Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week 54 - August 24, 2013 - 13 Months!

So this week was pretty good. We traveled more and had more divisions so it was just like every other week I guess haha!! 

On Tuesday we started divisions with Zamora 1 and I got to work with Elder Perrett.  He is a pretty cool kid. We had some sweet lessons in his area and saw a couple miracles. That zone hasn't been baptizing much lately and my goal was to help him and his zone have some success. So we called all the missionaries and talked to them about their investigators and they ended up having 3 baptisms this week. All the missionaries needed was a little motivation and some positive reinforcement and it was all good.

Then on Wednesday the party started haha!! I got to work with Elder Quinney, one of my best friends in the mission. We worked in his area and it was super fun. We got to his area at like 2:00 on Wednesday and then went to a few lessons. Then we were walking to their baptismal interview and found a donkey on the side of the road. We thought it would be super funny to jump on the donkey haha!! I took a video of Elder Quinney but I can't send that unfortunately so I will send pictures, although that won`t do it justice haha!!

Then on Thursday we had to go to Apatzingan to do 4 baptismal interviews. It was good. Apatzingan is just a crazy place. That's where I did divisions last week. It is super hot and just super......not safe hahahahaha!!! But I love it!! We ate at one of their investigators house`s and she gave us...wait for it....TACO BELL!!! Her sister works at Taco Bell in California and so she sends her all the sauces, meats, and all that other good stuff. It was amazing!!! Man I miss the American/Mexican food!! haha! Then we traveled back to Uruapan and got back at like 11pm haha so we didn't do much except go to bed!

Today we were supposed to have a baptism but he's not quite ready. He is such an incredible dude!! He has come from such a tough background and has improved his life like crazy!! Although he can't get baptized yet, we are excited to continue to work with him and help him out! 

I love you all and I hope you had an amazing week!!! Thank you for all the love and all the support!!!

Our church.  It's small but really nice!
It was my companion's birthday on Monday so I made him breakfast in bed... cereal haha.  We didn't have anything else haha
Washing my clothes by hand on the washboard
Going to Sirloin Stockade for my companion's birthday with some other missionaries
Petting a horse in Uruapan
Jumping on the donkey
The donkey chasing me
Elder Quinney trying to milk the cow that looks like it is going to explode haha.  The cow quickly started running away!
You will only find this here... two guys riding horses in the middle of the street haha

These kids from Uruapan are super funny!
Elder Quinney and I walking in Uruapan

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week 53 - August 17, 2013 - Count your blessings!

So this week has been an awesome week. So many crazy experiences and miracles and it was just awesome!!

 On Sunday, Elder Rueda and I were walking to a lesson and some lady contacted us and told us to pass by on Monday. So we went by later that night and had an incredible lesson with her. She talked to us and told us that Sunday morning she had been robbed and her son was super badly drugged up and she needed help. She told us she prayed to the Lord to help her find someone who could help her and she started walking towards the Catholic church. As we were walking in the street we weren`t really thinking much of it and we walked past her and then heard ¨Hermanos.¨ So we turned around to see and she then asked us, ¨What do you guys do?¨ and I told her that we serve others and help them with the problems they were facing in their lives. Then she looked at us almost in tears and asked, ¨So you guys can help me?¨ and we continued to talk to her and ended up going by the next day to her house. We found 6 new investigators in that house and it was such an incredible lesson. We invited them all to be baptized and they all said they would pray about it to receive an answer. One of their sons died 3 years ago so we explained the afterlife and they all cried and said that they are willing to do anything to see their son again. Their other son is a drug addict and they just have such hard situations right now. I felt so bad as I put myself in their shoes, but so good at the same time knowing all the blessings they are about to receive. We are going to keep working hard with them and hopefully get them baptized!

Then on Wednesday I went to Apatzingan and had special divisions with Elder Garcia.  President wanted me to go to their area to see how they are doing. Apatzingan is seriously like the promise land out here in our mission. They baptize like crazy and the people are just super humble. It is an extremely rough area and just so sad to see. It is by far the poorest area in the mission. They have tons of army trucks driving around because there is a war between them and the narcos (drug dealers?) here...I`ll just leave it at that - you can just imagine what it's like over there! Let's just say that there will never be a sister missionary to EVER serve there!! But it was such a humbling experience. We entered houses without roofs, water, and beds. No house had even tile floor and it was just 100 percent rocks and dirt. Apatzingan is known as ¨tierra caliente¨ and it is so true. I felt like I was in Arizona with the humidity of Florida. Man I was sweating sooo bad!! We slept on the missionaries' back porch because their house was too hot to sleep in at night. Man I felt like I was at scout camp again haha!! And like none of the kids wear pants or even underwear, it's super funny!! But it was such an awesome experience and we set 5 baptismal dates with their investigators all for next week. They seriously baptize like 9 people a month over there. I was talking to Elder Garcia and I told him that Apatzingan is the perfect example of ¨sacrifices bring blessings.¨ The area is super rough and very hard to deal with, but they find so many people just so chosen and willing to change. I was so happy to be able to go work in Apatzingan and witness everything there!

I hope you guys had an amazing week and that everything went well! Congrats to Carlee and her graduation!! I am so happy for you Car!! I was thinking about you all day on Thursday and Friday!! Hope all went well!!

Thank you for everything you do for me and I am so happy to have the family and friends that I have. This last week I was really able to appreciate everything that I have been given and to recognize all the blessings that God has given me in my life!! On the bus today I just started making a list of all the blessings in my life and I realized that there are so many things that we take for granted, including even the clothes on our back. In Apatzingan this last week I was able to see all of the little things that I have in my life and realize how strong those people are. I also started thinking about the blessings that the church provides and realized that none of the temporal blessings can even compare to the spiritual blessings we can have. It doesn't take money to be happy in this life, just the gospel. I am so thankful for this change and that I have to serve and grow to be the best person that I can be when I get home! 

I love you all so much and I hope you all have another amazing week!!!

Elder Mike Payne

Getting to see my family in Mexico again!
Bus ride 
Tortas from Morelia
View from Morelia
The Monarchs stadium
Sitting in a chair in Apatzingan
Sharing the gospel with a goat... didn't go so well... he thought the scripture "feast upon the words of Christ" was supposed to be taken literally haha 
Walking with Elder Garcia
The army base in Apatzingan
Me and Elder Garcia at the bus station
A river in Apatzingan

Week 52 - August 10, 2013 - 2 years ago I was having a Twilight movie marathon with my mom!

I can't believe it has been two years since I was preparing to go to BYU. I remember staying in the hotel with mom and just enjoying our last few days together. I was such a little baby- I had two sisters living within 5 minutes of me, a phone, a tv, and a laptop. Now I'm just pretty much cut off from the world- but im not complaining... I'M LOVING LIFE!!

So this week has been a pretty sweet week. It started off absolutely incredible!!

On Sunday I had to go to Guadalajara. I had to sign my visa on Monday so I had to go an extra day early. On Sunday I got to stay in Buenos Aires for the night (the area that I started in). So as we got off the bus we were walking through Buenos Aires and it brought so many incredible memories. I went and knocked on the door to the Ortega Sanchez Families house - that is my mexican family!! As I knocked on the door my body just froze and I got the goosebumps like crazy. Elder Santiago and I saw so many miracles in this house and I was just so excited to see them again.

As they answered the door, they couldn't believe what was happening! They all started crying and just looking at me. they couldnt even talk, it was so funny!! Then we started talking about how their lives were going and it is just incredible to see the progress in their lives. In this family, we helped reactivate 3 and baptize 3. They were talking about how they ware going to go to general conference next year and how they want me to go with them. They then told me that Hermana Mayra´s sister is taking the lessons along with her two kids. They will most likely get baptized soon! They are going to take their whole family to the states next year. They told me that they are going to enter the temple next year for the first time. I couldn't believe all the blessings they had received because of the change they had all made in their lives.

After the feelings I have had of not baptizing and seeings tons of miracles, I have realized that it is so much more than just baptisms. I have realized that our job as missionaries is to allow EVERYONE  to enter into the celestial kingdom. Whether they accept or not, it's their choice; but what a great work this is. I cant believe I am IN IT!! This has been one of the greatest years of my life and I can't wait to work and change lives this next year!!

The rest of my week was pretty good. We just traveled around all week doing interviews. Monday we were in Uruapan, Tuesday in Morelia, Wednesday in Aeropuerto, and Thursday and Friday in Zamora. We just got back to our house super late last night. We traveled for about 23 hours this last week!!

It is fun getting to know all the missionaries personally and talking to them each individually and getting to see how they are doing in their areas. We had to check their area books and agendas. It took a long time but it went well and I hope the missionaries can all start working harder and seeing lots more success in their areas.

Traveling with President was awesome!! In the very beginning of the week he told us ¨whatever question you have, this is the week. Ask me whatever you want and I will answer every question you have.¨ We aksed him some pretty intense questions and he literally answered every question we had. It was pretty crazy because he let us in on like a bunch of secrets and just told us a bunch of stuff super straight up!  But at the end he he said, ¨and no one else needs to know about the things we talked about...¨ so sorry guys hahaha :/

But I had an awesome week and I am doing great!! This next week I will be having divisions with Elder Maccarthy on Monday through Wednesday. He is like one of my best friends in the mission and probably will be like my best friend after the mish haha! Then on Wednesday we will be going to Apatzingan to have divisions with some of the elders over there. President told us we had to have special divisions with them. None of them are zone leaders but he just wants us to work with them and help them because their area is pretty nuts haha!!

Thank you so much for everything and I hope you all have an amazing week!! Take care and God bless!! 

Elder Mike Payne

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 51 - August 3, 2013 - More Traveling!

So I was talking to my companion today and I asked him ¨what did we do this week that I could write home about?!¨ hahaha I feel so bad because I feel like as an assistant its just a routine. Every transfer is the same thing: meetings, zone conferences, interviews.... But I will try as hard as I can to remember exciting things that happened this last week haha

On Monday we got to work in our area!! And we found some super good investigators! We found three investigators and we are hoping that they will progress. It will be tough since these next couple weeks we won't be in our area but we have put some super good hermanos (sisters) in the ward to work with them while we are gone. On Sunday and Monday we had a combined 14 lessons! It was nuts!! We don't get much time to work in our area so the time we get we are practically just running around trying to have as many lessons as we can haha!!

On Tuesday morning we traveled at 4 in the morning to Guadalajara. We had our meeting with President from 10 until 3. Then we had to make the agenda for the zone leader councils. That took another hour and then we went to his house for dinner with all the zone leaders. He gave a super good fireside, just talking about faith and focusing on the work. A lot of zone leaders weren't ver happy though because he just took sports activities away from us on P-days because a couple missionaries got hurt so now we cant play :/  but it's okay because I don't really get a P-day anyways so it didn't affect me haha!!

Then on Wednesday we had our zone leader councils and it went really well. We talked about a bunch of stuff but we focused a lot on the four groups of people that we need to teach : active members, less actives, recent converts, and investigators. We talked about their roles in the church and how we need to be working with all of them. Then we traveled back to our area and got home at like 11pm.

On Thursday we started divisions with Aeropuerto. I worked with Elder Moreno in my area. He just got called as a zone leader 2 weeks ago so he was kinda nervous while working with me. After a few hours I showed him that I was a funny dude and we had lots of fun together. We had some good lessons and worked hard. 

Then on Friday we traveled to Aeropuerto and ended divisions. Elder Rueada and I stayed and watched their zone meeting at their church to see how they are doing. Their zone always puts crazy monthly goals for baptisms and they never get even close to completing so we just wanted to give them a little extra ummphh for this month haha!!

Then today elder Rueda and I went to Plaza Morelia. It is super nice!! It reminds me a lot of the Stoneridge Mall...but with lots of mexican stores haha!! They actually had some sweet American stores and I bought a snapback beach hat. Its super sweet :) ahhh the little things that get me excited out here haha

Tomorrow we have to travel to Guadalajara again to sign stuff for my visa. Then we are going to travel with President all week to do interviews. It should be a fun week because we always get to eat super well and just kinda chill with President. I am pretty excited...BUT then again we have to revise all the area books and agendas so that takes a while and it's super annoying haha but its one of the things I gotta do so its all good!!

This week I was studying on accepting the will of the Lord and working as hard as you can. At times I just wish I could work in the field and see lots of baptisms again and be a part of all the miracles of a mission. But this week I was studying about the atonement and about all that Christ did for us. I love the scripture that says "If it is your will, let this cup pass from me."  At the hardest time of his life, Christ was putting God first and doing everything he could for US. I was then reading in "Our Search for Happiness" and it says somthing along the lines of "If we strive to be like Christ- serve like he did, love like he did, and be obedient like he was, we will find ourselves sitting in the throne of heaven."  It helped me a lot last week. Being an assistant definately has its good parts but also affects us in our area and how we are working. I have realized this last week that its not my will and that SOMEONE has to be an assistant hahahaha so I will "go and do what the Lord has commanded" and I will not stop until I see my family in the airport 1 year from today!! :)

I love you all and thank you for all that you do for me!! You don't know how much it means to have so much support out here!!

Have a great week and I am praying for you in each and every prayer!!

Elder Payne

Thought this was pretty cool... especially because it was written in English haha

Not the cutest dog I have ever seen, and has had over 15 puppies!  Poor dog haha
Tacos de cabeza.  Or also known as "cow head tacos" haha they tasted kinda weird and were gross looking haha

Just got destroyed by mosquitos a few nights ago.  My whole body got bitten haha it itched sooooo bad!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Week 50 - July 27, 2013 - Let the countdown begin!

Wow! How fast does one year go by. I can't believe I already have one year in the mission. This is crazy!! As I hit my one year mark on Thursday, I refelcted upon all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that I have had in the mission.

I remember opening my mission call in March, not knowing what to expect. When I saw Mexico, Guadalajara East mission I didnt know whether to be excited, scared, nervous, or happy. So I pulled the classic Payne move and started crying haha.

Then in May Christy having Bailey. In June, Carlee getting married. In July I remember the countdown...3 weeks...2 weeks....1 week.... I didn't know whether I should have been happy or scared to start the mission. I remember all the horrible goodbyes, thinking I would never see any of my friends or family again. I remember packing my bags- then it hit me. I was leaving for 2 years!!! 

I remember that last week going to Utah with the family. We went to park city, mini golfing, bowling, and just having fun. In the back of my mind I knew there wasn't much time left. I remember waking up July 25, 2012 and looking at mitch lying next to me in the hotel bed, just thinking that would be the last morning with my best friend and little brother. I had a pit in my stomach and I had no clue what to expect. Then the worst part, the drive to the MTC. As I had my bags ready and Elder Stevenson hosting me, I looked back one last time to see my family, in which I would be leaving for 2 years.

AND 1 YEAR LATER!!! As I look back on my first year in the mission, I realize how much I have truly learned from every experience. I look back at all my companions and see that I have learned something different from every one of them.

So many good memories that I have had this last year. I would start writing about the members and converts I have met, but I don't think words can describe my feelings for all of them. So you'll just all have to wait another year to hear those stories!!

Well anyways, this last week was absolutely crazy!! So on Sunday we traveled to Guadalajara. We got to President's house at like 6 and then ate dinner there and had his fireside with all the missionaries that were going home. 

We then had to wake up at 3:30am to prepare for Monday. We had to take missionaries to the aiprort and pick up the new ones. At 8:30, the first group of missionaries showed up. We took them to Presidents house to eat breakfast and have their meetings. Then at 4 the Americans showed up. We took them to Presidents house to have lunch and have more meetings. Then back to the airport at 7 to pick up two missionaries from Guatemala. Then we did the same routine and didn't get to sleep until like 11:30.

Tuesday we woke up at 5 to get ready for our big meeting with all the trainers and new missionaries. It ended at 3 and all the missionaries went to their own areas to work. Then I went to President´s house with the other assistants to have a meeting with President. We had to plan for our leadership meetings that we were going to be having and for all the upcoming events in August. We finally finished and got back to the assistants house in Guadalajara around 11pm.

Wednesday we woke up at 4 to go back to Morelia. We got back around 12 and worked for the rest of the day. Summer time is super hard because so many people leave on vacations but this last week we had 3 of our investigators come back from their vacations so we had a good day with them. We are hoping to set baptisms this next week and get them all baptized as soon as we can!!

Thursday we had to buy a bunch of snacks and get all prepared for our leadership meeting that we were going to have on Friday. I completed one year in the mission on Thursday so I bought a cake and celebrated with Elder Rueda.

Friday we woke up early again and had to go to our leadership meeting. Elder Rueda and I had to teach all of it and I was just so exhausted by the end of it because of everything that we had done that week. We went back to our area and worked again and I just collapsed at the end of the day!

The mission is definitely exhausting but I am so thankful for this chance that I have to serve!! There are so many trials, challenges, and struggles. It is crazy so look back and see how much I have truly grown and developed in these last 12 months! I am so grateful because it is helping me to become the best friend, brother, father, and husband that God wants me to become.  

I love you all so much and thank you for all the support and love you give me. I honestly wouldn't be able to do this if I didn't have so many friends and family members supporting me. I can never thank you enough for everything you do for me!!

Have an amazing week and I am praying for you all in every prayer!! Take care and God bless!!!

Elder Payne

The bags from all the new missionaries that came last week!
The bed I sleep on when I go to Guadalajara.  Lets just say that I don't get the best sleeps haha
1 year!!! They didn't have any "1" candles so I had to buy a question mark and cut it haha
Me with President Camarillos son in President's suit haha.  He is such a funny guy! 

Week 49 - July 20, 2013 - HUMP!

WOW!! I can`t believe I will complete one year on Thursday. I honestly feel like I just blinked and like 3 weeks just went by!

Well I feel like all my emails are like the same- divisions, conferences, and just a bunch of meetings with President. And this week wasn`t much different haha!!

So Monday we left and had divisions with Zamora 2. I worked with Elder Winegardner in our area. So we traveled to Zamora to pick him up and drop off Elder Rueda and then traveled back. So I was in a bus for 6 hours on Monday. Then on Wednesday we traveled back to Zamora to drop off Elder Winegardner and then we came back to Morelia to eat and then travel again. We went to Uruapan on divisions. I got to work with Elder Quinney and it was so much fun!! Man I love that kid! He is super awesome!! Time just flew by when I was working with him. We had some pretty good lessons too! We taught our Christian Pastor and he told us that he knows our church is true and he wants to get baptized but that he would just let so many people down in his church. Man it is such a bummer because I think we will have to drop him this next week. 

Well I am doin good and workin hard. Just tryin to enjoy every moment and learn from everything. Being an assistant for sure has its ups and downs and it is just a roller coaster of emotions!! I love it because we get to travel and work with other zone leaders and get to know everyone in the mission but it`s just tough because it affects our area a ton. Last week we only got 2 days to work in our area so it's just tough to help your investigators to progress when you are never there. Elder Rueda and I are going to be together for another transfer so we are going to work as hard as we can! 

Tomorrow we will be traveling to Guadalajara, completing my week with 24 hours in a bus! We will be doing the whole routine again- going to Presidents house on Sunday to eat and listen to all the testimonies of the guys going home, dropping them off at the airport at like 4 a.m. on Monday morning, picking up the new missionaries from the airport, and doing capacitations(?) with them for a couple days. Then we travel back Tuesday night and it will be super stressful. We have 3 missionaries going home and 24 coming in. The transfers are pretty crazy but it is so awesome to see so many people who want to serve!! 

Then on Wednesday we have a leadership meeting with all the district leaders and zone leaders in Michoacan. It should be fun.

On Thursday I will hit my one year mark and I think I will be with Elder Maccarthy, one of my other best friends, on divisions. Our ward mission leader told us he will take us to Sirloin Stockade, which is just a super good restaurant out here!! I am super excited!! It should be an amazing week!!

Well I hope you are all well and it was so good to hear from all of you today!! I love hearing how you're doing!! It makes me so happy to know that everything is going well!

Know that I am doing well and loving it out here! There are so many trials and difficulties but I love it so much because we can learn so much- Things that I would never have learned or experienced. The mission allows you to stretch to your potential and see who you can become. Thank you for all the support!

Elder Mike Payne

Cake taco!
Only in Mexico would they have cake tacos! 
Snowing in Mexico?!  haha it hailed super hard! 
Welcome to the hotel California
The kind of buses we take.  They are super nice... with wrestlers on the sides haha
Writing at the internet haha 
National park at Uruapan