My dearest friends and family,
I wish to begin my email by giving a shoutout to the 4,300 members of the church who showed up in Louisiana to help all of the flood victims. One of those has been my beloved father, who has always had a heart and mind ready to serve others, no matter the circumstances. Dad, if I were home, I would gladly have joined you. Your devoted service to others inspires me and gives me just the motivation needed to carry on serving the people of Mexico.
I've come to realize more and more over the course of my mission just how important our families are and the things they instill us with throughout our childhood. I am incredibly grateful for a loving father and mother who taught me so many valuable lessons as a child. Many of said lessons I learned the hard way, but I know that I've been made better because of it. On Sunday, I taught the gospel principles class about developing our talents, and I realized that many (if not all) of the talents I've been able to develope have come through the help of my parents and the values they have instill me with. Here are a few examples I've been reminded of in these past few days and weeks out here on the mission:
1 - The ability to play the piano; Mom practically tied me to the piano bench to get me to practice, and although I hated it with a passion that burned with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, I have come out much better and in fact love the piano with that same passion. Thanks, Mom :)
2 - My abilities to work as a missionary have come through my parents' instilling me the value of diligence and hard work, even and especially in the face of adversity. Mom always taught me to think outside the box which has helped me quite a bit here in the mission field. Elder Mena and I have tried a new tactic that we're calling "leave the book". We simply leave a Book of Mormon in some random place with a small note that says, "to whoever finds this book, take it. It changed my life and will change yours. It's what you've been looking for," and our phone number on the inside front cover. We have two potential ways it can help us: someone will call us asking about the book, or in a few years, someone will see the missionaries carrying a Book of Mormon, stop them, and ask them about the book. Either way, it's been working; all of the books we've left thus far have disappeared.
3 - My abilities in Spanish supposedly came from Mom and Dad recognizing a certain gift I had to repeat the words of Dora the Explorer in Spanish and enrolling me in a Spanish immersion program back in first grade. I wasn't there for very long, but I remembered a lot of what I learned when I began taking Spanish classes in middle school.
4 - Here in Tecámac, I've learned that I did, in fact, develop a certain knack for cooking due to Mother's teachings. I know what spices mix well with what dishes and how to give a smoothie just the tweak it needs to taste oh-so-wonderful. I've started making some pretty crasy concoctions that come out quite well, actually. Here are my blue-black-raspberry pancakes that came out splendidly.
4 - I'm sure my companions are grateful for our culture of saturday chores back home. It comes quite in handy while cleaning the house on Mondays.
There are many more I could name, but time is of the essense and is always limited. The moral of my message for this week can be applied to all. Parents, instill your children with the values they need to succeed in life. Children, don't fight your parents. They know (most of the time) what they're doing ;)
Keep serving others as the saints in Louisisana.
Iré y haré,
P.S. Some converts gave us some clown noses. We had some fun.
In last week's email, I mentioned that I would be able to return to Mixquiahuala to attend the baptism of a sister that I helped teach.
Backstory time! I apologize for the large cluster of words, but the pictures are further down, I promise!
One evening back in Mixquiahuala, Hermana Davis and Hermana Rojas were headed home when they felt they should talk to a certain woman walking with her granddaughter in the street. The contact was made, said grandmother and granddaughter were very excited to hear the missionaries, and the appointment was set. The sisters began teaching them. They went to church and loved it, but for the weeks that followed, one event after another prevented them from going to church. I continued to hear reports on the grand desire this family had to be baptized, but due to their inability to go to church, they couldn't.
After my first cycle with Elder Morales, the ward split, our boundaries changed, and the family of Irma, Marisol, Jaquelín, and Iliana became our investigators. The sisters were right; they were incredibly receptive from the start, and despite their assurances that they would be able to go to church that Sunday, something got in the way, and they were unable to attend. When the same thing happened the following Sunday, Elder Morales and I decided that to give them that extra motivation they needed, we would drop them. Best decision ever. We passed their house almost daily heading over to teach their neighbors, but never stopping at theirs to teach them. They felt so bad that they didn't miss a Sunday after that.
You may recall Marisol and Jaquelín, the mother and daughter who were baptized while I was there with Elder Morales. Irma was unable to be baptized before due to some things she needed to work out with her marriage. She finally got everything worked out, and President Kimball gave us special permission to go back for her baptism this past weekend. When we found out at the Leadership Council, Hermana Davis and I filmed a quick video of us congratulating her for her being able to be baptized to deter her from suspecting the grand surprise.
We arrived about a half hour before the baptism was scheduled to start (a little later than we had wanted, but we figured we'd be okay). We took an alternate route to the chapel (so no one would see us), snuck inside, and hid. No one found us, and the meeting started just as planned. After the opening prayer and hymn, Elder Espinoza put on our video.
And then charged!
No tears were held back at such a glorious reunion. Everyone in the room let loose a gasp when they saw us back in that chapel again. It was an absolutely glorious reunion for everyone as I was able to see many of my converts as well as investigators Elder Espinoza and I had found who are going to be baptized in these coming weeks.
Let's see... On the left is the Aguilar Benitez Family (the purple door). To the right of me is a sister that Elder Espinoza and I found who will be baptized in 2 weeks. Irma's family follows with Lalo (one of the best young men ever) on his knees with the thumbs up. The sisters follow and then there's Guadalupe who Elder Espinoza and I also found and will be baptized this next Saturday.
We're talking about some big moments here, folks. Lives being changed by the minute.
Honestly, this week was a bit of a tough one in terms of the missionarywork in our own area here in Tecámac; we made the clean sweep and started from scratch. Being able to attend Irma's baptism, however, was an incredibly fulfilling experience that filled me with that same enthusiasm as when I started my mission. This is the Lord's work. He's at the head of it and directs us. The gospel and the church are true, as no other thing on the face of this planet could give such hope and happiness in an ever darkening world as these do. I'm a Mormon. I know it to be the only true church of God. I live it and preach it every day. And I love it more than I could ever love anything.
Iré y haré,
This week has been... well, a bit of a downer in terms of investigators. We've had various progressing investigators over the course of the past few weeks, but this past week for one reason or another, we had to drop just about all of them. But hey, that's one of the key principles of the mission: drop them with faith. So we're starting from the bottom and building up, giving us loads of time for contacting! Time to work on my street-salesman skills.
Highlight from this week: The largest airforce base in Mexico! We're teaching a less-active sister who has some pretty sweet connections down here in Tecámac, including a friend who's a military pilot in the airforce base down here. She got us hooked up with a sweet tour of the facility, and we got to see the practice run for the big air show they'll be doing on Saturday. Due to the fact that it's on Saturday, we won't be able to go to the actual show itself, but seeing the practice was pretty sweet. I got mostly video, but here are some photos I got:
Imagine being a terrorist and seeing this fleet flying towards you. I'm sorry, but you're gonna poop your pants.
These tigers were by far the coolest. They flew past about 10 times just showing off their raw power, velocity, and triple barrel rolls.
We also got to go into the museum, and the general that let us in (it's not usually open on Mondays) told us it's the only air force museum like it in Mexico, and it's the only one where they'll let you go inside some of the planes and helicopters.
"enjoy this little taco"
They then took us to check out some of the simulators they've been working on. They were going to let us try one of them out, but the super cool one is still in testing, and the less-cool one wasn't plugged in or hooked up right or something. I dunno, I was just disappointed that we couldn't try it out. Sorry, I didn't get any photos of us with the simulators.
Us with Alex and Irving. We're pretty sure Alex is a less-active member (he never actually told us if he was a member or not, but he knows a decent deal about the church), and Irving was very interested in our message when we started talking to him about it; lots of good questions, and asked where the chapel was. We'll see what happens there.
And that's pretty much it for this week. This coming Saturday, President Kimball gave me special permission to go back to Mixquiahuala for the baptism of a sister who I helped teach; it's going to be a complete surprise for her (and everyone), so I'm sure it will be an experience worth writing about next week.
Iré y haré,
I must begin my email by saying that the Book of Mormon is true. The most true. Like, seriously, there is no better book on the face of this earth. I need to start with that for what we did last Monday right after I wrote my email to everyone.
Here within the limits of our mission (and within the limits of our very own zone) there's an ancient archeological sight called Teotihuacán. It's a pretty popular place for our mission, other missions (even though they technically shouldn't be allowed to visit it), and people from all over the world. Last Monday, Elder Mena and I had the grand opportunity to visit it. First things first, we climbed the Sun Pyramid. Here's us at the bottom:
And here's us at the top:
...and here's our ward mission leader... Oh, Arturo
While there at the top, a young man came up to us and asked us where we were from (we were in missionary clothes, so we stuck out a bit). We started a conversation and found that he's a member of the church, but his parents aren't. He called them over, we contacted them, and we took down their address to send to the missionaries where they live. We can officially say that we contacted someone on top of the Sun Pyramid of Teotihuacán. #likeaboss
After coming down from the Sun Pyramid, we took the tour that they give according to the Book of Mormon. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so full of pure meat of the gospel that I didn't even know what to do with myself. They showed us the symbolism used to represent Quetzalcoatl before and after the coming of Christ and how after He had shown himself to the Nephites, their representations of Him were far more humanized (because they knew He was human). It also showed a variety of the things the Lamanites did when they took over in the apostacy in the Americas. I simply cannot explain everything, so you can come down and see it for yourself. Don't worry, Lorenzo also gives the tour in English... I think... If not, I'll translate. Just be prepared to have your entire universe explode by all the symbolism of the gospel. It's awesome.
Oh, the changes also came in. Elder Mena and I were the only two in our entire zone who didn't have changes. We'll definitely be taking our investigators sometime this next cycle. I officially only have 3 cycles left (about 4 months), but I don't want it to end! Lots to do and the time to do it is quickly running out!
Iré y haré... ¡ahora!
This week was pretty darn neat for a variety of reasons. The first was (as the subject line indicates) Operation #Weareone. We've had some missionaries who have been pretty down on themselves lately due to the lack of success they had been having in their area. One was so depressed he was going to return home. As Zone Leaders, the LAST thing we want is for someone in our zone to go home, so last Sunday, Elder Mena and I together with our ward mission leader set out to think up an extremely crazy plan to build their enthusiasm and keep them going. We came up with Operación Todos Somos Uno which quickly converted into the ACME named #Weareone due to the english abilities of everyone in the mission. It was crazy and we needed to plan a LOT, but we figured we could pull it off. The plan was simply elegant and elegantly simple: the entire zone for an entire day would work in the area of those two Elders talking in the streets, knocking doors, teaching lessons, finding references, whatever in the heck they wanted to do to get some work going in their area. At the end of the day, we would all get together and hand everything we had done to them so they could pick up wherever we left off with the people we had found. We immediately sent a text message to President Kimball asking permission to do it. He responded simply enough: "Elders, I love every aspect of this plan. You have my full support, and I'll give you some time in Leadership Council to present it to the other Zone Leaders."
Wednesday we got started planning the details. We got together with our ward mission leader and the other two Elders for about 3 hours that afternoon.
We created a PowerPoint to present the idea and give a quick training of how we would do it, and we divided their entire area up into 11 sections with lists of ward members. We even shuffled up the companionships so everyone would be working with someone new. On Thursday we put the wheels in motion and set out to work.
We finished that evening, and everyone arrived at our meeting spot super excited talking about everything they had been able to do; all of the contacts they had made, the baptismal invitations they had extended, the references received, etc. They handed everything to the Elders, and we all headed home. Oh my goodness, did this activity make a world of a difference. Not only did those two Elders become far more excited and enthusiastic about the work in their area, but our entire zone caught some of that same enthusiasm for their own areas. Needless to say, 'twas amazing.
Reason number two for why this week was great:
Hello my dearest friends and family,
My letter for this week is short, sweet, and to the point. The Book of Mormon is true. I know it, and I share it every single day here in the mission field. For those who haven't read the Book of Mormon, get your hands on one, read it, and pray about it asking God if it's true. For those who have read it but feel they don't quite have a testimony of it, keep praying. For those who have read it and have a testimony of it, keep praying; your testimony will be strengthened.
Last week Elder Mena and I found a talk by Elder Holland from back in 2009 called Safety for the Soul containing his ever-powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. Best 16 minutes ever, seriously. To my friends on missions who may not have 16 minutes to spare in your limited internet time, download it to a USB or something and listen to it. It's intense and will enrich your testimonies.
That's all for this week (like I said, short and sweet).
Iré y haré,
As the title of my email indicates, this week was above average, especially for Tecámac. Here in the Mission Mexico Pachuca, our standard of excellence in lessons for the week is 40. Depending on the area and how receptive the people are, there are certain areas/zones where it is relatively easy to hit said standard. In my 6 months Mixquiahuala, I hit it almost every week without relative difficulty. In my 3 months in Venta de Carpio (before Mixquiahuala), we fought every week to try to get 30, and we didn't even hit that very constantly. You can see why I was slightly dismayed when we received the changes 3 weeks ago and found I would be returning to Tecámac right next door to Venta de Carpio.
I'm really not sure what happened this week, but we hit the ground running with our missionary work here. We committed various members to come out with us, and started contacting various references given to us. We actually found quite a few receptive people (who were unable to come to church yesterday for reasons we will soon find out) who we think can progress. At the end of the week, we nailed exactly 40 lessons. Needless to say, I was rather excited. The best part is that the entire zone had a similar kind of success; everything in terms of numbers went better this week. The hard part was coming up with zone goals for things to improve upon in the following week.
The bad thing is that this week we all start from zero again... Oh well, that's how the mission goes. We do some neat stuff, then we get to do it all over again. We already have some pretty crazy stuff planned for this week, so we'll see how it goes.
I had some good pictures I took this week, but my camera doesn't seem to want to connect to the computer. We'll see if next week it wants to cooperate... Next week we're actually planning on going to the temples of Teotihuacán (you can look them up; they're pretty neat), so my time to write may be shortened (you have been warned!) Have a great week, everyone! Tell someone you love that they're in your thoughts! :)
Iré y haré,
This week we had our first round of interviews with President Kimball, and they were probably the most interesting interviews I've had. With President Egbert, I would usually go with some deep doctrinal questions about the gospel prepared to ask him, but this time I simply decided to go and see what happened. I thought maybe President Kimball would just ask me some questions to get to know me and my story. Elder Mena and I had our interview together as the zone leaders to talk about the needs of each member of the zone, and then Elder Mena left for my interview. President Kimball simply asked how much time I had in the mission (perhaps to make me trunky...), and when I answered with 18 months, he told me how excited he was to see what I'll be able to accomplish in these last 6 months. Hearing that from him actually changed my perspective on the time left I have out here. I've been saying for a while that "6 months is a long time to do lots of things... I still have time!" not wanting to admit how much time I really have left. President Kimball helped me to realize that it really isn't a whole lot of time in the grand scheme of things and that I have to put it into high gear to accomplish everything I can now. I turned 19 months on Sunday, so now I've got 5 left to crank it out (or as President Kimball says, "rip it up").
The rest of the interview went a little something like this:
President Kimball explains the story of Christ washing his disciples feet and the grand example of service that was. He then says, "Elder Groesbeck, I have a question for you."
"I have an answer for you."
"Can I, right now, shine your shoes?"
Taken slightly aback, I wanted to tell him no, but then I thought of Christ's response to Peter when he said Christ couldn't wash his feet: "Then ye shall have no place with me." So I told him yes.
President kimball pulled out of a bag a shoe shining kit with a foot stand and everything. He lifted my foot up to it and began to shine my shoes. When he finished two minutes later, I looked at him with tears in my eyes as he said, "Elder Groesbeck. As you are here to serve the people of this mission, I am here to serve you. That is my purpose as your mission president. I want to give you something." He then pulled out of his bag a small booklet. "This is for you to fill with any spiritual experience you've ever had. The hope is that someday when the chips are down, you'll be able to open this book and read it. My words may not be able to help you much, but your own words will be able to do wonders in your life. Will you fill the book?"
I answered that I would, and just like that, the interview was over...
The following day, Elder Mena and I had four baptismal interviews to do at the two different ends of our zone (about 2 hours of travelling between them), so we busted out some divisions and set out to get all of them. The good part was that everyone passed, but the bad side was that we lost pretty much our entire day of proselyting. Oh well. If we can't have all the success we want, I'm glad the rest of our zone can.
Iré y haré,
P.S. I didn't really take any pictures this week, but Sister Kimball took one of us when we swung by our house during the other interviews. We never had time to eat, so we made some sandwhiches. See, mom? We do eat!
That's right! The Aguilar Benitez family got baptized! I'm a little sad I couldn't be there for the baptism, but Elder Espinoza just sent me the photos with the big news.
We had a lesson on Saturday with a family of recent converts (they were baptized about 3 months ago), and we found out that one of the daughters isn't baptized. I'll paraphrase the conversation:
"I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and I feel bad because the entire family is baptized and I'm not."
"Hmmm... When were ou thinking ou wanted to be baptized?"
"I don't know, you guys can tell me the date."
"How about next Saturday?"
"Woah, what? I'm sure I want to do it... but I'm not THAT sure..."
At the end of the lesson, she did accept the date, but we'll probably change it to the 23rd just so we can check the commandments and stuff we need to. Either way, it was one of those really unexpected miracles after a week of hard work and seemingly little success.
I'll finish my email for this week with some pictures:
Here's my new zone
In our house, there's only one place where the signal reaches, so if we need to take reports and are desperate, things get pretty interesting...
And that's everything for this week. We'll see what sorts of adventures this next week holds for me here in Tecámac.
Iré y haré,
That's right folks, the changes are in! Elder Espinoza and I anxiously signed into my email to get the changes list, hoping the entire time that President Egbert was very merciful in allowing me to remain in Mixquiahuala for another cycle. Upon opening said changes list, I found that no, he wasn't so merciful, and I have been changed. I'm back in Tecamac! The difference is that this time I'm in Tecamac 2, but it still has all the same elements. Simply going grocery shopping today made me want to cry due to the shear size of the store; back in Mixquiahuala, there was pretty much nothing out there. Tecamac is the big city part of our mission, and it certainly isn't for the faint of heart. It was back in Tecamac where I got assaulted and learned to ride a bike like a Mexican. We'll see what adventures hold for me this time around. My new companion is Elder Mena, and he has the same amount of time as Elder Espinoza. Thus far he seems like a really good missionary. He says the zone got scared when they learned I was coming because they said that I'm really crazy, and Elder Mena is as well. I think this'll be a fun cycle with the zone.
Sunday night, Elder Espinoza and I planned a big ward Family Home Evening; seriously, we planned everything in about a week and were pretty darn proud of said plan. The theme was based on a story/song called "Te Hallaré mi querido amigo" (I will find you, my dear friend). It's an incredibly touching story about two friends in the pre-existence and how one promises the other that she'll find her friend to share the gospel with her. We based the activity on said story in the hopes that everyone would invite a friend to the activity. There were some that did, but the majority came with just their families. Exactly what we expected... and somewhat hoped for in order to bring the hammer down.
In the activity, we had various testimonies from some of the recent converts that had been found through referrals or efforts of the members. Karla and Melani shared about how Karla had been baptized 6 years ago but never confirmed and how Melani found her. President Lozano shared about how he gave Emanuel as a referral to us when he had been working side by side with him for some time. Even the Aguilar Benitez family (the purple door) shared the story of Lalo finding their house and their testimonies. In that moment, they shared with everyone how completely sure they felt about their baptism this Saturday (a tear was shed for not being able to be there). The Spirit was actually very strong in that meeting, but then we hit them with the video...
We worked with the bishop's daughter to create an amazing video filled with a mixture of powerful clips from general apostles (Elder Holland mainly) and photos of the members, either their baptisms, their missions, church activities, and whatever other photos we could collect from them. When the video finished, a rather large portion of the members were crying from the grand mixtuers of memories, music, and exhortations of the apostles. Elder Espinoza and I then stepped down to the center of the room, all eyes on us. It was then that I told the ward that the changes were in and that I was leaving the following morning. Gasps of a mixture of shock and depression echoed through the room, and as I began to express my appreciation for the members of Mixquiahuala, tears filled my eyes. For the first time in some 18 months, I cried in front of other people. And cried a lot... It took all my energy to keep it together to simply finish with my testimony.
Then it was Elder Espinoza's turn to talk. Tears filled his eyes as well as he testified of the things we had both learned in our cycle together and the miracles we had seen. After we finished with a prayer, they told the members that there were some refreshments in the kitchen, but not a single member left the room. Instead, they all stormed around me, congratulating me, saying goodbye, begging me to take photos with them. It was absolutely beautiful.
Then Adriana (purple door) made my heart melt. She came up and said, "at first, when you told us that in these next weeks you might be changed, I decided that I wouldn't accept it. I now realize that you're being changed because there are more people like us that need you in another place. Go find them. We'll be here, but you have to come back to see us." I promised I would (they made me pinky promise as we had done to them for a variety of their commitments) and we all took pictures together.
Unfortunately I was so caught up in the moment that I completely forgot to take out my camera so I could take photos... Sorry... I think I have some from this past week here...
Here's Elder Espinoza when he gets bored of the Elders' rambling as we take reports.
We went to help the Aguilar Benitez family cut some grass, and the family they work for has this huge dog. The ironic part is that it's name is Pequeño. For those who are so white they don't recognize that word, it means small... All of the children were extremely afraid of him, but we helped them gain some trust. He's rather comfortable, so I took a nap on him... for like 5 seconds. Then I realized that he's also very dirty...
And that's the big news for now. We'll see what sorts of cool stuff happens here in Tecamac this next week. I think I'll start carrying Veronica (my flashlight tazer) with me more in case I get assaulted again... Yay, self defense! :D
Iré y haré,
LOCATE ELDER GROESBECK!
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE LOCATION ON MAP WHERE ELDER GROESBECK IS CURRENTLY SERVING IN MEXICO.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ELDER GROESBECK'S FAITH
This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)