We finally did it! We got an investigator to church! I'll talk more about that for the investigator of the week, but I just had to start off by giving the highlight of the week. I don't really have much intro to do, so I'll just jump into the adventure of the week.
I believe that last week I mentioned something about us taking care of the new missionaries that came in. Well, the adventure of the week happened right after I typed up and sent my last blog post. Elder Hixon and I went on splits with the young'ns, and it was actually quite fun. I let Elder Hixon take our actual set appointments so that I wouldn't accidentally screw up someone's concept of the gospel with my incomplete Spanish and Elder Fox's very broken Spanish. So Elder Fox and I went contacting to see if we could get a Harvesting Blessing or something of that sort. We contacted a ton of people, but it was pretty late Monday night, so every was either like, "No," or "come back some other time." So we basically walked around the neighborhood a lot while I did all of the talking. I was actually quite amazed with my abilities to communicate and understand people without Elder Hixon there to help me. Sure, there were some things I didn't quite get, but it was still a pretty neat experience. It was pretty cool to have something so seemingly important entrusted into my 7-week-old hands. I most definitely couldn't do that all day every day (yet), but for those 3 or so hours, it was pretty fun.
The investigator of the week award once again goes to Paola Torres because she's just such a champ. She was our investigator that came to church, and she's so flippin' ready for her baptism! She has the date set in her phone calendar and everything. She even dropped her insane addiction to coffee like it was nothing (although she says she's been a little hysterical at times), and her boyfriend's parents (who are all members) are already preparing a meal afterwards, and it's just gonna be a great filppin' day! Ugh, I can't wait!
My spiritual thought for the week has to do directly with Paola. Elder Hixon and I had been having a really hard time the first 5 weeks here finding people that were actually ready to receive the gospel and follow through with their commitments. It was a little tough, but we decided to keep being diligent and obedient, and we kept working. Finally, after 5 weeks of hard work, our blessing came in the form of Paola, and she has made it all worth it. She's so ready to receive the gospel, it's not even funny. This experience has just really strenthened my testimony of the importance of constant diligence and obedience. To paraphrase a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland, some blessings come soon, some blessings come late. Some blessings don't even come until after this life, but for those who are diligent in the work of the Lord and in keeping His commandments, the blessings will come. All we have to do sometimes is be patient and put all of our trust in him. It's been an amazing 7 weeks thus far in the mission, and I can't wait to get out there and learn more.
Iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck (questions by Aubrie, his sister, and the cutest one in the family)
1. In Texas our road kill is normally possums and armadillos, what is the
road kill in Pachuca?
The other day, Elder Hixon and I actually saw a decapitated cat in the
middle of the freeway... But other than that, we haven't really seen a
whole lot of road kill out here.
2. What is your favorite memory of your companion so far? How much
longer does he have left on his mission?
He has five weeks left. At this point, I just have favorite memories of
my mission just because my adventures with Elder Hixon have been
the only adventures I've known on the mission. Our district just
changed and he was just made the district leader. The other
missionaries in our new district are the assistants, and we never really
see them much.
3. Most girls at my school wear their hair long, how do the kids wear it
The hair styles here are actually really similar to those of the US; you
have your long hair, your short hair, and your just plain weird hair that
you see every once in a blue moon.
4. What is the cutest dog you’ve seen? Does everyone own a
OH MAH DANG! There was this one house we went to try to contact,
and when we rang the doorbell, the most adorable tiny beagle came
running up to the gate with these huge ears flopping around; I went to
pet it, and it immediately rolled onto its stomach so I could pet its
tummy. UGH! SO CUTE! Chihuahuas are definitely the most
common type of dog that I've seen, but there is every kind of dog
imaginable and more that live on the streets here.
5. What color is your toothbrush? Are you brushing your teeth?
My toothbrush is... white...? I think... I promise I use it, though!
6. What is the most popular kind of car? Have you been allowed to ride
with any members?
The cars here are pretty similar to those in the US as well, but I've
seen a LOT of older models of bugs here. The members will
sometimes give us rides to/from church, but we have bikes and don't
really need many rides.
7. Do they have malls? Have you gone to any?
Yes, and yes, actually. My second, week we went to a mall to get
some random stuff we couldn't find at a conventional grocery store.
8. You said your investigators are not coming to church on Sunday, are
the people there religious? Do they go to other churches? Are there a
lot of other church buildings near you? Are most people Catholic or
have you seen other religions?
Probably about 80% of the people we contact are "Catholic" meaning
they have Catholic beliefs, but they don't go to church or anything.
There's actually a church for the Testigos de Jehová (Jehovah’s
Witnesses) in our area, so we see their missionaries every so often and
have an illegitimate turf war. We're winning.
9. Is there a girl my age in your ward (remember I am 14, born 1n 2000)
that would be interested in being my pen pal? Do you think you could
find one for me? I am going to take Spanish 3 next year so I know a
little Spanish, but it would help if she knew a little English.
That's a good question... I don't really know how to work that out
given the inconsistency of the mailing system, but I can look around.
We hardly know any of the young women in the ward, but I'll see
what I can do. Mail takes a bit of time. A letter you wrote me back on
January 3rd just arrived this week.
10. What is your favorite lesson to teach?
I actually really like teaching lesson 1. We've just done it so many
times that I know how to make a transition to the next point from
anywhere in the lesson. Having the first vision memorized is also
pretty cool; you should do that if you haven't yet.
Holy dang, I'm already one transfer into the mission... We got some new missionaries today, and Elder Hixon and I are actually babysitting some of them right now until the transfer meeting tomorrow morning when they get placed with their trainers. We're going on splits later this evening with them, so I'll already get a taste of what it's like to be a trainer, and I'm only 6 weeks in! Hopefully my Spanish skills will serve me well this evening. I have to say (and I know this is a bad way to think about it), but listening to the Spanish of these new elders makes me feel really good about my Spanish... We'll see how everything goes in about an hour from now.
So this week was pretty fantastic; I found out that I'm officially the first Mexican Missionary to get a 2-year VISA. Normally what happens is that the missionaries have to go in at their half-way point and renew their VISAs, but I was apparently the guinea pig for trying to get a two-year one. Apparently everything processed just fine, and I'm officially a Mexican until mid-January of 2017. I also found my first 10-cent piece this week; they're these super tiny coins that are worth one-tenth of a peso. Considering the fact that pesos are now about 15 to the dollar, it takes about 150 of these to make a dollar; that's right, they're more useless than the penny.
We also started a new method to contact people and find investigators this past week: English Class. Every time we contact someone, we tell them that we have an English Class every Wednesday night; this past Wednesday was a little small, but hopefully it'll get bigger, and we'll learn how to teach English in a way that's a bit more fun than conventional school.
It's time for the investigator of the week award! This week we actually didn't have anyone come to church (sadly), but I'm still giving out the award. It goes to our newest investigator named Paola. She had been taught by a few missionaries when she was with her boyfriend in some other stake a while back, but she actually went by herself to our mission office to request to be taught. She just so happened to be in our area, so we have begun teaching her. She already accepted a baptismal date and everything for the 14th of March. She unfortunately wasn't able to come to church because she got super sick the night before; we went and visited her and can testify that it was not just a lame excuse. But yeah, she's a golden investigator, so she gets the award this week.
I'm changing the adventure of this week to our overall success for the week: we were finally able to meet the mission goal of 40 lessons per week this week. After our 40th lesson Saturday afternoon, we briefly celebrated and were like, "well... now what?" We decided to go ahead and go a bit above and beyond and get 2 more that evening, so we were feeling pretty good about our missionary abilities. We've been trying to be super obedient these past 6 weeks, and it finally paid off this week.
I started reading the New Testament in Spanish this week, and I came across a scripture passage in Matthew that I actually really liked; In English, it says that the apostles "straightway left their nets and followed" Jesus. I hadn't really paid attention to the wording of this scripture until I read it in Spanish and it really stuck. It says, "Ellos entonces, dejando al instante las redes, le siguieron." They didn't say, "ehhhhhh... wellllll... I guessss..." They immediately, straightway, at that instant left their nets and followed him. It made me think about what kind of disciples of Christ we are going to be. Are we going to straightway leave our nets to follow Him and do His will, or are we going to linger and think about the descision at the door and think about it for a while? The greatest of God's blessings come to those of us who will straightway leave our nets, our jobs, our passions, our lives for the service of God, and that has kept me going this week.
Iré y haré.
There is no Q&A or new pictures this week due to computer problems in Mexico.
This week was pretty neat; our numbers weren't too great (I'll explain more on that later), but I'm learning a ton every day. I don't really have any overarching statements that adequately describe my week, so I'll just get straight to the good stuff. First things first, I noticed that some people have these filled water bottles that are just scattered around in their yards. Elder Hixon said they do it to keep the flies away, so every time we knock on one of those doors, one of us makes a comment of how few flies there are in the yard. I really have no clue if it actually works just because there aren't a whole lot of flies here in the first place.
Once again, this week will not have an investigator of the week because our investigators still can't figure out that going to church is a really important thing; we had two that said they would go, but they didn't wake up until church was pretty much over! Super lame! Once again, that will be our focus this week.
Our adventure of the week was actually a whole day; a day I like to call the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. First things first, the second alarm on our phone didn't go off, so we woke up at like 6:45and felt horrible. We still managed to get everything ready for the day, and we figured it would still be a pretty good day; we had a good 7 lessons/appointments planned. Then, during study time, the dueña of our house called. We'd been having some plumbing issues, and she said that a plumber would be coming at 2, right when our first appointment was. "That's okay," we said. "We'll just miss one or two appointments and be okay!" The plumber was there for flippin' 3 and a half hours, and we couldn't leave or anything, so we were just stuck trying to figure out what we could do while he messed around with our pipes on the ceiling. I felt horrible being unable to do anything. We missed half of our appointments and only ended the day with 2 lessons instead of 7. Ugh. So terrible! The morale of the story is that if you wake up late, you're gonna have a bad day. So yeah, that was pretty much the reason why we didn't have a super great week in terms of numbers.
I haven't got much time left, so I'll jump right to my spiritual thought for the week. I read a scripture the other day that said, "their knowledge shall condemn them" or something of that sort, and it really made me think about my calling as a missionary. For the people that we contact and/or teach and don't get baptised, all we've done is condemn them in the life to come. When they are given the opportunity to hear the message of the restored gospel in this life and don't take advantage of it, all that that will do is condemn them in the life to come. While thinking about this, I felt a little bad at first, but then I realized that all of the knowledge that I have about the gospel will further condemn me if I don't do everything in my power to share it with everyone. And even so, those people may reject our message now, but that doesn't mean that other missionaries won't come along and turn their hearts. Planting seeds, I tell myself. Every time I get rejected, I'm just planting seeds. Sometimes, that's all we can do. That's all of the time I have for this week, and I can't wait to see what next week brings. Iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck
1. Describe your typical day.
We wake up at 6:25 pray, and then exercise at 6:30. 7-8 we get ready for the day. 8-9 is personal study. 9-10 is companion study. 10-11 we do "The First Twelve Weeks in the Mission Field" training, and 11-12 is language study. Then from 12 on, we're either teaching people or finding people to teach; lunch is usually at 2, and it's the big meal of the day, so we don't eat again until we get back to the house at 9 or 9:30 and then finish planning for the next day around 10. Then we get ready for bed (write in our journals and eat and what not) until 10:30.
2. You mentioned giving a harvesting blessing last week. Where does that tradition come from?
It's not necessarily a tradition, it's just a way to find investigators; the people here are really superstitious, so when they hear that we leave blessings in their homes, they're like, "Yeah! Come on in!" It gives them the chance to see that we're (mostly) normal people.
3. You said you are reading the Liahona magazine. Does the mission provide them or do members give them to you?
We get them from the mission office; they have a TON of them in there, so we grab one whenever there's a new issue.
4. In the USA some people will honk, mock or yell at the missionaries as they drive by, do you have or see much of that where you are?
Yes, I'll explain a story about that in my blog post.
5. On February 2 I asked you if there were many holidays, and you said they were celebrating one on that day, what were they celebrating?
I seriously have no clue what they were celebrating last Monday, but almost everything was closed.
6. Have you had the opportunity to go on splits with any of the members in your ward? What is it like?
The jovenes (young men) go out with us all the time; we haven't split up with them yet, mainly because I still can't understand a lot of things people say. It's pretty fun to have them with us, though. There are some of them that really look up to us, and it reminds me of what I thought of the missionaries when I was a kid.
7. When you visit members home do you experience the “missionary effect” (meaning: do little kids go crazy and crawl over you, like you use to do the missionaries)?
Usually the kids run off and play while we're teaching; most families don't even eat with us. It's very common to have a restaurant-style dinner in the members' homes where they feed us while they watch TV or talk or whatever.
8. What do you or have you done on preparation-day?
We get ready for the week; we haven't done anything super crazy just yet; we had a zone activity last week, which was pretty fun, but other than going out for super-spicy tacos, nothing too interesting on Mondays. We're thinking about going to these old Mayan temples sometime soon on a P-day, but nothing's for sure yet.
9. Have you put on any weight?
I think(/hope) I've put on a little bit of muscle just from working out in the mornings, but Elder Hixon weighed as much as I did when he got on the mission, and he's lost about 20 pounds since then.
Ah, what a week. I've officially moved on from being in utter aw of the culture here to finding things I'm not extremely fond of. Before I begin, I still love Mexico and the people here, but some things have just begun to irk me a little bit. This one Elder Hixon and I laugh about all of them time, and it's sickness. The people of Pachuca (I don't know if it's all of the people in Mexico) think that if you aren't at the absolute perfect temperature, you WILL get sick. Whenever they open the door for us, they're always like, "Oh! You're so cold! You need a jacket so you don't get sick!" and even after we say no we're find and have our sweaters, they go into their rooms and pull out jackets for us. We have to flat out refuse them when it's time to leave. One time they also said something about not using a heater because it will dry out their throats and they'll get sick. AND OH MY GOODNESS WHEN IT RAINS!!! If you get a drop of water on you and don't take a shower, you're gonna get sick. Elder Hixon and I have decided we're going to use it as a contacting technique: "Hey, we're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and when it rains and we get wet, we don't get sick!" They'll flippin' worship us!
The other thing is "en ocho días" or in white terms, "in 8 days". Now, if it's Tuesday and someone says that, you'd think they'd mean next Wednesday, right? Because there are 7 days in a week, so that just makes sense. Down here in Mexico, however, that means next Tuesday. I don't know who in the flip came up with that, but it bugs the heck out of me. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but still.
Okay, funniest thing that happened this week came when we knocked on a random door. This lady appeared in the window, noticed it was us, and just got this face of complete and utter horror before retracting back from the curtains. You'd think we were Satan's minions come to set fire to her house or something, and I just started laughing my butt off. I turned to Elder Hixon and said, "something tells me she isn't going to open the door." We waited for a minute or so before deciding I was right and moved on. I'm sure that won't be the last time that happens out here, but it was so funny!
Investigator of the week: This week, an investigator of the week award will not be given due to the fact that none of our investigators will freaking go to church! Hence, our goal/invitation to all of our investigators this week is to get them to church. We just need to do a better job of explaining why it's important and necessary and the blessings that come with it. It starts at 8 in the morning, which is pretty hard for some people, but that just means it ends at 11, and they'll have the rest of the day to do whatever they want/need to do. We have a plan that we'll be sticking to, so hopefully it works...
Adventure of the week: There's been so much that's happened this week that it's hard to pick one adventure; we also didn't have anything happen that was like super duper awesome or anything like that. There were some major milestones in my Spanish missionary career that happened, though, so I'll write about those! First off, I need to explain a certain missionary term: The Harvesting Blessing. The people here are very supersticious, so we tell them that as missionaries, we'd like to share our message with them and leave a blessing in their home. They usually jump on the opporunity to have anyone with religious background to bless their home simply due to their superstition. Anyways, normally when we do this, Elder Hixon does it simply because he actually knows how and what to say and stuff. When we found a home that would let us in to do it, I thought to myself, "You know, I should really learn how to do these... I'll think about how it's done later tonight after we plan for tomorrow." Then, as Elder Hixon was explaining to them how we pray and stuff, he turns to me and goes, "Do you wanna do it?" "Uhhhhhhhh.......... Okay......." So I got down on my knees, and gave my first Harvesting Blessing. It was pretty neat, and I thought it went well; we have an appoitment with them this weekend, so hopefully that goes well.
The other neat thing that happened in my Spanish missionary career was my first annointing. There's an hermano in our Ward who was sick, and his wife was like, "Can you give him a blessing?" Fortunately, Elder Hixon didn't make me do the blessing part, but I learned how to annoint in Spanish. The blessing part will come eventually...
Despite everything, I really am loving it out here. I can feel my testimony growing every day, and I've learned that I absolutely love studying the Liahona in the mornings. There are so many great talks and articles in there that can be applied to everything. There was one article from this month in particular that I liked about baptism. The message was this: Baptism is not the end goal. Baptism is the beginning. When we are baptised, we begin a lifelong journey of constant conversion: the repetition of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel found in the fourth article of faith. When we do these four things constantly on a weekly basis, we are enduring to the end. This endurance to the end is the key to our salvation. Our baptism serves us nothing if we are baptised and then expect salvation to simply come and for our faith to grow on its own. We must constantly study the scriptures, pray sincerely, and renew our baptismal covenants every single week. We must make further covenants, assist in missionarywork, and persevere through the trials and challenges that are unfortunately part of this life. If we can do this, and it will not be easy, we are enduring to the end, and salvation and eternal life will be ours. I hope my challenge issued last week went well, and I appreciate the love, support, and prayers. Iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck
1. Describe a typical day.
I don't think I have time to answer this one right now; remind me next week and I'll do it first thing.
2. Do dogs chase you in the street? Do you chase dogs?
Elder Hixon does; he's terrified when they chase him. I either try to pet them or push them away if they're really mean.
3. I know you said the cars are fast, but is there a lot of traffic in your area? (As you can tell this is an area of concern for me.)
We live next to a highway, so yes, there's quite a bit of traffic at times; not like weaving through cars or anything, but just a lot of cars on the roads.
4. What do people in your area do for work?
People here do everything, from running a store to a restaurant to cleaning schools to teaching English.
5. Are you using your hand sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer is going to cause the end of the world. No.
6. Do both parents work or does one stay home?
Usually both of them work; sometimes the husband works two jobs.
7. What are the schools like? Do kids attend until the same age as here 17/18?
Schools are a little weird here; they're only there for like 4 hours, and they either start really early in the morning, or really late in the afternoon. But yes, people attend school until 18/19, and every school has uniforms.
8. What is family life like? Is it one-generation homes or do multiple generations live together? Meaning do grandparents live with their children?
Almost every home is a multiple generation home unless they're really smart with their money.
9. Do they have as many holidays as us? What are some of the holidays they celebrate?
They have a few holidays (today is actually one), but I don't know what sorts of things they celebrate other than Christmas and Día de los Reyes Magos (day of magic kings) on Jan 6th
10. What is one thing you wish you would have brought with you that you forgot?
I really haven't had anything that I've needed since I've been here that wasn't in my bag. Elder Hixon is pretty jealous of my drug supply* (thanks, mommy!) and I'm prepared for any weather!
*Disclaimer on Mitch’s drug supply: We only included what was listed on the packing list. I think what Elder Hixon might be jealous of is how I assembled into a neatly organized Medical/Fist Aid Kit and labeled everything.
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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 :)