A Slow Week But Doing Great

Wow! You guys had an eventful week! I really like the fotos! Looks like your birthday was awesome Tanya! Man that cake looks really good! I don’t really remember what cake tastes like in the United States because there is nothing very sweet like that here. The cakes aren’t too sweet at all and they are filled with milk, so they are pretty different. That stove is nice! I hardly recognize the house! I don’t know if you have realized it or not but our house is NICE! I haven’t seen anything here that even compares! Probably the first thing I’m going to do when I get home is take my shoes off and lay down on the carpet!  Looks like you finally got a new microwave too haha! Did the old one finally quit on you? Nathan that’s awesome! Congrats on your 4.0! Now is when the grades really start counting, so keep working hard and treat your school like your job because it will pay off big time when you go to college. Man, that looks like so much fun hiking around southern Utah! I also do a lot of hiking, I’ve probably walked about 100 miles this week haha but mostly on the dusty back roads of Conejos so the scenery is not quite as good! Man, I’m going to miss you guys at Thanksgiving! They don’t celebrate it at all here, so I probably won’t really end up doing anything for it. Send me tons of pictures of it though! That is always my favorite part of the emails! I miss good food sometimes. We eat the same thing here about 5 times a week it seems like. It’s called Pechugas and it is a piece of chicken pounded flat, breaded and fried in oil. That or chicken foot and organ soup. This week we ate something different though. It was the same as chicken foot and organ soup, but it had cow stomach instead.  I thought it was a pig ear when I was eating it cuz it was a triangle piece and was hairy on one side. Delicious. Still haven’t got the package yet, but it should be in the offices by now, I think.  Well, tomorrow makes five months in the mission! These past months have gone by super fast and I’m a completely different person than when I left. Well, not completely different, but pretty different! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 19 months! I feel more comfortable as the district leader now, but don’t worry, not too comfortable haha! Just comfortable enough that my hands weren’t shaking this week while I was giving the meeting! It was actually really good this week. I’m getting to be friends with everyone in my district now so it’s a lot easier. I discovered that one great stress reliever is singing while we’re walking down the street haha! It’s a lot of fun! This week has been a little frustrating as far as the mission work is concerned. Like I told Nathan, we have walked a lot lately, but we’re not getting to have too many lessons because nobody is ever home, or if they are they are busy or about to leave. We have contacted a lot of people and looked really hard for investigators, but so far nothing new. It’s frustrating, but I try not to let it get to me too much because I know that I’m putting in my effort and it’s just a matter of time until we find someone that will progress. I learned something really cool from Ether 2:18 I think, until chapter 3:6. It teaches a great lesson about how we should go forward in faith. God helped him with his first question, but told him to figure out a solution to the problem with the lights. Then he went directly to work on a plan, put it into practice as best he could and asked God to do the rest through faith. Then he touched the stones one at a time and every time he saw results his faith went increasing more and more until he had so much faith that Jesus couldn’t hide himself from the brother of Jared. Its a pretty cool parable that I want to apply to my district and I taught them that last night on the phone. It is really cool how I have noticed that I can now receive revelation for my district as well as my companionship and myself. Sometimes I’ll be talking to someone and they tell me one of the challenges they have and something I learned a long time ago pops into my mind that is perfect to help them out. I’ve been learning a lot about what it means to minister. I did my first baptismal interview this week for a 9 year old boy named Lalo, an investigator of some of the sisters in my district, and it went really well. The Spirit is super important in interviews and it is cool because I was able to actually see where he was at spiritually. He has a powerful testimony and when he told it to me I felt the Spirit really strong and knew he was ready for baptism. I had the privilege of baptizing him on Saturday and it was a really awesome experience! I also when on exchanges with one of the zone leaders, Elder Zeagler. He is from a little town in North Carolina, and we had a lot of fun talking about our hometowns! He taught me something in the last several verses of Moses 6 that made me feel a little better about being assigned a leader with so little time in the mission. I’ll let you read it, but it’s about when someone was called to be a prophet, Enoch I think, when he was really young and slow of speech. It’s really cool. Well, I love you all, have a great week! Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,

Elder Black

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A four generation photo -Jared, his new trainee (Elder Medina), Jared’s trainer (Elder Garcia), and Elder Garcia’s trainer

Experiences as a New District Leader

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TANYA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow I can’t believe your about to turn 12! Are you excited to move into the Young Womens? Let me know what you did next week! Happy Birthday to Zack too! That will be exciting to get a little bit of remodeling done on the house! It’s going to look a lot different when I get home I bet! Wow, the bitter cold of winter seems so far away right now! It has been really hot this week!  We got to go to Tepalcapa to a meeting about family history from Elder Allen R. Packer of the seventy and a few other general authorities. It was interesting and they talked about how when we talk about our families it is a great way to feel the Spirit. Also, we had an area conference with Neil L. Anderson that was broadcast from SLC. I didn’t know he spoke Spanish. It was kind of cool to hear an apostle talk in another language! Well, I have been humbled a lot this week.  I feel a little less stressed out than I did a week ago, but not too much less. The Hermanas in my district are really good though and they are helping me out a lot. One of the things that’s hard is that I’ve never had to do interviews or reports with the DL (District Leader) because Elder Garcia was my comp and the DL. So, I don’t really have much of an idea of how it is done. It’s pretty tough in my area too because absolutely everything in our area now depends on me.  My brand new companion is Elder Medina, straight out of the Mexico MTC. He is from Lima, Peru and speaks a little bit of English, but he doesn’t really know how to read it. His accent is kind of tough to understand sometimes because he says things a little bit weird, but on the bright side I can now understand the people here in Conejos! I have been praying a lot for the gift of tongues and God has answered me in a big way. I am pretty much fluent in Spanish all of a sudden, because I really need to be. There are obviously still words I don{t know, but I have noticed that all I have to do know is look it up 1 time and I remember the word. I have definitely spoken a lot more in this past week than I ever have before in my mission. Also, I don’t have any fear of talking to people anymore, which is a great blessing. I just do it now because there is no other option haha! I’m sure Elder Medina will start talking more once he kind of gets his bearings. He has come a long way this week in his teaching abilities and I’m really impressed with his progress. This is definitely going to be a difficult transfer. I don’t have hardly any time any more because I’m always doing reports and talking on the phone it seems like. Pretty much all day long yesterday I was on the phone, and I used to have all that time to study while Elder Garcia did the reports. I’ve been sleeping really fast lately, but I keep waking up to look at the clock. The leaders of the zone gave me and 2 other first time district leaders a short training session, but it didn’t really help much at all. Basically I’m just learning as I go and correcting mistakes as they happen. My first district meeting was pretty bad because I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do very well. They only good part was the 15 minute teaching part where I taught about the importance of the Spirit and his role in the lesson of the Restoration, and how to invite the Spirit to the lessons. But now I know better what to do, so I hope this week goes better. I love you lots and hope you have a great week! Send me some pictures!

Love,

Elder Black

A Baptism, A Calling, A Trainer

Well, I think my mission president might be a little bit insane. We got the info about our changes last night. Elder  Garcia is leaving to be a district leader of another area in el Estado de Mexico and I got a double assignment. I will be training this transfer and I will also be a district leader. I have absolutely no idea what he’s doing! I will find out who my new comp will be tomorrow, so I’ll let you know more next week. I will have to do a baptismal interview this week for an investigator one of the hermanas in my district. Well I’m sure I’ll learn a lot at least, but I am super nervous. I probably won’t be sleeping very good for the next little while. I think our mission is kind of starting over from scratch because all the good leaders went home already so there putting in a bunch of new people like me that don’t even speak Spanish. It’s going to be weird getting used to a different companion this change. Elder Garcia and I think really similar and we have gotten along really well here. Well, I guess we’ll see how it goes. I got to baptize Adolfo yesterday, so that was the highlight of the week! It’s been a little bit of a long road for him but he finally made it and is doing well! Miguel and Tania are also doing awesome! They should be able to get married this Saturday and Miguel would get baptized on Sunday if everything goes well!

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I have been able to learn a lot in this week. I have been focusing a lot on what is the doctrine in all the lessons I teach and they have become a lot more powerful. I sent you the talk by Elder Bednar but I only have it in Spanish. Maybe you can translate it or something. It is now the base of all my studying and teaching because if people understand the doctrine of the gospel, then they will live it. They key there is the word “understand“ because lots of people have a mental knowledge of the gospel but not an understanding. Understanding of the gospel only comes through the Holy Ghost (I read that in a scripture somewhere, I think in D&C, maybe you can find it), so what we try to do as missionaries is explain the doctrine clearly so that the Spirit has the opportunity to testify to them and help them understand it in their hearts.

In the ruins, there was a big pyramid and some other plaza type ruins. The pyramid had a bunch of giant statues on top that were pretty cool! Apparently though, the ones in Tula are tiny compared to the pyramids in Tenochtitlan. Later I’ll go to those ones because they are also in our mission. I still haven’t gotten the package but probably tomorrow. I’m excited to see the cabin in a couple years! Sounds like you’ve been doing lots of good work on it! It still hasn’t gotten real cold here. I haven’t even put on a jacket yet and I’m always wearing short sleeved shirts. It cools down quite a bit at night though. Well have a great week! I will try to survive mine haha!

Love,

Elder Black

A Visit to Tula

Hi everyone!

I got your letter this week Dad, thanks. I will probably get the package when I go to the offices for changes next week. It takes about a month usually I think. That’s awesome Tanya keep working on your duty to God! Haha that’s pretty cool that Greg is the bishop now! I didn’t even know Benji had his mission call! Is he also serving in the Dominican Republic? Tell him congrats and send me his email so I can write him a little bit. That’s cool that Sierra and Valerie are also going! I thought Valerie was still in high school haha! Sounds like everyone had fun at Halloween! We didn’t do anything for the day of the dead Nathan. The kids here dress up and go trick or treating on November 1st but it is definitely not as big of a thing as it is in the states. Some people go clean the tombstones and leave flowers or food offerings, but the offering thing is a Catholic tradition. Mormons and other Christian churches don´t do it because it doesn’t make much sense to leave food and toys out for the spirits of the dead. We had to be in our house by 7 in the evening so it was pretty boring. I just read for a little while and went to bed. I hear in other missions though all the missionaries get together in the chapel to eat pizza and watch movies haha! Spanish is coming really good. As of about 3 or 4 days ago I started understanding about 98% of everything I hear, so it´s a lot easier now. Just in time too because I will probably train in the next transfer. Today was pretty fun. We went to the ruins of Atlantis in Tula! Me and Elder Garcia went with 2 of his old comps who are now companions with each other. It was pretty cool!

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On Saturday we ate conejo (rabbit) that Sixto had butchered on Friday. We were at his house when he slaughtered them so that was kind of interesting to see how they do it. I hadn’t ever tried it before and it was really good! We didn’t really have any new developments this week as far as investigators, but Miguel and Adolfo are still progressing well. Well I can´t really think of much else to write. This week was just kind of boring to be honest. It was still good, but we just didn’t have a ton of crazy stuff happen. I love you, have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

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Titled:  The Straight and Narrow Path