Monday, March 30, 2009

Hey Ma and Pa,

Things here are going well.

We got Isabele married on Tuesday and baptized on Saturday. Both events went really well. The Relief Society really helped us out with the wedding, they made a ton of really good food. The baptism Saturday was beautiful, we baptized Isabele in a river in a secluded part of Cardenas, it was really nice. Saturday, before the baptism, Elder Krebs, and I and a member went along the river looking for a good place to baptize Isabele. We ended up going pretty deep into the woods, and all of a sudden I saw something moving in the grass. After a couple of seconds I realized... a snake!! It was huge and green with a yellow head, we were all pretty scared. On the way back to the car we ended up seeing one more but a little smaller.

Right now Elder Krebs and I are actually in downtown San Luis Potosi because tomorrow we have zone conference. We might also have a baptism tomorrow, a kid from Cardenas wants to get baptized but only if president Cox baptizes him. So they are planning to make the 3 hour drive here.

We are preparing for conference this weekend. My comp and I won’t be able to see the priesthood session on Saturday, due to the fact that we don’t have a church building. We are planning to watch the sessions at a members office who has a computer. Also we are preparing for the 1st week of April, which the Mexicans call Semana Santa(holy week). And they will portray the crucifixion live!!

Thanks for asking about Elder Krebs, he is doing well, he is struggling a bit with his Spanish but he is making progress.

All is well here, Thanks for all the love!!

Con amor,

Elder Salazar

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey mom,

Crazy to hear things are pretty bad in Tijuana. My other companion, Elder Lopez was from Tijuana. the 2 most dangerous places here in Mexico are 1. Distrito Federal, the capitol of Mexico and 2.The Tijuana Border. But all is well here in Cardenas.

On Friday they had a humongous parade with all the kids from the schools ages 1-5. They dressed them up in costumes and everything, it was really nice. The members here are doing really well, everyone is happy and doing good. Yesterday we had 51 people in church so that was really nice. We almost don’t all fit in the Pharmacy anymore, sometimes we even run out of chairs. Anyways, I am doing well, I hurt my foot about a month ago and it continues to hurt every day, but there is a member here who is a really well known doctor here in Cardenas and I am going to talk to him about it and see what he says. Anyways, please tell Ricky & Sara, Justin & Vanessa, Nate & Jen I say hi!

Love Always,
Elder Salazar

¿Que hay? Hey dad, things here are going well. The weather has been very, very nice these past days, a little warm but very nice. The State of San Luis Potosi has a big dip in the middle, and in the middle of that dip is where Cardenas is located, so a lot of times the eastern and western sides of the state get the bad weather and Cardenas only gets the good weather.

This week went well for us, we found a family of 7 people and we are working hard with them. I am really praying that heavenly father opens their hearts to the gospel. 7 Baptisms wouldn’t As for Isabelle, she will be getting married tomorrow at about 1pm, and afterwards we will throw a little reception for her and her husband Tony, in the church. The relief society is really pitching in and helping us out with the reception. We have next Saturday planned for her baptism, she keeps saying that she wants to be baptised in the river here so we will see what happens.

That was good to hear about Justin, I am really happy that everything is going well for him. It’s amazing how fast time flies and how fast we all grow up. I remember working with Justin one time in Wilmington, I think it was the first time I had crawled under a house. I have always enjoyed going to work with Justin, just because I learn so much.

Lately I have been making fun of Elder Krebs, I will explain... Here in Cardenas there is a flea infestation problem. Fleas crawl on the dogs, crawl in the streets, and on a lot of other things here. They also seem to enjoy crawling on Elder Krebs. The poor guy (Elder Krebs) has been bitten probably over 60 times and he has a ton of little red bites on his arms, legs, etc. I keep telling him it’s because the fleas love his pure American blood. Amazingly I only have about 2 bites. =D! We have since taken care of the flea problem in our beds and have yet to find anymore fleas in the house.

Lori sent me a copy of her talk last week and it was really good, I knew she would do a great job. As for my motorcycle, I would really appreciate it if you sold it because I would like to get a new one after I get home, plus I have some other plans and riding is kinda in the back of my mind for right now. Anyways, I’ll keep this one a little short, I’m planning on sending out two letters today if I can, 1 to gma y gpa Hicken y 1 to gma y gpa Salazar.

1. Have you had any especially funny moments on your mission?
------Too many to name, the last funny one I can think of was a couple months back when I lived with the zone leaders in SLP. Elder Dalton grabbed my pepper spray and like the most intelligent elder he is, he sprayed it in the house. Anyways, this was in the night time and we all used to sleep in the same room, so we all layed down to go to sleep but about 30 minutes into sleeping we all started coughing and wheezing because the pepper spray had moved towards the open window. It was pretty funny because we all woke up coughing and rubbing our eyes and then we all decided to beat up Elder Dalton.

2. Are there any organized sports in the areas you have served?
------Yeah there are quite a few. They have baseball, some areas have football, of course all have soccer.

3. What has been your most embarrassing moment on your mission?
------Lol, I cant think of one. But Ill try to remember one in the week and I will write it next week.

4. I couldn't think of anything else to ask you.
------ Funny story: This week Elder Krebs and I were contacting in the street when all of a sudden this guy runs out of a pharmacy with a big cup of hair gel. He ran over to us and while putting gel in his hair kept asking us "brother, save me!!". I just tapped him on the shoulder and said "brother, I cant!". He then just started walking down the street. Shortly after this incident the police showed up, but they were two really fat police officers. As they jumped out of the truck to detain the person, the guy started running down the street so both police officers start running after him, but they only ran about 15 feet and then gave up!! And the guy got away!! I’m pretty sure the guy was drunk, on drugs or both. But I thought it was pretty funny to see the fat police officers give up so easy.

Love ya!

Elder Salazar

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey Mom y Dad,

Things here are going well. This last week was a little rough, we had about 3 baptisms scheduled and they all fell through. As for my health I have been doing very well. Before I came to Cardenas, Elder Hines gave me his bottle of Multi Vitamin pills that his mom sent him. I have been taking one every day and so I always feel really good. As For Elder Krebs, he is doing well. We are working on his Spanish, but he is struggling a little but is always making progress. It turns out that his dad served a mission in Chile, and that’s where his dad met his mom. So his mom is Chilean or from Chile, yet he still struggles. He has been adjusting to Mexico well. It was pretty funny that the first day he was here, the family we ate with made us the spiciest food they make to welcome him here, it was pretty funny to see him react.

As for the mail system here in Cardenas, I’m not to sure how it works, mail only gets delivered here once a week, but I’m not sure how outgoing mail works here. Today I will ask at our lunch appointment how it works and respond next week.

As for the missionary work, we also have been having a hard time finding people to teach but we are working hard everyday. It seems to me that when we run into challenges it is because after the challenge comes the success. This weekend we have scheduled one baptism of a lady named Isabelle, she is about 32-33 and we are going to get her married to her boyfriend this week so she can get baptized Saturday, I’ve never helped anyone get married so we will see how this goes, pray for us!

This month of March we don’t get P-days because President wants 300 baptisms in the mission this month and so we are all sacrificing our p-days in order to work more. It should be just this month. So that means I have to keep this email short. I am going to try to send some pictures but this computer is running really, really slow, so if they don’t get through you will know why.

Thanks for all the love and support, Con mucho cariƱo,

Elder Salazar

1. Do you drink the water?
------No, we always buy water jugs called "Garrafones" they are purified water jugs that cost about 20 pesos, one usually lasts us 1 month. We use them to drink water, brush teeth, I bought a Gatorade mix last week so I have been using water with that also.

2. How have the dogs been treating you?
------Very well, except some times when we come home at night we find fleas on us!! And we know it comes from the dogs. My poor companion probably has over 40 bug bites, I only have about 2. I keep telling him it’s because the fleas love the pure blood of Americans.

3. How is the branch taking the news of plans to build a church building in Cardenas?
------Very well also, the members who have the longest time here in Cardenas are the most excited.

4. Is there anything you need us to send you, that you can’t get there?
------No, not really, I’m doing pretty well on everything.

5. Of the church books you have read in English and Spanish, did the change of language make a difference in your understanding, or enhance your ability to teach better?
------A little bit of both, through studying in English I have learned a lot more and now understand the gospel 1000x better than before the mission and through studying in Spanish, I increased my Spanish vocabulary thus making it easier for me to communicate and teach in Spanish.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One Year Anniversary; Thursday, March 12, 2009, and new companion

Hey ma!

Good to hear from you. Things here have been well. We are having lots of success so the mission is really good right now. Sounds like Mormal (Mormon Formal) went well. I bet everyone looked great, that was a really fun experience I was glad I was able to go.

I really enjoyed what you said about primary, I too will not forget that experience, or this experience I am having, being in such a small branch.

I too am starting to get a little worried about the economy, Elder Krebs tells me that it’s pretty bad, he just came from the US a week ago so I have been asking him a ton of questions.

Anyways, sorry I have to keep this short but I love and miss you. I really enjoyed the experience to baptize in a river. All is well, All is well!
Con amor, Elder Salazar

Hey pop,

This week has gone well. We have traveled a ton this past week. About 10 hours in total. My new companion is named Elder Krebs; he is from West Jordan, Utah. fresh and green from the MTC.
He’s a really good guy with a desire to learn.

It was pretty funny when I first met him I didn’t speak a single word of English to him and I told him that I was Mexican. I held out from speaking English the entire 3 hour bus ride from SLP to Cardenas and he didn’t understand a single word I spoke to him. Finally when we got home to Cardenas I admitted that I wasn’t Mexican, he made a really funny face when I spoke English and was pretty surprised, although he tells me that "he already knew".

This week went well; we had 1 baptism of a 10 year old kid named Elio, that went ok. I'll explain... as some of you know we don’t have a church building here. We meet on the 3rd floor of a Pharmacy. Also, we don’t have a real baptism font, we have a big portable structure with a tarp that we use as a font. Lately we have been using Zip-ties to hold the tarp to the structure. In the last baptism we encountered a problem. Just as Elio was about to get into the baptism font, the zip-ties started breaking 1 by 1 due to the weight of the water, so we had to hurry! As Elio got in he started to get scared of the water, so he got baptized really fast. As he went down into the water, his foot came up out of the water thus making the baptism invalid. He would have to go down again. Also, as he came up, water had gotten in his nose and it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience. Elio was convinced that he would not go under water a 2nd time. So we immediately started negotiating with Elio, telling him this time it would be better etc etc. We FINALLY convinced him to do it a 2nd time, only this time he sat him self down I held his hands, and we basically had to shove him under the water. I must admit that this was one of the craziest baptisms I have seen/experienced in my entire mission.

This week should go a little better, if all goes well we should baptize 4 this weekend, we might have the opportunity to do it in a river again.

Its fun being a trainer and a little stressful, I have to do EVERYTHING because my companion doesn’t speak a single word of Spanish. I teach ALL the lessons, make ALL the contacts and do everything. Yet it's fun helping him out, seeing him suffer from the hot food and the language(just a little bit) =D and seeing him progress, everyday he picks up a little here and a little there.

Yesterday we received a really awesome announcement in church. One of the members of the SLP High Council came and visited the branch, he first started by thanking all of the elders who have been here in Cardenas for the work they’ve done and then announced that the Stake of SLP had submitted a petition for a church building here in Cardenas and they had received a reply from Salt Lake. He then announced that Salt Lake had replied in the positive and said that in 2010 the church will begin construction of a church building here in Cardenas!! Everyone here is surprised and really, really excited/happy. So we have reached our goal, to have a church building here! Now we have to maintain all of our progress so the members will get their building here. It feels good, I feel like a part of the history of the church here in Cardenas.

Anyways, gotta run, But I’m lovin and missin you all. Whoo hooo, 1 year mark!!!

Love, elder Salazar

Shout outs to Grammy and Grandpa Hicken, and Grandma and Grandpa Salazar for their Letters!!

1. Elder Ben, at one 1 yr in my mission it was a ritual to burn a white shirt. At 2 years you burn your suit. What did you do for your 1 yr anniversary? - Clint
------Nice! That’s actually a pretty popular tradition here in the Mexico Leon mission. A lot of elder’s burn shirts or ties. As for me, I need my shirts and ties. But I’m going to ask one of the families here If they will help me bake a confetti cake(like back home!) or some brownies, that’s what I did with my trainer in the mission when he reached the 1 year mark, it was a lot of fun so I think I will do the same.

2. What are some of your favorite sights or places to visit in the areas you have served?
------I really enjoy going downtown, or here in Cardenas I like going up in the hills to see the pueblo. It’s really beautiful.

3. Is there law enforcement or medical help in Cardenas?
------ Yeah, the Red Cross is here in Cardenas and they run all the medical stuff here. As for law enforcement, they do have law enforcement here, but really they don’t enforce anything.

4. Is there more than one school in Cardenas?
------ There are a few elementarys, Jr.Highs, 1 high school, and 1 junior college (but very very small).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hey dad,

This week went well, very tranquil and relaxed. We were able to baptize two people this week. We baptized them in a river, it was awesome. I’m actually in downtown SLP right now, but I don’t have my camera cable with me. Next week I will definitely send pics. I will be receiving a new companion today, but I STILL don’t know who he is, or if he’s American or Mexican. He will be arriving in Leon today. Tomorrow he will go back with me to Cardenas. Elder Verdeja actually received a special assignment in Leon, he will now be a secretary to the president in the mission offices, he was very excited.

Things in Cardenas have been nice. Oddly enough, I seem to be meeting a lot of Americans here lately. Some are little kids visiting family here. I met one man Friday who was visiting a friend. The man I met Friday was from Lake Tahoe, California. He knew all about the church. He actually recited from memory the promise in Moroni 10 "And when you receive these things I would exhort you to ask God the eternal father in the name of Christ, if these things are true..." He wasn’t a member, but told me as a young kid he investigated the church, but never became a member. We had a very nice talk. I must say that speaking english has become EVEN harder for me. Sometimes, days go by before I realize I haven’t spoken a single word in english for several days.

You mentioned me having one year in the mission, I too cannot believe how fast time really flies. I have been reflecting a lot on my past experiences, areas and companions. I’ve come to a lot of conclusions and realized that there are a few things I need to better about myself. I am satisfied with my first year as a missionary, I think it has been successful.

As for my most treasured experiences, I have too many to write in one email, but there is a treasured feeling that with diligence every missionary comes to feel. I would say it’s the feeling of accomplishment. When I feel like I have worked hard and have accomplished much I don’t feel far from home, I feel closer. My favorite days are the days when even though we are tired, and hungry and have been walking ALL day, days when I know that I have tried or done my best, I feel like we have accomplished much, that’s when I rest well. Times of that feeling are my most treasured.

As for my least favorite time in the mission, there are only a few. But in general it’s when due to the free agency of others, people deny themselves of the blessings of the gospel. As missionaries, we come to know it as "rejection". It’s very frustrating, but its something we must deal with and learn from. But through all the rejection and hard times, I have never told myself that I would rather be anywhere else in the world but here in the mission, because I know that this is where I need to be right now.

Thanks for all the love and support, gotta run!

Love ya!

SHOUT OUT to the Cub Scouts. Thanks for the letters, I DID get them!!

1. Do you see Hondas, Yamahas, or Bultacos running around? -Clint
------ In Cardenas people have a lot of 4wheeler Hondas and Yamahas, they use them for daily transportation. As for Bultacos, I don’t think so. I have seen a ton of really old motorcycles here but I haven’t recognized any CZs or Bultacos

2. Do people like you missionaries?
------ Some do, some don’t. A lot of people judge us before knowing us, they think we come to criticize them, so some people don’t even give us 5 seconds to speak, its rough.

3. Are there any local customs that you've had to get used to?
------ A couple, suffice to say that the Bathroom situation here is different, its outdated. I have had to get used to that and also we only have water here certain times of the day, so we have to plan some things out.

4. Are the small town kids of Cardenas any different than the SLP or Irapuato kids?
------ Yes, In Cardenas the kids are a lot more respectful, in downtown SLP and Irapuato they like to say things to us and throw stuff at us.

5. You've had all Mexican companions, as an American, what effect have you had on them?
------ I have had 4 Mexican companions, and with all four I have always tried to be respectful and treat them as I would anyone else. I have never tried to act like I’m better just because I’m from the US, nor have I made negative comments about Mexico.