Monday, April 29, 2013

Heckya for William C!!!!

Ahh heckya for William C!!!! I showed my comp (who is from Chile) and he was soo stoked. He started showing me picks and telling me all about it. Then he just kept repeating every once in a while the word trunky – one of the two English words he knows.
Well "suprisingly Biron" another week is done. We had a bunch of solid progress this week. We spend most of our time with less-actives and have focused on two families in particular. In both cases, the parents are members and at some point fell away from the church. They really just got caught up in daily life and the church became less important. That is the way of things; if we are not constantly fueling the flame, it will eventually go out. Their children are not baptized and have not been taught the truths that their parents were given. This is sad that they have been ignorant of the peace and guidance that is so available. When we first met with these families they both were in somewhat of a stressed state. They took some offense that we were at their doorstep and that we thought they needed our attention.  They could have simply had a stressful day and we were seeing them at a dip in their mood, but I think it was the absence of the spirit in their home. What I have seen in the last couple of weeks has bolstered my testimony and given me an excitement for the work. The change has been a stark contrast. They have become more open to our presence and are even now delighted to see us. Their children started to come to listen to our message, first by force, then by willingness, and now are even starting to participate. Their stressed dispositions are gone and have been replaced by tranquility. The parents become especially excited when we talk to their children and commit them to homework, and now even baptism and receiving the priesthood. The parents can draw on their stored knowledge to help and encourage the kids during the lesson. During one lesson, the mother of one of the families couldn’t hold back the tears and then said it doesn’t matter if she was the only one in the family who goes to church this week; she was going.  She was not alone and all of the members of both families attended.

   We have a number of families and individuals with the same results; as I am sure many missionaries around the world do. I have never directly participated like this in someone changing their life and I have seen a corresponding influence in myself. My Spanish is remarkably better at these two families houses, which is probably why I focus on them.  The gospel is not just a part of our lives; it is the backbone and reason. It should guide every thought and decision. Dad talked about it in a letter of the concept of making sure the outline and important parts of the structure are secure and correct and then the result will be that the small things will fall into place. The gospel and church is that structure. If we diligently try to align our lives with the example and words of Christ then we will be filled with a desire to work toward hope and charity. Success can then follow; maybe not success as viewed by the world, but a deeper and more meaningful version. Before my mission, I did not try to diligent seek to understand the word.  Sure, I did most of the right stuff, but it was more of a routine. I was hardly reading my scriptures and service was not really on my mind. And the result was I felt lost at times.  Diligently trying to grow in all the basics of Christ’s teachings leads to such a better perspective .

I am asked all the time how much time I have left. When they find out the response is always the same: "Oh man, I’m sorry."    haha  que pues?  Sure, it will be a lot better in a few months when I can do more than stumble through the language. But I am privileged to have 22 more months of growth and service and I feel nothing but gratitude.

President Monson read this poem in one of his talks:


 Through the winds of change

 Encircled by the clouds of pain

 I guard it with my life

 I need the warmth, I need the light

 Though the storms will rage

 I stand against the pounding rain

 I remain a keeper of the flame


I am stoked about the garden.  The folks here love their fried meats and I have found myself craving veggies. I had watched some documentaries a couple months before I left and much to the delight of Meg, I started to drift towards a more vegetarian taste.  haha I guess that will be on hold for 2 years.

I gotta go - talk to yas later - loves ya’ll



Monday, April 22, 2013

Camera's Are Over-rated

I am glad you made it to Stefan’s farewell. Ya Stefan really is a stud. He will have a little different experience in Russia than my experience but he will face some similar challenges. The big difference will be the temp. The thing I really respect about Stefan is his discipline in everything. He is a naturally smart kid but he hasn’t achieved due to laziness. He diligently works on aspects of his life, everyday building more.  I’ve learned on my mission that is what it is all about. Great things don’t come in a day or spring up. It is about constantly, consciously putting in the effort.

We have an inactive family that hasn’t been to church for a very long time. When we first walked by the house in my first week, the mother was smoking. We have spent a lot of time with them since then; almost every other day. Their son won’t come in to talk with us and he plays his guitar really loud while we talk. But because of some financial difficulties they have been humbled and seem desperate for the relief the gospel offers. They have started to show some excitement about having us come by and they even have their scriptures ready.  This week we caught the mother smoking again. She was ashamed and we were disappointed.  But, we talked about the importance of the Word of Wisdom and committed them to come to church. The daughter is Owen’s age and hasn’t been baptized - so we committed her to that as well. Yesterday while we were in the church, I was playing the prelude music and i saw them walk in and I was just stoked on life.

In other news, I saw Sid, the dog from Toy Story this week, so that was exciting. Also, we went to see the Christ statue that is here in Torreon.  It was real cool, and I had some pretty great pictures to show you but on the way down from the hill, we were held up and my camera was stolen. Sooo, that blows. I didn’t have too pictures on it so that is good. I can buy a camera here because it is cheeper. I was perhaps a bit naive but I will have some stories tell.

I really get along with the other missionaries. It is easy to connect when everyone is humble. Our mission is about 50/50 on missionaries from Latin American and the U.S.

This past week we also had had two discussions with men on the street with tequila in hand. They were drunk and asked if I wanted some. They told me they thought our church is radical for its beliefs because we don’t drink alcohol. They got heated and one of the guys had a screw driver in his hand and was scratching his back with it, so I took a step back. I don’t know what they got out of the discussion but I liked it because it helped me practice articulating our beliefs

Thanks for the letters and talks on fear. I ain’t gonna lie; I have felt it a few times here. But, I made a promise to myself that I would contribute in every lesson. Spanish is coming but you know how it is. I’ve learned a lot and these growth pains are expected.    

I have not seen Carson yet as he is in a different area. But, I will see him next month when Elder Holland comes to meet with everyone in our mission. That is going to be pretty cool.  


Elder Speen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Don’t Understand a Word You Just Said!

Quote of the Week:

"I don’t understand a word you just said." Lyle from Napoleon Dynamite

This Wednesday we went back for the night and found that we were without electricity. Water was also a no-go. So we clicked on some flashlights and did the norm. The next morning my comp was pretty ticked about not having power and about showering out of a bucket. I just laughed and thought that Meisha is doing this every morning. It is hot in the afternoons but it is quite cold in the morning. So to get warmed up for a cold shower we did some P90X. It wasn’t actually that bad. I had one of those pooffy shower thingies that get all frothy with the soap. We chased all over town to find the twice relocated offices of the maintenance crew of our building. Finally, they consented to send someone. We waited for another night and no one showed up. Apparently this stuff happens. A few days went by and they still had not showed up. We decided not to wait for them. After a meeting we called a guy in our ward and he said he would bring an hermano in the ward to help. ha he shows up with his "electrician" that I was pretty sure was just his buddy. He stares at this meter for a while and starts poking randomly at all the wires and not really doing anything. I was starting to get annoyed as this was cutting into our day and this guy didn’t seem to know what he was doing. Then, he pulls out a screw driver and starts to smack stuff and boom – the power returned. "Say wha?!  He actually did a little bit more than that, like reattach wires that someone had cut. I blame our neighbors - who I think are trying to stop the work here. But there was also some random hitting with a screwdriver.

So Megs area is La Romana? Ha - my area is Roma and our streets are named after cities in Italy. I just can’t seem to get away from getting lost in Rome.

The words that my comp knows in English are trunky and coming out of the closet. He uses them a lot. We have a real good time together.

In one of the pics I attached, we are with the new bishop’s family - who we are pretty close with. We spent an hour with them and a menus activo miembro and they had me sing and play the piano.  At the end they said do you like peanut butter. DO I EVER? They gave me three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a jar of peanut butter. it tasted like home.

We did some work this week in an area of real poverty. We went to a part of the city with a square mile of one room huts made out of collected scraps. Tough to see. 
The highlight of the week was that I taught half of the lesson to an investigator named Jesusita. I then asked her if she was willing to be baptized in 3 weeks. She agreed! It was pretty durn great. I love to be able to speak personally of the power of a family following the commandments of God.

The food is still great. I’m getting somewhat of a sweet farmers tan. There are flocks of birds here that are so big they take 10 minutes to completely fly by and the sunsets are very tatooine like.

Love Ya’ll


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So - I Don't Know Spanish After All

Quote: "The problem is not the problem, the problem is your perception of the problem"
Jack Sparrow.

In the airport on the way here, I was surprised to find myself a bit nervous to talk to people about the gospel. But I got over it and went and talked to one guy and gave him a BoM. The best part of this was it helped me get over myself and stop worrying. Reading the Book of Mormon and hearing the word of God can only help people; so there is nothing to worry about. I have to remind myself of this a lot because it is a different ballgame in Spanish. My President is great. I look forward to getting to know him better.

I was assigned to the most affluent area in Torreon - so my food is abundant and delish. My comp is named Poblete and is from Chile. He is under 5 feet tall, but seems a lot taller to me. He is 28 years old and a convert. He left on his mission as the only member in his family but they all converted while he was out here. I really like the guy. He is a great trainer and everyone here loves him.

This won’t surprise my mother or my sisters, but after 6 weeks in the MTC, I learned on the first day here that I don’t know Spanish. Ha - they all fire it off and I just stare and laugh. I really just sit there in the lessons and then bare my testimony at the end. But it is coming and I can now read my scriptures really well in Spanish. :) It is the accent that throws me off and how fast they talk. We are fed at lunch every day by a member and I have had all sorts of deliciousness, but it is the only big meal of the day. The heat makes us not hungry, and because of all the walking I can already fit into my clothes again following the 10 lb gain in the MTC. My comp really enjoyed the cereal I brought from the U.S.

Things about Torreon: The people are way friendly and like talking slow to me. I have seen a lot of Mexican versions of people from back home. For example, who would have thought there is a Mexican version of Bryan Tagge. I laugh inside every time I see this guy because of the similarity. There are people at the gas stations to pump the gas and other cleaning, so that is a blast from the past.


I really enjoy the mornings. During my training period, we have until noon for language, personal and comp study. I have never put this much time into the scriptures and Spanish. It is fun to be able to understand the scriptures in a different language. I am in Alma now. He says that we will reap what we sow; that whatever we give ourselves to is what we will receive. The rest of the day we go around to visit investigators and members. (I think that is what we are doing; sometimes I am not so sure what we are doing :))

General conference was great. I watched it with either caption or in a different room in English. However, Priesthood meeting was in Spanish. So, could you send me some of that? I really liked Elder Holland’s talk about belief versus knowledge. I had discussed this with Doug and mom in Wyoming last year. I thought it was odd that people felt like they had to say they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. The thing is - this life is not about knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt. Whoever has that level of knowledge would act completely different. In Adelide’s farewell she said that her dad wished more people would describe more about why they know. I had shared something very similar with my MTC comp the first week, and when I read Adelide’s talk, I shared my thoughts again. He acted the same and was slightly offended and berated me for this and said that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. But believing in something is to turn your thoughts and actions towards it. And with the church we believe because of the experiences we have had throughout our lives. As children of God we know him as well as he is part of us. But this part of our existence is shadowed by the veil. So we show faith and believe that the best will happen; in the same way we believe a seed will grow. I cannot see the future and know that that seed will become something more; but if we set ourselves to studying and seeking to diligently learn we can better predict outcomes and become more educated in spiritual things.

Thanks for all the mail.





Monday, April 1, 2013

To Torreon

Spencer flew to Torreon today.  He called us from the SLC airport and we were able to talk for 75 minutes.  He loved the MTC but is excited to get going in Torreon.

The part of our family not on missions is in San Jose, Mexico for Spring Break.  Yesterday for church, we went to the San Jose del Cabo Barrio. It was all in Spanish and we all loved it because it reminded us of our three missionaries.  This was a humble ward. As the members filed in, they all walked up to us and stuck out their hands: “Hola, Bienvenidos.”

During the meeting, we noticed a family sitting on the 3rd row that we could tell had been in the church for generations. We were right about that and they were from Spencer’s mission.  After the meeting, they came up and talked to us and were very excited that we had a son going to Torreon.  They are from Durango – which is a neighboring city to Torreon.  Their relatives were the first members in the Torreon region.  The father is a branch president in Durango.  The nephew that was traveling with them has just returned from a mission to Veracruz and knows Spencer’s Mission President.  His father is currently a Mission President in the Mission to the south of Veracruz.