Sunday, January 31, 2016

This is His work

Jenson's mission district
Dear All,
Pretty freaking good week. My new companion likes to work, I like to work, and we are doing well. It's been fun so far, even though we aren't as tight as some of my other companions, but we both know why we are here and we are both ready to do it.
So yeah. Highlights of the week were these:
Wednesday there was a worldwide missionary training broadcast called "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts." It seems like we as missionaries have forgotten the second principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We talk about faith and baptism a lot, but we skip the step in the middle. So basically the training was just about how we can help people repent and be better, so that they want to get baptized for themselves. Elder Bednar had a pretty awesome class about how to use the Spirit, Elder Oaks talked about what we need to do as missionaries in order to have success, and there were other talks about leaving commitments, working with Less-active and Active members, everything. It was way cool. And then afterword President Garcia called on a few people to bear their testimonies. That was pretty cool too.
On Thursday we had a "Consejo de Liderazgo" (Literally translated: Leadership Council, but I'm not sure if that is what English speaking missionaries call it.) It was a meeting with all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders, about how we can be better leaders. It was way cool. We talked about the ability we have to promise specific blessings to people and then to help them keep their commitments so that the blessings come. We all shared experiences about how we have done it, and it was a very spiritual meeting. It was pretty cool. 
On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference, presided by an Area Seventy from I don't remember where. It was pretty cool. I was asked to share an experience and my testimony about missionary work. I don't know if I have have told you guys about the story I shared, but if I haven't, remind me to tell you about Lolita when I get home. It's a good one. But yeah that was cool. Then the rest of the meeting were about keeping the WHOLE Sabbath day holy, not just 3 hours while we are at church. It was pretty cool. We talked about the duties of the Presidents of the Quorums in the Aaronic Priesthood, and then we talked about bishops and temples and self-sufficiency and pretty much everything you could ever imagine. It was a pretty dope Stake Conference, and we were able to bring several investigators. Like I said, we have been working well.
Also on Saturday we had an appointment with a lady we are teaching. She says she feels alone here, cause her whole family is either in Columbia or Los Angeles, and her nephews that live with here are super rebellious and stuff. So we've been trying to teach them too (the nephews) and on Saturday we finally did. It was the one we thought that would never listen, but he was there, and he liked it. And then at the end, he said the closing prayer. It was the first time he had prayed out loud in his life, and it was amazing. His aunt was bawling. It was so cool.
But the coolest part was this: Saturday night, when we planned, we said a prayer and prayed so that all the people we committed to come to church could come. And then we asked for a miracle, that someone living here in our area could show up, ready to receive the gospel. But then we kind of forgot about it. Anyways, Sunday morning comes, we finish Priesthood Session, and in between that and the regular session, we went to go bring a sister we are teaching. When we get there, we take her to the front, and then I went to go find a sister from our ward to go and sit with her. I went and talked to one sister, and she said she would love to, but she needed room for three, which was weird cause I though it was just her and her husband. But then she tells me she brought her niece who wasn't a member of the church with her, and that after the meeting we should go talk to her and set up an appointment for this week. But then when the meeting ended, they left fast and we were busy with other people and yeah. They left. I tried calling, but she didn't answer, and so we sent her a message. An hour or so later she replied that we could come in the evening. So we show up, turns out this niece has been prepared for this moment to get to know the Gospel. We were able to testify of everything this Gospel has to offer, and then she told us that the night before, she was in the bus station, about to grab a bus to go to some other part, but something told her to go to the airport. So she went, and ended up buying a ticket to come to Tijuana. She said she didn't know exactly why she came here, but then we remembered about the prayer we said the night before, and we told her about that. We all cried. It was awesome. I love the Lord. 
I hope you guys know that this is His work, not mine and not yours. This is all true.
Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I love training

Jenson and Elder Alegria with the Bishop, and his family, of the ward in Lago

Dear All,
Yes, transfers came, and yes Elder Alegria went home, and yes, I stayed here with my new companion Elder de la Torre. He was my Zone Leader when I was in Lago, and he's a great guy. Pumped to get to work with him. Also we found out that our entire zone is going to be training, all 7 companionships. So that is going to be waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay fun. I love training with all my heart.

But yeah this week was definitely a tough one. I think all missionaries (and their companions) have rough last weeks. Thinking about families, thinking about what's going to happen in just a week, stuff like that. Point is we spent a lot of time saying goodbye to members and not a whole lot of time knocking doors. But oh well. It was fun anyways.
We decided to go to the wax museum this week, which was weird. The pictures will tell all that is needed about that experience.

We also got to baptize again this week, which was a good feeling. Our excellence standard is one baptism a week per companionship, so I feel good and know the Lord feels good because we've been maintaining that standard pretty well these past few weeks. 
These two kids that we baptized are so awesome. They were references from a member who took them to the temple, and then to the primary program. It was way cool. It was just so easy how it all happened. We went to eat with the family, taught a little lesson, and then asked who they knew that could be interested in our message. The girl sent a text to her friend, he said yes, and we set an appointment right there. From then it has all been smooth sailing. It goes like it says in D&C "mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." They accepted all of the teachings, received answers through the Holy Ghost, everything. Literally golden. So much fun teaching them. And then on Sunday when the guy got confirmed, they ordained him to be a priest (cause he's 16) so yeah. That's pretty dope. And his little sister is 10 and probably the coolest 10 year old I have ever met. She's pretty much a professional roller skater and she is so freaking smart it was easier teaching her than most adults. Point is they are awesome and I love them.
But yeah now we are starting again with a new companion. Hopefully everything turns out just dandy. 

Los quiero mucho,
Elder Rawlings

PS the photos are from the baptism and from this morning with the bishops family (with my hot new suit)

Wax museum with statues of Mexican Revolutionaries

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Funny experience

Dear All,
Not a bad week. I feel like it went by really fast and so that was cool. But at the same time I don't remember a whole lot of stuff that we did.
It did rain all week, and yes we did get quite wet a few times, but hey that's just how it is. Also got a surprise birthday party in the District Meeting, so that was cool. 
Pretty funny experience, so we were eating with a sister and of course, we asked for references, and she sent us to her neighbor in front. She told us she was a viejita, and that she was always home and looking for a church. Sounds good. So we go, knock the door, and out comes this lady so old like I'm pretty sure she was baptized by Peter himself. I have no idea how she was still walking. It was kind of funny. She couldn't hear really well so we basically shouted who we were and what were doing (maybe someone else heard on the street too and secretly was interested, who knows) and she told us to come back another day, but that she wasn't really sure if she was going to be there because she likes to take walks. Ok cool.
So like two days later, we were knocking doors around there, and a we met a lady, she was nice and friendly and told us that of course we could come back and share a message with her. And then we asked her for a reference. And she tells us that we should probably go visit her mom, a little old lady who lives next to a store on the main street and we were like "Wow hey we already know your mom!" And she was all surprised like "Wait what?" and then told us that we please go visit her so that she stays in her house. Turns out her "walks" take her all over the city and she gets lost a lot and her kids have to go find her. Silly old lady. Me cayo muy bien.
Also another old lady story, we knocked a door and lady came out, easily around 90 years old, and tells us she can't open the door because her dad has the keys. I contained myself, but my companion laughed out loud. It's normal to hear that excuse from a little kid, but it was just so weird coming from an old lady. Like, I don't know if you've noticed, but you're a grandma and probably a great grandma. You should probably have your own keys by now. Haha people these days.
But yeah we also got to baptize this week, that was pretty nice. It was a looooong battle getting this lady in the water, because her husband is inactive and didn't like my companion and didn't want his wife to get baptized and lots of things. Not really, but pretty much. It was a nice service, solid talks, everything good. So yeah, that was nice.
Hope you guys also had a great week. Remember to read your scriptures and your handbooks every day. Keep it real.
Los quiero mucho, 
Elder Rawlings

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Celebrating 2016 in the mission field

Ward Christmas and New Year party
Dear All,
I wish I could put numbers in capitals to emphasize that it is now 2016. Holy cow does time fly by. I remember last year like it was 4 days ago. Weird.
This week was pretty cool, lots of parties, lots of teaching, funny testimonies (because this is Mexico) and yeah. Solid week.
The highlight of this week was obviously New Years. We worked like normal in the morning, and then spent the evening eating. A sister from Veracruz made us tamales South Mexico style. OH MY GOODNESS. Wow. So good. I'm gonna tell her to teach me. Cause dang. So good.
BUT WAIT. On Wednesday we had a combined Christmas/New Years party with the ward, with live music, pinatas, too much food, disorganization, everything that a Mormon church party needs. It was pretty fun, even though we can't dance or party or really do anything of the sort. It was nice to have a break from everything every once in a while.
So yeah New Years Eve was pretty fun. After eating tamales, we went to go visit another sister that invited us to eat, and when we walked in we sensed danger. Not really sensed it, but we could plainly see it. Right there, on their giant flat screen TV, was a re-run of Star Wars IV. It was so hard to not watch. Satan works hard a lot of times, and he knows right where to hit you. But yeah we left pretty fast.
Then we went and chilled with the Bishop and his family, eating tacos and doing magic tricks and telling jokes. It was pretty fun.
We get home, and like I told you last week, our neighbors are real pachangueros. About right when we got home, the music started. When I woke up (after a rough nights sleep) The music was still going. And they were quite a ways under the influence. They had the same song on repeat, and they were singing to it as loud as they could, repeating in over and over again to get it right. I even took a video because it was so obnoxious. But yeah.
On New Year's Day, the whole city literally shut down. There was nothing open, nothing to do, nothing. We ate pizza with the Bishop's family, then hung out with them pretty much all day, cause we had the whole day free. Pretty chill.
Other than that, it was a normal week. This morning I had to help the bishop translate for a sister in our ward who died's family that came to work out the funeral and don't speak any spanish. And I think I do have an accent, because they talk weird. I really hope that's not how all americans talk, but who knows.
So yeah, what a week. I started reading the Book of Mormon again; I finished it literally on New Year's Eve and started it on New Years Day so that was cool. I love listening to the talk from Elder Holland called "Safety for the Soul" and then reading the testimony of Joseph Smith and the scripture in Hebrews "Donde hay testamento, necesario es que ocurra la muerte del testador." (Translation required). What a powerful witness of the divinity of that Book. I testify of its power in our own conversion and that of others.
Hope you all have a great week, thanks for the birthday wishes, and see you guys sooner than I want ;)
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A powerful conversion

Dear All,
I hope you all had a fantastic Navidad and that all of your dreams come true or something inspiring like that.
I had a pretty solid week; I don't know if I have ever eaten more in my life. On the 24th, we ate with 6 different families. On the 25th we ate with 3 more. And on the 26th we were still eating leftovers from Christmas parties. It's a good thing I like tamales because if not I probably would not have eaten anything this week. (Funny joke: Why do Mexicans make tamales on Christmas? I'll tell you why later)
But yeah the highlight of the week definitely was the baptism that we had. 
So this lady, she's 72 years old. She was a Jehovah's Witness for 20 years. She was one of those that go house to house and go to their meetings like 9 times a week and stuff. Hardcore. But then she went to the temple, because she is the Bishop's neighbor and his family invited her. In the temple, she started talking to missionaries. She told them right then and there "I want to be part of this church". Holy cow. Wow. 
So we start teaching. She literally fell in love with Joseph Smith. She didn't believe that he was a Prophet, but she said he was the most handsome guy she had ever seen. And my beloved companion started throwing wood on the fire, saying things like "Yeah, you're right. And doesn't my companion look like him?" So that got weird fast.
But the point is this. The JW came to visit her one day. They stole her Book of Mormon and all of the pamphlets that we left her. So we gave her more. She progressed amazingly, stopped drinking coffee, went to church even with a broken foot, stuff like that. But she still didn't feel like she had a testimony.
So comes the day of her baptism. We talked with her the night before and she told us that she still wasn't sure but that she would pray and ask. We noticed that she had no idea how the Lord could respond to her prayer. We had taught her, and felt like we had taught her well, but she didn't really understand that part. So we helped her, it kinda dawned on her, and she commited super well to pray about the church.
The next morning was the interview. My companion had the impression to go and visit her and read her a talk from President Monson before the interview. Good thing we did, because as soon as we left the house, we noticed that the JW were out doing their visits. We knew we had to get to her house before they did. And we did. We were reading her the talk when they knocked on her door. It was the moment of truth. I was so nervous I was shaking. We told her that she could do what she wanted, answer the door or keep listening. She thought a second, and then said, "Eh, ignore them. Keep reading." I was so happy. They knocked again and her son yelled, "She can't right now, she's busy!" And they left. Holy cow. Wow. What a miracle. And then the DL (district leader)
got there and I'm not sure how he did it, but she came out of the interview with an amazing testimony. Everything was looking great.
So that baptism was going to be at 3pm. We had announced it in Ward Council and we had literally told the Bishop 5 minutes beforehand. We get to the church, the font is full, the sister was there with her fellowshipper, and no one else showed up. 3:30 came and still no one. 3:45 and still nothing. The sister was about to change her mind, when the ward secretary showed up. Who knows why he showed up. We decided to call President Garcia so that we could have permission to baptize her without a member of the Bishopric, but when we asked him, he put us ON FREAKING HOLD. I cannot express the stress and confusion that I was feeling in those moments. SO. We call him back. Turns out he had a better idea. He called the stake president and told him what was going on, to which the stake president responded: "Don't worry, I'll get everything moving," and then president Garcia told us he was on his way to be there personally. 5 minutes later the entire Bishopric literally came in the chapel running. We kinda sat there like "Oops did we do that?" but whatever. The point is she got baptized and it was an amazing service. Completely improvised, but super awesome.
So yeah. Mission complete. Holy moly. That was nuts. I will never forget that image of the bishop and his counselors and their families literally running in the door of the chapel. If only we all had that kind of enthusiasm all the time.
Love you guys, it was awesome to see you and I can't wait until Mother's Day.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings