Monday, October 29, 2012

Week 13 - October 29, 2012 - Is it Bad to Fast and Pray for the Giants?

Haha Just kidding but they may or may not have been in a few of my prayers last week! It seemed to work though, huh ;)

Well we had a baptism on Friday! It was awesome! It was Denisse- the 12 year old that we were supposed to baptize last week. Anyways, we went and taught her and her mom during the day and at the end of the lesson she asked if I would baptize her. I was so excited and I wrote down the baptismal prayer in spanish and studied it for awhile. I had it perfectly memorized and I was ready for this baptism. We got there 3 hours early because the font always has bugs and nasty things in it so we had to clean it and get it ready to go. It also takes FOREVER for the water to heat up so we were pretty nervous that it wouldn´t be ready for the baptism. 

Everything worked out well and it was time to enter the water with Denisse. I asked her what her full name was and she responded with what I thought was some sort of sick joke. She said ¨Denisse Alejandra Poloma Sifuentes.¨ I immediately forgot about the rest of the words and my mind went blank. I´m standing in the water with Denisse trying to decifer this name and everyone is waiting for me to start. I had to say the prayer like 5 times because I kept either saying her name wrong or the rest of the baptismal prayer wrong. I finally baptized her and she was super nervous, there were a lot of people there and when I looked up at the witness and he told me her leg came up. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? (her whole body has to be under water at the same time, so I had to do it again!).

The second time everything went well though. I could hear people reciting the baptismal prayer trying to help me. I felt like an idiot! hahaha It was awful. But anyways, I got the job done and it all went well. Her confirmation was on Sunday so she is now officially a member of this church. Hopefully her mom, Rosario, can give up her cigarettes.

We have 6 baptisms planned for the upcoming month and I am super excited for that. We are pretty sure about 4 of them but we are hoping that the other 2 will be able to overcome their trials. We are currently teaching Yasbek and her brothers Edwin and Eric. We are also teaching Cecilia, Donaldo, Rosario, and Carlos.

We had 2 elders from our district go home last week because of sickness and one is going home within the next couple weeks because of lung problems. I have learned not to request American food from the Mexicans. I had a hamburger yesterday and it was the worst hamburger I have ever had. It was super burnt and it was pretty much just charcoal...ahhhhh I gag just thinking about it!  Maybe this is why I have lost 20 pounds since July!

I seriously LOVE all your letters and support!! It is so nice to have so much support from you guys! And also all my friends who are reading my blogs and sending me letters! Thank you so much for all that! And also to the members in the ward who sent me emails! They help more than you know! Crawfords thanks for the package and family thanks for the other 5 hahaha everyone in the offices was freaking out because they have never seen someone receive so much mail in one day! hahaha

Well I love you guys so much! I hope you are all doing well! I am continuing to get used to this place. I am trying to love evryone and it seems that when I try to do this, there comes a trial of my faith...but I know that I will receive no witness until AFTER the trial of my faith. (Ether 12:6) Have an awesome week and pray for the missionaries everywhere in the world! This work is super hard but at the same time even more rewarding! Have an awesome week and go celebrate with my Giants ;) Wish I could have been there but I´m glad that you guys got to go to some games and have fun with that!

Until next week...

Con Amor,
Elder Mike Payne

Travel documents for Mexico!
Mike and his companion at the MTC the morning they left for Mexico
On the plane headed to Mexico!
Here is Mike after landing in Mexico
Mike's Mission President and his Mission President's wife in Mexico
Mike and some of the elders he was with in the MTC now in Mexico with their Mission President and the Mission President's wife
Some of the elders Mike was with in the MTC now in Mexico

Here is Mike's house!
Mike and his new companion, Elder Silos

Friday, October 26, 2012

Week 12 - October 22, 2012 - "I'm not eating till July 25th, 2014" -Dad (something he would say)

Hola Everyone!

So this past week I fasted 3 times!  It is such a good excuse to not eat the food here!! 2 of the days, the members forgot to make us food so we went to Subway haha my companion loves that place. But I fasted for my family and for my language because those are the two things that have been on my mind most over these past few months. 

Well we have an investigator, named Denisse who was supposed to get baptized on Friday. On Wednesday, Elder Silos and I went and taught her and her mom a lesson and Denisse felt really good about baptism and she was so ready. Keep in mind throughout this story that this girl is twelve years old!!!  Anyways, at the end of the lesson we were talking to her about the interview she needs to have before her baptism and she was perfectly fine with everything. She then asked us "What do I wear?" Elder Silos explained to her to just wear what you would wear to church. I then showed her a picture of Christ being baptized and told her that before she entered the water, she would wear all white just as Christ did. Her mom then looked at her and said, with a very concerned voice "Denisse, are you sure you want to do it this week?" Denisse then told us that she wanted to get baptized next week hahaha Elder Silos and I came to the cnclusion that it was that time of the month for her hahaha so her baptism will be this Friday.

Rosario, the mom of Denisse is awesome! She reminds me of Grandma Morgan. She knows the church is true and wants to get baptized but she is just waiting for that big thing to happen in her life to assure her that the church is true. She has a big problem with cigarettes and we are trying super hard to help her stop. 2 weeks ago she was smoking a pack a day and now she is down to 2 cigarettes a day! I gave her one of the bags of rootbeer candy and told her that when she felt the temptation to smoke to just eat one of the candies instead.  Well she finished the bag in 4 days! hahahaha she's a champ though! We are hoping she gets baptized this week with her daughter but I'm thinking it will most likely be next week.

So this week as Elder Silos and I were walking to teach someone, we were talking about the Mexican government. Right now, the elections for the Guadalajara Governor are going on and he was telling me how much he hates the government here. He said that if Mexico has a good President, he just gets shot because the only way Mexico can improve it's government is by stopping the drug trades and if that happens then the drug cartels just shoot the president. So all the Presidents here are terrible! It is super funny because there are so many shoes hanging on the telephone wires and there was one that had like 30 pairs of shoes on it. I stopped to take a picture and Elder Silos asked me if I knew what that meant. I had no clue. He then told me that wherever their are shoes hanging on telephone wires, that's where people sell drugs. Let's just say they could make a mini Nordstrom out here if they took all the shoes off the telephone wires!

So Elder Silos decided to bring out christmas music last week... MORE THAN TWO MONTHS EARLY!!! The song "I'll be Home For Christmas" came on and it made me so homesick so I made him turn it off. Our Mission President is super cool about music and all that stuff. He says as long as it brings good feelings into your body you can listen to it. 

*Detmers- I loved hearing about how you guys are doing! I will write you a letter via hand next week hahaha
*Bro Maxwell-Thanks for your email! It is so nice to know that I have people supporting me!
*Dakota- What's up man?! I love ya! Tell the gang I say hello and tell them to write me! I will try to write you soon! I have your diet coke pin that your gave me before I left in my room hahahah

This week I was reading Alma 26 and verses 29 and 30 really stuck out to me. hahaha my mission isn't THAT brutal but I really like this message because I have never gone through so much affliction and hatred in my life but if in these next two years I can bring one soul unto the waters of baptism that would be more important than anything I can be doing at home. I came on my mission to work hard and feel joy- not to have fun. Having fun is nice, but Christ didn't come to this earth to have fun. He came to this earth to fulfill God's plan and help others receive joy and happiness. Obviously this mission isn't as hard as Christ's life, but I must stay positive and learn from every experience whether it is good or bad. I am here in Mexico for a reason and although I may not know why, I must serve my hardest and know that God knows me better than I know myself. God is "pruning" me. He is cutting me down because he knows what I can become. We often look at our trials as "Why me?" Instead we should be thankful for these times because it's when we learn and grow most. It is a way for us to put all our faith in the Lord and see his power in our lives. I have felt the blessings of God on my mission more than I ever have in my life. My spanish is actually improving lots every day now and I have never worked so hard at anything in my life! We have 8 baptisms in the next 5 weeks and I am honored to wear the name of Jesus Christ on my heart every day. Right behind my missionary plaque, I have a little photo album of my family. I have the two most important things in my life always in my heart and on my mind. Wow that was pretty spiritual...imagine what I will be like in 21 more months!! hahaha that was pretty long. If that was boring I'm sorry...kinda ;)

Well I hope you are all doing great and I pray for you guys every day in every prayer! Keep workin' hard and having fun!

Con Amor, 
Elder Mike Payne

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Week 11 - October 15, 2012 - Greetings from Elder Payne

Hola Everyone!

I love P-Days! Except for this morning!! I had a dream last night that the family came and visited Guadalajara and came and hung out with me. I woke up this morning super homesick because it felt so real! And every Monday morning we clean the house and get everything done in the home so I had tons of time to just think!

Anyways, here's a cool story from this week...So we have an investigator named Cecilia and she is super strong. Last week, Elder Silos and I went and visted her 3 times and her 4 year old son answered the door each time and told us that she wasn't home. She ALWAYS answers the door. So Elder Silos and I figured she wasn't interested. I prayed that night asking for a miracle with her. The next day we returned and if she didn't answer we were going to drop her. Well we knocked on the door and within the first minute she told us that she missed the spirit we brought and that she was out of town for 5 days. She said that she wanted to get baptized really soon and that she read her Book of Mormon every day while she was out of town. So that was super cool... we have her baptism set for October 26th.

Well I would say that Saturday was one of the worst and hardest days on my mission so far. We went and taught a lesson and after we had lunch scheduled at a members house who lived five miles away...but it was okay because we were going to take the bus...or so we thought. Some drunk bum who also had the arroma of marijuana VERY POLITELY asked me for all my money. Luckily I only had 50 pesos on me, which is like 5 US dollars, but that still meant that we couldn't take the bus. So we walked. The last 2 miles were completely uphill. Once we got to the house, THEY FORGOT that we were going to eat with them!! So they heated up leftovers from the night before. It was a vegetable and meat soup. The vegetables were super soggy and the meat had tons of bone and fat on it. It was BY FAR the worst meal I have had here. I poured tons of hot sauce on it to make it taste better but it still tasted terrible. My mouth was burning but I needed to finish my food haha!! It's either I don't eat and offend the member or I eat and feel sick for the rest of the day. On Saturday, I chose option 2. haha

The next day was good though. Yesterday we got to go to the temple!!! Well first, I woke up and TRIED to make pancakes for my companion and I. I bought everything the night before and I wanted to make a good meal for a good day. As I went to pour the milk into the batter, the milk smelt sour and came out chunky...the expiration date is Oct 17!!! So we ended up not eating breakfast yesterday. But like I said, we got to go to the temple! It was stake conference. Preseident Camarillo, my mission president, gave an amazing talk. He talked about spreading this gospel and being an instrument in the hand of God. Everyone received a piece of paper as they walked in to the chapel and President Camarillo challenged all of them to write down their name, their ward, and someone who they think is ready for the gospel. It was amazing because at the end, they gave us all their papers! After the meeting I took tons of pictures at the temple. We get to go back during the week of Christmas to do a session in spanish. Hopefully by then I will beable to understand what they are saying! haha.  It is super hard because I don't understand people when they talk so then my mind goes off somewhere else...and then I get asked a question and I have absolutely no clue what they are talking about! It is so frustrating!

Fun Fact:
I saw 8 dead dogs this week...and one in the act of being killed/beaten to death. It is so sad here! When their dog dies they just throw it out on the street and hope that someone will pick it up. And no one does so it smells soooooo bad!!

When we walk through the streets it's super funny because there is so many bad things that are happening but my companion always reminds me, "Ver derecho." This means look forward, because I am always so interested in what is going on and it's never good... most of it is drug deals or prostitutes haha. But there are always "Cholos" here that sit in the back of their trucks and drink and smoke. Whenever we walk past them they just yell things to me and I don't understand what they are saying. I just look at my companion and laugh because he gets super mad. They are always saying things about me but I don't care because I can't understand! haha

I really am having a good experience. I'm not saying I'm having fun or that I'm always super happy but the mission is awesome! It is a roller coaster to say the least. Some days we struggle to teach anyone and then the next we get like 5 baptismal dates. We have 6 baptisms coming up this next month. We had one on Saturday, she was taught by the missionaries before I got here, but it was a really cool experience.

Your letters are amazing! I read them multiple times throughout the week and they just give me strength to get through the week. It is so hard out here because at times I feel like I am in a "lone and dreary world" (Dad) but I feel your guys' prayers -and through your letters I know that you guys are here with me in spirit.  I hope you are all doing well and I pray about you guys in every prayer!! You can ask my companion haha all the investigators and members here always ask me to explain my family and show pictures and I love talking about you guys but I am on the verge of tears every time I talk about you hahaha
I know everything will be okay with the help of God. We need to put all our trust in God because without his strength in our lives, nothing is possible. (Alma 26:12)

Elder Mike Payne

Monday, October 8, 2012

Week 10 - October 8, 2012 - 76 Days, But Who's Counting!

Hola Again!

Funny story of the during family home evening last week, we went and visited a less active family. We planned a pretty good family home evening for them. For those that don't know what family home evening is, it's every Monday and it is usually an activity with a lesson or game that helps bring your family together. Anyways, our activity was that everyone had a piece of paper and we put our name on the top. We passed our paper around the room and everyone wrote one thing good about the person and one thing that we think they could work on. Well as the papers went around, I got a paper that was the 5 year old daughter's...or so I thought. On the good side I wrote "Funny" and on the side that you need to work on I wrote "You could relax more and pay more attention during church and during lessons with the missionaries." As we got our original paper with our name on the top, the mom reads in spanish what I thought I had wrote to her daughter. "Funny but I need to relax and concentrate more during church and lessons with the missionaries?" hahahahahaha I was so embarrassed because it was written in TERRIBLE spanish and everyone knew it was me who wrote it. They all stared at me and I just started laughing super hard. I couldn't even explain myself because I didn't know how to in spanish!!! Super funny!

I don't enjoy the food here at all. I got super sick last week. They just put stuff on a plate and then pour tons of sauce on it so we can't actually see what we're eating...which is probably good. Elder Murdock called me last week and told me he had been in the hospital for 4 days because of the food here. He said he was going home. He got to talk to his parents and then called me back an hour later and told me he was staying haha I'm tellin ya the food here is crazy!

We have so many rules out here on our missions, but it's good because it keeps us safe. We're not allowed to street contact or door knock so everything is through the members. There are so many people here on the streets who I could just tell want to hear our message. It's just too bad that we can't street contact because of some things that have happened in the past. It's super funny though because sometimes we get stopped on the street by people who just want to talk to me about being Amrerican. They all like to tell me about their deportation stories and about how tough they are. hahaha These stories usually include guns, noises and lots of bad words hahaha. 

Conference this past week helped with a bunch of my doubts and fears. My favorite talk was probably Neil L. Anderson's. He said that "I am grateful there was not a quick solution to my trials. I learened to trust the Lord and stay close to him. With faith comes trials of faith." I must look at my trials in a more poritive way because it allows me to have a stronger relationship with God. He is always there for me and I need to rely on him because he has a better plan for me than I do.

Well I hope you all had and will have an amazing week! Keep workin hard and live each day one day at a time! "The responsibility is upon us." President Monson

Love you all so much!

Elder Mike Payne

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Week 9 - October 1, 2012 - Hold it, that's weird! I'm in Mexico!

Here is Mike at the airport on his way to Mexico.  Dan and Christy's friend, Quinn, ran into him and got a picture for us!
Hola Everyone!

This is the most overwhelming thing I have ever done. I can't even describe the feeling I have right now! It's crazy out here!! So we got here on Monday and right when I got off the plane I couldn't understand anything!! I thought my spanish was pretty good when I left the MTC. It was so funny because there was an Asian girl on the tram and elder Murdock and I were listening to her and I leaned over to elder Murdock and I said ''Good thing we don't have to speak that language.'' I thought she was speaking Mandarin...turns out she was speaking spanish... I'm screwed hahahaha Talk about culture shock! I thought that was just kind of a cliche word but it is crazy here! I miss the States so much!

I think I said the wrong thing to the mission president in my meeting with him on Monday. I told him that he can send me anywhere and I may not know what I'm doing or I may not know the language at all but I will serve wherever he thinks is best for me and I will work my butt of in whatever area I am called. Turns out that I am serving in the second largest area in MEXICO...and we don't have a car. I am serving in the city of Guadalajara, in a branch called Buenos Aires. I got called to the Guadalajara mission but that's just where the mission home is. Luckily I am only 30 minutes from the mission home. Elder Murdock is 6 1/2 hours away!! Someone was saying that he won't get mail for 3 months!! I hope to be getting mail like every 2 weeks! Anyways, I have never seen anything like this area...or even imagined!! It is very poor and there are thousands of dogs. They just sleep on the sidewalk and we have to walk over them. There are TONS of bugs here!! I wake up every morning and have to kill like 20 bugs on the way to the shower. 

My companion is Elder Silos. He is a native and doesn't speak english, so just imagine what last week was like. I carried a dictionary on me every day all day. It is super frustrating but I am learning lots! My companion is awesome, he was the trainer for another missionary about a year ago and he said that it takes about 3 months for me to get fluent in this language. Even though I don't understand him, he is super patient with me and he has been out for 17 months! I told my companion on the first night here that I don't care if I know the language or not, I am going to work as hard as I can and you got the language down so we're a good pair!  He was laughing because it was TERRIBLE spanish but as you read on you will see what happened with my hard work and his speaking ability ;)

Elder Silos and I were walking down the street a couple days ago and there was a kid probably about ten years old just pants down to his ankles peeing in the middle of the street! hahahaha It was so funny! Very rarely are the roads paved here! I had the worst blisters everyday last week because everything is rock and I have been walking everywhere. Everyone here thinks it's super funny to mess with me and speak as fast as they can. I have no clue what they say! My most used words this week have been: Mande, Como, Mas Despacio, No entiendo, so de estados unidos y so americano entonces no entiendo nada. hahahaha  Look it up (haha I'm giving you homework!) 

As for meals, I usually have one or maybe 2 meals a day! The schedule here is crazy! I'm hungry but I would rather work and teach instead of eat haha. I sometimes snack in the mornings and at night when we get back to our house, but mostly I just have a big meal at 2:30 at a members house. It's super awkward because I'm THAT missionary who doesn't talk, not because I'm shy but because I don't understand anything and I am just starving hahaha

The busses here are crazy!! They just squeeze people in them and there ends up being like 100 people in joke! I hate busses because I don't feel safe at all but sometimes we need to go places that are like 7 miles away and we don't have time to walk that far haha! I am the only American on the bus and I really don't feel good on the busses. I have to hold my backpack in "running back mode" because I feel like everyone wants to steal all my stuff. I just tuck it and protect all my stuff haha. The bus drivers drive like twice the speed limit. They are nuts! I feel like f you can put the pedal to the metal you are hired for that job!

The first lesson I had we talked about the Word of Wisdom and it was my turn to talk. I shared a scripture in 1 Corinthins that talks about how your body is a temple and you shouldn't harm yourself with these substances. I held up a picture of a temple and I said that temples are "sucio" (dirty), and I meant to say "limpio" (clean).  And I just kept teaching until my companion nudged me and took over haha he said that temples are "limpio". hahaha he knew what I meant but it was just super funny!

The first couple days of my mission experience out here in the field I felt super discouraged and depressed because I couldn't understand anything and I felt super dirty in this city. I decided that I was going to stay here for 22 more months and that I needed to change my attitude! I started trying to think positive about everything. Ever since then, things have started go get better! Heres an awesome story for you guys!

On Saturday in the morning we taught 2 investigators named Rosario and Denisse. Rosarrio is the mom of Denisse and Denisse is 12 years old. We had taught them previously throughout the week and we felt good about the lesson we were going to teach that day. At the end of the lesson I felt the prompting to ask them to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and they both said yes!! They are going to prepare themselves to be baptized for October 19. Then after this, we went to another investigators house named Cicilia. We extended the invitation to be baptized on Friday and we wanted to follow up with her to make sure everything was okay and to see if she had received an answer to her prayer. She told us that she said she felt comfortabale with everytrhing and she is preparing to be baptized this weekend. It was awesome! It was such a good but super long day and I was ready to go back to the house. We started walking back to our house because it was about 8:00 and the person we had just taught lived like 3 miles away from our house. As we were walking back, Elder Silos gets a phone call from two other elders in our district saying that there is an investigator that is waiting for us near the church. We were super pumped so we started running to get there as fast as we could. As we got there, she and her brother approached us. She told us that she was a member and she just wanted to know where the church was. I was not real happy that we ran 3 miles to show her where the church was!  Bu we walked her to the church and then she asked if we would walk her and her brother home.  As we walked them home, I got punced in the chest by this guy on a motor cycle. His friend was driving and he was on the back. The guy on then back stuck his fist out and I tried to dodge it but the were going like 30 miles an hour at me. It hurt sooooooo bad! But I had to keep my cool because I'm a missionary! Anyways, as we finally got to her house, her whole family was there. We then started talking to them and they told us that 3 kids in their family have not been baptized yet but that they want to!! WOW! What and experience! On Saturday I learned that if we do what the Lord wnats us to do and continue on the right path that he has set for us, he will perform miracles in our lives. When I got punched I felt super discoraged and angry, but on Saturday I learned that when times get tough, I need to remember that God has a reason for everything and that I must stay worthy to receive his promptings.

I was talking to Elder Silos later that night and he has been here for 4 months and he said that he has only had 2 baptisms in his time here. We got 6 baptismal dates planned last week! That is so awesome! Now I just hope they all follow through and do what God wants them to do in order to be baptized!!

I love you all so much!! Keep sending mail because I seriously value it more here than money! I love hearing from you guys!! I hope you are all doing well! Every Monday, my companion and I go to the computer lab early in the morning to print off all our emails so that we can respnd to your guys' questions in our emals. But I can only be on for 40 minutes so I need to type as fast as I can! My 2 fingers are hurtin RULLLL bad right now! If only I knew how to type like a normal human being. Mitch you need to learn how to type correctly and not like me! hahahaha

My current address is: 
C. Juan de Dios Cordoba #14-B
Col. Valentin Gomez Fanas
Guadalajara, Jalisco

Hopefully you can find it on google maps. My house is pink hahaha

Love you all so much! I am workin hard and doin well! Hope you all are as well!

Elder Mike Payne