Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 76 - January 27, 2014 - Miracle!

This week was incredible!! I seriously don't think I have ever been so happy and so fortunate! I love the mission so much and I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else...well other than the beach in Hawaii with the family in 5 months...but still! haha

Anyways, we were able to have 4 baptisms this week. We have been working so hard with all of these investigators. A couple weeks ago we were able to marry a family and the wife and her two daughters were baptized yesterday along with another one of our investigators named Maria. 

I think I talked about her last week but she is incredible. Since the first visit she has been just a ball of happiness and has really motivated me to be a better person and always be happy, no matter the situation. She has a daughter that is interested and she has now come to church three times. 

This baptism yesterday was one of the most spiritual and most stressful baptisms I have ever had!!  My companion, Elder Cantu, and I went to the church early on Saturday morning to clean the font and make sure everything was ready. We went back on Saturday night to start the water heater and turn the water on so that the water would be warm for Sunday. 

As we got to the church an hour early on Sunday we noticed that the water was up to about my knees. The water was coming out slowly and was coming out very hot, which was awesome. After sacrament meeting we looked at the font and noticed that the water wasn't coming out and as we tried to turn the faucet, nothing was coming out. I can't explain the frustration I felt!

I was asked to baptize the two ladies and I was super nervous because I was thinking I was gunna have to baptize on my knees. Then we decided to call a big truck that delivers water to your house if you don't have any. The baptism was scheduled for 1:00 and they said they would get there at 1:15. So we were kinda stressed. 1:10 came around and I remember going to the bathroom to change into my baptismal clothing and kneeling to say a prayer. I asked God to help us to have a very successful baptism. Right when I got up from my knees I left the bathroom and saw the water truck outside. They were asking us where to put the hose to pump the water into the font. All of the work we had made to put in warm water was going to waste as they were about to pump in this freezing cold water. I opened to the doors to the font to tell the worker where we wanted the water to go. As I opened the door I noticed that the font was full and the water was warm. I honestly can't explain how it happened. It was such a crazy miracle and after that everything went great!!!

We had about 50 people in the baptism with 6 other investigators that have baptismal dates for February and March. We are having tons of success here and I am loving it so much. During sacrament meeting we had to bring in more chairs into the chapel because we didn't have enough room.  We had 83 people which is the most this branch has had in a very long time. We had 11 investigators in sacrament meeting and I got to give a talk. I think it went really well and we are hoping to keep baptizing every week. 

We are also teaching an American boy named Adam. He lives with his grandparents who took over custody because his mom isn't responsible enough to take care of him. He will be getting baptized on Febraury 9th. But our lessons are super funny. He has ADHD and doesn't like to sit still. So I always have to put on a show for him as we teach. Yesterday we taught the first vision and I got lettuce and made a pretty sweet forrest and I did a bunch of other stuff.

Sorry this letter is so long but it has just been an amazing week!! We are going to be baptizing another investigator this weekend so it should be another great week!!

Thanks for everything and I will talk to you all soon!!!! Have an amazing week y que Dios les bendiga!!!

Elder Mike Payne

A scorpion we found outside of our house haha pretty scary! 
Our branch president didn't want to be in the picture haha

The Oliva Family
Maria Elena and her daughter 
Teaching Adam haha
Ajijic - our area (where all the Americans and Canadians live)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 75 - January 20, 2014 - On the bright side... I will be home for the next 49ers game!!

Well sad to hear that the niners lost and I heard it was pretty close. But like I said, I will be home for the next 49ers game...makes it seem like its not too far away!!

This week has been an incredible week. I would first like to start off and say that Elder Cantu might be my favorite companion that I have had out here on the mission. We are always laughing in the street about such dumb things. He is the funniest kid ever and we work super well together. I hope I can end my mission with him… probably won't happen but we will see. I seriously love the mission so much! This is the best thing in the world!! It's definitely not easy but it's worth it!

We are teaching and awesome investigator named Maria Elena. She is from Napa, California and no, she's not American haha. She was a reference passed from the offices and she is amazing!!! Every time we go to her house she is sitting there either reading her pamphlets or the Book of Mormon waiting for us. She has gone to church now 5 times and will be getting baptized on this upcoming Sunday. She is so incredible!! I think she is going back to Napa in March for a few months so I told her I would take her to the Oakland temple when I get home!

Amazing news....Raul and Guadalupe got married on Friday!!! We were so happy to see them finally get married. After 10 years of being together and seeing so many missionaries work with them, they finally decided to get married and start working towards having an eternal family. Guadalupe, along with her two daughters (Tania and Estefani), will also be getting baptizied this Sunday. So we will be having 4 baptisms on Sunday. We are super happy and we are working so hard down here.

We are also teaching a less active member named Jim Johnson. He turns 90 in a couple weeks and he is incredible. He is super sick and just looks so sad but every time he sees us, he starts to smile and tell us how amazing we are. He can't walk and sometimes Elder Cantu and I walk along side him as he uses his crutches. He gets so happy and I find myself crying very often when we are with him. He has Alzheimers and can't remember much. He asked Gloria (his wife), Elder Cantu, and me to write our names on a piece of paper and put it on the wall next to his bed because he said, ¨I want to remember the three most important people in my life.¨  He reminds me so much of Grandpa Morgan and I have come to love him so much. He thinks he is going to die very soon and he told me that all he wants is that we are there at his funeral. It will be a very hard day when he passes away. He is one of our neighbors so we go by his house every day for about 5 or ten minutes just to help out and offer our service for he and his wife. Such a great experience getting to know this man.

Well thats about it for me out here! I am loving it and enjoying every second of the mission... maybe not EVERY second, but I am learning from every experience. I know I still have lots of time left and I am trying to make the most of it. We should be having about 7 baptisms coming up in these next couple of weeks so hopefully it all goes well and that Elder Cantu and I can have some success together!

Les amo y que tengan una muy beuna semana!!!

Elder Mike Payne
Our names on Jim's wall
Jim and his wife Gloria
Hanging out with the Oliva family (Raul and Guadalupe's kids... well most of them are theirs)
At the lake
Kinda like San Fran... just not sea lions haha
Me and Raul and Guadalupe
Everyone at the wedding... they wanted to keep it small
Statue of Jesus the fisherman
Me with the statue behind me
On the swings this morning in the park near the lake
The Catholic cathedral
The little corner of love
Me and Elder Cantu on the dock looking out to the lake

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Week 74 - January 14, 2014 - Transfers

So yesterday we just added a zone in our mission called Guacamayas. It is down by the beach and we now have 14 new missionaries in the mission that we took from that zone. One of the zone leaders that was over there, Elder Cant├║ is now my companion. He is super cool and I think we will have lots of fun and lots of success together. He is from Monterrey, Mexico and he has the same amount of time as I have in the mission.  Elder Garcia (my last companion) got transferred to the new zone.

This last week President Camarillo gave us a new standard of excellence. It's pretty crazy. We are working our butts off to complete the standard and its nuts!! He has some pretty lofty goals, but we'll try our best!

So we ended up not marrying that family last week. They are so ready and so excited but as they were filling out all their paperwork, they saw that they have to take a 4 day long wedding class that will prepare them for marriage hahaha! They have been together for 10 years but it's a city rule over here. They had their first day of classes yesterday so hopefully they can get married this weekend or next week! They will be baptized very shortly after their wedding! Keep praying for them.

This last week we also had a super crazy experience hahah! Mom and Dad dont get scared. I was deciding whether or not to share this story and I think its appropriate 0_o. So Elder Garcia and I were teaching in this pueblo called Ixtlahuacan. It's a pretty sketchy place but we have lots of investigators over there. Anyways, as we were walking to a house we hear this loud noise hit the gravel road. We stopped and looked behind us and there was nothing. Then another loud noise. This time we noticed that a rock had fallen. The third time we finally realized that some teenagers were throwing rocks at us from their roof! Not like little pebbles but some good sized rocks. My first reaction came in and I wanted to fight these kids. But then I looked down at my badge and realized I was a missionary....SO a fight did not go down hahahaha!! But I told Elder Garcia to not look up and to just keep walking. These 16 and 17 year old kids threw probably about 30 rocks and we didn't get hit once!! They either have horrible aim or we are like Helaman just dodging arrows like bosses (sorry for those who dont have Book of Mormon knowledge)!! 

Also super cool story!! So I don't know if you guys remember Denisse and Rosario from my first area of the mission. They were my first investigators in my mission. Denisse was my first baptism that I had as a missionary. Her mom smoked a lot and still wasn't ready to be baptized while we were teaching. They later moved their house and we lost all communication with them. Well yesterday I saw some elders in the mission office and they told me they she has stopped smoking and she is getting baptized next month!!! I am soooo happy!!!!!

Well I am doing great and I have had another great week!! Thanks for all the love and support!! Love you all and have an amazing week!!!

Elder Mike Payne

Saying bye to Elder Garcia
My new companion Elder Cant├║
A picture I took this morning of a license plate from Alberta!! So many Canadians and Americans here haha

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Week 73 - January 6, 2014 - 2014!!!

This week was a weird, crazy, fun, and tough week. I have lots of different emotions but overall it went well and I am doing GREAT here!!

So I guess it all starts off with New Years. Not too much exciting happened. We had to be home at 7 so we didn't get killed in the streets hahaha!! At night it gets dangerous because people just shoot off their guns into the air as if they are fireworks and the bullets fall and hit people and there were actually many injuries on New Years here in Chapala.

On Thursday I got super sick and was feeling terrible!!! I had a fever and my skin was just super sensitive, I was hot one minute and freezing the next. We went to lunch and I wasn't hungry at all. I went to the bathroom and saw that they had a scale to weigh myself. I weighed in at a whopping 174. The rest of the day we worked and I just felt super weak all day!! Then I went to bed not feeling so well.  Man it was seriously the worst night ever!!!  I slept on the bathroom floor and about every 15 minutes I was up 'sick'. In the morning one of the brothers in our ward took us to the doctors. My stomach was hurting so bad and I could barely stand up straight. We got to the doctors and I got weighed. I weighed 163 pounds!!  I lost 11 pounds in one night!! And then the doctor said that I got food poisoning so bad that it infected my intestines. As a result of throwing up all night I pulled a muscle in my abdomen and I had to get an injection and take some pills for a couple days. I am now feeling 100 percent and doing good! So don't worry mom!

We just received the transfers on Saturday and I found out that Elder Garcia and I are at least going to stay here for 6 more weeks together. We are super happy and working really hard together. I'm kind of sad because my two best friends from the mission went home today- Elder Quinney and Elder Maccarthy.  I'm glad they finished strong and I'm sure they are happy to be with their families again.

We have been working hard with a few familes we are teaching. We are excited because the parents of one of the families we are teaching is going to get married on Friday and they don't have much money so I am going to pay for it (thanks dad! haha). But they are super happy. Next week the wife and two of the daughters are going to be baptized. We are so happy for this family, they have had over 10 missionaries teach them, and now they feel they are finally ready! The only way I could be happier is in one year when Elder Garcia and I come back and see them get sealed in the temple as a family!! :)  

Well I hope you all had a great week and a Happy New Years!!! I will be home this year!! Super crazy right?! Thanks for all the love and support!  Have an amazing week :)

Elder Payne

Gave these toys to this kid who needed them more than I did.  He loved them!! haha so cute!

New Years Dinner
Our dessert
Eating our brownies... how romantic :)
Super funny truck with tiny tires hahaha
Downtown Chapala
Eating fish with Elder Garcia