Greetings and salutations fellow earthlings from the grand land of El Paso, Texas. I'm serving in the second most southern mission in the Albuquerque, NM Mission. My companion's name is Elder Gawrych and he's 6'6".
We're right next to Juarez, Mexico, so tons of people speak Spanish. Most people here work for the military and border patrol, so times lately have been pretty hard on them. Most people here either work all the time or never seem to work. I don't totally get it when some people are home, but it makes our job easier!
I talk about how friendly people in El Paso are, but it's sort of a lie. Most people are busy and have their own agendas, so whenever people are rude or reject us, I've made up a game to explain it. For example, we scheduled an appointment with a lady we'd talked to. We came at the appointed time. She was in her yard, which for everyone here, is a bunch of rocks. She was putting out decorations. As we pulled up she quickly ran inside. We saw the door was still open but she had what is called a "Confession Door". Basically, you can't see the people inside much at all, which is SUPER annoying. We knocked and knocked, etc., knowing she was there, and she never answered. My explanation is that she was in a hurry to run inside and get her burning pie out of the oven and then broke her leg silently. Makes sense right? :)
Really though, we've seen so many miracles. So many times we knock on a Less Active Members home, find out they've moved, but the new people there are interested in letting us in.
Every night we eat in a member's home, and we were eating this past Thursday in with some members eating tons of delicious meat, etc. I was in heaven. We started talking about ages somehow and I made a failed attempt at joking about something like age 70 or something, assuming no one there was near that age. I genuinely to this day think no one there was even close to my joke, but they all decided to be offended, and the other 3 missionaries there jumped off my sinking ship. Offending the members... wooohooo? I'm so thankful for Repentance. :P
Anyway, two quick spiritual experiences I'd like to share:
The first is the Jones family. They're progressing very well. The husband's retiring from the military because of all the medical problems and PTSD he has, which is very common around here. His wife has a child on the way and they already have two daughters. They'd received the first lesson already, so we taught them about the Plan of Salvation. They loved everything we were talking about. At the end of the lesson, I invited them to Baptism, despite the distracting pitbulls and the fact that I said the husbands name right, but my companion didn't know his name correctly, so he cut me off and corrected me, then I corrected him, then I resumed. It almost failed ha ha (not his fault by the way), but then the spirit testified very powerfully and they both committed with enthusiasm.
Then the came to church this sunday, went to all three meetings, and are super enthusiastic about everything! They're being invited to all these cool events by the ward members and receiving tons of fellowship. I have no doubt that this is going nowhere but up, so I'm SUPER happy.
Nick is an investigator who's been taught for a very long time and is being baptized this Saturday. He's the coolest stud ever. 19 years old and he's already saving up for a mission, quit all his problems with the Word of Wisdom, resisted an intervention from his super-Catholic parents, and he even loves jeeping. He has the same Cherokee that we have at home Dad! His lift is a bit smaller but he's looking to get an 8" lift with 35" tires I think. Something like that... Anyway, he's awesome. He might serve a mini-mission with us. He'd stay with us for about a week and do everything that we do. It'll be sweet.
We were out with one of the brothers in the ward and he felt like we really needed to visit the Johnson family. We did and initially it was nice reminiscent and friendly chit-chat, but they essentially laid EVERYTHING out on the table. The husband's an RM and the wife was baptized about a year ago. They're both essentially scared of living, he's got a stressful job in the army, and he feels his mission wasn't successful. They both went on for a very long time about all the fears, doubts, concerns, etc. that they had. It paralyzed them and prevented them from communicating happily and were unable to go to church.
The Spirit guided every part of that lesson and I was able to promise them a miracle. If they read every word of the Book of Mormon as a couple, praying about all their problems before and after, and lean on their faith, these problems they expressed would go away, they'd be able to go to church, and have all their temple ordinances performed. It was very powerful and I was blessed to discern their thoughts and concerns and tell them what God needed them to hear. I know they're going to be okay. We'll keep in touch weekly with them.
So my companion is Elder Gawrych. He's the District Leader and he's 6'6". He's been out for about a year now and he knows his stuff. He's got an amazing memory and he teaches very well. He's a bit of a self-declared pessimist but he's a great guy. We got along well, even though I often have no idea how to communicate or express myself very well. He's kind of like a super human missionary with a hint of robotics or something. He's great though. We have a lot of random things in common and a lot not. He's great at teaching but I have to ask questions to learn most of what I do. For most of our time where we don't have appointments, we use his GPS, where he entered all the less actives and former investigators in our area. It's very useful and we've found a lot of people this past week because of our work.
I have so much to learn but I'm glad to be out in the field. I don't care when my visa comes, although I would love to be in Brazil during the World Cup, but that's more of a worldly desire than anything. The work is going strong here and the only standard of excellence our mission has is to baptize weekly. It's a big goal and requires a lot of planning and effort, but we're seeing miracles and people are being prepared.
I recommend reading about Lot and his wife. That was my favorite study session this week. I don't have time to tell all I learned from it. Needless to say, I learned a lot.
Everything's going well. It's really REALLY hard, but I love the work. It brings me great joy despite the many difficulties. Especially since there's so many "Super Catholics" as we sometimes call them. They're usually good people but they have so many walls and barriers. Anyway, love you all and buh-bye until next Monday!
My address is:
3650 George Dieter #1101
El Paso, Texas 79936