In last week's email, I mentioned that I would be able to return to Mixquiahuala to attend the baptism of a sister that I helped teach.
Backstory time! I apologize for the large cluster of words, but the pictures are further down, I promise!
One evening back in Mixquiahuala, Hermana Davis and Hermana Rojas were headed home when they felt they should talk to a certain woman walking with her granddaughter in the street. The contact was made, said grandmother and granddaughter were very excited to hear the missionaries, and the appointment was set. The sisters began teaching them. They went to church and loved it, but for the weeks that followed, one event after another prevented them from going to church. I continued to hear reports on the grand desire this family had to be baptized, but due to their inability to go to church, they couldn't.
After my first cycle with Elder Morales, the ward split, our boundaries changed, and the family of Irma, Marisol, Jaquelín, and Iliana became our investigators. The sisters were right; they were incredibly receptive from the start, and despite their assurances that they would be able to go to church that Sunday, something got in the way, and they were unable to attend. When the same thing happened the following Sunday, Elder Morales and I decided that to give them that extra motivation they needed, we would drop them. Best decision ever. We passed their house almost daily heading over to teach their neighbors, but never stopping at theirs to teach them. They felt so bad that they didn't miss a Sunday after that.
You may recall Marisol and Jaquelín, the mother and daughter who were baptized while I was there with Elder Morales. Irma was unable to be baptized before due to some things she needed to work out with her marriage. She finally got everything worked out, and President Kimball gave us special permission to go back for her baptism this past weekend. When we found out at the Leadership Council, Hermana Davis and I filmed a quick video of us congratulating her for her being able to be baptized to deter her from suspecting the grand surprise.
We arrived about a half hour before the baptism was scheduled to start (a little later than we had wanted, but we figured we'd be okay). We took an alternate route to the chapel (so no one would see us), snuck inside, and hid. No one found us, and the meeting started just as planned. After the opening prayer and hymn, Elder Espinoza put on our video.
And then charged!
No tears were held back at such a glorious reunion. Everyone in the room let loose a gasp when they saw us back in that chapel again. It was an absolutely glorious reunion for everyone as I was able to see many of my converts as well as investigators Elder Espinoza and I had found who are going to be baptized in these coming weeks.
Let's see... On the left is the Aguilar Benitez Family (the purple door). To the right of me is a sister that Elder Espinoza and I found who will be baptized in 2 weeks. Irma's family follows with Lalo (one of the best young men ever) on his knees with the thumbs up. The sisters follow and then there's Guadalupe who Elder Espinoza and I also found and will be baptized this next Saturday.
We're talking about some big moments here, folks. Lives being changed by the minute.
Honestly, this week was a bit of a tough one in terms of the missionarywork in our own area here in Tecámac; we made the clean sweep and started from scratch. Being able to attend Irma's baptism, however, was an incredibly fulfilling experience that filled me with that same enthusiasm as when I started my mission. This is the Lord's work. He's at the head of it and directs us. The gospel and the church are true, as no other thing on the face of this planet could give such hope and happiness in an ever darkening world as these do. I'm a Mormon. I know it to be the only true church of God. I live it and preach it every day. And I love it more than I could ever love anything.
Iré y haré,
This week has been... well, a bit of a downer in terms of investigators. We've had various progressing investigators over the course of the past few weeks, but this past week for one reason or another, we had to drop just about all of them. But hey, that's one of the key principles of the mission: drop them with faith. So we're starting from the bottom and building up, giving us loads of time for contacting! Time to work on my street-salesman skills.
Highlight from this week: The largest airforce base in Mexico! We're teaching a less-active sister who has some pretty sweet connections down here in Tecámac, including a friend who's a military pilot in the airforce base down here. She got us hooked up with a sweet tour of the facility, and we got to see the practice run for the big air show they'll be doing on Saturday. Due to the fact that it's on Saturday, we won't be able to go to the actual show itself, but seeing the practice was pretty sweet. I got mostly video, but here are some photos I got:
Imagine being a terrorist and seeing this fleet flying towards you. I'm sorry, but you're gonna poop your pants.
These tigers were by far the coolest. They flew past about 10 times just showing off their raw power, velocity, and triple barrel rolls.
We also got to go into the museum, and the general that let us in (it's not usually open on Mondays) told us it's the only air force museum like it in Mexico, and it's the only one where they'll let you go inside some of the planes and helicopters.
"enjoy this little taco"
They then took us to check out some of the simulators they've been working on. They were going to let us try one of them out, but the super cool one is still in testing, and the less-cool one wasn't plugged in or hooked up right or something. I dunno, I was just disappointed that we couldn't try it out. Sorry, I didn't get any photos of us with the simulators.
Us with Alex and Irving. We're pretty sure Alex is a less-active member (he never actually told us if he was a member or not, but he knows a decent deal about the church), and Irving was very interested in our message when we started talking to him about it; lots of good questions, and asked where the chapel was. We'll see what happens there.
And that's pretty much it for this week. This coming Saturday, President Kimball gave me special permission to go back to Mixquiahuala for the baptism of a sister who I helped teach; it's going to be a complete surprise for her (and everyone), so I'm sure it will be an experience worth writing about next week.
Iré y haré,
I must begin my email by saying that the Book of Mormon is true. The most true. Like, seriously, there is no better book on the face of this earth. I need to start with that for what we did last Monday right after I wrote my email to everyone.
Here within the limits of our mission (and within the limits of our very own zone) there's an ancient archeological sight called Teotihuacán. It's a pretty popular place for our mission, other missions (even though they technically shouldn't be allowed to visit it), and people from all over the world. Last Monday, Elder Mena and I had the grand opportunity to visit it. First things first, we climbed the Sun Pyramid. Here's us at the bottom:
And here's us at the top:
...and here's our ward mission leader... Oh, Arturo
While there at the top, a young man came up to us and asked us where we were from (we were in missionary clothes, so we stuck out a bit). We started a conversation and found that he's a member of the church, but his parents aren't. He called them over, we contacted them, and we took down their address to send to the missionaries where they live. We can officially say that we contacted someone on top of the Sun Pyramid of Teotihuacán. #likeaboss
After coming down from the Sun Pyramid, we took the tour that they give according to the Book of Mormon. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so full of pure meat of the gospel that I didn't even know what to do with myself. They showed us the symbolism used to represent Quetzalcoatl before and after the coming of Christ and how after He had shown himself to the Nephites, their representations of Him were far more humanized (because they knew He was human). It also showed a variety of the things the Lamanites did when they took over in the apostacy in the Americas. I simply cannot explain everything, so you can come down and see it for yourself. Don't worry, Lorenzo also gives the tour in English... I think... If not, I'll translate. Just be prepared to have your entire universe explode by all the symbolism of the gospel. It's awesome.
Oh, the changes also came in. Elder Mena and I were the only two in our entire zone who didn't have changes. We'll definitely be taking our investigators sometime this next cycle. I officially only have 3 cycles left (about 4 months), but I don't want it to end! Lots to do and the time to do it is quickly running out!
Iré y haré... ¡ahora!
This week was pretty darn neat for a variety of reasons. The first was (as the subject line indicates) Operation #Weareone. We've had some missionaries who have been pretty down on themselves lately due to the lack of success they had been having in their area. One was so depressed he was going to return home. As Zone Leaders, the LAST thing we want is for someone in our zone to go home, so last Sunday, Elder Mena and I together with our ward mission leader set out to think up an extremely crazy plan to build their enthusiasm and keep them going. We came up with Operación Todos Somos Uno which quickly converted into the ACME named #Weareone due to the english abilities of everyone in the mission. It was crazy and we needed to plan a LOT, but we figured we could pull it off. The plan was simply elegant and elegantly simple: the entire zone for an entire day would work in the area of those two Elders talking in the streets, knocking doors, teaching lessons, finding references, whatever in the heck they wanted to do to get some work going in their area. At the end of the day, we would all get together and hand everything we had done to them so they could pick up wherever we left off with the people we had found. We immediately sent a text message to President Kimball asking permission to do it. He responded simply enough: "Elders, I love every aspect of this plan. You have my full support, and I'll give you some time in Leadership Council to present it to the other Zone Leaders."
Wednesday we got started planning the details. We got together with our ward mission leader and the other two Elders for about 3 hours that afternoon.
We created a PowerPoint to present the idea and give a quick training of how we would do it, and we divided their entire area up into 11 sections with lists of ward members. We even shuffled up the companionships so everyone would be working with someone new. On Thursday we put the wheels in motion and set out to work.
We finished that evening, and everyone arrived at our meeting spot super excited talking about everything they had been able to do; all of the contacts they had made, the baptismal invitations they had extended, the references received, etc. They handed everything to the Elders, and we all headed home. Oh my goodness, did this activity make a world of a difference. Not only did those two Elders become far more excited and enthusiastic about the work in their area, but our entire zone caught some of that same enthusiasm for their own areas. Needless to say, 'twas amazing.
Reason number two for why this week was great:
Hello my dearest friends and family,
My letter for this week is short, sweet, and to the point. The Book of Mormon is true. I know it, and I share it every single day here in the mission field. For those who haven't read the Book of Mormon, get your hands on one, read it, and pray about it asking God if it's true. For those who have read it but feel they don't quite have a testimony of it, keep praying. For those who have read it and have a testimony of it, keep praying; your testimony will be strengthened.
Last week Elder Mena and I found a talk by Elder Holland from back in 2009 called Safety for the Soul containing his ever-powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. Best 16 minutes ever, seriously. To my friends on missions who may not have 16 minutes to spare in your limited internet time, download it to a USB or something and listen to it. It's intense and will enrich your testimonies.
That's all for this week (like I said, short and sweet).
Iré y haré,
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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 :)