Saturday, March 29, 2014

(mini) Letter 18

Well, this is the last week in yet another cycle here in the mission. Next week, I will be on my third cycle! Well, this week I don't have much time to write, but it's worth it. We have a baptism in about an hour and a half, and we're super excited! Maria Rosa Rodriguez is getting baptised today! Just to refresh your memories, she is an investigators mom (Fernando), she is 93 years old, and she was a tough nut to crack! She was super catholic, and did not like us at all! Well, the Spirit touched her, and now she is getting baptised! Elder Webster and I will both be baptising her because she is very old and weak. It's very exciting, and we are so amazed that she is getting baptised.

Aside from preparing her this week, we have also been teaching a new family. Their name is the Pastor family (mmm tacos al pastor), and they are a part member family. The father, Carlos, is a less active member, but he wants to come back to the church, and this time, bring his family with him. His wife and 2 daughters have been very receptive, and we feel so blessed to have met them.

Right now, we just attended the baptism of a young kid in our ward (he just turned 8). We got a few refrences from his non-member family, and they invited us to eat. Hey, we never turn down a free meal.

Thanks for your letters (especially mom), I am excited to hear that Jon and Tadder and Jannette are serving missions soon! 

Take care everyone, and I'll send pictures soon.

Elder Velazquez

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letter 17

Hello familia,
This week I ate way too much. The food here in Juarez is a little different than the food back in Mexico City. I miss eating tacos al pastor, but I don't think I could live without Mennonite cheese and these handmade flour tortillas. I went to Janos, Chihuahua this week, and a member who lives around there bought us a bunch of Mennonite cheese and tortillas. Mennonite cheese is like no other. It´s called Mennonite cheese because it's made by...Mennonites. Mennonites are a group of christian people who live here in Chihuahua. They are of German descent (most of them only speak German and Spanish) and look like Amish white farmers. They have a BUNCH of land here in Chihuahua, because they also colonized here in Chihuahua after religious persecution (just like the Mormons). A lot of people think that some of the American missionaries are Mennonites because they kind of look like them too. It's a little weird because you'll walk into these little towns and you'll see all kinds of people; American Mormons, Mennonites, Missionaries, Tarahumaras (the indigenous Indians of this state), Mexican Cowboys, Lebarones (polygamist) and then just regular Mexican people. It's pretty funny stuff
This week, we started teaching a new investigator. His name is Jose Sierra. Jose is about 60 years old and is struggling with alcoholism. He is a very smart man, and has expressed to us how he wants to change. He lives with his mother (who we've also been teaching) and his sister (....who we've also been teaching) and they are very supportive. We've taught him about twice this week, and he is really starting to change. When we first met him, he was really drunk (and a little bummy). So we set a appointment with him to visit him some other time, when he hadn't been drinking. The next time we stopped by, he wasn't drunk, he had clean clothes on and he had even done his hair. We sat down with him and his family and taught lesson 1. He and his sister accepted a baptismal date! We really hope they can keep progressing, and seeing these changes the Gospel brings in their own lives.
Thanks for all of your letters family, I love reading about all of you. Have a great week!
Elder Velazquez

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Letter 16

4 months, this past week I turned 4 months old! I know I sound like every other missionary on the planet when I talk about how fast this is all going by, but once you actually live it, it's way different. 

Well, this week has been very different than the rest. My companion (Elder Webster) and I have been housing another missionary who was "hurt during battle" as our mission president stated. His name is Elder Imlay and he's from....Henderson! It was really weird talking to someone else about Vegas who was actually from there. He was in the Warm Springs stake. He has a butt infection and can't walk around too much, so he's been hanging out at the office and with the Senior Missionary couple. He stays with them all day (poor guy), and then he comes and sleeps at our apartment at night and studies with us in the morning. Elder Imlay is a pretty funny guy and it's been nice to have another person to talk to about Pokemon. I know, we're nerds.

Aside from our guest, this week was the first time I went on divisions ever. When we do a division, one of us goes to another area in the mission (within our district) and the other companion stays in the area with the other missionary (I hope that made sense). I got to go back to Central for my divisions. Elder Huffman is still over there and he came over to my area. I went over there with his companion, Elder Jolley. Elder Jolley and I are from the same generation. He's from Seattle (Wooo go Sounders!), Washington and he's been Wrestling State-Champ for 3 years. He's got that cauliflower ear, it's pretty gross to look at. He plays a bunch of soccer too, and loves the Sounders.That's the soccer team from Seattle (I had no idea) and he even played for their 18 and under Club team (that means he was pretty good). He's a funny kid, and I had a great time going back to Central to preach for a day. We visited a lot of their new investigators and even went to a part of the area I had never gone to. It's a pretty sketchy area, but we met a family of new investigators there. We were walking along and a cholo starts yelling at Elder Jolley in English. Elder Jolley turned around and said hi, and we walked over to talk to him. Pretty soon, we were surrounded by like 8 cholos. I was starting to freak out a little, they had tatoos on their faces (I'm fine with talking to people with tats, but when they have them on their faces, it's a little freaky). They were asking us a bunch of questions (mainly to Elder Jolley, because he's really white) but pretty soon, Elder Jolley and I just started doing what we do best...preachin'! They turned out to be really friendly and wanted to know more and more about Jesus! We gave them the whole first lesson in their patio, and the main cholo, Willy, told us that he wanted to get baptised. It was so awesome!

This week, we got some exciting news from an investigator we taught a while ago. His name is Daniel, he is 28 and has 3 kids (8,7, and 2 years old) he is also a single father. We met him through his nephew, Sergio, who is a priest in our ward. We visited him about 4 weeks ago with Sergio, but he didn't show much interest. He told us that he felt pretty good the way he was living his life, and had no need for we dropped him after the 2nd visit. Well, this week we got a call from Sergio and he told us that Daniel wanted to know more about the church...and wanted to bring his kids closer to God! He had told Sergio that ever since we had visited him, he felt the biggest need to go to church...but not just any church.. our church! We are having a home evening with him on Monday, and we are super excited to bring him to church tomorrow!

The Lord delivers, all we need to do is ask for his help with faith. My testimony has really grown on the power that faith has when we practice it all day, everyday. I keep seeing the Lord´s hand in everything that happens here in the mission, and back at home with all of you.

Elder Velaquez

Displaying IMG_1209.JPG
Back in Central with Elder Jolley

Displaying IMG_1212.JPG
Yours truly

Displaying IMG_1211.JPG
Elder Jolley looks like Harland Williams (from half baked) except blond.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Letter 15

Hola Family!
This week has been a week of work and sweat, and feet blisters, so basically a normal missionary week. We have been teaching our progressing investigators fervently, and are really working to have them baptized on their real baptism date and not have to move the date around. It's going to take a lot of hard work, but it's also going to take even more faith than usual.
This week I have been really learning a lot about faith, and really putting my faith to the test. The other day I was studying up on faith, when I read something that really struck me. In the bible dictionary (in the english verison) it states that "The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation." 

This week is all about faith. I hope you can all keep practicing faith.
Sorry that this letter is so incredibly short, but I am out of time...again.
Elder Velazquez.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Letter 14

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  This week was one of the happiest weeks I´ve had on the mission! Oh the joy and happiness of bringing a soul to repentance is one of the greatest I´ve experienced in these 19 years of mine. I KNOW that GOD hears and answers our prayers, this baptism stands as proof. Jonathan Roman was an investigator who we had been working with SO HARD this past month, and now all of our hard work has paid off. As I mentioned last week, Jonathan had been investigating the church for the last month and has had some hard trials, but after prayer and diligence, he chose to follow the Lord's example and be baptized. 

We had the baptism last Saturday (March 1, 2014), but I´ll get to that in a little bit. Saturday was such an amazing day. In the morning, we took 5 recent converts (Hermano Villanueva, hermano Ariza, hermana Pizarro, hermana and hermana Centeno) from our ward to the Temple here in Ciudad Juarez. We had been working with them and helping them get their family history started these last couple weeks, and now they have had the joyous experience of being baptised for their loved ones. The Ciudad Juarez temple is a beautiful temple, and I feel privileged to have been able to go. After the Temple, we rushed back to our area quickly and got everything ready for the baptism. Thankfully, the sister missionaries in our ward helped us get the font filled (it's HUGE, and it took 6 hours to fill up) so we didn't have to worry about that. The baptism started at 6 pm, and we actually had a pretty good turnout. We had about 30 members there! This was pretty amazing because the last baptism this ward had, only 6 members attended. We also had 2 of our investigators (Fernando and his mother, Maria Rosa) in attendance! The baptism was conducted by our ward mission leader, Hermano Ramirez. Jonathan was baptized by his Institute teacher, Hermano Naum Hernandez. I have to admit, at first I was a little bummed out I wasn't going to baptise because I felt that my companion and I had worked and worked and should have been baptising. Nonetheless, I was later humbled as I remembered one of my favorite scriptures, Alma 29:9; "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." I know that I was an instrument in God's hands, and I know I brought Jonathan to repentance. That is my joy! On Sunday, I had the privilege to confirm Jonathan a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, and to confirm to him the marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost. I know that the Holy Ghost will guide Jonathan, and help him continue to make righteous decisions. 

Aside from Jonathan's baptism, I had another incredible experience this week. On Friday night, Elder Webster and I decided to visit an investigator we hadn't seen in a month and invite him to Jonathan's baptism. We visited Fernando and his mom. Fernando was an investigator who was so ready for baptism, but kept postponing his baptismal date. We had already dropped him, but he told us that if there was ever a baptism, he wanted to attend. So we stopped by on Friday night and talked to him for a little while. While we were talking to him, his mom started to talk to us. This was weird, because every time we had visited Fernando in the past, his mom would usually go to bed or go off into another room. Fernando's mom (Maria Rosa) is very catholic and very old. She is also VERY hard of hearing, and doesn't read very well. But something amazing happened that night. She told us that she wanted to get closer to God! She expressed how her son, Fernando, had been reading the Liahona, and parts of the Book of Mormon to her at night, and how she loved to hear it. She said that she wanted to change, and wanted to learn more about our church. I then asked her if she wanted to get closer to Jesus Christ. She said yes! So then I asked her if she would follow his example and be baptised. She said YES! She started to cry, and told us how she really wanted to be cleansed of her sins. This was so crazy, because all this time we had been so focused on Fernando getting baptised, that we would have never imagined that his mom would actually be the one who would comprise to be baptised. They came to Jonathan's baptism on Saturday, and they loved it. Maria Rosa said that she felt something very different at the baptism, and she wants to keep coming to our church! 

I am so excited to keep working, and I am so eager to keep bringing more souls to repentence and closer to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am so happy.

Elder Velazquez

Displaying CIMG0887.JPG
Temple with (from left ro right) Me, Elder Cruz, Elder Bonilla, Elder Leifson, Elder Ellis, Elder Webster. (Elder Ellis and Cruz are the president's assistants)

Displaying CIMG0894.JPG
Jonathan Roman