Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CCM- Week 1

Hi! I'm doing well, finally survived a week. So I will start from the beginning, going through customs in Mexico took forever and it rains a lot here. At the airport we were rolling our suitcases to get to the bus, and at one part we had to get them up this escalator ramp thing; imagine the moving sidewalks at the airport, but this is going uphill, not good for rolling suitcases. And driving through Mexico is scary, not that many red lights and people just walk into the street. It's funny you ask anyone here how was the ride here was and there faces are all the same. I am living in a apartment and there are three rooms to a apartment. My companion is Elder Schwartz, seems nice but makes Lunden look like a Olympic athlete, its funny:) . He took three years of French and does not speak any Spanish so I have been having to teach him. The entrance to the CCM (Mexico City MTC) we went through was a side entrance. We crossed a bridge over some water so it looked like a moat it was cool. We couldn't use the main entrance because they are building a few guard towers there first, which apparently comes standard with places here, nice... the apartments are nice, they have locking closets, so that's nice to have. The other people in the apartment are Elder Baum and Elder Eisenhut, they are awesome and we are friends, we also have two native speakers Elder Ailgular and Elder Flores, I'm understanding them better and they are pretty funny. Day 2 was the longest day ever! so many meetings, I think it was the hardest day, the weather has been nice here, rains at 5pm everyday and the flocks of wild parrots overhead are cool to see. An Elder found a kitten! He named it Mittens, it made my day! Everyday it gets better here, in my district there is me, Elder Schwartz, Elder Baum, Elder Eisenhut, Elder Stevens, Elder Steggmiller, Elder Cannon, Elder McCall, and Hermana (Sister) Paligrio, Hermana Powell (she left on day 6 due to stress and other problems:(  ) Hermana Hershey and another Hermana, I can't think of here name right now, everyone is so nice. It is very smoggy here you can see it in the air. We get up at 6 every morning and go back to our rooms at 9:30 at night its a long day. When a wore by blue tie, I got 11 compliments on it :) . Throughout the day you always here explosion noises, the leaders tell us it is the locals setting off fireworks to celebrate their saints, but its probably gunshots, there is a lot of them and they are very loud. At night we can hear dogs and music from parties people are having, so that's what we do at night; listen to the music and talk with the Spanish Elders, they are very funny! Elder Agulair can speak enough English where Elder Baum, Eisenhut, and I and can talk to him in a mix of Spanish and English. One of our conversations went like this- Elder Agulair was asking me if the Civil War was real and we told him it was. So then he asked are all Americans racist? So we explained to him that there are some but most of us are not. He then said "Why in all our movies does the Mexican die first?" So I had to explain to him that it is the black guy first and then if there is a Asian, he dies next, its never the white guy. It was a funny night! Everyone is my district is awesome, Elder Steggmiller and I can talk about physics, chemistry, Montaigne, Hegal, the properties of light, quantum mechanics, and various philosophies, finally some one I can talk to! Hermana Paligrio is very interesting, she doesn't know how to pronounce her last name, she is Italian, Hawaiian, Native American,.... and peaks 4 languages fluently. She even speaks Arabic which I am jealous of. She knew the Italian Mafia, does parkcore, and started her own business- like I said she's interesting. The 28th is a day I think I will always remember, this is one of those stories.... So it all happened at 3 in the morning. Elder Baum and Elder Eisenhut were already sick, but at three in the morning, Elder Eisenhut went into the bathroom and fainted because he was so sick and hit his head falling, so he woke up covered in blood. He went to go get Elder Baum. Elder Baum gets out of bed to help him when he feels that he has to throw up, so he stumbles to the toilet. At which point I wake up to him throwing up. I go out of my room to see what looks like a murder scene, the two Spanish Elders are dragging Eisenhut out the door to get him to the infirmary because he can no longer walk and he's bleeding, so I look in the bathroom to find blood on the counter and floor and Elder Baum is passed out on the floor who also can not walk or move much now. So I send Elder Schwartz to go find people to help me carry Elder Baum to the infirmary, Elder Baum is 6'1'' and 190lb. He is a big guy. So there is no way I could move him on my own. Finally Schwartz comes back with two other people and a wheelchair. We put him in the wheelchair and carry him downstairs (we live on the second floor). They went to the hospital 20 min away, but they came back at the end of the day feeling a lot better. Elder Eisenhut has a little bald spot on his head now where he got stitches. Everyday we teach in Spanish to a pretend investigator named Alexa. So far she has accepted the invitation to be baptized, so we must be doing something right. Yesterday, Elder Schwartz got sick with a stomach virus, so we spent the day in the apartment, I finally had time to iron everything. It's been nice, the other elders and I in our district go to the gym everyday and its been fun. I did my wash today! Took a little while to figure out everything but it's all done now. We played soccer- foreign vs/ the native speakers, they won. Been having a lot more time now. I got the package, love the Gatorade! Thank you! and Matt. 17:20 is the scripture I want on my plaque- grain of a mustard seed! Learning lots of Spanish. I miss you all and I like the book of letters. I'm sending you some pictures to! With the pictures, I don't really know how to send them that well, but it should be the first picture that you see. I don't know if pictures that I didn't take that are on the computer from before though. Also the pictures won't fit on one email so I might send some emails with just pictures.   
Bus Ride to CCM

Bus Ride to CCM



Our Room

View from our Room

Before: Closet

After: Closet!!!

View From CCM

My District

My District

We All Meet in the Circle if there is an Earthquake (not really sure what it does... Magic?)

Grounds of CCM

My First Companion ;)

My Actual Companion! Elder Schwartz

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On My Way

Cole and his new friends Brennen and Robbie
Modern Day Army of Helaman
Ready to Go
On My Way

Farewell Talk- July 20, 2014

Mission Farewell Talk
Good afternoon brothers and sisters, I recently received my mission call to go to the Spanish speaking Oklahoma city mission and leaving this Wednesday to the Mexico City MTC.
I am so grateful at this opportunity to be able to serve and teach others.  At first I was relieved because it was Oklahoma so I thought English speaking, and then I saw that I had to learn Spanish, so I was really confused, because who speaks Spanish in Oklahoma? Apparently people do.
 I can remember all the times I have gone out with the missionaries and watching them teach people where ever they could, either it be a person on the street or someone who they already had a appointment set up with, they were able to talk to them about that they believed. It is from those experiences I hope to be just like them.  
Two years may seem like a long time to be away and it can be, at times it will probably be hard, being away from family and friends. But it is only two years, missionaries say the time flies by, hard times can only get better, and I think of how proud my family will be as I will be the first missionary in the family, and proving to myself what I can do.
Looking at the Oklahoma City mission Facebook page I can see what the missionaries are doing and it looks like they are having so much fun as they serve and teach others.  I enjoy reading about the wonderful experiences the missionaries have while they are out in their areas. I look forward to take on the challenge of learning a new language and teaching the people in Oklahoma.
Now in my Seminary class I was always marking and writing down some of my favorite scriptures I found and I have many, but I was famous for always talking about mustard seeds.
 in Mark 4:31-32 it says, It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown In the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth. But when it sown, it growth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.  And in Matthew 17:20 it says, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
 I have always loved the topic of mustard seeds because of the message it has. Faith no matter how small can grow indefinitely and bring blessing into people’s lives. It says that there is nothing we cannot do or overcome, we are never given a challenge in our life that we cannot beat.
 By growing in our faith we can grow and stand out, being a example for others to look up to and learn from. It gives us opportunities in our life to teach and be there for people. Preparing to go on a mission has definitely allowed for my faith to grow and I hope through that, I can be able to teach others and allow their faith to grow also.
I really like trivia, sometimes very random trivia and facts, so with studying some church history I know that the church was organized in 1830, with six members, 117 years later, in 1947, it had one million, 16 years later it was two million, then three million, today there are 15, 082,028 members worldwide and there are 83, 035 missionaries out serving.
 Its amazing to see how far the church has come. Just like the mustard seed, while it did start out small, it was able to grow and branch out, providing its branches to whomever was in need and I am glad I am able to help it grow. 
          In the 1986 August ensign, President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a talk called Go Forward with faith.
It is the work of the Almighty. It is the work of his beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the gospel of salvation. Men and women may oppose now, just as others opposed in those days, but the work goes on because it is true and it is divine. These are the best of times in the history of this work. What a wonderful privilege and great responsibility are ours to be an important part of this latter-day work of God. Do not become sidetracked by the wiles of Satan that seem so rampant in our era. Then as now we have critics. We even have those inside the church who seem to delight in looking for every element of weakness in the past or the present.
Rather, let us go forward with faith and with the vision of the great and marvelous future that lies ahead as this work grows in strength and gains in momentum. Build faith in the hearts of all those around you.
In D&C it says, “The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.”
May the Lord bless us as builders of faith, I love what president Hinckley said and now we can become builders of faith. And how he outlined specific principles that I can live by on my mission.
1.     Strengthen our testimonies and assist others in time of doubt.
2.     May the candle of learning ever burn in out minds.
3.     May our testimony grow in our hearts, that this is in reality the church of the living god and will continue to move forward to fulfill its divine destiny.
4.     May we each do our part faithfully and with thanksgiving in our hearts to the lord for all the blessings that he gives us.
5.     May we follow his teachings and draw nearer to him.
 The work does go on and continues, and that is one of the reasons I wanted to serve a mission, to continue the work and to share with others what I believe. I like the line in his talk when he says “ let us go forward with faith and with the vision of the great and marvelous future that lies ahead as this work grows in strength and gains in momentum. Build faith in the hearts of all those around you. Because it is the truth, a great and marvelous future lies ahead and I hope that I can share that message with the people around me.
          In a general conference talk by Milton R. Hunter titled The Miracle of Missionary Work, he says, The vast majority of the full-time missionaries are young men and women, in a time of life in which young people, as a general rule, would not devote themselves to full-time church service.
Extensive missionary work is carried forward because those people who serve as missionaries have strong testimonies in their hearts that they belong to Christ’s true church, which he restored on earth in 1830. They are positive that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church in the world which possesses God’s holy priesthood, his true doctrines and ordinances, and the power to bring people into celestial glory to dwell with their Creator. And so they go on missions in order that other people may receive the gospel and share the same joy and blessings that they have.
In the last nineteen years, I have been able to look around at my life and am able to realize the difference the gospel has made. At my school, there is not that many, including my friends that are LDS, and I can see why knowing the truth is a blessing.
When times are hard I know that I can always turn to my heavenly father and that he is there. Families can be happier knowing that they can be together forever and for all eternity.
Milton R. Hunter continues his talk with some stories and experiences that I really liked and here is one of them.
          “Several years ago, after returning from touring a mission, I said to one of my friends, “Did you have any converts when you were on your mission?
He replied, “No, I didn’t have a single convert there. My companion and I had very poor missionary success in that town.”
I informed him that recently I had held a meeting in that town. Following the meeting, a woman approached the mission president and me and said, “When I was a girl two Mormon missionaries came to our home a number of times and talked with my mother. Each time the missionaries came to our home, I ran into the kitchen and peeked through the door and listened while they conversed with mother, who wasn’t very interested. As soon as they had left, I would run into the living room, pick up the literature that they had left on the table, and go to my room and study it. I was very thrilled with what I was learning.
“Finally I obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon and read it. I became thoroughly converted to the Church of Jesus Christ, having a firm conviction that it was the true church. When I grew to maturity, two more Mormon missionaries came to town and I asked them to baptize me. After I had become a Church member, I taught the gospel to my friends and relatives. There are over fifty members in this branch who belong to the Church as a result of my conversion and baptism.
I then said to my friend, “You see, you and your missionary companion indirectly have over fifty converts in that town in which you thought you got none.” “We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at the present but as they may become”. Who knew that from none came fifty, once again I can apply all my favorite mustard seed scriptures. That out of having a small or simple testimony, great things can happen. I am grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission in Oklahoma, I know that this church is true and the message it has should be shared with everyone and that they will benefit from hearing it. Y digo estas cosas en el nombre de Jesús Cristo amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Mission Call

A Missionary leaves his family for two years so that someone else can be with theirs for time and all eternity.