Monday, March 2, 2015

"Meet the Mormons" and Prayers

First off, starting next Monday, I will no longer be sending my big email home to everyone's individual email, just to those of my family. It will still be posted on the following blogspot: 

If you wish to email me, I will respond as quickly as possible. I love you all! 

Anyway, this week, was pretty good. We saw the 'Meet the Mormons' movie on Tuesday, which was AMAZING. What made it even better was that we saw it as a mission, so I got to see all my good missionary friends and take lots of pictures. Unfortunately, I don't have my camera memory card with week

I also received TWO packages on Tuesday, one from Mom, and one from Kelly! They are the winners!!! 

I want to share an interesting experience I had this week. On Tuesday, I decided to do an experiment; in every single one of my prayers for the entire week, I would only thank God for the things I have and not ask for ANYTHING. I lasted 3 days, and let me tell you, there was a clear difference. I learned many things from this little test. 
  1. There is SO much to be grateful for! God gives us everything we have and when we start to count our blessings, it's hard to stop. 'Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Mosiah 2:21; 'I say unto you should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another...
  1. We CANNOT do this great work without asking for His help. We need it. There is no way we can possibly make it through this life having experienced true joy and happiness without knowing Him and recognizing the blessings and miracles all around us, when we ask for and receive them. He has SO many blessings just waiting for us, and if we ask for them, AND ACT in order to be worthy and ready to receive them, He WILL bless us. 
I love this Gospel so much! I love being a missionary, being able to share it! I understand so much more now how wonderful a blessing it is to have a Heavenly Father who loves us, listens to us, and responds to our needs. 

Sorry this email is short, I have 0 time! But I love you all! Have a great week

Elder Connor

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sleep Preaching, Daily Miracles, and Frisbee Golf

That's right, I preach in my SPANISH. Three times in the past few weeks, I've woken my companion up, preaching to someone. I've taught about the Family: A Proclamation to the World, the Missionary objective, and something else he couldn't quite maybe just twice, but still. That's a little crazy man. 

This week, I've stayed sick (don't worry, I'm finally feeling much much better), and I had to stay home most of Tuesday. I hate staying home, so the rest of the days, we would go out and work until I couldn't concentrate anymore, rest for a couple hours, and then go back out. Despite our weird schedule, I have seen countless miracles in these days. Just being able to go out in the first place is such a blessing, and even though we had to leave some investigators that weren't progressing, we found some awesome new contacts, so lots of great potential for this week

One cool experience, I was feeling sick, but feeling sicker of staying at home, so we went out to work. I was planning to visit one investigator, but somehow, it didn't feel right. I thought hard, and brought another investigator to mind. Laid both names before God in prayer, asking which we should visit, and I felt like the second name was right. We went there instead. As we're walking, out of nowhere step 7 or 8 dogs, all big, all barking and growling meanly. We stop and stand still until they finally just leave. We get to the house, and before we make it up the pathway to her door, 4 more dogs, all mean and barking...and they don't leave. Finally the investigator comes out and tries to hand back her books. She didn't want us to come by anymore, so we testified and left the books with her. I felt the Spirit and knew we'd done all we could. 

As we walked away, I contacted a woman in the street, the normal stuff; 'Hey, we're missionaries, we preach about Jesus Christ, have you ever talked to missionaries of our church before??' etc. She told us no, she had never talked to missionaries before, but then said, 'Can you come by on this day at this time? I live right here.' Of course! God couldn't have made it more obvious, He is with us every step of the way in this great work.

Apparently, we're going to see MEET THE MORMONS tomorrow!!! As a MISSION. Freaking out, praying this doesnt't turn out to be like the Frozen disappointment...But I have heard wonderful things about this movie, from members and nonmembers alike, and I am very excited. 

Today, we had our district meeting early, and then started throwing a frisbee around, with no point but to throw and catch. It somehow evolved into this huge firsbee mini golf game, using the chairs all over the church grounds. Actually, it was awesome, tons of fun. 

The church is true! I love being a missionary, because I can literally see the blessings people receive as they apply the principles God has commanded us to teach. God is so good. 

I love you all!
Elder Connor

Monday, February 16, 2015

Doctor's Orders

On Tuesday, I woke up feeling absolutely awful, so I slept in for a while and then we went to the Mission Doctor. I felt much better at that time, and the doctor gave me some medicine and told me I could work! YES!! I would have hated staying at home, I felt much better and we had a ton of appointments, so this was a huge blessing from God to me, and I hope for those we visited. It was hard, but I felt so much happier working than staying at home. I love being a missionary!

This week, we have been contacting and what surprised me is that almost everyday, we contacted a member that had somehow lost touch with the church. I didn't know them, but we would ask if they knew the church, and they would say, 'Yeah, I was baptized (so many years ago)' It was really amazing how God placed us in their paths, and vice versa, really a very strong testimony to me that God knows and loves each of us and wants us to be happy! God is so Good!

We've also had to leave some investigators this week, people who like to listen, but don't want to change. Cool story, we were going to leave one investigator, he really just wanted to argue. I was thinking about it, praying really hard to know what we should do, and I felt prompted to visit him one more time. I really didn't want to if I'm honest, I would much rather have visited someone that would listen to our message and do something about it, but we went. 

When we arrived, we found he wasn't there, but his daughter who had just moved in a few days prior, invited us in. She listened attentively and invited us to come back. Had we not returned, we probably would never have found her, but again, God knows each of us PERSONALLY, our needs, our desires, how we can be happy, and He sent us there to visit that woman because this is something that she NEEDS, and that CAN make her happy. How grateful I am for a Father in Heaven who knows and loves me, and each of you!!

This week coming, we celebrate not just one, but TWO wonderful people! First, the studliest of studs, the clutchiest of the clutch, the fastest of people who are really fast, the one and only, JACooooooooooob CONNORRRRRRRRR!!! This man among men is just about the coolest guy around. Good looking, athletic, loving, and the epiphany of awesome, he's got it all. I love this kid so much and I'm so lucky to have him as my brother! Happy Birthday, 16 YEAR OLD. That's right ladies, he's dateable! You better get in line now though, it's already probably a few miles long. And he's only got two years before his mission! LIMITED TIME OFFER!! TAKE ADVANTAGE NOW!! 

11 And [Jacob] was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding...
12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
 13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ...

The second person, and by no means lesser than my younger brother. My sister Julie also has her birthday this week, turning 21!! She's equally wonderful, funny, and such the nicest sister named Julie ever! I have a ton of fun memories when we would play together as kids and I love having her as my sister!! 

 17 A friend loveth at all times...

Happy Birthdays! I love you all! Have a great week

Elder Connor

P.S. Sorry I haven't sent pictures recently, the computers have had trouble, but here they are!!
  1. (left to right) Elder Pacheco (my brother), Elder Jimenez (my father), me, Elder Castillo (my son!!) 
  2. (left to right) Elder Kleinman (an elder from my generation), me, my son, and Elder Zabriskie (Elder Kleinman's son!)
  3. We have a momma bird in our cactus!!
  4. The burgers we made a few weeks ago. So. Good. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

I swear, Mexico is out to get me. I get sick at least once a month. This is just a cold, nothing debilitating, just really obnoxious. Also, apparently, I sleep talk now...maybe just when I'm sick?? Who knows man. 

My son!! Born at a whopping 5 feet 6 inches, 130 pounds, he already has about 19 years worth of growth! They just grow up so fast! His name is Elder Castillo, a really great missionary already! From Honduras, super diligent and humble, ready and willing to learn. Super blessed to work with him. I love training, ever since I became a missionary, I've wanted to train. It's so much fun! Lots of hard work, but the Lord has helped me in so many incredible ways. I love being a missionary! 

My zone is starting a 40-day fast! Basically, we make a list of all the things we want to leave behind that keep us from giving our all to the Lord's work, fast for a day, and then fast from those things for 40 days. I'm really excited! I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and now, I'm doing it! 
I got a package from Dallin and Whitney this week! They are the winners!!! 

Apparently, Meet the Mormons is coming out in theaters down here! I AM SO EXCITED!!! Not one to spread rumors, but I've been told that President is gonna let us all go watch it! YAYYYYY!!!!!

This Friday, I had my 6-monthiversary in the mission. Looking back on the day I arrived in the MTC, August 6th, 2014, it's crazy to think I've already been serving for 6 months. I've learned so so much about people, the language, and how to be more Christlike. I have so much to thank my Heavenly Father for, I don't even know where to begin. God is so good. I love being a missionary so much! 

I love you all! Have a great week!! 

Elder Connor

Monday, February 2, 2015

Burgers and Transfers

Sorry everybody, but I'm almost out of time, so I'll have to make this quick!

This week was the last week of the cycle before transfers, so we had a little District party. One of the Elders in my District, Elder Celis, is an awesome cook, truly amazing what he can do. He made us some hamburgers, and you might think, why wouldn't you go gourmet if this guy is so good? But let me tell you, you've never had burgers like this; he bought some yummy meat, mashed it up, and mixed it with onions and cilantro to make the patties, then we put on onion rings, avocado, tomato, lettuce, bacon, cheese, and some sort of mayo-chili mix. Soooooo good, why can't the States have burgers this good (or good burgers period...?)? He also made a really yummy strawberry drink and a cookie cake, just...gah so good! After eating, we played a Church Doctrine/History game, he's actually suuuuuper knowledgeable when it comes to the scriptures and such. Lots of fun, Mormon Missionaries party hard. 

During this week, we've been trying to be better about teaching people in every moment; in their houses, the streets, public transportation, everywhere. We also have been traveling more to the other pueblo, Zula, in our area. It's really small and not very many members live there, but I've been wanting to go more often because I know there are people there to teach! 

One day, we were there and we contacted this old man in the street. He started trying to argue with us, and all of a sudden, I began to understand something. The thought came to me that this man, was really truly a son of God who God loves and really really wants to return home. I don't think I've ever worked so hard in a contact to get an appointment. I told him exactly what I had just thought, that God loves him and wants him to listen to our message. I then gave him a Book of Mormon and explained it a bit. After I handed him the book, he looked at me, and said, 'Can you come by on this day at this time?' I was stunned. His demeanor completely changed. I don't know if he will be there waiting, but I pray for that almost every night. 

Another cool Zula experience. We found another dog that followed us for about 45 minutes as we walked from appointment to appointment, not finding anybody. We really began to like this little puppy and were not excited to leave it. As we were walking to get on some public transportation to go back to San Pablo, the dog ran up to this man on the sidewalk. He looked homeless, had no shoes, ragged clothes, all that stuff. The puppy sniffed him and then sat next to him, completely forgetting us. The man seemed a lot happier after that. Good dog. 

TRANSFERS!! Elder Antonio is the only one in my district that's leaving. He's going to open a completely new area AND train at the same time! He has one transfer less than I do, and already he's gonna train! He's such an awesome missionary, he'll make a great missionary father for some greenie missionary! I'm staying, waiting to OWN son!! YES! I'm going to be a father!! I'm super excited for this opportunity, and very humbled by the trust God has placed in me to help shape the rest of this young missionary's mission. A little nervous yes, I still find it hard to get around my area, but very excited! In other transfer news, Elder Jimenez, my trainer/father, goes home tomorrow. Insane man, he'll get to know his grandson before he goes! I'll be sure to get some pics. 

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Connor

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mormon Missionary Animal Rescue Squad

Have you ever seen the TV show 'Go Diego Go!'? It's all about Dora the Explorer's cousin Diego who goes around saving animals using Spanish. Sometimes missionaries are like Diego; 1. we speak Spanish and 2. we rescue animals. Some of us are even named Diego! (though I haven't met a Diego yet...). This week, we were walking home at night, when all of a sudden we stumble upon a teeny puppy covered in paint and surrounded by growly, hungry, mean dogs! Naturally, we brought her home, gave her a bath and some food, and let her sleep over for the night (she slept upstairs though, because the rule is you can't have girls in your house). We then brought her to a nice sister in the ward who was happy to have her!

This week in my area was kind of difficult, we couldn't get any of the members (except Fernando from last week) to work with us, and none of our investigators would accept a baptismal date. What's more, we couldn't find any new people to teach! We contacted, asked for references, all that good stuff, but sometimes, it takes a while to see the results. This week, we're gonna add using our area book with a list of all the old investigators (I'm actually realllllly bad at using it...I need to be better at that), and hopefully we can get some members to come out with us!

This week in my district however was great! We had another baptism! This one was for a young woman, 14 years old, whose mother was a less active member. Diana, the young woman, some weeks ago approached her mom and old her she wanted to be baptized into the Mormon church, which was surprising because her mother hadn't talked much about being a Mormon with her daughter! In the weeks leading up to her baptism, Elders Celis and Rosario began visiting them, teaching the lessons, and they began coming to church. Wednesday, I interviewed her (my first baptismal interview!) and she was totally ready to go, definitely prepared. Saturday, we had water troubles AGAIN, but by the grace of God, we fixed them quickly, and the baptismal service was very spiritual and wonderful. 

I love you all!! You are so great! Have a great week
Elder Connor

Monday, January 19, 2015

Interviews, Jamaica, and Baptisms

This week was really good! On Wednesday, a youth in our ward accompanied us for the entire day! His name is Fernando, he's 17, and preparing for a mission. Such a stud, already a really good missionary! He's attended a lot of mission prep classes and really loves the church. He's gonna come out with us once a week! Boss missionary. 

This week, a sister in our ward got married! In preparing for the wedding, we were asked to make the jamaica (a really good juice that stains like crazy). We had a big trash can (clean, don't worry) and a giant spoon. We looked kind of like witches with our witches brew. That is, until one of the elders smacked the side of the can too hard and created a gigantic hole in the bottom! After that, everything was done as quickly as possible; one elder held his hand over the hole to try to staunch the flow, my companion and I ran for more sugar (we still hadn't finished mixing...), and the other stirred. After we got everything mixed, we emptied the can with pitchers into smaller, clean buckets. Saved quite a lot, and it tasted really good! Especially the stuff from the floor :) Just kidding haha. 
After the jamaica incident, we had interviews with the President, his wife, and the assistants. I loved talking with each one of them, I love them all so much.

On Sunday, one of the investigators from my old area called me and told me he'd been baptized on Saturday. So many feelings of joy and gratitude came over me, knowing that I had actually helped someone in my time there. I love being a missionary!

I thought of another spiritual analogy this week, again with lizards. Cool story, most probably already know, lizards have the amazing ability to detach their tails when in danger! If another animal tries to eat them and grabs their tail, they can let it go and escape. It's painful, and life isn't easy walking around without a tail, but the lizard survives and gradually grows a new one. This is a lot like our spiritual lives! We may have friends, a job, activities, etc. that are generally good things and help us. But when these things threaten to 'eat up' our time, our focus, or our spiritual growth, we must have the courage to 'let go of our tail,' and to do it quickly, before it's too late. It will most likely be painful, and life may not appear as easy right after, but if we place our trust in God and accept His will, we will eventually 'grow our new tail' (AKA, find a new job, new friends, etc.) that will be stronger and a greater blessing for us! Remember Joseph in Egypt; when faced with temptations from Potiphar's wife, he ran away, leaving his shirt, and then his position as chief slave in the process. But God blessed him for his obedience, and he later became Pharoah's right hand man, and saved a nation. God really does bless us when we do what He commands! 

I love you all! Have a great week!!!

Elder Connor
  1. Elder Antonio, Ferdenando, and I! 
  2. Elder Rosario and I on exchanges with Ferdenando! 
  3. (right to left) Elder Padilla, Me, Elder Palacios, and Elder Antonio. Elders Padilla and Palacios live right above Elder Antonio and I, good elders!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dia De Los Reyes, Baptisms!!, and Lizards

FIRST! I want everyone to go take a look at this page:

Watch the videos, listen to the music, read the articles, and SHARE! One thing I will always miss about life back home is the Church's youth program. I learned and grew so much from this program and I really want to be able to be a part of it after the mission. The songs are actually pretty fantastic, and the theme video almost made me cry. So good. Go now!!!

Dia de los Reyes in Mexico is on the 6th of January. On this day, the people all celebrate when the Wise Men found Jesus and Joseph and Mary and gave gifts. It's basically another Santa Claus deal, where the Wise Men come and leave gifts. Everyone also buys this bread called Rosca de los Reyes, it's really good. They have a bunch of little dolls hidden in the bread (apparently they represent the Christ child??) and if you have on in your piece, you have to make everyone tamales on February 2nd. I found two...too bad transfers are a day AFTER the second. Sheesh.

One of the members in our ward is this 18 year old kid, Logan, who's preparing to go on a mission, he's just about to send in his papers!! He's also coming out with us every Friday to help further this work and prepare for his own mission. Stud. 

On Saturday, we had baptisms for three kids! Said (14), Filiberto (10), and David (8), all entered into the waters of baptism and received the Holy Ghost the next day. It was honestly a little stressful at first, trying to get everything put together, but when they bore their testimonies, three kids, they invited the Spirit in a way I could do all the time. Basically everyone was in tears by the end, including the kids, and it was just an awesome service. The Church is too true. There is no possible way for me to deny it, I've seen, felt, and experienced too much to go back, to not be excited and incredibly HOPEFUL for the future. I love being a missionary.

Random analogy that just popped into my head out of nowhere this week; spiritually, we are like lizards. Now before you think the mission has knocked some of the bolts and screws that hold me brain together loose, let me explain. Lizards, during the day, need to sit on hot rocks in the sun in order to warm up and store up heat for the night. When the sun goes and the night comes, they seek shelter from the cold and use the heat they've stored up to survive until the day comes. 

Now. Here's where the genius comes in. In our lives, we have moments of 'light,' where we can feel the 'fire of the Spirit' burning in our hearts and we know the Gospel is true. Our testimony grows when we 'stand in the light.' But then the night comes. We have trials, difficulties, hardships. Sometimes, we lose sight of that light that we once stood under, we can't remember as clearly the experiences we had, or maybe we don't understand exactly how we believed what we believed. In these moments, the chill of the night and our own doubts threaten to kill us,  spiritually. But if we stored up those moments where we knew, if we can remember them and hold on to them, if we do not let the light of our testimony dim, we can survive. We can make it through those times of trial that will so surely come, and make it back to the day for more experiences of peace and love. But we CANNOT be lazy about the Gospel. We have to actively seek those 'rays of sun,' those faith-building moments, so that we can overcome our faith-trying times. 

2 Nephi 28:24-25;
 24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
 25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
So in our times of ease, we cannot let our guard down! We must be vigilant at all times, striving to implement the Gospel into our lives and remembering it in our times of trial. 

I love you all!! Have a great week!
Elder Connor

  1. My two little dolls. I don't even know how to make tamales!! 
  2. The family of the kids that were baptized! 
  3. In our whites!!

  1. Some hilarious cards that I got from Nicole in a package she sent!! Best Full-Time Missionary Sister!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pizza, New Years, and Dieter

These week was actually not so good for the mission. The thing is, just about everybody - members, investigators, recent converts, everybody - was on vacation, visiting family and stuff. On top of that, we didn't work on New Year's (it can get a little dangerous in some parts), so as a result, we had little progress. It was kinda hard for me, I was pretty bored on New Year's, not working, I would so much rather be helping people. But, Elder Antonio and I bought pizzas and that was fun! 

I actually really love having Elder Antonio as my companion, we're obedient and the Spirit is such a wonderful guide as we speak. I can't tell you how many times we'll be teaching, I'll finish talking and then I'll think, 'dang it, I should have said that!' And then he'll say exactly what I was inspired to say and didn't. It's really awesome to watch the Spirit work through us towards the hearts of these people here, even though they are very hard hearted and many don't really want to change. However, we are still finding people! Our baptism for the three kids is this Saturday, and I am so excited for them! Even though they're young, and don't understand everything the Gospel has in store, they understand that it is an important decision to make! 

We visited a family this week, the three kids are members, but the parents aren't. They want to be baptized, but they're afraid of being hypocrites when they don't live up to the promises they make at baptism. To quote President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, 

Some might say, “I don’t think I could live up to your standards.”
All the more reason to come! The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet.
Some might say, “I know a member of your Church who is a hypocrite. I could never join a church that had someone like him as a member.”
If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!

I love this talk so much, here's the link to the rest; 

This is so true! I talked to the parents about the purpose of baptism. When we are baptized, we not only receive a remission of our sins, we not only receive the Spirit, but we also receive the opportunity to obtain eternal life, or a life forever with our loving Heavenly Father; 

2 Nephi 31:17-18;
For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

THIS is why people are baptized into this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because they know this is the way to achieve eternal life. Of course, just because you may be baptized in the church does not mean you or I automatically gain eternal life, you and I still have work to do. Life with a perfect being such as Heavenly Father requires us to work to become better. 

2 Nephi 31:19-20;
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. 

PRESS FORWARD. The covenants we make at baptism are sacred and we need to keep them the best we can. So far, these parents are correct in their fears, because they know that they are human and imperfect still. What they are forgetting is the power of Repentace. Christ did not suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for the perfect people. 

Mark 2:16;
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw [Jesus] eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are wholehave no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

He came for all of us imperfect souls who need His help to overcome our sins. We can't do it alone; it just doesn't work like that. He is the way. 

2 Nephi 31:21;
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 

What people need to understand is this is the only way, there is no other. We must live like Christ, become like Him, in order to gain this wonderful blessing of eternal happiness in His Glorious presence. 
Sorry this isn't very much of an update, but not much else happened in this week. The Church is true! I love being a missionary! And I love all of you! Have a great week

Elder Connor 
  1. Walking/running all day gets you pretty thirsty man...
  2. The District!