Monday, August 31, 2015

2015-8-31 Re: oh my darlin', oh my darlin', oh my darlin' elder-boy

{note:  some of this letter is in answer to the family's letters, so I left out that part. :) The rest is in answer to my question about practice before the big event!}

As for practice beforehand... not really. As far as the hymns, we just sang Praise to the Man and Called to Serve, so I didn't really need to practice those two that much. And I had about 45 minutes of playing prelude in front of the entire mission to warm up before Elder Cristofferson showed up, so that was fine. As for the song, however... that was really the Spirit, I'm pretty sure. The two missionaries that sang, Elder Larsen and Elder Castañeda, wanted to do a vocal arrangement of "Because I Have Been Given Much," but the thing is, they didn't have any music. I got bussed out a day early to be able to practice with them (I had no information whatsoever beforehand), but we only ended up getting about an hour and a half. They had a CD with the arrangement they wanted to do, but it was all guitar and vocals, with a lot of changes from the original hymn. We talked it out, and we just practiced with me playing the hymn normally. But they asked for something a little cooler, so I essentially ended up making up an accompaniment in less than an hour that we performed the next day in front of an apostle without another practice session. So that was something a little new for me. Dad knows that I haven't written anything before, let alone on the fly like that. So it was pretty much the Spirit, because God didn't want bad music for Elder Cristofferson. I'm not saying it was a masterpiece of arranging or anything, just mostly working with arpeggios of the chords and a steady ripple (quick notes, not sure what to call it) rhythm, but I think it turned out decently. They messed up more than I did! Hehe... But seriously, it ended up really well, I think.

Sorry, time's up!

Love you, and miss you!

Élder Rob Weatherford

2015-8-24 Re: Hello!

I'm sorry Mom, today's letter's going to be disappointing. We took a trip out a little far today for P-day, and we're in a ciber with horrible internet and literally no time... Sorry! I'm doing fine, I got some great photos, and I'll write more next week about how I got to listen to Elder Cristofferson talk to the whole mission and play the piano for him...

Haha leaving you with that cliffhanger... No, it wasn't that important, President Cordova just asked me to accompany the hymns we sang, and a special musical number that two other missionaries sang. But it was fun, and I played for more time (prelude and postlude) that day than I have in a year! I'm safe, and well, and working. I get along great with my comp, there's still tons of Nutella left over, and I'm really glad to hear about John and Caleb. If you've heard anything about Scott Ockerman, as well, let me know! I haven't heard anything for about a year... hehe.

Love you lots!

Élder Rob Weatherford

P.S. I'll send some Christmas package ideas in the next email :)

2015-8-17 Güerofor y Lindo, Semana 4

Important happenings... Baptism, zone conference, preparation for a "mission conference" with an apostle this Saturday (Élder Cristofferson's coming!), and mole (traditional Mexican dish, not the lovable furry lawn pest). 

Fernando and Alejandro got baptized yesterday! I stuck in a photo of them with the part of the ward that stayed for their baptism... a significant part of the ward, actually. The bishop's the one kneeling in white; he baptized Fernando, who's standing right behind him, and Alejandro's standing to his left (stage left--the one without the tie). We took the picture, so we weren't in it...

The last one is a picture of me with a Nutella jar that my wonderful family sent me. I appreciate it. I really do. It's SO EXPENSIVE here, it's just not worth it.

Con amor,

Élder Rob Weatherford

Rob and the Birthday Packages...

Oh.  Yeah.  and Elder Lind.  :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

2015-08-10 Leatherford and Wind, Week 3

Transfer's already half over! Wow... So, Fernando and Alejandro are all set to be baptized this Sunday, as long as they pass their interview, and the Serena Alejandro family finally went to church! I think they liked it... they had to leave a little early, so we couldn't really chat, but we'll see them tomorrow. It was a little funny--the bishop has been stressing to the members the importance of greeting visitors, and a literal horde descended when sacrament meeting ended to welcome them. And the family's a little shy. But I'm sure they felt the love, even if they did look a little scared at first... hehe. Fun stuff... today we attacked the dirty area under our sink. Years of missionaries (by the looks of it) had been leaving Liahonas, books, dishes, random bags, etc. under there are not taking them out. It looked super bad. When Elder Lind started pulling stuff out, we discovered a ton of cockroaches that had been hiding there. Good thing for us that's nothing new for missionaries in Mexico; otherwise, it might have fazed us. We took care of the ones that first scurried out, and then we got an idea, based on the new spray deodorant Elder Lind had bought a week before, and the matches we just happened to have... I don't think I can upload the video, but I can say that we possibly might have stunned/killed about ten cockroaches and a lot of ants with spurts of fire this morning. Compañerismo divino. (note* says this means Divine Companionship, or Divine Teamwork ;) ) Sorry, today was a little busy, and I don't have a whole lot of time left. But all is well, and I'm feeling hopeful about this week. My comp bought a hammock today. With much love, Élder Rob Weatherford

Monday, August 3, 2015

2015-8-3 Weatherford and Lind, Week 2

Ok, so, first of all, Enrique got baptized! Passed his interview on Tuesday, baptized on Thursday. When we ask people who they want to baptize them, we always put emphasis on the members, especially the ones that were involved in the teaching and fellowshipping. But, when we asked him who he wanted to do it, he looked at me, and said, "You're the one that started all this, it makes sense for you to finish it." I had a flashback to six weeks previous when Elder Tirado and I knocked on his door. He lives at the end of a little pathway where they are about six houses. We knocked on every other house and either no one was home or they didn't want to talk to us, but the last house we knocked on, Enrique's, he accepted the invitation to talk. And now, after all that time, he finally was ready for that decision. That was a lot of worry that I'd had that's been lifted.

Now, we're working with Fernando and his son Alejandro to get baptized this month. He's a friend of a less active member that she brought to an activity we invited her to, and he's progressing great! Interesting story, he's actually a member of the church the bishop attended in his youth... The plot thickens! The story's actually pretty intricate, but I won't get into that right now. The point is, he and his son are progressing well. The other family we're teaching, la familia Serena Alejandro, didn't come to church... We had a lesson during the week in the church to show them around and help them feel the Spirit there, but they still didn't come. We're going to have to help them, if they can progress, to attend. But, if not, maybe other missionaries down the road will be able to help them. I think so. But the truth is, I want it to be us :)

Elder Cristofferson's going to come visit on the 22nd of this month! Our mission president's been sending us his talks to study to prepare ourselves.

Ok, that's all for now, folks!


Con amor,

Élder Rob Weatherford

P.S. Those of you that want to add your prayers to our cause, please pray that the Serena Alejandro family can come to church, and like it, and that we can iron out the details in Néstor and Georgina's marriage soon. Much appreciated! 

2015-7-27 Weatherford and Lind, Week1

First up, a note from me, Kathy: 
Me: Sometimes, just doesn’t work for me.  “Echarle all the ganas”…throw all the wishes?
Rob:  Haha echarle all the ganas. It was joke, kind of. "Échale ganas" is like "work hard" or "give it your best," and so I'm going to "echar" ALL the ganas. It really doesn't translate literally, and even less when I made weird jokes in Spanglish. Sorry :)

In case you were wondering...

Now, on to this week's letter...

¿Quiúbole? Haven't heard that one in a while, actually...

Starting Week Two of Gringolandia, Tuxtepec style. Seriously, it's a very different experience with an American companion. We made nachos this week. Who'd have thought, a traditional Mexican food that I hadn't had a single time in ten months in Mexico?

But, jokes and nachos aside, this was a good week. We saw a few miracles from the Lord, I think designed to keep our faith and efforts up, including a surprise decision by Enrique. We had divisions with the Elder that would do his baptismal interview to see if he would be ready, but the interview didn't even happen. He's ready, and has a testimony, but still wanted to wait for an undefined future point to get baptized. This happened last week, and so we just decided we'd keep teaching and helping him to have spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon. He'd shied away from the baptismal record form (sorry, not sure what it's called in English) in the past, and so it was a huge surprise when on Saturday after the lesson he said, "So, are we going to fill out the form or not?" It sure took me by surprise. And then, yesterday, we passed by with the bishop to help address his needs and concerns. And we set a baptismal date for this Thursday! If all goes well with the interview tomorrow, he should get baptized this week! 

And even though we found out we need to update Georgina's birth certificate, hopefully that should be the last obstacle to her getting married! I hope... and pray...

Ok, sorry, that's all the time for today. Keep praying, or start it you don't, and read the scriptures!

Élder Rob Weatherford

P.S. They told us today that Élder Cristofferson's going to visit the mission in August... We'll see how that goes!

2015-7-21 Transfers!

Ok, sorry, I know, it's not Monday. We had transfers yesterday, which took up a lot of time, so we got permission to write today.

I'm still in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, in the Moctezuma ward. Elder Tirado, however, has "gone the way of all the earth," or rather, the way of all the missionaries, and is currently residing in another area. And I'm with a gringo again! Elder Lind, from Burley, Idaho, is my companion, and he has just one transfer less than I do. He's actually from the same generation as my other gringo companion, Elder Dawson. This transfer should be fun! I'm excited!

This week we're going to do all we can to tie up legal complications for the wedding. Prayers would be appreciated!

This past week we were still looking really hard for new people to teach, and even though we were meeting a lot of people, we weren't finding new investigators. People weren't interested, people weren't able, people were a little crazy, the usual. Also, something that happens a lot here is that the parents get their kids to lie for them. We knocked on a door one day when we could see an adult man sitting on a couch with his back to the window. We didn't knock on the window even though we had seen him because that would be a little weird, so we pretended that we hadn't seen him and knocked on the door. But when we knocked, I saw him stiffen. He did that "I'm-going-to-move-real-slowly-so-the-motion-won't-catch-their-eye" thing and slid off the couch. Keep in mind the window is really near the door. I roll my eyes at my companion and knock again, giving him the benefit of the doubt. Nothing. Jeffrey R. Holland tells us, knock three times. I knock again. The window slides open a tiny bit and a kid, maybe six years old, says, "My dad's not here!" Again, I give "the look" at my companion. "Are you sure?" I ask him. "Uh-huh!" he says. And then, inside, we hear another voice, maybe three, four years old, "Dad, dad!! They want to talk to you! Dad!" Ah. The innocence of childhood. I had the desire the desire to do what another elder told me he had done once in that kind of situation: tell the kid, "Tell your dad that lying's a sin!" But in that situation, he told me, the kid said, "Ok!" and ran back inside. And the elders left hurriedly.

Another time, we knock on a gate that has a view of the house to the left, a shed directly in front of us, and a car in front of the shed. There were also clothes hanging in between the car and the shed. We could see a man standing in front of the shed, partly hidden behind the clothes, but clearly in view. When we knocked on the gate, a girl came out of the house and asked us what we wanted. We asked her if her parents were home. She walks through the clothes to talk to her dad, and we clearly hear, "Diles que nadie está." (Tell them nobody's home.) And then, what made me lose it (I didn't burst out laughing, but I definitely snorted back a chuckle), her reply, "¡Pero papá, me da pena!" (But dad, do I have to? It's embarrassing!) The dad said something else, more quietly, and then the girl sticks her head out through the clothes, yells, "No está nadie!" and then we see her hide behind the car. Yeah. She hid behind the car.

Another one: We knock on a gate where we see a woman out back, and a man sticks his head out of a window, sees us, and yells, "Nobody's home!" Then he hesitates, rethinks the absurdity of that statement, and yells, "We're busy!" And then sticks his head back inside. 

But, we keep working. There are a few promising new investigators, and we still hope to get Néstor and Georgina married. Elder Lind and I are going to echarle all the ganas (that's right, all of them) this week, and we're not going to stop. I hit ten months on Friday!

This scriptural thought might be a little stronger than usual, but it's something I was meditating earlier this week, and even though I'm not sure why, I feel like I should share it. It's probably more for those that are in the mission field right now, but it applies to us all. As a mission, our president has placed some high goals for us to reach. In this area, I was having a lot more trouble reaching them. My initial reaction was more along the lines of, "Well, for other areas it's easier, but for this area I don't know if we can reach those kinds of numbers." But, in that moment, I started thinking about a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants:

29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

I hope I wasn't keeping it with slothfulness, but maybe my heart was a little doubtful. The attitude that we often have, "I don't know if I can do that, but I'll try," is something that weakens us from the beginning. Maybe we're not going to succeed perfectly. But we can commit ourselves, and if we do that the Lord will help us. If not, we will be damned. Our progression will be halted. There won't be growth or improvement. And when I read that scripture again, I kept on reading:

29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded,and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

 30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?

 31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

 32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

 33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

So, that's even stronger. The goals our president gives us are to help us expand our vision and help us stretch, but they're not impossible (1 Nephi 3:7). If we receive these commandments, like any commandment, with a doubtful heart, we're not going to be able to receive those blessings. For many, that's a stumblingblock: "I did this, and nothing happened." That leads to resentment, anger, frustration, and a loss of faith. Like Alma says, it's not because this wasn't the work of the Lord, a "good seed," it's because we didn't take the care necessary to really bring it to pass, or because we didn't persevere. We gave up. Don't give up. Keep working, keep stretching, whatever the commandment may be, and you'll receive the blessings the Lord has promised. Who is the Lord, that has promised and has not fulfilled? Whether it be for missionaries, or members with little time in the church, for investigators or those members with decades in the Gospel, for whatever kind of promise He makes, He always fulfills.

I hope everybody's doing well. I am, and I love you all.

Con amor,

Élder Rob Weatherford