Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Letter: January 17-23, 2012

para mi familia:

Thank you for your letters as always. I think I am one of the only missionaries that can possibly say that my parents wrote me every week in the mission. You should be proud! Thinking about it, this may be the second to last time that I write you guys from Mexico. I´m not sure how I feel about that....other than that I don´t like it! The interviews with the president have been postponed until this wednesday....which will be a week and half before my last interview with him. I imagine it will be quite a unique interview. The interview I had two changes ago was very emotional....and I still had 3 months left....ouch. 16 days and I will be in utah.

I love you all for your support, and I am looking forward to seeing you all again. I hope that you all understand that when I talk about the not wanting to go home, that I´m not saying I don´t want to see you guys. These two years can´t have flown by any faster. I suspect that after the mission time keeps flying....I hope not. I want to be able to enjoy the memories. I really regret not being able to write in my journal in the mission (I was once good at that, but I have long since lost track of time). I guess these letters will be a type of journal for me....I imagine that you may want to kill me because I am also very bad at taking pictures....I guess I didn´t inherit that gene from any photo-happy relatives.

But enough of reminiscing...(is that how you spell that?) It´s time to work! We had three souls go into the waters of baptism yesterday. But... as always, there were complications. Lourdes that had a baptismal date for yesterday could not come because she got really sick saturday afternoon and went to Ixtlahuaca because her brother lives there and is a doctor. She sounded pretty ill that night that we called her. She told us that she was going to see how she felt the next day, and see if she could get to church early. However, her brother checked her out that morning and told her that she couldn´t leave. We called her sunday morning, and she said "It´s at 1:00, right? Can I get there at 1:00 and it will be okay?" She has so much faith! However, there was another complication that affected both her and the other family that was to get baptized yesterday.

The font wouldn´t empty! It still had water from over a month ago! So we called the Zone Leaders in Metepec (which is the next closest church with a font...both Tenancingo and Santiago Tianguistenco don´t have one!) And crashed their baptismal was fun. So Tania and her two daughter Mitzi and Eleni were able to get baptized yesterday. They loved the service despite all the yeah, they were able to get baptized! However, we tried calling Lourdes, but she wouldn´t answer her just kept ringing. We still tried last night and nothing. We´re planning on calling her today, too. I hope everything is okay.

Yeah, so we are getting things done over here. A really cool family was going to go to church this week, but then the parents of the mom started saying things about not respecting their own religion and all that stuff...they didn´t tell her not to go, but she felt uncomfortable going, so she and the son Jaseth didn´t go. However, Jaseth Sr. did go with us. He had read in the pamphlet that the men usually go in a suit and tie, and he took that suggestion and ran with it! It was awesome! Some people thought he was an inactive member, but nope...he was an investigator. At the end of the services, he had to run to check something at home that his wife called him about, but he said I liked the services, that they were very interesting. He said to have patience with his wife, that she needs a little bit of time. We told him to tell her about how he felt in church and invite her for next week.

Well, we are going to have good week this week! I can feel it! I know that it will not be without the disappointments, I´m sure...but I´m beginning to enjoy even that aspect of the work. When else can you feel so bad about something that has nothing to do with you? I imagine that in the mission we really get a glimpse into fatherhood and what our heavenly father experiences with every one of us.

I love you all! Keep praying for me...and thanks for maintaining my excitement in check. I love this place!

Still Finishing Strong!

Elder Blackham

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Letter: January 10-16, 2012

Well, we played soccer today. I saw 4 people from my generation today, and they said two words. Three weeks. I mentioned to Elder Lindstrom how I was not a big fan of that idea, and he told me that the president gave him a hard time, saying that not counting the days in the mission is like not counting the laps in a race....ouch! I`ve got an interview with him this Friday so I`ll have to repent soon.

This week went a little better and little worse than planned. We focused on finding new investigators and inviting them to go to church to get baptized the next week. It worked fairly well and we now have 4 people that have a date for this Sunday. The only thing is that the five we had lined up for Sunday fell through least for the time being. They were the family that went to church on Sunday. The dad loved church, but the mom is used to the Presbyterian way of doing things. She said that she didn`t feel as good as she`s used to and wants to go back to her church. Unfortunately, she didn`t give us a lot of time to explain about the Holy Ghost, but we did the best we could to leave the seed.

The highlight of the week was by far was the lesson we had with Lourdes Barron. She has studied with the Jehovah`s Witnesses, but she doesn`t like some of things they tell her. However, when we talked to her about baptism, she accepted everything. When we put a date with her she was soo happy she said "the 22nd is my birthday!" We weren`t able to see her again until Sunday when she showed up to church. The talks were about the law of Tithing and the Word of Wisdom. The speakers did a very good job and she loved the messages so everything looks good for this week. Our district leader is going to talk to her on Wednesday and she should be one of four baptisms.

The other three are a single mom and her two daughters. We were going to visit them Sunday after they came to church. However, they live in a town that is close to the chapel, but far from everywhere else we work. We went at the time we had set the appointment, but they weren`t there. We tried getting a hold of them several times, but without success. We finally got to teach them on Saturday. They accepted everything so well with such faith. I think the sister that brought them to church was preparing them from the beginning. So we invited them to baptism the next day, and they accepted! But then the teenage daughter mentioned that she had some personal problems and could not get baptized this week. We tried to help her feel comfortable with it, but the mom decided that it would be better that they get baptized as a family the next week. However, they didn`t get to church yesterday, so we`re thinking of calling them to make sure that our appointment for tomorrow is good for their interviews. Sigh

We also had one more person that was going to get baptized, she`s 20 years old but lives in her parents` house. The parents don`t want to get baptized, but she does. However, she didn`t get baptized this week because the mom needed her help in her work. I`m not an untrusting person, but the fact that she says that her daughter can get baptized if she wants, but them impedes her from doing so, makes me think that she really isn`t a real big fan of the idea.....other sigh.

Oh well, but we have 4 with a date this week, and we`re going to visit some other possibles for this week. So keep praying for us. We`re getting it going pretty nicely here. It was pretty rough the first little while but now we`re feeling good! Thanks for you support and prayers!

Finishing stong!

Elder Blackham

Weekly Letter: January 3-9, 2012

para mi familia:

Well, this wasn`t the worst week in history, but it was not the best either. We fell short on several goals. We had 80 contacts, 24 lessons, 5 new investigators, 6 in church, none with baptismal date, and none got baptized. However, I feel like we worked much more efficiently. The only thing I don`t like about Toluca areas is that they are huge, and have a lot of little towns, which I am sure are gold spots, but it not possible to go to every town every day. We have several pueblos here, we have San Andrès Ocotlan, Ex-Rancho San Dimas, Valle del Nevado, La Concepciòn, San Antonio la Isla, San Lucas, Rayòn, Tenango del Valle, Jico"something" (I`ve never been there), Atlatlahuca, and San Pedro several others that my companion doesn`t even know how to get to. Basically, we tried focusing a lot on two centers of work, where there are more members....namely San Dimas and Atlatlahuca. However, I think this week we are going to try to incorporate a little bit of time in Tenango when we`re in Atla, and a little time in Valle del Nevado, San Antonio, and San Lucas, which are close to San Dimas. Really, we`re trying to expand our efforts little by little, because what we were doing the first week did not work.

We`ve been having a little bit of success. Now that the holidays are out, we find more people in the streets, which is awesome! We found some really cool people that look really interested in our message, but they told us that we should pass by this next week, and we weren`t able to teach them. Hence, that is why we have no new investigators. We are constantly filling up the tank with new people, sifting them through to find the really golden ones, and leaving the rest to ripen a little more.

The Villegas family were those that went to church this week. They have a Christian background, the wife has gone to Pentecost meetings, and the oldest daughter has too. The dad is Catholic, but wants to turn his life around. He just swallows every word we say with a hunger that I have seldom seen. This not only pleases us, but also his wife who has not seen him have so much enthusiasm about religion before. The other two kids are 15 and 12 and they are very mature for their ages. They all seemed to be excited about the church. In fact, after church, the dad asked after the last hour if we were going to get together again like we did in Sacrament meeting. When we told him that we weren`t he was surprised "That was all! It was quick!" We are going to try to put a baptismal date for this Sunday. We`ve already invited them to get baptized, and they`ve accepted, but we weren`t able to put a good date because they left out of town last week.

Yeah, we are really really excited about this week. Man, just talking about them gets me excited! I don`t remember having enjoyed something so much! Please keep praying for us! We are going to get some miracles going this week!

Thanks for everything! I love you all so much!

Finishing strong!


Elder Blackham

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weekly Letter: December 27, 2011-January 2, 2012

para mi familia:

So thanks for the news about Eric, congratulate him for me....or I guess I may have a chance, huh? I hate that feeling.

Well, 2012. We`ll leave it at that.

Today we had a sort of New Years Party as a district. We went to Costco to buy pizza, and then as a Zone we watched two of the movies that President had approved for us to watch mission-wide in our zones today. We watched Kung Fu Panda 2 and MegaMind. They were really well done in my opinion....or maybe because they were simply not Testaments or Finding Faith in Christ....who knows! They were good, but I hope it doesn`t take long to get focused again in the work. I mean, I appreciate that the President tries to choose uplifting movies to watch as a kind of Christmas present...but still, it`s kind of....weird.

Happy birthday tomorrow brothers! It`s weird, they`re going to be 18 aren`t they? Weird, I was 18 too when I was their age.(hmmm....I didn`t mean that to be so funny, but I guess I`ll leave it that way)

Alright, well, about Atlatlahuca. Nobody here actually knows the town... it`s near a bigger town that`s called Tenango. When we explain that, they seem to understand better. We live about 20 minutes away by taxi from the church in Atla... ouch on the budget. This Sunday we did not have the success that we expected to have. Everybody, EVERYBODY fell through. We did confirm the two people that got baptized last week though, which is good. However, I feel like the people we have in teaching really don`t want to progress, that they are only telling us what we want to hear so we don`t leave them. We`re going to look if now that the majority of the holidays are over (just Dia de los Reyes Magos, but it`s not as big, seeing as the kids are going back to school tomorrow.) maybe they`ll progress. If not, I think I might have to be the bad guy like I was in the Molinito. I might have to say, "Sorry, we love being with you, but we got to look for the chosen" obviously not in that way, but usually that`s what they come away with. The spirit needs to be the biggest instrument in the work. You have to find by the spirit, or you won`t find the chosen investigators. You have to teach by the spirit, or they won`t progress. And you have to leave by the spirit so that the investigators aren`t offended.

When it`s done right, the old investigators end up starting to do the things we ask them to do when we leave them. They golden up for the next missionaries to come in, who then ask "Why did they stop visiting these investigators? They`re cool!" Really, I keep going back to the words of Elder Johnson in the mission conference he gave. Obviously we have to be persistent with the investigators. Obviously we can`t teach with mediocrity and simply shake our feet so to speak, saying that we don`t have the blame that they aren`t progressing. We have to do everything in our power to help them progress. However, he said, and he`s very right, that we as missionaries usually can tell in the third visit at the latest if the people are going to progress or not. We have to be patient, we have to be loving, but the Lord has said that we are here not to prepare all the people until they become chosen. We are to harvest what is already "white." As missionaries, it is out of our hands. We have the scythe ready for the harvest, so why are we working in the green parts of the field? Let`s give it a little water, a little encouragement, but let`s move to the white in the field, and then maybe that other part will be white when we come back. It doesn`t make sense to be sitting there day by day waiting for a green plant to ripen with wheat, while tons of wheat are being wasted because we don`t lift the gaze.

It`s true that it is one of the hardest parts of the mission. I don`t know why it has always been my part that I play in almost all the areas where I have been. I guess I still haven`t learned enough. In Molinito, my zone leader told me something, that we shouldn`t think that leaving them was the same as abandoning them. He said that if we have spiritual ears to hear, we would hear them saying "Love me enough to leave me."

Don`t go on thinking I`m depressed. It does get you down when you think that this week we may be dropping a lot of investigators, but I feel that we will get more new investigators than we will drop. We WILL complete with the excellence goals. The one thing I have failed in in my mission is not having faith in being able to complete every single one of these goals. But this week from January 2 to January 8, 2012 we WILL. That would be the best birthday present: 140 contacts, 30 lessons, 10 new investigators, 6 in church, 4 with baptismal dates, and 1 baptismal service. We will do it! Pray for us so that we can do it. A lot depends on the agency of others, but we have not even come close to doing our part.

I love you all. Keep praying for me. Elder Gonzalez is really good, and a hard worker. This last week, we have been working on working more efficiently. This week I feel we will have more success!


Elder Blackham