Monday, December 30, 2013

Week 72 - December 30, 2013 - Feliz Navidad y año nuevo!

This last week was a great week. It was a Christmas that I will never forget. Such a good time to remember all the things that Christ has given us. Many of us think that Christmas is just about gifts and decorations but the mission really helps you understand the true meaning of Christmas.

On Christmas eve Elder Garcia and I wanted to do something that we would remember for the rest of our lives. It was such an incredible experience. We bought a bunch of food for a family in our branch. We bought turkey, buns, chips, drinks, and ice cream. It was such a good feeling walking into that house and seeing the attitude change of everyone in the family. The father  told me they hadn't eaten anything all day and that they probably weren't going to have anything for dinner either. This Christmas I learned that it truly is better to give than receive. Elder Garcia and I started crying as we walked back to our house just thinking about how tough life can truly be but how blessed we are that someone has walked in our shoes before.

On Christmas we woke up STILL with no water and no gas. We opened our presents and it was amazing!! I love my family so much and I am so thankful for all the support and everything you give me!! Then after went to shower at our ward mission leader's house. He made us breakfast and we just talked for a little bit and shared a mesage with them. Then we went and visted a family that invited 4 other families over. We shared the story of Christmas with them and it went really well. Then after that I got to skype the fam. WOWWW!!!! So good to see you all and hear your voices! I can't believe how much all the young kids have grown up! So crazy!!! Man I love you guys so much and I miss you like crazy but it seems like we're not so far away...6 months!!!

The rest of the week I worked with a district in our zone that is struggling pretty bad. They aren't having any success and it was a super good expreience to be able to work with them. I learned that through hard work and obedience anything is possible. We worked super hard and we were able to find a bunch of new investigators. We had a super awesome experience where we found a family of 5 and in the same lesson we put a baptismal date with the family and they all accepted to be baptized in February. We were able to see lots of success and hopefully the missionaries over there can keep working hard and seeing success that they deserve!

It was a great week and this week should be another great one. We are preparing four baptisms for this month coming up.  Transfers are next week so I'm not sure what's going to happen. I want to stay here so that I can be part of all the baptisms that we have set up!! 

Thank you all for everything!! I love you all !!!!!

Elder Payne

Santa Clause in Chapala
Opening presents on Christmas!!
The Stong family.  We ate breakfast with them on Christmas
Christmas feast with sister Morgan and a bunch of her friends
Christmas tree in Ocotlan

My super muddy shoes
Very muddy and rainy in Ocotlan
Christmas Eve with the Guillen Aguirre family

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Week 71 - December 23, 2013 - The love of a Father

This week has been incredible and crazy busy!! Man I feel like so much has happened since the last email but at the same time I feel like I was just writing to you all like yesterday!!

Well to start off on Tuesday we had a super good lesson with one of the familes we are teaching. We are teaching a couple named Raul and Guadalupe. Raul is a less active member and Guadalupe isn't a member. We have been working hard with Raul and he is now active in the church and his wife is amazing!! They have 7 kids and they aren't married. They have 3 kids that are members.  Well on Tuesday we read the Family Proclamation with them and asked how badly they wanted to have an eternal family. They told us that they want to get married on January 11 and then Guadalaupe and 2 of her kids are going to be baptized on January 18th. They came to church yesterday and announced to everyone that they are going to get married!!

On Wednesday we had a super good lesson with one of our investigators named Israel. He is 12 years old and his dad is the nicest guy in the world but sometimes loses his patience with Israel. They walk 3 miles to get to church. Israel has had lots of trials these last couple months, including one of his best friends getting shot to death right outside of his house. On Wednesday we taught the importance of the family and specifically between a father and son. I shared my testimony about how much I love my dad and how grateful I am for everything that he has done for me. Then Elder Garcia asked them when the last time they hugged was. They both responded and said it had been many years. We then asked them to stand up and hug each other. There was not one dry eye in the room. We were all crying as this father hugged his son for about a minute. His dad then told him how much he loved him and how badly he wanted Israel to be baptized. Well on Saturday we baptized Israel and it was such an amazing experience.

On Thursday we had our church activity with a bunch of missionaries and it went really well. Each zone had to do a music number. Our zone has 8 missionaries and no one wanted to sing so Elder Garcia and I volunteered to sing, it was THE WORST thing I have ever heard. We asked some kid who KINDA knows how to play the piano in our zone to play the song ¨Oh come all ye faithful.¨ From the first note I felt like it was going to be a disaster. Elder Garcia wanted to sing in English. He couldn't pronounce about half of the words and then got embarrassed after about the first 30 seconds so just kinda stopped singing. So I'm pretty much up there singing a solo in front of about 60 missionaries. It was so bad! Someone took a video on my camera so I will forever be able to remember the embarrassment hahaha!!

On Saturday we had to move our house.  So Saturday was a crazy day with the move and the baptism. The drain in the font wasn't working so we had to take buckets and empty it that way. Man it was awful and I was soaking wet! 

Yesterday was my birthday and it was pretty good. Very different than the others that I have had but good nonetheless. We woke up and didn't have any gas or water in our house so we didn't eat and we didn't shower. Then we went to church. We had tons of people there. The most they have had in months!! We had Israel's confirmation. Then we went to eat with sister Laura Perez. It was super good and they made me a cake. I love that family so much!! They have a son named Steven who is preparing to leave on his mission in May. Then we had a bunch of lessons and came home and opened my presents :)

Then today we went back to our old house to shower and there wasnt any water in that house either...I'm not sure why!! So we took a bucket and went out to the faucet in front of our house and then took it in our house and showered that way. Hahaha the things you get to experience on the mission!! Then we went and ate at this super good lakeside restaurant with Steven and it was super fun! 

I am so excited to get to Skype with the family on Wednesday!! I can't wait to see all your faces again!!! 

Have an amazing week and know that I miss you all a ton!! Thank you for all the love and support, and all the birthday wishes, it just totally made my day!!  If I don't get to write you all back just know how grateful I am for everything you do!! And sorry that this is such a long letter. It has just been a pretty crazy week!! 

Have a Merry Christmas!

Elder Payne

Yes… you better believe it… I found waffle crisp!!!!
Israel's baptism 
My cake that Laura Perez made for me :)
My birthday cake haha
My birthday presents
I guess this is what you do when you are 21… order drinks ;) haha just kidding!
Our backyard in our new house!
Breakfast this morning with my companion and Steven McCombs 
Our new bedroom 
Where we study… with our nice Christmas tree and presents :)
Our kitchen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 70 - December 16, 2013 - 8 more days!!! (until we can Skype)

This week went by super fast!! I am loving this area and meeting lots of super awesome people. 

This last week we have been working hard with many investigators that we have. We are teaching an older lady right now named Eufracia. Last Monday she told us she didn't have much interest and that she didn't want to be baptized anymore. Elder Garcia and I were a little sad and we decided to fast for her. So on Tuesday we started our fast. We had a lesson with her on Wednesday and she told us that she wasn't going to be in town on Saturday but that she wanted to move her baptism to December 20th. We were super excited and we are going to work hard with her this week so that everything goes as planned!!

We are also teaching a young boy named Israel. He is the son of a member and wants to be baptized. He knows the importance of baptism and tells us every time we pass by his house that he wants to be baptized and that he can't wait for his baptism on December 21. 

This last week a missionary from our ward in Chapala came home from his mission. He is super awesome. He served in Chicago. His name is Morgan Asher and he is going to be a huge help. He is always willing to help us out with lessons and I think things are going to improve a lot here. Also we are working with a guy named Steven. He is 18 and preparing to serve his mission. He was able to work with us yesterday and he is super cool. I think we'll stay in contact thorughout his mission and even after because he says he wants to come to san fran. He is american so he will easily be able to visit. haha

On December 12th it is 'The Day of the Virgin' here.  It's a pretty big deal, but it gets pretty crazy, people are walking around yelling in the streets and shooting their guns off into the air!  We had to be in our houses by 7pm.  It's pretty dangerous to be out, a lot of people get injured!  The same goes for Christmas day, New years eve and New years day!

On Saturday our food appointment fell through. We decided to go teach one of our investigators. She then invited us to eat pasole with them. I usually love pasole, but as she started stirring the big spoon around the pot I was devastated to see what I was about to eat. She asked which I preferred: Pig Brain, Pig snout, or pig tongue? I told her that I like them all hahaha I'm not sure what I was thnking. Man that was one of the hardest meals I have had to eat here in Mexico. The pasole was great but getting down the meat was like seriously the hardest thing ever hahah!! 

Well I hope you all had a great week! Thank you for all the support and all the prayers!! Crazy to think that by my next email I will be 21 years old!!!! And this week we are having a Christmas party with a few other zones so that should be fun!! Should be another fast week coming up!

Love you all!!

Elder Mike Payne

Lots of people put up these things last week for December 12th=the day of the Virgin Mary
The pig snout, pig tongue, and pig brain that I ate
We had a rat in our house so we killed it... not a big deal I'm kinda a boss

I thought this was funny... a dog getting milked by a cat haha
The amazing breakfast we made this morning... french toast, eggs sunny side up, and tortillas (because I'm in Mexico... I had to)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Week 69 - December 9, 2013 - 500 days!!!

I've been out here for 500 days!  This week was pretty awesome, our baptism fell through but we had a huge miracle so it made up for it!!

On Tuesday we were able to put a couple new baptismal dates with our investigators that we are teaching. We now have 13 baptismal dates in our area!! We are killing this area right now! This entire year in Chapala there have only been 5 baptisms and we are trying to change the attitude of this zone because everyone comes here thinking they aren't going to have success.

On Wednesday we had to do a bunch of stuff in the morning because we are going to open a new area in our zone next transfer. Then we had to take a bus for an hour and a half to go eat lunch. After lunch I was kind of upset because it was 4:00 and we hadn't had one lesson all day.

We then decided to go and try to find Cecilia Valencia, Claudia's aunt. ** Note: Claudia has worked for Larry for 24 years, and she is from the town that Mike is in!  She still has family there, what a small world!**  Her pueblo (town) is 30 minutes from where we were eating. We got to her house, knocked on the door and no one answered. One of Claudia's cousins, Rosa, lives across the street and she told us she was taking classes to learn how to make bread. It was in the plaza 2 minutes from her house. So we went to check it out.

As we got to her baking class we asked if Cecilia was there. One of the cutest old ladies stands up...she lookes exactly like Claudia hahahaha well not really but there is definitely a resemblance. I presented myself to her and told her that I know Claudia and she was so nice to us! She invited us into her class to meet all her friends. We entered in the class and found 17 people that were super excited to see us. We began to share a message with them and it went really well. I felt like an olden day missionary just standing in the middle of a cirlce and teaching tons of people hahaha!! 

After the lesson we left like everything we had for them: The family proclamation, pamphlets, Books of Mormon, etc. They were so happy and told us to go back the following day. We went back and none of them had read :( hahaha I was kinda sad but we wrote down some names of people who wanted us to go to their houses and teach them. The only tough thing about teaching in little pueblos like that is that there are tons of traditions with the catholic church and its nearly impossible to baptize people there because of the influence of everyone around them.  Cecilia took us to her house and showed us around. She is a super awesome lady. She is VERY catholic but we have plans to go back on Tuesday and she is going to teach us how to make tamales!!  Should be fun :)

We are working with another investigator named Eufracia. She is like 60 years old and loves going to church. She has one daughter who is a member and the rest of her kids aren't members. She wants to go to church every week but she doesn't like reading because she gets bored. We are going to work hard with her this week so hopefully this Saturday she can have her baptism!  
There is a bunch of retired Canadians and Americans here, it's cool to hear people speak English... and I get to translate for them. There is a family in our branch from Calgary with the last name Ames, (if any of my Canadian family knows them).
I am doing great and loving it out here! We are working really hard, thank you all for the love and support. 16 days until we get to skype with the family!!!!!

Elder Mike Payne

Making pizza with the No family
Being a professional pizza maker
I'm super cool... you don't have to tell me
Super nice community with the lake behind
Eating the bread that Cecilia made
The well in Cecilia's house
In Cecilia's garden
One of the Catholic cathedrals in Ocotlan... with a big monument of Christ on the cross... it is very Catholic here
Only in the family exists true love
More cowboys riding in the street
Merry Christmas
Yesterday there were like 100 people riding horses with a big virgin Mary in front... it's crazy here
Our desk where we study... and Elder Garcia
Our kitchen... with the supplies for the house of the new area that we will be opening
Our family room haha
Our bedroom
With Cecilia and a bunch of the ladies from the baking class
Celia's house

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week 68 - December 2, 2013 - I love this place!

What an incredible week. I can't even describe how I am feeling right now. I am so happy and I am receiving so many blessings right now. This week I have learned that as long as you work as hard as you can, the Lord will provide!! Elder Garcia is like literally my best friend out here and I am so happy that I get to work with him.

So our area is amazing!! It's super beautiful and there are tons of Americans and Canadians here. It's super funny to listen to them try and speak spanish because it brings me back to my first couple of months in Mexico haha!! We live 3 minutes away from the Lake Chapala and there is always a party there. Lots of retired Americans come to live here because its pretty calm and the weather is perfect!

When I got to this area Elder Garcia told me that we had lots of investigators but no baptismal dates. I told him that our goal was to put a baptismal date with each one of our investigators. Chapala is a zone that has had NO success these past couple of years. Our goal is to change that and make it a zone where every one wants to be because we baptize tons. This last week we were able to put 9 baptismal dates!!! We still have 5 more investigators that we need to put baptismal dates with but as for now we are working hard and seeing lots of blessings!

Right now we have a baptismal date for every week of December and January. We will see how everything goes. Some of them have some trials that they will have to overcome but we know that anything is possible and we are going to fast each week so that we can have a baptism every week!! 

This week we should be baptizing a kid named Braulio. His brother got baptized here a few months ago and we are now teaching his little brother. His parents are both catholic and we had an awesome experience last night. Since Braulio is younger than 18 years old, he needs his parents permission to be baptized. His mom is more open to it than her husband. Last night we had a lesson, mainly focused on the importance of baptism and trying to get permission from the mom. As I showed them a picture of my baptism 13 years ago, I was able to express my testimony about being baptized when I was 8 and how happy I was that I didn't wait because I was able to learn the gospel principles at a young age and not give into tempations. She then shared with us her feelings about baptism and I felt a prompting to also invite her to be baptized. We put a baptismal date with her for January 25th and she accepted!!  We need to work hard with her this week so that she can give her son permission to get baptized on Saturday!!

Well I am doing great and loving it out here. I have already met tons of super awesome people. Our area is HUGE!!! It takes an hour and a half in a bus to go from one end to the other. Each week I will fill you in on the investigators that we will be baptizing. Oh, I am learning to play the piano!  My companion is teaching me, we'll see how patient he is!

I know that this is the true church and that we are placed in certain areas for a specific reason. God knows each one of us and he loves us all. This week I was able to reflect upon my life and the plan of salvation that God gives to each of us. I was thinking about Matt Yount and praying for all his family and friends. I know that there are trials and many things we do not understand in this earth. We must stay faithful and trust in God that he has a plan for each one of us. I know this is true and I love this gospel so much!!

Thank you for always supporting me and loving me. I really don't know where I would be without the family and friends that I have!! Have an amazing week!!!

Elder Payne
Hermana Jovita!  The Relief Society President
The last week in Estadio... with Jose Avalos and his family eating tacos at Quiroga
I think I'm a little stronger than Jose haha
The Morelia zone
Me and Elder Solorzano and Elder Lux
Probably the ugliest dog I have ever seen haha
Eating pancakes in the hospital with Elder Griffey.  He wasn't feeling too well
The Olvera Family
The world's biggest lemon haha
The Bishop and his family
Me with Hermana Catalina, Fatima, and Angeles
Making crepes at the bishops hose... I'm a pro!
Familia Avalos and Ashley's baptism
The Hernandez Family
In the bus station saying goodbye to Juan Palomares
Last picture with Geovani... sad day
Thanksgiving meal with Sister Morgan
Mike's gym :)
They eat tons of fish here.  It's all super fresh.  This is halibut I think haha
Just doing some exercises in the city park... getting ready for summer :) haha
A gondola in Chapala
A picture of the lake Chapala as the sun is setting... super pretty!
Me and Elder Garcia freezing in the back of a truck haha
Me guiding a ship