Saturday, July 26, 2014

Letter 35: Maybe I Should Start Putting Titles On Each Letter

We saw some blogs that other missionary's families are running for missionaries serving here in Juarez and I noticed they all add a title to each letter they write. I don't know if it's my lack of time or creativity, but I never added titles, just numbers. But now I will add a quick title to my letters (I will try my best).

This was the first week in a long while that I didn't have to travel anywhere. So I focused all my energy on getting down to the nitty gritty and setting some secure baptismal dates for next month. Well, after much prayer and teaching, The Lord delivered. We set 3 baptismal dates this week!

The first date is for an old investigator we've been working on. His name is Alejandro, and we have been so close to baptising him, but something always gets in the way! I´ve never had to push back a baptismal date as much as I have with Alejandro! We worked with him really hard this week, and finally set one more date, August 2nd. We are going to have to work really hard, but I am going to get that man in the water!

We also set a baptismal date with a newer investigator, Connie D. Connie is a half Russian, architect/private eye/ criminologist/painter/single-mom. She is one of the most interesting investigators I've ever taught, and she has tons of crazy stories to tell. She was a reference from a member, Sister Araceli G, and she is an awesome investigator. We are teaching her and her 8 (almost 9) year old daughter, Dacha. Connie has had some incredible experiences as she has started to investigate the Church. A little before she met us, she had a dream in which she saw her little daughter drowning, holding on to a book. As she got a closer look, she realized that this book was the same book she had seen at a friend's house. Well, that friend was Araceli, and that book was (you guessed it) the Book Of Mormon: Another Testament Of Jesus Christ! Connie is determined that this is the true church, and we set a baptismal date for August 14th! She is anxious to learn more about the Gospel, and has been attending church and the Relief Society activities regularly.

The final date we set was nothing short of a miracle.

I think I´ve talked about this investigator. His name is Edgar D. He is the son of a less-active sister in the ward. He is 25, and has never had a solid interest in the Church. We started teaching him a few weeks ago, and really focused on becoming his friend and showing him how the Gospel applies to his own life. Teaching him was a bit tricky, and getting him to go to the church was even trickier. We were just about to drop him, when all of a sudden, he started to come to church. He's been coming for the last 4 weeks, and has gotten involved with the Single Adults in the ward. He has really seen a change in his life, and we´ve totally seen a change in his heart. At the end of our last lesson with him this week, I couldn't stop feeling this itch to invite him to be baptised. Thoughts of doubt came into my head, but I quickly discarded them. We invited Edgar to finally be baptised, and he accepted! Elder Webster and I couldn't believe it. We set his date for the 28th.

I love preaching the Gospel, and I love seeing people get closer and closer to baptsim.

Elder Velazquez

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Letter 33/34

Sorry about last week's lack of letter everyone.
We were in the office, and I took a long time writing my reports to President and time escaped me. But, now I have more time to write to you all and there's a bunch of stuff to tell you all about.
So a quick wrap up of 2 weeks ago.
Elder Webster and I held our very first Zone Conference 2 weeks ago here in Juarez. It was a 2 hour conference, and we had a lot of fun doing it. We tried to make it not so..boring. So I made a little presentation, and slapped a couple of jokes and giggles to the conference. I think it went pretty well.
We did some mini-divisions that week. Elder Webster and I split off and worked with 2 of the District leaders in our zone. I went with Elder Beltran and Elder Webster went with Elder Jackson. During these "divisions", we usually work for a whole 24 hours with another companion to get an idea of how they work, the teaching methods they use, and their strengths and weaknesses. We then give them a small feedback, and send them on their way.
After our divisions, it was back to hard work. We really started wipping out lessons and working with our investigators to have them all at church this Sunday. One thing we learned was that the proof of our labors are shown with how many people actually go to church on Sunday. 4 new invesitgators at church that Sunday.
Now up to this last week (June 14th to today).
On Monday, President called us into his office and asked us if we had any plans for Tuesday and Wednsday. We are never really sure how to answer (sometimes it's a trap), so I told him same old same old. He laughed and asked us if we wanted to accompany him on a trip he was having. So Elder Webster and I packed our bags and headed on a little rode trip with the Jefe. We left Tueday morning at around 7 am and drove to a bunch of little towns that are dispersed around the state of Chihuahua. First off was Ascencion, Chihuahua. Ascencion is about an hour and a half away from Ciudad Juarez, and is a pretty decent sized middle-of-nowhere town. President Derbez had a meeting with the Municipal President of Ascencion and talked about how the missionaries can really be a great benefit to the community in various aspects.
After Ascencion, we headed over to Janos where I had to do some immigration stuff. After Janos we went to Casas Grandes and met with their Municipal President, President Baca. We were accompanied in this meeting with President Derbez's other counclir, Hermano Jeffrey Jones. Brother Jeffrey Jones is this big 'ol white cowboy who lives in the Mormon Colonies. He speaks amazing spanish (if you close your eyes, it sounds like a regular NorteƱo Mexican) and has been a Federal Senator, as well as a Diputado (like a State Representative) for Chihuahua. It was such an astounding experience being part of this meeting.
After the meeting, Elder Webster and I headed over to a local Church and took new missionary profile photos for the missionaries in the Colonies. That night, we ran some errands with President, had some dinner and stayed overnight in this little hotel.
The next morning, we woke up, had some breakfast (pancakes and chilaquiles), and headed over to another town, Galeana. We had ameeting with their Municipal President, President Areola, and then continued to the next town, Lebaron. Lebaron is a pretty well-known polygamist colony here in Chihuahua. It was a pretty amazing view, because as you drive down the desert, all of a sudden you come over a few hills, and you can see a bunch of green-ness, Nogales trees, grass, and huge Mansions are what make up this little colony. There are thousands of polygamist there, and they are all American-looking (most of them are bilingual). There is also 4 missionaries serving in that town, and the next one over, Buenaventura.
After stopping to buy some water melons and cantalope, we drove over to Buenaventura to run some errands with President.
Once we were all finished in Buenaventura, we drove to Villahumada to meet with their Municipal President (except he wasn't there). We stopped by a little town, Flores Magon, to get some ice cream first.
After Villahumada, we finished by stopping by in Ejido Benito Juarez and then we drove back to Ciudad Juarez.
It was a really neat trip, and we got to talk a lot with President and see his missionary skills in action while meeting with the Municipal Presidents. Presdient Derbez is super incredible at applying the Book Of Mormon to all situations. Let me give you an example, while we were meeting with the M.P of Casas Grandes, he whipped out Mosiah 2:17 and then talked about King Benjamin and how he had to be a rightous leader and also serve his fellow man. The Municipal President read the scripture aloud and BAM, the Spirit was there testifying left and right!
I learned so much from this trip, and I am thankful that I had this opportunity to be a part of it.
Well, until next time.
Elder Velazquez

Our travels, and places we visited.

President driving

Saturday, July 12, 2014

quick pic

All of the missionaries that are serving in the Pradera Dorada ward (including the Senior couple)
Elder Robbins, Elder Rabell, Elder Webster and I, Sister Hernandez, Sister Rojas and Elder and Sister Torres.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Letter 32


Meetings, meetings, and then a little more meetings this week. I got a taste of another side of being a Zone leader that I wasn't too excited about, but all of that changed. After our Leadership Council Meeting on Friday, I was way excited and anxious to share all that we had learned in our meeting to the rest of our zone. The Leadership Council started on Thursday night, all of the 16 zone leaders and the 4 Sister Training Leaders were in attendance. President announced the calling of his new 1st counsler, Hermano Reyes. We don't really know much about him, except that he's from President Derbez's ward here in Juarez and that he also has a son who is serving a mission (and that he is chorcho [he's rich haha]). He does show much enthusiam about working with us, and we are excited to have him.

Part 2 of the meeting started Friday morning at 8, and ended at 2. We went over new saftey rules, proselyting techniques, and a new plan we are going to start implementing with The Work Of Salvation in all 6 stakes of the mission. We had a few special guests during the meeting, the Juarez Institute Main Director (Hermano Hernandez), and the stake president from the Juarez North Stake (President Robles). They came and we coordinated with them new ways that we can start involving the single adults from Institute to help us with The Work Of Salvation.

We also had a High Council Leadership meeting on Wednsday. During these bi-monthly meetings, all the Zone Leaders usually just report data to their local High Council member in charge of Missionary Work for the stake.

Aside from the meetings, we also had a great work week. On Tuesday, I went to Janos, Chihuahua with another missionary (Elder Birchett) for some immigration stuff. We left at 6 am and were back in Juarez by 3 pm. Going to Janos just drains my energy sometimes, but it's always neat to take new missionaries and get to know them on the bus rides to and from the 2 towns. Sometimes I just sleep for all 6 hours though because I am pooped.

Elder Webster and I have been giving a basic English class for a couple of less active moms in the ward who want to teach their kids english. But in order for us to give them a class, they have to bring an investigator to the class. We started with a sister, Hermana Araceli and her daughter, along with one of her best friends (Brenda) and her daughter. We taught them basic stuff (introducing themselves, parts of the house, commands) and then taught them how to pray in English and invite them to church. Well, last week, none og the investigators came to church. Elder Webster and I got a little bummed out, but we decided to keep going and really show them the importance of coming to church. We talked to Hermana Araceli, and she got excited to help us out. She brought 2 more investigators to the class, and they even came to mutualon Thursday! They then told Hermana Araceli that they want to go to churchon Sunday! We are super excited and have faith that they will go!

Well, that's all the time I have for now!
Elder J.A Velazquez