Monday, May 26, 2014

El Paso is Heating Up (may 20th)

Can you all believe it's the middle of May already!  How crazy is that?  Things down in El Paso are going great!  It's been getting toasty :) but not bad.  The best time to be outside is probably after 7, when it's only in the 70s or 80s.  More people are outside and so contacting and talking to people is easier.  It's still getting dark around 8-8:30 though, so once it starts getting dark later, evenings will be fantastic!
Awesome week! 
Monday- we had p-day and then had a couple noches de hogar with different families in the ward.  One was with an active family and a part member family and they fed us.  And then another was with a less active family and some members who lived down the street.  They also fed us.  We watched 17 Miracles with the second family and it was great!  There were so many points in that movie that could apply to so many things!   It's such a great movie!
Tuesday- I woke up sick, and then went back to bed and woke up again at noon.  We had planning, so we planned and then went out and taught.  We were able to have a great lesson with Victoria, one of our investigators who we haven't been able to contact recently.  She lives near our dinner appointment and so we swung by before dinner and her gate was unlocked so we were able to go in a teach a short lesson.  She's an older who lady who just loves the Bible, and quotes it to us throughout the lesson.  She's so excited for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Tuesday we also had our first language assessment.  Basically it was an interview to see how we are in the language.  I guess it went well :).... it's good to know where you can improve right? A little disheartening, since I thought I was doing well, but it's never bad to be humbled, and then refocused and where you should improve.  Knowing what to work on helped my language study this week. 
Wednesday- we were in the middle of language study, when we get a call from a member asking if we were busy.  He had a friend he wanted us to me, so we went and met A, the Lowe's Hotdog stand man, friend of Hno V (with him really... everyone is a friend).  And then we had a lesson, and a free lunch in the little exit, headed out of Lowe's.  A was awesome, so eager to learn... just a couple problems.  1) he's Italian, not Mexican, so English was a preferred language over Spanish (though he told us, Spanish would be fine...)  and he lived way south of our area, so we set up a return appointment, but then also scheduled the right missionaries to be there.  Then after eating with Hno V, and A, we had a second lunch with the English sister missionaries.  They had a less active with a wife who only speaks Spanish.  And so they wanted us there to talk to her about the church.  And for lunch we had brats.... yes, I was hotdogged out by the end of lunch.  One of our appointments fell through, and we found out that C, our investigator, was headed back to Mexico. She had come to visit her family (they're members) and we had begun teaching her.  She wasn't supposed to head home until August, but something came up.  We got to say goodbye, but didn't take any pictures unfortunately :(.   We then had a great lesson with our investigator Au, the older one with dementia, and we invited 2 older hermanos in the ward, and it was great!
Thursday-Crazy day, lots of appointments.  E is one of our investigators who really wants to be baptized but has word of wisdom problems, so we met with him, and then the M family.  Hno M was able to share his experience about quitting drinking and how la palabra de sabiduria blessed his life, and it meant a lot to E.  Later in the day we had an awesome lesson with Ma!  We found her by just contacting her neighbor who wasn't home.  Ma hadn't read yet, but we read the introduction together and she had a TON of questions!  And they were really good questions too.  Luckily the member our with us, was Hna P, the seminary teacher (seminary this year is Book of Mormon) and one of her students, F.  So between the 4 of us, we were able to answer all the questions, and bear testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. 
Friday-  Headed home from district meeting, and on the way to correlation, we got a phone call from E.  He told us that he was moving to Midland/Odessa to work in the oilfields.  And that he was leaving in 30 minutes.  So we swung by his house and said good bye and that we'd miss him, and he found find the missionaries out there.  Then later we get another phone call from him, saying that he's not leaving until Monday and wanted a ride to the baptism on Saturday.  And in that second phone call, he called us to talk about scriptures and then we talked about the Word of wisdom and how the Lord will provide a way to overcome his addictions (1 Nefi 3:7).  We prayed, decided it was a lesson over the phone.  All our other appointments cancelled that night and so we went finding and had some wonderful miracles!  Mar attended church with her aunt when she was younger and seemed interested in coming again.  We have an appointment with them later this week.  And then we met G and talked about the great apostasy and the restoration and he was really interested.  Everything he was telling us about how he's studied other church and just how things don't fit together was perfect and fit perfectly with the apostasy.  We're also meeting with him this week.
Saturday- well we started our day off with a lesson with the R family, who we hadn't seen in a month.  But they're doing good.  We planned to teach the Restoration, and did, but ended up talking a lot about the Book of Mormon.  They're a good family, and hopefully we can see them more than once a month.  Then they'll start making progress...  The elders had another baptism Saturday, and E came again.  He really likes the baptisms and really felt the spirit in this one, so before the service started he got up and shared his testimony with everyone about how he wants to be baptized and clean to live with God again.  It was very nice, a little long, but everything worked out.  E told us Saturday that he probably wasn't going to move to Midland anymore because his baptism was more important.  We met B contacting, and he was awesome!  Ex-marine, hippy.  That about sums it up.  We knocked his door and this is what we hear "Honey... there are two beautiful women standing at my front door!"  "Two?!?"  "I sure hope their not here to kidnap me!"  He was willing to meet with the missionaries, but again, was English, so we gave his information to the sisters.
Sunday- Great day.  We had some awesome lessons.  But the miracle of all miracles was church itself.  We started Sacrament meeting with 2 investigators at church.  E and O (who comes to church, but won't keep appointments...).  And then the V family came!  And then the N's came!  And then J came!  So we had 7 investigators at church!  And the miracle of miracles is that we really hadn't seen any of them all week!  Throughout the week we had tried contacting a less active member.  Well during Church on sunday, she called and left us a message telling us that she didn't want us coming back, she didn't want to be part of the church anymore and to stop trying to contact her.  Well, we weren't going to go against her wishes, so we made a mental note, not to visit her.  Well, after dinner she called again (I think to make sure we got her message) and she just kept going on and on about how getting baptized was a mistake, she did it to save her job (she was working for a member) and how she doesn't want her husband to think she's with the Mormons and now he does.  And she kept saying that the Catholics don't go around knocking on people's doors to check on then, so why were we.  Since she had called again, we were able to get her bishop's number and she was able to work everything out.  It was just a sad experience though, because we were trying to find less active members, and she didn't want to be contacted.  But that's something we do as missionaries, but as members too.  Everyone of us are brothers and sisters and we need to take care of each other.
Monday- President and Sister Miller were in town, and they came to a lesson with us!  We went to visit A and the spirit in the lesson was so strong.  Au doesn't really speak English and President doesn't really speak Spanish, but they were able to understand each other.  And it was just incredible to be with the Millers in a lesson.  And President was able to give Au a blessing.  Au's daughter doesn't want him coming to church, and so we've just decided to give it time.  We're keep visiting and teaching him, but won't try to push church.  We also had a lesson with the Ns.  Last Tuesday when I was sick/sleeping they called and cancelled our appointment, and said we could come Monday, but without any members.  So we fretted all week that something bad was going to happen.  And then they showed up to church, but we still didn't know what was going to happen.  Well it turns out they just had some questions for us, and they didn't want the members there, because they though they were our supervisors and didn't want us to feel bad because of their questions.  It was a great lesson, and gave us the opportunity to explain why the members come out with us.  We had another phone call from E, and it turns out he might actually be leaving for Midland today.  Luckily, on Saturday we were able to get him the information for the church out there in Midland.  So even if he does end up leaving (we're calling later today to see if he left) he can go to church! Then we had a great dinner/lesson with a less active family and spent the rest of the evening finding.  We contacted into a less active family, and had a lesson with the grandchildren, but are sending the English missionaries, because the kids don't speak Spanish.
Things are amazing down here in El Paso!  I know that I am here for a reason, and I love teaching these amazing people.  I know that God is my Heavenly Father, and that he loves me and gives me little pushes each day to get through.  I know that Jesus Christ is my elder brother and savior and that because of him, I can return to live with him and my family someday.  What a glorious message to share!  How grateful I am to share it.  Have a fantastic week!  And enjoy the Northwest spring!
"May God take a liking to you!"  -Bob, quoting Roy Roger

And some addition Information:
In El Paso/Las Cruces area there are three missionary zones and each zone probably ranges from 10 to 15ish companionships.  The biggest zone is the El Paso zone (the one I was in before) and it might have closer to 20 companionships.  Most companionships have two missionaries, though some have three, so in the El Paso/Las Cruces area there are probably between 80-100 missionaries.  Of the two zones I've served in, at least half (maybe more) of the companionships are Spanish speaking.  Because we have so many missionaries in this area, the Mission President and his wife now have an apartment and will be visiting more often.  That's great because President & Sister are amazing.  In the total mission there are 250 missionaries, so nearly half are in this area.  I believe most of the Spanish speaking missionaries are also in this area.
We're in a great ward and everyone is amazing.  The area has lots of neighborhoods, middle income or less.  There is a mix of neighborhoods, a lot of apartments, trailer parks and government housing.  There are some newer developed areas, but demographics are not Spanish, so we tend to stay out of them, unless we're visiting specific people.  There are a ton of churches in the area and most people we meet are either Catholic or some other Christian denomination.  There is a military base close.  Most military families are in English speaking wards, so we don't interact a lot, but we've met a lot of people contacting.  There are some big military neighborhoods, but they're not in our area (they're in the elder's).  
We shop at the Dollar Store and Walmart.  Our area has lots of parks, a couple pools, and some people have them in their backyard.  Education varies... a lot of the sisters in our ward are in English classes, and we've met several people in school, but it just depends.  There are a lot of schools in the area, and lots of GED programs too.
We've talked about starting an ESL class during the summer, for women who were in the English class (which ended for summer) to give them another opportunity to practice and learn.  It's a great way to serve the community regardless of church membership.
When we went to the Alburquerque Temple, a couple from our ward drove us.  They were so awesome.  The Sister took off work - such a sacrifice.  And an additional sacrifice considering they generally attend the Juarez Temple, less than an hour from their house.  The drive took us 4 hours (7 hours on the way back due to complications) and the Temple was wonderful.  It was called Missionary Monday - only open on Monday for missionaries.  That's why we typically only get to attend twice a year.
A bilingual couple from an English speaking ward recently evaluated my Spanish speaking skills.  I need to work on different grammar aspects like past tense and stuff like that.  The good news is that I've had 3 companions who like to talk, and talk a lot.  The flip side is I don't always get to talk that much, so I just need to get comfortable talking.  Sometimes I'm unsure of word endings, but it's alright.  Improvement poco a poquito (bit by bit).
Our entire church service is in Spanish, although many people are bilingual and all of the children attend public school where classes are taught in English.  A lot of families communicate in both Spanish and English, sometimes using both languages in the same sentence. 

 (Apparently they helped make another cake)

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