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 us...no 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