Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekly Letter: January 18-24, 2011

Well, another week in the mission....and changes again! First of all, I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work in Toluca in the Centro. It wasn´t easy, but we were just starting to see that the seeds we planted there were starting to grow. We found a lot of new investigators, we basically reopened Centro, we hardly even visited the former investigators until near the end of the change, but then we saw really if they wanted to hear us or not, because we had literally no time to waste. We were always anxiously engaged in a good cause....and it felt good! That is how the mission should be. I haven´t learned everything I have to to be a good missionary....if that were the case I would have already completed my two years....but I feel that I have learned a lot about how to work. The key is to get started, and then you never want to stop.

I learned a ton from Elder Lauritzen, I know he will be a good missionary. The week before I had gotten a little discouraged, and he knew exactly what to say. His Spanish is a little limited, but he is truly mastering the gift of tongues...because he can talk with the tongue of angels. He will be successful in Centro, I know he will be able to harvest all the fruits that we planted seeds for.

I guess I spoiled the changes. I left Toluca. Elder Lauritzen will have recieved Elder Gutirrez in Centro. I am now writing from Naucalpan. Basically we´re right there by the Distrito Federal, even though were technically in the State of Mexico...it is still the same Urban zone of Mexico City. My ward is called Molinito 1, and there are four elders working in this ward because it´s pretty big(well, for Mexico City.....Centro is more than ten times bigger than this...but here everything is houses, there aren´t little towns scattered around like in Toluca.), so I expect that we´ll have some work to do since my companion Elder Quiroga and I are opening what is the area Molinito 1-A, so we´ll be working hard.

Yeah, my companion is Elder Quiroga, and he is from Jalapa, Veracruz. Right now we´re staying in the house the four of us, along with Elder Nauahi(the district Leader, he´s American but his grandparents are Hawaiian), and Elder Mercado(he´s from Cuzco, Peru), but eventually they will have to look for another house because where we´re living will be part of our area when the division is officially made.

Well, I have very little time left. I´ll tell you more about Molinito in a week! Thanks for everything! Keep praying for me!


Elder Blackham

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Letter: January 11-17, 2011

Well, another week in the mission. I cannot believe that we have
changes (transfers) in the next week. I really hope they don´t change me. I know
that I have a lot of time here in this area, but we can achieve so
much here! Elder Lauritzen and I have been as close to perfect in
obedience as I have seen in my mission. We´ve had our personal
study-time, study time as companionship, daily and weekly planning
sessions, and EVERYTHING! Well, maybe not everything. We can always
improve. But really, we have been so diligent that I´m actually
dreaming about the mission.....I don´t think it´s revelation, because
I doubt that some of the members from Plateros are going to move here
to Centro...and I doubt we have to re-baptize some of the members that
have about 12 years in the church, and I don´t think some of the
elders that are already home from their mission are going to come back
any time soon....but who knows!

I guess this is what it means to lose yourself. I´m really starting to
understand the concept. I don´t even care what people think about me
in the street. I was often scared to contact people because I thought
that would be too forward...and I´m a little shy in personality(maybe
you guys in home are like....well yeah! I knew that!), but it´s weird
how you become somebody else when you put that badge on with your name
and the Savior´s name. It´s a total change!

This week, we could have had more fruits. I was a little disappointed
when we found out that there was no water or power in the Church
yesterday. Concepción, who was going to be baptized, took it well. She
said "Everything is a trial. Trying to see if I´m really going to do
this." she will be baptized Wednesday night. She really has such faith
that it is incredible!

This week has kind of been like that situation. With the new people we
taught, some of them weren´t there for the other appointment. Another,
their family is pressuring them...saying that its a sin to listen to
us. And the golden family....they got stranded when their car broke
down on them, and they didn´t get home until 9:30 that night, and the
car got back this morning from the shop. Our appointment Saturday
at 6:00 to invite them to church and to be baptized.....fell through,
and when we tried to call them to invite them to church Sunday
morning.....they didn´t answer because Benjamín had left his phone in
the car overnight in the shop.

But like Concepción said, these are trials to see if we are going to
do the things that we should do. If we´re going end the change like we
began: diligent, and working with the hope of finding the people
prepared to receive His message.

This is life as a missionary. I love it. And we keep on going.


Elder Blackham

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekly Letter: January 4-10, 2011

para todos uds:

Another week in the mission. So I thought that after Christmas, New
Years, and my birthday, everything would set in that I´m about to
complete a year in the mission......well, not really. However, it did
give me an opportunity to look back at what I´ve acheived. I now feel
really comfortable teaching the lessons...and talking in Spanish. I
feel that I can basically express myself, however, I feel that I have
been slacking a bit in two things: accent, and learning new words.
Until a few weeks ago, I didn´t realize that my pronunciation wasn't the
hottest in Spanish. I can´t tell when I´m talking, but when I record
myself and listen to the playback, I can hear a lot of Gringo accent.
I have asked a few members in the church to help me with it. I think
it´s that I have to pay more attention to the way I´m speaking. I´ve
recorded myself reading some material in Spanish, and my accent has
improved in that, but when I start talking from whatever I´m thinking
about, it´s harder to focus on it and thus, I start talking with a
little more accent. The sounds are really subtle, like "ul" in words
like dificultaba, or Atlacomulco, and "ui" in words like destuirá.
But, I´ve been working on that, and it´s getting easier. I had to give
a talk in Sacrament yesterday (they told us Saturday at night...I love
being a missionary!), and the same brother that has been helping me,
said that it was a lot better. I don´t know if that was because I´m
really making progress or if he´s trying to encourage to keep going.

Also with the words, I had tucked away my notebook of new
words....I think I might need to take it out again. I understand what
everybody is saying, and the words they´re using, but later when I
want to say the same word....I forget! So I have made a lot a progress
in Spanish....and have worsened in my English people say. But yeah, I
feel like this next year I will focus more to hone in on the little
details to be able to communicate with the people here like a true

So yeah, I was able to think a little bit about goals for this next
year, but I didn´t lose sight of the goals for this week. We did okay,
we had three investigators in church yesterday, an eternal that can´t
get married because of paper problems(she has to get divorced with her
ex-husband, but doesn´t have her papers, and she hasn´t been able find
them), and a mother and her grandchild that have come several times to
Church (I think yesterday was the fourth time she has come.) One of
her sons recently got baptized and he will be receiving the Aaronic
Priesthood soon. I hope it works out for this week in the services, so
that he can be able to baptize his mom this Sunday after church!

We were able to improve a lot in our contacting, and one person we
contacted, I had such a strong impression to contact him that, even
though it was my comp´s turn to contact, I was about to contact him
anyway. I was very pleased when my comp decided to contact him. We
were there for about ten minutes talking about the restoration, and he
wanted us to come whenever we were able to. However, then he
remembered that his brother-in-law and other relatives had come from
Guadalajara for this week, and so he said that this week would be more
difficult. We then set an appointment for the following week, and even
though it´s really far away, I feel really really good about this
person, that he´s prepared to receive the gospel.

We also were able to find 11 new investigators this week. Including
two complete families. One is a couple in their forties that has two
daughters in their teens, and a son that is 10 years old. All of them
were really interested, including a friend(boyfriend, I think) of one
of their daughters who also was there. The other family is a younger
couple...I think in their thirties, with a 10 year-old son and a 4
year old daughter. I really feel like, if they go to Church this week,
that we will be able to baptize them the following week. They have
family that is part of the Church, but in another ward. We went with
the Zone Leaders to get to know them(because the Zone Leaders had
previously known them, because their relatives are from their ward),
and then we had possibly the best lesson I´ve had in my mission.

Anyway, things are looking pretty nice here in Toluca. I´ll keep you
all posted, and hope to be able to send photos of the baptism next
week, lately my camera has had troubles connecting with the computers
here, but we´ll see.

Thanks for everything! Please keep praying for me and the other
missionaries. Your prayers literally send Angels here to prepare the
people to recieve this message from us.


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weekly Letter: December 28-January 3

para todos uds:

Well, I wish I could share happier news this week, but this week didn´t go as well as the other week. I think because people left for vacations at the end of the last week for Christmas, and then aren´t planning to come back until this week, or later. Some schools here don´t start up again until the 10th of January because of Día de los Reyes Magos on January 6th.(Three Kings Day...which is like another Christmas, but the Three Kings bring gifts instead of Santa....I don´t know what the Mexicans did to get gifts from both Santa and the Three Kings, but oh well, I´m not going to complain.)

It´s absolutely weird thinking that I will be turning twenty in two days. I cannot believe the 2010 is already done, and that I´m no longer going to be nineteen years old! ....and I just finished eleven months in the mission today...I just realized. Time should not go by this fast. I don´t even know how I´ve nearly completed a year in the mission....but I don´t like it. I look at my companion and he´s four months, and I´m like...."Yeah, I´ve got a little more than that," and then I realize that that isn´t true. It´s so weird!

I´ve actually not tried to think about my birthday lately, but it has been weird. We set up a lot of appointments for this week(because they didn´t have time this last week), and a lot of them were like "How about next Wednesday?" I tell them yes, open my planner, look at the date with the big number 5, and I´m like "Wow, that´s really weird." So yeah, but as a missionary the best gift is a day with a bunch of appointments....and that´s just what I have for this Wednesday. So I´m pretty happy.

However, I really am starting to regret telling a bunch of members my birthday when I got here. I thought I wouldn´t still be here....but here I am, and they haven´t forgotten. So everyone is trying to invite me for dinner this week, which is great for the belly, but not so much for the work. Seriously, I don´t even remember telling half of these members when was my birthday, and it seems like EVERYONE KNOWS!!

Oh well, we keep going. This week, I hope we see more fruits from our efforts this last week, because this week we didn´t get hardly any investigators in church. Only one who has gone a lot to church, but won´t get baptized because of a bad example of a member here...sigh. However, it was great seeing him in Church with all his family. His wife is an active member in the church, but his three children, two of which are baptized but don´t really want anything to do with the church (and the other one is about 6 years old sometimes goes with his mom). So it was great seeing them in church.

Anyway, we´ll see how it goes. They live in Almoloya, and we aren´t going to Almoloya until Wednesday....and I don´t know how we´re going to make time with them because we have a lot of appointments and they´re almost always in their Internet Café working. However, I´d like to encourage them to keep this up for the new year.

Well, I have basically no time left. Thanks for everything. I really feel like this is exactly where I need to be, and what I need to be doing in this moment. I feel so...complete in this work with my companion in this area. I don´t know how else to put it. But I like that word....complete. I hope that makes sense. If not, just know that I´m really really happy and enjoying what I´m doing.


Elder Blackham