Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 84 - March 24, 2014 - Got GOAT Milk?!

Well this week has been another incredible week out here in Chapala. I love this place so much. we have transfers next week so I hope I don't leave, but I feel like I am.

We had another baptism yesterday and it went really well. The girl we baptized is named Emma. She is seriously a pilgrim. She is one of the strongest converts I have had out here in Mexico. She was going to be baptized last week but her husband wouldn't give her permission so we couldn't do it. There were so many trials and difficulties this last week but she fought through it and ended up being baptized yesterday. 

She shared her testimony at the end of her baptism and it was so great. There were many people crying, knowing the experiences she has had to get to that point. Baptism is such a great thing because it allows us to forget about all the things that we have done wrong, and focus on how we can change our future. The past has happened and we can't change anything about it, so that's why it is so important to repent and be made clean through the mercy of Jesus Christ. 

I always relate baptism to driving without mirrors. If we don't have mirrors, it makes it hard to look back. We can still look back, but it takes more effort to look over our shoulder. And often times that makes us drift off the ¨path¨. We cannot correct the wrong turns we have made, but we can get back on the right path to get to the kingdom of heaven. Baptism is so incredible!

Emma´s daughter, Maria, should be having her baptism this next week.  She brought a friend to the baptism and her friend commented that she also wanted to be baptized next week. We told her that she we will need to wait a few weeks sop that we can teach her and so that she can come to church more, but it's just crazy to see all the little miracles that are going on here in Chapala. We should also be baptizing a family of 4 in April. That would put us at seven baptisms in the next 5 weeks. Man I love this place so much!

So this morning  Elder Cantú and I woke up at 4:30 to go with Morgan (a return missionary in our branch) and Maxima (one of our investigators) to go drink goat milk. I guess its something pretty popular here in Chapala and Morgan has been inviting us for a while. 

So like I said, we got up at 4:30 and Morgan picked us up from our house. We got to the top of the hill where this goat farm is and gave this guy our cups. He then went and selected a goat, milked it, and returned our cup full. As I grabbed my cup, the warm sensation made me feel sick to my stomach hahaha. We brought chocolate powder. As I mixed it I just hoped that I wouldn't throw up and embarrass myself in front of everyone hahaha! It was actually super good! It was a good experience.

Well I am doing great and loving where I am at! I seriously couldn't be happier! I love this work and this church. I know without a doubt that this is the only true church on this earth. Although there are many good churches, there is a difference between agood church and a true church. I hope that each one of you can read this and pray to the Lord and ask him.  I know He will give you the answer!

Thanks for all the prayers and support!! Only 13 weeks left!

Elder Mike Payne

The Jehovas witness church right behind ours
Walking in Jocotepec with Elder Cantu
The dinner Claudia's mom made for us
Funny car accident... I guess they were too excited to get their beer haha
Emma's baptism
The sun rise this morning
The 4 coolest kids ever
That's my cup :) 
The toast
I was more scared than I look haha
There is a picture of Christ where he is carrying a sheep... being a missionary I kinda had to take a pic haha
The goat on my shoulders 
Drinking my milk
Another sun rise picture
Me and Elder Cantu
You can't have a sun rise in Mexico without a horse

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 83 - March 17, 2014 - 2 years ago today I was called to the Mexico Guadalajara East Mission!!!

...And I will forever be grateful for the mission call I received!! These last 20 months have been incredible and I will never regret the decision I made to come out here to Mexico.

This week has been amazing!! We have been working super hard with our investigators and we were able to have a couple baptisms yesterday. We baptized Maria Elena and Cesar De Anda. It was such a good day and they were so happy. The baptismal service went really well and we had many investigators there to experience the happiness. We had a miracle happen:

So we have been teaching this lady and her daughter...their names are Emma and Maria Fernanda. They were going to be baptized yesterday as well but Emma´s husband wouldn't let them. And we aren't allowed to baptize if the husband or father doesn't give permission. So anyways Emma looked kinda sad after the baptism and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she was sad because she wanted to be baptized as well. I told her we would keep praying for her husband and that everything would be okay. She called me last night and said that a miracle had happened.

Right as they got home from church, her daughter ran in the house and screamed to her dad ¨I wanna get baptized in this church dad...pleaseeee!!!¨ And the dad responded with, ¨Well it looks like I will be there to expereince it next week!¨ I was like in tears yesterday when Emma told me that. So hopefully this week or next week we can baptize Emma and her daughter. And then soon after the father/husband. Man experiences like these make it hard to realize that I won't be a missionary in 4 months. I love this work so much!!!

We also found another family that should be baptized in April. It is a family of four and we are going to keep working hard with them. We received the referral a couple weeks ago to go and visit them. The dad is so amazing and wants the best for his family. We haven't met the whole family but yesterday after the baptism he told us that he wants to be baptized with his family as soon as possible.

I really don't understand how we are seeing so much success and so many miracles. I mean we are obedient and we work as hard as we can but man its amazing!! We have baptized 11 people this year so far in this little branch...that's more than they have had in the past 3 years!! We should be having a bunch more coming up so hopefully the Lord can continue to help us. 

My experience in this area reminds me of my missionary plaque at home. The scripture I put on it was Alma 26: 12. ¨Yea I know that I am nothing, as for my strength, I am weak. Therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God. For in HIS strength we can do all things. And behold many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.¨ I know that without the Lord none of this would be possible. The Lord loves each and every one of us and wants the best for us!

So on Saturday morning I saw a taxi pull up in front of the house. Knowing who it was, I excitedly opened and saw Claudia running up to me. (She works for my dad in San Jose!). She gave me the suit case that my parents sent with her full of my favorite snacks from home and we hung out for a little bit and enjoyed some monster cookies together.  She is originally from the town that I'm am serving in, and she is on a vacation to see her family.  Man it was so good to see her and it brought back so many memories! Thank you so much for all the treats! They are so amazing!!!

Well I hope you all have an amazing week!! Miss you all but I know the Lord loves you and is always with you! I pray for you every day! Thanks for the love and support!!

Elder Payne

This is a very Catholic pueblo out here in Jocotepec
The gas tanks people use for their homes... there were tons haha
I beat Elder Cantu in boing... Maria Elena was the judge

CLAUDIA!!  It was so great to see her!
Opening my suitcase!! :)
Claudia and I eating some monster cookies :)
Just a nice convo with Claudia and eating those cookies haha
A pic with Claudia and her sister and their family as they took off
My suitcase full of goodies Claudia brought me from my family!
The MOUNTAIN DEW!!!  With Mitch's fathead on the fridge hahaha
Reading my notes that were sent in the suitcase haha
The first sips of Mountain Dew... HEAVEN!!!
Man I was so happy in this picture haha
I think I finished a little TOO fast haha... good thing I have 23 more :)
This man is incredible.  He is like 85 and his name is brother Reed.  He came to the service project and helped out a ton... the fact that he needed a cane didn't stand in his way.  It just makes me realize how awesome the members of this church are! :)
The service project in front of the church... me bossing the youth around haha
The youth and us after the service project
In every pic my companion took of me, we made it look like I didn't do anything haha
Cesar De Anda's baptism
The crew in white
Maria Elena and her friends.  She is incredible and already a missionary!
My blisters from the service project - it hurt so bad haha
Eating at Dominos this morning... we obviously brought our own drinks haha

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Week 82 - March 10, 2014 - A year ago I was still in my first area... that's weird!!

Time is going by so fast and I am loving it so much out here!!! It is so great!!! I love almost every second of every day. It's definitely not easy but it is so worth it. The Lord has provided so many blessings for us and I can't believe some of the things I am experiencing. It just makes me feel that the mission is more for me than anyone else. I have been a part of so many miracles and I give thanks to the Lord for each moment I have to be here in Mexico.

This week has been a great week. My comp and I are working so hard! We had 64 lessons last week and we are constantly trying to find new people to teach. We had divisions with the assistants last week and it went really well. I got to work with Elder Morales, my first comp that I had as an assistant. It was so much fun to work with him again. He goes home in just three weeks and I can't believe it!!

Well this last week we had an incredible lesson with one of our investigators Maria Elena. She is seriously one of the strongest people I have taught in the mission. Every day she just shares incredible stories she has been having about how she is receiving answers that this is the true church. She expressed her desire to be baptized as soon as she can and she said she wanted to be baptized this next Sunday. We told her we would say a prayer and ask the Lord. 

As we all knelt down, she started her prayer crying and pleading to the Lord. She told him how much she needs this in her life right now and how badly she wants to repent of her past life. She asked the Lord for strength and understanding so that she could be ready for her baptism as soon as possible. When she ended the prayer, there was a silence for about 30 seconds. I opened my eyes and looked at Elder Cantú. He nodded to me and made the motion to put the baptismal date for this upcoming Sunday. As we extended the invitation she started crying and just thanked us for everything that we have done for her. 

We are also having Cesar's baptism this weekend. I told you the story about him and his family last week but it should be a great experience. He is a great kid and is always looking to help others. That family is incredible and I love them so much! They have had so many trials in these last 6 years but they have now been to church five weeks in a row. We went over to their house on Saturday night and they were ironing their clothes and getting ready for Sunday. How many of us really prepare for Sunday? I think that is something I will need to change when I come home. The Lord loves us all and knows what is best for us. I am so blessed to be able to know this family and be able to help them out with the trials and temptations they are having in their lives.

We are teaching another investigator and her daughter. They are amazing. The dad/husband isn't verey happy with them going to church. She wants to be baptized this week as well but we aren't going to baptize them until we get permission from her husband. The church is meant to help and build families- not destroy them. We are going to keep working with them so that one day the whole family can be baptized!

Well that's about it for the week! Thank you for everything you guys do for me!! It is so nice to have so much support!! Have a great week!! :)

Elder Mike Payne

Me riding a bush horse haha
Giving service :)

Week 81 - March 3, 2014 - Am I Dreaming?!

This week was another good week. Man the weeks are feeling like days! I know I say this every week but time is going by so fast!!

On Tuesday we went to Guadalajara for the zone leader councils. It went really well. We got to eat ¨Carne en su jugo¨ at the mission home. That is a really famous Guadalajara dish here. It was super good!! Then we had the fireside and it went really well. President Camarillo is so amazing! He talked about the armor of God and how we need to be protected. He talked about worthiness and told us all how we need to be worthy to receive the blessings the Lord has for us. He talked about many other things but it was a super good fire side.

Then on Wednesday we had the meeting. We started at 7:30 and ended at like 3. It went really well. President is really happy with us and the rest of the zone. Elder Cantú and I are working super hard so its nice to see lots of success out here. We should be having about 5 baptisms this month so we are gunna keep working as hard as we can so it all works out!

The rest of the week was just full of lessons. It went really well. We found a bunch of awesome investigators and we put a few new baptismal dates this last week. We have been working super hard with a less active family. The dad was the first counselor in the branch about 7 years ago and the last time he went to church was about 6 years ago. He and his family have now come to church 3 weeks in a row and their son will be getting baptized on March 16th.

We are still working hard with Maxima. He was supposed to be baptized a couple weeks ago but he said he wanted more support from his family. We are teaching his family and trying to get them more involved with everything. Hopefully within these next couple weeks he can be baptized as well and that he can set a good example for the rest of his family.

We are also working very hard with Maria Elena. She is an investigator we found a few weeks ago. She has her baptismal date set for March 23rd. She called me last week and said she wanted to be baptized this week and that she is willing to do whatever it takes to be baptized. She is incredible and she is chosen!!! But she needs to go to church a few more times so we are still looking at March 23rd but we will see what happens...she might be baptized before but it all depends I guess. She has two other friends that are also preparing for baptism the same day as her. Their names are Rocío and Emma. Those three girls have so much potential and they will be great members of the church in a few weeks!

We have so many investigators right now and I wish I could write you a little paragraph about each of them because I love them all so much but I would be here all day haha so I will write you about one or two of them each week. We already have our daily planners full with lessons for this week. There is so much work out here and it makes the time go by so fast!!

Have a great week!
Elder Payne

We made our own homemade corn dogs :)
The boys!  Some of the other zone leaders
The mission plaque... the best mission in the world!

Walking down the train tracks in Ocotian with Elder Cantu
A Jesus statue
Another picture of Chapala
Elder Stevenson haha his glasses broke and had to put a rubber band to make them stay on... then he siad that it was too tight and it was hurting his nose... so he put a tissue to give him more protection haha I love this guy!
Our very healthy breakfast this morning :)
The mission offices
A nice chocolate cake we got