Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29 letter

Well, Elder J is accident prone. We were playing a game of district ultimate near the cage basketball courts, and there are these big metal support poles. He went up for a a high pass, his shin nailed a support pole, and he got table-topped. He ate it, hard. Honestly, I think we spend more time in the clinica than anyone besides the missionaries who got parasites. (Which truly sucks for them, but we have been warned like a bajillion times not to drink the water without filters.) But Elder J is okay. Honestly, he has incredible luck, because the leg isn't even bruised that bad. But Ultimate is awesome, we're playing it a lot during gym time. The district is getting much better, though my disc has taken some serious knocks. Lots of dents in it now, and it's been on the roof probably 15 times. And not always the same roof either. 

Got sick on the 23rd and threw up. It was the spaghetti for dinner, I'm almost positive. Elder J warned me about it and I should have listened, but it just about wrecked me. Luckily it passed quickly and I was up and running full steam by the 24th. Our district has gotten pounded by illness though. Mama B might have bronchitis, and everyone else has suffered varying degrees of something or other. Except Elder J. He's apparently immune to sickness.

The food is crazy! One lunch we thought we had steak, but it was actually cow esophagus. Best meal we've had so far though. Plus curly fries (!!!??) so we're assuming President P had guests visiting that day and wanted to impress them or something. Monday night was a new low for food, I just had several bowls of cereal and a few bananas. (A brief aside- Elder R wasn't feeling good at all earlier this week, and someone told him bananas make you feel better. So he ate ten in one sitting. I wish I'd gotten a picture. He felt a ton better so who's to argue I guess?) But anyways, Monday night was chicken,. Usually not a problem, we have chicken a lot. But this night, on closer inspection, mine was covered in long curly chicken hairs. YEUUURG. Honestly looked like  human thigh. I would have gone to my other piece, but it still had feathers! Like full-on pinions! What! Is! Up! With! That!
Elder M ate the hairy pieces. Apparently it didn't bother him much. Then again, he's going to Chile so he should probably get used to unusual food.

Elder J is going to Lubeq Texas. Not sure if that's the spelling, but he is lucky, he's got a temple in his mission! Jealous. One of the other guys in our district is going there too, Elder B. (Though we pronounce it Elder Boot-lar.) Elder J is holding out hope that he won't be speaking a lot of Spanish on the mission. To be honest the thought has definitely been in my head, but you can't think like that or you won't be able to focus. The gift of tongues only comes according to the diligence you study for it, and thinking you'll be speaking Spanish the whole mission definitely lights a fire in you to actually focus and practice the language! Quote of the moment, from Praise to the Man: "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."  Very true, I have felt God's blessings on me especially in the Spanish language, being able to recall vocabulary at the very moment I need it and surprising myself with the power of my words. The church is true!

Elder Wright

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pictures to go with the letter from Aug. 21

                                                             The District at the temple.
A "selfie" with Moroni

Just me.

                                  My sweet Mexican scrips cases. Note the improvised selfie.
                                                                 With Elder RJ Penate

Friday, August 23, 2013

More news from this week (August 21)

Devotional on Sunday was a recorded broadcast by Elder Bednar. He spoke on the importance of listening to the doctrine of the living prophets. He especially meant General Conference, and he was not mincing words! Takeaway quote: " If you don't know what the living prophets are saying, it's the same as not believing." Wow! Definitely going to be paying more attention in General Conference from now on. Our Area 70, President Johnson, was in town yesterday for a devotional as well. He talked about the difference between teaching and really converting, or ingraining, the gospel. He also warned us not to get too caught up in the numbers game of baptism. His words: "Your purpose is not just to baptize them, it is to save their souls." That was powerful! He was a good speaker.
So I am loving the Mexican LDS members here! Most of the workers in the compound are Mormon, and the're all really friendly. The best part is that Mexican parents name their children after prophets and leaders from the Book of Mormon! So far, I've met a Limhi, a Mosiah, and a Melchezidek! It's awesome!
Last story for a bit:
So we had a home teaching like thing with another district, where we had 10 minutes to meet with another missionary, then prepare a lesson that would help invite them to Christ. I didn't have time to prepare anything that great because we were teaching our investigator right before. So I said a fervent, hurried prayer as we wlked over, and decided on two scriptures that I could teach after my lesson: Enos 1:23 and Mosiah 3:14. After my lesson, which was pretty legit even so, I had decided to share my Enos scripture. I oopened to it, then recieved a powerful thought to NOT READ THAT ONE. So I read Mosiah, which is the scripture about putting off the natural man. The other elder told me that that scripture had been that one that changed his life and made him go on a mission. Very powerful feeling of the spirit.!
Elder Wright

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 letter

Honestly, the CCM is nice and I'm glad there's a high wall between us and the city streets, but after a while the barbed wire and constant routine make it feel a bit like a jail! But we had the incredible blessing of being able to go to the Mexico City temple this morning! We left on the buses at 6:45 (nice flashback to my seminary days) and drove out into the city. Mexico City traffic is INSANE. As one of the mission leaders put it, they are both offensive and offensive drivers. Seriously, people speed, merge, and make wide turns at every possible opportunity. It's kind of frightening! And the early morning city is interesting to see, I took a couple pictures that'll hopefully show you what I mean. Traffic was bad, so it took maybe two hours to get to there. That wouldn't have been too bad if the most annoying missionary I've ever met hadn't been sitting right in front of me. He would just chime in at every possible opportunity, challenge innocuous statements, and basically insulted the language skills of everyone else on the bus. It was early in the morning so I was a bit sour, so I shut him down pretty hard after I couldn't take it anymore. He read an Ensign for the rest of the ride. (Might not want to put that in the blog, but it's up to you here.)
The Mexico City temple is beautiful and magnificent, it has geometric patterns covering much of it and the design is reminiscent of the Aztec architecture, at least in my opinion. Following the temple session in Spanish was incredibly difficult, but I could feel the Spirit so powerfully throughout. And afterwards, bought some sweet scripture cases for my Spanish scriptures at the Tienda Zarahemla next to the temple. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

The August 14 letter home.

My schedule is variable but basically it's:
6:30 wake up
7:00 food
Then Personal study, Spanish, coaching
12:00 Food
More personal study, comp study
2:00 gym
3:30 TALL (computer language program)
4:30 Coaching or language
5:30 Food
6:00 Class, progressive investigator meetings
9:00-9:30 Get home, decompress
Journal, talking
10:30 Bed
Repeat ad naseum.

On Sundays, we have church with our branch (currently two other districts) at 9:15, we're not doing the Lorenzo Snow lessons, the way it works is first we meet with our respective Elders Quorums or relief societies, which right now is three districts. Then we have district meetings, which are basically like Sunday School, and then we combine for Sacrament meeting. Every week, everyone is required to write a talk on a specific subject. Then in Sacrament meeting, they select 6 missionaries to share their 5-minute talks. I got picked last week, and gave a 5-minute talk in Spanish on the subject of personal apostasy. Whoo!

~Food is interesting to say the least! It's Mexican cafeteria food, and it averages out to average, meaning that some days it's incredible, oftentimes not, usually just fine. I am feeling the blessings of the Lord in my bowels because a lot of the guys in my district load up on beans and have terrible bathroom runs, which I have mostly avoided. Breakfast is always cereal- I don't trust anything else. Lunch is usually some form of meat, plus always rice and beans, so I make tacos. The other day there was some meat I didn't recognize, and when I asked the cafeteria ladies what it was they didn't know the English word. It looked like pork, so I asked, "¿Es la carne snorksnork snork?" and just made a bunch of pig sounds. They cracked up and confirmed that it was pork. Breaking language barriers!

Missionary choirs are organized by branches and ours hasn't formed yet because we're a new branch and pretty small. It is SUPER hard to harmonize in Spanish though, because I can't keep track of the new words too! Called to Serve (Llegar a Servir) has four verses in Spanish for some reason!

No GAs yet, but we're hoping. Yesterday was the first live-streamed missionary devotional broadcast, with Apostle Richard G. Scott! So incredible, he talked about the "supernal importance of prayer!" Very meaningful to me because I have been following Pres Houston's blessing of wearing out my knees in prayer to the letter. Kneeling prayer really is important for a better communication with Heavenly Father.

I'm so proud of my brothers! What studs! I knew they could do it, they will become twice the men I ever was at their age. Though I guess since they already are twice the men I was, they will become 4x the men. Or something.

I  have two progressive investigators now. One is still Carlos, with whom we are making slow and frustrating progress with, and the other is Rojelio, who is easier to talk with and understand. The investigators, as I've said, are our teachers, Hermano S. and Hermano B, pretending to be people who they had taught and baptized on their missions.  So that is tough but good. I've been reading the scriptures in Spanish aloud and trying to translate them. It is so immensely difficult that it feels like my brain is burning, but it's gotten easier as I've progressed in Spanish. 
Elder Wright

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pictures from the Mexico CCM

 "Alto" means stop, but it also means tall.  Go figure...
 Prepping for the next day.
 Studying mis escrituras!
Just an average day in the lab.

I was only able to send a brief email the night I arrived, so here's a bit more detail. The CCM (that's what the MTC is called in Mexico) is big and it is growing! There's close to 700 missionaries here now, and we just heard the Peru and Argentina MTCs have hit capacity so we're getting even more people next week. The neighborhood surrounding the CCM is majorly sketchy- sirens, yells, and even gunshots at all hours of the night. The compound that we're in has giant walls topped with barbed wire, so it's reassuring a bit. Living conditions are adequate if not exceptional, when you turn on the taps the water sometimes shoots out brown. We were issued water bottles with big filters in them so that's all right. The shower water is usually hot and the beds are mostly comfy, so honestly it's not that bad. Unfortunately it doesn't look like the washing machine is working right now but hopefully we can figure out how to fix it. I'm in a small hacienda with 12 missionaries, though two of my roommates are not in my district. They're really great though, and my district is super fun and spiritual. There's 8 elders and 4 hermanas, and we do almost all of our activities together. Every elder is fresh out of high school besides me and one other guy. Elder P. and Elder H. are called to serve in the Ventura Mission, so see if you can find them in a few weeks! I think that's super cool. Though there's no one else in my district going to Pittsburgh, they all really help me to feel the Spirit and together we keep everyone positive.
The weaather is bizarre. I'm up (groggily) at 6:30, and it's still dark and cold. The days are pretty warm, but every evening at approximately 6:30 pm it starts raining. Yesterday it started hailing like mad and it rained so much the gutters clogged. I'd left my umbrella in the room, so me and the comp were stuck under an awning with the devotional in 15 minutes. We watched missionaries make breaks for it and get soaked, this one poor elder totally slipped in a puddle and went ddown in a splash, his shoes flying off in different directions. (my shoes are waterproof by the way). We grabbed some garbage bags from the custodial closet and made makeshift ponchos, so we survived the downpour. then it stopped raining 5 minutes after we got inside.
As far as Spanish goes, the range in my district goes to those who basically don't know a single word to people with a few years of school under their belt. I've been able to help everyone out because I know the most Spanish in my class. Everyone is making tremendous progress though, and it's a real blessing to see the gift of tongues manifest in these missionaries. Hermano B. is our teacher, and from day 1 he only spoke Spanish. It really got us immersed in the language immediately, it was kind of sink or swim. We taught our first disccussion, all in Spanish, on our third day and we've already done three others. Our "investigator" Carlos is very resistant to the missionaries but we're hoping to have a breakthrough soon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First email, MTC arrival

They`re letting me type an email to you, but honestly it´s really hard to figure out the Mexican keyboard! The @ button was a solid 2 minutes to find. But it´s all good now.

I made it to San Fran and met up with Elder J. and Elder S. Hopped on the plane and sat down next to this lady named Rita, who luckily knew much more English than I did Spanish. We discussed the church, she was very interested, and I read her some scriptures while Jorgensen told her stuff too! I gave her a card with my email, and she said she really would like to go to church! Missionary SCORE!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

 This water is delicious.
 It's the Angel Moroni!  Ha Ha… nope, just a gym.
We adapt to the rainstorm with trash bags.
There are these circles with arrows all over campus. In the event of earthquakes, people are supposed to head there, but at first I didn't know what they were and assumed they were prayer circles. So...

 My comp and I.
 District picture
And here's my room. That bottom bunk there is mine. I hit my head every morning when I wake up, but that's just the consequence of being the last missionary to arrive in the CCM.
 At the airport in Mexico City
 Transportation to the MTC or CCM
The Missionary Training Center
Leaving the Santa Barbara Airport

July 30, 3013 To the Mexico MTC