Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Letter: October 5-11, 2010

Okay, another week. I can honestly tell you guys that I have no idea where this other week went. I feel like someone hit me in the head, took a lot of my money and here I am on Monday.

No, but really, this is really weird, we´re already half way through the cambio, and I have no clue how that has happened. I feel like I´m just getting to know the ward, the area, and my companion, but wow, three week already!

So we had a week of a lot of fallen appointments this week. Basically, we´re supposed to at least two plans for every hour of every day, in case something falls. I felt every night that the three plans we had would surely be enough....and guess what? They weren´t! We actually ended up knocking doors, which is basically the first time I´ve knocked doors since we opened Plateros 5 months ago, I´m a little rusty.

So yeah, our week could have gone better, especially when no one came to church this Sunday that we had been teaching. However, somehow, we managed to find to new investigators who came to Church this week. One is the girlfriend of an inactive member who lives in Almoloya, and the other is a friend of the wife of the ward mission leader(wow that´s a mouthful). They found each other in the street when the sister was literally on her way to church, the friend said that she had had a hard time, and the sister invited her to church. We were going to teach her today (on our P-day), but the appointment fell (again), but at least we have a way to keep in touch with her, and she did seem to enjoy the spirit in the chapel.

We´re really working hard with this young couple we have in teaching. They are family of a brother in the ward that have moved in while the husband looks for a job. He found a job in the meantime in a Walmart more or less close to where they live. We actually watched Testaments with them this week, and they both loved it, then we extended a baptismal invitation. He said yes right away (he´s seen the difference that it´s made in the life of his Uncle, the member). She hesitated for a moment and said that she would like to learn more, but that she wanted to get baptized too.

Anyway, I hope that the get their answers to their prayers. When we leave to work at 6:00pm today, we´re going to Almoloya to see them. We´ve been praying for them, because we know that they can get baptized this change, it´s only a matter of keeping contact with them.

Well, this letter was pretty short, but I have very little time now. But thank you all for your prayers and support!


Elder Blackham

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekly Letter: September 28-October 4, 2010

So we had a great week this week. Of course our numbers could have been better this week, but it was still one of the better weeks I´ve had as far as numbers go. I got to know more of the ward this week, and we found a few new investigators, some of them look really promising for baptism. Two of which are a young couple that are living the house of his Uncle while looking for a new house. The Uncle is a recent convert and absolutely excited about the church. It has truly changed his life. All his life he had had problems with alcohol, and could never stop for the world, even after going to professional help. The missionaries came to his house as when a member in his neighborhood gave the referral. He was baptized about a year ago, and he has been completely clean ever since. Everybody in his family has noticed the change. His cousin who has a son in a similar track has also asked to have the missionaries visit her son, and both of his sons that have moved out to other places have sent their addresses to their father so that he can send the missionaries to their house, and finally, his nephew and his wife have come to live with him and are listening to us. How great difference an example of a member and their enthusiasm can make!

Yeah, so things are looking up right now. Especially, since I more or less know the area and the ward and we can focus more on the investigators and finding new people. My companion had an interesting dilemma the other change. His companion, Elder DeGeorge got hit by a car in the second week of the change and had to go to DF, (he´s fine now, in fact, they gave him a boot and put him in the offices as secretary and he´s now driving the Mission van around in DF!), but after that, the two Zone leaders became Elder Chavez´s companions whenever he couldn´t do split with the members in the ward. And, as zone leaders, he went with them in all their interviews and activities, and had to split their time in their two areas(both of which were big). Anyway, the long story short: he has lost touch with many of his investigators, and I feel like I´m once again opening up an area, like I did in Plateros. Oh well, the fruits will come, but patience first.

I´d also like to talk about General Conference. The President of the Mission encouraged us all to attend all 5---or four for the sister-missionaries----sessions of conference. So we were able to participate in all 5 sessions. It was interesting to see the difference between the English and the Spanish versions. I attended the Spanish General conference for the first four sessions, and I liked it a lot, but when I went to the other room to watch it in English, I realized that there was more power in the way they spoke...not only what they spoke. The translators, although they do a great work, simply cannot do complete justice to the conference. (also, once of them has a Spanish accent that is a little distracting...the Spaniards lisp all the z´s and all the "ce" or "ci" combinations. Pres. Uchtdorf´s talk that constantly talked about the "velocidad" was a little bit hard for me.) So, I decided to watch the other three sessions in English. My companion decided to go with me, since he has really good English and wants to work harder on it so he can go to BYU or BYU Idaho, and he agreed that it was much more powerful from the voice of the prophet.

I was also impressed to see some people I knew in the choirs in the second session (from families in the Draper-Sandy area) and the Priesthood Session (friends from high school and BYU in the MTC Choir.) I actually was able to point out to my companion, who knew Elder Steed in the mission, that brother of the Elder Steed that he knew was in the choir. It´s really weird to think that Elder Douglas Steed is home from the mission, and that Elder Russell Steed has just begun. It´s hard to explain, but I always feel so happy when I hear that people are going on their missions!

Anyway, even though we had a lot fewer hours to work on both Saturday and Sunday, I feel like these talks were just what I needed. I don´t think there is any experience quite like General Conference as a Full-time Missionary! I think it´s because you have been focusing so much on how to help the people in your areas for 6 months, and then the "experts" get to tell in 10 short hours what you can do to make it better! How grateful I am for the Lord´s Servants the profets and apostles.

Well, I´m out of time. Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers. Please know that, even if I can´t name all my friends and family specifically, know that my companion and I are praying for all of you. Please continue praying for all the missionaries, you have no idea how much it helps.


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: September 21-28, 2010

My first change in the mission. I don't know why, but somehow I thought I would be in Plateros forever, but here I am in Toluca. Toluca and DF are completely different animals. DF is HUGE! and Toluca, while not small, is definitely not at the same scale. The areas in Toluca are a lot bigger than those in DF, thanks to the less dense population. My area is Toluca Centro, but it includes several other small towns, including Lomas, Almoloya, Suteym, and Colinias del Sol. Unfortunately, I have gotten in the habit to sleep in the buses or taxis if the journey takes more than 10 minutes(which was the longest journey we would take in DF) Luckily, we haven't had problems with that, even though my companion has the same tendency. However, it seems that whenever he's asleep, I'm awake and vice versa, so we've always gotten off at the right stop.

This area, also has a lot of more hills and mountains, Plateros had a lot of hills, but none of them were this steep and all of them were completely blanketed in houses and buildings. Here in Toluca there is a lot more nature. Anyway, there are a lot more opportunities to take photos here, but I just have to find a way to make my connection work with the computer to send them. We also can see El Nevado de Toluca from our area in a clear day (which happens a lot more here than in DF, thanks to the pollution there). It's a dormant volcano that basically dominates the valley. We've talked to a sister in Lomas, who says that the view from the hill just outside of Lomas has a great view of the entire valley and volcanoe. So I think that one P-day we're going to hike it.

I also had the chance to meet my new companion, Elder Chavez. He is a great missionary, and very humble. I have learned a lot from his example of teaching. It's funny, you'd think that since I have more time in the mission that I would know how to teach better than he does, but the fact is that we're both learning from each other. Actually, I don't really have all that much time more than he does in the mission. We just figured it out today, with my MTC experience, and my coming late in the field due to my visa, we basically have the same amount of time in the field, so really, I do have more time in the mission, but we have about the same experience level: Two areas and 5 months in Mexico.

I am basically out of time. I'm sorry that with all the new changes in the mission (including having to use time on internet to write the president) I don't have nearly as much time as I did before. Anyway, thank you all, like always for the support and keep me in your prayers!


Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: September 14-20, 2010

So, yeah, we´ve had a bunch of rain these last few weeks. I have been very well aware of the hurricanes in Veracuz and Tabasco Mexico. It sounds like the latest one in Veracruz was pretty strong and left quite a few people homeless. It´s interesting because many of the Elders here have homes in Veracruz or Tabasco. There´s a joke here that if you´re not from Utah, you´re from Veracruz. Elder Gamez would be an exception to that, but his family lives in Tabasco, which is just south of the state of Veracruz in Mexico, so I figure it´s close enough.

So basically, I thought the rainy season would have ended by now, but it still shows not sign of slowing, basically every afternoon, it rains, many time really strong. Actually more than a few people here expressed their concerns about the Bicentenario celebration in Zócalo (that was in our Zone, but, of course, we couldn´t go.) that it would be rained out. However, things remained more or less clear that day. It rained a little at about 5 or 6 in the afternoon, but it wasn´t strong and it didn´t compete with the celebration at 10:00 that night.

But yeah, ¡Happy 200th, mexico! We as elders weren´t able to do much work that night, so we got together as a Zone to have....basically a barbecue, but in a Mexican way. It was a great opportunity to interact, especially because we knew by then that the cambios (transfers) were going to be the following Monday....which is today.

Anyway, I´ll give you the news right now. I have been changed to my second area. We´re to report to Camarrones for the changes, I´m going to have lug all my luggage, and then from their, I´m going to Toluca Centro. Everybody here tells me one of three things when I tell them this: It´s far away, It´s really cold, or It´s far away and really cold. So I guess I might be going somewhere really far away, and might be a little cold. Anyway, they tell me there are a lot of mountains there, so I´ll try to take some pictures on the way.

I´m going to be received by Elder Chavez. He´s going to be senior comp even though he only has 5 months. When my companion was talking on the phone about the changes he at first didn´t want to tell me the news. When he told me that he had less time than I did I started to worry and I asked him who was senior. He told me that Elder Chavez was. Actually, I found it a relief that I wasn´t going to leave my first area in the mission as senior companion. Everyone was telling me that that was going to happen, but I didn´t feel right about it. I was worried, more than I should have been. I feel that I have more to learn from another area as junior companion, so I´m thankful that the Lord is giving me the opportunity to serve in this way.

I also believe that it will be a chance to grow in my humility. Even though I don´t want to think about it, that fact of having a Senior comp that has less time in the mission as you do can be a sting in pride. I have seen many people that have felt that way and I never wanted that to happen to me, because I know that if I´m in that situation I need to learn from it, and I can´t do that if I´m too prideful. As I mentioned earlier, my first reaction on hearing that news was relief, but I´m ashamed to say that I did focus a little in that he had less time than me. However, I soon turned to the Lord and asked for the help to accept this assignment and support my new companion. (who probably just became senior companion in this change with me and needs my support in being such....just as I would need help in his situation) Right now I can honestly say that all my feelings of jealousy or pride that could have overridden me have disappeared miraculously. How great miracles the Lord can work within a person when he is willing and to change!

I also am really excited for my companion who got raised up this change. (I don´t like using that term, but it´s what all the missionaries say here.) It came from the many changes that our mission president made in the mission this change. Before this change, in one of the districts in a zone, the junior Zone Leader doubled as district leader in his district. The district here in Plateros was one of these districts. Now, the two Zone Leaders in Puerta Grande are equals in their station, and there is another district leader aside.....i.e.: Elder Gamez.

I have two very quick, and funny comments about this. One, is that he brought this on himself. I mentioned earlier that he really renewed my faith in this area in Plateros, that I had been bored with and had thought there couldn´t be much success here. One time he said "It can have a lot of success, I think it can even be an area of leaders" in the mission, the leaders don´t have much time to work with people, but manage to still maintain a good or higher-than-average level of success(Puerta Grande that baptized more than 20 this change is a good example of this). So when he became the district Leader, I told him "It´s a great area, I think it can even be an area of Leaders." He, however, (who didn´t like the idea of this new calling) laughed very weakly, and said, "I guess I brought this on myself." I assured him that it was simply revelation.

The second thing that is funny comes from the fact of my history in companions. Elder Javier, right now, is still in Lerma, as District Leader, Elder Childers (before he left today) was in Clavaria District Leader, and now, thanks to the changes, Elder Gamez is still in Plateros, but as District Leader. Man! I really feel sorry for this Elder Chavez, he´s going to have less time in the mission that I have right now and he´s going to become District Leader, too! (if my history continues in this direction.)

So yeah, I was really happy to hear about that. Elder Gamez didn´t like the idea very much, but he´s willing to work in that calling, and as I said before, I feel he already has been shaped into being the District Leader that is needed right now

Well, it looks like I´ve run out of time. Thank you all for all your prayers. Please help me with this new change. It will definitely be a change.


Elder Blackham