Saturday, June 28, 2014

Letter 31

Hello familia!
This was officially my first week as Zone Leader here in Juárez, and it was really exciting.

Monday and Tuesday were 2 of the craziest days I´ve had this whole cycle. On Monday, 16 new missionaries arrived to our mission. So we had to do all of the normal training and welcome meetings throughout the day. Tuesday was the day we did changes. We changed about 30 companionships this cycle, and we were in charge of coordinating all aspects of the changes. We were working and running around the Mission Office from 6 am to 5 pm, almost non-stop. 

Elder Webster and I had our first taste of the Zone Leader life on Wednesday, when we started to get our Zone´s dats (data?). All the district leaders in our Zone report to us every night, and then we do a quick feedback on how that leader can help his district improve. Shortly after that, we report to the Assistants, and then call it a day and go to bed. The Assistants, Elder Robbins and Elder Rabell, are in our area as well now (and they live right below us). It has been a pretty crazy change, and now that we have 6 missionaries working here in Pradera Dorada, we are all really focusing on making this ward grow.

We have been working hard to really be an example to our zone, so we have really been trying to bust out more lessons, and find even more investigators. President Derbez has taught us that as leaders, we have to be an example to the rest of the mission in every way. He said that if our numbers and data is low, it can often be a reflection of how the rest of the Zone is doing. I really want to set an example, and I know that I can't do it without the Lord's help.

I am happy to hear from all of you! I am so happy that you too are hastening the Work Of Salvation.

Elder Velazquez

 Adventures in Proselyting part V

The only two Tongans in Juarez, Elder Lokotui and Elder Lotulelei.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Letter 30

Hello familia,

Well, it has sure been a crazy week this past week. First off, some news. This past week, President told us that he would be splitting some Zones here Ciudad Juarez. He then told us that he was going to need some more Zone leaders. He then announced to Elder Webster and I that the Lord had called us as Zone leaders over one of these new Zones. We are crazy excited!

Our Zone, La Cuesta 2, will consist of just a few areas (eight) and will be spread out quite a bit. 2 of our areas are in Villahumada and 2 areas are in Ejido Benito Juarez! It is very exciting, and I am eager to learn.

We have been preparing for changes all this week. Changes are on Tuesday (June 24th) so we have been preparing for all the locura that changes bring to the mission. We are receiving 16 new missionaries, 9 are sister missionaries, and 7 are Elders. 6 of those 9 sisters are foreign (from Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and the US) which means that I'm also going to have a good amount of Immigration work to do.

There are also 2 more missionaries who have been assigned to our ward, Pradera Dorada. Elder Robbins and Elder Rabell, the President's Assistants, are now going to be working in our area. That brings the missionary count to 6 (Elder Webster and I, Sister Hernandez, Sister Trueba, and the 2 Assistants, plus the senior missionary couple.) which is a boatload. We are one of the first wards to have 6 proselyting missionaries, which just shows how much this mission is really growing. President Derbez has told us that many other wards will also be receiving more missionaries, some with up to 8 missionaries in an area!

We have been working with Elder Lokotui, the polynesian, this week as well. He had some trouble with his feet (extreme blisters) but he has been recuperating over the last 2 weeks. He just arrived on the mission 5 weeks ago and is still learning spanish. He is one of those gentle giants, and people who see him on the streets can't really distinguish what he is. He always has to tell people that he is from Hawaii because no one knows where Tonga is. 

Ok, well, right now I have to finalize the logistics for Tuesday's changes, but I thank you all for your love.

Elder J. Augusto Velazquez

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Letter 29

Hello family,

Well, this week went by extra fast...again. I got to travel a lot this week, and it's been pretty exhausting! 

On Monday, we had our Zone Conference. I was pretty excited, I love Zone conferences, they always pump me up to work! About 2 hours before Zone Conference, President Derbez calls and tells me I have to go to Ejido Benito Juarez to fix something another Elder had messed up. So I grabbed my bag, and headed to Ejido Benito Juarez with Elder Cruz. 

Ejido Benito Juarez is a little middle-of-nowhere town about 3 hours away from Ciudad Juarez (see picture). It's a very small and quiet, square, town. There isn´t much too see, but I felt really relaxed there. EVERYONE knows who the missionaries are, and they're all really friendly. There is only a few streetlights, and everyone there mainly gets around on Quads. The Elder serving there, Elder Cruz, is the branch President as well. He used to be the President's assistant last cycle, he's also an ex-bene alumni. He was the generation above me (he knows Janette Mesa from our ward) and he's really funny. 

After we returned from Benito on Tuesday, I quickly rushed and got a bunch of immigration stuff done. On Tuesday, we went with a new investigator we recently started teaching. His name is Edgar D. He is the son of a member who was just recently re-activated after being less active for 15 years. Edgar is a very closed and shy person, and rarely came out of his room. He is 24, and a couple years ago he had an experience were he almost lost his eye (Now that I think about it, this is the 2nd investigator we´ve taught with eye problems, ha). This experience (along with a few other strange phobias) had caused Edgar to be reluctant when it came to learning about the Gospel. Now, he has totally opened up to us, gained more confidence in the Lord, and has opened his heart once again to actually listening to the missionaries. We have approached Edgar in a different manner than the other missionaries before; we actually listened to his problems and related the Gospel to him. We are teaching him in English because he wants to learn and practice more English, and he has even started reading the Book Of Mormon in English!

Wednesday, I got a call from the Church Immigration Department in Mexico City, and was told that I had to go to Casas Grandes to wrap up some more immigration stuff. I was totally unprepared for this trip, and Elder Webster and I left right away with just the clothes on our backs. Casas Grandes is about 4 hours away, and we got there like at 8 pm. We stayed there with the Zone Leaders (Elder Stewart and Elder Rodriguez) and then worked there the next day. We got back to Ciudad Juarez Thursday at around 6 pm

This week, we have still had Elder Lokotui and Elder Romero stay with us. Elder Romero will be going back to his area soon, and Elder Lokotui will be staying with us until the cycle ends (in 1 week).

That leads us to today. The whole Zone had interviews with President today, and we also had interviews with his wife and the Assistants. While President interviewed everyone one-by-one, the Assistants checked our agendas, our teaching knowledge, and our Area Books (a binder where we keep all the info about the are where we work). We just got out (after 4 hours) and now we have to start our P-day! 

This next week is the last week in the cycle, and I will be going a little crazy since I have to do changes. So forgive me in advance if next week I write a short letter. 

Elder Velazquez

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Letter 28

Hello familia!
Well, this is the first time in a while I actually have my full time to write to everyone. Thanks for all your emails, and sorry I haven't responded. But let me try to be as thorough as possible.
First, the past. We had Rafael "Miyagi" Palacio's baptism last week.. It was a pretty hectic day, but we were able to pull it off. That same day, we helped a recent convert family  (The Lopez Quiroz family) in the ward plan and prepare for their son's baptism (Max).They had a really nice program and then we had our baptismal program.
So let me tell you all a little about Rafael "Miyagi" Palacios. First off, everyone in his neighborhood knows him as Miyagi because he somewhat resembles Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. Before we started teaching him, he had a real long beard and he only has one eye, so he was always squinting like a Chinese man. Plus, he uses a pretty awesome cane. Rafael is about 63 years old, and lives alone. He had struggled with alcoholism, and got into a pretty intense incident which caused him to loose his eye. He is a great man, and progressed so quickly as an investigator. He came to church every Sunday until he was baptized, shaved, started wearing ties all the time, it was so amazing! We had a very special baptismal service with him, and Hermano Yañez baptized him. Hermano Yañez is the high priest group leader assistant, He's so awesome! Rafael is the first investigator we actually shared with the sister missionaries who is finally baptized (the first of many).
So now, the present.
We got a few surprise visitors staying with us this week. First, Elder Lokotui. He's from California but his parents are Tongan. He speaks Tongan too, and he's been teaching us a few words. He's going to be with us for a while because he messed his feet up pretty bad from all the walking and now he can't walk. Then, we got another Elder on Thursday. Elder Romero is from Mesa, AZ and he's been out for about 3 months now, he got way dehyrdated and now he's chilling with us.
Dehydration is real folks. The heat has been crazy here in Juarez, and the locals tell us that this heat is just the beginning. It's been about 90-95 degrees for the past few days, but it's usually like 100-110. The heat is dry, so dry. Good thing I'm in the office for at least 3 hours (AC!), because man, it is heating up. The nights are crazy hot too. I usually wake up sweaty like at 2 AM and pour some water on me. I'm always drinking water (I hope that makes you happy mom) and I put on sunblock (like 90% of the time, sorry mom, I forget sometimes).
We had a special multi-zone conference with a General Authority, Elder Daniel L. Johnson on Friday. Check out a talk he gave in the October 2012 General Conference. Also, his biography. Elder Johnson talked to us and the local church leadership about Hastening the Work Of Salvation. He focused on us as missionaries working more with local church leaders and members to get more investigators, more references, and more baptisms.  We got 6 references that day
Well, we are currently looking and finding new investigators. We have found at least one new investigator everyday (except for past Thursday) for the last 2 weeks. We just talk to everyone and really listen to them and find a way to connect the Gospel with their needs. We are also preparing a new investigator for baptism next week (fingers crossed). His name is Alejandro Mendez (I think I've mentioned him before) and he has been coming to church for the past 5 weeks. He is anxious and close to baptism.
I hope everyone has a great week!
Elder Velazquez

Elder Lokotui

Hermano Yañez and Hermano Rafael. (Baptism Last week)