Saturday, November 22, 2014

Letter 52: Takis Yoga

Life as a secretary is a fast paced life.

Elder Webster and I had divisions with the missionaries in Ejido Benito Juarez on Monday. Elder Webster went to Benito Juarez and I stayed in Ciudad Juarez. I got to work with Elder Trejo. Elder Trejo has about 9 months in the field and is from Tequisquiapan, Queretaro...Or Tequis for short. (or, as I like to call it, Takis) He is also a total yogi. During our morning workout he just started doing all this crazy yoga stuff. Apparaently, yoga is a HUGE thing in his lil town, and it's what all the cool kids do. Elder Trejo is working in the Benito Juarez area right now, and since it is so far away from the rest of the mission (it is actually the last pueblito within the mission limits), he was pretty excited to be back in the City. 

We had a pretty cool experience teaching a less active family in the ward. Elder Trejo and I gave them a lesson on fortifying their testimonies through Jesus Christ. At the end of the lesson, we asked them for a reference (of course). And then, something amazing happened. It turns out that the Brother actually had non-member relatives living in....Ejido Benito Juarez! Elder Trejo couldn't believe it! They hadn't recieved a reference in FOREVER, and now, the Lord had put us right where he needed us.

Thursday we took a lilttle trip down to Janos, Chihuahua for some immigration stuff. It looked like another routine trip for Elder Velazquez & Webster. When we got out, the whole town went on strike and blocked off the main highway that leads to Ciudad Juarez. Apparrently they went on strike because of gas prices, and they were blocking off access to Ciudad Juarez. Needless to say, Elder Webster, Thorpe, Alba, and I were stuck in Janos. We (miracolously) got a ride to Casas Grandes, Chihuahua (the closest town to Janos) and then waited until about 4 PM for the roadblock manifestation to finish. We took a late bus back to Juarez, and arrived at around 8:30 back in the City. 

And that brings us to today.

Today we got a call from President telling us that a shipment of Flu vaccines are coming in today. He told us to come to the office and wait for them to arrive, so we have been wating ever since for them to get here.

Hasta luego familia 

Elder Velazquez
Kitty Kadavers (we found these in a house we were looking to rent)

Brownies and Ice Cream part I

Southpole XXL (a gift from our convert, Luz Elena)

 Hipsta Vision

Elder Trejo and I

Motörhead Cheeks

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Letter 51: Trunky...Psych!

Hello Familia!

We kicked off the week with our monthly Zone Reunion. If you guys want to know what goes on in a Zone Reunion, here's the link to the presentation I made:

Tuesday was travel day. Elder Webster and I headed down to Janos, Chihuahua to wrap up some immigration paperwork. 

Wednesday was a super busy day! We had to help 4 missionaries with some inter-cycle changes. We dropped off a missionary at the airport, and then picked up some sisters who were also being changed from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua to Ciudad Juarez. Inter-cycle changes are kinds common. They usually occur when there is companionship problems, a missionary is sick, or whatnot. Aside from that, we had to go check out and make a contract for a new house for some sister missionaries. I have been getting real good with making and settling contracts lately. If my whole computer engineering/ IT career doesn't work out, I think I'd make a good real estate attorney.

Wednesday was also my 1 year anniversary

I don't feel like time has made me distant. If anything, it has brought me closer to all of you dearest family, and especially to the Lord, my Saviour. I don't feel sad, I don't feel down. I feel happy and with an unexplicable amount of placidity and stillness. I am right were the Lord needs me to be, and I couldn't be happier. 

I am super happy, and I wish time time went by this fast back in High School! 

I love you all!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Letter 50: The 5th Fernando

Hello familia

Lately, Elder Webster and I have been doing house inspections for some of the missionaries here in Juarez. We have seen some of the craziest houses, but they all have one thing in common...They all kinda smell like stale farts and concrete. We have been checking to make sure they all have blankets and that their houses are ready for the long awaited winter. Things are starting to get cool over here in Juarez, but not as cool as the experiences we've been having with our investigators lately.

For the past few weeks we have been teaching some relatives of a member in our ward, Fernando Garcia. We have been preaching to his Uncle, Juan, and his dad, whose name is also Fernando. Quick tangent: This is the 5th Fernando we have taught here in the ward (Fernando Rodriguez, Edgar Fernando, Fernando Soto, and Alberto Fernando) and so far 3 of them have gotten baptized. Fernando Sr. Garcia is a very humble, quiet, and simple man who has known about the Church since he married his first wife 35 years ago. He has never had a single ounce of interest...until NOW! He's been coming to church every week since General Conference, and has been making significant progress. His brother, Juan, has also been listening to our message, and has accepted a baptismal date for the 22nd.

We had an awesome Mission Leadership Council with President Derbez this week! Part 1 of the Council kicked off on Thursday night. We did some exercises and ran laps around the chapel. Then, President Reyes (President Derbez's 1st Councilor) addressed us, and talked to us about the importance of establishing confidence with our investigators. On Friday, the meeting continued as we talked about the importance of the Book Of Mormon, and how it truly is the best tool we have for conversion. 

Elder Webster and Elder Birchett went to Casas Grandes, Chihuahua to help out with a meeting that they are having with all of the missionaries over there, so Elder Allen and I have been chilling together for the last 2 days here in Pradera.

Time is going and it doesn't come back. Everyday seems to go by faster than the last!

Love you all chavalos

Elder Velazquez

 Elder Webster Birthday Bash (Luz Elena, Hna. Ostos, Hna Jimenez, Webster, Me)

 Back to the Pop Era

Hermano Fernando Garcia Jr. on his sweet Bike

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Letter 49

Because Juarez is a Border state, daylight savings time doesn't end until tomorrow. That means that this whole last week, half of the mission was an hour ahead, and the other half actually got to fall back into the new time schedule. This has caused some pretty crazy confusion.

We had 18 new missionaries arrive on Monday. We did all of the usual meetings with the new missionaries on Monday, and ran around getting everything ready for Tuesday. We started the transfers at around 7 am and ended at around 2 pm. As you all know, I am in charge of making sure everyone arrives at the Mission Offices and departs to their new areas. This cycle's changes weren't too bad, and everything went (for the most part) according to plan.

President Derbez reunited all of the missionaries serving in Juarez on Friday for a special reunion. The meeting started at 10 am and ended at 5 pm. In the meeting President Derbez addressed some important points on safety, health, self-reliance, and a special Christmas program we are having in December (more on that later). We also got a speciel visit from the mission doctor, Elder Payan. He is the assigned doctor/specialist for many missions here in the North.

We had a great experience with our recent convert, Luz Elena this last week. During the Ward night on Thursday, We had some of our recent converts come to the church to set up their Familysearch account. As we helped these new members get started on their family history, we explained to them of its importance and the blessings it would bring to them as they discovered their ancestors. We all got hooked on Family History! Working on your geneology is actually pretty addicting! Later that night we got a call from Luz Elena. She was so happy and excited about all she had learned doing her Family History, that she over to her friends house after the activity and talked to her friend about the joy she felt in the Church, then she had her friend (Lupe) call us and set an appointment for us to visit her! Lupe, was so amazed to see Luz Elena so happy that she wanted to have the same happiness she saw in Luz. Lupe told us that she was eager to come to our Church on Sunday and see what it is all about! 

Everyone have a great week

Elder Velazquez
 Institute Fame
The Stewarts

President Derbez "capacitating" (that's not a real word)

President Derbez "capacitating" (that's not a real word)

All the Zone Leaders in Ciudad Juarez

 The Other Secretaries (Elder Birchett and Allen)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Letter 48: While the Cat's Away, The Mice Will...Keep Working

Hola Familia,

President Derbez had to step out this week for a Mission President Meeting they had in Puebla, he gets back later today, just in time for the cycle transfers on Monday. We have been getting everything ready for the new cycle this past week and its been...crazy. I have to come to notice that I always describe everything as crazy, and I am sorry for my lack of adjectives, but it really is always crazy around the office. A good kind of crazy.

On Monday and Tuesday I had to finalize contracts for the new houses opening up in the mission. Elder Webster went and bought all the new materials for the new houses (electronic stoves, fridges, beds, etc.) 

Wednsday was travel day for Elder Webster and I. Elder Webster had to go to Ascencion, Chihuahua to get the house prepped for the new missionaries. Ascencion is about 2 hours away from the city, and everyone calls it "La Chona". In Spanish the nickname for everyone named "Concepcion" is sometimes Chon, and since Ascencion sorta sounds like Concepcion, everyone just calls it "La Chona". I hope that made sense to all of you. Anyway, as we were getting everything planned to leave, the missionaries in Benito Juarez call us and tell us that they need a baptismal interview for their investigator. Since Elder Webster had to travel to La Chona, and I had to travel to Benito (which is clear on the other side of the desert), we had to banana split. Elder Allen (the financial secretary) accompanied Elder Webster, and Elder Birchett (the Referral Secretary) came along with me to Benito.

Upon arriving to Benito, we headed to the little house of prayer to meet the potential new member.

After the interview, we headed back to Elder Chigüila and Elder Santoscoy's house to bunk. When we arrived, we opened the door and a couple mice scurried through the kitchen and the aroma of sweaty missionary filled the room. There was no extra blankets or anything really so  we decided to stay at a little hotel nearby...Four Seasons At Ejido Benito Juarez. (see pictures). It was no Buckingham Palace, but it was good enough.

We returned to Ciudad Juarez on Thursday and continued preparing for the changes.

This week we met a new investigator, Claudia and her daughter, Fernanda. Claudia is a single mom who owns a beauty parlor nearby. She was a reference from our recent convert, Luz Elena. I just realized that for some reason, we have been finding and teaching a lot of single parents lately. I really admire these investigators because of all the hard work they do to provide for their families and to hold everything together. Claudia told us that our recent convert, Luz, had really sparked her interest in the Church, and that she wanted to feel the peace that she saw in Luz. As we taught her, she expressed to us that she really felt the need to draw closer to God, and to set an example for her young daughter. 

That's all the time I have for now, sorry my letter was so late!

Elder Velazquez
Hotel Moreno

 Classy floor design

 Elder Birchett Chillin'

 Visa Renovation Trip

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Letter 47


These last few months a big focus we have had in the mission has been being of good cheer (ánimo). We had our Zone Reunion on Monday, and this was the main focus. We told the missionaries that everything they do, they have to do it with ánimo. Our goal was to get rid of all the droopiness going around in the Zone, and basically get  everyone pumped and excited to work. A lot of times, missionaries can get a little discouraged when work starts to slow down in their areas, when they don't get along with their companions, or if something happens back home. This really does effect their work, and desanimo (discouragement) is usually contagious. A gloomy missionary can really bring down a lotta people. Thankfully, their is a cure. Work! 

On Tuesday, tragedy hit the mission, when one of the Senior Couple missionaries passed away. Sister Virginia Torres passed away. She had been serving alongside her husband, Elder Torres for about 10 months. They were the secretaries in charge of Materials and Housing. They were also our neighbors, and good friends. There was a small ceremony in Juarez with all of the secretaries and with the members of the Pradera Ward, where Elder and Sister Torres attended. They will surely be missed, and we have all been praying for Elder Torres.

Since 2 very important secretaries left, we were left with a lot of extra responsibilities and tasks. Most of the week was spent running around tying up loose ends and catching up on other secretary tasks.

Apart from all of the locura around the office, we finished getting everything ready for the baptism of Luz Elena and Alberto Ayala.

We held their baptismal service today, at around 12:00 pm. But man, getting everything ready for this baptism was crazy! We finished giving them their last lesson on Monday, and planned the week out so that they could have their interviews and so that we could have a nice little baptismal service on Saturday. Ha! As usual, everything changed the next day! Our schedule was cut a little from what happened with Sister Torres, Luz Elena's daughter gave birth, and to top it off, the Chapel building was going to be occupied Saturday afternoon for a Young Men stake Conference! Well, after much prayer, we were able to have everything fall into place just perfectly for Luz and Alberto's baptism. It was a great service, and we had a good amount of member participation. Luz and Alberto were so happy to finally get baptised! They are such an awesome couple! Luz is always super friendly; hugging and kissing everyone, people used to think she was already a member! And Alberto has been reading his Book Of Mormon like crazy and beefing up on his Gospel knowledge (plus he already kinda has the High Priest look going on).

Well, that's about all the time we have for today!

Have a great week

Elder Velazquez


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Letter 46: Borregito

Quibole familia,

Every time I go to the Border to the Immigration Office, I always turn my paperwork in to the same 3 people; Vero, Andres, and Trillo. As you can probably imagine, these people are pretty monotonous and bland, and sometimes, a little heartless (or so I thought). Well, over the last few months I've been working as secretary I've become pretty good friends with all of them. In fact, this last time I went to turn in some papers, one of them (Trillo), gave me a glass of Orange Juice and a couple brownies while we worked on the paperwork. But the coolest part came when he told me that he had finally had the missionaries over at his house a few weeks before! For the last 8 months, I've been telling him about our Church and he's finally started to investigate.

This week, we had our monthly Mission Leader Council. The meeting started on Thursday, and continued on to Friday. Well, we got a very special treat this meeting, we got to eat some very delicious barbacoa. Barbacoa is meat traditionally made out of borrego or sheep. A sheep in its first year is called a lamb; and its meat is also called lamb. Here in Juarez, people eat barbacoa made out of Cow, but President Derbez went all out and got a whole lamb. We ordered it a few weeks ago, and Elder Webster and I were in charge of picking it up and having everything ready for our luncheon. We picked up the lamb way across in the outskirts of town, and then booked it back to the meeting to have everything prepped and ready. In the end, we all enjoyed some pretty good barbacoa, and Elder Webster and I got to keep the leftovers. Sister Derbez gave us a pretty good idea of using the meat to make little taquitos and then putting them in the freezer and storing them for later, that way we would have frozen taquitos whenever we got we made like 50 taquitos and we still have meat left!

We have been really trying hard to keep all of our recent converts active in the ward. So far, they are all active, except for 1 who moved to Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara a few months ago. Our President has really emphasised on this point of the Work Of Salvation. He says that the fruits of our labor aren't when an investigator gets baptised, but when an investigator progresses in the gospel and endures. We went and visited Connie and Dasha whom we baptised 2 weeks ago. We had made a few appointments throughout the past 2 weeks with her, but they always fell through. We would stop by her house, and she would be at work. Well, we finally got a hold of her on Thursday and paid her a visit to see how she was doing as a new member of the Church. Connie expressed to us that these past few weeks had been really really tough. She no longer faced problems with her family criticizing her for becoming a member, but she was now going through very hard economic problems. She told us that she had been struggling at work, a lot of things had gone south with her personal finances, and she was now facing challenges scraping enough money to bring food to the table. Then she told us something amazing. She said that just as she was loosing all hope, she remembered to pray. After fervent prayer God heard and answered her prayers. She was able to find some extra money in an old photo album she found around her house, a fellow co-worker showed up to her house out of the blue and paid off some old debts, and a fellow friend visited her and helped her pay some bills. Small tears came to her eyes as she expressed to us how she was able to finally find peace and comfort, because she knew that The Lord really heard her pleas.

It's these types of experiences that show to me that the Gospel is so much more than just nice words about Jesus. The Gospel brings peace to the heart and comfort to the soul. It reminds us that there is a God in the heavens who actually hears us, and loves us enough to build us up through challenges and trials. 

I love you familia,

Elder Velazquez
  Lil Lamb

  President Derbez choppin up da meat

Elder Thorpe and Me kickin' it.

 Elder Thorpe had to change his name tag to Throp, because Thorpe means clutz.