Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 33 - March 25, 2013 - 8 Months!

Wow I can´t believe I am at 8 months! This last month just flew by! I cant believe next week it is already April!!

Anyways, I don´t have too many crazy stories to tell you from this week. I mean I have a had a bunch of cool little experiences but nothing crazy exciting!  Our house has 3 bedrooms and a pretty nice bathroom, we only use about half of the house.  My companion is cool, he is a super good missionary. He has 22 months on his mission and most likely I will be his last companion because he goes home in June. It is so nice because he knows what he´s doing and we are just working super hard together! His name is Elder Castro and I couldn´t help to think of the Castro District in California....so sometimes I call him Ël Distrito.¨ I told him the story and he just chuckles when I call him that! hahaha we are having fun together

The area I am in is actually pretty nice!! Tons of walking but its all paved roads so its pretty nice!! I have lost a lot of weight last week because we didn´t have time to go buy food last P-Day so I didn´t really eat anything except for lunches with the members. But we have tons of stores in our area and it is super nice to finally have things in my area. We have Walmart and Office Depot in the same parking lot!! Just when I thought vacation couldn´t possibly get any better... I found Office Depot!! It is absolutely incredible!!  We also have McDonalds, Burger King, Carls Jr., Little Ceasars, Tacos Paza...and more!  It is so amazing!!!

So my first night here as we were walking back to our house, we passed a catholic church. The Priest was preaching to the entire congregation and right as we passed he said, with a lot of enthusiasm ¨Watch out for the 21 year old gueros. They are coming to teach about their church and trying to convince you to be baptized. They are underaged and unintelligent.¨ haha  So that just explains this place. Everyone here is super catholic!! Not a lot of people want much to do with us! It´s pretty sad but we also have found a lot of investigatoirs last week so that is super good!

The ward is super strong and we have a bunch of awesome members. The Bishop is super cool. He has only been Bishop for 4 months so he is just super pumped up to work hard and to help us out. We received 11 references last week!! I have never even heard of a companionship getting more than like 5 in a week!! So that was pretty awesome! We set 3 baptismal dates last week with some of our investigators. They are all dates for April so we are hoping to have about 3 or 4 baptisms here next week. That is pretty good because Elder Castro told me they have had 3 baptisms here in the last 8 months!! 

As for our zone...they are seeing lots of success actually. Elder Castro was telling me that they are pretty disobedient missionaries and that´s why they haven´t had much success! But we talked about how we could help them and we have been calling our zone like crazy to make sure they are working hard. We call each companionship at least twice a day! It has really helped because we just ask about their day and how they are doing and we just try and motivate them. Its funny because we have a zone of 12 missionaries and 8 of them are Americans and the others understand english! 

We are teaching english classes in our ward. We have four missionaries in our ward and two are from the states, one is from Canada and the other is from Mexico. I have been teaching the classes, it is pretty sweet because we have like 30-40 people every Tuesday and Thursday in our classes! 

Well today we just went full out vacation mode!!! First we went to Office Depot to buy some things for my desk. Then we went to Walmart and bought a ton of food!  It was only 530 pesos which is like $45!  We went and ate at Little Ceasar's Pizza. Super funny story actually. So we were going to go eat at Carls Jr. but some guy was sitting down and started talking to us in english. He had a perfect english accent and we realized he couldn´t speak spanish at all!  He looked super wealthy haha!! Then he was like ¨Hey why don´t we go to Little Ceasar's, I´ll buy you whatever you want.¨ After talking to him for a while we realized he is a member and has been his entire life. He owns all the Little Ceasar's in Mexico!!!! How crazy is that?! 

Well that´s about it for the week!! I love you all and I hope you are all doing well! I am doing awesome!! 

2 Timothy 4:7. Fight through your b
attles and put all your trust in God. ¨Pray to God like everything depends on him. Work like everything depends on you.¨

Take care and God bless. I am praying for you all!

Elder Payne

Me playing in the kids place in Carls Jr. haha
Corn Dogs baby!  I have found a way to gain all my weight back! 
I can't wait until I get home so I can have little kids to play with so I don't look like an idiot just playing by myself in the kids place! haha

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 32 - March 18, 2013 - Transferred!

I got transferred today!  I am writing this in my new area...Reforma.

First I will start out with my last week in Buenos Aires. It was definitely tough to say goodbye to those people and I will miss that area a lot. I had a lot of good relationships with a bunch of the members and I will miss them a lot! So this last week Elder santiago and I worked super hard to find new investigators. We have a few baptisms planned in that area but we have been having tons of success so it was good to leave that area on a high note. 

On Friday we had an activity at the church. The young women in our ward are going on their girls camp this summer and they are trying to raise money for it. They made tomales, nachos and bought tons of candy and just basically had a huge fundraiser.  They raised like 2,000 pesos...which is like $170... that's a lot for how poor this area is. President called me during the activity and told me that I was going to be transfered to zone leader this week but he didn´t tell me where or with who, so I was super nervous all weekend and I was thinking of all the possibilities of where I would go....and of course the places that I DID NOT want to go. 

I told my comp the one place I didn´t want to go was to Reforma because they don´t baptize at all and they have a lot of disobedient missionaries. I then told him that I had a feeling I was going there because God has a sense of humor!! So on Sunday night we got a call from the zone leaders telling us what was going to happen this next transfer. He told me 'Reforma,' and I just started cracking up with Elder Santiago. I KNEW it! hahaha

My companion is Elder Castro, he is pretty cool - I'm sure we will have a great time together. He is a hard worker and that´s all that matters! The one thing I would hate is to have a companion that doesn´t want to work or that is super disobedient. Our area is actually really nice!! It is like a little town. We have all the fast food restuarants you could ask for!! It is pretty legit! Except we don´t have a Wal Mart or any big grocery store so we have to go pretty far to buy groceries every week. I feel very safe here and I think it is a good area for me. All the roads are paved, unlike Buenos Aires where I was walking on rocks and dust all day. The houses are pretty nice and not nearly as many Mexicans are yelling swear words at me. 

Our address is Teresa Reynoso 4054 Col. Insurgentes Guadalajara, Jalisco (please only send letters there, no packages!). I am about 2 hours away from my last area. Our house is pretty nice, kinda dirty but thanks to Dad...I will take care of it!!  He taught me how to be a clean freak and how to take control when things are a mess!  But like I said, this area is a lot more safe and I feel good working here! I am going to work my hardest to help the missionaries in this zone be more motivated to work, but first I have to lead by example. 

I am glad that this last week was over and that all the goodbyes are done. The hardest family to say goodbye to was the Ortega Sanchez family. They are absolutely amazing. Erendira, who was completely less active for 6 years when we first met with her now has a calling and a temple recommend. She is learning english so that she can serve a senior mission in the Salt Lake City temple. Her daughter, Fernanda, didn´t want anything to do with us when we first got there and now she is first counselor in the Beehives. Lupe, the grandma, was super Catholic and yelled at us like the whole first month we visted- telling us how our church was false and how the virgin was the best thing that ever happened. The 63 year old Lupe is now a member, took down all of her pictures of the virgin, and just went and did baptisms for her parents on saturday. She is now trying to baptize her husband so that they can get married in the Salt Lake City temple in a couple years. It just goes to show that there are so many people waiting to hear this gospel and waiting to change their lives. They just don´t know how to start. As missionaries it is our job to establish the Lord´s Kingdom on this earth and to bless the lives of everyone around us. I am so happy I was placed in their lives and that I could be a part of their progression.

Last night when I was saying bye to them I brought them some gifts. I brought them root beer candies, warheads, an english Book of Mormon with my name engraved on the front, and 300 pesos for Fernanda. To go to girls camp the girls all have to pay 300 pesos. Well on Friday, her mom and aunt went out and bought pretty much everything...they didn´t make much of a profit because they divided out all the money and Fernanda made about 40 pesos while all the other girls made enough money to go to girls camp. This family doesn´t have a lot of extra money so I decided to give Fernanda the money that she needed to go to girls camp. It was such a blessing because I know she needed that money more than I did and it was such a good feeling to see their tears of joy and happiness as they received the money.

Well I am doing good here in Reforma and I am excited for this next transfer. I am workin hard and will continue to do everything in my power to give the Lord all I have. I know I am called to this area for a reason and that there are people here waiting for this gosepl. Like it says in my Patriarchal Blessing: ¨You will be called to go to the nations of the earth to share the Gospel message. There will be those whom you alone can touch.¨

I Love you all and I hope you have a great week. I am prayin for you all the time!! Take care and God Bless!!!!

Elder Mike Payne

Tiny toilet haha it is meant for like 3 year olds.  It looked super funny so I decided to take a pic!  haha 
The American boys
One of the members has this little dog!  It was so cute!
The Ortega Sanchez family.  Man I will miss them so much!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 31 - March 11, 2013 - No More Walmart :(

This week has just flown by!! On Thursday we had our interviews with President Camarillo and it went well. He started by telling me how much success I have been having and how much he appreciates all my hard work. Our conversation went more or less like this :
President- How long have you been in Buenos Aires?
Me- Almost 6 months
President- Wow that´s a long time! How do you feel?
Me- Good! I am workin hard and loving where I am at
President- Thats good! So are your bags packed?
Me- hahaha I am just trying to enjoy the time I have while it´s here
President- Thats good. Enjoy your last week...

Then we had divisions with the zone leaders and I went with Elder young. He is super cool. But he was telling me how in their interview, President told them that I will be a zone leader next transfer. I have no clue where I am going but it will be interesting for sure...so this is my last time writing in this internet cafe place!! Super sad but I am just trying not to think of transfers yet, I am for sure going to miss all these people!! 

On Friday we had our baptismal interviews and they went well. We worked super hard with Lupe this whole last week! She wasCatholic and she has 2 daughters (Mayra and Erendira) that are Mormon and the rest of her family is Catholic. So Elder Santiago and I visited her twice a week just to make sure that she felt good about everything.

On Saturday we had our baptisms and also the other Elders in our ward had one. It was pretty cool because we had 6 people dressed in white so the pictures look sweet! But not too much crazy happened last week!! 

I learned that my Mission President's daughter is serving a mission in San Pablo (I'm not sure if that's in the San Francisco mission or San Jose), but that's pretty cool! 

I'm so bummed because the President told us that we couldn't go to Walmart anymore!  There are too many temptations there!  I guess he's right, all the things that I love about Walmart are temptations! haha  But, they have the best groceries at Walmart, now I guess we'll have to get our groceries from the Tiendas (little stores in people's garages!).

I love you guys so much and thank you for everything you do!! I can feel all your prayers and love and I am so grateful for the friends and family that I have!! You guys are all incredible and I hope you have an amazing week!! I will most likely be writing this in another area next week!! Crazy to think about how fast time goes by!! I can´t believe I have already been in this area for 6 months!! 

Tha tha tha tha tha tha thats all folks!

Con Amor,
Elder Mike Payne

PS- Sorry this letter was so short haha I honestly don´t remember what happened!! It was such a fast week haha!!

Me drinking jalapeño juice last week in our Family Home Evening with the Ortega family... they were pretty impressed haha
One family in our ward has a cat who just had babies... this is how they feed the kittens haha
Our two assistants (Elder Castellanos and Elder Mckie).  They finish their missions this week, and are both going home on Monday
The three people who got baptized in our ward on Saturday (Lupe, Amanda, and Eric)
The baptism of Lupe and the fam.  Best baptism I have had here I think!  Man I love that family!!  Such a miracle of a family!
Eric and his sister 
This is how people sell things here!  They just put their stuff in a little bike like this and ride around the streets trying to get people to buy their stuff

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 30 - March 4, 2013 - No Regrets!

Wow what a week!! So it all started on Tuesday. President called me last week and asked if I would be able to go to the Zone's council meeting. So on Tuesday we picked some other zone leaders up from the bus station and took them back to our house. Then me and a couple of the other zone leaders went to president's house and met up with all the zone leaders in the mission. Every month the zone leaders have councils at the president's house and it´s pretty much just a fireside and the next day they have a big meeting to discuss the mission. 

Then on Friday we had our baptism for Urial. It went well, Elder Santiago baptized him. It was Elder Santiago´s first baptism.  Then on Saturday we had our baptism for Lorrita- the little American girl. It is so weird because she knows maybe 10 percent of spanish so she is more lost than I was my first few weeks here. We just laugh because she is so funny! She is 10 years old and everyone went up to her to congratulate her and she would just look at me and shrug her shoulders because she had no clue what the people were saying haha. 

While Lorrita and her dad were changing after the baptism, everyone watched a movie on the atonement, I looked over at Elder Santiago and he was crying. We left the room and I gave him a big hug! I knew exactly why he was crying...HIS SISTER GOT BAPTIZED THAT DAY IN GUATAMALA!!!! It was awesome because he got to baptize Uriel on Friday and then he got to see Lorrita (who is the same age as his sister) get baptized on Saturday. He has 9 people in his family and only 3 (now 4) of them are members, but two of his other siblings are also taking the missionary discussions. This morning when we were printing our letters, he just broke down and started crying because his family sent him pictures of the baptism. It was so awesome to be with him for this experience!!

Then Saturday night we went and had a lesson with Lupe. She always tells us that she is going to get baptized but she wants it to be her decision and that she doesn´t want to set a date and get pressured into anything. We told her that it was her decision but that Elder Santiago and I have been praying for her and we feel that she will be ready for baptism on March 16th. She accepted and said  "if I don´t feel ready by then, then I will get baptized the next week.¨  It was such an awesome lesson!!

Then yesterday at church we asked Lorrita and Uriel who they wanted to confirm them and the both chose me...GREAT!! So I was super nervous before and I pulled out my white missionary handbook to start memorizing the ordinance. It came time for the confirmations and Lorrita was first. I took a deep breath and said a little prayer...I didn´t feel nervous at all. I honestly felt like I was speaking my natural language. It was such a weird feeling! It went super well. Then after I confirmed Uriel. The second time was so much easier. It was a cool experience to confirm someone for the first time!

Then as church was ending yesterday, we saw Lupe, Erendira, and Mayra talking to our Stake President. Mayra came up to me crying after and she was so happy. I asked what happened and she told me that her mom is going to get baptized this next Saturday instead of the 16th!! Her mom then said, "I feel really good right now. I talked to President Muños and he said that the ward is going to do baptisms in the temple on the 16th and I want to go. But I have to be a member for at least a week before I can enter. So I want to be baptized this week!" Wow!!!! What a miracle!! This is like my favorite family here! I was scared that I wouldn't be able to see her baptism because of transfers, but now I will be able to see her baptism and also hear about her experience in the temple!!

We also will be baptizing Eric (brother of Edwin and Yazbek) this Saturday. I am so happy for him!
Well that is about it for my crazy week!! What an awesome week!! I don´t want to be transfered but I am almost positive that I will haha! But it´s all good! I am prepared...kinda hahaha! It will definitely be weird because this is all I know about Mexico- Buenos Aires. So it will be cool to get to know another area but at the same time I am going to miss the people here!  I think I am going to get to come to the States for a few weeks at the end of March!  I guess my visa is only good for 6 months, so I need to come back to fill out more paperwork and wait for my new visa to go through.  I'm pretty excited to come back to civilization and maybe drive a car again! haha

I wanted to give a shout-out to Mrs. Carrick and Mrs. Robinson, thanks for reading my emails!  Mom, I love your quote about teaching by showing. It would be easier to be lazy and not work hard, but it would be the worst feeling in the world to be at the end of your mission and have regrets. I have 16 months left and I'm trying to live each day at a time and not take any opportunity for granted!

Well I love you guys and I hope you all have an amazing week!! I know my week will be awesome!! Whenever we have baptisms the weeks always go by super fast!!  I love you all and thank you so much for all the support!!!

Hasta proxima semana,
Elder Mike Payne

Uriel's Baptism! 
Uriel's Baptism! He is such a shy kid, but it was awesome!

Baptism of Lorrita.  Her family is so awesome!  None of them speak Spanish.  Her little brother, Angelk, is such a funny little kid!  He says the funniest things!
Baptism of Lorrita!