that the first day I came  to the mission, he was also going to train someone from my generation, and when he saw me he told me "I want to train you, how cool would that be?" But anyways it didn't end up that way, but then every time we saw each other he reminded of the "Training that never was" until now haha we are gonna do so much work here I'm pumped.
So this week was pretty chill.  We had lots of meetings, and we spent one day in the house with monster diharrea (I have no idea how its spelled in English I think its like that but who knows really) so that wasn't fun. But the day turned out all right. We had an appointment that night to go with the sisters in the area next to ours to visit an investigator that wasn't wanting to get baptized even though she had a strong testimony. So we took some (lots) pills and pepto and went over there. And it was an insane lession. We got there and the first thing we did was give a blessing there to her sick daughter. Then she told us that she was feeling the spirit and that the only thing she could think about was getting baptized on saturday. So that was way cool. We went to her baptism and sang "Nearer, My God to Thee" and even though it probably didn't sound too great, the Spirit was there and it was awesome. 
But yeah cause of everything that happened this week that was about the only thing I can think of. I've been thinking a lot and maybe you guys think I don't share enough spiritual experiences, but I try to do a mix of both, and honestly most things that happen are either too spiritual to share or are just better expressed in person with the guidance of the spirit. But I can promise you that not a single day passes by without me knowing a little bit more that God lives and loves us and that this is His true church. I have no doubt in my mind or my heart of that.
Pues, creo que eso es todo. Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April fools day in the mission

Dear All,
Guess what I have no time today but I love you and for that I am going to tell you the funniest thing that has happened to me in my life.
So Friday was April Fool's day. I love April Fools. I was thinking all day about how to pull a solid April Fool's joke. I wasn't getting anywhere, when all of the sudden a man in a wheelchair with just one leg calls us over. He says, hey guys can you do me a favor? I need to you pull my knee because I just can't. We didn't really understand what he meant, but after a few misplaced hands and pulls in the wrong direction, I grabbed his leg a little bit above the knee and pulled his leg toward me, thereby allowing him to recline a little bit in his wheelchair. It didn't hit me until we were walking away what had just happened. I literally pulled a grown man's leg on April Fool's day.
Conference was awesome, cried a few times, and had some dope experiences. 
You guys keep on being good.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Remember this in My work

wearing his "Easter tie"
Dear All,
This was a pretty decent week. I feel like lots of stuff has happened, and at the same time it's true and at the same time it's not. But it was a good week. 
First off, we went on exchanges twice again this week, which is draining, but pretty fun at the same time. I went with one of the new missionaries in our zone and we had a legendary day. So that was pretty chill. We got home and I was like "hey so how do you feel like today went?" and he was like "When I was imagining being a missionary, I imagined days like today." So that was chill.
Also on Thursday we had a crazy day. It started on Tuesday, when my comp went to go do a baptismal interview for some elders in our zone, and he told me that in the interview he had a really strong feeling that he knew the guy. Like just one of those feelings like "there's no way, but i totally know this guy from somewhere." and so the guy asked my comp to baptize him. So we were going to go to his baptism on Thursday night and take some of our investigators. But then a guy in our ward called us and asked us for a blessing. So we decided to do some sweet surprise splits so that we could be in both places at once. I went to go give the blessing, and it was for the Young Men's president. He had hurt his hip or his tailbone or something in that area, the point is he couldn't walk. When we got there, he started telling us about an activity that they had planned for the next day with all the youth: they were going to go to the temple, then they were going to the church and gonna play games and watch a movie and then more games and all in all it was gonna be off the chain. And so this guy was like "I just hope I can make it." 
So then he asked me to give him the blessing, and I felt the strong impression to tell him that he would be able to do everything he needed to that weekend, that the next day he would wake up fine, and that he would be able to magnify his calling. It was a pretty special blessing, definitely one I won't forget for a while, even if I don't remember all that I said. But then the best part: we finished the blessing and we were sitting there talking, and the guy's wife was in the kitchen, cooking something that smelled really good. All of the sudden she was like "hey guys come here I made carne asada" (one of my favorites) and not just that but also she was melting cheese and putting refried beans on the tortillas to put the meat on and there was homemade salsa and guacamole and omgoodness it was off the charts. And so I ate a bunch of tacos, and then my companion called and was like "hey dude I'm still in the chapel are you guys about done over there?" hehe whoops totally lost track of time. So then the sister threw a bunch of meat and quesadillas and guac and salsa and all the good stuff in little baggies and wrapped it in tin foil and then gave us a ride to the chapel and then to our house and it was way awesome cause I got super full of carne asada. It was really nice.
And then on Sunday the Lord kind of reprended me. We had an investigator that we were going to find a ride for to get to church, but no one could help us and so my comp stayed in the chapel and me and the ward mission leader grabbed a taxi and went to his house. And then the dude came out in shorts and with his shirt all unbuttoned and like he had just barely woken up. I talked to him and he was like, "no I'm not gonna be able to go I just wanted you guys to come here so you could see the papers from my x rays." (we had called him 15 minutes before and he said he was waiting for us to come get him) and so I got back in the taxi super ticked off. I think it kind of showed a little bit but whatever. We got to church just in time for the opening prayer. I was still furious. But then when the prayer ended and the doors opened, standing there was a couple that we had knocked their door a couple weeks ago and had like 2 lessons with them, but honestly I did not think they were going to progress. But boom there they were, without us even inviting them pretty much. And the Lord was just like "Hey kid, slow down there, I know you're killing yourself trying to get my work done, but remember it's not yours, its Mine. You just do everything you possibly can, and I'll take over the rest. I'm a lot better than you are anyway."
So yeah that was my week. I'm pumped for the General Conference this week, especially since its the last one I'll get to see with a missionary tag on. Weird thought.
Hope you guys are all great. Happy easter, and even though I couldn't wear the tie you sent me, it is gorgeous and I wore another one that I have that is a little less pink. I'll attatch the pic.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings
View of Jenson's area

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Gospel is 100% true

Dear All,
So last week was just a really funny story. On Sunday, we got to the sister's house who was going to feed us. And she served the food and we asked her if she was going to eat with us (most times they don't I don't know why) and she said , "no we already ate, actually we already said the prayer too so you guys just go ahead." and we were like "Ok we trust you guys" and started to chow down. It was decent food, nothing to complain about, but at about 2am that night I woke up and my insides were just hurting. Spent the night on the toilet again. Actually me and my companion took turns running in and out. Not fun. So it got to the point where we were going to go write, and we felt pretty decent, we had taken pills and stuff, and we thought it would be all right. But we have to take a bus to get to the nearest internet, and I think the bus ride kind of jiggled everything loose and as we sat down we knew it was going to be a struggle to get through the hour of writing. I was doing all right, but I could see my companion basically folded in half with his face on the keyboard. I poked him and asked if he was all right. He looked at me and didn't have to say much, just "We have to go. NOW." and so we paid super quick and ran out, leaving the emails half written and everything. We found the nearest bathroom, next door in a movie theater, which was weird cause we are missionaries that's like the last place we should be. But yeah that's why I didn't get to finish writing last week. 

But yeah these past couple weeks have been weird. Lots of ups and downs. One of the ups was a salsa competition that we did with the ward, in which my salsa took 3rd place. Whatever. No big deal. Another up was the face-to-face with Elder Holland, and the biggest was this weekend's stake conference. It was a way dope meeting, presided by an area 70 from Guadalajara, Elder Jesus Ortiz. He was super cool, and when it finished we went to go say hi to him. Turns out he and my companion had the same tie on, so of course we took a picture. Then he told us that he's going to write and article in the Liahona in a couple months and is gonna use that picture. #famous.
Other than that things have been pretty chill. This morning we went and ate breakfast with a guy in our ward. That was pretty chill. I'll forward you guys the pics cause the ones I have on my camera don't want to upload right now. But yeah everything is going well, the work is good, the ward is awesome, and the zone is working hard. What more could we ask for?
This Gospel is so true. 100%.  Every detail, doctrine, and teaching. I love it so much, and I love seeing how it works in people's lives. I love how the Lord prepares people to learn about Him and get back to live with him. #Aleluya is amazing. We had a lesson the other day, and it was a pretty chill lesson, and then at the end we showed the video and everyone was crying. Then, when we knelt down to say the closing prayer, the brother, and ex alcoholic, said "Thank you, Lord, for softening my heart and letting me know that I can have a new life." Those are the moments I live for. It was so special. 
Look for missionary moments in your lives, you wont regret it.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Super short email this week

**This all we got from Jenson this week, an incomplete email, I am sure we will learn more in his upcoming email**

Dear All,
This week was cool, we started our hardcore exchange cycle, going on two exchanges this week, which was kinda rough, but it was cool at the same time. For example, I got to go with Elder Lopez, my first trainee, who is one of the District Leaders here, and that was super weird. Just imagine working alongside someone for three months, trying to teach him everything you know, and feeling like he´s just not good at learning and getting frustrated and stressed every day, and then not seeing him for a year, and then coming back to work with him and wow he is a stud missionary and working hard and a lot more mature. It was really cool kind of like a proud parent moment. But yeah so with him we pretty much just decided to knock doors for a few hours cause his comp doesn´t like to and they don´t have a whole lot of investigators. As we knocked doors, we came across one where an older gentleman answered the door. Literally as soon as he saw us, he told us to come in. That was weird to start off with. Then we sit down, and he was like ¨Yeah I´m catholic, but I´ve been thinking for a while now about becoming a Mormon.¨ And in my head I was like ¨Nahhh this has got to be a sick joke no one is this cool.¨ BUT IT WASNT THIS DUDE WAS BEING SERIOUS. So that was a pretty cool thing that happened.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Remember to make sure one of you have the house keys

Not a recent picture of Jenson, but one that his first companion in the mission field posted on Facebook.  I love to see how much he as grown and developed this past year and half

Dear All,
So this week was pretty cool. We only worked in our area for like 3 days in total because of all the meetings and conferences and stuff, but we ended up having equal or better numbers than most of the zone, so that either says a lot about how we are working or how the rest are working haha. But yeah this was a week of miracles. I'll do my best to remember them all.
One, we have an investigator here (I still don't know who she is) but my companion told me that she is super chosen, but she got cancer a few weeks ago and is in the hospital getting chemo right now. So anyway we went to the hospital to see her and give her a blessing and stuff, and to get into hospitals it is kind of hard here (maybe it is the US too but I can honestly say I have never tried to get into a hospital in the US so I don't really know.) But we had to pass by two security guards. The first one we just pulled a Mission Impossible and walked by confidently and he just assumed we knew what we were doing. The second one wasn't so easy. She asked us for our passes, which we defintely didn't have. So we back off a little and try calling the investigator, who hadn't answered all day. As we call, a nurse comes up to us and says "Hey, Elders what are you doing here?" and we explained that we wanted to go give a blessing to the person. She asked us what bed she was in, which we didn't know. BUT in that very moment the investigator's husband answered the phone. We asked him right then and there what bed she was in, and told the nurse. She takes us over to security #2 and tells her that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and we won't be longer than 10 minutes. Not sure how it happened, but we got in. She told us which elevator to go up, where to go, and everything. And then she was like "Yeah I'm an RM". Woah cool. So we went up, and the lady wasn't there, but we left a note on her bed. When we came back down, friendly nurse wasn't there anymore, and neither was the security guard. You can take that as you will.
Another was that I almost, but didn't, get arrested hardcore. But before I tell that story, here's another one.
My companion has some converts here in this ward who were going to move. We tried all week to visit them, but because of already mentioned meetings we just couldn't until Friday, which was they day that they were going to leave. So we get to their house, knock, and no one comes out. We were like dang, looks like they already left. My comp was pretty sad. But then as we turn to leave, we decided to knock the house next door, where the mom of this family lived. So we knock, and boom, there comes the convert family. They told us that we came in the exact right moment, cause they were about to leave like 15 minutes later. It was a pretty sweet moment.
Ok yeah now I'll tell you about how I got arrested.

So on Wednesday, we had a meeting with all of the Zone Leaders in the mission, which means that those from Mexicali and San Louis Rio Colorado have to come in the night before because the buses can't get them to Tijuana early enough in the morning. So we were expecting a companionship to come from Mexicali Tuesday night. And that day was kinda crazy, we had to go back to the house in the middle of the day and fill out a progress report for that night. 
So we came back to the house to get that report, and when we left, I thought my companion had the keys. He must have thought that I had the keys, but neither one of us said anything. So the point is that they keys were in the house, and we had no idea until we got there that night, with another companionship. So we were straight up locked out. The first thing we tried was climbing up on the roof, letting ourselves down on the other side, and seeing if the back door was unlocked. It wasn't. So the only option we had was break or cut the lock on the front gate. Let me describe the house real quick. Its one story, blue and has a space in front for a car or patio or something. The point is that there is a metal fence that serves as a garage door pretty much, and then like 20 feet behind it is the front door. So we had to break the padlock that we put on the fence to get in. The fence doesn't swing or anything. it slides back and forth. So the next thing we tried was pulling on the fence to see if the lock would just break open. On like the third try, we noticed that the fence was getting pulled out of the walls and bringing a solid chunk of wall with it. That seemed a little bit more expensive than a lock to replace, so we put a stop to that. We knocked on the neighbor's door, and he gave us a hammer. We tried hitting it, but just couldn't get a good shot. Then the neighbor come out with a hack saw. Boom. I grabbed that sucker and started cutting away. I'm like halfway through the lock, and hey look over there a cop car coming this way. He sees us, turns his lights on. and as he passes sounds his siren. Keep in mind, from the looks of things we are breaking into this house. And I was the one with the tools in my hand. These were my thoughts, in Spanish:
"No invente. Ya valí. Me voy a dormir en el bote."
I was convinced that I was gonna sleep in a freaking mexican prison. That would be a sweet mission story, right, but I don't thing Pres. Garcia would like that too much. It would probably be one night in prison and the next in Cumming. My whole life flashed in front of my eyes.
But then the cop car just passed right along. I don't know how or why it happened, but I about had to change my drawers. That was really a miracle.
So yeah. Pretty interesting week. Having an American companion is the funnest thing ever.
Keep being cool, read your scriptures every day, and remember that this church is true and the only one that is led by a living Christ.
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings
PS since I was the one sawing, I didn't take any pictures, but they will be sent to me by next week. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Transferred to a new area called Americas

Dear All,
First off, yes, I got transferred. My new area is called Americas 1 and my new comp is named Elder Gove from Layton Utah. It's kinda cool cause my last area, Independencia, was the first ward and stake here in Tijuana, and Americas was the second. So that's pretty chill.
But yeah this week was pretty freaking cool. On Tuesday, we got a call from the asistents that there was an Elder coming here from Brazil who was going to get here a week before the rest of the new ones and if we could please take care of him for this week. So we were in a trio this whole week and I started learing Portugese. Which was cool cause on Monday I bought a Book of Mormon in Portuguese to start learning, so it was like a dream come true. His name is Elder Rodrigues, and he is a stud. He is one of the most prepared missionaries that I have ever seen. He didn't seem new at all. He taught well, wasn't afraid of talking to people or knocking doors, overall an awesome missionary.
But yeah the week was pretty dang good, which is kind of how I knew I was going to get transferred. The weeks before I leave an area always seem to be like super great, and this week was no different. We just worked super hard and started finding some really chosen people. And then investigators that we already had started getting way cooler. Like that lady I told you about last week, who was super chosen, she's already reading in Jacob in the Book of Mormon, and she's been preaching to her whole family about it. She said she loved the part about how there are only two churches, and then she turned around to her husband and was like, "Hey honey did you know that your mom goes to the Devil's church? Cause she doesn't go to this church and this one's God's church." So that was pretty flipping sweet.
It was pretty hard to say goodbye to some people. Independencia really is a great ward. The members were legit, they helped us out a lot and they were super funny. And they all knew how to cook really well so that was sweet. We pretty much spent all day Sunday saying goodbye, which was cool cause we ate in every house except for one. I decided that I need to learn how to really cook Mexican food before I go cause it's really really good.
But yeah that's about it for today. We'll see if this area is more dangerous that the last one, I doubt it but it's a real possibility (not to worry you or anything mom<3) 
The church is true.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A pretty great week

Dear All,
Another week come and gone. This week was pretty normal. Kinda sad, but pretty normal. The sad part is that Lucila, the Jehovah's Witness that got baptized a couple months ago moved to San Fransisco, which is sad now cause we won't be able to visit her any more, but kinda cool cause San Fran is not that far (I think) from BYU, so seeing her post-mish won't be too hard. SO that's kinda cool. But yeah it was a sad goodbye.
Other than that it was a fairly normal week. My companion and I decided to find a new way to get closer to our zone, so we wrote each of them a letter. That was a pretty cool experience. I remember a note that one of my zone leaders left me when he came to my area on exchanges, and I still have it stuck in my scriptures. I hope the letters helped these guys to get pumped up and work with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. It certainly helped me just writing them.
This week we found an investigator who is literally the most prepared person I have ever met in my life. We knocked on her door, and she let us come in for 15 minutes and say a prayer with her and read some scriptures. She told us that she had been going from church to church and that she really hasn't found the "truth" yet. So that was like "WOW" and then when we taught her the Restoration she loved it and then when we taught her "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy" she decided not to work on Sunday right then and there. SO that was like "WOWOW" (double wow). She is way cool. The bad part is that I might get transferred next week and so I might not be able to see her get baptized. Oh well. This isn't my work.
I went on exchanges this week, and we had a pretty freaking cool experience. So we found these tall apartment building (I was in the other area, not mine) and we decided to go knock a few hundred doors. But when we got closer, we saw that all of the buildings were closed. There was no public access. So we started walking around, looking for a building that was open, and we ended up in front of one that was closed. However, one Elder pulled out a list of referrals that he printed off, and found a name and address that corresponded to THAT EXACT BUILDING. Without knowing it, we had gotten to the place we needed to get. So we waited outside for about 30 seconds until someone came out of the building, and then we grabbed the door and went inside. After not finding the reference we were looking for, we started knocking every single door from the top floor down. After a few...sketchy, experiences, we knocked a door and we hear a woman's voice "Voy!" (english equivalent of "I'm coming") and so we were like wow finally. A large, hairy, american dude named Jeff answered the door. Wearing nothing but some too short too tight gym shorts. We started talking to him in English, and then he introduced us to his wife. Here comes the cool part.
So like two days before, other missionaries had contacted a lady in a taxi who basically told them her whole life story and then told them that they could for sure go and teach her and her family, but she only gave them her phone number. So these guys had called the phone number, but the person who answered didn't give them their address. So they were like "aw dang, well that sucks" and had pretty much lost hope of finding this person. Guess who the dude's wife was. Yep. The very lady that they had been trying to find. It was pretty cool. 
Just so that you know we only ate lasagna 2 times this week, it was almost 3 but the family that was going to feed us one day called and asked what we wanted and I said "anything but lasagna please" and the brother was like "oh good thing you say that cause we were gonna make lasagna." Close call.
CONGRATS ALLIE!! You're gonna have a blast. Keep strong these last couple months, it'll all be all right.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Zone Conference Training

Selfie in front of the the Tijuana Temple
Dear All,
When I put that date in the subject line it hit me that we are freaking in 2016. Oops. Also 6 months from today will be my last day in the mission. Double oops. Where did the time go.
But yeah this week was pretty cool. We had our Zone Conference, and my companion and I decided to do something different than all the other trainings we give. So we called President Garcia and asked him to be an investigator for an extended practice that we did. It was probably the funnest training I have given. President Garcia is awesome. He kept telling us that he worked gathering soda cans on the roadsides (which is actually quite viable in this pàrt of Tijuana), but the at the end we simulated a phone call to see how the investigator was doing with his Book of Mormon reading, and he answers the phone "Good afternoon, Happy Dog´s Meat Market" which is funny cause here in Tijuana it´s famous for meat shops to secretly sell dog meat. So we all about died. It was all in all a very fun day.
We had a ward FHE, which was going to be really cool, and it was, but when we got to the activity, we were going to play that game where you hang donuts on a string and you have to eat them without hands, but then we realized that there was no place to hang donuts, so we just gave them out. Woo party! 
Other than that, we spent all day today with a family that my companion knew from Mexicali, so I got up to speed on all that is going on there with Nacionalista and everything. So that was pretty cool. 
Speaking of that, remember how last week was Hamburger week? This week was Chinese food week. We ate chinese food on Thursday, Sunday (long story) and today. I'm pretty done with it for a little while. And to make it worse, we spoke in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and the my companion thought it would be funny to, jokingly, tell all of the ward that they should give us lasagna. I swear if we eat lasagna all week this week... Not that I don't like lasagna, but every day? Ehhh.
But yeah this week was really  not that exciting. I tried to be more loving when I contacted and taught and stuff and it was kinda cool how people reacted better. We also made it a point to, instead of introducing ourselves as "Missionaries", we introduced ourselves as "Reprentatives of Jesus Christ" because pretty much every church has missionaries, but we are the only ones who are authorized and comissioned by Him. So that was cool. That took us to a lesson we had where a lady told us that she had been born and baptized catholic, but then she switched to Jehovah's Witness, and then Christian, and now she didn't know what she was. When we taught her the Restoration, she was like "holy cow this is literally what I have been looking for ALL my life. It's so simple to see now." It was almost as if she was an actress paid to be perfect. But yeah. We left that lesson smiling.
I only have 6 months left. What the heck. I can't say I feel like I just got here, but I can definitely say that I don't feel "old" in the mission. It's weird seeing new missionaries and being like "who the heck are you when did you get here" and it's weird thinking of them seeing me as like a seasoned veteran who knows it all. But yeah that's just how it goes.
Hope you guys are all doing well, read you scriptures every day, pray always, and keep the sabbath day holy 100%.
Los quiero mucho!
Elder Rawlings

PS no hahahahahaha "armas" means weapons but it is also a last name. What she said really translates to this: "Hi I am someone who knows about you guys through the Gamboa Armas family from Tijuana" HAHAHA google translate don't worry I'm definitely not involved in weapons deals hahahaha