Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week 97 - June 23, 2014 - 8 more days - Just a scout camp away. How hard can it be?!

It's so funny to me how 8 days seems like nothing. (actually it's now 5 days and 23 hours!)  I remember going to scout camp and crying every day because I still had 5 days left until I was going to see my family again. Funny how things change.

Well my last week was a great week. It was definitely hard to say the least. I will always remember the people that I have met in San Jeronimito. They have helped me to learn so much about myself and others as well. I didn't think it would be that hard to leave that branch. I thought it was hard leaving my family and now I find myself having an even harder time saying goodbye to all the people that have changed my life. I am so thankful for all the blessings that the Lord has given me and for the opportunity that I had to serve those people in that pueblo, as well as those for these past two years.

The Lord calls imperfect people to perform many great miracles. This week we taught many new investigators that should be ready for baptism in July. I am so happy to know that I have left that area with lots of investigators so that Elder Sanchez and his new comp can work hard and baptize lots. I know how hard it is to open an area with no investigators so I'm just happy that there will be lots of success coming up in San Jeronimito.

On Saturday I left to go to Guadalajara. I traveled fourteen hours on Saturday. We got into Guadalajara at 12:30 and didn't get to sleep until about 2. On Sunday we had our interviews with President in the afternoon. It was so hard. President gave me many compliments for the work that I have done in these last two years and thanked me for my selfless service. One of the nicest things he told me was ¨This mission has changed because of you. If only we had 250 other Elder Paynes.¨ It was a good feeling to know that the mission president has trusted in me so much in these last two years.

After the interviews we went to the mission home and ate dinner with the Camarillo family. We had ¨carne en su jugo.¨ Its s typical guadalajara dish and it was super good. We then all shared our tesitmonies and it was such a spiritual meeting. Almost every one of us cried and it was just a great night. A bunch of my friends went home today and I will miss them a lot. I know that I will stay in contact with a few of them. I am happy to have had the chance to meet many awesome friends here in the mission.

This week I will be working in a trio with two other elders here in Guadalajara. Their area is super nice! Man there are so many nice houses and cars. It's a pretty tough area because everything is just neighborhoods, kinda like Pleasanton. Everything is super spread out and we have to walk everywhere. I am excited to be here and to be able to work with these two missionaries.Their names are Elder Peguero and Elder Origel. I guess they don't get along very well with President Camarillo and he put me here to try and help them fix their attitudes haha so I will do what I can and continue to give it my all for the Lord.

In just 8 days I will be seeing you guys at the airport. I am beyond excited and I can't wait to just relax and kick it with the fam. It's gunna be great!! Well I love you guys so much and know that I am doing great!! Thanks for all the love and support!!

Con amor,
Elder Payne

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week 96 - June 16, 2014The - Mixed Emotions

Well I only have about 2 more days in my area and I'm not sure how I feel. It hasn't fully hit me yet that I'm kind of ending the mission. Everyone says that the last few weeks go by the slowest. I honestly feel like these past couple weeks have flown by and I can't believe that it's Monday again! 

This last week we had a great baptism for Andres. We have reactivated another family and now increased the church attendance by 43 since my first Sunday here! It was such an awesome last Sunday here in San Jeronimito yesterday. We had the baptism before the church services and it was great. Andres is 10 years old and his mom isn't a member of the church yet, but his older brother and his grandma are. The grandma fell about a year ago and broke her hip so she is still recovering and hasn't gone to church since the accident. She has now gone these past 4 weeks in a row and she is so happy, along with the rest of the members. Andres' mom still has doubts and questions but we have her baptism scheduled for this Friday so hopefully it goes well!

We had a crazy miracle at church yesterday. One of our investigators, Juan, has come to church 5 times and has never wanted to accept a baptismal date. Yesterday in gosepl principles we talked about baptism and immediately after the class he asked me, ¨What do I need to do to be baptized? I have now received my answer and I know that this is the true church.¨ He told us that he wanted to be baptized yesterday so we just went over all the requirements and it turns out he's not married and living with someone...  But he said that he wants to get married as soon as he can so that he can be baptized. He wants me to baptize him but if he doesn't get married before Friday I'm not sure it's gunna happen.

Well I am doing great. I feel so blessed to be out here in Mexico. I feel that through all the expereinces I have had I have learned so much about myself. Words cannot describe how I feel and the happiness that I have. Yesterday at church was pretty hard because I had to say bye to many of the members. I have gained a strong friendship with so many of the members here in San Jeronimito and I will for sure miss each and every one of them!

On the other hand I feel so happy because in 13 days I will be sitting by the pool after golfing 18 holes at Castlewood- just relaxing. hahaha man I haven't been able to truly relax for a very long time. I can't wait to see you all so soon! It's going to be a great reunion at the airport! Just 13 more days so I am gunna stay focused and finish with no regrets!

Love you all and thank you for all the love and support!! You are the best!!

Elder Payne

Andres and his family
The Diaz family
The Hermana Gladys and her boys Chewy and Omar
The Pinzon family

Friday, June 13, 2014

Week 95 - June 9, 2014 - Rain rain go away, come again in July!

This week was a lot better than last week. Elder Sanchez and I are doing great together. We are finding lots of new investigators and we have lots of baptisms planned for July, which makes me feel good because Elder Sanchez and his new companion will have a lot of work when I leave.

One of the biggest challenges out here is the weather. One day it is like 120 degrees and the next it is flooding. It's hard because when its raining no one wants to leave their house or go to church. But we are trying to find solutions to help the members and investigators go to church. There is no drainage systems out here so it floods all the streets and then when it starts to get super hot everything just evaporates and makes it super humid, it's unbelievable! haha

We were able to have two baptisms on Saturday. It was pretty tough because it was raining ALL day and the baptism was planned at 6 pm. We rented a little van/ taxi and went and picked up all of our investigator´s friends so that they could have support. It ended up being a great baptism. These two investigators are super awesome.

Maria's husband died about 5 years ago and last week we taught the Plan of Salvation. We didn't know that her husband had passed away until we asked her what she would be willing to do to live with her family forever. She started crying and told us about her loss and how she felt. The plan of salvation is so incredible because it gives us a hope for what is to come and an understanding as to why God does what he does. Maria told us that she is going to do whatever it takes to go through the temple in a year to be sealed as an eternal family. Experiences like these make me sad about ending my mission.

So we ate the iguana that my comp and I killed last week. It was super good. Our neighbor made the food for us and didn't take off the skin- she said its kinda like eating fish... all you have to do is peel off the scales. But we ate some iguana tacos and it was pretty good! 

This upcoming week we should be having another baptism. We have been working hard with a less active older lady, Carmen, and her family. Carmen's daughter and grandson are taking the lessons and progressing towards baptism. Andres, the grandosn, will be baptized this week and then his mom wants to be baptized the following week. So it should be a good experience. Hope all goes well!

The Ortega Sanchez family said they are going through the temple for sure on June 28. I'm super excited because that will only be three das before I end my mission. It will be nice to reflect back on these last two years and feel the spirit of the temple again.

Thanks for everything and all the support you all give me. I can't believe I only have just a few weeks left. As for now I am just going to continue working as hard as I can and soon enough I will be home to relax hahaha!

Con amor,

Elder Payne

The streets here in San Jeronimito
The iguana that I ate
Eating iguana!
One of the only paved streets in our areas... it was a river haha
Maria and Mirnas baptism
I was Maria's birthday the day she was baptized so we bought her a cake

Two cute little brothers haha

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Week 94 - June 2, 2014 - A Rough Week

This week was definitely a week of trials and challenges. Just about everything we had planned fell through and it was such a frustrating week but its okay because I have learned a lot about myself this last week. I am thankful for the trails that I have in my life because they allow me to recognize all the blessings that I have in my life.

To start off we didn't go to the temple this last week because the temple was closed and will remain closed for two more weeks. We got a phone call on Thursday night saying that they are going to postpone it for a few weeks. The good thing is that they are foir sure going through this month so sometime before I go home this family will be going through the temple!!

We were supposed to have a baptism this week but the day of his baptism it was pouring rain and he didn't want to walk to the church. We then called a taxi and he said that he would rather sleep on his hammock than get baptized. His name is Fidencio and he is 84 years old and is just a super bipolor man. Some days he is just super happy and others he doesn't want anything to do with us. But we will continue to teach him and see what happens.

But anyways that's about it for the week. This next week we should be having two more baptisms. Let's hope that they don't fall through like this last week. All we can do is work as hard as we can. I have learned throughout my mission that we can never take someone's agency. But they are two awesome investigators named Maria and Mirna so we hope all goes well.

Like I said it was a pretty rough week but we are working as hard as we can and the Lord is blessing us. I am so happy to be out here and I am going to take advantage of these last few weeks that I have. NO REGRETS!!

Thanks for everything and all the support!!  I gotta get back to work :)


Elder Mike Payne 

The Lazaro Cardenas zone - my last zone meeting was on Friday 
Two iguanas that we killed today!  Tomorrow night we are going to eat iguana!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 93 - May 26, 2014 - Jose

Man this week was such an incredible week!! Elder Sanchez and I are working super hard and we are having lots of success together. We will be having a baptism this Thursday with a man named Fidencio. He is such a funny dude. He's like 84 years old and just says the funniest things sometimes. I seriously love old people- they are hilarious. We are super happy for him and we hope that everything goes well for Thursday.

So on Friday morning Elder Sanchez and I left for Morelia for Jose's baptism. Last year he was going to be baptized when Elder Rueda and I were together. He couldn't be baptized because of some things he had done in the past. His papers were sent in to Salt Lake City and ten months later were sent back to the mission offices. The First Presidency of the church gave permission to Jose to finally be baptized. The man has been through so much!!

We got to Morelia at about 2 in the afternoon. We went and ate at a member's restaurant and then we went to the church to see if everything was ready. When Jose and I saw each other we immmediately just started crying. The first thing he told me was, ¨After more than a year, I am finally going to do this. Thank you for all your patience. I love you.¨ As we gave each other a big hug we couldn't hold back the tears. It was such an amazing moment.

We then went into the bathroom and got changed into our baptismal clothing. As we left the bathroom I noticed that ELDER RUEDA was waiting in the hallway!! I ran up to him and gave him a huge hug too!  I wrote him on Monday telling him that Jose was going to be baptized. A year ago we promised Jose that we would both be there to support him- we both kept that promise. Elder Rueda and I got to catch up for a bit. Man he has had so many trials after the mission (he finished his mission 6 months ago) - it kinda makes me nervous to come home!!! But everyone was so happy as we were all reunited for a few hours.

We started the baptism and there were so many people there that we had to do the program in the chapel and then when it was time for the baptism we all went into the other room. As Jose came up from the water I honestly cannot express that feeling that we had. He immediately gave me a huge hug and said, "I am perfect. Everything that I have done is now erased!"  Man this guy is incredible!! The entire time he was talking about preparing to be sealed in the temple in a year and how happy he was to have the chance to have an eternal family.

This Friday I will be traveling to Guadalajara to see some of my converts get sealed in the temple. It is the Ortega Sanchez family. I seriously cannot wait! It will be such an amazing experience! I am so happy with how my mission is ending. I could not be happier with all the work I have done and I would honestly not change a thing that I have done in these past couple years. It just makes me feel that all the hard work I have done is all paying off.

I am so happy for the opportunity that I have to be out here. I only have about 5 weeks left so I am trying to make the most of every second that I have. I am doing great and loving this little pueblo. We are finding so many people and we have lots of baptisms planned for these next weeks and months. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways and I don't even know where to start as I count all the blessings He has given me.

Thank you for all the love and support. Have an amazing week!!! LOVE YOU!!!

Elder Mike Payne

Chicken feet that I ate for lunch this week
Super good!  It's called "puritos" and it's banana with melted cheese in the middle.  It was super good and we made it... NBD!
Our pile of garbage... before
Our pile of garbage... during
Our pile of garbage... after.  Everyone here burns their garbage haha
Elder Rueda, Jose and me
Just look at Jose's face.  Man this is so priceless!
In front of the font
Jose after his baptism
Elder Sanchez and I waiting for the bus - this was taken at 1:30 in the morning haha

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Week 92 - May 19, 2014 - No longer a son of a Bish! :-O

Well this week was an amazing week. I am learning so much about myself in this last transfer and I am so grateful for everything that God has given me. I know these aren't the easiest situations but I know that in these times I am learning the most about myself and I will be a better person because of where I am and what I am doing.

First of all, Elder Sanchez is awesome!!! He came in with a rough attitude but I have realized that as long as I stay happy, he does too. So I have just been trying to stay positive with everything and it has been great! In my first week with him I have learned that I need to count each and every one of my blessings. Some days aren't the best and those are the times we need to realize how much we truly have in our lives. I wrote down a long list of blessings that I have in my journal and this last week I have been adding to the list. I know that the Lord has a plan for all of us and that we all just need to work hard to please him and not worry what every one else thinks of us.

We were able to have lots of success in our first week together. We worked in our area 5 days of the week and we had over 50 lessons. So we are pretty excited with the progress this area is having. We were able to put 9 new baptismal dates this week and the investigators we have found are progressing very well. We had 8 investigators at church yesterday and we are hoping to see lots of baptisms in June. Should be a crazy month out here in San Jeronimito.

We had a super funny experience at lunch on Saturday. We went to eat with a family that doesn't have much. They give us food every week and I honestly feel so bad but sometimes I just can't get everything down because of what they give us. So on Saturday they gave us cow stomach... or lets just say pure fat!!!  Man there was no meat. We ate what everyone usually cuts off of their meat!!  We always sit on their porch when we eat and they have a field behind their house. After my first few bites I literally thought I was going to throw up!  So everytime the sister would go inside to get something Elder Sanchez and I would take part of the cow stomach and throw it out into the field! hahaha  It was so funny!!! They have about 5 dogs and 4 cats and they came into the house with the meat we threw out into the field. The sister was so confused, but she never knew we did it. She thought that it was from their neighbor's house hahaha Man, Elder Sanchez and I were dying, as we tried to hold back from laughing hahaha!

Today I got a phone call from the missionaries in Morelia saying that Jose Avalos will be getting baptized on Friday!!! I will be leaving Friday morning to go to Morelia and I will be baptizing Jose! When I hung up I started crying and just reflected upon what has gone on in his life. It has truly helped me undersatand the repentance process. I am so excited!! And hopefully within these next couple of weeks I will be going to Guadalajara to see the Ortega Sanchez family get sealed!! I am so happy right now!

Dad, I was thinking about you all day yesterday as you were getting released as Bishop. I had so many emotions yesterday and I can only imagine how you were feeling! I'm sure it was hard to leave behind everything you have done in these last 5 1/2 years as Bishop, but there is no doubt that the Lord is happy with all that you have done. You are the best dad in the world and I don't know where I would be if I didn't have an example like you in my life. And now we will have more time to hang out and go golfing and watch sports when I get home!

Well that's about it for my week. I am so happy and I'm just enjoying every day!

Have a great week! I love you all!!!

Elder Payne
This is the guy I told you about and the tree he came home with haha 
The cow stomach we ate on Saturday haha 
We went to Ixtapa today!
Thought this was a cool picture of a huge crab we saw
Senor Frogs haha

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week 91 - May 13, 2014 - Last Transfer?!

Well this last week was a really good week for us out here in San Jeronimito. We just had transfers yesterday so Elder Aviles went to Morelia. I had to travel with him and come back with a few other missionaries. Last night we stayed with some missionaries and then this morning we finished our traveling. In these past couple of days I have traveled about 20 hours by bus and I am exhausted! 

My new companion is Elder Sanchez and he is from Veracruz, Mexico. He has about 8 months into the mission. He seems like a good guy with a lot of potential. I guess he has just had some bad circumstances in the mission, starting with an ankle injury. But I have only been with him for a few hours so I will continue to get to know lots about him throughout our time together.

The last week I had with Elder Aviles went really well. We ended up having a couple baptisms. We baptized Juan and his brother Rodolfo. Their family has been inactive for a few years and they are starting to all go back to church now. The two little boys have memorized the first three articles of faith! The branch is doing great. We have lots of investigators and we are hoping to see lots of baptisms before I go home! 

Words can't describe how happy I was to skype with the family on Sunday. Man I can't believe that was our last skype!! The next time we see each other will be at the Oakland airport in about 7 weeks! 

Yesterday at the bus station in Morelia I was able to talk to Jose Avalos on the phone. He was the investigator we had in Morelia and is going to be baptized within these next couple of weeks. President Camarillo gave me permission a few months ago to go to his baptism so hopefully he will still give me permission to go!

Also the Ortega Sanchez family from Guadalajara will be getting sealed I think next week. I am so excited to go with them. These next few weeks should be some amazing experiences and I am super excited!!  It just makes me feel so good to know that I had a hand in bringing this family together and to see them get sealed in the Temple is a missionary's dream! Heavenly Father puts us in places and people in our path for a reason. 

But anyways that's about it for the week. Elder Sanchez and I are gunna work our butts off and have a ton of fun and success together. Thank you for everything you do for me!! You guys are the best!!!  Have an amazing week!

Elder Mike Payne

The bird pooped on my shirt... last time I hold that thing haha
Our area
We had a huge thunderstorm last week and tons of water came into the house... here is our study room 
Here is our bedroom.  The water started to fall onto my bed so I had ti move it haha
The flood outside of our house
Walking in the streets
The church activity we had on Friday
The baptisms we had on Saturday
SKYPE!!!  The last one!
The busses we travel in... I told you they were nice haha

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 90 - May 5, 2014 - Less than 2 months left... No manches!

Well this week has been a great week. I think I am learning more about myself in this area than any other area I have been in. I have never seen so many trials in my life. So many emotions go through my body every day and some days I just don't know how to feel. I am so thankful for my trials because it makes the good times THAT much better. I am working as hard as I can out here and I can honestly say I have no regrets with what I have done in these past 5 weeks in this area. Every day I wake up with motivation to work as hard as I can each day.

On Saturday we had a baptism for a young boy named Ruben. His family has not been active for awhile but have now come to church 4 weeks in a row! 

We will be having two more baptisms coming up this weekend. We have also been working hard with The Castrejon family. This family is crazy. They have 5 boys that just love to fight, they are all so hilarious!!!  But anyways, we have found the soft side and we have had some pretty awesome lessons with them. Two of the sons in the family have not been baptized, since they went inactive a couple years ago. It is a family of 7 that is now going back to church. The boys Juan and Rodolfo will be baptized on Saturday. 

Yesterday we had 84 people at church. We are continuing to see success in this branch and everyone is so happy to see so much progress out here. Every day I am loving this branch so much more. I am giving everything I have for this branch and I want to finish these last 8 weeks with no regrets. We are now into the last couple minutes of the fourth quarter and I can't give up now (unless I'm a Shark or a Warrior! hahahaha)

On Thursday as we were walking to a lesson we passed a house and an older man yelled to us, calling us over to his house. As we approached his house, Elder Aviles and I thought he was drunk. He went inside for a couple of seats and told us that he had seen us pass his house almost every day and that he had been wanting to talk to us. His name is Efren. As we began to talk we realized how many trials he has had in his life. Turns out he was not drunk and it was one of the most humbling experiences I have had in my life. Efren went to the baptism on Saturday as well as church yesterday. He has so much knowledge of the Bible but has lost lots of his vision and can't read. We bought him a magnifying glass today, so hopefully he will be able to see the letters better.

Also on Saturday I was fed turtle and racoon. When the investigator told us what we would be eating I could only imagine eating the racoon we had locked up in a cage in our backyard!  In my mind I looked back at everything crazy I had eaten in my mission- I realize that only in Mexico I would have these experiences. So I ate it and it was actually pretty good!!  A lot better than the pig snout that I was fed in Chapala hahaha!!

Thats about it for the week! It was a great week! These last couple weeks I have learned that if we remain faithful throughout our trials, the Lord will bless matter where we are!!  Thank you everyone for all the love and support!! You are the best!! Have an amazing week!

Elder Mike Payne

This is a Catholic church after the earthquake
The frog we found outside of our house.  It was HUGE!!!
Our beautiful church out here in San Jeronimito

More pictures of the church

Making salsa in a molcajete
Eating raccoon
Eating turtle
Ruben's baptism and his family that we have been working with
Playing volleyball with the Gonzalez family
Our huge study room
Our kitchen
One of our bathrooms
Our bedroom