I unfortnately am beginning to lose faith in the people here in Mexico (again). Sometimes I just really wish I could take people's agency from them because I could use it so much better than they can, especially when it comes to the Sabbath Day. We have so many investigators that are so receptive and accept baptismal dates to prepare for, and none of them go to church! We had about 10 people say they would prepare for a baptismal date and go to church this past Sunday. Sunday came, and one of them was there. One. I feel like the theme of my mission will be replacing baptismal dates that fall because people don't go to church. The theme of my prayers has become "please bless _________ so he/she can find the strength/means to come to church." I guess it goes with the 10% rule of the mission: when you contact 300 people, 30 will become investigators, and 3 will be baptised. I guess we simply need to invite even more people to church, and 10% of them will show up.
On the bright side, we have a baptism this week. Her name is Damiana, and she's the coolest old lady EVER. She's about 75 years old, and she's been super receptive with the things we've been teaching her. Her granddaughter was baptized a few months ago, but no one in her family knows about it (long story), and now she's ready to be baptized as well. I just hope she can remember the stuff that we've taught her to pass the baptismal interview, but I feel that that's the least of our worries right now.
I realized this past week that my birthday is coming up (really weird thought that I'll be 21...). Seeing as how it's about a month away, I began thinking of things I could possibly want and/or need as a missionary for my birthday, and I made a simple list in case anyone needs any ideas:
1. A (nice) digital watch (I have one, but I like to accessorize)
2. Ties, preferrably with bright, happy colors
3. Letters. I always love letters.
And that's about it. I don't need socks. Please, I have plenty.
In other news from this week, President Egbert sent out his weekly letter explaining a way we can make our personal studies a lot better when we read the scriptures. To put it briefly, the Book of Mormon contains not even a hundredth part of what the prophets wrote in their registries, so Mormon took literally only the MOST important things to put in the final gold plates. Therefore, every single thing contained in the Book of Mormon is important. Sometimes the reason why requires thinking a little bit deeper, but everything has a reason for being there. I have officially set out to find out what said reasons are and how I can apply them. I'll just say that I've been in the book of Omni during my hour of personal studies for 3 days and haven't finished... It's gonna take a while to get through the Book of Mormon this way, but it'll be totally worth it!
Iré y haré,
This week has been excellent! Elder Gallegos and I shattered my personal mission record for lessons (56), new investigators (23), and new baptismal dates (3). We were hoping to have more people at church/with baptismal dates, but that's the mission life. People tell you "primero Dios, voy a la iglesia (God first, I'm going to church)" and then they have a work commitment and put God second. I'm really trying to not lose faith in the people of Mexico, but it's really hard when you have 15 people tell you they're going to go to church, and there are 2 of them actually there. Hopefully as we consistently mention the importance of going to church, people might make the connection that it's something important.
I feel like as the year moves further from the heart of summer, the hotter it gets outside. I've felt so gross in this past week as we've been running around everywhere sweating like swine. I won't even get into the way my shirts look at the end of the day. I'll just say I had quite a bit to wash today.
One thing President Egbert has had us focus on this past week has been our personal studies in the mornings. Instead of simply reading a bit in the Book of Mormon for an hour and calling it good, I've been working on reading and studying a lot more. I began studying the book True to the Faith, which is pretty much a dictionary of the basics of the gospel. It contains rather basic doctrine, but I'm actually learning quite a bit from it. I started only this past week, so I got to the Atonement rather quickly. I'll just say that my goodness, there's some good stuff in there about the Atonement. It has always been one of my favorite topics to study, and I spent 3 days studying it in True to the Faith. Scripture reference after scripture reference diligently searching for any and every tidbit of information I could find about the Atonement. I felt like I was doing the quick version of the way Elder Bednar told us to study the Atonement, but I was still learning a lot. To summarize everything in the few brief sentences I have time for, the Atonement is absolutely amazing. It is infinite in more ways than we can imagine. It affects everything in every place and every time, and we can apply it to every aspect of our lives to make ourselves better and continue on the journey to perfection. It is only through Jesus Christ that we may be made better, and in the last day, be made perfect even as He is. I could go on for days about the miracle and blessing it is to know that Christ is my savior and redeemer, but I will simply recommend Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet" from conference this past April. Absolutely incredible. And with that, iré y haré.
Elder Mitchell Mark Groesbeck
Wow, what a week! I'll start from the beginning: Monday night, I slept hardly at all. I felt like someone had my head in a clamp and was slowly boring holes in my skull. My body felt cold and hot at the same time, so really I just couldn't be comfortable. Tuesday came, and I couldn't leave my bed. My head already hurt, but when I tried to sit up, I just about passed out. I thought maybe it was just a migraine of sorts (I had never experienced anything even remotely similar in my life), so I took some tylenol and hoped for the best. To make a long story short, I had lots of diahrea and was throwing up anything I tried to put down. Fortunately the migraine faded, but all of the other symptoms persisted.
Tuesday night, I woke up about 7 times needed to go to the bathroom (I will not explain details on that). On time number 6, I was SUPER thirsty, so I drank a glass of water. Bad idea. 30 seconds later, it came right back up. Tons of water and stomach acid. Very uncomfortable. *shudder*
Wednesday I went to the doctor, and she basically said, "Well. You're sick. Here's some medicine and a nasty powder stuff we give to babies when they can't stop throwing up." Thanks, doc. I just have to say, poor babies. The powder stuff is call Suero, and it only made me throw up more because it is NASTY! I figured it wasn't worth it and stuck to regular medicines and time.
Wednesday afternoon, I still wasn't feeling up to work, but we didn't want to go 2 days in a row without being able to visit people. So we called some members to take care of me, and Elder Gallegos went out with their son. For those of you who don't know, this is a VERY risky move for someone who has about a week in the mission field, but Elder Gallegos was up to the challenge... and he totally nailed it. He found 4 new investigators, invited all of them to baptism, and got 9 lessons without me. Yep. He doesn't even need me anymore.
Anyways, I'm doing much better now, and we even had a baptism this past weekend. His name is Lauro, and he was SO prepared to receive the gospel. His family is (almost) all recent converts, and when I got here, I found out about him. Elder Niro and I talked to him, put a date on him, and here we are. The change in him has been insane in this past month, and during his baptism and confirmation, he was crying. He could hardly get up from his chair after the bishop confirmed him and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost. He came up to us after Gospel Principles class and said, "I didn't even know it was possible to have such happiness inside of me all at the same time." And boom goes the dynamite. Now all we have to do is work with his son Fernando, and we'll have the whole family ready to be sealed in the temple. That was the other thing Elder Gallegos did without me: he had a super powerful lesson with Fernando (who's had a problem with alcohol and cigarrettes) and got him to commit to the date for September 12th. His attitude has changed completely, and he really wants to do this now. He's on his way, and that family is going to be eternal if it's the last thing I do!
I've also started studying in the missionary library (I have no idea why I didn't do that before), starting with True to the Faith. I didn't know this before, but it's basically a really awesome dictionary of gospel terms. The thing is, they're the basics of religion, but at the same time, they have some pretty profound stuff in their definitions. I'm in the middle of reading about the Atonement right now (it's a bit of a long definition), but I'm studying it, not just reading it. I'm diving into the scripture references it gives and everything. It really helps to understand exactly what the Atonement is and what it does to get us to salvation. I recommend it to anyone and everyone!
And that's really all I have time for today. We're just going to keep on going strong out here in Presas and see what miracles we find this week.
Iré y haré,
Well this week has certainly been an interesting one. Started with the changes meeting, I got to see a lot of my old missionary buddies that are still down in Pachuca; Elder Gonzalez (my first son) had changes finally, and he told me that there really isn't anything going right back in Valle Dorado. 2 of my 4 recent converts aren't active, and they have absolutely no one else that even looks remotely promising. When I left, they started getting like 28-is lessons every week (as opposed to Elder Gonzalez's and my 40 per week). It's sad to hear that it isn't going well back there, but it really doesn't surprise me. I feel like we just need to take the missionaries out of Valle Dorado for like a year and let the members realize that they need us. Anyways, that's my rant for the week.
In the actual meeting of the changes meeting, President Egbert began announcing the trainers. One by one they all came up, and at the end, he said, "He already did it once, but I feel like he needs more practice; Elder Groesbeck is going to train," and then gave a nice President Egbert chuckle.
I was soon assigned to my new companion. His name is Elder Gallegos from Oaxaca, Mexico, and he is the most anxious and excited little bugger I've ever met. I feel like he's Elder Calhoun from the Best Two Years, but even more (because I'm not lazy and disobedient). He speaks Sapoteco (some other language that almost no one speaks here in Mexico), and he knows how to solve a Rubik's Cube (he's been teaching me at night, and I'm getting pretty darn close). He's an extremely hard worker, but it does get on my nerves a bit when he tries to correct me in how we use our time when he has zero experience in the mission.
"Elder, we just wasted an hour with Lauro that we could have spent contacting or teaching!"
"...We were planning his baptism for next week... I think that's a little more important..." And that is literally the ONLY thing moderately bad I can say about him.
One thing that is absolutely awesome is that he LOVES to contact. That's been the hardest thing in the world for me to do due to my introverted-ness, but he's not afraid to go up to anyone and be the most awkward person in the world when he says, "hey, we're missionaries!" and then looks at me because he doesn't know what to say next. It's actually really funny, and super awesome. I can talk to people, but I hate being awkward to start the conversation. Therefore, I'll let him go ahead and do the awkward part and slowly teach him the rest so we can switch places. Due to his expert conversation-starting skills, we were able to get quite a few new investigators this past week, and I set a new mission record with 53 lessons. I'll say that's pretty much the best way you can start your mission; my first week, I think Elder Hixon and I had like 21 lessons or something utterly small of the sorts.
If it's one thing I've really come to learn this past week, it's that there's always something new to learn from any companion, even when they only have a week in the mission. I expect/hope that slowly but surely we'll get used to each other, and everything will go smoothly. He's a great missionary, and we'll be working hard to keep up the good work.
One thing I've really been working on in this past week is improving upon my personal study time. Sometimes I feel like I'm simply reading the scriptures just to read them, but I've been taking the time recently to really study them. I mentioned last week about El Día de la Defensa (the day of the defense) which is the story of two missionaries in the US who went up against a panel of a variety of religious leaders attempting to attack our beliefs using the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctirne and Covenants, etc trying to prove that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. The two missionaries take every question thrown at them and use the Bible to prove every belief we have. Considering the fact that knowing the Bible is the key to survival as a missionary here in Mexico, it's been helping me out a LOT. I've not only been able to read the scriptures, but I'm able to read them, discern what they say, and relate them to other scriptures to answer any seemingly difficult question someone can ask. My studies have really improved over the course of these past two weeks or so, and I can tell it will help me out a lot in the future.
Well, that's all I've got for this week. It's still hot, the mission is still hard, and I still love it.
Iré y haré,
Elder Mitchell Mark Groesbeck
I feel like quite a bit has happened in this past week, and I'm not entirely sure if I can say it all. For starters, I had a pretty nasty fall on my bike like an hour ago (on the way to the internet cafe), and may I just say I'm SUPER glad I took stage combat back in High School. They taught me how to fall and my goodness have I put that into action. The only thing that happened with my nasty fall was that I got covered in dust and a little shook up. I think my ankle may be a little beat up, but I don't want to take my shoe/sock off to find out... But yeah, stage combat. If you've never taken it, you should look into it. You can fall any way you want and know how to not get hurt! :D
Another thing I've really been trying to focus on is the quality of my studies in the mornings. I've been trying to study anything and everything I possibly can to be ready for anything that comes my way. After reading chapters in the Book of Mormon, I think about the people who can use the things contained in said chapters. When I read the Liahona, I think of people with whom I can share the stories and talks with. I've also been reading something Elder Niro showed me called El Día de la Defensa (The Day of the Defense) about two missionaries in front of a panel of religious leaders answering any and every question/doubt they can throw out there. It really is quite awesome the way these two missionaries answer their questions, and I recommend anyone, whether member of the church or not, to read the Day of the Defense and ponder the things that it says. It's about 63 or so pages long, but it gives scriptural evidence in the Bible of every last one of our beliefs/teachings. From the few pages I've read, it literally leaves no room for doubt. It isn't necessarily the best way to obtain a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but it's certainly a way to strengthen it and answer a wide variety of questions anyone may have.
I also had the wonderful opportunity this past week to do interchanges with our zone leaders. Elder Galo (one of our ZLs) was here in Presas about a year ago. so he most definitely wanted to come down here with me. It was one of the best days that I've had here in the mission field. Elder Galo has such an amazing level of spirituality, the likes of which I have seen in VERY few people on this planet. He knows how to teach and testify, as well as adapt said teachings based on the needs of the people listening. We had a lesson with a recent convert family whose father (Lauro) is going to be baptized next week. Lauro wanted to offer the first prayer, and he could hardly finish it because he began to cry. Following that powerful prayer, Elder Galo and I ditched everything we had planned on teaching and taught about the incredible power the Spirit can and should have in our lives, and everybody was crying in that lesson. Elder Galo was actually the one who started teaching their family a year ago, and they're so close to having every member of their family baptized. We now only need to work with their son Fernando who has a bit of a problem with alcohol. We'll see what we/the Lord can do.
Elder Galo also gave me some gossip directly from Sister Egbert. She told him that President wants me to train again here in Presas. I wasn't sure if I believed him because I thought I'd kill Elder Niro when he finished his mission after this next cycle. However, about 2 hours ago, we received the call to tell us the changes, and Elder Niro has changes. I don't know for sure if I'll be training, but I'll find out tomorrow.
Elder Galo helped me to realize that I not only can but I need to have a higher level of spirituality if I hope to be able to touch the hearts and changes the lives of the people down here in Mexico. I don't know exactly how I'll acquire such a spirituality, but I have decided to make it my goal to obtain the highest level I possibly can while out here in the mission field for the next 17 months. It probably won't be the easiest thing I've ever done (it will actually probably be the hardest), but I know that with the Lord on my side, I can do it.
Iré y haré,
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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 :)