This week was... well... it was all right I guess. It was just the first real example I've
had of how hard the mission can be. Don't get me wrong, we had some awesome
stuff happen this week, but Friday and Saturday were just awful in terms of our
lessons. For some reason, almost all of our scheduled lessons for those two days fell
through; whether it was because they weren't home or they suddenly got busy or
whatever, they all just dropped one by one, and our backup plans weren't home
either. We were left to just contact rather unsuccessfully.
On the bright side, however, the couple of lessons we did have were super powerful.
We went out with the Bishop one night and had a lesson with this one family who
wasn't doing a good job with keeping their promise to read the Book of Mormon and
pray about it. We decided to not teach them the next lesson, but just bear some
super strong testimony as to why reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it
were so dang important to know the truth. Holy flip, the Spirit worked something
fierce in that lesson. It was to the point where I was like, "I testify to you that what
you're feeling right now is the Spirit, and when you read and pray about the Book of
Mormon, you will get this same feeling. You will come to know it's true." It was so
flippin' great; we'll have to see if they keep that promise now.
Anyways, it's time for investigator of the week! This week's award goes to... Caren
Alcala, and there's quite the story to go with it. During one of our days of fallen
appointments, we were knocking on some doors with no success. We were standing
outside of one house just talking for a bit when a girl walked out (we hadn't knocked
yet). I decided to jump on the opportunity and say, "¡Buenas tardes! Somos
misioneros," and the rest of the stuff. We talked to her for a minute or so just getting
to know her a little bit. Meanwhile, her mother was standing just outside the
doorway, and after a little while, she said something to the effect of, "Hey! My
daughter needs faith. You two have faith. Get in here and teach my daughter!" After
a glance of disbelief at each other, we were like, "Well all right, then..." and walked in
to teach her. She's super open to everything we've been teaching her, and although
she was unable to come to church yesterday, she's really interested. I have high
hopes for this one.
For the adventure of the week, I'd like to call it the Great Mexican Dust Bowl. While
out and about contacting one afternoon/evening with two young men from the
ward, a butt ton of wind just came out of nowhere and started kicking dust
everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. We had to run through the dust, covering
our eyes, and trying not to hit anything. Then, as if it wasn't bad enough, it started
raining! We quickly ran into the house of the Garcia Vilchis family (the investigators
aforementioned with the super spiritual lesson) because they were close, and their
lights were on. Needless to say, it was some super crazy stuff, but we were lucky
Manuel and Martha were home.
The four missionaries in our ward (two are sisters, one is from Mexico and the other
is from Guatemala) gave talks on Sunday about missionary work, and apparently
mine went over VERY well with everyone. It could just be because I'm new and they
thought I needed the confidence boost, but I had a lot of people compliment me on
it. I basically just asked the question, "What is missionary work" and proceeded to
answer it in 3 different ways; first, it's a commandment of God. We've been told to
preach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Second, missionary
work is sharing the message of the Restoration, our chief and principle message as
church members. And third, it's being an example. As members of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, everyone is watching us closely to see what we do.
All we need to do is live the basic gospel principles, and everyone can see what a
difference it makes in our lives. Everyone can sense that there is something different
about us and our families. With said talk, I would like to issue a challenge, and if you
are currently reading this, you have accepted said challenge. The challenge is to get
a Book of Mormon, and give it to someone by the end of this week. Whether they
read it or not, that's their choice, but I would encourage you to give them the book,
and bear testimony of it's power and how you have come to know of its truth and
power. If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, my
challenge is this: Get a Book of Mormon. Read it bit by bit, and pray about it. Pray to
Heavenly Father, and ask with sincere faith if its words are true. I promise and
testify that doing so will give you the answer you seek if you pray earnestly with a
true desire to know. I've had my doubts about the Book of Mormon, and I've had
them all quelled by this same manner. You have all officially accepted at least one of
these two challenges, and I expect a report on how it goes from each one of you by
Until then, iré y haré.
Questions your fans are dying to know the answers to:
1. Have you had any near death experiences riding your bike this week? (Please
leave out anything that would make me want to call the mission office about.)
A. I have near death experiences every day riding my bike, and I've grown to
love them. Like I said last week, the week just wouldn't be complete without
2. Has taco Friday become a ritual with you and your companion?
A. No, taco Friday has not become a ritual; we only went last week because the
people who were supposed to feed us forgot and just gave us money instead;
we decided that once every other week is good for that taco place and the
3. How is your tongue? Try any new hot sauces that have caused you pain?
(Please see refer back to question number one.)
A. I had the habanero sauce last week, and that's as spicy as it gets. I really want
to try a raw habanero pepper, though...
4. Are you able to find your favorite foods at the local stores or have you had to
discover new favorites? (Do I need to send you anything from home?)
A. There's hardly anything from America in the stores here, so I'm just trying
everything and having Elder Hixon recommend stuff for me.
5. How is the missionary training going? Are you following the training
program you mention in an earlier letter?
A. Yeah, we're following the 12-week program to get me all accustomed to the
mission life and such. It's just a bunch of different practices and stuff for the
I don’t know what you mean by “Different Practices and Stuff” can you
explain?” Does it include exercising?
The first twelve weeks program just has different areas of focus each week;
for example, "The new missionary takes the lead in contacting people" or
"the new missionary takes the lead in teaching the first discussion". Stuff like
that. Exercise is 30 minutes every morning, and it's just whatever we feel like
doing to wake ourselves up.
6. Tell us about the people in your ward. Are they supportive of the
missionaries? Do they go on splits with the missionaries? Is there a Ward
A. The youth here are pretty great when it comes to going out with the
missionaries; they come up to us on Sunday asking when they can go out
with us, which is pretty cool. Two of the missionaries are sisters. They just
have a few parts on the map, we have the bulk of the area. Yes, there is a
ward mission leader and his pretty cool. We have a ward council every other
week, we would like it to be every week because we need to keep the ward
up to date on what we are doing. All four of us missionaries in the ward
actually gave talks on Sunday about missionary work and how we need the
members' help because they're not too great about giving referrals and stuff.
The ward members are really nice, though, and we get fed every day. We’ve
made it clear that we eat EVERYTHING.
7. Are there many members of the church in your area? Are there many wards
close by to make up a stake or is the stake boundaries spread out?
A. The houses here are super packed close together, so there are tons of
members in a relatively small area (compared to the US); it only takes us
about 7 minutes to bike from one side of our area to the other, so you can
imagine how close the members are to form a solid ward out of that size.
8. How big is your zone? How often do you have zone conference or meet with
the other missionaries to learn? Have you made any friends?
A. I have no clue how big the zone is, but I imagine not too big considering how
small our area is. We have zone conferences every month, and the only
missionary I constantly see is my companion.
9. Do you like your mission president? What is he like? What is his wife like?
A. I haven't had a whole lot of time to talk to him (we have interview with him
this week), but so far he seems pretty cool; based on the stories Elder Hixon
has told me, he's a pretty awesome guy. From my limited association with
him, I agree with that.
10. Do you help your companion clean the apartment? Is he surprised that you
know how to wash your own clothes and clean a toilet?
A. Yes, I help him clean every Monday. We take our clothes to a laundromat, and
it's really not that hard to clean a toilet.
11. Do you love and miss your mommy?
A. Of course I do!
Mexico is pretty dang awesome. I can't even handle it sometimes. I probably shouldn't be saying this for the sake of my mother's sanity, but I've become oddly comfortable with cars passing by me at about 40 mph the other way and coming within a foot of my bike pedal. It just seems like the day is incomplete without one of those moments. They're driving, while utterly terrifying, is technically not unsafe...
My companion and I have also started to play the banana game with the cars that pass (every yellow car is a banana, bugs are 5, hummers are 10, and nice cars are 20; whoever has the most bananas at the end of the day wins). I've won every day so far. Maybe one day he can rise to my professional level of banana spotting, but we'll see.
Adventure of the week: Taco joint Friday. The family we were supposed to eat with on Friday forgot about us, so they gave us some money and we went searching. We found this little taco joint not too far from home and decided to try it. Holy flip, those were some good tacos! We noticed on the table a wide variety of sauces, one of which was the legendary jabanero sauce. I figured I needed to start my entrenemiento picante (spicy training), so I put a few drops on a taco. My mouth screamed in protest at the first bite, but I had to keep eating, despite the burning sensation deep within the bowels of my tongue. Eventually, the burn started fading away... And I was ready for round two. I loaded that taco with about twice as much jabanero sauce and started on it. I swear to crap, Satan flippin' sat his butt down on my tongue and farted fire into my mouth. I apologize for the vivid imagery, but it really can't be described any other way. My nose started running, and tears formed in my eyes, but I would not let them fall! I started licking limes afterwards to try to quell the tentacle of red hot rage that was my tongue. Ugh. Best taco ever. We're going back tomorrow for more action.
Investigator of the week: Mayte Arellano. Her family members are all really awesome investigators, but her mom has to work out some stuff with divorcing her husband and marrying/separating from her boyfriend (very common here in Mexico) before she can get baptised, and then the rest of her family will as well. Mayte, however, didn't want to wait for that. We've been working with her for the past few weeks (and the previous missionaries as well), and she was baptized this past Saturday, exactly on my one-month mark in the mission! And guess who she asked to do it. That's right, this guero right here. Aubrie will probably post the pictures I send of it as well.
Speaking of which, I'd like to give a shout out to Aubrie for making my blog look top-notch and ship-shape, or as the Mexicans say, "bien padre".
Not only are my Spanish skills growing every day, but my testimony is as well. One of my favorite lessons to teach (other than the Joseph Smith story) is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Chapter 3 Lesson 3 of Preach My Gospel). It lists the 5 steps we need to do to achieve eternal life as faith, repentence, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I prefer to think of it as 4 steps with enduring to the end as the repetition of those four. We always need to build upon our faith by reading the scriptures and praying and going to church and all that good stuff. We will always need to repent because it's unfortunately part of life to sin. Every week we are baptized again when we take the sacrament. And we must always rely on the power and promptings of the Holy Ghost in our life to be directed where to go. The constant and diligent repetition of these steps equates to enduring to the end. Sometimes it's not easy to do all of it, and the task can seem daunting or overwhelming, but these are the times when we must press forward. These are the times when it is most important to continue to endure to the end, and Christ is always there for us to lean on. If you can't do it alone on your feet, get on your knees, and you can do it with Christ. I love this gospel, I love this work, and above all, I love the Lord. I testify of it every single day out here, and I will never get tired of it.
Iré y haré
Q&A with Elder groesbeck
1. Did you take the picture at the MTC by the MAP while pointing to where you were serving? Aubrie would love a picture to post on your blog.
A: No, I didn't... dang, I totally should've done that...
2. Which ward are you in? How big is it? Are they friendly?Do they support the missionaries?
A: I'm in the Valle Dorado ward of the Pachuca South Stake.
3. Describe your apartment.
A: It's nice and cozy. We have a big living room at the door with our tables for studying and stuff and a kitchen attached. Then we have a little hallway with a set of unused bunk beds and two doors at either side. One is our bedroom and the other is a closet-ish looking room. I'll take pictures next week and send them to you.
4. What are some of the interesting foods you have been eating?
A: I haven't actually eaten anything crazy/weird yet... I'm getting worried...
5. What’s your favorite meal so far?
A: I absolutely love the tacos here; my companion and I found this taco joint the other day, which I'll explain more about in my blog email.
6. Do you have to do much cooking?
A: I cook breakfast and dinner every night; Lunch is the big meal of the day, and it's always at like 2 in the afternoon; it holds me over until 9:30 or so when we get to eat dinner.
7. What Spanish words have you learned this week that you have never heard before?
A: I'm constantly learning Spanish words; I can't keep track of all of them. One that I've been using is chido, which basically means cool.
8. Have you had the opportunity to play the piano?
A: Yeah, I got to play for a little bit of prelude yesterday.
9. Do the members feed the missionaries? What kind of food do members serve?
A: Yes; we get fed lunch every day, and it's awesome.
10. Have you heard much about the Temple reconstruction?
A: About when they think it will be finished? I'm gonna ask my mission president about the temple when we all have interviews with him this week or next week.
11. Have you learned the words to the song “La Cucaracha”? It’s a popular folk song in Mexico.
A: No. No I have not.
12. Do you play soccer with little kids in the street? .
A: I haven't played any soccer yet; I can't play soccer to save my life anyway.
13. If you could improve one thing about yourself as a missionary, what would it be?
A: Definitely my Spanish skills right now; still working out some of those bugs.
14. What do the locals call Americans living in Mexico?
A: They call us Gueros. What does Gueros mean? Gueros means white guys; there's supposed to be the two little dots above the u, but I don't know how to do that on this computer. Well, you are a white guy. Is it meant as an insult? No, it's not an insult; it's mostly the members that call us that to be funny.
15. Where do you use the internet?
A: I go to an internet café.
16. Is it expensive to use the internet?
A: It hardly costs anything at all; like a dollar for the hour and a half.
17. Does your mission have iPads?
A: Please, you think our mission is rich enough to get iPads and not have them stolen? IDK, I am not familiar with the area. Do the members or people in the area have cell phones or any electronics? Haha, Mom, this isn't the middle of Africa. Cell reception is a little spotty, but yes, everyone has a cell phone.
Week 1 in Mexico
Holy hot dang, this week has been so awesome! Mexico is so much more ghetto than I thought it would be! And I mean that in the best kind of way... Every house is made of cement, and a two-story house is considered to be really nice. In terms of the weather, it gets super cold at night. On top of that, there's no heating/air conditioning in any of the houses, so there's no escape from the elements! We were out biking the other day, and it started thundering and pouring rain out of nowhere; I was prepared (like the Eagle Scout I am) and had my satchel cover and umbrella with me, so we were okay.
My trainer's name is Elder Hixon, and he's pretty cool. He'll be training me and then going home to California. We're both new in the area we've been assigned, so this past week was just spent trying to get to know the area. As for the language... Well, it's coming. I can speak enough to get my point accross, but I'm having a bit of trouble understanding what people are saying to me. Sometimes they just speak so fast! When that happens, I usually just turn to Elder Hixon and go, "Uhhhh..." And he either answers or translates for me real quick. I'll keep working on that as I keep listening to people. I just have to make sure I don't lose focus as people are talking; I'm not skilled enough to do that yet.
Adventure of the week: grocery shopping. We had almost no food in our apartment when we got there, so we rode our bikes to the grocery store and just started grabbing anything we thought we would need for the week. We gave absolutely no regard to the fact that we were a good 15 minute bikeride in traffic from home. When we got back out to the bikes, it was one of those moments where you're just like "well... crap..." Elder Hixon was incredibly skeptical as I started loading bags up and down my arms and my bike handlebars. We ended up with Elder Hixon having a gallon of milk, bag of groceries, and 4 rolls of toilet paper in his backpack while holding a box of cereal under his arm. I had 4 bags of groceries on my arms and handlebars with a box of cereal and packet of napkins under my arm. Nailed it. That, combined with the fact that I've eaten a week's worth of Mexican food without any indegestion problems pretty much makes me a legit Mexican now.
We've taught tons of lessons this week! The MTC did a terrible job of conveying just how much work it actually was out here in the field. I knew it would be hard, but I never knew how efficiently I could use my time... There are so many hours in the day, but it still seems like it's not enough.
Investigator of the week: Stephanie. We went contacting (tracting) around a neighborhood one day trying to find some new people and gauge the neighborhood. We knocked on her door, and she opened the window and started talking to us. Apparently the missionaries had been teaching her before, but she got busy or something, so they stopped. After talking outside for a bit, she was like, "Do you wanna come inside?" After saying yes, Elder Hixon and I looked at each other with a look that said, "BOOYA!" and then proceeded inside. She told us about how she had a Book of Mormon, and every time she read it, she just felt like everything was all right and that she was being supported in everything. We jumped on that so fast and explained the Spirit and stuff, and it was awesome! Golden investigator right there! Apparently earlier that day she'd had a ton of homework she was working on, and she was wondering why the missionaries had stopped visiting her. At that very moment, we knocked on her door. Now THAT is what I call divine intervention. We even busted out the big guns in that first lesson: Baptismal invitation! And what's even better, she said yes! Our second lesson with her is tonight, and I'm super excited. I'll be sure to tell how it goes next week.
I want to thank everyone for your messages, love, support, and prayers. I may not have time to respond to all of them, but I assure you I do read them. I love this gospel and I love the Lord. I know that this is where the Lord needs me to be. When someone rejects our message, I only become sad for them because I know that they're missing out. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we have something marvelous in the palms of our hands; a fountain of living water that will never run out. We have to decide whether or not we are going to share that endless water with those around us or let it spill out into a puddle on the floor. I know what I want to do with mine. What will you do with yours?
Iré y haré
Mom's Q and A with Elder Groesbeck:
1. Do you like your companion? I thought your first companion would be Hispanic?
A: Nope. He's as white as they come, and he’s awesome. His name is Elder Hixon, and as soon as he finishes training me, he goes home. I'm trying to keep him from dying early.
2. I am interested in your training schedule, the people you are teaching, your first Sunday in Mexico. Are you adjusting?
A : My training schedule is going to follow this program called "The first twelve weeks in the mission field," but we haven't had like any time to work on it just because of all of the stuff that is going on. We've spent a lot of the past week getting to know the area because we're both new to it. I feel like I'm adjusting pretty well; I haven't had any food shoot right through me yet. I also haven't really eaten anything strange, though. However, every single meal has consisted of tortillas and some kind of meet; si no hay tortillas, no es comida.
3. What City are you in? If you are in Pachuca, what part?
A: I'm in Pachuca, the Pachuca South Stake. I think you can look up the mission blog to find the address of the mission center where all of my mail will go for the next two years.
4. Do you feel your Spanish is Okay? I know you have a lot to learn, but are you understanding and communicating with the people? Give yourself six months to a year before you start to get discouraged. Remember most missionaries can speak very little Spanish when they go out into the field so you are already steps ahead of them.
A: My Spanish is extra okay. I'm slowly but surely learning more, and I know enough to be able to teach most of the lessons. There are just some vocabulary words and verb conjugations here and there that I don't quite know yet, but the main thing I'm working on is understanding people when they talk to me.
5. Do you have electricity?
A: Yes, I have electricity, but I have to turn on a water heater every morning to get hot water for the shower.
6. Will you be washing your clothes out of a bucket?
A: There are laundromats EVERYWHERE, so no.
7. Were you able to buy bedding or are you using your blankie?
A: My bed came with blankets that are actually quite warm, so I'm good there.
8. Dad can not remember the scripture you want for your plaque in the hall, can you tell me what it is?
A: You can put Mosiah 2:17 on there, but I've decided to make my missionary motto "Ire y hare" (I will go and do) with accents over the e's; I can't figure out how to do it on these Mexican keyboards...
9. We set it up so people can send you emails or messages directly from the blog, several people have written to you this way, have you received them?
A: Yeah, it would appear the blog is working for the messages.
10. Are you washing your hands after using the restroom? (I felt like I needed 10 questions, & see if you are paying attention)
My week has actually been pretty good. Everything has been better since the companion switch, although we still had a few problems with Elder John Doe having his phone. Everything appears to be sorted out at this point, so we're just trying to finish up our time here at the MTC strong. Elder Manriquez showed me this epic way to mark scriptures for teaching that involves all of the scripture passages in the sections of Chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel, dividing your scriptures into 8 sections (4 on top and 4 on the bottom), and 5 colors of highlighting/sticky note markers (the little see-through ones that you can find at OfficeMax). If anyone wants to know more in-depth how to do it, you're more than welcome to send me an email, and I'll send pictures. I feel like it's gonna help a lot when I need to find scriptures to teach people out in the field. I'm almost done, too; only 1 of the 8 sections to go... in my Book of Mormon. I still need to mark up my Bible.
In terms of all of the teaching we're doing, everything is going great. I was teaching Elder Gallardo this morning about the Plan of Salvation and eternal families, and he was really disappointed when we had to stop and switch partners! Everyone loves how excited I get when I teach them anything. I've come to absolutely love conveying my knowledge of the gospel and the joy that comes with it.
Yesterday, all of our companionships did a huge practice where we taught someone from the district; they gave us a brief profile, and we then pretended it was a tracting contact. My companion and I began teaching, and everything was going amazing. We were "getting to know" our "investigator" and asking all kinds of awesome questions and just really getting into it. Then Elder Efigenio turned to me, and I began to tell the Joseph Smith story. Immediately, a palpable spirit settled in the room, and it was an amazing change. I was just about to recite the first vision that I had memorized (when I say "recite", I still put tons of feeling into it, and it invokes an amazing spirit when the timing is right) when Hermano Lloyd (our teacher) came back into the room, signaling that it was time to switch. Elder Gallardo (who we were teaching) was like, "Hermano Lloyd... can they finish teaching me?" He's a missionary, and he wanted us to continue teaching him the Restoration message! It was a proud moment for Elder Efigenio and me.
I still love the spirit here, and it continues to get stronger every day. I can only hope that it's this powerful in the field. I leave Monday morning at 3, so I'll be in Mexico in just over a day.
Irè y harè.
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This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)