Final Week in Mexico

This week Elder Huxford and I did exchanges after the district meeting and had our final interviews. Then we went with President Titensor and a couple of sister missionaries to pick up Elder Van Tassell and Elder Stanger over in Atotonilco. He took us to the offices where we stayed the night with a bunch of missionaries from my generation. Elder and Sister Bingham left for a bit and came back with a huge box of carne al pastor and we ate tacos and Sister Bingham had also made peach cobbler and banana cream pie! It was super delicious and that was really nice of them to do that for us! The next morning we went to the temple and ate in the cafeteria with President and Sister Titensor. It was super awesome! There was a ton of traffic coming back, but we took advantage of the time asking President and Sister Titensor a bunch of questions and they gave us some good advice. Rafael came to church on Sunday with a baptismal date this time and we went back and visited with him and his wife last night! He is doing really well and he is going to be a great convert! José is still going strong too and Demian and Yitzhak received the Aaronic priesthood yesterday as well! I have loved being here in Tula! It has been a great area! I love you all lots and I’m super excited to see you on Wednesday! I love my mission and I’m super excited to tell you all about it and hear what you’ve been up to! ¡Que estén bien!

Love,

Elder Black

 

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At the Temple in Mexico City Before Coming Home

Blessings from Fasting

Hi everyone!

I´m about to go to Cuautitlán, so I’ll be quick and I’ll probably write more in the afternoon. This week was pretty rough for most of the week. We contacted a lot of people and had very few appointments. We found a cool couple Diego and Claudia that lives out in Parajes, one of the little pueblos in our area. They didn’t come to church though because Diego works on Sundays in a tortillería. We are going to keep working with them though and hopefully Diego can get another job. We were pretty frustrated though because we have been really obedient and working hard and talking with a lot of people, so on Saturday we decided to fast to be able to find people who are ready to hear the gospel. None of our investigators came to church on Sunday (José went to Veracruz to get married so he wasn’t here all weekend), and we were pretty frustrated. But then we noticed that a couple people came to church from our area who aren’t members, so we went and talked to them. One of them, Rafael is the husband of Brenda, a sister who has been less active. We went to visit them in the evening with Viky and Ray, some awesome converts in our ward, and Rafael told us that he had realized that what he has been doing in life hasn’t been helping him much, so he decided that he is going to change. That is why he went to church on Sunday and he told us that he will be there every week now and that he wants to be baptized! We explained a little about the word of wisdom and he said that he has been living it since Wednesday and we put a baptismal date with him for July 16th!! Anyway, that was a pretty cool miracle we saw from fasting this week!

A Normal Week with Lots of Photos

This week was pretty normal. We worked hard and had a good week. The members have been giving us more references this week and we were able to find 10 new investigators but we got kind of frustrated on Sunday because none of them went to church. José is still progressing very well though. Hopefully he can get baptized on the 18th of June.  He’s almost finished with the Book of Mormon. Right now he´s in Mormon, so he should be able to finish it up pretty soon. We are working with the Uribe family as well so that they can receive the priesthood this coming week. On Sunday they told Demian and Yitzhak that they are going to call them as family history consultants in the ward, and they are excited about that! I am glad they are so constant in attending church and are going to keep progressing! In the zone meeting on Thursday, every companionship in the zone taught about one of the chapters of Preach my Gospel. Our topic was chapter 4 on recognizing the Spirit and it turned out pretty well! I went to Huichápan again on Friday and did a baptismal interview and then stayed there on exchanges with Elder Marquez. He is pretty new still, he only has one more transfer than Elder Ayala, but I was really impressed by him. He is really humble and was asking me a ton of questions during the whole exchange and even wrote down some of the answers I gave him. I don’t feel like I really know that much, but it motivates me a lot to know that there are younger missionaries watching my example and I really want to help them out and set a good example for them. Anyway, that’s about it for this week. Just so you know, I might not write a ton next week because I’m going to go visit Cuautitlán with Elder Huxford and it’s kind of far away so I don´t know how much time I’ll have. I love you lots!

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The baptism of Yitzhak, Demian, and Valentina!!!

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one of the members in Tepeji is a fisherman and he gave us a bucket of fish and we cleaned them with him and then cooked them on P-day last week!

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A Fish Fry at Tepeji

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At the lake in Tepeji

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Tula Zone

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Washing Clothes on P-Day

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Teaching Zone Meeting

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Fun at the Refinery

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just an idea to upgrade our agendas haha!

Baptisms and Confirmations

Well, we had a very busy week, although we didn’t get to teach a ton of lessons. I have been doing a lot of baptismal interviews, and we had a district service project on Saturday washing the chairs at the church. Everything went well in the baptisms and confirmations of Yitzhak, Demian, and Valentina on Saturday and Sunday! We will be working hard to help them keep progressing now. José has almost finished the Book of Mormon and we bought him a Bible and a Triple that we are going to give him as a surprise when he finishes! We had a family history class on Thursday and quite a few members went, so we are going to keep going with that class and see if we can get some references out of it. We were finally able to talk with the bishop for a while on Sunday with the sister missionaries and the ward mission leader and I think we´re going to start making some better progress with the ward leaders. Today we went to the lake in Tepeji with Elder Huxford and Urrutia and we cleaned and cooked fish by the lake side! That was pretty relaxing! Well, I don´t really know what else to say. I’ll send pictures next week because I can’t send them in this ciber and the other one we use is closed. Love you lots!

Love,

Elder Black

Teaching at the Zone Conference

Things are going well here. Yitzhak, Demian, and Valentina will have their baptism on Saturday! We’re pretty excited about that. Demian and Yitzhak went to church in white shirts and ties for the first time and we went over to their house before church to give them each a tie and show them how to tie it! They looked pretty good and they are excited to go on missions in a year! On Wednesday we had the zone conference. I was in charge of on of the workshops which was a new experience for me because I had to teach the same thing 4 times in 1 hour. It turned out very differently each time. I was glad I had studied so much to prepare myself because it helped me a lot to respond to the different comments that were made. I taught about vision, goals, and plans and did an activity where they had 2 minutes at the beginning to build a temple using Styrofoam cups and then we repeated the activity after showing them a vision, making a goal, and then I gave them specific instructions about how to work together to build a temple. It was really fun to see what happened with each group and it turned out really well! José will be going back to Veracruz to visit his family in a couple of weeks to get married because he wasn’t able to this time since it was so short notice. He is doing awesome though. Wendy still isn’t spiritually self sufficient and we want her to go to church every week without anyone going to pick her up so she doesn’t go inactive after her baptism, so we decided to wait a little bit longer and keep teaching her. The primary president asked us to share the reverent message in primary on Sunday and the bishop asked us to help him teach the priests class. I think I was more nervous in front of the primary kids haha! But it was fun! And with the priests the bishop asked us to help them understand how they can prepare themselves spiritually before and during the mission. I really love answering questions like that and we had a great experience talking with them! Anyway, we’re excited about this coming week, it should be a great one! I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

Studying the Gospel and Finding Success

Lately, I have been studying a lot about vision, goals, and plans because I was assigned to teach a workshop about that this coming Wednesday in the zone conference. Also, President Titensor sent us 7 talks to prepare for the zone conference. Also, I think a lot about the missionaries and make plans for training meetings. One cool study topic I had recently was about the relationship between persevering to the end and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have learned some incredible study patterns that have helped me acquire spiritual knowledge during my mission. Sorry I don´t have time to share everything with you right now, but after I get home, hopefully I’ll get the chance to teach a few family home evening lessons! One of the most valuable things I have learned in my mission is learning how to learn and I’m excited to share a bit of that with you. My companion a couple weeks ago told me that he had never been able to get that excited about studying the scriptures before his mission but now he has found that spark that makes him love learning about spiritual things. Anyway, this week was pretty good. Demian and Yitzhak went on the priesthood campout this weekend. By the way, happy 187th anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood yesterday! They are progressing well, but we are kind of worried because the young men don’t really include them. It kind of seems like the young men in our ward are more interested in being cool than in befriending the new converts in their quorums. We started passing by with some of the priests to make sure they are aware of their responsibility. We had a pretty cool experience in one of the lessons this week. We went with some members Alfonso and Barbara to visit Wendy and her family. The family was baptized a couple months ago but Wendy didn’t feel ready and would not get baptized with them. We asked her what a baptism meant to her and she said that she didn’t remember. We felt the impression to teach the doctrine of baptism and confirmation using the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon. She was able to understand and she committed herself to a baptismal date for May 28th! We didn’t even ask her, one of the members had just mentioned that there would be a baptismal service on the 28th and after reading the scripture she thought for a minute and then said, “Well I will be getting baptized on the 28th then.” Then she and her family came to church on Sunday! Also, me and Elder Ayala have taken it upon ourselves to be the guards at the church doors because people here in Mexico have the bad habit of going to sacrament meeting and then just leaving and not going to the classes. So, we stand in the doorway now after sacrament meeting is over and everyone who tries to leave we nicely ask them if they will pass into the classes haha! We’ve convinced quite a few people to stay actually, although it’s kind of like trying to hold water in your hands. José went home to get married this weekend, so hopefully that went well and he was able to get married. We will see him soon. He is super excited to be baptized so hopefully he was able to get married. Anyway, this week should be pretty fun. We are going to Huichápan tomorrow to do another baptismal interview and on Wednesday is the zone conference! I love you lots and hope you have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

Visiting Teotihuacan

Well, it was great talking to you yesterday! I have had a super busy week this week. We were travelling all over the place. On Monday we went to Teotihuacán, on Tuesday to the offices and back for the new missionary training meeting, on Wednesday to Tepeji for exchanges with Elder Huxford, on Thursday back to my area, on Friday to Huichápan to do exchanges with Elder Marquez and Elder Sandoval, and on Saturday I did the baptismal interviews up there and we came back (a 3 hour trip). Anyway, that was pretty much my week. Very very busy, but really good. We had some cool experiences on Wednesday. I was on exchanges with Elder Huxford and we contacted a man who was kind of talking a lot and thought he knew a lot about the Bible. We politely took control of the conversation and asked if he would like to know how we have the correct authority to baptize. He thought for a second and then his whole demeanor changed and he suddenly became very interested in our message. The Elders went back 2 days later and he accepted a baptismal date! I know that the Spirit gave us exactly the portion that that man needed to hear during that contact. Also, that day during the district meeting I had taught about the relationship between the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. That night we went to an appointment with a new convert in which we had planned to teach about family history. At the beginning of the lesson, she asked the member who had come with us what he did to stay close to God and not fall away. I looked at Elder Huxford and both of us knew that we needed to talk to her about what I had taught during the district meeting. We followed that prompting and had one of the most powerful lessons I have been in lately. At the end she thanked us for sharing that with her because she had been struggling with a decision for some time and now she knew what to do. Other than that, José and the Urive family are progressing very well toward their baptismal dates, so we’re pretty excited for them. I love you lots and hope you have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

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Jared with his district.

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Temple of the Sun

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With Elder Van Tassell and Elder Stanger

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Teotihuacán means “the city whose purpose is to make men into gods”

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Pyramid of the Moon

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It is pretty interesting to note that the walls in between the staircases used to have creation scenes painted on them.

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They are called frescos because the paint was applied to the plaster when it was fresh (fresco in Spanish) before it dried all the way.

Super Busy As Always

Hey Everyone,

Well, I have been very busy lately, and I will have another super busy week this week. Five of our investigators came to church this week, so we were pretty excited about that. The best thing this week was on Sunday morning. We were fasting so that we could find the people that God was preparing in our area and that we could find them or they could find us. Most of the people we had contacted during the week rejected us but a half hour before sacrament meeting, a man named Josè arrived. The missionaries in Veracruz had contacted him a while back and given him a Book of Mormon. He told us he had read a little bit of it and he showed us where he was and he had started from the beginning and was almost halfway through Alma! He has felt a lot of peace reading the Book of Mormon and his ex-girlfriend was Mormon and told him a little bit about the church, so he finally decided to come to church and he lives in the center of Tula! We have an appointment with him in a few hours! Also this week I have been thinking of ways to make the sacrament more meaningful. All week I was thinking about that and I had a really good experience on Sunday morning studying and praying about how I can improve. A chapter in the Bible came to mind and I studied it and got my ponderizing scriptures from there. I decided that from now on the scriptures I ponderize will be related to what I am going to work on during the week so that it is something a bit more meaningful. The baptism for this coming Sunday will have to be postponed until the 28th of May because Valentina drank coffee this week, so we were a bit disappointed about that. We were finally able to teach Alan though and he is super awesome! He accepted a baptismal date for May 29th and agreed to live the word of wisdom as soon as he found out about it. Also, on Saturday we did a service project with our district and we cleaned a piece of land and trimmed back the bushes with a machete. It was pretty fun and we cleaned up the investigator`s property a ton! Also, today I went to Teotihuacàn with Elder Van Tassell, Elder Stanger, and Elder Montini, one of my old companions. It was super cool and the member that was with us, Ivàn, explained the whole temple to us. Well, things are going well, life is busy and pretty stressful but I`m doing fine. I love you lots and I`m excited to talk next week!

Love,

Elder Black

Everything’s Going Well

Hey Everyone,

Well things are improving a lot with our ward. We ate at the bishop´s house on Tuesday and talked to him a little bit about the ward and he finally gave us a name of someone to visit. We are starting to work a lot more with the other members in our ward as well. On Friday, we did an activity with the primary. The sister missionaries and us talked a bit about our missions and I shared some scriptures about fruits (at the request of the sister missionaries haha) and then we ate fruit salad. There was also a part where the kids wrote letters to the missionaries that are out from their ward. One of the kids decided to write his letter to me haha! I thought that was really nice of him. We did exchanges on Tuesday with Elder Sandoval and Elder Márquez who are in Huichápan. It is a new branch and there aren´t many members yet, so they have some unique challenges. I stayed here with Elder Sandoval and my companion went to Huichápan. It´s pretty far away, and we passed through some pretty out of the way places. We were talking to a guy on the bus ride out there who said that he used to listen to the missionaries but then he moved back to his hometown when he retired from teaching school. He showed us where he lives when he got off the bus and invited us to come over whenever we wanted, but we can’t do proselyting that far away from the chapel (the bus only passes once every hour and it´s over an hour bus ride just to get to where he lives). But anyway, it was kind of cool to see that part of the mission. Not many missionaries have been up there because it only has only been about 8 months since the 1st branch was established there. A bit of history from that area is that the first woman to be baptized in Mexico was in Huichápan. I’m not really sure what happened after that though. I think they had to leave that area because of persecution though, so that is why the Church is just barely starting up there. The Urive family came to church on Sunday and this time they stayed for the whole 3 hours! Also, Yitzhak  and Demian came early because the sisters had a baptism on Sunday morning and they wanted to see it. President Titensor and his wife also came so we introduced them to President too. The sister missionaries and us sang I am a child of God and it turned out super good! It was a really good baptism and we are really excited for the baptism of Yitzhak, Demian, and Valentina on May 8th! We have found some good new investigators but they just haven’t come to church yet. That´s always a battle to get them there for the first time because sometimes they are nervous or have other reasons for not going. We will work hard to get them there next week though. I love you lots, have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black

The Work is Progressing

Well, I don´t really know where the time goes. It seems to pass much more quickly in the mission. We had a special meeting with President Titensor on Tuesday to talk about the special worldwide transmission they did in January. It is pretty cool what has happened in our mission since then. There has been a lot more success and a lot more people are coming to Christ. I really enjoy teaching the district meeting each Wednesday because I learn so much studying and preparing for them! This week I taught about the relationship between obedience and giving accounts. When we are obedient and fulfill our duty and then give accounts of our stewardship, God gives us more revelation. When we are not good stewards, we still have to give an accounting of our stewardship eventually, but instead of revelation we get reprension. I was super happy when the missionaries started calling more frequently at night to give accounts of their work because I’ve been able to help them a lot more and also I have learned a lot from them. How do you give accounts in your mission Aaron? Is it voluntary or do the missionaries have to call their leaders every night? That is one of the principles I have most studied in my mission because I think it is super important. The Urive family came to church again this Sunday! They are super awesome and this time they stayed for the classes too instead of just sacrament meeting! Yitzhak, Demian, and Valentina will be baptized on May 8th, so I’m super excited for that! All of us missionaries gave talks in sacrament meeting yesterday. I talked about the doctrinal basis of missionary work that is John 3:5 to baptize and confirm, and then shared some quotes from Preach my Gospel about how members and missionaries should work together. I have seen that many of the members here don’t think that their friends and family members will get baptized right now because they always say that “everyone has their moment”, but most of the time they don’t invite them to learn about the gospel. So I tried to help them elevate their faith to invite people to take the missionary discussiones. After dinner on Sunday a couple of recent converts from when Elder Van Tassell was here, Vicky and Ray, took us out to one of the pueblos to go meet Vicky’s cousin and his wife. They had never heard about the gospel before except the small amount they had learned from Vicky and Ray but they accepted our visit and we had a good lesson with them. They didn’t accept a baptismal date yet but they said they would get baptized if they find out that the Book of Mormon is true! The people out in the country are a lot more receptive here than in the city center. Sometimes it’s just hard to get them to church. We did have one investigator come from way out in Parajes though. Laura, from Xiteje was also going to come but her mom didn’t let her, so that might be a challenge we will have to deal with this week. Anyway, it´s been a good week and I´m excited to keep going! Love you lots and hope you have a great week!

Love,

Elder Black