Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekly Letter: August 10-16, 2010

So my first week with a new companion in Plateros. I cannot explain how blessed I have been with companions. When I told a bunch of people that I had Elder Gamez, the following happened: 1) they didn´t know him 2) they didn´t know him, but knew of him, that he was a good guy 3) they knew him and told me he was a good guy. So I was a little nervous but not too much. Manuel was more nervous than I was about "his" new companion. (It´s funny, but he literally is like a third companion for us....except he can go on "splits" with girls, because he isn´t subject to mission rules yet.) However, from the beginning, we´ve been working hard. We could have done better, for example, we had a baptism fall through, and we don´t know what happened because we couldn´t be in contact Saturday, because we were in the Visitor´s Center by the temple. However, Elder Gamez has a different kind of energy for the work. I don´t know if it´s a better energy than that which Javier and Childers had, it´s just different. It´s really hard to compare my companions, so I won´t. But I will say that I learned a lot from Elder Childers, more than I thought I would, he´s a masterful teacher of the gospel, a great missionary, and an incredible friend.

But with this change, I´m really excited to work with Elder Gamez, it seems like he was a born learner. He has learned the area really fast that sometimes I forget that he´s only been here a week. He´s already very familiar with our investigators, our area of proselyting(I don´t have a clue if I spelled that right), and he´s getting to know the member really well. He and Manuel have become good friends, and it feels like we´re a trio again.

About Elder Gamez, he is from Monterrey, Monterrey, México, although like a year before his mission, he and his family moved to Tabasco. So he´s from the North. The North is a different culture than here in the south....and different food. I shouldn´t say that Mexico City is Southern culture, because it´s not, it´s different from that of Tabasco or of Oaxaca, but it´s a lot more southern than Northern. This being said, his tastes for food a little more American....or maybe just different. Not only has he heard of Root Beer, but he also likes it.(Root beer hardly is found around here) He also knows a great deal more of English than Elder Javier.(Not quite as much as Childers, but he´s getting there). He loves Burritos(which are also a scarcity in DF) and he likes his tacos with flour tortillas and not with corn tortillas.

Anyway, we´ve really gotten along really well. He´s incredibly obedient, which has woken me up to the fact that I can improve in that respect. In fact, I had an awesome experience this week with my personal study. My personal study probably had been lacking a little bit since I was in the field. I was often really tired, and wanted to read in my bed....and you guys can probably guess what that would lead to. This change, thanks to a stirring talk from President Villarreal, I was moved to improve in every aspect of my study this change and strive to be perfectly obedient.

With this desire, I was blessed with a beautiful experience the first day. In the MTC, I not only enjoyed personal study, but looked forward to it every day. I really had the opportunity to feast on the scriptures. However, as I mentioned, maybe my study was a bit lacking before here in the field. This time I decided to study in my desk, with a study journal. As I was studying, Elder Gamez put some music on from his mp3 player....hymn arrangements on piano. This music, with the study journal brought in a spirit that I didn´t realize I was missing. If I needed to, I couldn´t tell you which hymns were playing, which one touched me so, or what I learned in my study that I wrote down. I just remember the feeling, I felt like I was in the MTC again. I didn´t realize how strong the spirit was in that place until this week, when I got a taste of it again. I don´t often weep, not out of shame of shedding tears, but more because my emotions usually don´t cause such a reaction, but I will admit to you all that I was weeping profoundly that first day. Thanking my comp(who either thought I was weird or really emotional) and God for such an experience.

I also had a gratifying experience with a priesthood blessing this week. We´re teaching this family, who has two teen-age daughters, the older of which has not been very open about the church, she´s been willing to listen, but never has accepted any commitment, because she only wants to hear our beliefs. This said daughter, has been trying to pass an exam for years, but she has always been nervous for the said exam, and hasn´t passed it yet. She was going to take the exam this Friday, and was again very nervous about it, which she admitted openly, was her problem more than the fact that she didn´t know the material. Both Elder Gamez and I, who have historically done well in our exams in the past both gave some advice, and offered to give her a priesthood blessing. She accepted this blessing, and we gave her the blessing Thursday, the night before this exam.

I was chosen to be voice for this blessing. I have always been nervous to give blessings, even in English. In Spanish, I´ve got a few more challenges to overcome. Along with the lack of vocabulary, I have to use the "Tú"-form for "you" in these blessings, of which I am not so familiar with, since in the street, we use the "usted"-form for "you." However, this time, the words flowed out of my mouth with a fluidity that I didn´t think was possible. During the blessing, words would come to my mind, in written form(I can pronounce more accurately when I see who a word is spelled, than from hearing the word from a native mouth). Also during the blessing, another piece of advice came to my mind that he had not yet mentioned. I finished the blessing, and after a moment told her the piece of advice. We wished her luck with her exam.

That Saturday, we went with both daughters, Manuel, and Antonio Sandoval(a recent convert) to the Visitor´s Center by the Temple. And this daughter thanked us for the blessing and told us that she felt unnaturally peaceful during the exam, and had put in practice the advice I had shared with her at the last minute, which also helped a lot with her nerves. Anyway, the Visitor´s center is another story of it´s own, and I have no time now, but I think they both had a good experience.

Anyway, thank you so much for your prayers, and help for me. I need them. We all, as missionaries in the world, need them. This isn´t our work, it´s the Lord´s. It should never be anyone else´s, because when it is some else´s work, it ceases to have the power that we have seen. I hope you all can have such an experience in you life to be made an instrument in this work, it´s a humbling thing.


Elder Blackham

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