Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Elder Holland

Quote: "You done been shrunk. Quiet down fish"   (Vector - Despicable Me)  


I might have used that quote already but I crack up every time I think of Cate quoting it, soo I’ll probably use it again.

This week I saw the Mexican version of the SNL Obama, Potipher from the Donny Osmond version of Joseph, and the guy from Star Wars that starts to cry after Luke kills the giant beast in Jabba’s palace. At one time I knew the name of that beast. I also saw a version of Eric Lehnardt, but he was ten years younger and wearing some pretty retro clothes. 

Another fun Torreon thing is that we have seen several boats parked outside of people’s houses? What in the world? Where are you going to use that? The closest lake is called the Atlantic Ocean.  

We have been running a loop around the University by our house. There is a security guard at one point there to "keep the peace." There are hundreds of military personnel constantly in trucks on alert here. This security guard is 85 years old, in a lawn chair with a baton, and we often see him napping. I can’t wait for someone to start making trouble and see this guy fly out of his chair and go Rambo on them. Maybe I have too much time to think while we walk, or a little too much sunlight.  Speaking of which - Meish is getting a little hot there?  i don’t know what the effects of the humidity are there, but check out my ten day vs hers. But all is good. I have more trees to use for shade than she does - - - - not.
  • Torreon Average Temp: 99 degrees
  • Naga Average Temp: 91 degrees
  • D.R. Average Temp: 86 degrees

Thanks a billion for the package. You guys know me: mints, talks, cereal, and chocolate. I almost started to sing to my comp "these are a few of my favorite things."

Elder Holland came and we had a meeting with just the missionaries on Saturday and a tri-Stake meeting later that day. In anticipation for this my comp spent the days before saying to me "Do you love me" trying to replicate Elder Hollands talk about the apostles returning to fishing. He was incredibly stoked to hear an apostle.  It was perfect because many of our investigators went.   He spoke of the tenderness of the experience when Christ visited the Nephites and the importance of baptism (perfect right). We will see the result this week.  He spoke a little of his talk in Spanish; a pretty stellar minute actually. But he had a very thick MTC accent. At the end of his talk on Saturday, after hitting the podium a few times and just blowing us away with the spirit, he used this great catch phrase "....and if you think you have it hard here on your mission, Welcome the work!" Now my comp and I have a thing between us that when one pretends to be all tired or says the sun is hot, we look each other in the eyes and say: "beinvenidos a la obra!" It was a great weekend.

Take care.

Elder Speen

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Apartment

"We got no food, we got no money, and our pets’ heads are falling off!"  

-          Loyd Christmas (Dumb and Dumber)   

This week we moved into a new house that was not previously used by missionaries. We had to buy all of the supplies and we didn’t have time to go to the mission office to get reimbursed. So, we went for a few days with no food or money and we don’t have pets, but

I have seen plenty of animals on the side of the streets whose heads have fallen off.  

I met the Mexican version of Hannah Jenkins this week (exact same person). She was way cool but it was blowing my mind the entire conversation. Also, I saw the Mexican Colonel Sanders. 


We got together with our zone this week and the other Elders in the zone were all awkward around the new Hermanas.  Ha

I also learned that Mexicans like their pizzas with ketchup. ha wha?   And I don’t mean a little bit of ketchup.

The gospel gets truer every week. My ignorance seems to grow the more I study (It is actually pretty fun to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know).  


There is a Hermana here that has been surrounded by drugs, death, and a rebellious extended family. Everyone around her except her little boy has been involved in bad stuff. Through all of this she found the gospel and she is one of the greatest Saints I know. We had lunch with her this week and I asked her if we could help with her yard. She speaks decent broken English and got all excited to have our help. I am excited to help her. 


I have a picture of our family and some of the other missionaries (all under five feet tall) were playing eni-meeny-mini-mo to determine which of my sisters there were going to marry.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Great to Talk Last Night

Mi Familia!

It was so great last night talk to my favorite peeps. It was a fully joyful experience to talk about the happy and difficult things of missions. We can all empathize with each other for the hard times and yet none of us can fully understand what each other has gone through.

I have been somewhat aware and yet probably still naive about how blessed my life has been. We do not have to experience slavery, lifelong ignorance, death of loved ones, war, and so much more. And yet the purpose of this life is to do difficult things and overcome the natural man. I have thought a lot lately about this and how this task is possible. We are told to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, to be temperate, and bridle our passions by Alma. These thoughts led to reading on the topic of Self Control in the Topical Guide. There Spencer W. Kimball says: "if you can conquer yourself, you can conquer the world."

We eat our big meal of the day at lunch. I first began thinking about this after a meal where I had eaten more than necessary. Consequently, my stomach hurt, it was harder to walk to afternoon appointments, and I was tired. Why do we do things that hurt us more than helps us? I know that excess calories add fat, makes our minds less sharp, and decreases our physical ability. All forms of gluttony are focused on what the body wants now: alcohol, drugs, laziness, anger induced violence, fear induced inaction, immorality etc.

But, I believe "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," in the words of Henley.  In the fourth missionary discussion it says that God does not want to just aggravate the natural man; he wants to eliminate it. The challenge of this life is that we are given a weak form, where we are tempted to indulge ourselves, but we can still take steps toward the Savior. Regardless of our experiences, trials, and tests, we can learn Christlike attributes and give ourselves to God. So, I began to wonder how this can happen. How can we gain dominance over ourselves and become a child of light and good works? I have come to the conclusion that through planning, study, and faith filled goals, we can become clear on what we want to be. We can then set priorities and ask for spiritual help. This process is simple and yet incredibly difficult. But, "that which we persist at becomes easier, not the nature of the thing itself but rather our ability."

In obedience we free ourselves because the better part of our nature is free to flourish. This is intelligence.

As we work with families here, we have been suggesting that they write their goals as a family after discussing the standards they want to follow. If they are having trouble with drugs or alcohol, we ask them to write down the things they are not going to do every day. We then ask them to pray and rely on the one true power in this world.

Love you guys,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why Do We Fall?

"Why do we fall Master Wayne? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."  Alfred (British Accent) 


Hey thanks for that talk last week on Faith. I read it twice and thought it was fantastic. It is hard to find the correct balance of studying Spanish and talks and scrips in English. I want to do it all, just not enough time in the day.  But ya - I like his analysis of those who think "the church is a crutch."  Ha - you look at the success of so many of the members and that really discredits that idea.  But what I really loved was the idea of the two separate dimensions:  faith and reason.  I had previously associated the word "believe" with faith and knowledge with reason. So I really enjoyed how he articulated his point.   

Will the stud a hall of fame man.   Gosh I’m proud of that guy.   A quote from Will that I have thought about a bit was from a day we were skiing and he said "I like it when I fall throughout the day, because it means I have been hitting the hills hard and giving it my all."  No fear to fall cause of associated pain or teenagers above on the lift yelling "yard sell."  Rather the desire to improve, even at cost. 

This week we had our first baptism.  Her name is Maria. She has a son by the name of Hido. He is on a mish right now and that led her to baptism.  President Uchdorf talked in conference about the Africans and said something that applies to so many here as well.  "They are a people with so little of that which matters least and so much of that which matters most."   I wish I could record part of our lessons and make a video to send to you. 

Our Bishop’s name is Field. He and his family are very excited about life and have done well financially. They are louder people and when I first got here I thought there were a bit too loud. But I have really enjoyed my time with this family (the jar of peanut butter helped) and I have been very grateful for how hard he has worked with us and the ward members. We now have 20 more in church than when I arrived.  We almost can’t fit more in the chapel.  He took us to lunch and a young boy with tattered clothing walked in.  I know that begging can be a dirty business in some places, such as shown by the movie Slumdog Millionaire  where a jerk rounds up a bunch of children and injures a few to increase the pity card and send them out to collect for him with little in return. Also, part of me thinks the beggars could do more to pursue a real job. So, I never know if I should give. But this little guy came over and the bishop gave him money for a cookie.   This brought a huge smile and a mouth filled with a chocolate thank you.  The bishop then said a "dollar for a smile, always worth it."  Then as a side note he said: "at least he had shoes." I barely caught it and asked him what he meant. He responded with a story of how he grew up with a mother, no father, 8 siblings and no money. That meant he was on the street begging. He didn’t have a college education but worked hard and started a pharmaceutical company.  Respect.
They don’t celebrate Cinco de mayo here, which is funny.  I was talking to an elder today that had a tough comp in his first area, which also is an area that has the reputation of  being the hardest area. It is called The Ranches.  This is out in the boonies with houses very far apart. There is a lot of hitch hiking and dust. Not much food and a lot of happy people. I want it as my next area. But this elder described how his first comp would use his money to buy expensive clothing when they came into town and he would watch TV with the members and not work. This elder lost a bunch of weight and finally called the President who showed up real quick and gave the elder a piece of his mind. Ha. Anyway, I calculated our living expenses with food, clothes for the mission, MTC time and I came up with $3,000 if they would let me use moms’ flight benefits - a little less than the real cost, but thanks a ton for your support.      

Also, will you thank Holly and Bryan a bunch for the books they gave me for Christmas: Jesus the Christ, Our Heritage, and Search for Happiness.  The books have great insights and I feel very uplifted by them.  Also, give Henry my congrats on SBO.

I am buying a camera today with the debit card. So pics by the handful next week.