October 13, 2014
President told me where I was going in an email last preparation day after I had sent you the big email, but I decided to hold out and tell you this week! I'm serving in Montrose, Colorado. In fact, I'm emailing at the same computers I used when I was serving in Gunnison!
The name of the Spanish branch here is San Juan. It's a pretty (really) small branch. There are about 8 or 9 active families, and usually about 30 people in attendance at sacrament meeting. And the kicker-- most of them are white. Haha! The branch was started a few years ago by the current Stake President, and there were more Hispanic families then. Recently, quite a few active families have moved out of the branch. So we're left with one or two families who speak very little English, and the rest are in the branch by assignment. Most of the white people in the branch speak Spanish from their missions, but there are a few who don't speak it at all! Anyway, there's a lot of talk about "building" the branch. We definitely need to get some Hispanic converts!
Oh boy, I almost forgot! "We" includes me and Elder Smith, my new companion! He has been in the branch and in the field for 12 weeks now, after 6 weeks at the Mexico MTC. His trainer was a native Spanish speaker, so he hasn't gotten quite as much practice as he would like speaking the language. We're both learning. He's from Rancho Cucamonga, California, and he just graduated from high school in May.
There are four companionships besides us in the District, and in the past I've been the District Leader of one person in every companionship! Small mission.
On my fist night in the branch we went and visited a potential investigator named Pablo. He has a wife, Gloria, and two little children, Yanneira (6) and David (4). David doesn't speak any English whatsoever, but he loves to talk, and he's pretty much the cutest little Hispanic person ever. I'll talk more about him later. So in the first lesson, we only taught Pablo. We taught him about the message of the Restoration, and it went really well. He accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and set a return appointment. The day before the return appointment we stopped by at about 8 p.m. to make sure he was still planning on having us over. David answered the door of the trailer and explained in flawless Spanish that they were just going out to get hamburguesas. He was all decked out in his beanie and jacket because, as he explained, "Vamos a caminar porque no tenemos un carrrro. Vean?" And he pointed at nothing, thus proving to us his statement that they, in fact, did not have a car. At our return appointment, we talked with Yanneira and David for a few minutes while Pablo was doing something else. Elder Smith found a paper with stickers that Yanneira had made in school. One of the pictures was of a dog in a firefighter suit. He pointed at it and said, "Es un pedrdro?" Elder Smith can't roll his Rs. Yanneira corrected him, and he tried to say it again, to no avail. Then David, walking over to him, said, "Repite por mi: Pe-" Elder Smith repeated, "Pe-" David: "Rrrrrrrr" Elder Smith: "drdrdrdr" And hysterical laughter from both kids. That was pretty funny. Then we taught Pablo and Gloria the Restoration again, and set a return appointment, which we are determined to go to with a member of the branch so that we can adequately understand their concerns. That can sometimes be a challenge for us.
On Wednesday night, we had a great lesson with our investigator Alejandro and his wife Chelsea. They are married and have a young daughter named Anaya. Chelsea is a member of the Church, but has been less-active for about 10 years. She speaks no Spanish, and Alejandro speaks no English. I don't know how they've made that situation work for the past six years or so, but somehow they do! Anyway, Alejandro will be baptized some time in November, just as soon as he makes it out to church three times! Chelsea is expecting a baby today, a scheduled induction, so we gave her a blessing of comfort last night. They love the gospel so much, and they're so ready to work towards being sealed in the temple, which is an invitation we extended to them last night.
Thursday was just dandy as well. We had a good zone meeting, which I did not prepare (that was kind of cool). Then, President and Sister Murdock made their stop in Montrose to show us "Meet the Mormons!" It was a great movie. I definitely recommend it. My eyes hurt afterward, though. I think it's because I'm not used to looking at one thing for that long. I hadn't seen a movie in a really long time. After the movie, President and Sister Murdock trained us a little on the new "Adjusting to Missionary Life" booklets the Church has provided us, and then rocked our world with a sweet announcement of momentous magnitude! President wants us to all learn the doctrine of the gospel and the principles of missionary work more fully. He provided us with a study schedule for Preach My Gospel for the transfer, covering chapters One and Three, "What is My Purpose as a Missionary?" and "What Do I Study and Teach?" The course is rigorous. He wants us to study every single scripture outlined in the scripture study boxes, and to do every study activity suggested. He told us we should still be reading the Book of Mormon for at least 30 minutes of our personal study. Then he asked us, "Do you think the other half hour is enough time to do this Preach My Gospel study?" Most of us nodded our heads. Then he said, "Well we don't. So, I don't know of any other mission that's doing this, but you are all going to take an extra hour of study from 10:00 to 11:00 to do this study program." Wham! That's pretty big news! As a Spanish missionary, I already take an extra hour to study Spanish. I now have FOUR HOURS of study time in the morning. We break it up with lunch at about 11:00. But I LOVE it! I feel like I've been depriving myself of the privilege of owning Preach My Gospel. With this time set aside and dedicated to it, I am learning TONS and becoming way more converted to my purpose.
As always, I invite and encourage you all to study the gospel every day. Read the scriptures! The Lord will bless you. I know the Church is true, and I love the gospel and my Savior. It's kind of challenging, teaching in Spanish, but the Lord will continue to help me. He has helped me this far! I love you all, and hope you have a great week! Remember to be excellent to each other.
A Thought from Mom:
"We too can have the Spirit and share it with the world as we walk the path of the Savior and follow His perfect example." Thomas S. Monson