A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear Family,

Happy New Years!!!! I really enjoyed seeing you and talking to all of you on Christmas! That was definitely the highlight this week! I was pretty impressed by your musical talents Nathan and Tanya! Keep up the practicing! Maybe you can teach me a little bit when I get home! Also, thanks a ton for the Christmas presents you sent! Well, I`m glad you made it out of the hospital in time for Christmas Eve Tanya. That doesn’t look too fun. I`m glad you had some good support though. I hope you keep recovering fast. What else are you guys going to do over the break?

This week has been kind of tough as far as missionary work goes. The holidays are kind of tough as a missionary because a lot of people leave on vacation. Actually, almost all our investigators left for the holidays and most people we contact just tell us to come by in mid January. The holidays are a bit longer here too, because the Kings day is January 6th and that is when the kids here get their toys, not really that much on Christmas. We are working hard to find more people though and we always have a super busy schedule. Hopefully all our work will pay off soon with some new progressing investigators. God has a way of rewarding your efforts, even though sometimes it comes after an extended trial of your faith. Other than that, we are working hard to get prepared to teach the leadership council on Thursday and then the zone meeting on Friday. And we’re doing exchanges with some elders in our zone on Tuesday and Wednesday, so it`s looking like another super packed week. It’s good to be busy though. I can’t believe how fast this transfer has gone by. Next week I’ll let you know if Elder Van Tassell and I have transfers or are staying here together for 6 more weeks. I love you lots, have a great New Year’s!

Love,

Elder Black

Importance of Testimony

Dear Family,

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Sorry I don’t have too much time to write because there was a system error in myldsmail and I couldn’t log in. This week wasn’t too terribly exciting I guess, but we did find a new family to teach! It is a married couple and two girls almost 9 and 10 years old. It was kind of tough on Sunday though because we didn’t have anyone make it to church. We were going to maybe have a baptism this coming Saturday for Mari, but I guess we’ll see if that happens. We´re not sure if that will be possible or not because she left town for work last week and we haven’t been able to contact her in the last few days. We have still been contacting a lot and talking to quite  a few people though, so hopefully we can find some new investigators. I feel like we’ve been working super hard all day every day though, so it’s just a matter of time before God leads us to someone He has been preparing for the gospel. Me and my companion got assigned to teach the training during the leadership council in a week and a half, so hopefully that goes well. We decided to teach about the Book of Mormon and praying to gain a testimony of it´s truthfulness. I’ve found in my mission that the majority of people who gain a testimony will do everything necessary to be baptized, so I think it is super important that we help people gain that testimony. Anyway, I’m excited to get to talk to all of you on Skype on Christmas! If you have any questions you might want to write them down because I won’t get a ton of time to talk, and most of the Mexico culture is pretty normal to me now, so I might not even think about that stuff. Well, that’ll be pretty cool to have a white Christmas! Down here in Mexico it’s still pretty hot during the day. It gets pretty cold at night and in the morning though, but it’s all good. Sorry Mom, I couldn’t find a Nativity. I don´t even know where I would begin to look for something like that. Actually most of the cool stuff people buy comes from the Federal District center, outside our mission, so most people just go down there to buy stuff and the stuff in the tianguis (market) here is mostly just junk. We are going to have a Christmas devotional with 4 zones together on Christmas Eve, so I’m pretty excited about that! Also a family that has there only son in the mission right now invited us over for dinner on Christmas Eve, so that will be pretty cool. We will also be going to their house on the 25th to Skype. I’ll get on at 5:00 also so we can have a video conference with Aaron too! Hopefully it all works ok. Love you all lots, have a good Christmas and send lots of pictures next week!!! Also, get some money out of my account and get something for Tanya. I don’t know if she feels up to reading or watching a movie there in the hospital, but you can ask her what she feels up to and go ahead and get her something. Love you lots!

Love, Elder Black

Working Hard and Learning About Barbacoa

Well, sounds like everyone is doing well! I´m really excited for Christmas and to be able to talk to you on Skype! It doesn’t feel that wintery around here though, it´s actually pretty hot during the day! It does get pretty cold in the house in the morning though, so I’m glad to have a coat and some gloves. This week was pretty cool because on Sunday was the dedication of the Tijauna temple, the 13th temple in México! We got to attend 2 sessions and it was pretty cool! President Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks came down to dedicate the temple. I thought it was cool how President Uchtdorf related the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of the temple, that they are the same! I think that is very true. One thing that makes Christmas special is that most people start being a little more Christ like all at the same time to celebrate the birth of the Savior. It would be great if we could keep doing that always! We are working hard on the Christmas iniciative of the Church called A Savior is Born. I don´t know if you’ve seen the website christmas.mormon.org, but there are some videos there that talk about Christ. They gave us 250 contacting cards for each companionship and my companion and I have the goal to give away all of them this month. We´re doing pretty good so far, we gave away 75 cards last week. We got really motivated to do that because we read a talk about becoming a consecrated missionary, and we knew that we needed to talk to everyone we can if we want to be completely consecrated. We get rejected a lot, but it´s only a matter of time until we find someone who is looking for the truth. We had something kind of crazy happen on exchanges this week. On Tuesday I stayed here and we did exchanges with the assistants. Elder Buitrago came here with me and I still don´t know the whole area super well, so we got kind of lost looking for one of the houses. We stopped for a minute to think about where to go and we looked up and saw a man laying in the middle of the road next to his bike and he was convulsing. We ran over to help him out and he had a big gash in his head from hitting the pavement. We helped him out and went back to his house with him to make sure he got there ok. His wife told us that he gets epilepsy attacks. Anyway, we contacted her and explained who we were and she invited us over on Saturday. Her husband wasn’t there when we went though, so we didn’t get to teach them, but maybe this week we will. We contacted one of the bystanders though that was standing in his door watching the whole scene and he said we could come over later. His name is Daniel, and we went by the other day and met his family and got a set appointment with them. They were making barbacoa, which is a whole sheep cooked in a pit oven, and he showed us all the butchered up parts, the head, the guts, and everything all ready to throw in the pit. It was kind of cool. Then, later a member was doing the same thing and showed us how everything goes together to cook it. Anyway, that was kind of interesting. Well, we’re working super hard and getting super tired, so I guess we’re doing our job haha! We´re hoping to find lots of new investigators this week with all the people we´re contacting. I love you lots and hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

A Week Full of Activities

Sounds like a pretty good fun filled week! Keep practicing backing up the trailer Nathan! That’s cool quote about controlling your temper. {I will control my temper so my temper doesn’t control me.} It would be good to study that in the context of being an agent. That is the eternal principle behind controlling your temper. I really love thinking about everything in the context of being an agent or being an object. When Elder Bednar came, he taught us a lot about that. Nathan and Tanya, if you really want to prepare yourselves for your missions, don’t just read the scriptures, study them. Chapter 2 of Preach my Gospel will help you to learn how to study. I pretty much just read the scriptures before my mission instead of getting out a study journal, opening up the scriptures and Preach my Gospel, and choosing a specific principle or doctrine to learn about. Also, there’s a good article in the Liahona this month about asking good questions and it talks about the difference between just an inspirational verse of scripture and the additional light and knowledge that can be received if we ask questions and learn what that verse really means on a deeper level. Try that out this week and let me know how it goes!

This week was pretty full of activities. We went to the leadership council on Wednesday, taught the zone meeting on Thursday, had interviews with the mission president on Friday, had a ward mission activity on Saturday, and had our monthly meeting with the stake and mission presidents and the Christmas devotional on Sunday! It was a great week, but really really busy! We taught about consecration in the zone meeting for one of the teaching segments, and I have been studying a great talk lately about becoming a consecrated missionary. I realized that there was a lot more I could do, so Elder Van Tassell and I decided to start talking to everyone! They gave us about 250 Christmas contacting cards, and we set a goal to give away every last one of them. Since then we have been talking to people in the streets, and every time we get in a bus or a combi we have been contacting the person next to us, just trying to talk to everyone possible! Honestly it’s kind of hard sometimes because people don’t really talk to each other on public transport here, and some people don’t want to be talked to but the majority are actually really nice and we have gotten quite a few addresses and phone numbers! It’s kind of hard to write while you’re sitting in a super bouncy bus though haha, but somehow we manage to do it! We made some huge progress with Mari this week! She was going to get baptized a few weeks ago but it didn’t happen because the elders didn’t feel like she was ready. We went to her house this week though and we explained to her in very clear terms what she needed to do to be baptized and that we needed to go visit her a certain number of times and she needed to keep all her commitments and everything, and then she could be baptized on December 19th. She understood well and agreed to everything and we have seen a good change in her. She started keeping her commitments, came to church yesterday, and we have a plan that we are following to visit her enough times in order to prepare her for her baptism. We are really excited and hoping that she can make it to her baptism on the 19th! Well, this week should be a little less busy as far as meetings and activities, so it will be good to get to focus 100% on working in the area! I hope you all have a great week and that the Christmas preparations go well! I´m pretty excited because we actually have a Christmas tree that we found under Elder Van Tassell´s bed!! Love you lots!

Love,

Elder Black

New Area New Companion

Hey everyone!

Well, my new companion is pretty awesome! (Elder Van Tassell) We get along really well. Thanks for the package! It’s the one with the flip flops in it right? I guess it must have gotten here really fast because I got it a few weeks ago. To answer your question Mom,  there are always 2 zone leaders together as far as I know. Maybe that elder was a district leader, or I guess they might have the zone leaders separated over there. A companionship of zone leaders works as a council though, the same as in every other companionship or presidency in the church. It´s pretty cool because the doctrine found in D&C 88:77-78 and 80 also applies to a companionship. A lot of times we receive revelation for the zone as we are talking together about the needs of the missionaries.

There are a ton of good investigators here! Most of them just have had a hard time actually getting baptized for various reasons but they are all willing and we just need to do a little bit more work to help them progress a little more. There are a TON of hills here!! Most of them are also extremely steep. Our area is basically a giant hill and we live at the top. I’ve never really been in an area with hills before, so I´m definitely a bit out of shape haha! I’m sure I’ll get used to it quick though, and if nothing else I’ll get in a lot better shape! I got news that Diana and Marcela got baptized on Sunday!! Brother Mendez did the baptisms and I am super excited for them! They are going to be great converts!

Thanksgiving was pretty much just a normal day around here. We studied, did weekly planning,  went and taught some lessons. It was a good day, although I can’t say that it was overly festive. Make sure to send me some pictures next week so I can at least vicariously celebrate Thanksgiving haha! I don’t feel nearly as bad about missing the holidays this year as I did last year, it’s kind of just normal now because they have other holidays here that we don´t have in the United States and it’s kind of fun to see some different traditions! I’m getting pretty used to the Mexican traditions now so it’s pretty fun! Well, that’s about all for this week. I hope you all have a great week! Love you lots!

Love,

Elder Black