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.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Letter 45: Trips and Conference

Hello familia!

Well, this week we are not having a real P-Day, so we have this little bit of time between Conference Sessions to write a lil' bit.

So this week was another one of those famous travel weeks.

On Monday and Tuesday, we had splits with 2 of the areas in our Zones. Elder Webster went to Villahumada to work with Elder Gonzalez and his companion, and I headed down to Ejido Benito Juarez to work alongside Elder Martinez and Elder Chigüila.

This was the first time I actually got to do some proselyting work down in Benito, it was pretty fun. The town is really small, and almost everyone knows each other. We contacted a TON of people, and talked to (what felt like) the whole town. Most of the people who live in Benito have lived there their whole life, and have never really left. The town is quiet, and the only things you can really hear are trailers cruising by the nearby highway. The biggest challenge that the missionaries are facing in Benito is teaching lessons during the day. Almost the whole pueblo works in what's called the "Pisca". The "Pisca" is when the people go and work in the nearby chile, pepper, and alfalfa fields. Most of the fields are chiles though, and as a result, almost everyone dries them and sells them alongside the roadside. 

After 2 days of good ol' fashioned proselyting, we headed back to Juarez.

On Wednesday, we took a lil' trip down to Casas Grandes to take care of some secretary business. We were there almost all day, and returned back to Juarez late.

And that brings us to these last couple days.

Well, we have been teaching a couple (Luz Elena and her husband, Alberto) for the last few weeks, and they are awesome! They found the Church through their daughter and her husband, who got baptized about 3 years ago. Luz Elena and Alberto saw a huge change in their daughter's life, and this sparked a great flame of curiosity in their hearts. Well, Luz Elena has been coming to church ever since we found her 3 weeks ago, and her husband has been reading the Book Of Mormon and the Gospel Principals book like crazy (he's already on lesson 18!) We are amazed on how fast they have been progressing, and Luz Elena even came to both of the General Conf. sessions today! 

Well, I don't have much more time, time for Priesthood Session!

Elder Velazquez