Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hola todos, I hope you all had a great Christmas. I was so happy to be able to talk with my family, that was pretty great. I have a spanish-english dictionary now so hopefully the spanish learning process can start to speed up. (I accidentally left my Spanish books in the MTC, so thanks, Mom for sending em some new ones). We didn't really do a whole bunch on Christmas day, but this week leading up to Christmas we did a lot of service and caroling with our district. I almost feel bad for the people we went caroling to because we were not the best singers. Our district leader, Elder Waite, can play the guitar so we had some background music to help us out. We knocked on this one door and started singing and the guy answered the door, looked at us and shook his head, and closed the door. I guess we he wasn't in the mood for some Christmas spirit.

We have found some new investigators but none of them came to church... We did see however, Ernesto, who we played soccer with on Thanksgiving. He came to church with his family that is in our ward. We talked with him a little bit and we are hoping to find a way to be able to start teaching him. Our area is hard to keep investigators for very long because the always move away, it is weird. Because of this, we do a lot with the less-active families and they are fun. One family, the Florez family are crazy. They have 11 kids and there are 3 adults that live there. All of the kids are under 12 years old too. The dad wants us to teach his kids that are old enough to be baptized. Our lessons with them are a little crazy. We mostly focus on teaching the 3 who are old enough to be baptized, but the other 8 kids just run around and climb all over us and it is hard for everybody to focus. I have learned something from their family though; and that is that I never want 11 kids. But they are great and I love them.

We have another family, the Romero family that is kind of in the same boat. They don't have 11 kids though, they only have 5. However, they have one set of triplets, so they're always fun. The dad wants us to teach his kids so that they can be baptized as well. So If both of these families keep progressing, we could have a pretty good month. It has been pretty exciting to teach them as well.

I have seen a lot of broken families here, and a lot of people with some pretty difficult trials. It has made me so grateful for the blessings that I have in my life. I have been really humbled out here. Don't take any blessings for granted, especially your families. There is a reason that this gospel is centered around our families. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder May

Our humble Christmas tree

Us with the Spanish sisters in our branch

Christmas caroling

Bro. and Sis. Bernal

Monday, December 19, 2016

I hope you are all getting ready for Christmas. It has been really interesting and pretty cool to see how many people here are willing to share their thoughts about Christmas and the Savior. Most of the people out here are Christian so almost everybody we talk to is excited and happy to talk with us about Jesus Christ.

This week has been interesting, I can't decide if it was good or bad. Almost all of the investigators we had told us to stop coming or they moved away. Miguel and Pedro that we met last week were doing awesome. They called us on Tuesday night and said that they were moving to Florida the next day. It was pretty random but we told them we could refer them to the missionaries in Florida and they were pretty excited about that. We would have appointments with our other investigators and they would cancel every time, or they would just not answer the door when we would knock. It was actually kind of funny because after one of our investigators didn't answer the door, we decided to leave. As we got in our car, we looked at their window and saw two eyes watching us as we drove away. I thought that was kind of funny. So as of right now we only have one progressing investigator. We were feeling kind of bummed out, but then on Friday morning we got a call from someone who used to be an investigator. He said he needed to meet with us right then so we dropped everything and left to go see him. When we met him he said "How much does it cost to be baptized?" That kind of shocked my companion and I but we were able to teach him about baptism and taught the first lesson. He is preparing to be baptized on January 7. Later that day we had planned to do some finding, so my companion wanted to go to the mexican mall again. We ended up in this farmers market place and there were two ladies that had a Free-Sample stand and were giving away free cheese. It smelled good so we went over to them and asked for some. As they gave us some cheese, one of the ladies looked at our name tags and asked what that was all about. So we taught her and her friend the first lesson right there at the cheese stand. They both were really interested. After that discussion one of them asked us what we believed about tithing. That was pretty unexpected but we taught her about tithing too. I guess she wanted to "pay tithing" because after we taught her she pulled $10 out of her purse and bought us a big bag of mangoes and aloe vera juice. I had never had aloe vera juice before, but that is some good stuff. I thought aloe vera was only used for rubbing on sunburns, but I guess I was wrong. We are going to meet with them again later today so hopefully it goes well.

We were at church and this guy that I thought I had seen before came up to me and (in english) asked where I was from and was just getting to know me a little bit. I had no idea who this guy was but my companion seemed like he knew him. I told my companion that this guy looked super familiar and he told me that His name is President Sullivan. He is our stake president. He told me that he is "Bishop Sullivan" from Meet the Mormons. He is a tall, thin, African-American guy. I felt pretty dumb that I didn't recognize him. People were taking pictures with him after the meeting. That was a little weird. I guess he doesn't come to our branch much. (which would make sense because he doesn't speak spanish anyways). We had our one investigator come to church for her first time and that was great. She brought her husband with her too and that was awesome too. I sat by him in priesthood and he just seemed like a hard guy to get to know. He seemed a little grumpy like he didn't want to be there. I talked to him for a little bit and then I guess he was hot or something so he took off his jacket and I saw that he was carrying a nice big gun on his belt. I took that as a hint and decided I would stop trying to talk to him so much haha. That is about all of the excitement for this week. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and remember to focus on Christ. I am grateful and so happy to be a missionary. Have a great week!

Elder May

We found a sword in our apartment

Monday, December 12, 2016

This week has a lot of stories. First off, we were eating dinner with a member and his friend who is not a member and the food was actually really good. It was rice and chicken and beef. The usual. We seriously have rice and chicken/beef every day. Sometimes it is super good, and other times, not so much. Anyways, we were eating and the nonmember (I don't remember his name to be honest) he was eating this little green things that looked like peas. He asked me if I wanted to try one. I asked him what they were and he said they were just little vegetable things that they grow in their garden. This guy was eating them by the handful so I thought they might be pretty good so I said I would try one. I thought they were trying to trick me and that is was really hot or something but they assured me that "no es picante" (it isn't hot). So I believed them and ate one. They lied. I felt like someone lit my mouth on fire and everyone was just laughing at me. They handed me a bowl of sugar and told me that it helps cool it down. So I took a big spoon-full and quickly found out that it wasn't sugar... it was salt. I was glad I could provide some entertainment for everybody that night. Apparently, in their opinion at least, those little green peppers were hotter than a habenero. My mouth and throat burned for about an hour, but I survived and it was a good time.

A mission has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I guess I thought that since I was dedicating my life to the Lord for 2 years that he would take care of me and nothing bad would happen. Well, as I have been out I have really been humbled and come to know that that is not always how it works. I learned that not only in a mission, but in life that when we are being obedient to the commandments and are serving God with out whole heart, might, mind, and strength, that we can have confidence that anything else that happens is for our benefit. That doesn't mean trials won't come, but that when they do come, we can know how to handle it. Trials are an opportunity to improve our relationship with the savior, and to learn how to find joy in any circumstance. When Nephi and his family left Jerusalem they faced many trials. While Laman and Lemuel continued to murmur and complain, Nephi used those trials as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They all had the same trials, but it was their attitudes that made the difference in the end.

This was a pretty hard week for my companion and I. We had an investigator that was planning on being baptized this week but she doesn't really want to anymore. We had been having a hard time finding people to teach. On Saturday we ended up walking through this Mexican mall (thats where most of the spanish speaking people are) and we ended up wandering through a Ross store. We found a guy named Miguel and started to talk to him about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. He was really interested and invited us over the next day to teach him more. So we went to his house yesterday and his friend Pedro lives with him and wanted to listen to the lesson too. We taught them both about the Restoration and invited them to be baptized and the both accepted. We got them to pray with us and they committed to reading 2 Nephi chapter 31 and said they would pray about it. Afterwards, invited us to come back tomorrow to teach them more. Even though we had a hard week, the Lord blessed us as we continued to look for people to teach with a good attitude and now we have two more investigators. In Mosiah 24:13-15 it says: "Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage... And I will also ease the burdens which are upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs... This will I do that ye may know that I, the Lord God do visit my people in their afflictions." I know that our Father in Heaven is aware of each of us in our trials, and if we "submit cheerfully and with patience to the will of the Lord" (verse 15) we will be blessed and our burdens will be made light. We can't always control the circumstances or the trial, but we can control our attitude. As we show gratitude for all of our blessings, we will realize just how much we have been blessed with, and how much we have to be happy about. I love this work and I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder May

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This week was pretty great. On Tuesday we ate dinner at a members house. It was rice and chicken. I swear that is the only thing the members make out here. But it was pretty good. The next day though I was so sick. I didn't think it was from the food because my companion was fine but I tried to tough it out. We were helping a member move into his house and it was just pouring rain and we were soaked and cold. After about an hour I felt so sick that I could barely do anything so I went into the bathroom and I threw up that whole meal that I had eaten that night before. It was pretty bad. I didn't really eat for the next two days because it was so bad but I feel much better now.

On Saturday we went to a baptism for a man named Juan. He had been meeting with the missionaries for like 8 months and he finally decided to be baptized. There were so many people there and I felt the spirit so strong there. I have really come to love singing hymns in spanish. It makes me really think about the words so I know what it is saying and I love how the translations are a little different. The different wording almost gives it more meaning to me. We sang "I am a child of god" (spanish) and that was one of the times on my mission that I have felt the spirit the most so far.

Later, we went to a live nativity celebration thing at the church, it was really great and the spirit was so strong there. The people that were supposed to be in the nativity never showed up so they asked my companion and I, and two other elders to fill in as Shepherds and kings. I was pretty excited but all we did was stand in the foyer for 45 minutes and we weren't allowed to talk. It wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. The next day we watched the Christmas devotional. I really liked Elder Christensen's talk about how there would be no Christmas without Easter. I had never thought about it that way and I realized how true that was. If Christ never suffered the Atonement and overcame his crucifixion, what would be the point of celebrating Christmas? I encourage all of you to celebrate not only Christ's birth, but all of the things he accomplished in his life. Being out on a mission has really helped me strengthen my relationship with my savior and appreciate so much more all of the things he did in his life for me. I know my savior lives and I am forever grateful to him. I love you all and hope you all have an amazing Christmas season!

Elder May