A Surprise This Week

Hey Everyone!

The package probably won’t get here until about mid February, and I haven’t gotten the mail either, but it takes a while. Sounds like everyone is keeping busy with all the projects and everything. Tell Brandon good luck for me! Did you get nervous to talk at his farewell Tanya? That’s cool you saw Clayton! What mission was he in? Sounds like Becky and Jake are doing good! Tell them I’ll come visit them in 2 years when I go to Peru for the SEED program! What city are they living in? Have you guys skyped with them? That’s super cool you got to see John Bytheway! I remember he came when I was in Young Mens too and it was really good!

We got quite a surprise yesterday! We got to church in the morning about a half hour before the services were supposed to start and there were a ton of people from the stake there running around frantically. Turns out that a Seventy was coming to our ward on short notice! Also, the mission president and a whole bunch of other area authorities. Everyone was running around cleaning, putting things away and trying to make sure that everything was ready, so we helped them clean the chapel. It was a good meeting though, but I thought it was kind of funny that out of all the wards, they would pick Conejos 2! My companion got sick this week, so we ended up not doing anything for about 2 days. I got a lot of studying in though! I love to study the gospel! I realized that before my mission I almost never really studied the gospel. Even though I read the scriptures I didn’t know how to really study them. I would suggest that you all start to read Preach My Gospel, especially starting with Chapter 2 about how to study the gospel. Maybe you could have a family home evening lesson about it. Also, that can help you study effectively for school too! Also, in family scripture study every day, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you finish the chapter or not. It is more important to learn about the things it talks about in the scriptures than it is to just get through them. Also, keep a study journal and study the themes that come up. I have been thinking a lot lately and Preach My Gospel is really applicable to every part of life. Even the section on weekly planning and goal setting can be useful in family planning meetings. For some reason, the leaders have been frequenting my district meetings lately. Last week the zone leaders came, and this week it was a zone leader and one of the assistants. I think they just like judging me or something haha! For some reason though it doesn’t even make me nervous anymore! Well that’s about it for this week. Not too much excitement, but I guess I probably have one more week here and then who knows I might find myself in downtown Cuautitlan haha! I hope you’re all doing well! Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

A Missionary Birthday

Hey Everyone!

Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!!!!!! I’m sure going to miss that steak and potatoes with apple pie haha, but I hope you have a good one!!! Well, sounds like everyone’s doing good! I do enjoy being completely unplugged from everything. Its pretty nice most of the time. That sounds like a lot of fun Tanya! Nathan, you’ll have to tell me how the tour goes! Are you going to tour any part in specific or just walk around campus? You should go to Aggie ice cream while you’re there. I remember when I was about your age, we went and toured the biology lab at USU where they were working on a project to make biodiesel, and it was pretty cool! My birthday was pretty fun! I went on exchanges to Apaxco with one of the zone leaders, Elder Zeagler. He is a pretty cool guy and we get along real well. It was pretty funny because we went to teach a less active family where pretty much only the mom has been going to church and we got to there house and she came out into the living room and gave us birthday cake! Also, we went and got ice cream in the night! Turns out that her birthday was on the 14th, and she was just giving us cake, but she had absolutely no idea that it was my birthday haha! It was a super cool lesson though. We went there with the idea of teaching the Restoration, so we started out great with that talking about who God is and how he gives us the gospel to bless our families, but we got to the part about dispensations and apostasy that I’ve taught a ton of times, and I just couldn’t keep going. It didn’t feel quite right and I knew that wasn’t what they needed to hear, but I thought of a scripture in the Book of Mormon that was perfect for their needs. Their teenage kids had explained to us their reasons for not going to church and Elder Zeagler and I were able to follow the Spirit to address those needs and help them think about what they needed to change and why they needed to change it. I think that was the very first lesson I have taught in which neither one of us was in training, and it was awesome! I have learned a ton about how important it is to follow the Spirit. Even though Elder Zeagler and I had never taught a lesson together, we had awesome unity in that lesson thanks to the Holy Ghost. There is an awesome talk by Richard G Scott called To receive spiritual guidance that I like a lot. It talks about how it is not easy to learn to follow the promptings of the Spirit, by as we try our best, we will achieve essential spiritual growth that we cannot obtain in any other way. There are no shortcuts, but one thing I have learned is that we don’t have to be certain whether it is the Spirit or just our own thoughts. Don’t worry about that. If the thought comes into your mind to do something good, Just Do It! And then afterward when you feel good about what you did, that is the confirmation of the Holy Ghost that your actions were in harmony with the will of God. And the more we act in accordance with the will of God, the more we become like Him and progress along the path to being perfected in Christ. Things are starting to pick up speed a little here in Conejos. We are seeing some fruits of our labors finally as some people are coming back to church. I am grateful as I think about how God has influenced my life to make me who I am today and I am excited to see what more he can do with me as I strive to make myself an instrument in His hands. I love you and hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

Comfortable in Conejos

Thanks for all the birthday wishes!!! Man I’m getting old quick! Everything is going really well for me down here, and I’m actually starting to feel pretty comfortable with everything that I have to do, so I guess I’ve been growing a lot. Also, that means that something tough is probably coming my way in the next transfer in 3 weeks haha! I guess we’ll soon find out what it is. It just seems like every time I have started feeling comfortable in my mission, God sends me something completely overwhelming, but it is sure helping me to learn and grow a lot. I found some awesome talks on a website called BYU speeches that have helped me out a lot. One of my favorites is called [His grace is sufficient[. It talks about how the grace of Jesus Christ payed all the demands of justice and he just asks us to try to become the best we can so that one day we can be perfected in Him. Just read the top 5 talks of all time on the site. We have been walking around knocking on doors pretty much all week long, and it is kind of discouraging sometimes because I feel like I have knocked on almost every single door in this tiny little town with not a whole lot of results. We did find a few new investigators that we think are going to progress toward baptism. The best one is a 14 year old named Joel. We met him when he was in his yard when he was working and offered to help him shovel gravel. We got talking a little and he said that he wants to go study technical programming in the United States. He’s a smart kid and we finally got to teach him and his dad this week. We are also going to start up an English class because he really wants to learn. His dad is pretty receptive, but he doesn’t understand quite as easily as his son, so it is a little more difficult to teach him. Actually Joel reminds me of Nathan. He is probably one of the most ambitious people I’ve met here in Conejos and he is a pretty cool kid! A funny thing happened this week. We were doing our language study and I was helping Elder Medina learn English, so I was talking to him in almost pure English. The elders from Cerritos called to tell us that they were going to eat with the sister that runs the kitchen on main street so we could get to the lunch at the same time. So I turned to Elder Medina and told him in English that the Elders from the Hills are going to eat with us (we’re the elders from Rabbits) in Sister Martha’s kitchen. I hadn’t quite ever realized how redneck this place is haha! But things are going really well for me and we’re starting to get some good things going here in Rabbits! I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

 

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Jared with his New Year’s Turkey!

Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Years!!! It sounds like everyone has been pretty busy with all the parties and everything! We had a pretty good week here in Conejos. We are working with some less active families that are starting to come back to church. We are teaching a lot about family history and it is really cool that we get to see the Spirit of Elias (Elijah) working in peoples lives. It is really cool how talking about our families brings the Spirit. I would say that that is the only hard thing about the mission is being far away from you all, but its fun to hear about all the happenings! Did you take pictures in all the new year’s activities?  On new years eve, we had to be in our house at 6:00, so I read Jesus the Christ for a little while and later two families brought us food for dinner. They always do huge parties and fancy dinners here on new years, and they had invited us to come but we told them we couldn’t, so they brought us a ton of food in our house! We ate pasta, apple fruit salad, and I ate a whole turkey leg! It was super good and I got super full! Next week I’ll send you a picture because I don’t have my camera with me right now. I’ll just say, that that turkey leg makes me look pretty skinny haha! They were shooting off rockets all night, but at 12:00 everyone in the city was lighting of everything they had practically and we got up and went to the window where we could see practically the whole town light up! It was pretty cool to see! New years day we had a zone meeting in Atotonilco and there weren’t any taxis so we had to wait about 45 minutes for the bus to come. We got on the bus and sat down, and then the lady on the other side of the aisle tapped me on the shoulder and told me that the place in that elder medina was sitting was dirty. He stood up and discovered that his seat was covered in vomit haha! I thought that was pretty funny! We went to Tepeji today for our p-day (preparation day) and it was pretty cool! That was my first time going to a tianguis. It is like a big open air market that is basically like the Mexican version of the DI (a thrift store). They had some pretty cool stuff and I bought a new shoulder bag because the one I have is really big to carry around every day. It’s super cheap, especially with the change in the value of the peso compared to the dollar. I ate something super gross this week aside from the usual chicken feet, which they served us again this week. The bishop invited us over to his house for dinner with all the family and friends after the baptism of his son. We ate barbacoa, which is lamb meat and it is super good, but then they brought out the stomach. The stomach of lamb is way worse than that of pig because it is all spongy and chewy and also I could still taste the flavor of vomit in the meat. It was about all I could do not to through up haha! That’s the closest I’ve come to throwing up so far in my mission! Well that’s pretty much the highlights this week. Things are starting to pick up again now that the holiday season is coming to an end and we were able to have several lessons this week and find some new people to teach. I hope you all are doing well! Good luck with school and work and all the other activities of the new year!!!

Love,

Elder Black