Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Celebrations

This week was both awesome a little disappointing...I'll start off with the not so great stuff. On Saturday, we were supposed to have a baptism for three little kids, ages 8, 10, and 14. We got there and were filling the font when we realized the gas wasn't working, so all we had was freezing cold water...then we missed some things for their interviews...then the Bishop couldn't come...then no one showed up until super late...just a whole bunch of things all added up and we had to postpone it. Super bummer. The family was really upset about it. But good news, we have it planned again for January 10th, after all the breaks are over so that we can figure everything out! 
Tuesday, we had exchanges for the day with the Zone Leaders. I went to their area with one of them, Elder Cardenas. He's from Oklahoma, super happy, funny, spiritual Elder, it was an awesome opportunity learning from him for a day.

On Wednesday, we spent Christmas Eve with the Soriano family. They're like, 5th generation LDS or something, one of the first families in Mexico to join the church here. Their house used to be the meeting place for Sunday services, all kinds of cool history behind that. They were also housing a family reunion of over 100 people in their house for the first time in 20 years, so it was packed. On the brightside, tooooons of food! The turkey was gigantic, I'll send a picture. 

Christmas morning, I opened up the package I got from mom! She's just the best, she sent me so many nice things! Candy, Cocoa Puffs, Family pics, a little nativity, some Christmas lights, all sorts of good stuff. Love her. 
I also got to skype my family for a bit! That was so great to see them again and just talk to them and laugh and chat. I loved it so much! They're the best ever!

Annnnd Friday, my companion got sick. Saturday, he got me sick. Gross man. Nothing serious, just my head and throat are not happy campers. Well, then again, neither is the rest of my body haha. Ah well, I'm pretty sure I'll survive haha. 

Alma 5:57;'And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people' 

I love this scripture. When we know the teachings of Christ, and if we truly want to follow Him and ve like Him one day, we cannot allow ourselves to think that evil things are ok. Even if you are not participating, just being in that atmosphere is a bad idea and can get us into a lot of trouble, because the Spirit cannot dwell their with us. If we follow Christ, we don't turn to one side or the other when the world calls us; we continue down that straight and narrow path and NEVER diverge. Of course, we are not perfect, and the truth is we're gonna mess up, but that's why we have repentance! We are never so far away from that path that we cannot turn back! 

I love you all! Happy New Year!!

Elder Connor
  1. Elder Antonio, my new companion, and I. He's awesome! Good hard worker, really wants to serve!
  2. A little birds nest in my house in a cactus. 
  3. My little nativity! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hello all!

So my new area is made up of two little pueblos called San Pablo and Zula, and a whoooooole lot of country! There aren't very many roads, just dust and dirt everywhere (hence, San Polvo, or Saint Dust). We have some investigators and members that literally live out in the middle of nowhere, we have to hike through all these open fields, and we can see their teeny tiny house from forever away. Crazy, man. My companion is Elder Antonio. He's been serving for one transfer less than me, lives a few hours away in Ixtapa Zihutanejo, and is one of the two members in his family of 11 (I hope that makes sense...). He has been a member for just over a year, but he loves the church and he knows the scriptures really well. He's a great guy, I'm really lucky to have him! District leading is so fun, I really enjoy it! I now have this renewed desire to be more obedient and serve more diligently and everything, I love it! 

On Thursday, we had our mission wide Christmas, which was so fun! I got to see my mission dad, Elder Jimenez, as well as some other awesome mission friends. So great, I love these elders. 

One thing I've noticed in my area is that there are lots of investigators who are progressing really well, and yet, they don't have baptismal dates. I'm not sure why, but we're gonna work on getting them prepared to make those holy covenants with God so they can truly enjoy all the wonderful blessings God has in store for them. 

Alma 5:45-46; 'And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.'

I love this scripture so much! Just a little bit of back story, the prophet speaking is called Alma. As a youth, Alma hated the church and went about causing all sorts of iniquitous acts to be committed by members and nonmembers alike. One day, he was going around with his friends, the sons of Mosiah (who was a prophet and the king of the people at the time), when an angel appeared to them and told them to stop it. After much guilt and pain and sorrow, Alma repented and became one of the greatest prophets and missionaries ever. 

Now back to the scripture. Notice he does not say, 'I know these things because I saw an angel. That experience never even enters the conversation. Instead, his testimony came from the witnesses of the Holy Ghost as he prayed and fasted to gain this knowledge. Some people say seeing is believing, but honestly that's a load of...well, it's not correct. To quote President Joseph Fielding Smith;“When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase.' 

I love this! Things we see with our eyes are never going to be firm foundations for our testimonies, but the feelings of love and joy and happiness we receive when the Holy Ghost testifies of the truth to our hearts, THOSE experiences change us and make us better. I encourage everyone to do the same as Alma; that is, fast and pray for your own witness. As you do so with faith, I promise, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that you will receive your answer and that it will be a resounding 'YES!! IT IS TRUE!!'

I love you all! Merry Christmas!!!
Elder Connor

Monday, December 15, 2014

Virgin Day, Temple, and Transfers!!

I figure I'll just get the transfers stuff over with now. Here's what's going down; Elder Gonzalez is gonna stay here in Cinco de Mayo 1, and I'm leaving! My new area is Atlatzalpa, in the Mixquic zone. Super far away from where I am now. What!? Just wait, it gets crazier. Not only am I leaving the stake, I'm going to be a district leader!!! Not kidding, I thought they were joking at first. I don't even know what to think, not only am I gonna miss my area here, all the people, the members, the missionaries, etc. but I'm also pretty nervous about leading a district. I still have so much to learn, including the language, but I'm grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord and these people more fully and grow in the way God wants me to. 

So crazy. Sorry to get you all excited for this email, this week was actually kind of slow. Not many lessons, few people available, not too much work. Most of that had to do with the fact that on the 12th, every Catholic in Mexico celebrates 'El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe.' Depending on how far away they are, many Catholics start their march towards the Basilica, and they celebrate all week. On the 12th, we had to return home at 5:30 to avoid any dangerous situations. Crazy story, as we were heading home, we had about 5 minutes, so we started running, turned a corner, and ran right into a procession of marching people! Bands playing, people dancing, lots of Catholics shouting and whistling at two Mormon missionaries as we tried to make our way through as quickly as possible. So crazy, we had a good laugh about it once we were safe inside haha. 

Since we didn't have many success with contacts, we taught a lot more members. Most of those lessons consisted of giving them the 'Él es la Dádiva' cards for this month and practicing with them how to give one to a friend. We're expecting lots of references this month, which would be awesome!!

On Saturday, we spent most of the day with the Sains family at the temple visitor's center! The mom is an investigator, and the dad, son, and both daughters are less actives. They're really nice and love to let us visit, and the visitor's center was an amazing experience. We went on the tour by two sister missionaries that are serving there and the Spirit was very strong. We then ate and bought some scripture cases and books and ties (well I did, they bought other things). We wanted to stay for the lights, but they weren't gonna late them until 6:30, and we couldn't stay that long, so we left. The difference spiritually between the temple grounds and just stepping on the bus home was very noticeable. Temples are truly holy places. 

Sad news, we were told that we can't use our water heater thingies anymore, so I've been showering with cold water all week again. Seriously praying for gas in my next area. 

This week, I'm gonna share a story from Alma chapter 1. At this time, the King of the city of Zarahemla, King Mosiah (who was also a prophet), had just died. The new prophet, Alma the younger, was a really great man of God, and tried to strengthen the church in every way possible. Despite his efforts, many members of the church became prideful and left. At the same time, many that were not members also became prideful and began to persecute the members. Of this, the scriptures say the following;

Alma 1:25; 'Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable inkeeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.' 
I love this scripture! Despite all their trials, those who were truly disciples of Christ were 'steadfast and immovable' as they held onto their faith and trusted in God. They did not ever allow their doubts to grow so great that they let go of the Church; rather, they were patient in their suffering, and pressed forward, enduring to the end. Let us all be more like these members of the church, 'steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God.'
I love you all! Have a great week!!! 

Elder Connor
P.S. I'm gonna send some pictures from last week as well, to make up for what I missed.
  1. Elder Nava, my zone leader, and I. Elder Nava is such a good missionary, he really focuses and works hard!
  2. Elder Ramos and I. He has one transfer less than I, from Nevada, super great guy.
  3. Juan (my son) and I. Future rapper. Dang it, I should have gotten something signed!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Magical Ironing Board

'Design for the children all are fangle and in the high quality welcome you use our products'

That was the product description of this Magical Ironing Board toy I found. Very convincing hahaha. Don't ask what is fangle, it's definitely not Spanish, let alone English haha. 

This week we had exchanges with the zone leaders! I was originally supposed to go with Elder Merrill to his area, but they prayed about it before and felt like Elder Nava should come here with me instead. This is probably his last transfer here, so I was really glad they did. This is the only time I've had the opportunity to serve with him, and he is such a stupendous missionary. He talks to literally everybody that passes by, he listens to the Spirit constantly, he is bold but not overbearing. I learned so much from him this past week and we also traded ties. Boom. 

Yesterday, we had the Christmas devotional, a meeting in which we get to hear from the leaders of the church talk about Christmas! I really loved it this year, it was a very different experience for me. Normally, I watch it in English (duh), but they didn't have an English translation, so I had to watch in Spanish! Don't get me wrong, my Spanish has definitely improved in these past 4 months (as of two days ago, four months old!), but there was still so much I didn't understand. As a result, I spent most of the devotional listening to the Spirit and writing down whatever promptings I received as I struggled to understand the messages of the speakers, and boy was it an edifying meeting! I would listen to the words coming out of the mouths of the translators, and then listen a little harder and feel like there was something I could do better, so I would write it down. It was awesome, I want to be able to do that at all of these meetings (but in English would be nice...) 

I want to talk about one of our investigators. His name is Santos Mejía, and he is GOLDEN. He's a little tough to teach, we'll be talking about Faith and then he'll ask us if he wants to go see the 50 baby chicks he just bought, but he's reading, praying, coming to church, etc. Some of my favorite quotes by him:

'WE are the Church of Jesus Christ'
'Is what they're teaching bad? No. Is what they're saying bad? No. Is what they're doing bad? No, it's all really good, so why would you reject it?' (to his mom who doesn't want to listen to the lessons.)
We had our first lesson with him 2 sundays ago, before church, and invited him to attend with us in an hour and a half. Didn't think he was gonna come, but he did, in CHURCH DRESS. Blew my mind, that never happens here, even with some of the members. He even participated in class these past two sundays, and the things he said were totally correct, not even a little false doctrine. He could totally already be a member, it's awesome teaching him.

Saturday, we had our youth activity where we did splits with the youth throughout the stake. My son's name is Juan, he's a really cool kid, good hard worker. He hasn't finished high school yet, but he's planning on doing that this next year so he can serve as soon as possible. He also told me he wants to be a professional rapper...haha ok. 

This morning, we had our zone Christmas party. Traded more ties, beat some piñatas (I'll send pictures), and played soccer and frisbee. Boooom, Merry Christmas haha. We're also gonna start an English class! The ward got together a group of people that want to learn, and President gave us a teaching book and the go ahead, so we're probably gonna start that pretty soon. Transfers are next tuesday though, so we'll see where I end up....
I love you all! Have a great week! 

Elder Connor
Ok actually, it's not letting me attach any pictures, so I'll have to send them next week. Sorry!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mexican Thanksgiving

...doesn't actually exist. I know. Bummer. Even so, we had some delicious foods on Thursday, which was nice! 

This week was kind of slow, not as much success. Also, freezing cold. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, every morning, have to plug in the heater. And if we have lights on, it shuts off all the electricity, so we exercise in the dark. We still did a lot of good work! 

We had divisions on Friday, I went to the other area in my district with Elder Berger. He's seriously awesome, we taught 5 new investigators! He's super tall, really long legs, so I was half-walking, half-running all day haha. We ended the divisions at the chapel, and it turns out the other ward was having a wedding reception, so we ate some food and then went home. Good stuff. 

I want to tell you about one of my favorite people to visit. There's this old lady in a wheelchair in our area, who we like to go do service for. Her name is Hermana Betanzos, and she's seriously one of the nicest ladies in the world, always so happy to see us and to give us references and feed us. We went to go pick some chayotes for her (some kind of squash), she has them growing all over her house, got almost 200 in a couple hours. She doesn't have very much, but she is so giving and so humble. At the beginning of the week, we stopped by and she was feeling really sick. We gave her a blessing, and then went and asked some of her neighbors (including the bishop and stake president) to visit her and help her out. We returned the next day, and she was up and rolling around in her wheelchair, happy as ever. It was a wonderful experience. 

On Saturday, we had the first part of a youth activity called, 'Oid el Toque Del Clarin,' which is the spanish title of the Zion's Camp hymn. Seriously so awesome. In this activity, the youth came to the stake center, which we converted into a mini MTC. In the first part, we explained some of the rules of missionary work, taught them how to start teaching, and how to teach the Restoration. All this week, they are expected to follow ALL the mission rules; no phones, no facebook, 6:30 wake up call, 10:30bedtime, exercise, study in the morning, etc. Then, on saturday, we're actually going to do divisions with them from 8:00 to after lunch!! They received their 'calls' last week and we're gonna do study with them and everything. Gahhhhh I'm so pumped!!! I'll have a son for a day, that'll be kinda crazy haha. 

I want to share a couple verses from Doctrine and Covenants this week. The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations that Joseph Smith received as the church was restarting. In D&C 1:31, it says; 'For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.' That's some pretty intense stuff. No matter what we do, whether it's as little as thinking a mean thought about a sibling, or as big as shedding innocent blood (or anything in between), it doesn't matter, because we automatically exclude ourselves from God's presence. Remember Adam and Eve? All they did was eat some fruit. At first, that may not sound so bad, but remember, they were commanded not to, and for their disobedience, they could no longer abide in God's presence and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Any sin, no matter it's size, is offensive to God and disqualifies us from returning to His presence. 

Now whatever you do, DON'T STOP READING NOW. Let's take a look at the next verse, 32; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven'; No matter what we do, whether it's as little as thinking a mean thought about a sibling, or as big as shedding innocent blood (or anything in between), it doesn't matter, because we WILL be forgiven, if we truly repent and keep His commandments from then on out. Of course, repentance doesn't mean that we are completely perfect afterwards, but it does mean that we have changed the desire of our hearts and we do everything in our power to better ourselves. 

That is what this Gospel is all about; helping people to better themselves so we can eventually return to God's presence and reach our great potential as His children. This gives me so much hope, and I hope it does for you all. 

Until next week!! 

Elder Connor
P.S. sorry my pictures aren't all that fun, but here ya go; 
  1. My current planner that I made. Boom.
  2. My next planner, with the lost lamb and the prodigal son. REPENTANCE.
  3. The sleeping lady mountain from our roof. I might have already sent this one, not sure...there's a Romeo and Juliet story behind this mountain and a volcano next to her, something about how they were lovers, and then she died (or fell asleep...?) and so the volcano cries ashes. Something like that, I think it's supposed to be more romantic haha.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Week of Miracles

This week, I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of people with different religious backgrounds and ideas. Not that this is unusual, it happens everyday, but I had some rather profound experiences, all of which made me realize how many people there are that just don't know the truth. I want to share a few simple truths in this email. 
  1. We still need prophets- This is something that some people don't know! but it's true, prophets are ESSENTIAL to God's work. If we didn't have prophets, it'd be like being in class without a teacher or a textbook. Or the internet. We just have to figure it all out ourselves, and while we may make some good advances, we can't hope to reach the same understanding as we could with their guidance. Amos 3:7; 'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.' NOTHING. That's how important prophets are. Not just anyone can be a prophet though, they must be worthy Priesthood men whom God has called to guide His church (one guy tried to tell us that he wasa prophet this week. Pretty sure he was drunk.)
  2. If we have prophets, revelation persists in these days. What happened after Christ died? Did He stop leading His church? Of course not! Ephesians2:20; 'And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner.' Christ still leads His church and directs His prophets, AS WELL AS HIS PEOPLE. We can all receive revelation for ourselves. That is what our message is all about! We as missionaries are humans, and we have the ability to lie. We could. Not saying that we do (because we don't) but we have that option. Our invitation is not to trust us or our word, but to trust God. Ask Him if it's true. Because God CANNOT lie. He can't do it. He WON'T do it. It's not in His nature, as a perfect being. 
  3. Another thing that is important; The Bible is imperfect. It is not a perfect book. It is extremely useful and contains much of God's word, but after the death of Christ and His apostles, many people changed things in the Bible. Over the past 2000 years, much has become distorted and corrupted. Isaiah 24:5; 'The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.' Things have changed, and for that reason, God in His immense and perfect love for His children, has given us the Book of Mormon. This Book has not been defiled as the Word of God. It have only one translation, dont by the first Prophet of this time, Joseph Smith. He did not write it. He translated by the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost, given to him by God. It contains the fulness and plenitude of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is a perfect Book. 
These are the things, among many others, of which we teach and testify. Basic principles of the Gospel that I KNOW that so many people do not. If you do not yet know these principles for yourself, please please please follow the steps to gaining this knowledge; 
  1. read the Book of Mormon
  2. I mean read read it. Study it out. 
  3. Pray about it, with a sincere desire to know. 
You may not receive your answer right away, maybe not even for weeks after, but if you continue to do so, you WILL know that these things are true. I thought I knew when I was a kid, but really, I just knew that everyone else knew. When I learned for myself, I was 16, just two years ago, and it has changed my life in so many, unimaginable and wonderful ways. 

I'm sorry this email isn't very much of an update, but that's what I'm gonna talk about now. As of last week, (week 15) we had 4 investigators, and no one was progressing. This week, we found 15 new people to teach, 6 of whom have baptismal dates, and 9 of whom pertain to two different families. One of them was a street contact, and all the others were references from members. The one street contact has cousins who are super faithful members and who all served missions. Basically, the effect the members have had on this work in one week has been astounding. Were it not for the members working with us, we would probably be at the same spot we were last week. I feel so blessed to be a part of this great work of inviting souls to come unto Christ. 

Other news, we had a trio day with Elder Cory! It was fun, I made him speak spanish so he'd learn haha. Good stuff. 

I love you all! Have a great week! 
Elder Connor
  1. An origami dress shirt a ward sister missionary taught me how to make
  2. Close up (it has my name tag!!)
  3. We had a pizza party! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Friends, New District

I guess I'll start off with the new district. My companion is Elder Gonzalez, from Guatemala, and he's super great!! He doesn't speak a ton of English, but he is always complimenting me ('You are the best!'). Dang it Elder, I'm trying to be humble here! Elder Berger and Elder Cory are the other companionship. Elder Berger has 14 months in the mission, and he is awesome! He's lost something like 50 pounds or more since he's been here, such a champ. Elder Cory is new! He doesn't speak a lot of Spanish, so I try to help him out. I totally remember being in those shoes and I'm realizing how far I've come with the language in these 3 and a halfish months. I'm still not at all fluent, but...well, for example, we had a zone conference this morning and a spiritual thought in English, and I was gonna add a little spiritual insight I had, and then I couldn't remember how to say it in English...yeah, I felt Hispanic. Yay!...

Wednesday was a day of very mixed emotions. We had to leave a bunch of investigators this week because they really have no desires to change. We have 4 now, and none of them are progressing. It was really sad for us. BUT! We decided to go visit a little family of a mom and her two kids. I love this family, the son is 16 and just got ordained a priest. The daughter is 14, and a little rebelious. We went by there place and talked with them a bit, and we soon found out that their house had never been dedicated. Normally this is something that a Melchizedek Priesthood holder would do, but families can also do it together. I felt impressed to ask the son, Brian, if he would do so, after our lesson. We talked about obedience and how we can grow closer together as families. 

Afterwards, as he offered the prayer, I felt the Spirit super strong. We all ended up crying, because we could tangibly feel a huge difference in the presence of the Spirit settle over the home. It was an incredible experience, especially for this little family. What a great blessing that they have a loving mother who looks out for them, that they have a worthy priesthood holder in their home, that they have the Gospel to help them get through the trials in their life! This Gospel is the perfect truth, something I know from having seen it in action, changing the lives of those I've met who have accepted it. 

Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference. During the sunday session, we had some speakers broadcast talks to us; Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the 70, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the 70, Elder Richard J. Maynes, Sister Linda S. Reeves of the General Relief Society Presidency, and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles! Sister Reeves and I met on the plane ride out to the MTC, and I'm telling you, she totally requested to speak at this Stake Conference because she knew I'd be there. We're best friends, guys. They all had to speak in Spanish and most of them don't know the language, but even with all their mistakes and their Northern accents, the Spirit was strong as they testified of the truth! 

Last week we had to get flu shots, and last night, I got pretty sick. It didn't last very long, I'm a lot better now after a 12 hour nap, but lemme tell ya, it was no fun haha. In other news, I've decided that Mexican hamburgers are better than those in the states. Call me un-American, but the ones down here actually taste good. 

I'd like to share a scripture in Mosiah 23. In this chapter, Alma the older and his people have escaped the armies of the wicked King Noah and built an awesome city in this beautiful land named Helam. They're doing great, lots of prosperity and blessings, super obedient righteous people, all that good stuff. Then, all of a sudden, this Lamanite army comes out of nowhere and brings them into bondage.

Verses 21-22 say; 'Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.'

Sometimes in our lives, we're doing all these good things and being super obedient, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes this great trial. We may often think, 'Why me?? Why do I have to suffer even though I'm being such a good person right now?? Why not my mean boss, or Kim Jong Un, or someone else??' My belief is this. Sometimes we are like the people of Alma, in that we're being righteous, receiving blessings, and not getting prideful. God can see our reaction to the blessings we receive, and now it's time to test our faith. He knows that we're righteous when we're comfortable, but what about when we have trials? Will we stand firm in our beliefs? Will we still trust in God? Or will our confidence crumble? 

I can testify to you that if we do not let go of our beliefs amidst our trials, we will be lifted up so that we can overcome them. The people of Alma were faithful, even when tried, and because of that, they were also lifted up. God does not cause bad things to happen, but sometimes, He allows us to experience evil so we can truly appreciate the good and seek after it. There's a lot of evil going on in the world right now, and so it is our responsibility (and to our benefit) to stand strong and draw ourselves even closer to God. 

I love you all!! 
Elder Connor
  1. Me, Elder Pancheo (my little brother!!!) and Elder Jimenez
  2. My zone! Love these guys
  3. My district! from left to right: Elders Cory, Gonzalez, Berger, Me

Monday, November 10, 2014

Proper Grooming and Scorpions

This week we had lots of meetings. On Tuesday, we had an 'ending of training' meeting, where all the trainers and their sons attended. It was awesome to see the rest of my generation and how far we've come in only three months. Also, Elder Brewer was there!! We had a fun little reunion, I missed that guy. 

Wednesday, was Elder Jimenez' 21 monthiversary, and my 3 monthiversary was Thursday, so we bought a pizza and celebrated! Sad thing was, we were both sick that morning. I recovered pretty quick, but he's been sick all week. As a result, we didn't get to do a whole lot of work, which was a bummer. 

Thursday, a Seventy came to visit, Elder Salinas! Apparently the whole 'Dallin H. Oaks coming to visit at the end of the month' thing was a lie, he apparently visited at the beginning of October and we weren't told until later...but Elder Salinas was AWESOME! He met with my zone and two others on Thursday and talked a lot about how to be better missionaries. His wife also spoke and talked about proper grooming. Classic. It was a really inspirational and fun meeting, I gave the closing prayer! 

Friday, he met with the same three zones, plus the leaders of the stakes that they pertain to, so it was a nice big meeting! The main message was that the First Presidency has charged the Church in Mexico with becoming autosufficient. I love it!! It was a discussion meeting, so I stood up and spoke! Such a blessing that people can somehow actually understand most of what I say haha. Here in Mexico, there are lots of people that join the church because they want to get something out of it, but they don't give much. It's really sad to see because these generally go inactive. Part of the charge of the First Presidency is to become first autosufficient in your faith. This is so important! It's nice to know that someone else knows the Gospel is true, but how far is that going to get you? It may carry you through your life, but a testimony of someone else's testimony will not help you as much as your own can. If you know for yourself that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, etc, then you can not only receive more blessings in this life, but you can also bless the lives of others more effectively!! As we are autosufficent in our faith, we become better tools in the hands of the Lord; forget the manual screwdriver, let's use the electrical power tools!! 

My Spanish has gotten to the point where I came up with my very own, HILARIOUS Spanish joke! It's seriously so funny, I'll tell you all about it one day. 

Sunday was the Primary Program! It was so fun to hear the little kids sing and speak and direct the meeting! That's right, one of the primary kids directed it! All the kids were dressed in white and the girls had matching red bows with blue or yellow ribbons, and the guys had matching red ties with a blue and yellow stripe (for the primary colors). It was adorable, Mom, you would have loved it! 
I suppose I've made you wait long enough. TRANSFERS!! I'm staying and Elder Jimenez is heading out! My new companion will be Elder Gonzalez, from Guatemala! Dad, you might somehow know his family, I'm gonna find out! He's in my generation, so we're gonna greenie break each other! I'm excited! Elder jimenez is going to open a new area, be a district leader, AND train again! I'm gonna have a baby brother!! I will call him Jacob. 

I know I normally share scriptures at the end of my letters, but this week I'm gonna share a quote from our meeting with Elder Salinas. As he was bearing his testimony, he said this; 'The best way we show our love for someone is seen when we show our love for Christ.' BOOM. I love that! Lots of people feel love in different ways; for example, through receiving gifts, or service, or what have you. But EVERYONE can feel the love Christ has for them, which love works through His servants; us! If we love Christ, we DO those things that He asks us to do. We don't just sit around twiddling our thumbs, we get on our feet and ACT. As we serve, share, help, teach, testify, and invite others, we show our love for Christ and His teachings and they can feel it! I love that!! That's why I'm serving a mission; I want people not only to know that I love them, but more importantly that God does and that He has a plan for all of us. THAT is what's important. 

I love you all! Have a great week!! 

Elder Connor

1 & 2: The Stake President's son taught us how to make scorpions out of copper wire. So cool!! 

3: For our celebration, we made signs. His basically says (not a direct translation), '21 months down' and mine basically says '21 months left...' So clever, I know haha. 

1. Elder Brewer and I, reunited! Love this guy.

2 & 3. This is a fun little family whom I love, their kids are so funny and fun! Sarah, the kid on my left in the blue sweater is your age, in case you were wondering ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Still pretty white"

This week was kinda rough in some ways, and really spiritual in many others! 

On Monday night, we had planned to stop by a family's house and teach a lesson, but when we arrived, there were tons of people there. We soon found out that a member of the family, the dad's dad, had passed away the night before. We stayed for the Mormon funeral service, and I soon realized that they weren't gonna open up the floor for others to speak. I feel like it's very important that missionaries speak in funeral services to let people know who we are and what we do. It's the perfect opportunity to open the door for someone to hear our message about eternal families and the Plan of Salvation. I leaned over before it was over and asked the bishop's counselor who was conducting the service if I could say a few words. He paused, thought about it, and then nodded his head. Since my first week here (maybe it was my second) when I spoke at a funeral, my Spanish has grown to the point where I am now able to convey my ideas, generally. It was by no means perfect, far from it, but I felt the Spirit, and I think so did the others in the room. I feel so blessed to have been able to be God's mouthpiece on that night. 

On Tuesday, we were walking home for the night and this guy stopped us in the street. He asked us if we were the missionaries for the LDS Church and we told him we were. He then proceeded to tell us his name is Robert, that he is a member, and that he had moved here a month ago from California, where he'd lived his entire life, so he needed to transfer his records. When he found out I'm from the states (I mean, it's not that hard, I'm still pretty white...), he wouldn't stop speaking English to me haha. We told him we'd come pick him up for church that Sunday and left. A couple days later, he saw us again in the street and totally remembered my name! We got his records transferred, and he came to church for the first time in about 3 years. He stopped attending when he was 13 (9 years ago) except for random Sundays throughout the years. It appears he really wants to make a much better, more spiritual life for himself down here, which is awesome to see. 

Thursday, I went on splits with a YSA, Rafael, who's 20 years old. He was baptized in January, without his parents' knowledge, and when they found out, they shoved tons of anti mormon literature in his direction. He remembered he'd felt right about joining, and when he prayed again, he felt the same way. He knew the church was true, and when he wouldn't back down, his family completely rejected him. In these past few months, they've allowed him to come back, but they will not hear anything about the church and get very upset whenever he attends. Through all this, he still wants to serve a mission. He knows it's true and he wants to share it. It was a wonderful experience to serve those few hours with him, I learned a lot. 

Friday was Halloween here, but it's not seriously celebrated. The real party came on the 1st and 2nd, saturday and sunday, Los Días de los Muertos. Saturday is Día de los Niños, when they celebrate the lives of the children that have passed on. Everyone dressed up, and went asking for candy, like on Halloween. It was really cool to see, there were some crazy costumes. I wanted to take pictures, but I'd really rather not have my camera get stolen. Sunday, they celebrated the lives of the older people who had died. Almost everyone has an altar to their family members who've passed on with their favorite foods. As a result of the festivities, work was kinda slow and not super productive, which was a bummer. 

Another bummer was that we stopped by Maribel and Angel's place on Sunday to go to church, only to find out that they no longer live there. This hit hard for me. I had really loved teaching them, I really thought they were going to accept the message, and now I can't teach them anymore. I've been praying for the missionaries to find them again, wherever they may be. 

I want to share a scripture in Mosiah 5:13; 'For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served,and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?'

God knows us and we knew him, but when we came here to live on this Earth, we forgot our premortal life. The purpose of this life is to repent of our sins and do the will of the Father. But how can we do that if we do not serve Him? How can we know what He wants for us if we do not work to build His Kingdom on this earth, if we do not work to bring others unto Him? The truth is, without doing what He commands us to do, we cannot truly come to know Him ourselves. So go to work! 

I love you all! 
Elder Connor

I didn't take any fun pictures this week, so here's my apartment! Sorry I'm lame...
  1. Entryway/kitchen from the door
  2. our little study room
  3. bedroom

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scrambled Pancakes

Not a ton of eventful stuff happened this week, just a couple big things...

First off, Me and my companion now make up the smallest district in the entire mission! The other two elders in our district are gone now, one left for sickness, and the other leaves in about 3 weeks, so he got transferred into another area for the rest of his mission, and they closed our other area for now. I really wish we could take on both areas, but that's a lot of work and we didn't get permission. 

On Tuesday, I went on splits with my zone leader, Elder Merrill! He's really a great missionary, 20 years old, 13 months into the mission, super humble, loves contacting. At at least half of the appointments we had with people, they started crying, the Spirit was really strong. Early in the split, we were walking to an appointment, only to find the sister wasn't there. We started walking to our back up appointment, when I felt impressed to turn around and go visit another family, the Bobadilla's. I wasn't perfectly sure how to get there, but I knew the general direction. 

As we walked, we bumped into some old ladies dragging a heavy stove down the street, so we stopped them and helped them the rest of the way. We asked if we could meet with them another day, and they declined, which is a bummer. But that's ok, planting seeds! We headed back only to bump into our original appointment! We got to meet with her and had a really nice lesson. 

We never actually got to go visit the Bobadilla's, but I think I know why I was impressed to head back. If I had just been told, 'walk the other way,' I would've ignored the prompting and kept going. But with a specific target in mind, I find I am more willing to go for it. I know God was aware of those ladies and their needs, as well as my thought process and what I needed to be pushed in the right direction. 

And now for a commercial break: Elder Merrill apparently had a band before his mission that had some pretty successful shows, so he asked me to advertise it back home. If you go to and look up 'Sonsapapa,' you can listen and tell me if they're any good. He writes the songs, sings, and plays guitar. 

Later in the day, we had a guided tour with Maribel, Ana, and Angel from last week. It was crazy, here's what happened: 

We went to pick them up, and one of them was in the shower, so we ended up waiting for about 20 more minutes. We got to know more about them though, and their needs, so it wasn't a waste. When we finally got to the chapel, we realized that the other ward was having their youth activities that night, which was kidn of annoying. The youth were being kind of rowdy too, at one point, there was a group of deacons and teachers WRESTLING in the hallway. Elder Merrill sorted that out quick (Do you realize you're in the house of the Lord!? There are investigators over there and you just made a TERRIBLE impression of the Church on them!). They were also having an Institute class in the actual chapel, which is like, the crowning moment of every guided tour. Despite all the upsets, we still got into the Chapel and they were able to feel the Spirit. It turned out to be a very nice tour. 

Other than that, I don't have much else to report, other than I made scrambled pancakes this morning! I couldn't flip them in the pan we have, so I just scrambled the batter, and it turned out fine haha. 

This week, I want to share Mosiah 4:10
'And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.'

I really like the wording in this verse; not only should we repent, it says we MUST. There is no way we will feel comfortable in the presence of God, who is perfect, if we are unwilling to repent of our sins. Part of that repentance is forsaking that wrong thing we have been doing. Repentance is never a one moment occurance, it is an ongoing process that takes time, so you can heal from the Spiritual harm and be able to overcome the temptations as they arise. Repentance is in reality an act of faith and humility. When we truly repent, we also believe we can be forgiven and we realize that we cannot return to His presence without His forgiveness, a gift received only by those who truly seek Him. It is given to all, but we must accept it and forgive ourselves as well. My favorite part is the end. As we come to truly believe in things, we are not finished with just faith. We must DO them. We must act on that faith and do those things we're commanded to do, including repent and forsake. 

I love you all! 
Elder Connor
  1. Sometimes, people don't want to listen to our message...
  2. But then they can feel the truth! :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Best week EVER!

Hello all! 

This week was awesome for so many reasons. Number one, I got a PACKAGE from the fambam and letters from Gina Han, Sister Lortz, and Nicole! They are the winners!!

Starting Tuesday, I came down with some really obnoxious stomach virus thing. It also rained a ton this week, super wet and cold. I know, that doesn't sound fun, and it wasn't, but somehow, this week turned absolutely amazing. Here's why: 

It started off with splits with a recent RM, Johnathan, the Bishop's son. He's really cool, and super good at teaching. We had a lot of really nice lessons and he helped me a lot with the language. 
The day I really want to focus on though is Saturday. It rained the hardest on this day, and my stomach still hurt a bit, and I really didn't want to work that much. But, we're missionaries, and so we work, rain or shine! 

Our first appointment fell through, so we plodded through more rain to a recent converts place, Hermano Nacho, to talk about Christ's Gospel. We went through faith and repentance, and lightly touched baptism, and then got to talking about The Holy Ghost. As we talked, I could feel the Spirit guiding my words and I would know what scriptures to read and what answers to give. It was an amazing experience, one I am so thankful for. 

After this lesson, we went all the way to the other side of our area, about a 20 minute walk in the freezing rain. We had an appointment with an investigator, Maribel, and the people that lived with her. When we arrived, there was a guy visiting. They were all reading the Restoration pamphlet and waiting for us, which was amazing, because before Thursday, we hadn't been able to meet with them for a couple weeks (they would always tell us to come back tomorrow, and then not be there...) We talked about what they'd read, and were about to leave, when the visitor guy (His name is Angel), in perfect English, said, 'Hey, are you from the States?' Turns out, he'd lived his entire life in California, up until three years ago, when he came here to live nearer to his mom. He could understand spoken Spanish by now, but he didn't really know how to read it, so he didn't very much understand the pamphlets. 

As a result, we ended up staying there for another half hourish, as I explained the Restoration IN ENGLISH. It was kind of weird, teaching again in English, I forgot a couple words, but it was really an awesome experience. At one point, he told me he had been baptized Catholic as a baby, but never went to church. He wanted to understand what it was God wanted in his life, but had no idea where to find it until now. He said if that's what we were offering, was a way to understand God's will, that's what he wanted. He asked if he could still be baptized, even though he was already baptized Catholic. I was seriously so floored, and so felt incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to talk with him. I know the Spirit was there, even before we arrived, in Angel's heart (haha) working the changes in him that he will need as he listens to the lessons and seeks to know God's will for him. 

The rest of the day was almost as amazing. Despite the rain, and the cold, and the upset stomach, I've never felt so much love for these people here. This work is so far beyond me, my own capability, and yet, God has seen fit to make a tool out of me to do His work. I am so incredibly blessed to be here. I know this Gospel is true and I am so glad I have the opportunity to be a part of sharing it with the Children of God in Mexico. 

I know it's true, but maybe you don't. I want to share a scripture, found in 2 Nephi 32:4; 
'Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.' 

I know what I've said in this email is true. Now that you've read it, it is your responsibility to ask God, to knock at His door. I know He will answer you as you do so and you will receive that same confirmation I have received. It is so important that you do so. 

Cool things of the week: I was put in charge of the phone and keys by my trainer. I had to answer all the calls and unlock all the doors (Ok, just our doors, but whatever). At one point, we had a lesson with an investigator and she said, 'You know, when you speak, you say 'um' a lot.' I apologized, feeling kind of sheepish, but then she said, 'not you, your companion! You speak fine.' Wut. Haha, well thanks, don't know I deserved that, but I'll take what I can get! Also, we had bacon wrapped hot dogs for lunch on Saturday. What the best thing ever. We also had interviews with the President this past Friday, which was so great, he is such an awesome president, so full of love and charity for everyone he comes in contact with. AND Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle called of God to preach His word, is coming to visit us at the end of this month!!! Too pumped. I love you all! 

Elder Connor 

My Sunday breakfast, French toast and Reese's!
Pictures a little girl drew for us on Sunday, awesome. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Lesson on Geography

This week, I've had to lead all the planning sessions for every day, and then direct us everywhere. It's a little tough, Mexican directions are way different from American... but I'm doing pretty well and learning lots more about the needs of the investigators this way, which is good! I also had to report to our Ward mission leader, brought me back to the days of ward missionary-ing with Brother Pacini. Boss. 

We also had emergency exchanges this week on Thursday! Elder Long left and we got this elder named Elder Yupanqui. He's from Lima Peru, same mission generation as Elder Jimenez. I don't know much else about him as of yet.

On Wednesday, we went to the temple!! We can't do any sessions, but there are tons of little church stores right next to it, so I got three new ties, a scripture bag, a nex shoulder bag, and a little Mexico City Chalco Mission keychain thingy, all for un 300 pesos (about $24). It was awesome! 

Sad news time, Sergio, the investigator who lost his fingers that I mentioned a few weeks ago, has basically decided he doesn't want to meet with us anymore. It's really sad when we go to his place and he's 'not there' or when he doesn't show up to church. I'm learning it's hard to have to let investigators go.
But there is good news! We picked up some new investigators, the Gomez Savala family! They have cousins that live right next door that are members, one of them just got back from his mission last year in Colorado Springs. They're a really cool family, super rich too, I don't think I've ever seen such a nice house in Mexico. Or in the US for that matter, it's really impressive. They were being taught some years back by Elder Roura's sister who served here, and they want to be taught again! The dad has a lot of questions and doubts, but he's really cool, and the mom just soaks everything right up, so I'm excited to see where this family goes. 

On Sunday, I went on splits with Immanuel, the Satake President's son, to go pick up some investigators. No one we stopped by was home. We walked back to the chapel feeling pretty crummy and who should show up, but 4 less active families! It was such an awesome miracle and blessing, I was so happy to see them! And, one of our investigators ended up coming a little late. Better late than never! 

Fun things that happened this week, we got a water heater thingy that we can use to heat our shower water! Why didn't we do this 8 weeks ago? Don't know, but we have it now! Also, we had a party on Saturday with the Bishop, don't know what for, probably Heather's birthday. We ate hot dogs and hamburgers! I surprised myself and ate 3 burgers. I don't even like burgers. Or at least, I didn't. 

Some funny things about Mexico, everyone here thinks there are only 5 continents; America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Antarctica doesn't count and they don't split the Americas. Somehow they get all offended if you try to make a North and South America ('What, we're not good enough to be in the some continent?' So many things wrong with that statement haha). Also, if you're a white Mormon, they all think you're from Utah ('Maryland? What part of Utah is Maryland?') 

This week, I want to share with you 2 Nephi 27:19-20, which says: 

 'Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned;and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned. Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.'
When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, he had little more than a third grade education. He could only read and write basic English, and yet, he comes out with a 500-something page book in less than a year, all about the history, culture, language, beliefs, wars, etc. of a people who lived over a thousand years before him. As critics slander this God-given book, trying to disprove it with 'historical facts', they are time and time again confounded and proved wrong, as the world learns that in reality, the facts add up. There is no possible way that Joseph Smith could have done this without divine help. It just couldn't ever happen. It doesn't make any sort of rational or logical sense that a man of little education could have done so on his own. He must have had the aid of God to do so, to give him the understanding he needed to accomplish this great work. 
And so, that being said, I want all of you to know how truly convinced I am of God's hand in the writing, translation, and publication of the Book of Mormon. I know it's true. I've read it, and there is just no way it can be wrong. Given that knowledge, I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and thus, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in God's one and only true church on the earth. There is no other. I encourage all of you, member of the church or not to read the Book of Mormon and seek this knowledge for yourself. Doing so will bless your life in unimaginable, uncountable ways. 
I love you all! Have a safe week! 
Elder Connor


  1. Temple trip!
  2. New ties!
  3. Dog on our roof. During the night, sometimes he runs around up there and we can here the little pitter patter of his feet haha

The church is true....but I cannot rotate this picture to save my life. Tilt your heads? -Heather