Monday, September 30, 2013

The Snake

Aw - I was just dreading with some excitement to see pics of Powell.  Unjust =)

This week we had meetings Sunday until Wednesday so our working week was only Thursday onward.  One of the days we were walking and I saw a man twenty meters in front of us on the other side of the road walking in our direction. He looked me in the eyes, picked up a big rock and started to cross the street, coming directly at us.  I gave him a look like pal what are you doing? He kept my eye-line as he drew nearer. We got close to him and I asked him what he was doing, with some defensiveness in my voice.  He was slightly taken back by my tone and said that there was a snake right in front of us.  We looked down and yup, right in front of us there was a meter and a half long snake.  Yikes! But at least we were not being attacked by a crazy man. He chucked the rock at the snake and completely missed it.  We watched it for a little bit and a small crowd formed. I picked a rock as big as my torso and landed it on the snake. It started to go crazy, but it wasn’t going anywhere, and it didn’t go as crazy as my companion.  The guy reacted instantly, once he saw that the snake couldn’t move he went completely Chuck Norris.  He took a leaping ninja jump and landed on the snake head and stomped the head to oblivion. Ha turned around sweating and calmly walked away saying " I really don’t like snakes." Then the best part was a woman and her husband who showed up after all the action, moved the Boulder, put the snake in a bag, put the bag in a cargo space on their moped and just rode away, not really saying anything.  haha what?!  Turns out snake is a delicacy here. I think they will all just remember my comp. This week we dealt with the norm of religious traditionalism. I have met a ton of good people that are so good and say their prayers and are so charitable. But, they lack so much of the light and truth.  I was talking to one woman and asked if she feels encouraged to attend her church services, and how often she goes. She told me that she only goes every several years, usually for a baptism of friend or family, and that actually when she goes everybody thinks that something is wrong. Haha what irony? When she goes to church people think that there is a problem. Many never really open their scriptures - they just cross them self as they walk past their statues. Many of those people live good lives. We had lunch with a Hermana and she talked about how her husband has an uncle that whispers propaganda in his ear and tells him to just live it up.  The hermana told us that now her husband has a serious drinking problem. We went back to the house later in the week and there was her husband. He has a long beard and a dark countenance. He defiantly told me that he is now another religion. He is unemployed and he questioned why we are here and said that we couldn’t have a testimony.  He let his life fall into sin and that is when he made the transition out of the church.   

We also knocked on a door and a man opened it up and said come on in before I had a chance to say anything.  Ha I looked at my comp amazed. This could either be a miracle investigator, or someone that just wants to argue, or we are about to be murdered.   That third one seems to be a possibility. Well, he told me he was another religion and we started in on an interesting discussion about our decisions in this life.  His argument was that this life is disconnected to what follows; that the bible is for this life. He suggested that if we follow its precepts we will be happy in this life and if not, we will have less happiness. But after this life God will forgive us if we say sorry and all will be well.  I read him 2 Nephi 28: 7-9, and honestly expected him to be dumbfounded about how closely his false doctrine matched up, but he just couldn’t accept it.  Really his argument was of one that he was afraid to take responsibility for his actions and unwilling to change anything about them.  His buddy was sitting on the couch next to him - 70 pounds overweight and a beard that covered all three chins. He was sweating pure beer, and completely stoned by some drug. They had beer on the table, although the man i was talking to was sober.  We had a good time with the lesson and it wasn’t ever a fight or argument. He told me that not to live in a straight jacket, locked in the house. He suggested I ought to get out there and live.   he said "when you get home your dad will say, boy, I sent you to Mexico to have a good time, help out were you could, and learn Spanish. How did you do?  Your dad will be so disappointed if you didn’t live it up."  haha – Dad, try not to be too disappointed.

Elder Oaks talks about this judgment in a great talk "Judge not and Judge.   It is how it is required of us to make judgments that say ones’ behavior is wrong. We are not to condemn.    I would love to help these people. Alma said "if only I could have the voice of an angel." But we can’t blast guilt on them to help them change. They have to open their hearts. All we can do is show them a contrasting light. 

ha todo bien - but I love you all,  keep me informed.  Talk to you next week.





Monday, September 23, 2013

Bad Water

Well – don’t drink the wáter here. The stomach problems wouldn’t go away but I kept thinking it would pass.  Wednesday night was the low point.  The loss of electrolytes made me pretty dizzy. We prayed that we would be able to have a day of work.  I bought some Gatorade and Pepto and I felt a lot better. My comp told the Hermana that we ate with that I was sick and she was all worried and anxious about it. They are so nice here. She told us to call Hermana Flores to get permission to see a doctor.  I thought we will give it a few more days to see what happens.  By some miracle I was fine all day and we had great lessons. But that night as we got in things deteriorated. So my comp took the pone and said if you won’t call, I will. He called Hermana Flores. We saw the doctor and I had a stomach infection. He gave me the meds, which are super cheap here. Yay - Mexico. I was totally fine the next day. Parras water - not clean.

Our house has had Elder’s living here for ten years. I think we did its first deep clean in 10 years and maybe the first cleaning – period. We found all sorts of treasures.  We filled 2 large black bags with junk. We also fixed the boiler.  We bought a bunch of chemicals and went to work. We were able to restore things to their natural color.

Yesterday we got a call that there was going to be a broadcast satellite that we all needed to attend. Our chapel couldn’t receive the connection so we had to go to San Pedro. The broadcast turned out to be something like a Stake Conference in lower Mexico. It was a 3 hour drive but it was ok because we slept at the district leaders’ house and we are good buds. We played soccer this morning for our district activity.      

Hannah’s wedding looked pretty stellar from the photos. 

It was cold on Friday and that puppy by my foot was wet and freezing. So while we were contacting it came over and laid down to get warm.  


Monday, September 16, 2013

Flavored Water

On Thursday for lunch we made sandwiches with a Hermana.  She offered us Coke to drink but I told her that we couldn’t as it is a rule that we can’t (although every third Elder breaks that one).  It was all she had as that is what they drink here every meal. I told her water was great, and I pointed to her purified water.  She filled a pitcher with tap water and then put flavoring in it. I saw her do it, but I heard that the water was pure here because we were in the mountains.  Nope.  About an hour later my stomach started talking in a very creaky dialect.   The rest of the day I could feel it moving through me.  I didn’t hurt - it was just a very weird feeling.  Well, that night I went to bed knowing that the night wouldn't be a perfectly peaceful one. It is still working its magic today.  

They are harvesting walnuts this week; thousands and thousands of them.  They put them in all types of food; especially candies and bread. They give me zits.  The men climb the tall trees and then use bamboo to smack the nut out of the tree. Then the children collect the nuts.  We have to be careful because the trees hang over the streets and it is like a hail storm when they start whacking away above our heads

I am staying in touch with a Hermana that we baptized in our other area. She left to go to school in the capital two weeks after she was baptized.  It was kind of a miracle that we found her in the small time she was here. She knows English so she writes me in English to practice and I write her back in Spanish. She is cranking through the Book of Mormon.  

Another cool story is we were walking to see a less active in the Pri. That pic I sent of me standing on a hill, leads to the area that sits above the rest of Parras.  It is a climb to get up there.  As we were walking a man started to shouting to us to come over to this small building. I thought “I’m either about to be murdered or get in a bible bash with some pastor. Nope. This man told us to talk to a Hermana that was sitting at the desk inside. She said I have seen you walk past my door for years now. What do you believe? We taught her a bit and gave her a pamphlet. The next day while walking on the same street we were summoned again. She said I love to read and I loved your pamphlet but it was really short. Do you have anything longer? Why yes we do.  We gave her a Book of Mormon. We are going to see her again tonight.

My comp talks in his sleep. I am not complaining. It is incredibly amusing.  He has very long conversations, and I just lay there and listen.  The funniest part is that it is often a monologue of him teaching a lesson. He will say, "Hermano mena will you promise to go to church this Sunday.  That is great. I know this will be a blessing for you and your family."

Sam Leatham was robbed this week. He was in his study room with his companion and just getting ready to leave to go do some service for a member. The other Elders that live in the house had left about five minutes earlier and didn’t lock the door or gate because they knew Sam was leaving soon. Two intoxicated guys went running into their room and they had a gun. Sam is ok and nothing happened. They stole his iPod and backpack that had $40 dollars but luckily the only other things in the backpack was pamphlets and Books of Mormon. They also stole some oatmeal and a few hamburger patties from the kitchen haha.

Truman Did Some Art Work for Me

Monday, September 9, 2013

Nap Time . . . . . I mean Siesta

Is that a light by the back tire?

My new area is quite incredible.  I just stared out the window with mouth open as we went from desert fields to an instant oasis.  It would probably seem dry to Meish and Meg, but after Torreón, which has its own beauty, it is so Green. We eat the pomegranates off the side of the Street as we walk. The main growing season has passed but normally there is an abundance of hanging grapes as well. We played soccer this morning with our district, which has no hermanas, because the other areas are really sketch.  But my area is so calm. I probably won’t have many good stories for the next few months.

I am working out and am helping my comp do the same. He has some health issues with his legs.  But he is real tough. You said that many of them have a lot harder histories than us.  It has blown my mind how true that has been.  I have heard the craziest stories.


So Elder Singly is in our zone.  We had zone conference yesterday and because our area is 3 hours away (which was awful because I drank too much water before the trip) and the bus leaves only once per day, we had some time to kill before the conference. We went to the apartment of Elder Singly. He is solid and he has been a very obedient missionary and it has showed. He is heading home in 6 weeks.  

Elder Solario
Thanks for sending the talk by President Hinckley on the Castañeda family. I had listened to that talk by President Hinckley but I hadn’t made the connection. They are a very great family. They are always generous and willing to help with our work. They radiate purity and a friendly demeanor. I am very stoked that you got to meet them.

I wish you could see the changes in people that I get to see. But, I know you saw similar things on your missions.  Yesterday we visited a Hermana who used to smoke big old cigars. She has now been clean for a month and is scheduled to be baptized on Meisha’s birthday. Our neighbors are young parents (19 & 20) and they have a 2 year old daughter. He is a janitor and they sell hamburgers on the weekend to get by. Now they are on the path to marriage and they have the church in their lives to guide them.

We use the bible videos of Christ and the apostles. I recommend them.  

Love you and miss you,


Elder Singley

Monday, September 2, 2013


"I find your lack of faith disturbing"    Darth Vader    =)

My parents’ -  happiest anniversary to you!  Mom, well done jumping in the pool with the Relief Society ladies; it shows you still have youth flowing in your blood.  Remember when Caitlin pushed me in the pool, so we put my phone in a bowl of rice because it was water logged.  ha       

Well, let’s start with four years ago.  First, I don’t think this thing happened four years ago. I think it was more like a year ago (but something may have happened four years ago as well). There were two elders that were out of their area doing who knows what, and they happened to be in the area of a drug deal.  Not smart.  Next thing they knew they had bags over their heads and in a truck to some ranch.  They were apparently interrogated to see if they saw anything.  They hadn’t and said they were just missionaries.  The dealers contacted the church to verify and to try to collect a ransom.  My understanding is that the missionaries were released and then sent home.  All missionaries were taken out of the stake for a time and my area was closed for a year.  Torreon is a lot safer now and I feel like obedience to the rules provides safety.  

The Fonsecas are coming to Utah and want to meet you!  The parents are so great.    

I am being transferred today.  I will leave at 2 p.m. for Parras, the Eden of Torreon.  It is a ranch area 2 hours away from the rest of our district and is said to be the most beautiful part of the mission.  I will be finishing the training for an elder who has been here for 30 days.   He is from southern Mexico. I am very excited to be with him.  

So my second comp was interesting. He was breaking pretty much every minor rule so we had to sit down and talk about that.  He obeyed more or less after that. But he was often rude and he would sit in the mirror and do his hair for an hour. I am pretty sure the president knew and told me to love him.  So I started giving him compliments and he lightened up. At the end I thought, well that is part of the mission where I learned a lot. There are other stories that I will tell you later.

Meish said in a letter that she bought a bunch of gum to help a kid quit smoking.  Love you Meish - that was stellar advice.  We have been working with a woman that has been trying to quit smoking and now she has stopped smoking! Well, at least she proudly told me that she had gone one whole day without smoking.  Every time we visit her she says "Spencer (which she calls me all the time and I really don’t have the heart to tell her not to – and I kind of like the way she says Spencer with a Spanish accent) look:” and she shows me the gum. Two years ago she willingly went to a rehab clinic for other stuff, but hated it and broke out - which was actually a really funny story.  She had no money, bad relationships with her children and nowhere to live.  There are a lot of houses here that have been abandoned and so she just went and lived in one of those.  She had no light in the house, so spent the day sewing, and listening to Christian pop.  We have been helping her this week put donated furniture in her house and her neighbor is an electrician and we helped him with some wiring.  I learn quite a bit from all the projects we do.  Many of the people here are very handy and very resourceful and know how to fix up a house.   She tried to give my companion a kiss on the cheek in gratitude and the guy almost had a heart attack.  haha She just smiled this great sly smile.  She said to us that she misses us when we don’t stop by.  I stopped by today to say goodbye, but sadly she was sleeping. I am sad to leave this area but I am pretty excited to see Parras.

I have to take off but tell Will I am super stoked for him.