My internal clock is officially completely broken. It's already week 12, the final week of my training. I hit my 3-month mark this past week, which means my mission is already an eighth of the way over! I have far too many people to save, and absolutely no time to save them! In the words of Boxer from George Orwell's Animal Farm, "I must work harder!"
Everyone keeps telling me that after this cycle I'll be a district leader and trainer (just because all of our leaders are leaving next week). I really don't know if I'm ready for that, but I shall except President Egbert's/the Lord's assignment with my head held high, and perform to the fullest of my abilities. My prayers will certainly become much more fervent if that does happen... I can't even imagine...
Okay, funny story for this week. A few weeks ago, I mentioned how it was getting on my nerves a little bit that everyone thought we were gonna get sick when it rained. So this week we visited an investigator named Carlos who's 16 years old. We asked him how he was doing, and he said he'd been a little bit sick. Upon asking him what happened, he responded--and I kid you not--"The other day, I was taking a shower, and the water got cold for a few seconds. Ever since then, I've just been feeling sick." I'm sorry, but seriously, Mexico? The only reason any of you get sick is because you're so darn worried about getting sick! After we left, I asked Elder Hixon if I had actually heard him right. He just looked at me with a face that said everything it needed to.
Speaking of sickness and rain, Elder Guerra got pretty sick this week with what they call "The Tornado". To put it in as few words as possible to keep from conveying graphic images, it's when you have diarrhea and throw up in the same sickness. It sounded pretty greusome and I'll be praying fervently that I never get it. There has also only been one day in the past two weeks that it hasn't rained at least a little bit. Many times it's raining while the sun is blistering hot outside, which just makes it really uncomfortable heat-humid combo.
By far the best part of this week came in the form of 120 semi-bilingual school students. There's a brother in our ward who teaches English in a private school, and about 8 weeks or so ago, he asked me and Elder Hixon if the two of us and the other white Elders (Elder Stucki and Elder Jenson) wanted to go to his school and give a speach/devotional of sorts to the kids. We wouldn't be allowed to talk about gospel stuff (church and state and what not), but it would give the kids a chance to see us, recognize us as missionaries, and spark some sort of interest in the religion. Anyways, we finally got permission from President Egbert and got to do it this week. I felt like a celebrity! You'd think those kids had never before seen a white person! My segment was on tips to help them learn English better, and I pretty much let them teach it. I just asked them what they did to learn English faster and went from there. Then, after we had finished with the speaches and everything, and they were released to go to class, they all came running up to our table and asking all sorts of questions (What parts of the world have you been to? Do you want to learn a 3rd language? Do you have a girlfriend? You know, the usual). We couldn't get them to leave and go to class! I don't know how the missionary work will benefit from this, but at least the kids won't think we're the guys that steal children; supposedly that's what some parents tell their kids... But yeah, super cool experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.
For the past 2 weeks, we've been studying a talk called The 4th Missionary as a mission. Super great talk; you should look it up. Anyways, it talks about how if we really want to be exemplary missionaries and reach our full potential out here, we need to leave behind "all of our nets" and devote our whole heart, might, mind and strength to this work. We can be exactly obedient and get lots of baptisms, but if we don't devote ourselves fully, our mission doesn't serve us at all. If we're going to be devoting 2 years of our lives to this, why not let it change us? The talk applies to missionaries specifically, but it can also apply to church members in general. We can be really good members, attending our meetings, doing our home and visiting teaching, and following all of the rules placed before us. But if we don't give our whole heart to our work and really want to do it, we'll be in a constant battle of our will against that of the Father. In the end, the way of the fourth missionary, or in the more common case, the fourth member, is easier. We find ourselves much happier and can more easily devote ourselves fully to the work. Having said all of that, that is my goal not only for my mission but for my life. It won't be easy at first (that's a given), but the blessings will be truly wonderful and it will be worth it. And THAT is a promise from God that is found abundantly in the scriptures. I encourage you to keep that in mind, and as always, iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck (questions by Candice, Will and James Groesbeck)
1. What do you do for exercise?
Elder Hixon and I are still adding one push-up every day, and we'll hit 100 by the time he leaves. We did 92 this morning. They're pretty tough to finish, but we turn on some sweet pump-up gospel music to help.
2. What is the biggest animal you've seen? (From James)
I've seen some pretty huge dogs; some of which I swear have thighs bigger than my head, but I usually don't have much time to get a good look before we book it away from them.
3. Would you like to visit us in San Diego again? (From Will)
At this point, a nice trip to San Diego sounds like the most wonderful thing ever. Maybe for Christmas in two years I'll come over there ;)
4. What is your favorite part of Preach My Gospel to study so far?
I love the chapter on recognizing the Spirit. As a missionary, that's everything. It's not only vital for us to understand how the Spirit works, but we need to teach our investigators how to recognize it as well.
5. What is an expression the locals use that they did NOT teach you in the MTC?
Usan un buen de dichos aquí que no me enseñaron en el CCM. For example, the words "un buen" which pretty much just means a LOT. There's also "de hecho", which literally means "of done", but translates to "in fact" or "actually".
6. Did the Mexicans celebrate St. Patricks Day?
On the calendar I bought down here, it has St. Patrick's Day on it, but nobody said anything about it on the actual day... so I'm not really sure...
7. What is your favorite thing to eat there?
I actually love enchiladas verdes. And then when they throw in some strawberries, bananas, and cream for dessert. Ugh, I can't even handle it. I've grown to absolutely love all of the Mexican food, though (except flan... I can't handle that stuff), and that'll probably be the thing I miss most out here.
8. What is your favorite thing to drink?
The thing about "water" here is that it always has some kind of flavoring. They think they're being rude when they offer us water and don't have the flavoring. They're always like, "We're so sorry we don't have any juice! Is pure water okay? We're so sorry!" It's actually quite funny. My favorite, though, is called Orchatta. It's like this cinnamon milk stuff, and it tastes awesome!
9. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the cleanest, how would you rate your apartment?
Nothing here in Mexico that I've seen is a 10. Our house used to be like a 7, but then Elder Guerra moved in. Elder Hixon says he's the most disorganized companion he's ever had, and our cleanliness dropped down to like a 4, despite our best efforts.
10. What do the kids like to do for fun?
Fútbol, fútbol, y más fútbol. I haven't really seen them do anything else but that and play video games... We played soccer with them last week and we do divisions every once in a while, but I've pretty much only seen/heard them talk about that stuff for fun.
This week was sick! Like, literally... I was sick for pretty much the whole week. It was pretty aweful in terms of our numbers, but I thought we had some pretty good lessons in there. There was actually one night when I woke up at like 12:30 and just went to the window to put my head against it. I realized after about 2 minutes that all of my thoughts had been in Spanish. I then quickly realized that in the dream I was having, we were teaching a lesson, and it was all in Spanish! I've officially had my first Spanish dream! Yesssss!
It's still really hard to work in a trio, but we're figuring it out bit by bit. Elder Guerra does some really weird stuff in lessons that just make me think, "what in the flip are you doing/saying!?" But I won't go into detail on that...
It has rained literally every single day this week. It started Monday right after I wrote my post last week, and it's been like crossing rivers every time we've gone out to work. It actually started hailing last Monday as well; In the picture I'll be sending, all of those little white spots on the road are chunks of hail. I've leraned a new phrase in Spanish, though, that makes absolutely no sense. Every time we've left this week, I've brought my umbrela "por si las moscas" which translated directly means "for if the flies", but it means "just in case". Like I said, it makes no sense.
We also heard this truck go by earlier this week that was selling oranges. They were selling bags of 50 oranges for 35 pesos. It's 15 pesos to the dollar, so that's like 50 oranges for $2.33! That's insane! People buy oranges and then give them all to us because they're so dirt cheap, and we usually just end up throwing them out because we have so many! I know it's a waist of food, but we seriously have no clue what to do with them.
My spiritual experience of the week came in the form of the simplest but most powerful lesson I've ever had. We visited a less active family, and all we did was have a testimony meeting. By the end of it, everyone was crying, and it was awesome. And so my spiritual thought is this: Don't ever underestimate the power of a testimony. Sometimes it's something so simple that can touch people's hearts deepest of all. It's the little things like that that have slowly but surely built my testimony into what it is, and I will continue to build it out here in Mexico. Iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck questions by Alan and LaNice Groesbeck (his aunt and uncle)
1. Do you have a maid? If so, what does she do and how much do you pay her and is she a member?
Please, ain't nobody got money for no maid! We clean the place ourselves and it only takes us like 45 minutes Monday morning.
2. If you have to do your own cooking, what is your favorite thing to cook? Are you learning how to make "authentic" Mexican food?
The 4-cheese quesadilla is a classic, and of course there's always a good grilled cheese... and that's pretty much all we make.
3. When (and if) you get discouraged, what picks you up and keeps you going? Favorite scripture for this?
Whenever I get down, the best cure is some good 'ol work. The only reason I ever get discouraged is if we can't find anyone to teach, so it makes sense that we should just keep working to find someone to teach and everything will get better. I always feel pretty great after a lesson, so I always just keep that in mind.
4.What is the closest temple to your mission? How far is it?
The Mexico City temple is the closest one, but it's closed. It's also outside of our mission, so we wouldn't be able to go to it anyways. The next closest is like a 6 or 7 our bus ride away.
5. Do the members enjoy doing family history to take names to the temple? How hard is it to do Mexican family history?
They're actually doing a temple trip this Friday/Saturday, but I have absolutely no idea how hard or easy it is to do Mexican Family History... I haven't had to do it
6 What is the member activity rate there?
It seems like there are a ton of inactive people, but I'm not really sure what the percentage is. We knocked on this one door a few weeks ago and found an inactive family that had lived in that house for like 15 years and had never told anyone they were there. I figure if we just introduce them to some members, they can be reactivated.
7. Do you have many missionaries preparing to serve from your area?
We have one joven in our Ward who's filling out his papers right now (he just turned 18), but apparently there are like 20-something serving from the stake.
8. Do you have a senior couples serving in your area?
Yes, we do have Senior Couples, but the only place I ever see them is in the mission offices. I don't know what else they normally do.
9. What has been your favorite day so far?
I haven't really had a favorite day, but I have had favorite lessons. For example, don't ever underestimate the power of a small testimony meeting with a less active family. SUPER powerful. If that family doesn't get reactivated, I don't know what will.
I feel like so much stuff has happened and there's no time to tell all about it. I'm just gonna start from the beginning. Last Monday evening, we had a tri-zone activity where we watched Meet the Mormons. Just before the Movie, Sister Egbert (the Mission President's wife) came up to us and asked if President had talked to us yet. She simply said, "Okay. We have an assignment for the two of you... We love you..." Thanks, Sister Egbert for freaking us out for the entire movie. I had no idea what to expect, but Elder Hixon was like, "it's another elder. We're gonna be in a trio." Lo and behold, he was right. His name is Elder Guerra. He was having some issues with his companion, so he's with us now. He's not such a bad guy, he just needs a little bit of extra umph to get him going, and more than one person to tell him that something isn't necessarily considered polite...
I was in a trio back in the MTC as well, but it wasn't anywhere near as difficult as it is out in the field. Finding a teaching method is frickin hard when you don't know who's gonna speak next; we usually just go in a roatation. Sometimes I have something that I REALLY wanna say, but it's Elder Hixon's turn next, so I never really get the chance to squeeze it in there. Ah well, it's only for the next 3 weeks, so everything will come out just fine. In 3 weeks, I'll be back in just a duo, and I'll have twice as many doors to knock on when I acquire the sisters' area! I hope they find some really good investigators beforehand... We'll see.
I've begun to lose faith in the Spanish humanity. Nobody will ever go to church! We still have Paola (she's super frickin awesome) who went with us to Stake Conference this Sunday, but we moved her baptismal date to the 28th of March (happy birthday, Wil) so we have time to teach her everything she needs to know before then. So yeah, she's still the investigator of the week.
For the adventure of the week, we were going to go to Teotihuacan (big Aztec temples in the mission), but it's super far away and we couldn't find a member to take us. I figure I still have two more years to be able to go there, so I can wait. Anyways, the adventure of this week has simply become the awesome story of the week, and it deals with the jiggly substance we all know and love, Jello. We get gelatin a lot out here, but it's rarely in the softer squishier form of Jello. This week was one of those rare occasions, and when the sister handed it to us, we picked up our spoons and just whacked it while it jiggled. Oh my dang, it was hilarious! I swear, I've been out here waaaaaay too long because it was just so funny! Then I told Elder Hixon about how I always used to eat Jello with a straw as a kid. The 16-year-old son heard me saw that, so he brought us some more Jello with a side of straws!!! SO FUN! Ugh. I can't wait to see what I find hilarious in two years. It was the best laugh I've had in a LONG time.
President Egbert sent out an email last week giving a mission-wide challenge to start the Book of Mormon over again, and, reading 11 pages every day, we'll finish it by the end of April. It's actually been an awesome experience thus far; I'm in 2nd Nephi, so it's gotten a little tough, but I pushed through the Isaiah chapters once in Spanish (right before he had us start over -_-), so I can do it again! I had never even thought about it like that before; 11 pages a day really isn't all that much; it takes me like half an hour (reading them in Spanish), and I'll be done by the end of April. That seems so far away but so close at the same time... Anyways, that's the challenge I'm gonna issue this week. I'm not gonna tell you to start over like President told us, but wherever you are, make it a goal to finish it by the end of April (a little less than two months). Just reading 11 pages a day will get you at least close (I don't remember how many pages it is in English), but it really has been an awesome experience thus far. The best way I could ever have thought to start my day.
It's been a long week just because of the whole trio thing, but I'm sure next week will get better, and I'll be home in no time. Until then, I'll make the most of it, and as always, iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck (questions made by Rich Stone)
1. Do you have a favorite preparation day activity?
We haven't gotten to do it until today, but I absolutely loved my quick nap today. We've been so busy the past couple of weeks on P day that it was super nice to just be able to relax for about an hour.
2. How helpful would you say seminary scripture mastery has been on the mission?
Seminary scripture mastery was the BEST. It's a little hard to recognize some of the scriptures in Spanish, but once I do and remember where they are, I mark them down. They're the easiest things to bust out when we're not sure what to teach the members during the food every day.
3. Have you gotten to use your musical skills?
Yeah, I play the piano every other time we have a Zone Meeting. Elder Hixon just so happens to be the other missionary in our zone who can play the piano as well...
4. Hardest Spanish word for you to pronounce?
I haven't had a whole lot of trouble lately, but words with double r's were pretty tough for a while; el Reino Terrestre (Terrestrial Kingdom) was killer for a while, but I'm starting to get it down.
5. Is it customary to ring a doorbell, knock the door, clap, or do something else to get the attention of people in the house?
If they have a timbre (doorbell), you ring that, which 9 times out of 10 just makes a loud buzzing sound, but if they don't have one, we whip out a key, find a metal spot, and knock loud on the gate.
6. Is there a part of the day - or certain activity - when you feel the spirit the most?
There are really just those occasional lessons where, for whatver reason, the Spirit is just like, "YES! It's all true!!!"
7. What foods do the American missionaries have to avoid?
There haven't been any foods that Elder Hixon and I have had to avoid... It's really just the water that nobody can drink.
8. Are there one or two pre-mission activities or habits that you feel were very effective in preparing you for the field?
Learning how to cook and clean are the best skills you can ever ask for in the mission field... and that you can ask for in your companion.
9. Do you enjoy answering these questions?
Yeah, they give the emailing a unique twist on the week... when I have time to answer them.
I don't have a whole lot of time to write this week, but it really wasn't super interesting anyways; we biked around, we taught some lessons, and now we have a super busy P-day. Oh! I did, however, get some interesting news this week: President Egbert called me (yes, the mission president) and told me that when we get our money for the rent this week to not pay it. They'll be closing our house next month due to our already small area, and making the whole ward one area. Then, through a series of questioning the circumstances, I learned that I'll most likely be staying in this area next cycle, but moving into a different house and having tons more room to work with. But don't tell the sisters in my area! They're not supposed to know for another month! But yeah, that was pretty cool.
Like I said, this week wasn't super interesting, so the adventure of the week was just exchanges with our zone leaders. I stayed in my area with Elder Carlson, and it was pretty much any other day, but with a different companion. We rode around on bikes, contacted people, and taught some lessons.
I'm just gonna jump to my spiritual thought simply for lack of time. We learned in our zone conference last week about a story in the Book of Mormon. It's the story of a man who leaves Jerusalem with his family, returns to get the brass plates from Laban, and then builds a ship with his brothers and crosses the ocean. That's right, I'm talking about Laman. Now, many of you (like me) were probably thinking, "Oh! That's Nephi!" So, what was the difference between Nephi and Laman? They both did the same things and experienced the same trials, but their stories are very different. What separated them was their attitude in dealing with said trials and afflictions. Life is full of difficulties that we all have to deal with. All we going to be a Laman and deal with them with an attitude of "All right, fine," or are we going to be like Nephi and say, "I will go and I will do"? I love this work and I love this gospel, and most of all, iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck (questions by Wil Groesbeck his older brother)
1. What do you do for morning exercises?
Elder Hixon and I have actually been adding one pushup every day, and by the time he goes home, we'll be at 100; we did 74 this morning, and it's getting flippin hard. Then I do some stuff for ab excercises and call it a morning.
2. How long do it take to get to one side of the area to the other?
On my bike, about 5 minutes...
3. What are some of the goals you have right now?
I've been working on my Spanish that I use for chatting; I can teach and talk about gospel stuff in Spanish, but I can't talk about a whole lot of other things, so that's been my goal for the past little while.
4. What about goals that you have as a companionship?
Keep Elder Hixon from getting trunky.
5. When I was on my mission during companionship study we did a lot of role plays. Do you do them? Have any cool experiences?
Yeah, we do them; it's just been good practice thus far for whatever we're going to teach. I'm still learning how to teach the lessons, so we haven't had any super cool experiences with them yet.
6. Favorite type of taco meat?
That's a really tough one... Probably chorizo or chorizo argentino.
7. How do you find new investigators?
We have to get 10 new contacts every day, so sometimes it's knocking doors and sometimes it's just people in the street.
8.How often do you go on exchanges?
We do it once every cycle with our district or zone leader, so I've done it twice thus far.
9. From my mission I remember people naming their kids when translated to English didn't make sense. One example, there was a women that was named Concepción but when by Coni in English it's conception. Do you have any examples of that?
We've met a few people named Dulce, which is supposed to be Spanish for sweet, but it can also mean candy. I assume they didn't mean to name their child Candy, but that one is actually a name in English.
10. Last but defiantly not least, how do you serve the people in your area?
We've trimmed trees, washed a patio, moved some furniture, and tomorrow we're going to paint a ceiling.
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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 :)