Well hello and happy New Year from Negritos!! This week seems to have flown by!
So first I wanted to share a little about the New Year tradition here, it`s kind of cool! They have a tradition of taking all of their old clothes, or clothes they`ve had bad luck in, and making a dummy out of them. Then on New Years at 12, they burn it all! It`s supposed to represent them doing away with all of the bad and getting ready for a new year! I thought it was pretty cool until they burned in...smoke and ash in the air isn`t my idea of fun!
New Years was also really tough for proseliting, because of course everyone drinks. They were going all night, and all day on Sunday. We only visited members Saturday and Sunday, but on Sunday there were so many drunks that we ended up just going back to the room. Probably best.
The work here has started to pick up a little, and I`m really excited now that we have the holidays over. We can work a lot harder! One thing that has been lacking is member support, so we`ve tried hard to get them involved. This week we taught a member family the Restoration and gave them a pamphlet to give away. Three days later we checked up, and they had given it away and wanted another! I hope that continues, and that we can bring them with us to help during lessons. It`s so much better when we have a member because the investigator can see that we`re normal, and they can be part of the branch. We just have to keep working with members! Also, we`re going to have our first branch council tomorrow since I got here. I guess a lot of people don`t like the branch president, and there have been some arguments in the past. I find that so sad, because I know that he is called of God, and he`s there for a reason, even if he isn`t doing the BEST job, he`s trying.
This week in the mission has also shown that changes can happen fast. On Wednesday, we randomly had an elder from Talara show up with a different companion! There was an Emergency exchange. I guess two elders were fighting, so President Chipman mades some changes. Two of the elders that were in their training stage had to get new trainers. Elder Rice, I heard, was one of them! We also lost two elders from our zone, but the new ones that we got are great! It`s just kind of crazy how fast it happened. They get the call one night, and are in a completely different area the very next day. The life of a missionary is unpredictable!
As far as any real progress with investigators...this week was a lot of hit and miss. We had some good lessons, and some not so good. We don`t have any that we can consistently visit. A lot of them have been out of town and things, and of course we still haven`t had anyne attend church. We did have one lesson about the Law of Chastity that went well with a girl named Karen Sandoval. She straight up told us she has broken it before, but she really wants to live it, and she even understood the importance! I think that was one of our best lessons. She really seems to be excited about the prospect of baptism, we just need to keep following up.
We also had a great lesson with an older woman named Juanita. She is catholic, and LOVES to talk. We taught her about the apostacy and why there are so many churches, and how we have the same church that existed during Christ`s time. I think she understood it all! Hopefully we`ll continue with her, but I don`t know. She`s 90 years old, and says she`s talked with a lot of missionaries! We`ll just have to continue working.
We have one investigator that`s really tough! His name is Jesus, and he`s 11 years old. We taught him about prayer, but he just didn`t understand. He doesn`t know anything about the gospel at all. He didn`t know who God was, or who Jesus Christ is. When we explained prayer, I don`t know why but he just didn`t understand. We used the simplest terms possible, but he didn`t get it. I really don`t know what it was! It will be tough to continue teaching him, but he really wants to know, and his parents are completely fine with it, even happy that he`s talking with us! Maybe we can get talking to them too. We`ll see what happens!
As far as my health and everything are going DON`T WORRY. I`m completely healthy and happy!! :) We got water today! Also, we found out that we should have water now every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so we`ll be able to bathe, and have water for bucket showers the other days.
Also, I got the package from the YM/YW. It`s the best package ever! Tons of bathroom supplies and really good food I`ve missed. They gave me a couple packages of nuts, something they just don`t have down here. It was a nice change. I wrote a letter to them, so hopefully it gets there soon...but tell them thanks anyway!
Grandma Shaw also sent me a package with food, which was awesome! I already sent her a letter last week...so if you could let her know I got it and that I`m very grateful, that would be awesome! Also...kinda weird, but I shared some of the Boston Baked Beans with an Elder from Mexico and he said they have them in his country! They call them garapiñados. I thought it was just a NE thing!
Another thing that happened is that we changed our pensionista...I`m actually kind of sad! Saturday night we had our last dinner with her, and we talked quite a bit, kind of a good by. We also made her promise to come to church, so hopefully she does. I`m including a picture of her, and the food we ate so you can see what it`s like, and you can know that I`ve been eating a lot of food! Her name is Hermana Roxanna Gonzales, and she`s lived here in Negritos all her life! Kinda crazy. Ok...maybe I`m not including a picture! My camera battery is dead. :( Next week!!
Oh! I did get the letter Jen was talking about...the Dear Elder about her trying to get prego. ;) and I got the one mom wrote Christmas Day! They seem to take about a week or two...but it`s nice to have something I can look back on! I have been getting letters by snail mail too. The Friedbauers sent me a Christmas card, as well as the Churchills, Brother Salow from the ward...and I think that`s about it! Tell them thanks and that I`ve got letters on the way! They just might make it by the end of the month, if we`re lucky!
Thanks for the updates Dad! It sounds like the NBA is going to be really different this year...and that`s sweet that BYU and Utah both won their bowl games! I`m sure that was exciting to watch. It`s kinda weird being disconnected here, but I`m not worried about not seeing that stuff. Just fun to here what`s up! Also, that Ancestry.com thing sounds pretty cool! When I get back, you need to show me that stuff...as a missionary, I feel so much happier to hear about baptisms and saving ordinances...I think I`m finally beginning to understand the true impact that has. To be able to live with our Father in Heaven again is just incredible...whenever I hear about temple work or someone getting baptized, I just feel so happy! One more person will live with Him again. Tell Chelsey yet again how proud I am of her for going to the temple! That makes me more happy than anything...so many people are waiting, alive and dead.
So I`m starting to feel like a horrible letter writer...I just don`t know what to say! I`m really trying to learn right now how to teach effectively and use the language in a smoother way. The other night, we talked to a less active and they told me they could understand everything I was saying! That was good to hear. I also read my journal today and had to laugh...I wrote some in Spanish and my grammer is HORRIBLE. Also, I used words COMPLETELY wrong. Hard to believe that was only like 2 months ago! Time flies...
Well, I hope you all know how much I love and appreciate you! I`m really working hard, and focusing on working harder this year. A full year of missionary work!!! I can`t tell you how happy I am to be here. After the phone call, I just feel so much more motivated, and I forget about home a lot more now, focusing on the people. It`s an incredible thing, to be a missionary.
Have fun with everything! Work hard! Keep up going to church and everything. Even if you don`t want to...remember that Satan works SO hard to stop us from keeping the commandments. When we love Christ and God, we will keep thier commandments, and recognize that Satan is trying to stop us from keeping them. I also never heard how you ended up with your BOM reading mom? Let me know! That goal by the end of the year is pretty awesome!! Love you all!!