Monday, February 23, 2009

Hey dad,

This week went well, although to start off, we had kind of another scary experience, I don’t like to tell you these kind of stories but I figure you would rather know than not know… On Tuesday we were checking a referral a member had given us the Sunday before. Elder Verdeja and I knocked the door and a lady came out to the street to talk to us. As we were talking to the lady, a man inside the house shouted something. We couldn’t see him nor did we understand what he said. The man then walked outside the house and to the backyard. We were still talking to the lady when the man returned only this time he came back holding a machete. He advanced towards us telling us it was time for us to leave. Elder Verdeja and I immediately started walking away, only I didn’t turn my back to him I just started walking away backwards because I wanted to keep him in full sight. Elder Verdeja and I then went to a members house to rest and talk. We don’t know why, or understand the reason for the aggressiveness of this guy. We posed no threat to him, nor did we say anything to offend him or his wife. It makes me very angry that people like him exist, also that his neighbors were outside, and instead of helping us, they now make fun of us, especially the little kids. They think it’s funny that we got ran out with a machete. So this week I have been trying to control a lot of anger.

3 of our 5 programmed baptisms fell through but we still baptized 2 people this week. A very nice lady and her grandson, the baptism went well. Baptisms here are a TON of work.

This is the last week of the change, so next Monday I will probably know who my new companion is and where Elder Verdeja will be going. It’s very probable that Elder Verdeja is going to the offices to work as a secretary. Anyways, I am excited because I absolutely love Cardenas; it is my favorite area thus far in the mission. Everything is good here, we are good in health and spirits. We are just trying to baptize like crazy.

Gotta go! Love y’all!

Elder SalazarghhhhH!!!

1. What sort of hand crafted items do people make in Cardenas?
------ I actually haven’t seen too many hand made things but I am always on the lookout, a lot of people make their own brooms here, eh...not too interesting. Lol.

2. How many active members are there in your branch? Are there many families in your branch?
------ We have about 4 really active families here, which is nice. As for active members we usually have between 30 and 60 in the church on Sundays, yesterday we had 35 people in church but two Sundays ago we had 57. The stake president just called and told us that if we can maintain a 60 person assistance for 3 months, he will petition the church headquarters for a chapel here, so everyone is very excited.

3. Tell us about the people you have met in Cardenas.
------ We meet a lot of people here in Cardenas. A lot of people are born and raised here in Cardenas and many are from other little towns close to here. They are good people, a lot different from people in downtown SLP or Irapuato. The people here are a lot more relaxed and open to talk about religion, even if the person is not from the same religion as them. The people here are from every type of religion you can think of, we meet people who are just normal Christians, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and Jehovah Witnesses. It makes it interesting.

4. What do you do on p-day in Cardenas, since there are no other Elders close to you?
------ Basically nothing because there is nothing to do here, we usually wake up, study scriptures, eat something, write emails, then we take a walk through the market and go home. Not very much to do here, especially because we aren’t in downtown SLP with the rest of the zone we don’t attend district meetings so we have even more time here. I like it because our P-days here are really, really laid back, where as in other areas we are literally running to get everything done we need to get done.

5. Cousin Leah wants to know how your soccer skills are? She's on the Rancho Varsity soccer team, and ready to take you on when you get back!!
------ I’m on the Cardenas LDS Missionary team!! We are ready when you're ready. My soccer skills are greatly improved!! It’s impossible to live in Mexico and not be good at soccer =D!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hey ma, Hey pops,

That’s awesome you and dad were looking at Cardenas, if you want to see where we live, we live in an apartment above a tool store. The main street is called "20 De Noviembre" and it crosses a street called "La Colon". Its right next to some train tracks. There is a lawyer here in our branch and he has Google Earth and so I was showing him where we live and where Pacifica HS is, it was fun.

We had a baptism this past Saturday. We baptized a 16yr old girl named Miertha. The baptisms here are absolutely hectic. I’ll explain... Since we don’t have a church building, that means we don’t have a baptism font, but we do have a portable font. It is basically a 5ft x 5ft bath tub about 4.5ft high. We don’t hold our baptism services in the meeting house (a room above a pharmacy) because there isn’t enough room, so we hold our baptism services in the backyard of a members office building. We first have to fill the tub with hose water, but in order to have warm/hot water for the person who is going to get baptized (no one wants to be baptized in cold water) we have to light a fire under a big pot and heat the water in this way. It usually takes 4-5 hours to heat the water to a nice temperature. It’s not a lot of things to do, but it’s really stressful. We pull off our services really well though.

Other than that, our week went well. Saturday was really, really hot and today it’s basically raining, kinda weird. Our church service went really well yesterday, we were able to bring 7 people to church which makes 5 eligible to be baptized next Saturday so if all continues to go well we should have 4 maybe 5 baptisms this weekend, so pray for us. Also we had 57 people in the sacrament meeting, which is really good. If we can maintain an assistance of about 40 every week for 4-6 months the church will begin putting plans in to build a church building here.

I’m still reading Jesus the Christ, but I am also reading "The Infinite Atonement" that you and dad sent me for Christmas. I have already finished reading it but I am now taking notes on it. Sounds like all is going well over in the OC.

Anyways, not much changing here. We are coming to the end of the change here in Cardenas, it looks as if Elder Verdeja will be leaving but we will not know till the last day. Anyways, gotta run.
Tell everyone I love and miss them.

Love Ya,

Elder Salsa (my nickname) =D

1. Is there fast food in Cardenas?
------ Fast food like Carls jr, McDonalds, no. But they do make really really good tortas
(sandwiches) here in about 5 minutes for 15 pesos. Its basically our own little Fantastic Burger, we go every Monday.

2. What do the kids do for fun in Cardenas?
------ The usual, Soccer, video games, internet. There isnt very much to do here.

3. What is your living quarters like, and what does rent cost in Cardenas?
------ We rent an apartment for 800 pesos a month ($80!) It’s pretty nice. It’s tiny, tiny but perfect for a companionship of missionaries. It’s two rooms and 1 bathroom/shower. We don’t have a kitchen which is a bummer but we aren’t home much anyways.

4. What are the differences between Irapuato, and Cardenas?
------ The difference is pretty big. Irapuato has more retail stores and is a lot bigger. It has a lot more crime, cars, people, stores and basically everything. Cardenas is tiny, there aren’t very many people (we see a lot of the same people everyday). There are a lot more unpaved roads, animals (cows, horses, goats etc.), its just a tiny town. The poverty here is a lot worse, people live in conditions I never knew existed. So the difference is pretty big.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hey ma, and dad,

Sounds like things are going well over there in the OC. I sure do miss the beach and the smell of the ocean from the house, here in Cardenas the air is clean, cool and filled with the smell of cows, Mmm...

I enjoyed the pictures of Hodge Rd.. I was actually thinking of Hodge and all the fun we have had there. Wednesday night we traveled three hours to the City of SLP in order to attend the Zone Conference with President, and Thursday we traveled three hours back to Cardenas. I was looking at the scenery(desert) and thinking of all the good riding and shooting area’s that are hidden in the deserts of Mexico.

Things are going well here except for the fact another one of our baptisms fell through, which was kind of a bummer. This time it wasn’t for any morality problem, just the kid is 18 years old and he’s scared to go through with it because he’s scared of what his family will say/do. Anyways, not much new stuff going on here, we had just a regular week, I haven’t eaten any cow eye tacos lately, but yesterday I had a friendly encounter with chicken-feet soup, it wasn’t bad at all. LOL.

Anyways, I did get your card =D! I loved it, things are well here.

Con mucho cariƱo y agradecimiento

El Elder Salazar

1. What do people do for work in Cardenas?
--------There is a "mercado" here which is just a huge market, also there is a railroad here which seems to employ a lot of people. The sad thing is that Mexico depends a lot on the USA and so the railroad has layed-off a lot of people here in Cardenas due to the economic crisis.

2. Tell us about the Branch President, has he been a member very long? How long has this branch been in existance?
--------The branch president has been a member for sometime, I’m not sure exactly how long, but he is a convert and is a really great person... He has been branch president for 6 years, and the Cardenas branch has existed for a little over 16 years. The Cardenas branch has been through a lot of changes, and times where the members have been really less active, times where only 6-9 people come to church and he has always stuck through it.

3. How many missionaries are in Cardenas?
-------- TWO... Elder Salazar and Elder Verdeja (whoo!)

4. Have you come across any returned American missionaries?
--------Here in Cardenas, no, but in the city of SLP I met two, they where both here visiting. One had just left the mission about 6-7 months ago from Oakland,Ca. And one who had served here in 2004 I believe from Arizona. The one who served in 2004 was actually married to a girl he met here in the mission, they both were here visiting her family.

5. What stores are there in Cardenas?
--------Nothing!! That is the funny thing about Cardenas, this is a tiny Mexican town. The stores here are all "Mom and Pop" owned stores. I’m not exactly positive but I have heard that in order to maintain Cardenas as a small town and maintain those "mom and pop" stores, the city has been fighting off bigger retail stores for years. The biggest retail stores are an hour away in Rio Verde. Here in Cardenas we have a lot of "Farrs stationary" type stores where they sell a lot of little gifts and things that people need, and we have a lot of little liquor store type places and one bigger grocery. They even have a real sombrero store here =D. I Really love Cardenas.

A few shoutouts:
Lori and Tony Crespo, for the 40 dollars! 40 dollars there is 400 pesos here =), so it goes a loooong way. Thanks!

Lori, for entering the temple for the first time, congratulations. Gordon B. Hinckley said "There are very few places where the questions of man receive celestial answers, only in temples."

Matthew Crespo, Happy birthday brotha!! I hope you’re workin´ on those Wii skills, Ill be back!

Aunt Shelley, Uncle Leif and family! Thanks for the letters, money and picture! I put the picture up on my wall, read the letters, and spent the money(of course). Love and miss you all!

Brother Nathan, for taking the big step and getting ready to get hitched. Congrats dude.

Grammy and Grandpa Salazar, for the letters, love and support (and money). Everyone always asks me about my last name Salazar and I explain that it comes from my grandma y grandpa!

Grammy and Grandpa Hicken, for the dinero, love and support also, I have to laugh at every scanned and copied 20 dollar bill you send me, but thanks for always taking the time to write.

To everyone, thank you!

El Elder Salazar

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ohla mama!

This week I didnt get to teach primary because the teacher showed up =(, oh well. At least Ill be prepared for the next time. Things here are going well, except we had our baptism fall through on Saturday. Mom you’re not going to believe this, we were going to baptise a lady who is 70 years old and she didnt pass her baptism interview because she’s not living THE LAW OF CHASTITY!!!!! She’s got a boyfriend…

This week went well though, Elder Verdeja and I got a call from the assistants to president and they asked us to travel to another town an hour away called Rio Verde to meet some investigators. The town is a lot bigger than Cardenas but is very beautiful, it is basically Historic Mexico. The investigators we were going to meet is a family that was living in USA and was listening to the missionaries and were about to get baptized but a week before they were baptized they got deported back to Mexico. We went to Rio Verde to meet them but they never showed up, so we were a little disappointed with that. Anyways, things here in Cardenas are going well. Except that our house ran out of gas Sunday morning, that means...COLD SHOWERS! But today we already bought a new tank so we are back to warm showers.

Well Mom, gotta run, today we had the chance to use internet early so I don’t think dad had a chance to write me, but to make it interesting I will make up my own questions for you guys to put on the blog.

1. What is on of my biggest "likes" about the mission?
--------I like when we leave the house at 10, and the entire day seems to just go perfectly. The people are loving, they listen and they feel the spirit and by the time we realize it, its 930 and we have to go home.

2. What is one of my biggest "dislikes" about the mission?
--------When we work all week, Sunday comes and all the investigators we had ready to come to church, don’t come. That is a very frustrating let down.

3. What do I study in the morning?
--------I love to study. In the mornings I usually start out my study sessions (with a prayer of course) by reading the book of Mormon. But I usually have my study sessions dedicated to something, for example right now I am studying and taking notes on "Jesus The Christ" by James E. Talmage, this is the 2nd time I have read the book, but the first I have taken notes. I just finished reading "The Pearl of Great Price" in Spanish and taking notes in Spanish.

4. Problems with dogs?
--------I actually have had almost no problems with dogs, in fact dogs seem to follow us for some reason. I make friends with dogs, not war.

Well, gotta run,
love ya mom!