Saturday, April 26, 2014

Letter 22

Hello Familia!
This week was travel week for Elder Webster and I. We went to a bunch of little towns here in Chihuahua for immigration purposes. We went to Ascencion, Chihuahua on Monday and to Janos, and then we went to Casas Grandes and Colonia Dublan on Thursday. In total we traveled on a bus for about 17 hours this week! I have to admit, it was a little tiring, but the naps on the bus were really refreshing. On Tuesday we had a multi-zone meeting with our mission President. President Derbez, his wife, and his Assistants all gave different training. Sister Derbez talked to us about how we have to take care of ourselves during these times, because it is starting to get really HOT and WINDY. She also talked to us about stress and how to handle it. The assistants then trained us on new formats of analyzing mission data and whatnot. It´s really pretty amazing how much data we handle as missionaries. We have to report information about EVERYTHING we do. From visits, to lessons and contacts made, to home teaching and visiting teacher assignments and church attendance.
President than gave us inspiring words on hastening the Work Of Salvation, and really getting our numbers up. He always gets all of us missionaries pumped after the meetings (even though they last like 5 hours).
Aside from the meeting and all the trips, it was a pretty normal week. We have been teaching a few new investigators, and are setting a lot of baptismal dates. Our goal is to have 3 baptisms this next month! We had a great experience with a new investigator we are teaching, Alejandro. We contacted Alejandro in the street 2 weeks ago, and he told us that he would come to church on Sunday. Well, we tried going to his house all that week, but could not find him, but on Sunday, he went to church. We set an appointment to go visit him, and on Monday we went and taught him lesson 1 with another family in the ward. It was a great lesson, and the family (Familia Martinez) really helped us teach him! They bore testimony of the Church and were very friendly (people here in Juarez are friendlier than in the city sometimes). Elder Webster and I have set the goal that EVERY single lesson we teach with Alejandro, we will have a member present. We will not go and teach him, UNLESS there is a member there to help us out. We want to really involve the ward in the conversion of Alejandro because he is a lonely man.
Well, Juarez has some of the craziest weather ever. Last Saturday, it rained really hard, and a lot of the streets flooded (there was even hail). As we were walking home, I saw that there was a bunch of pot holes filled with water. I told Elder Webster to run, and to avoid walking next to potholes. As soon as I said that, this truck ran past us and SOAKED Elder Webster. It was pretty funny (well, at least for me). Elder Webster was pretty mad, but learned to laugh it off.
All is well in Juarez,
Elder Velazquez

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letter 21

Hola Familia!

This week Elder Webster and I have really been kicking it up a notch on our lessons and with our investigators.

We have been focusing primarily on the Atonement of Jesus Christ (this being Semana Santa and Easters and what not) and how thanks to that Atonement, we can be cleansed again through baptism. When we talk to people about the Atonement, a lot of the times they only think about His suffering on the cross. But we know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was much more than that. First, we must remember His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Gethsemane He submitted to the will of the Father and began to take upon Himself the sins of all people. Jesus Christ continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified at Calvary. Finally, He was risen from the tomb after 3 days, overcoming physical death for us. When we teach and focus on all the aspects of the Atonement, we finally start to see the grandness and the magnificence of our Savior's Atonement.

We have had a great week teaching people and helping them remember our Saviour. We had an especially exciting lesson with one of our investigators, Fernando Rodriguez. Fernando is the son of Maria who we baptised a few weeks ago. He has been investigating the Church since November (when I checked his teaching record I found out that the other missionaries had found him like 2 days before I entered the MTC). He is so close to a baptism, but all he needs is that final push. We taught him a few days ago and focused on the Atonement and on cultivating faith in Jesus Christ. Fernando is a very educated man, and wanted to know what other goals he could set himself after he is baptised. He had a sister who went inactive a few months after baptism, and he always tells us how he does not want to do this either. So he always says that he wants to be completely learned on all the aspects of the Gospel. We taught him that this knowledge would come with time. And that he would "pluck" the fruits of the Gospel with time (Alma 32:42). We then told him that we wouldn't set a baptismal date, nor would he, but we would let God show him that he is ready for baptism. We then kneeled and prayed for an answer. The Spirit was present, and we had an amazing experience with him. He knew that his time was close, and we are preparing him for a baptism on May 3rd. We have faith that Fernando will be baptised, and we will keep working to bring him that much closer to God. 

I love preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I love serving Him. 

Have a great week!.

Elder Velazquez

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They use old School Buses as public transportation

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Letter 20

Hello family, 

I wrote just a few days ago, but a lot has been going on since then. Elder Webster and I regulary have our P-day on Saturdays, and so after the craziness of the past few weeks, we're finally back to normal. 

On Monday, we had a special Zone Conference given by the President's Assistants; Elder Ellis, and Elder Cruz. Zone conference is usually given by the Zone Leaders, but this time it was a lttle different. We were instructed on setting more commitments with the people we teach. Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel, is set and focused on this theme. We were taught of the importance of really setting goals that are guided by the Spirit, and that will help each individual investigator progress. 

This week, Elder Webster and I also set a goal of making more "street contacts". We decided to put into pracice the words that Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave during the dedication talk he gave for the new MTC in Mexico. He said, that we must start talking to everyone we see in the streets, markets, bus stops, etc. So Elder Webster and I got to work, and started to "open (our) mouths and proclaim the Gospel" (D&C 71:1) to even more people. So far we've gotten 6 new investigators, and are working for more! 

Yesterday as we were walking down one of the main roads, we heard somebody honking right behind us. We didn't pay much attention, and we kept on walking. Then this blue Jeep pulled up, and a brother got out of the car and handed us a 12 pack of Dr. Peppers. It was so weird, but hey, we got our Dr. Pepper on later that night.

This week we had an intense lesson with an old investigator from the area. Her name is Maria Elena, and she is the mother of a member in our ward, Luis Dominguez. She is very catholic (surprise!) and she's pretty old. I swear, it seems like everyone we are teaching is catholic and really old! Anyway, we stopped by her house to teach one of her sons, and we invited her to listen. Maria is a tough nut to crack, and we knew this from the start. We taught a lesson on prayer, and the power it has to respond to our doubts and questions. We asked Maria Elena if she had ever actually prayed about out church, and she told us that she honestly never had. A HA! I knew it! We told her that if she really wanted to know why our Church is true, and why we are so sure about it, she had to pray. It took some time, but at the end of the lesson, she was humbled and told us that she would pray. Funny side note: she told us, "What if I pray, and God tells me that the Catholic church is true?"  We told her that she would never know if she didn't ask...and we testified to her that God would respond to her.

We are doing fine here in Juarez. We are excited to see our ward start to grow, and we have established a great relationship with our ward (Pradera Dorada). 

Everyone have a great week

Elder Velazquez

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 Zone Conference. Elder Ellis is the one sitting on the Stage, Elder Brewster and Elder Rodriguez  (our Zone Leaders) are one the left and Elder Chigüila (our District leader) and Elder Jolley are on the right.

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At the Familia Yañez´s house

Monday, April 7, 2014

Letter 19

Hola familia,

It's great to FINALLY have some time to write to everyone...sorta. This past week was change week, so, it was super crazy around the office. We recieved 13 new missionaries from the MTC. As secretaries, we have to make sure that all the missionaries have a place to stay, money, and food. Also, we have to give them a brief training about the mission. Then, I make their IDs and get all of their immigration stuff taken care of (a ton of paper work, photos, fingerprints, payments, etcetera etcetera), and on top of all of that, general conference this weekend. But before I go on about all that happened this past week, let me tell you all about the incredible experience we had at our baptism 2 Saturdays ago. Well, we baptised Maria Rosa Rodriguez who is the mom of an old investigator of ours (Fernando). She is 93 years old, if I haven't mentioned that before. Her biggest concern was that she wouldn't have the strength to go under the water, and that the water would be too cold. Her son told us that she had never been in anything deeper than her knee, and that she was a little scared about the water. We assured her that we were both going to help her and that the water would be nice and warm. That day, Elder Webster performed the ordinance, and I helped the sister in the font. I held her and slowly drew her down into the water. She had to sit on a little chair and I helped her incline. Once she came out of the water, she was the happiest person in the room. The room was filled with the Spirit. The ward was incredibly receptive, and loving towards Maria and her son. After the baptism, the Second Counselor (Hermano Miguel Martinez) brought a cake and some juice for all of us to enjoy. There were about 30 people at the baptism that day, and Maria's son was very grateful and felt so much love from the ward. As we were all eating cake, he stood up and expressed his gratitude towards us and the ward. We are so close to finally having him baptised, we can almost taste it! We are involving the ward more, and have brought the bishop to visit him, along with neighboring ward members.

Well, this week we had a lot of guests stay at our house. Elder Thorpe and Bennett stayed with us on Monday and Tuesday because they are training new missionaries. Elder Huffman and Castillo stayed with us on Wednesday for a district leader training. Elder Stewart and Aguilar stayed with us on Thursday for a Zone leader meeting, and Elder Lipscomb and Castillo stayed with us on Friday for something (I forgot). Our house is basically a hotel for everyone who has to meet with the President or the doctor. It's all fun, but I don't like it when they touch our Nutella. 

And then there came General Conference! We watched it in English at our stake center, along with a few other missionaries. I personally loved President Henry B. Eyring's talk from Priesthood Session about being Priesthood Heroes.

I hope you've all had a great conference weekend, hope to hear from you all soon.

Elder Velazquez

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Hola Familia:
Es fantástico por fin  tener algo de tiempo para escribir a todo el mundo ... La semana pasada fue la semana de cambios, por lo que, fue una locura en la oficina. Llegaron 13 nuevos misioneros de la CCM. Como secretarios, tenemos que  asegurarnos de que todos los misioneros tiengan un lugar para quedarse,  dinero y  comida. Además, tenemos que darles un breve entrenamiento sobre la misión. Entonces, yo hago sus identificaciones y toda la documentación de  inmigración c (una tonelada de papeleo, fotos, huellas digitales, pagos, etcétera, etcétera), y encima de todo eso, la conferencia general de este fin de semana. Pero antes de seguir hablando de todo lo que sucedió la semana pasada, dejenme contarles todo acerca de la increíble experiencia que tuvimos en nuestro bautismo hace 2 sábados. Bueno, bautizamos a Maria Rosa Rodríguez, quien es la madre de nuestro  investigador (Fernando). Ella tiene 93 años, (si no he mencionado antes.) Su mayor preocupación era que no tendría la fuerza para sumergirse en el agua, y tambien le preocupaba que el agua fuera demasiado fría. Su hijo nos dijo que ella nunca había estado en algo más profundo que su rodilla, y que estaba un poco asustada por el agua. Le aseguramos que ibamos a ayudarla a ella y que el agua sería agradable y calientita. Ese día,  Elder Webster realizó la ordenanza, yo ayude a la hermana en la pila bautismal. La tome de su mano y lentamente le ayude a bajar a la pila bautismal. Ella tuvo que sentarse en una silla pequeña y le ayude a sumergirse. Una vez que ella salió del agua, ella era la persona más feliz en la habitación. La sala se llenó con el Espíritu. El barrio fue  increíblemente receptivo y cariñoso con María y su hijo. Después del bautismo, el Segundo Consejero (Hermano Miguel Martínez) trajo un pastel y un poco de jugo para todos nosotros para disfrutar. Había cerca de 30 personas en el bautismo ese día, y el hijo de María estuvo muy agradecido  y sintió tanto amor del barrio. Cuando todos estábamos comiendo pastel, se puso de pie y expresó su gratitud hacia nosotros y el barrio. Estamos tan cerca de que finalmente el se bautize, que casi puedo saborearlo! Estamos envolviendo al barrio más, y hemos traído al obispo a visitarlo, junto con miembros vecinos del barrio.

Bueno, esta semana hemos tenido un montón de huéspedes alojandose en nuestra casa. Elder Thorpe y Bennett se quedaron con nosotros el lunes y el martes, ya que son los nuevos misioneros en entrenamiento. Elder Huffman y Castillo se quedaron con nosotros el miércoles durante un entrenamiento a los líderes de distrito. Elder Stewart y Aguilar se quedaron con nosotros el jueves para una reunión de líderes de zona, y Elder Lipscomb y Castillo se quedaron con nosotros el viernes por algo (ya se me olvidó). Nuestra casa es básicamente un hotel para todos los que tiene que reunirse con el Presidente o el médico. Es muy divertido, exepto  cuando tocan nuestra Nutella.
Despues llegó la Conferencia General! La vimos en Inglés en nuestro centro de estaca, junto con algunos otros misioneros. Personalmente me encantó el discurso del presidente Henry B. Eyring de la Sesión del sacerdocio acerca de ser héroes del Sacerdocio.

Espero que todos ustedes hayan tenido un gran fin de semana de conferencias, espero tener noticias de todos ustedes pronto.

Elder Velazquez