Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 1 in the Field!

Hello everyone! Here's the address to send me things!

Elder Connor
Mexico City Chalco Mission
Calle Porvenir No. 8
Colonia Centro
C.P. 56600 Chalco
Estado de Mexico

I'm alive! First, final MTC days. We sang on Sunday and it sounded great! I was really pleased with how it went and the Spirit was very strong! Funny story, one of the other Elders I roomed with, Elder Solano, didn't have enough room in his bags for all his things (I don't know how he got them out here), so he gave me a whole bunch of stuff, since I had more than enough space. Christmas came early, I got a few shirts, some shampoo, and an entire suit. And it fits. I almost cried. 

2 AM on Monday morning, I woke up and left the MTC. Any tears that may have been shed were because I was so tired. The flights were fine, we had a layover in Dallas for a couple hours, and then flew out to Mexico. When we arrived, we (there were two other Elders that came with) met with President and Sister Crickmore and their assistants. I love the President and his wife! They are so nice and funny! 

One thing I learned about Mexico when we left the airport is that I never want to drive here. Ever. I have never seen such unorganized, crazy driving in my life. It was insane. We made it to the Mission Office (by the Grace of God) and had interviews with President. The first thing he asked was how I would feel having a native companion who didn't speak much English...I said It'd be quite the learning experience and I would most certainly be happy with it (I wonder if he knows how terrifying that idea sounded). We then ate some food and went to a little house to sleep for the night with the other greenies. 

Tuesday, I met my trainer! His name is Eldr Jimenez, he's from El Salvador, converted when he was 13 (8 years ago), and he doesn't speak much's actually a lot of fun though, we play lots of vocab games while walking to appointments, so I'm learning lots! He's super patient and has a great sense of humor, so I consider myself pretty lucky to have him! 

There are two other Elders in my district, Elder Rauro and Elder Brewer. Elder Rauro is hilarious, speaks even less English than my trainer, and he loves my ties. he offered to pay 500 pesos for one of them (about $40, but I declined). Elder Brewer is from Utah, and he's only been out here for 7 months, so he still speaks English (phew). He's a lot of fun too, we sing together a lot and he is really helpful with giving me tips to help me adjust. 

We've had lots of good lessons this past week, a lot of times people aren't home, but when they are, the lessons are (in general) great! I've discovered that little kids speaking spanish is one of the cutest things ever. It reminds of the little turtles in Finding Nemo; they're super cute, and I can hardly understand them at all haha. 

On Thursday, we went to visit this woman named Nina, only to learn that she had passed away just the day before. We went in and talked with the family for a bit, and then told them we'd come back later. That night, there was a funeral for her, and a few people were asked to say some words. When they opened it up for anyone to talk, I felt impressed to do so. Super nervous, I stepped forward and stumbled through the language, hoping that what I was saying would help these people feel the Spirit. I don't remember what I said, but I do remember a feeling of peace in the room and it seemed to have touched the hearts of those present. It was an incredible experience. 

Oftentimes while walking to lessons, we'll see people doing some sort of work in the streets like moving dirt or whatever. We stop as often as we can to help and people are so thankful! I love service!
Oh, one thing about Mexico; there are dogs everywhere. Like, so many dogs, they just walk around streets, on rooftops, in houses (!!), doing whatever they want. It's so weird. 

I've already tried a whole bunch of weird new foods, here's a list:
-Nopales (cactus)
-Tuna (it's a fruit that tastes like watermelon, but is actually good)
-Guayaba (another fruit that tastes delicious)
-Higos (Ee-gos, it's a fruit)
-Jamaica (a really good drink)
-Chinchuron (pig skin. yup. I wanted to throw up all day.)

Things are really different down here, but I like it. Not enough to live here again, but I really just like being here, spreading the Gospel. It's such a joyous work! I love you all, write me letters and things, I don't have a ton of time to respond to emails! 

Elder Connor


We got a surprise picture of Joseph after he had only been in the MTC for about a week! A lady saw him and a few other missionaries in the airport and took a picture to send to their moms. Here's what she said about Joseph:

I wanted to let you know that your son looked so great!  My son is serving in Nevada and I am from Utah. Your cute son was one of about 16 missionaries flying to Vegas for their Visas.  He was very happy and confident.  Out of all 16 he was the only one that really talked to me and was very friendly and happy.  I tried forever to get the text to go through, he even tried to help me and I couldn't get it.  Then all of a sudden it went.  That is why I sent the email.  I love getting random pictures on my phone from members in texts and on facebook.  

I'm sure your missionary is in Mexico now.  I think he said he was leaving the next week.  He really did look great and has an amazing spirit.  He will be a fantastic missionary.  If there is anything you need me to help with I am happy to.  This is a hard journey for the first few months until they get settled.  This is my third missionary and I wish I could say you worry less but you don't.  It is the most amazing time in their lives an in the life of your family.  Enjoy it!  

He is in good hands.  I have seen the Lord protect and life all of my boys.  They come home wonderful priesthood holders and leaders and have a love for the Savior.  That is what a mom hopes for.  I often say, what they learn on their mission as mother, I can't teach them those things.  The Lord is a much better teacher.  Good luck and tell your son hello from the crazy lady at the Salt Lake airport.  I just kind of walked up and plopped down in the middle of them and they weren't sure what I was doing.  Like I said your son was the only one that really acted like I would expect a missionary to act when a stranger comes up to them.  Have a great Sabbath day and a wonderful week.  

So nice! If you see any missionaries, you might consider taking a picture and sending it to their family. It was really fun to get that message!

Monday, August 18, 2014

On to Chalco!

Hello Everybody! 

This week was my last week in the MTC! My flight leaves Monday at 6 AM, so I have to leave here at 2:30...gross. 

On Tuesday, last P-day, we were doing our laundry, and Elder Carrillo and I started singing. It started off with more spiritual songs, but gradually, everyone else in the Laundry Room gave requests. We sang and sang and it was a lot of fun, until we realized someone had left. In the Missionary handbook, it says basically to avoid listening to, playing, or singing any music that doesn't invite the Spirit, and though we didn't sing anything bad or immoral, some of the songs were capable of driving away the Spirit. As a result, I've resolved to never during these two years sing anything that is not uplifting or in any way spiritual. I remember Elder Rosenberg making a similar goal with beatboxing, so if he can do it, so can I! 

Wednesday was a really good day to learn a lot! Elder Flores and I were teaching our "investigator" and he wasn't accepting anything we were saying. We kept trying to bear testimony of God's love for us, but he wad not having it, and we couldn't figure out why. After a while, he ended the meeting and reverted back to being our teacher. The thing is, I was really frustrated because I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong, but Hermano Cuadra was so loving and gentle as he nudged us in the right direction. 

Afterwards, he asked to speak with me alone, and we talked about my frustrations. He made it very clear that I shouldn't be frustrated or upset about not being able to do it all now, and even when I get out into the field. It's been really hard the past couple weeks feeling like I'm actually not ready to be here, but Hermano Cuadra helped me understand that I wouldn't be here if that was the case. Of course, we are all imperfect, and none of us know everything (not even close). But Heavenly Father does and He knows what we can do and accomplish. 

I know that I have so much left to learn, that's been made really clear to me in my time here, but I also know that I'm only here because Heavenly Father trusts me to do His work. Despite my imperfections, if I am obedient and do my best to move this work along, He will help me teach as a companion to the Spirit, the Master Teacher. And if I pay close enough attention, maybe I can pick up a few tricks along the way so I can better my teaching skills! 

Thursday wasn't super exciting, at least any more so than any other days. Friday, we went to in-field orientation, which was amazing! We learned a lot about contacting and working with the members and finding investigators, etc. and it was so great! One of the Elders from the District, Elder Christensen was teaching! But it was really sad because he didn't get to teach my class. So I cried. Not really, but it was definitely a bummer. Ah well, his loss. 

Today was our last day of classes, we have one more right after this with Hermano Cuadra. We've been taking lots of pictures, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get them on the computer. Hopefully I can do so today! Also, we're singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (#136) tomorrow in Sacrament meeting, and my branch voted that I sing I dragged another sister into it haha. We're gonna sing the first half of the first verse together, then everyone will sing (phew). I'm really excited, it's gonna be totally in Spanish, so that'll be a lot of fun! 

I love you all! I know without a doubt that this is the Work of God, and that I am supposed to be here now. I know this Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is TRUE and that Jesus Christ leads this Church and this Work. I love being here and I can't wait to actually get into the field and do more! I'm pretty sure I won't have another P-day until the Monday after next, I know I said that earlier this week, but I'm almost positive this time haha. Talk to you all then! Thanks so much for all the wonderful letters! Love you! 

Elder Connor

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 1 - the MTC

Hi everyone! First off, thanks to everyone who sent me emails and letters, it means so much to hear from all of you! 

This week has been soo full, I'm almost never not doing something haha. Monday and Tuesday, before I reported, I flew out here to Utah and hung out with the Akagis and Shimps. They were so much fun and so hospitable and nice! 

Wednesday, I reported, went to class almost first thing and met one of my teachers and my district. My teacher is Hermana Casares, she's so nice and she always says "super" instead of "muy." So now, whenever anyone says, "Como estan?", we all reply, "Super bien!" My district is awesome, we have four Hermanas, and six Elderes. I actually just realized I don't have a picture of all of them...woops haha. I'll get one before the week is out. My companion is Elder Flores, he lives in Cash Valley, but his family is from Mexico. He's going to serve in Veracruz (I'm the only one in my branch that's serving in Chalco) and he's so cool! Super patient, really good at soccer, and he's really funny. He's also really willing to try out new things, so when I asked if we could do choir, he was all for it! We're singing a beautiful arrangement of "Nearer My God to Thee" at tonights devo!

Elder Flores and I share a living space with Elders Carrillo (serving in Panama) and Solano (serving in MC North I think). They're really cool too, Elder Carrillo is super good with magic tricks, was on the coast guard, and is a convert as of 2 years! Elder Solano is really into yoga and is really funny. The other two elders, Peterson and Vinces are really great as well, really funny and fun to talk with. It's a great group! 

My Branch President is President Call, I had an interview with him a couple days ago and he's a wonderful man. Definitely called of God. As is the rest of the Presidency, they're all really nice, good men. 

We have two other teachers, Hermanos Cuadra y Antello. They're really awesome, pretty different but both really good teachers. I've kind of become the universal scapegoat for the district, mostly because Elder Vinces always blamed me for things like Hermano Cuadra's keys missing or what have you. The worst was when someone clogged the toilet and everyone blamed me. I promise it wasn't me. 

As far as food goes, there's so much...It's really hard to not just keep eating here haha. I'm doing well though, only gained a couple pounds...probably haha. 

For exercise, I try to find anyone who will play frisbee with me. Sometimes I do, and it's so much fun!! Other times I've played soccer (tried**) and ran around a bit. 

Friday and Saturday, we talked to our first "investigators" (Hermana Casares y Hermano Cuadra). I was surprised at how hard it was. During the lessons, I kept stumbling and had no clue what to say or how to say it. It was really hard and I got really frustrated, but the teachers are so loving and supportive here, and I'm starting to learn more about how to invite the Spirit so I'm no longer the one teaching. We all know how it goes when I try to teach. Malo. 

Monday was one of the most amazing days ever. Me, Elders Flores and Vinces, and 7 other missionaries (6 Elders, One Hermana...poor girl haha) had to take a day trip to Las Vegas! We had to go to the Mexican Consulate there to do visa stuff, so we woke up at 4:00 and went to the airport! Only to wait an hour for our flight. Why did we get up so early haha. 

So we finally got to Vegas, went to a chapel and there was a senior missionary there who had served a recent senior mission in Mexico City! So he gave us all a whole bunch of tips and things to know about Mexico and then we went to the Consulate. Elder Greer (the senior Elder) said it would probably take anywhere from an hour to 4 hours to work everything out. I think we were out of there in under 45 minutes. And then he just drove us back to the airport, so we could wait another 4 hours for the flight back to Salt Lake! Awesome. 

So we sat near our gate and ate food and chatted with the other missionaries, who are all so great. Then this random man comes up to us and says, "Here, have some pizza!" And hands us two huge boxes of freshly bought pizza. We were all pretty speechless for a second, but not too long. We were hungry! So we thank him, eat the pizza, and then had an awesome experience. There was another man, over in the corner reading something I think, and one of the Elders, Elder Trumpet (bless this man) went up to him and said, "Hey, we have a lot of pizza, would you mind eating some for us?" and we handed him a slice. Then Elder Trumpet pops back in, "So this is conditional. We'll give you the pizza if you listen to a message we have." To which, the man accepted (duh, free pizza.) and Elder Trumpet and I started talking to him. We talked about Christ's ministry, His Atonement, the Apostasy, and The Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. And he said he would read it! It was such a cool experience, the Spirit was definitely there. 

Awesome experience number two: Elder Trumpet and I barely make our flight because we were talking to this guy, and then we sit down. I sat next to this other Elder in the group, Elder Romney, and we started chatting. Then this lady sits down next to us and she's visibly very upset. We asked if there was something we could do to help and she declined, so we kinda sat there awkwardly for the first half of the flight. 

After awhile, I pull out my scriptures and pray to know how to help this woman. Elder Romney and I are reading quietly and then all of a sudden Elder Romney just starts talking to her. Now this Elder is pretty shy, but he was so good at it! Turns out, this woman was traveling with her daughter and lost her for a bit and then just barely got in contact with her before they boarded and so they were both on the plane, but they were separated and this lady hated flying, scares her to death, so she was really upset. We get to know her a bit and then she asks who we are and what we're doing. We tell her we're missionaries for the church and ask if she knows much about the Church. She says she knows quite a bit, but she didn't want to talk much (something about it made her nervous on the flight....ok) So we ask if we can share our message, she could just listen and we'd do all the talking, and she said she'd like that. So we basically just taught her the first discussion. It was pretty similar to what Elder Trumpet and I did, but different because we felt prompted in different ways. It was so cool, every time one of us Elders wasn't sure what to say next, the other was right there, boom, Spirit, and kept it going. The Spirit was so strong and by the time we'd finished, she was really calm and peaceful and thankful. We gave her a Book of Mormon as well and she thanked us and said she'd read it. It was seriously such a wonderful trip! 

I almost have to get off, but I love all of you! I can really feel your prayers and know that I pray for you too! This work is really hard, I didn't expect it to be this difficult to be honest. But I love it so much and I'm so glad to be here! I leave on Monday, so I don't think I'll have another P-day for two weeks, but I'll call before I board. Love you all! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

See You In Two

Hey everyone! This is Heather, Joseph's ehm! Elder Connor's sister. I'll be dropping him off at the MTC tomorrow. He's asked me to post his letters that he sends to everyone on a blog, so here it is! Follow along if you would like to know how he's doing and about all the great adventures he is having!

A note from Joseph:

"Well, this is it! Pretty soon, I'll be shipping out on my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'm so excited to serve the Lord in this great adventure and share the blessings of the Gospel I have received in my life with the people of Mexico City. I will be emailing home every week from the following email:
So make sure to email me and keep me updated! Love you all, see you in two!!"

I think we all know he's going to do great things. Thanks to Kellie Nuss for this photo!