I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas because I certainly did! Sister Egbert dropped off a pretty nice-sized box on the 24th with my name on it. Mom and Dad went full cylinders to make sure I had sufficient Christmas presents for myself and Elder Davis. The majority of my presents were candy, and we're gonna get so fat eating all of it; I already feel slightly sick, so I'll probably end up giving most of it away... I apologize for the creepy smile in the photo, but I was so excited!
It was also quite nice being able to talk to the family for an hour and catching back up. As I started the Skype call, the first thing I saw was... well... me, actually. I really expected nothing less, but my family had managed to take a full body picture of me and turn it into a life-size cardboard cutout. I love my family :)
So Christmas morning we went to our district class with the other misionaries, and then we set out to give some service! Our job was supposedly just paint the room of a sister's house, but she had us out front digging out a tree, moving some roofing, sanding walls, and all manner of random household chores. I figured she simply wanted to take advantage of having 6 missionaries helping her out around the house, and we weren't complaining. We were happy to help :D
And that's pretty much everything that's gone down for this week. Apparently New Years is bigger than Christmas here in Mexico, and the night of January 5th is even bigger! Christmas was crazy enough, so I guess we'll see how these next two holidays go for us.
Although Christmas has past, we should always make that extra effort to remember Christ and what He has done for us; the examply He left us, the teachings He gave us, and the Atonement He suffered for us. May the Christmas spirit in that aspect last the entire year, and may we always celebrate the fact the Christ was born, and He lives today. If we can remember that all year, every day will be like Christmas. Every day we'll be able to remember why we're here, where we're going, and what we need to be doing.
Iré y haré,
Well... This week was just about as stressul as the last one, if not more. We continued working hard and trying to find people, but there was very little yield. We found some people that seem pretty receptive, but they didn't come to church. We'll see what happens when we're able to visit them this coming week.
The worst part of this week was most definitely Saturday. Our investigator Norma has been preparing for quite some time for her baptism, but for one reason or another (stake conference, temple dedication, etc), we've had to postpone it a few times. This Saturday was finally the firm date that we were able to put. We also had our ward Christmas party later that afternoon, so we thought it was perfect; everyone could go to the baptism and then stay to set up and have the party. We got everything planned out with our ward mission leader so he could fill the font and get everything set up. When we arrived a little bit early (Norma actually got there first), we found a lot of different doors open, but Leonel nowhere in sight. We then checked the font and found it completely empty... After toying with the knobs to the font, we realized that they didn't do anything. We went into the bathroom to try using the sink, and no water came out. We walked around the building to check the sisterns, and there was almost no water inside. We even found a way to get up into the roof to check the water tanks on top, and there was nothing in there either. We had finally arrived to the day to baptise Norma, and there was no water in the chapel. At all.
I'd have to say, though, even worse than that was the fact that there were 6 people that showed up to the chapel: Norma, her daughter, her son-in-law (who aren't members), René (who was going to baptize her), Leonel, Elder Davis, and myself. Literally, not a single member of the ward showed up out of all of the people we invited. Not one. It just made it easier to tell everyone that the baptism was cancelled because no one went. We asked the first councellor about it, and he said, "yeah, no one in this ward ever goes to the baptisms." We absolutely don't want that to happen, so we went around on Sunday inviting everyone to the baptism because we need people to show up. We'll see what happens on Saturday -_-
After officially cancelling the baptism, Elder Davis and I decided to go out and contact for a bit before the activity. We were going to take a small part in a skit during the activity, so we planned to do the skit and stay for maybe an hour. They had scheduled the activity at 4, and to make a long story short, they didn't start until 6. We would have left, but the entire time they continued to say, "we're going to start right now!" "Don't worry, we'll start right now." "Yes, right now we're going to start." For two hours, we pretty much just sat there. Of course, everyone showed up to the ward activity, but no one showed up to the baptism. Then, after wasting two ours of our day, I was pretty darn ticked. I absolutely could not believe it. Needless to say, it was pretty hard to feel the Spirit after we left the chapel, and the rest of the night was pretty rough. The spirit of contention really does drive away the Spirit of the Lord, so in short, don't have the spirit of contention.
This week has already started off better, but we'll see how it goes. Iré y haré,
I don't know who stopped praying for us, but you really need to start again. This week was just plain awful... in terms of numbers anyway. Appointment after appointment fell through this week, and my new companion Elder Davis and I were left to contact for (some days) 4 hours with no success. Every door we knocked on was either not home, someone with whom we put a return appointment and wasn't home, or straight up rejected us. I found some of the rudest people I've met in my almost one year here in the mission. I must be honest, I got pretty darn frustrated. I felt like Elder Calhoun from The Best Two Years: "We knock and we knock and we knock, and door after door after door slammed in our faces. And then this one door... nothin'"
In terms of my contacting abilities, I feel like I'm a lot more comfortable contacting now; when appointments fell through, we got pretty good at just knocking on some of the doors closeby. Like I said, we didn't have any success (yet), but we keep going. We'll see what happens this week. Hopefully it's a much more successful week than the last one.
My new companion is Elder Davis from Utah. He's my second white companion (my trainer was the only other), and he's super quiet. Before Elder Grajales had changes, he was saying that there haven't been two white guys together here in Venta de Carpio like ever, and that we would probably get killed if that happened. Well... we'll see how it goes.
Obviously, we haven't been killed yet, but we thought for a minute yesterday that we were going to get mugged; we were going up the same bridged where Elder Grajales and I got mugged the last time, and this guy comes up from the side with his hands spread wide saying that he wasn't going to rob us. Pretty big red flag right there, so we kept our guard up. I didn't really understand all of the slang he was using, but I'm pretty sure he asked for 10 pesos so he could buy some drugs. I didn't really care about the purpose; I was certainly not going to give this man any money. He walked up to quiet Elder Davis first, and he had no idea how to respond to him. I told him we didn't carry money with us at night and that we needed to get going, but he held a pretty firm grip on our bikes. Elder Davis told me afterwards that he got a little bit scared, but I figured it was two against one, he didn't have any sort of weapon, and I had my bike helmet on, ready to headbutt him pretty darn hard if he tried to do anything. Fortunately, a family walked passed us and up the bridge, and figuring he couldn't make a scene with them there, let us go. I feel like I may have started a tradition of having us white folk get at least close to robbed in our first week here in Venta de Carpio.
And that's pretty much all that's happened this week. We had the Tijuana temple dedication yesterday, and I have to say that the Mexicans that live closer to the boarder are much better singers than those in the heart of Mexico. In the choir they had, there were all kinds of awesome harmonies going on, and it was really really nice to hear hymns in Spanish that weren't sung by tone deaf people. If you doubt it, come down to Mexico and go to any church meeting. Elder Hall (one of the newer missionaries) said that it sincerely scared him the first time he heard it...
And that's pretty much everything going down here in Tecamac right now. We're gonna keep working and see what happens this coming week. Iré y haré.
This week has been quite fantastic to say the least. No time for beating around the bush, so I'll get right into it.
The first week of every other month, the zone leaders go to a training called the leadership council to learn about what we need to teach our missionaries in the zone training. Normally it's held in President's house with lots of food made by Sister Egbert afterwards, but back in October, they held it in the chapel (without food) because the zone leaders needed to "elevate their vision more." Every Monday we have the chance to talk to President, and he told us that the leadership council for this month would indeed be held in the mission home, and yes, there would be food. As I silently celebrated with Elder Grajales, I casually asked what time we would finish, so as to not give the impression we were entirely focused on the food. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to be spiritually uplifted and what not, but when you get a break from all of the tortas and mole for a genuine american meal, it's pretty thrilling.
And oh my goodness, thrilling it was. The council went well; lots of notes taken, doctrine learned, and spirits uplifted, and then we entered the kitchen. Sister Egbert had whipped up a full course Thanksgiving/Christmas meal for us with turkey, mashed potatoes, STUFFING, steamed carrots, and to top it all off, apple pie. I stacked my plate high with food... twice. I left feeling so fat.
On Thursday we had the zone training, and everything went swimmingly; I thought we would run out of things to teach and just finish early, but we taught everything in the exact allotted time and even had time to sing "God Be With You 'Till We Meet Again" for Hermana Preciado who goes home after this cycle.
We then headed out on exchanges; I went out with Elder Galo, my zone leader back in Tezontepec who's now a district leader in my zone for his last two cycles. I must say, that missinary is power. We had a super successful day out in the most dangerous part of the mission: El Cerro (The Hill). There are actually quite a few receptive people up there. Elder Galo says it's because they see all the bad things that happen and feel that they really need God. I'm okay with that. While we were up there, we walked into the house of some less active members to find a completely baren Christmas tree and all of the ornaments and lights off to the side. We immediately offered to help them decorate it. To my surprise and utter delight, they agreed :D
Now, you all must understand that Mom is very particular about how a Christmas tree is to be decorated. There are layers that must be filled, beginning with the inside. "Depth, children, is the key to a good Christmas tree." That may not be a direct quote from her, but that's what I've understood throughout my years of helping her decorate it. Anyways, you have to put the some ornaments in the center, some on the outside, and some in the middle; "it's like depth, but not as much".
Before, it was somewhat of a chore having to decorate our Christmas tree, but not having had the opportunity to do so for 3-ish years, I rather missed it. I was all over that tree. Elder Galo would go to put an ornament on, and I would normally move it to a better position. Elder Galo noticed this, so he instead placed hooks on the ornaments and then handed them to me to be placed on the tree. Sorry Elder Galo... But that tree looked absolutely fantastic when we finished with it! I'm thinking of going professional.
We also started getting our own house ready for Christmas; last night I set up our little Christmas tree, and wrapped some Books of Mormon and DVDs of the Restoration to look like presents underneath.
Funny story of the week: Sister Egbert totally spoiled the changes for us last night. Normally it's pretty anxious waiting for the changes, but last night, I told Sister Egbert I would probably go to the doctor to have him check out my finger (long story; it has/had an infection). Sister Egbert was like, "All right, you'll be traveling by bus for about 3 hours tomorrow. Your companion has changes, so you'll want to help him pack tonight." You're the best, Sister Egbert ;)
So yeah, Elder Grajales has changes. This time tomorrow I'll have a new companion, and I haven't the slightest clue who it could be. I'm more worried about having to find my way around all the parts of our area; I have a really good general idea of where everything is, but there are still some recent converts that I don't even know. Ah well, we'll see how it goes. Have a merry Christmas season, everyone! Look up the video "A Savior is Born" and share it with EVERYONE!
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 :)