Monday, August 29, 2011

Even when you're covered in paint, stay positive :)

Well it's been another good, then disappointing week. Naturally, that means we found some great new investigators that fell through on Sunday. They were super solid, accepted the baptismal invitation without hesitation, then weren't home when we passed by them for church Sunday and wouldn't answer their cell phone. It's getting really annoying that this happens every week, but I'm staying patient and doing my best to stay positive. We're working a lot on doing more contacts, which helps, because it means I'm essentially bearing testimony all day, which makes it much much easier to be positive. On Thursday, I went to the mission offices, then Friday to DF to sign my visa papers, so I'm finally legal. I had to go all by myself, which was maybe a little stressful, but everything worked out well in the end, and I got there and back safe and sound. Thursday before I left to the offices, though, I went on splits with one of our zone leaders, Elder Wiles, which was really good. He's a great missionary, and we had some really good lessons, and it was basically just a really good day. We had three baptismal interviews, too, and everyone passed, so that was a nice morale booster. Other than that, it was a pretty slow week.

So Monday, we were carrying a box of BOMs that had paint on it (nobody warned me), and it got on my pants and won't come out. I've been told by other Elders that Mr. Mac has a 2 year guarantee, so I'm attaching a picture of the damage so maybe you can find out if we can replace them and send them with my Christmas package :)

It sounds like everyone is keeping busy at home, which is good. That's interesting that everything seems to break down at the same time. Life just can't always be easy, can it? That's fun that Canyon is starting soccer, and I wish I could be there to see him. Just have him keep it up so he'll be really good when I get back. I thought about BYU starting today, and realized I actually really look forward to getting back and starting up again. Even though I didn't necessarily love being in school at the time, I really did enjoy it, and am excited for Fall 2013. Alyssa started classes today, and I'm excited to hear what she thinks, too. I got another letter from her when I went to do my visa, and things are still going well with her. I've sent one envelope with three letters, and another two are going to be sent tomorrow, but I have no idea how long it will take to get there.

Just a few fun facts so you understand a little more what's going on, my arms, legs, and feet are almost entirely covered in mosquito (or some other kind) bites, but they're starting to heal and not look like I have chicken pox again. I may have gotten food poisoning, because I've been really sick to my stomach since Friday night/Saturday morning, but I'm not vomiting or having diarrhea or anything (thank goodness!), so we'll see how long that stays with me. Sleeping is really hard because of the mosquitoes and general uncomfortability. The best part is that in spite of it all, I can still go throughout the day smiling, because I know I'm doing what I need to be doing.

I hope you continue to do all you need to do to stay close to the Lord. I'm really proud of Tara for going to the temple each week. It's something I always wanted to do, but was never quite dedicated enough to do (and I had jazz band all throughout high school), and I just know that the Lord is going to bless you so much for that. Continue to study the scriptures, as that is how we are perfected (I read that this week). I'm in 2 Peter, and I plan on finishing the New Testament this week and starting D&C, which I'm excited for. Make every effort to be the very best member of the church you can be and you will be blessed more than you can recognize.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, August 22, 2011

One transfer down, many more to go

Well today is my two-month birthday in the mission. I've been in Mexico a little over a month, and I feel like a veteran now. This week was really good... up until Sunday. We found 5 new investigators, had them all on date, promising to come to church, and nobody did. Every single investigator we had fell through, and even our recent convert preparing to receive the priesthood didn't come. It was a pretty disappointing end of the week. Our new investigators were a referral from a member, and referrals from the new investigator from the member referral, which has a big blessing. I just wish things would've worked out. Me and Elder Irigoyen had a long talk Sunday night about what we need to do to see success in this area, and, after a lot of praying and discussing, we finally figured it out, and I hope that what we do will help us to see more success. It was really amazing to see the Lord answer our prayers and help us to know that what we had decided to do was mostly right (we changed a few things after), and I just know that revelation is so real. The Lord really does listen to us and answer our prayers, and I hope none of you ever doubt that.

I finally got letters from Alyssa today, because we had to go to the offices so Elder Irigoyen could sign his visa papers (you have to do it again after about a year), and I have to go by myself to the offices Thursday night to sign mine. If I don't write Monday, I'm lost somewhere probably in Tepotzotlan. Anyway, it was really good to hear from her, and everything sounds really good. Dad, thanks for letting me know that you saw her, too. I was wondering if she was still attending the single's ward, and you both told me that she is. I sent my letters to her last week, because I found out the Elders in Tequixquiac (tech-ease-key-ack) have a post office there, so they sent it this Tuesday. It looks like letters will take about 12 days to get down here, but I don't know how long it will be the other way. They are en route, though. Speaking of letters and the like, I don't know if you're ever planning on sending me a package, but if you do, I'd really like it if you could send me the missionary library (Jesus the Christ, Lectures on Faith, Our Search for Happiness, and Our Legacy), because everyone tells me they're really good, and I'd like to have them. Also anything else you'd like to send, especially chocolate, which is very expensive down here. They told me that if you send it through USPS, then it's pretty certain to get here without problems and fairly quickly, so keep that in mind...

I'm glad to hear everything's going well at home. It sounds like everyone's staying really busy with work, soccer, the yard, and bebecitos. It would be fun if I could see the progress Andrew is making, because he's at a pretty big developmental stage right now. I hope Canyon and Savanna are doing well, too. Does Savanna talk much more? When does Canyon start school? That's good that Tara will start up again this week. I'm sure you'll have plenty of chances to play the piano now that Alyssa and Mallory are gone, so keep practicing. I'm playing about every week in sacrament meeting in addition to helping out with the choir, and it's tough. The Mexicans really have such a different way of singing the hymns that it's really hard to follow sometimes. I wish I could just sit them all down and tell them how music works, but they probably still wouldn't listen to me or do it right. I did get to play a little guitar on Tuesday, because the members that we had la comida (2 o clock meal that replaces our lunch) with had a guitar and wanted to hear me play, so that was also nice. Don't worry, I'm trying not to let it distract me... too much...

Well I'm in Romans 6 right now, which has one of my favorite repentance scriptures (verse 6) and I'm just loving the scriptures. They are such a powerful source jof inspiration and truth. It's interesting that as I read, when there is a JST, I usually understand the scripture in the way that it's written with the translation before even reading the translation. I feel like Heavenly Father is giving me a much better understanding than I've ever had with the scriptures. I hope you all continue to read and to pray every day. Do everything that is necessary to keep all of the commandments (Acts something:I forgot the reference) and the Lord will pour His spirit on you. Even though it's hard right now, I know that this is where the Lord wants me, and that even if we don't find anyone soon, we're doing what the Lord wants us to do. Do your best to feel the spirit every sunday, because it's so much easier there than it is in my branch here between running for investigators, barely understanding the talks because of the echo, and a number of other difficulties. The Lord loves you, and may He continue to bless you in all you do.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, August 15, 2011

Failures and Successes

Well we had another disappointing, yet miraculous Sunday. All of our investigators fell through, which means Alejandra, Gabriela, Edwin, Rosa, Maria, and Maritzi are all going to need their baptismal dates moved back. That was very disappointing, because everyone had told us they would come earlier in the week, but then didn't come. Fortunately, Josefina did come (late) and was confirmed. She'll be good, we just need to find someone who can help her remember to get to church on time each week. We also found a new investigator while searching for two others that didn't come to church, and he came with us right then, because his wife is a member. He was baptized before, but never confirmed, so we set a date for him for the 27 of August, and confirmation the next day. The only problem is that he's a trucker, and his schedule is hard to work with, but we're confident that we can make it happen with the Lord's help. We had kind of a rough week, too. We did exchanges one day, and the Elder that I went with (Elder Travesaño from Lima) is not what I'd call a great missionary, so that was difficult. We were also working in my area, so I was stressed making sure we could find all the places we needed to. The next day, we had to go to Xalpa (about an hour and a half away) for a baptismal interview that the person didn't show up for after we drove another hour and a half to go to her house and back to the church, but she wasn't home. Essentially it was just a tough week until we got to Sunday.

Fortunately, I finished the Book of Mormon again this week (by my count, that's 8 times I've read it in total) and started reading the New Testament (feeling the need to do some bible studying after talking with a Jehova's Witness and realizing I lack biblical knowledge), so that's been good. I'm in Mark 11 (?) and it's going good. I really love that every time I read the Book of Mormon, Heavenly Father will confirm it's truth every time, so I don't need to worry about Jehova Witnesses (or TJs in Mexico for Testigo de Jehová), because I have a firm testimony that the Book of Mormon is the work of God. The scripture I was trying to tell you last week that I really like is 3 Nephi 5:13, and I found another good one that I like a lot in Moroni 9:6. Both are really good missionary scriptures, and I'm trying my best to follow Mormon's example from these two verses.

I'm not really sleeping any better, but I'm learning to sleep in the Combis and buses, so that's nice. My stomach is a little better, and most of my bowel movements are at least mostly solid. I had a really bad day with that Tuesday, and almost died, quite literally, but I've been good since then. Really I don't worry too much if my stomach can handle what we're eating, I just eat it. I've been really hungry all the time lately, so any food that is offered me, I'll take it. The weather is also about the same: pretty hot in the day, and really good rainstorms about every other afternoon. Right now we're just with one branch, and I'm mostly just helping with music in general. Obviously as missionaries we work with the leadership a lot, but as far as auxiliaries go, just music.

Pray for all the above mentioned as well as Marcos (the trucker), Victor, Liliana, and their sick baby. President Call has some pretty high expectations that we haven't been able to meet yet, but we're working on it. Elder Irigoyen is starting to get on my nerves a little, as he's actually pretty immature a lot of the time, but I'm trying my best to be patient and work well with him.

I haven't heard from Alyssa yet, but nobody's been to the offices to pick up letters since I've been here, so I hope she's writing me. She knows about the blog and everything, so I hope she's still updated. To Alyssa: you can really visit my family anytime you want to, and when school starts, you can find out from my mom where her office is if you ever need anything from her or help with anything. Plus Emily Louder works there, so you can say hi to her too.

This church is true, and this is the Lord's work. I'm so grateful to be a part of bringing about His great and eternal purpose, and I know that He will bless us all for the sacrifices that me and Brigham are making. The Book of Mormon is true, and reading and praying every day will bring so many blessings into our lives. Live the principles of the Gospel, and you will be blessed with all that you need. The Lord knows and loves all of you.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, August 8, 2011

My First Mexican Baptism

the zone at Tula
Josefina after baptism
me wrangling a sheep

Well this week has been a pretty busy one with lots of finding, rejection, baptismal commitments, problems with baptismal commitments, troubles with investigators, and also miracles... oh, but it ended in a fairly disappointing way. We found three new investigators who are super solid: Alejandra, Gabriela, and Edwin. Alejandra is the grandma, Gabriela is her daughter and Edwin's mom (which makes Edwin the son/grandson). They accepted the baptismal commitment without hesitation after we taught the restoration, and are on date for the 21. They were totally ready when we went to pick them up for church on sunday, and all went well. Unfortunately, our other investigators decided we were too late (even though it was quarter to 9) and left to a birthday party. We also had some troubles with Josefina, who was baptized on Sunday. Somehow, she thought that the service would be at 8, so she invited her daughter who had to leave for DF at 10, and one of the members suggested moving the baptism to next week (never ever do that), but we convinced her to do it today and her daughter can come to the confirmation next Sunday, so it all worked out good in the end.

Today, we went to Tula for our p day activity as a zone, which is basically a few temples (in ruins, of course), and then out to pizza. The stake president paid for it all because our zone was the highest baptizing zone in the mission and we completed a goal that he had set for us. The ruins were pretty cool, and there's a lot of things there that relate to temples (like our temples, not temples in general), including the statues there wearing temple clothes. It was really interesting, and the stake president gave us a tour and explained everything because he's an archaeologist (are you surprised I can still spell that?). Unfortunately, that left us totally desperate for time to do the rest of the things we need to do on p day.

Brigham's story was pretty interesting, and strange, because as far as I can tell, things like that would never happen here in Apaxco. Aside from people always yelling "huero!" (blonde person) when they see me, everyone is pretty much kept to themselves, not wanting any trouble. My blisters have turned to callouses, thank goodness, and the pain in my legs is mostly gone, but my back has started to hurt this week, so I'm trying to focus on having good posture all the time (you knew it had to happen one day).

To answer your questions, my stomach has been bothering me a lot this week, and after a week solid of diarrhea, I had my first solid bowel movement for the week on Sunday, but then half and half today. I'm sleeping ok, but I probably wake up three or four times each night, which is rough. I have really vivid dreams, which I didn't have before the mission or even in the MTC, and something always happens in them that wakes me up. I don't know if there's one single most important thing that I've learned since being here, but some very important things are to always be happy and smile and follow the Spirit. Without the Spirit, our work literally can't happen, and we have to always do our best to follow Him. President Call told everyone that we have to always remember Christ (as per the sacrament/baptismal covenant) and pray always. If we do those things, we'll be good. I did figure out the umbrella. It turns out there is a button that opens it (I felt pretty stupid...), and thanks goodness I figured that out, because we got caught in a really bad rain/thunderstorm on Sunday night that almost stranded us about an hour from home. Thankfully, a random family let us in until it let up and could find a taxi and comvi.

The branch is fairly small, about 70 active members, and I have been helping out with the music, and even playing for the ward choir (which is in serious need of help), and I'm enjoying being able to play. They have the same piano in the chapel that we do at home. The meetings are good, and the members that are there are pretty solid. I'm getting to the point that I can understand Spanish much better, even in the echoey room where we have sacrament meeting. The members feed us every day, and you wouldn't believe how many different things I've eaten. Even the things I didn't like, I still finished (you never thought I could do that, did you?)

To Alyssa Shirley, we haven't been able to find a post office in Apaxco, so I haven't been able to send letters, but I promise I'm writing them weekly. I hope you are, too, every week, even though I'll only get them every 6 (possibly more often, because my companion sometimes has meetings in Cuatitlan, where the offices are). I hope all is well, and look forward to hearing from you!

I'm glad everyone's keeping busy and enjoying their activities. Happy birthday to Manuel, Betsy and John (sorry I forgot last week), and I hope Manuel and Andrew feel better (that must be an unhappy house right now). This church is true, and we are led by a living prophet. The Book of Mormon is true, and I'm glad to say, like Mormon, that which he says in a scripture I don't remember that I will verify for next week. It's really good.

Elder Joseph Facer

Now my companion will write to you as per President Call's wishes:

Hello I am Elder Irigoyen, well I can say that Elder Facer is fantastic, he sorprended me with his spanish and I am very glad to be his companion, and more for be his first companion here en mexico; he is a great missionary and he will do great things on his mission, he loves the people he teachs and thats all in this 2 years; I thanks you, because like parents and family you did a marvelous job with Elder Facer and he will recompense you with his work and his future; well I say goodbye, hope to one day write again or met, bye bye

Monday, August 1, 2011

First Mexican Impressions, along with MTC pictures

Elder Coley, my first companion
Elder Belchior, my second companion
the advanced district on the temple walk
first apartment in SLC
first apartment in SLC
first apartment in SLC
me with President and Sister Call
Our apartment (before cleaning)

my blistered foot

Well it's been quite an interesting first week here in Mexico. I'm in the state of Mexico, and the municipality of Apaxco (Apasco for you English speakers), which includes several smaller communities that surround it, including Coyotillos, Perez, Loma Bonita, and some others, so Dad, google earth all you want. Essentially, Mexico is extremely different from home, and even from the "Ghetto" of Riverside, SLC. This is by far the most humble place I've ever lived in, with two rooms and a tiny bathroom and an ever present odor that would make Mom cry and/or vomit. We did a lot of cleaning today, though, and we'll finish next week, but for now, I only have the before pictures.

We're definitely keeping busy here, mostly because we have to walk everywhere unless we're going to any of the other places, in which case we take Combis, which are just big vans used for public transport that costs 7 pesos per trip (not that much). My feet are suffering terribly, as you will see in the... pictures! I have pictures from the MTC until now, and hopefully I'll be able to attach them. Anyway, I think the Lord uses me to test my companion's patience, because when I got to SLC, we had trouble getting people to commit etc., and now here we're having trouble finding people, and the ones we did find didn't come to church except or one who is getting baptized next week. I'm not being difficult by any means, but we never seem to do very well in my areas... anyway, I'm not complaining, because I know that the Lord has already blessed us so much in the few people we've found, and He'll continue to help us. If you would remember to pray for Josefina (the one preparing for her baptism), Braulio and his family (Asuncion, Sebastian, and Sofia) to commit to baptism, and Diana and her family (Cesar and Diana the younger) to accept the message of the Restoration and keep commitments.

President Call did remember me, and made Sr. Call apologize again for saying I looked like a deacon. The first thing we did after the airport was go to his house, which is actually really nice. The only thing I didn't like is that in all the nicer houses in the area, everything is tile. Literally everything. Other than that, it was all good. He had me play the piano for him and Sr. Call, and was impressed because I stumbled through a Jon Schmidt song. Also, my trainer is Elder Irigoyen. He's from Uruguay, speaks some English, and has been out for not quite 15 months. He's the district leader (I always get stuck with those...), and our district has 3 companionships, whom I met last night. Elder Irigoyen is a really good missionary. He's very different from Elder Freitas, but still good. He's very affable and has lots of good stuff to teach me about teaching. They've apparently started using a new 12 week training system that we have to do in 10 weeks, but it's good, and it means I know where I'll be next transfer.

I'm glad you're all keeping busy, even if that means too busy. It'll be good in the long run, and maybe Tara will be more prepared for life after high school (when you're really really busy). I'm glad you are redoing the food storage and everything with emergency preparedness. I feel that will be something very important in maybe not the near future, but possibly within our lifetimes. Speaking of preparedness, everyone here is talking about some kind of crisis that's supposed to happen in the US this week or sometime soon. Any news on that? We're getting a lot of storms, too, and the only problem is that I can't figure out how to use that umbrella you sent me with. It opens, but I can't figure out how to make it stay open. I'll keep working at that.

To answer your questions, getting into Mexico was no problem. I forgot a part on the customs form, but that was as hard as it got. I could have had more luggage, so that wasn't a problem, and the lady at the SLC airport was nice enough to put one of my suitcases as a military item, so I didn't have to pay for anything luggage wise. It was hard to leave all the people from SLC, but I know they're in good hands, and that the work is the same here as it is there. Spanish is going good. I've had a few people comment on it being pretty good, which is nice, but I'm still getting used to understanding everyone, but it's coming. The address is the mission address, and we only get mail on transfers, unless we stop by the offices for any reason, which probably won't happen very often. Email is only for immediate family, meaning Mom, Dad, Scott, Lys, Brigham, and Tara. All others must write.
I hope everything continues to go well in the Facer house and all others which pertain unto it. I hope you will continue to see the blessings of having two missionaries serving, because I know the Lord is blessing you for it. Watch for the blessings every day, and if you write them down, like Elders Scott and Eyring have talked about, you will see more and receive more. This is the Lord's work, and I know that even though I'm far from perfect, He is molding me to be an instrument in His hands. Continue to read the Book of Mormon. That book is one of the greatest blessings in my life right now, and I know you will be blessed if you continue to read it

Elder Joseph Facer