Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Week 89 - April 28, 2014 - 9!

Well I am now into single digits (weeks) left!! Crazy to think how fast time is going by out here. Some days seem long but the weeks are starting to feel like days! I can't even describe my feelings out here. This week has been incredible. Not gunna lie, some days are BAD!!!!  BUT other days completely make up for the bad days.

Every day I feel like my skin is just peeling off my face. I have never felt heat so strong in my entire life- then add on pants, a white shirt, and a tie. Man it's ridiculous. I know I write about the heat every week but every week the weather just keeps getting hotter. The people say that the heat is just starting... I can only imagine!!!! hahaha! The most frustrating feeling is when all of our lessons fall through and no one has any interest at all in the message we are sharing with them. It is so easy to get down on yourself in an area like this. But for all the hard work that Elder Aviles and I are doing, the Lord is blessing us a lot out here in this pueblo.

Yesterday at church we had 83 people there. In the last 2 weeks we have increased the church attendance by 31!!  Elder Aviles told me the most he has seen here at church is 65. The branch president was so happy yesterday as our gospel principles class was completely full!!  It was a pretty interesting class. Ten of the seventeen people in the class had no clue what was going on. Being their first time at church, they were completely lost. An older guy, who we contacted in the street a few days earlier, entered in the chapel during a talk with no shirt nor shoes and yelled in spanish ¨Man the air conditioning is nice and fresh!¨ hahaha  Gotta love the people out here in the pueblo. They are great and very humble!

We had 9 investigators at church yesterday and we will be having a baptism this Saturday. All of the hard work we have done in this last month is finally paying off.  I am so thankful for the trials I have because it truly makes me realize the blessings in my life.

I was so happy to hear about the baby last week. Obviously I would love to be there but I guess I will have to wait a couple months! Congratulations to Christy and Dan for the successful delivery. Collin is such a cute little baby... well for as cute as a newborn can be. Most of them look like aliens hahaha! But congrats and I can't wait to see him!!

Thanks for everything!! You guys are amazing!!! As you know, I received some of my travel plans this last week. I'm almost posive I will be flying into the Oakland International Airport on July 1st. I will get there at about noon! Thanks for everything you do for me!! Have an amazing week :)

Elder Mike Payne
In Zihuatenejo on splits
Lots of palm trees in San Jeronimito!
Not to bad… being surrounded by these two cities haha
A text we received this last week from President Camarillo.  It says, "Good morning.  A hug to both of you.  Thank you for your great work."
A rodeo for midgets haha I thought it was pretty funny!
The fair here in San Jeronimito
Funny public bathrooms sign haha
The Catholic church in our area.  It is closed because parts of the church fell down in the earthquake.  You can see a couple cracks from the picture but nothing TOO big
An armadillo shell!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 88 - April 21, 2014 - Earthquake!

This week has been a crazy week. So last Monday we had to travel about 3 hours to get to the conferenhce we were going to have with President Camarillo. Well about an hour in to the trip we heard a loud explosion and one of the tires exploded. The bus was going to pull over but it was only a one lane freeway and there were lots of cars behind us. About 5 minutes later he decided he was just going to maintain the very slow rate he was going and that we were going to drive all the way to the stake center. The three hour trip ended up taking about 5. We got there late but President understood.

Friday morning as Elder Aviles and I were studying together we started feeling a shaking sensation. A couple seconds later I realized what was happening. An earthquake was taking place. And just as I practiced the emergency drills in Elementary school, I ensured our safety! haha. We both got on our hands and knees under our desk and watched as everything started falling. Pieces of our ceiling started to fall, along with pretty much everything that was on my desk. After about 3 minutes of pure shaking, we left the house to go see if everyone was okay. Everyone was running around in the streets like crazy people. Some were screaming, others were crying. I felt like I was in a movie. Many houses here in our area were ripped and torn to the ground. It is so sad to see that so many people have lost their houses and the rain is about to come. 

So this weekend Elder Aviles and I just pretty much did service the entire time. We helped a family take the fallen tree off of their roof, along with many other things. It has been a pretty big disaster. This is the biggest earthquake to ever hit here. The last big one they had was in 1985. There are still little earthquakes but the one on Friday was HUGE!!  The epi-center was here in Petatlan (part of our area) so the earthquake hit the hardest here than anywhere else. It was measured at I think like 7.5, which is pretty strong! This week the branch will be doing a couple service projects for some of the less active members to help them reconstruct their homes! Pretty sad to see this happen, especially to these people who don't have much!

Yesterday as I was sitting taking the sacrament, one of the boys handed me a note that the branch president gave him. As I opened it up, I read ¨Elder Payne, could you help us by giving the second talk- you pick the topic. 15 minutes.¨ haha so I gave a talk on the importance of Easter. It went pretty well. After sacrament ended we noticed that there were no teachers for primary. The branch President asked if I would teach- TWO HOURS!!! Man I had a headache. None of them would listen. It was the primary and the nursery combined. I mean there were only like 12 kids in total but still...!!!!

Things are getting better here each day. This past month of April has kind of been a tough month here but we are hoping to see lots of success here in May. Yesterday we had 74 people at church. Elder Aviles said that is they most they have had all year. So we are going to try and get to 100 next month!! Things are going great and I am still sweating like crazy, but just enjoying it a little more. 

Thanks for all the love and support!! Have a great week!!! I love you all!!!

Elder Payne

Ps- Can't believe I only have 10 weeks left!! The time has gone by so fast. I have now been a missionary for 91 weeks!!!!

My new companion
I think it's time to repair my shoes!  I'm determined to finish with this pair! haha
A very standard bar... with two horses in front haha
Just chill in on a pile of coconuts... no big deal
The coconut field, cows, and palm trees
Playing "Simon Says" in primary... the kids were too hyper to listen to a spiritual lesson haha 
Two cute little brothers in primary
As you can tell the kids were very interested in my lesson... look closely at every kid in this picture hahahahaha 
That is our mansion.  That whole building is our house... and that is me laying in my hammock haha
The view from our porch where I lay on my hammock

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 87 - April 14, 2014 - Whew, it's hot here!

Well this week has gone by so fast!! I seriously cannot believe it is Monday again!! I feel like the harder you work, the faster time goes by! Elder Aviles and I are working super hard and doing great. Elder Aviles got kind of sick this last week because of the sun and we had to stay inside for the day. He is recovering but I mean seriously this weather is ridiculous!! (And no mom, we can't wear hats!)

We are finding lots of new investigators and it is going great. We have found 18 this last week and we are working hard with all the members as well.  I don't think we will baptize until May but that's okay. We are working hard with a few less active member families and one of them showed up to church yesterday so that was good to see!

We found a few awesome investigators a couple weeks ago. A couple of them have their baptismal date for this week but I'm not sure if its going to happen. Their names are Blanca and Danyeli. They said that they have gone to church before and that they have a desire to learn more but that they want to take their time. This pueblo is so small and the church is beautiful...yet everyone says they don't have time to go to church. But anyways Blanca (Danyeli´s mom) has read every pamphlet and many chapters of the Book of Mormon and she knows it's true. The hard thing is that she has lots of neighbors that are from lots of different religions and when they see us there, they all pass by and start to talk to us about our church and about why their church is true. So Blanca has lots of questions but we are going to keep working hard with her and her daughter.

We also found a new investigator last week. He has his baptismal date set for May 3rd. He is a great little kid. He is about 12 years old and his dad is not a member. His mom is a less active member but we have been working hard with her to come back and she went to church yesterday with her 3 little boys. Ruben is very excited for his baptismal date and we hope all goes well.

We have put 9 new baptismal dates last week and I could write a lot about each of them but unfortunately I don't have time. But we are doing great and working really hard out here. I have mixed feeling because I want time to go by fast so that I can be home with the family and friends but at the same time I love being a missionary and every day my testimony of this church gets stronger. I love this church and I know its true without a doubt.

Thank you all for your love and support!!  Have an amazing week!!!!


Elder Payne 

Lots of coconuts
Chillin in a hammock
One of the shortest houses I have ever seen
There is only one tab.  No one here wants hot water haha
One of the many lizards in our house haha
The pigs just sleeping on the side of the road
Drinking my coconut water haha
Me and my coconut
The jungle haha
Three of the funniest kids out here in Mexico.  They are all brothers and they are crazy but it is hilarious!
My pet
Little boy running through the fire
The little boys attacking me and the donkey haha

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 86 - April 7, 2014 - Where am I?! What did I get myself into?

Wow I don't know where to start!  This last week was a good week. This is a tough area, man I am dying in this heat!  It's good because it makes me focus and get to work but man it is tough out here.

When I got here we had no investigators and no baptismal dates. My companion, Elder Aviles, is a good guy.  He is from Chile. He and his las companion didn't have much success here, so we are going to work as hard as we can and hopefully see more success here.

The weather here is insane!! The beach isn't in our area, but it's about 25 minutes from us. Everyone is just super relaxed. They all lay on their hammocks and drink out of coconuts all day. The people are open to talk to but don't really wanna change. They are happy and content with their lives. It is so hot and humid here and I am constantly sweating. Our entire area is dirt and we pretty much only have palm trees in our area, which doesn't give too much shade... so I am pretty much walking in the sun all day!!  Our area is really big and the buses only run on the main streets.

Well there are tons of pigs in our area as well.  We saw one family preparing the pig like they do in Hawaii- where they dig a hole and bake it all day under ground. But seriously the pigs here are like dogs. They just walk around and sleep and make annoying noises all day! haha It's awesome. We have tons of lizards in our house that eat all the cockroaches and other bugs. There are a bunch of iguanas outisde of our house as well that just hang out in the trees and sleep all day. In just about every street we walk down we see dead frogs, so I think that's about it for the animals out here. Pretty weird but awesome!

The branch seems really cool. We have about 60 people going to church every week but there is lots of potential. The branch President is 25 years old and he is awesome. He goes out and visits less actives every day with his wife. His wife was just baptized in July of last year so they will get sealed in a few months.

I really enjoyed conference... My LAST one!!!!  I'm not sure if you guys watched all the sessions but there was a talk in the Saturday afternoon session that I really liked. One of the seventy, Zivic, talked about the trials that we have in our lives. He related his talk to an experience he had at Delicate Arch- what a coincidence hahaha. He said that the hike was hard but when he got to the top that the view was worth it. Many times in our lives we quit before we can see the results. Listening to his talk really helped me because in 3 months when I look back on this experience I am sure I will realize how great this time was and how much I learned. 

I also really liked President Monson's talk in the priesthood session. He talked about how we need to love everyone and also about our integrity. He said that we need to be the same person in the dark as we are in the light of the day. Many times when no one is looking we decide to be disobedient or not do what we should. But when we are in front of others we put on a face so that everyone thinks we are great people. No matter where we are or who we are with, we need to be obedient and do what the Lord wants us to do. Obey today - Understand tomorrow.

Well that's about it for my week. Today we went to Zihuatenejo and went to the beach, well kinda.  We just walked along the sand for a little bit and took some pictures. It was so nice to see the actual ocean. In Chapala it was just a lake, but today I saw the ocean for the first time in a very long time!!!  I will continue to work as hard as I can so that I can return with no regrets!!

Love you and have a great week!!! :)

Elder Mike Payne
The zone Lazaro Cardenas
Elder Aviles and I
Walking in the desert haha this is how our whole area is!
Me dying in the heat haha
Me praying for my dinner... one hot dog.  We had NO food in our house and it was Sunday so we couldn't buy anything.  All I had for dinner was a hot dog with hot sauce on it haha
Houses on the hill in Zihuatenejo.  Super cool city 
My name tag in the sand
Wrote my name in the sand haha

The Canadian boats haha

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week 85 - May 31, 2014 - Off to my last area, Zihuatenejo / Ixtapa!

Well I'm not quite sure how to feel right now. I loved pretty much
every single second of the time I had with Elder Cantu in Chapala. I
will never forget the people I met and I will forever be grateful for
the opportunity I had to cross paths with them. 
I love them all so much and I was able to learn something different
from each member in that branch.

Last week in my email to president I told him that if I get transferred
I would love to be with an elder who needs lots of help and support in
an area that also needs lots of help. I figure every missionary wants
to be in the nicest, most successful area of the mssion serving with
their best friend. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but many times we
need to make sacrifices. Instead of always wanting the best for
yourself, many times we need to think about how we can help others
that are in need.

So on saturday I got a phone call from President Camarillo thanking me
for the letter he received. He then told me he accepted my challenge
and that he was going to put me in a branch that hasn't had much
success. They don't have any investigators that are progressing. He then
told me that my companion needs lots of help to be more obedient and
to be more excited to work. He told me that I would be going to the
farthest area from the mission home to a pueblo called San Jeronimito.
It's about 15 minutes from Zihuatenejo and Ixtapa- two of the nicest
beaches in Mexico. It is about 120 degrees on a normal day with lots
of humidity. It is about 14 hours by bus from the mission home. I am
very nervous but at the same time very excited to finish with a tough
3 months coming up. I hope to be able to learn lots about myself.

We finished our week with another baptism on Saturday. Her name is
Maria Fernanda. We baptized her mom, Emma, last week. Her
dad wouldn't give her permission to be baptized last week with her
mom. After lots of prayers, he said that she could be
baptized and that he would support her. It was such a big miracle for
us. It was such a good day to see her and her mom be confirmed
yesterday. They are so happy!! :)

With Elder Cantu, we baptized 11 people in 11 weeks. All 11 were at
church yesterday! It makes me so happy to know that the people I
taught and baptized are strong in the church. I will miss them all so
much!! The Lord puts people in our lives that turn out to be people we
will never forget. I am glad we were able to bring the gospel into all of
those peoples lives.

I can't begin to explain how much I will miss serving with Elder Cantu.
That guy is one of my best friends and taught me so much while we were
together. I hope to be able to see him after the mission!!

Well I am sitting on the bus right now. We left our house at 8 this
morning and I don't think I will stop traveling until about 11 o'clock
tonight. It's gunna be a long day! But I'm excited to finally get
there and work as hard as I can. 3 more months of hard work and then I
will get to rest for a couple months...until school starts again.

Thank you so much for the love and support you all give me.
Transfers are always tough because you leave the people you love and
it's hard not to get homesick...good thing this is my last transfer
until I come home... or at least I hope!!!

Have a great week and know that God loves you all... and I do too :)

Elder Mike Payne
Elder Cantu and I walking under a bridge
Sitting reading our scriptures
Sitting on the bridge
Cleaning the font for our baptism haha
Filling the baptismal font with a big water hose because we didn't have any water in the church.  We had to call a big water tank
Pumping water into the church haha
Maria Fernanda's baptism
Brother Stong
Brother and sister Rocke
Oliva Family
The church plaque in Chapala
Missionary bulletin board in Chapala
Last pizza night with Elder Cantu
Andrea and Sister Esperanza
The Neri Zuniga family
Steven and Morgan
Sister Keeler and Sister Pat Larkin
Brother and Sister Reed and Brother Keeler
Steven McCombs
The Nuno family
The De Anda family
Sister Laura Perez and Yassi
Jose Guadalupe and the crew
Zevallos family
Juan and Blanca Parra
My final goodbye to Elder Cantu... with the leg raise haha