Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekly Letter: February 15-21, 2011

This week was a good week. I felt like we worked a lot harder and had some more fruits this week. Including a baptism! It wasn´t an easy week, but it was a good one. I really like working with Elder Perez. He is the missionary with the most time in the mission that I have had as a companion, but he has a lot of desires to work. He tells me that he wasn´t always like that, but that he wants to end well. He already had a great last change with lots of miracles that he and Elder Sanders experienced. And now, the work has begun to pick up the pace.

Already, I have gotten to know well the area and the investigators. I feel confident in my orientation of the area (it helps that Toluca Centro is really close by.) I also feel more or less confident in where everything is in the Zone, which is good, because sometimes we have to go to other areas for Baptismal interviews. So, I´m getting there! I am seriously really excited about this area because we´ve got some great people in teaching right now. We´ve been trying to find more new investigators, and many are good, but because we have some awesome investigators, sometimes we don´t have as much time to find new investigators.

This week we were able to baptize Maria Elena. From the start when Sanders and Perez started teaching, she said that she wanted to be baptized. When I got to know her, she had already gone to church once and wanted to get baptized. Well, yesterday, she was baptized after the services. She was at first hesitant, because she has had problems with her husband and wanted to get everything settled before her baptism. We told her that if she got baptized and remained true to her covenants that her husband would eventually notice the change and would begin to want that change in her life. We met her husband this week too. He seems a little reserved, but he likes listening to us too. I think his challenge is going to be his mother who is really Catholic and doesn´t want him to change.

Also we had another investigator accept the invitation to be baptized. But, because mission rules are that they have to go two times to church before they can be baptized, we put the date for this following Sunday, hoping that she would go to church this week.....and she came! Unfortunately, we were busy getting the font ready for Maria Elena´s baptism before the services, so that when Amalia arrived, she almost left when she didn´t see us. But a brother and sister in the ward were quick to catch her and invited her so warmly that she accepted and sat in the Sacrament meeting. When we got everything ready and the font was filling up, we were panicked because we hadn´t received a call from Amalia or anything, but Elder Perez said "Let´s check if she´s in the Sacrament meeting" and sure enough, there she was, smiling.

Amalia has an interesting story.Her daughters were baptized five years ago, but when both of them moved in with their husbands, they went inactive. (The husband of one of the daughters, Marco Antonio also wants to be baptized, but he and Abigail have to get married by civil law before he can get´s complicated, but that´s the situation). Amalia didn´t have any interest in the church at that time, and actually told the missionaries that she would be Catholic until she died. However, in a matter of years, she has changed so much. She actually has us come over frequently to teach her neighbor Carolina, and when we teach, she testifies that this is the true church...she´s not even baptized and she already is teaching and testifying to her friends and neighbors!

So yeah, we have a date for this next Sunday that she will get baptized. So we´re going to work hard to encourage the entire family...including Marco attend, so that it can be something to get the daughters excited to go to church again, and something to encourage Marco Antonio to get married so he can be baptized too!

Wow, there is very little time to write now, and I didn´t even mention the Piña Family, which is also in scopes to be baptized in two weeks. (They want to be baptized already, but the dad hasn´t been able to go to church because of his work these last few weeks on Sunday.) But I guess I´ll talk more about everybody else this next week.

Keep praying for me! We´re feeling pretty good about how things are going here, but we need to improve in finding new people this week! Thanks for everything and the support you give us!


Elder Blackham

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekly Letter: February 8-14, 2011

para todos ustedes:

Changes happen.

And they happened to me. I was unexpectedly changed from the area of Molinito 1A to the area of Independencia in Toluca....which was an area of Zone leaders last change. So you can all imagine my shock when I got the call that I was going to go there. Nope, I´m not Zone Leader...which was good because I wanted to avoid a heart attack. However, the area has a lot of fruits here.

I will admit something that everyone says here in the mission. Toluca is very difficult. So I was a little disappointed when I got the call....I will be honest in that. Especially, because my other Zone Culturas is a baptizing zone...and we already had invited people to be baptized and we had two families that had already said yes....which is something that really encourages a pair of elders opening an area. So I was shocked when I got the call, because I didn´t want to leave, but that´s when they change us. When we want to leave we stay, when we want a different companion, they give us another change together. That´s how it works. They say that if you aren´t changed from an area in a transfer, it´s because you haven´t learned enough from that area. So I guess I learned really quickly what I had to in Molinito 1A with Elder Quiroga.

So it was hard leaving everything on seconds notice. But like I said, this area is ready for some harvesting. Even though it´s Toluca, it has some fruits ready to be harvested. We still have things to do, but really, it´s great to inherit an area from 2 zone leaders. I am with Elder Perez, who had arrived in Independencia the change before to divide the area into two, because there´s a lot of work, and the zone leaders many times are really busy in everything that sometimes the area was neglected. But this change I guess the president decided that it´s better to put the Zone leaders in another area and just have two elders there(of course one is a District leader, so it´s still a little hard).

Anyway, so Elder Perez and I are working in an area where 4 missionaries worked the change before. We have a lot of work. The areas here in Toluca are huge, so we spend a lot of money everyday to visit several pueblos in our area, like Palmillas and Calixtlahuaca. Then we have part of our area in a municipal of Toluca called Santiago Miltepec, so we are running literally everyday, but I love it. Elder Perez is a great companion, he has a lot of experience, he goes home this change, so I thought we were never going to be companions, we even took fotos together in the changes because we thought we wouldn´t see each other again. But here we are as companions!

It´s way cool working again with someone with a lot of experience. With Lauritzen I really carried the load a lot, Elder Quiroga had a little more time and was more comfortable with being a missionary, but still always looked to me when the investigators asked a hard question. However, this change with Perez, it´s kind of half and half, and our lessons go by so fast! In twenty minutes we´re able to share the same lesson that before took like forty minutes or more! I think I didn´t truly take advantage from the experience of Elder Childers when I had him as a companion, but here I am with another chance, and I´m loving it!

We have a lot of cool people in teaching, and a really cool recent convert who is named Enrique. He was a contact of door knocking, and he was golden! Even before he was baptized he was asked to give a prayer in Sacrament meeting, and had an assignment in handing out the Liahona magazines when they arrive(they don´t arrive in mail here, they arrive to the Stake Center, and later they´re distributed to every ward, and then before the meetings somebody in the ward hands them out to the members that have a subscription.) He is the kind of person that takes everything with a smile and a laugh.

Some of our investigators are having a hard time adjusting to the idea that in 3 weeks none of the original missionaries are going to be here to teach them. However, Enrique makes friends way easily, and accepted me really easily, which is weird for an investigator that was found, taught, and baptized by the same companionship. It´s way cool.

So yeah, we´ve got a lot of work to do this week. We already have a baptism in the works, it was going to be this week, but she had to go to the doctor this Sunday because it´s the only day that her husband doesn´t work and can take her to the doctor. However, she wants to be baptized, and so I think we can baptize her this week. We also have other families that are really great, and I feel that they can also be baptized this change before Elder Perez goes home. Anyway, I´m excited, we have a lot of work to do, and I´m excited to do it.

Keep praying for me. We have some fruits to reap, but we need all the help we can get to keep going forward!


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Weekly Letter: February 1-7, 2011

para todos ustedes:

So I will try to write a little more newsy this week. I realize I may have made you guys bored in hearing about areas changing, and opening, and new companions. I know you really want to hear about investigators. This week went a whole lot better, so I guess I can write more about people specifically.

This week we found 11 new investigators, and we had more than one lesson with several of them. Friday was by far the best day Elder Quiroga and I have had here in Molinito 1A. We were running from appointment to appointment. It seemed that we just had the ability to find people and sit down and talk with them. We found a family that I was pretty sure from the moment we contacted the father last week that this was going to be special. It turns out that we were right. We arrived about 10 minutes early at the bottom of the hill where his house is. We saw a light on in their house and figure of a man standing there. Immediately, he called for us to come on up, that he was waiting for us....waiting for us? Ten minutes before the appointment? I hadn´t ever seen that before.

The father´s name is Carmelo, and he has two daughters, one that is fifteen years old that is named Ana, and another one that younger but goes to junior high in the afternoon and doesn´t get home until 9:00, so we haven´t been able to meet her. We taught the lesson on the Restoration, and it went very well. They committed to read and pray. Then one of us asked (I can´t remember if it was me or my companion), "What are you willing to do if you receive an answer that it´s true?" Both of them said without hesitation "To change." Imagine, the first night with two strangers with a badge that says a name of a church nearly a sentence long talking about a 14 year old boy who was called as a prophet and book that was taken from golden plates...and saying that all of it is true, and asking what they are willing to do if they know the truth of this message...and they responded "change." That wasn´t the convincing power of 20 and 19 year old of which that doesn´t even have a full grasp of the Spanish language. We all know who was really testifying to them. That´s what I love about the gospel, it´s so marvelous, so incredible, that it is completely necessary to have a spiritual witness that it is true. Is it any wonder why the restoration happened in the way it did?

Okay, I´m getting a little distracted. Anyway, we had another appointment this Friday with them. They both had read the pamphlet, both received answers. We then taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited them to baptism. The daughter accepted right away, and the father, on seeing the enthusiasm of his daughter also accepted. They were not able to go to church this Sunday due to work commitments, but they say that for sure they will go this week. We have another appointment tomorrow to follow up on that.

Also, on Friday, we finally found a young family that we had tried to locate several times before. The situation is that the father has to leave town to work, sometimes weeks at a time. So we hadn´t been able to find them, because...they weren´t there. However, they were extremely interested in our message, and when we knocked on their door, they were just about to leave to run errands real quick(because the father had to leave that night for another week due to work. But, upon seeing that it was us, they stopped everything and let us teach them. The wife apparently has an uncle that is a returned missionary, and the husband also has several relatives that are members. They are very young, He´s twenty, and she´s nineteen, they have 2 years married(yep, they´re married! (that doesn´t happen often), and they have a baby that is about a Year and 5 months old. So yeah, we´re pretty excited about them too. We invited them to baptism too, and they accepted. The only thing is that he is in Guadalajara this week and gets back Sunday, and she goes with relatives while he´s away. So we don´t have an appointment until Tuesday next week. It was funny, the husband, Jorge, told us at the beginning that he was going to leave that night to Guadalajara. After the lesson we asked if we could make another appointment, and he said immediately "Yes! This Tuesday!....." then he waited a second "Wait! No! I won´t be home! The next Tuesday!" He literally forgot that he was about to leave for Guadalajara during our lesson.

We also seemed to find new people like every day. Especially Friday, we were busy the whole day! It was way cool. Also, we found some inactive members on Thursday that have a son and daughter that aren´t members. They wanted us to visit them that Sunday. We told them we would organize the appointment that Sunday in the Church....and they went! So we had a great lesson with the four of them. The daughter just got back from the U. S. with her husband and two sons, and really seems to be interested in what we have to say. We had a great lesson and have another appointment with that family and have another appointment this week on Friday.

So yeah, we are finally seeing the fruits of our efforts, we are starting to get several references from the members. People many times contact us in the street, and ask us "What is it that you guys do exactly? I´ve always seen you guys, but I haven´t ever had the courage to ask you until now." That happened several times this week. I feel like this area will come to blossom in a way that we haven´t seen before. The last two weeks we have been sometimes so busy tracting, and contacting that we arrived at house with dusty shoes, and sore feet and legs. Now, finally we are starting to see some fruits, we still have sore legs and feet, but from running from appointment to appointment. But, man, what a great feeling!

I wish I could write more, but I feel like I have no time left. Thank you all for all the prayers and support. Please continue praying for us here, we´re starting to see the blessing in this area of Molinito 1A.


Elder Blackham

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weekly Letter: January 25-31, 2011

para todos uds:

Another week in the mission has gone. My past experience is that the first week of change with a new companion and new area(especially if you´re opening it) are the longest. If that is the case....I´m in trouble. I cannot believe that it is Monday again.

Well, enough about how the time is going way fast....oh wow, I just looked at the date and realized that I gave my farewell talk a year ago. That is pretty crazy. Anyway, here I am in Molinito 1A. The ward is called Molinito 1, but since we divided the ward into two areas we dubbed our part, part "A" because we`re more important, but then the other companionship said they were going to be okay with "B" for we decided to go for "A" for "diligenciA." Well, they baptized this week, and we....were diligent, so I guess our names fit. Our part of the area has suffered a bit of non working. Our ward is really long, so it`s hard to work in all the area. Actually, our part contains parts of two cities. They`re basically the same urban zone of Mexico City, but our part of the ward contains a splinter of what corresponds to Naucalpan, and the majority is technically in a city called Huixquilucan. We actually changed our house and we now live in Huixquilucan, the other Elders still live in the same house where we lived for almost a week, which is technically in our area...but it`s easier to get to their part of the area than it is for us from there, so we let them keep the house.

So yeah, we`ve been pretty busy this week. Trying to get to know all the members in our part of the area, trying to find the few investigators in teaching that are in our area, contacting, tracting, and trying to find a house. We were pretty busy all week. Elder Quiroga has been good in not getting discouraged. I mean, it`s hard opening an area, and this is the first time he`s done it. He has about 6 weeks in the mission, but he knows how to be a missionary, I´ve actually learned quite a bit from him, even though I´m the senior companion technically. He likes to take charge a lot of times, which is okay with me, because he knows what he´s doing. Sometimes I have to correct him with little things, but he is a lot more independent than Elder Lauritzen and he learns quick. He´s a great missionary and I feel like we´re going to have a lot of success here. We have to get over the first hump of getting to know the area and the people in it, but we´re pretty close to knowing all the area. We just have to work a little bit in two neighborhoods in our area in the street names, but I feel that we can get to know it pretty well this week.

I´m loving what I´m doing right now. It would be a lie if I said that opening an area is my favorite position to find myself in in the mission, I mean sometimes you want to arrive and hear your companion say "Oh, and we have to schedule an interview for the baptism this week," like what happened in the other companionship in Molinito 1B. However, I feel good. I feel.....well, like a missionary! It´s sounds weird, but sometimes I get so used to the idea of this mission and how it´s my life that I really don´t think about what I´m doing. Opening an area, you have to focus, and so you come to realize that you´re doing what you really wanted to do for all your life...and even though your feet hurt, your legs don´t move, and you have aches in muscles you never knew you had, you feel good.

I love that feeling when I realize what I´m doing. I´m a missionary! I don´t know, maybe some of you are thinking "Well, that´s great that he realized that about a year after he started." But really, I can´t keep myself from getting excited when I think of that! Anyway, I am out of time, but I hope that you guys don´t think that I´m getting down on myself because I´m opening an area...some missionaries already have pity parties for my companion and I, but let them have them! But my companion and I aren´t going to show up!

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Please add to your prayers this part of our ward and the people that are in its limits. This is a big task, and though I enjoy it, I feel incredibly limited in fulfilling it.


Elder Blackham