Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010 -- La Caja Chica

This has been a great week, both in the offices and in the area.

The Zone Leaders, Assistants, and Executive Secretary in our mission all have something called the “caja chica.” Literally translated, it means “small box,” but it isn’t a box. Usually, it is a bag or a purse or a wallet to store money used for purposes of the mission, or for reimbursing missionaries who paid for things that aren’t included in their monthly allowance, such as electricity bills.

Tuesday night, we had 34 missionaries staying here in the mission offices. They came from the frontera (border) to go to the temple Wednesday morning. So Tuesday night we had to buy food for them. We went to the local supermarket (H-E-B) and bought 10 sandwich trays and several gallons of orange drink, filling 3 carts. We paid with money from the caja chica and went to load the van. After putting the food in the van, one of the missionaries who was with us put the three carts next to another car. I knew that they didn’t belong there, but we were in a hurry, so I didn’t say anything and we left.

When we arrived and unloaded the van, I felt like something was missing: la caja chica. We searched and searched, but it was not to be found. I was worried, very worried. There were 2,000 pesos in the caja (about 200 dollars), which is a large sum for a missionary. At 10:15 I called President Mendoza to explain what had happened and to ask for permission to return to HEB to look for it. President Mendoza, after telling me not to worry, told us to go, and we did so.

We parked exactly where we had parked the last time. And to our great surprise, the carts were still there where we had left them! We got out of the car and looked in the carts, and there was la caja chica, in plain sight. It had been there for over an hour, and no one had touched it. The first thing we did was say a prayer of gratitude, for it was truly a miracle.

That experience helped me learn to be more responsible and careful with what I am entrusted with. It also helped me be more grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord. What a blessing! It was truly a miracle.

This week my companion, Elder Crisostomo, and I have thought of a new way of finding and teaching. We have started to contact the streets close to our church building and offer tours. We have also made a plan for the tours, teaching a principle of the first lesson in each room, culminating with a baptismal challenge in front of the font. Yesterday we had our first experience.

We have been working with Moises Flores, a less active future missionary. He told us that his girlfriend, Jazmir, was interested in learning about the Church, so we invited him to invite her to a tour. Last night it was cold and rainy and muddy, but we had faith that they would arrive. And they did. It really was a beautiful sight see a couple of 20-year-olds walking together in the rain to go to the church.

There was a special feeling throughout the tour. We taught the principle of the earthly ministry and Atonement of the Savior in the chapel, and talked about the sacrament. We taught about prophets, families, God, and the restoration each in a different room while explaining what we do in the church. We taught the Book of Mormon in front of the baptismal font, mentioning that the ancient in habitants of this continent practiced baptism. Then we taught briefly the doctrine of baptism and invited her to follow the Savoir’s example. She didn’t except a specific date, but expressed a desire to do so after having learned more and received a testimony. This Sunday she and Moises will come to church with us.

I love missionary work.

Thanks for you love and prayers.

* * *

P.S. Edy and Olga will be sealed this next Wednesday. I am very excited.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010 -- Big News

[This is the second of two posts for February 12. The next post below is the first to be received on February 12. -- Eds.]

This has been a busy preparation day. Today we drove to Chipinque, a mountain peak here in Monterrey, with a beautiful view. (I will send pictures next week.)

I love nature and I love the tops of the mountains.

This has been a week of . . . big news. . . .

[One] piece of very big and very good news was a phone call that I received last week. Do you remember Edy and Olga, from the Ranchito? Well, this next Wednesday, February 17, they are going to the temple! They will be sealed for time and all eternity, and I will be there! . . .

This week we also found out that in two weeks a member of the Area Presidency will be here with us in our mission and will preside over a zone leader conference.

I had a great birthday. The other missionaries here in the mission offices spoiled me with service. They cooked me breakfast, ironed my shirt, polished my shoes, and even knotted my tie! There is also an office tradition of buying a cake and “surprising” the birthday boy. They bought me a delicious cheese cake. President Mendoza invited us to his house on my birthday. It wasn’t specifically for my birthday, but it felt good to go. Usually the only times we go there are for
the "Goodbye, Heroes" dinners and the "Welcome, Valiants" dinners.

* * *

I have to tell you that my release date will probably change to July
21, because of a change of transfer procedure, a change that the Area Presidency
has suggested. . . .

* * *

My companion and I continue having lots of work to do. We are always looking for ways to make things better. This week we have been preparing a new packet for the new missionaries, and next week we will be revising the now outdated zone leader manual, in addition to our weekly duties of supervising the zones and reporting the numbers to Salt Lake and President Mendoza.

In our area, the Lord continues to bless us. Yesterday, Eloy and Griselda, the couple who were looking for a church to attend together, accepted baptismal dates. We are working with several families and I love every minute of it.

I love you all and appreciate your prayers. Thoughts of you inspire me to be better.

* * *

P.S. President Mendoza will go to the P.O. box this next Thursday, February 18.

Friday, February 12, 2010 -- RE: Happy Birthday

[This is the first of the two posts received on February 12. This one was received after the one posted above. -- Eds.]

Thank you for the happy birthday wishes! It is hard to belive that I am 21 years old.

Thanks for letting me know that you didn't get my letter last week [on February 5]. I
don't know what happened. Yes, I was really busy, but I did write you a letter and I don't know why it didn't arrive. This [comes from] the letter I wrote last week:

This has been the most intense week of my mission. I have literally been busy every waking minute.

Monday [February 1] was transfer day, and included picking up 14 Mexican missionaries in the airport, coordinating the transfer devotional, beginning the new missionary seminar, and picking up the only new American missionary, who arrived at 10:00 PM instead of 4:00 PM.

Tuesday [February 2] we went to the temple with the new missionaries and their companions, and then were in training with them all day long. As soon as they left, the zone leaders arrived for Wednesday´s zone leader conference.

Between all that, we have made some changes in the way of doing things in the mission, changes that will bring us lots of success, and my companions and I have been very busy preparing for those changes.

Even my preparation day time is cut short today [February 5]. And when my time is
short, my letters are too.

I am doing very well. As you know, part of my motto is giving 100% of my effort 100% of the time, and this week I have truly achieved that. It is a good feeling.

Things in our area are going well as well. We have several families who we are teaching, as I talked about last week.

Last night, Elder Crisostomo and I went to an appointment (Elder Dudley [the third companion] was with a missionary who is in the offices because he is sick.) The appointment was with Carolina, a 24-year-old single mother of two children.

When we arrived, she answered and began to say that she was busy and didn’t have time for us, but I felt the need to enter her house, so I asked if we could just enter and sing a himn and say a prayer and leave. She somewhat grudgily allowed us to enter.

As we sang “Lead Kindly Light,” the atmosphere changed, and Carolina´s mother, Irma, also a single mom, came close. After the hymn, we explained how to pray, and knelt down and said a prayer. As we finished, Irma had a tear in her eyes and mother and daughter embraced each other. We left quickly, but before leaving, they excitedly accepted a return appointment.

Good news! I received a letter from Johana, one of my converts from Juarez this week! She and her husband are doing well. Johana is expecting a fourth child, due in August. (I am going to write them and invite them to make it their goal that their new addition be born into the covenant.) She also told me that her uncle-in-law, Eddy, also my convert, was recently called to be the ward mission leader!

Please congratulate [my friend who just received a mission call]. The other missionaries in the offices asked me what was wrong because I yelled out loud (“yes!”) when I read your email. I am very happy for [my friend], and am sure that she will be a great missionary.