Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015-1-26 One week left in Cd. Mendoza! I think...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going. No idea where! But everyone tells me, repeatedly, that I need to enjoy the cold now, because I'm never going to feel cold again on my mission. Ever. EVER.

Let's see, what happened this week... A dog bit a chunk out of my shoe. NBD. (Rob's Mom: that's "no big deal") We were knocking on the door of a less active member that I hadn't met before when I realized that they had dogs, and big ones, because I could hear them barking. I stepped a little closer to knock again, and that's when I realized that the "door" was really more of a barrier with hinges. Why the distinction, you may ask? It's because it had a good eight inches of clearance below, enough room for one of the monsters to stick out its muzzle and sink it's teeth into the front of my shoe. I wasn't injured at all, but in prying my foot away from the jaws a small part of the soft front area near the bottom was torn off. It's not even that noticeable, but there it is. The closest I've come to being attacked by a dog. Let's hope that's the closest I get!

Also, our chapel was broken into on Friday night. We were in the home of a contact Saturday afternoon when he mentioned that he had a friend who was LDS. "Oh," we said, "What's his name? We might know him!" "Omar," he says. "Omar," I say. I only know of one member named Omar around here. "Not Omar Canaán?" "That's him!" he says. "Ah," I think. He's buddies with the stake president. Again, NBD. That's when he tells us that "Omar" had actually been there not too long before, but that he had to leave quickly when he heard that our church had been robbed. That was the first we'd heard of it! But yeah, it was true. They hopped the fence and found a window that was unlocked, made off with the pulpit microphone, and then broke into the office of the secretary (with a crowbar, it looked like) and stole a few more things. They left the computer, though, thank goodness, and the piano. I suppose the piano at least would have been hard to carry away, but I was still glad to see it Sunday morning. So, this week's been chock full of suspense.

Another week, more experiences, more lessons, more investigators. Ruth, an investigator of the sister missionaries in the ward, got baptized. It was a really beautiful service, and a very spiritual experience. And, about an hour before the service, I got a call from our zone leaders in Nogales. They were all set to baptize a family of four when they realized that the font was filling with cold water. Now, this normally isn't a problem. All over the mission, they baptize with cold water. But this is Orizaba, and it was already really cold that day, something that doesn't happen in the rest of the state. So the water was COLD. And, of course, they were frantically looking for solutions. We of course offered the services of our font, but the family had a lot of people that had come to see them, and they couldn't arrange transportation for everybody on time. In fact, the ZLs called me to see if we had any "resistencias." I don't know what that translates to in English (I'd actually never heard of them before), but it's a small metal rod with a coil on the end that you plug in and then submerge in water to heat it up. The thing is, we only had one small one, and even a few would take hours to heat up a baptismal font full of water. However, this is the Lord's work, and so after trying our faith (and our sanity) for a time, he helps us out. With a lot of prayer, the boilers in the chapel in Nogales finally caught and held a flame, and that combined with boiling water on the stove in the kitchen finally meant a... well, not exactly hot, but a lukewarm baptism. Good enough! The family was baptized, and the elders told me after that the father's prayer at the end left few dry eyes in the room.

I had the opportunity to meet that family before their baptism and chat with them a bit. Their testimonies were so strong, and their desire, and I thought repeatedly, "I want to find a family like that." However, as I talked more with them, I realized that although they certainly had been prepared by the Lord for the missionaries, that wouldn't have been enough on its own. From the way they talked about the elders, it was obvious to me that it wasn't necessarily the family itself, rather the attitude of the elders and the way they taught that allowed the Spirit to testify so strongly to them that what they were hearing was true. So, that's really what I want. Not to just be led by the Lord to a family like that, rather to be able to show my love for and testimony of the work with every word I say, every glance I firmly meet, and every fiber of my being. That's how I'll be able to be of use to the Lord here. That's how I'll be able to know that my calling was inspired, that I'm exactly where He wants me to be.  

Until next week! I should know what going to happen this next transfer! Stay strong, I love you all, and don't forget to write! And read your scriptures! And not necessarily in that order!

Élder Rob Weatherford

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015-1-19 ¿Quiúbole? (Wassup?--kinda)

Again, this week's been pretty difficult. Not a whole lot of success. And I don't know why, but we've been meeting a lot of Christian families, too, more in the last couple of weeks than in months. And teaching Christians here is extremely different from teaching Catholics, which is also extremely different from teaching atheists. 

Sorry, I really don't have a whole lot to say about this week. There've been a lot of disappointments, with few highlights. Something that stands out would be Idris' confirmation yesterday! He's doing great, and I'm still amazed at his progression in so little time.  

Elder Anaya and I met a really interesting character this week. Yesterday, in fact. We were walking to the member's house where we were going to eat when this man with sunglasses and driving a minivan passes us by. He was staring at us pretty intently, so I smiled and nodded at him. He nodded back, and kept going. But not for long, we realized, because he backed up his minivan half a block to stop and talk to us. He started out by saying that he was atheist, but he wanted to know how he could put his life in order. Over the course of five minutes talking with him, we learned a few interesting things:
-He's a former Zeta (vicious gang that used to be huge here... I've actually been hearing they're making a comeback)
 -He used to run/sell drugs
 -He's killed (he told us quite matter-of-factly)
His name's Abraham. He was quite nice, actually. It's my first time meeting a "narco." I'm not really sure how I feel. I think we're going to visit him this week. 

Haha don't worry, Mom. He wants to make changes in his life. It'll be difficult, considering his past, but it's possible if he has a real desire to repent. 

In a couple of weeks Elder Benjamín De Hoyos, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and "presidente del área México," is going to come and preside over a special zone conference. It's actually a pretty big deal, and has to do with the new Area Plan for Mexico. There are a lot of changes going on, and it's a pretty exciting time for Mexico. However, as missionaries we need to be dependable and on top of those changes.

Photo #1: Picture from last week, at the tree.

Con mucho amor,
Élder Rob Weatherford

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015-1-12 Bautismo y aventuras en el cerro (Baptism and Adventures on the Hill)

Ah, this week's been weird. Lots of ups and downs. One of our investigators is going through a lot of serious stuff, and as missionaries we can only do so much. That's one of the worst feelings in the world, possibly being physically able to help but not allowed to. But we'll find a way. That's just something that's been weighing on my mind this week.

But, as you can see, we had a baptism! His name's Idris, and his mother (Laura) and sister (Laura also) are recent converts of a little over a year. He hadn't showed a whole lot of interest before, but we kept on with him and something changed. He prepared himself extremely rapidly and he was baptized yesterday. That something that changed was that he received an answer about the Book of Mormon. Before, it was curiousity, then real interest, but it wasn't until he told us that he had received an answer to his prayer that his progress bloomed. And he was so ready to be baptized. I love that family. 

Today, we hung out with the zone leaders again (I think I've mentioned, but I'm not sure--the other companionship of elders in our district are the ZLs, which is really nice) and went hiking in the mountains with the mission leader in Nogales and his son. We hitched a ride up to near the top, then took the trail to a place called "El Pico del Águila." There's an overhang of rock, with a tree at the end, and just beyond the tree is a drop. A large drop. And you can see for miles. Then we hiked down to the river, spent time down there, and then hiked back out. Along the way, we passed horses, donkeys, a couple herding their goats, turkeys, and a pig. And a lot of mud. We had a really good time :)

This week's going to be tough, but we're going to work hard and help those we're teaching however we can. In this fight, I'm beginning to really understand that we as missionaries are the front line in the Lord's army. I've actually felt that quite strongly in the last couple of weeks, that I'm fighting in a war. There are a lot of sorrows, but there are also a lot of joys. "Hope of Israel" just came into my mind, and that sums up pretty well how I've been feeling.

Stay tuned for more news about what's happening in Ciudad Mendoza, Veracruz, México, and whether or not I'm transferred at the end of this transfer! (I'm not saying I want to, but I've almost been here for three and a half months, so it's getting more and more likely... Tranfers are coming at the end of this month, so... we'll see, I guess.)

Much love,

Élder Rob Weatherford

P.S. Sorry, I realized that I actually hadn't explained what a viejo was, because I had the cut a photo and the explanation to be able to send it. Viejos are scarecrow-like mannikins that a lot of people here make around New Year's and leave outside their homes in various poses, almost always (that I've seen) with bottles (either full or empty) of alcohol. On New Year's Eve, they're stuffed full of fireworks and burned, often in the street, when the clock strikes midnight.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015-1-5 "2015"

Yeah, lame title. Can't think of anything else. Ah well...

So, happy new year, everyone! This begins my full year in the mission, and I'm excited! This week's been kind of crazy, with a lot of emotions, but everything turned out ok, if not perfect. Our investigator that was going to get baptized didn't, but we're still working with her and everything's going to be ok. And, we had two baptisms in our district! One of them especially, Alma, is really special. I unfortunately wasn't able to be there at her baptism (she's part of Nogales), but she's a great example of what the Gospel does, of the power it has to change lives. She could literally feel its positive influence in her life, how different she was becoming, and although she's the first in her family to be baptized, the missionaries there are keeping on working with her family, and her example is going to help them a lot. 

Alma (hehe. It's actually a little funny, in Spanish "alma" (soul) is not an uncommon name, but it's feminine. A few times we've had to clarify that Alma from the Book of Mormon was a guy) 31:5:

"And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just--yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them--therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God."

The Book of Mormon really can work miracles, really can change lives. That's because it's more than just a book--Harry Potter's a great read, and I suppose it too could change lives (I don't see how, but let's just go with it), but the Book of Mormon is special because it's backed up by the Spirit. The writers were inspired by God, and their words have been preserved especially for us, and the Spirit guides our minds and helps us to learn from them what we need to.

Photo... We spent the night of New Year's Eve in the apartment of our zone leaders (the elders in Nogales), Elder Suarez and Elder Charlton. Elder Charlton was actually really sick (you can see his Bane-mask/respirator/I'm-not-sure-what-they're-called in his lap), but we had a really good time, and were able to take the 2015 photo when the clock struck midnight. Then we listened to (we couldn't see any) the fireworks, and watched a viejo burn in the street. Like I mentioned, it was stuffed with fireworks, and every so often there would be a small explosion and it would burn brighter.

Today, we went with the zone leaders again, this time for sushi. I will admit, it's a little weird eating Japanese food in Mexico. I don't know why, but it was. Really good, though. My companion and I have also enjoyed immensely the toffee and peanut butter that my wonderful family sent me in a Christmas package.

Oh, yeah! Also, one night as we were heading to contact a family referral my companion saw a coin in the street and stopped to pick it up. A really small denomination, but really shiny. I saw another, and picked it up, too. That's when we noticed that that section of the street was covered in small coins. So, of course we picked them up. ALL OF THEM. We ended up with sixteen pesos and sixty cents, in coins of ten, twenty, and fifty cents. That's like finding a buck twenty-five in nickels and pennies. Really weird, but it made us oddly happy.  

And there it is, another week in the life of a missionary in Veracruz, Mexico. Stay strong, keep on keeping on, and read your scriptures. And don't forget to write!

Elder Rob Weatherford