Monday, June 29, 2009

Now a zone leader. Consulted the mission doctor about injured foot. 4100 hits

Hey parents,

Things are getting back to normal. My foot and knee hurt, but I am now taking medication. I am glad Pres and Sis Cox called to talk directly to you about the situation. I had an interview with president on Wednesday and he was really worried about everything, needless to say I was too. I know that staying here is the right decision. The doctor called me on monday and we had a good talk. He explained to me that I cant do any more damage to my foot or knee than I have already done. He gave me some work outs for my knee and talked to me about medication. I am talking medication but only on the days when my foot hurts a little more than usual or is unusually sore.

All the foot and knee pain drama is being made up for with some exciting news, President is making me a zone leader (I dont get set apart or get a blessing but I am going to ask him for one). Actually today I am going to Leon for a zone leader council. I will meet with president and the other zone leaders, and Sis. Cox will make us lunch. We will be staying the night in the mission home. It should be alot of fun and really inspiring.

We actually did get in touch with that woman and her 3 kids, that we were going to baptize. It turns out they really arent ready and just dont want to get baptized, we tried to resolve her doubts and concerns but she wont give in. Maybe somewhere down the road she will get baptized.

Things here are well in Salamanca, I am preparing to leave because I will most definitely be moved to a new area to start as a zone leader.

The weather has been ok, its very sunny and warm in the day but at night we have rain/lightning and thunder storms all through the night. The Pemex refinery still smells really bad.

My ATM card still hasnt gotten here but I think it should arrive sometime this week. Things usually take 3 weeks to get here. I am still working hard and trying to make best of what time I have left. Hope all is well!

1. How is Elder Whittle doing? Is his Spanish improving? How much time does Elder Whittle have in the mission?
------Elder Whittle has half a year. His spanish is getting better, he just needs practice and to try to talk as the people talk

2. Of all the people you have taught, and/or baptized who is the most memorable and why?
------I think it would be JoseLuis from when I was in Irapuato. The day we found him things were going really bad. I prayed that god would give us a hand, and he gave us JoseLuis. He found US! and was baptized in 2 weeks.

3. Do you or your companions get asked to speak in sacrament meeting very often?
------Yes! Actually yesterday I spoke on Unselfish Service and Elder Whittle spoke on Faith. We were told that both talks went very well.

4. Tell us something Elder Bednar said, that we can apply to our lives.
------Try to give as many references as you can to the missionaries. Elder Bednar said "You and I (as members) are full time searchers, looking for people. Missionaries are full time teachers."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Entire mission traveled to Leon. Elder David A. Bednar Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to the entire mission. 4020 blog hits

Hey dad/family,

Hola familia, this week was absolutely awesome. We had the chance to meet and hear Elder Bednar. I will give a breakdown...
On Thursday night Elder Whittle and I traveled to Irapuato from Salamanca and stayed with the zone leaders. On Friday morning we got up, showered and headed to the bus depot from where we traveled to Leon with the entire Irapuato and Celaya zones, Leon is a little over an hour away Irapuato. The entire mission met in the stake center in Leon. We all hung out, talked, ate a ham and cheese sandwich lunch and then we headed into the building to wait for Elder Bednar.

Elder Bednar's talk was amazing. He actually didn’t really prepare a talk, he told us this wasn’t a fireside, or a meeting, this was a "revelatory experience." He would ask us questions and we would respond and he would go into a little more detail. He even gave us time to ask him questions. I never asked a question but I did respond to one of his, he asked us “What are you learning and observing from this pattern and method of learning?" I responded that I noticed that instead of him preparing and speaking to us for 3 hours, we (Elder Bednar and the mission) were sharing comments, ideas and participating, thus we are creating an environment where the spirit can testify to us. As missionaries sometimes we fall into the rut, where we show up, and "teach" someone, something about the church, when really, we should be trying to create an environment where the investigator can participate and feel the spirit testify of the truth of the things we share with them. Elder Bednar responded that that was a great observation and "well expressed". His remarks were absolutely amazing. Elder Whittle and I have been talking about nothing else for 3 days. At the end he gave us the opportunity to come up and shake his hand.

We were in Leon from 10:30 to 6:30 and we ended up getting home at about 8pm, then my district and I went out for tacos =). As for Elder Roberts, of course I saw him, he’s impossible to miss. I never got a chance to talk to him, but I did talk to his companion. Right now the mission is receiving a lot of new people, and many of them are from California. I met an elder named Elder Su'a, from the city of Torrance and a Samoan elder named Elder Toutai from Fontana. Right now Californians total 14 in the mission including Pres y' Sis Cox.

Things are going well, Elder Whittle and I are looking for more baptisms and working hard. I will definitely take pictures next week and send them.

Con amor hacia todos!

Elder Salazar

I will now answer your questions...

1. What was it like to have the entire mission gather together at one time, and hear Elder Bednar talk?
------It was awesome, we all felt the spirit really strong.

2. There are 150 elders in the Mexico, Leon Mission, where did you all meet?
------A lot of elders just went home at the end of the last change, so I believe we are a little less than 150, but we all met in the stake center in Leon.

3. What do you do to stay healthy and fit? Do you work out? Do you still use your push up helper?
------ I do every now and then, usually in the morning to wake myself up. I am really glad to have them, they help a lot. To stay healthy and fit, not really anything, I’m tired basically everyday, usually too tired to workout. Basically to stay healthy, we don’t drink the water. As for working out, some elders used to get up extra early and go to the gym, but the Missionary Dept of the church has banned us from going to the gym. All exercise must be done in the house. I usually stretch to get myself to wake up.

4. What’s the weather like right now?
------This last week has been really weird, the days are sunny and warm but almost everyday after 6pm it gets really dark, and really heavy rain clouds move in, and we get thunder and lightning and really heavy rain. If we don’t plan things right we get SOAKED. But only after 6pm, really weird...

5. Tell us about your apartment in Salamanca? (cost, size, amenities, neighborhood, landlord)
------Our apartment here is actually pretty cool. We live in downtown Salamanca so there are always cars passing by and people outside. Our rent is 1500 pesos ($150). It’s a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom with a patio. It’s not very big but it’s perfect for missionaries. We have a stove, refrigerator and Elder Whittle has a really nice CD player we listen to. This is probably the most comfortable house I have lived in. Our landlord only comes by about once a month to collect rent. Last time he came by he couldn’t believe I was American, it was pretty funny.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Huge cockroach's, 3 baptism's, shout out to GG 6th Ward, family and friends, 3960 hits

Hey mom, and dad,

I am writing a little earlier than usual because Pres. Cox took away our p-day due to the fact that basically almost all of our time on Friday will be spent traveling to hear Elder Bednar, and then traveling home. So today we only have time to write our families and wash clothes, but I also need a haircut so we are trying to go fast so that we can get to work ASAP.

This week went ok. Elder Whittle and I have been working really hard. There is this newlywed couple we have been teaching but the thing is they don’t get home till 1030pm from work and that is the only time we can find them. So Elder Whittle and I have been getting very little sleep. We were always falling asleep in the lessons, but I guess that’s a part of the job. The best part is that this newlywed couple were both baptized on Saturday. We ended up not baptizing 7, but we did baptize 3. The baptisms went well. We had a family of four that were ready, a single mother and her 3 kids. But on Saturday we went to go talk to her at her house and she had left, she seems to be avoiding us and we cant get a hold of her, we were pretty let down because they were ready and everything.

On Wednesday a member took us out to eat some tacos/quesadillas at a local taco place on the street. We all decided to buy quesadillas and while we were all talking and eating I felt (at first I thought it was my cell phone vibrating) something crawling up my leg. As I scooted my chair back so I could stand up to "answer the cell phone" I looked at my pant pocket and it was a cockroach! But this was no ordinary cockroach!! This thing was without a doubt the biggest cockroach I have ever seen in my WHOLE entire life!! So at the speed of light I jumped up and started smacking my pant leg trying to get this thing off me!! I finally smacked it off into the street. I don’t think there was a single head in the entire place that wasn’t looking at me. Needless to say, I was embarrassed. I also lost my appetite. My companion and the member thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. There is a common saying here in Salamanca that the cockroaches here are 5x the normal size due to Pemex polluting Salamanca. This type of big brown cockroach that can even fly.

Other than cockroaches and baptisms, nothing too exciting. I am enjoying being a district leader. I really have the chance to help my peers in the mission. It’s a lot more responsibility because a lot more is expected out of me but I think that’s a good thing.

Something happened to me this week that has really strengthened my testimony of the love of god. This last week I got a phone call from a mother in Irapuato. It turns out that at about this time last year I was with my 2nd companion Elder Raya. Elder Raya and I didn’t get along too well, I was a greenie and he was just completing a year. I prayed a lot that transfer, asking the lord to not let us fail, that despite all the problems we were having we could still have success. In that Transfer elder Raya and I only baptized one person. I can’t say we had complete failure that change because we did baptize one child of god, but I came out of that transfer, sad with the feeling of a month and a half wasted. Anyways, I get to Salamanca and a lady calls me from Irapuato, she tells me her name is Paulina and that she wants to thank me because a year ago I knocked her door, she let us in and we taught her the message of the restoration of the gospel. I ended up getting transferred and Elder Raya only went back to teach her one time with his new companion. She never forgot our names or the fact that we had visited her. She prayed that we would come back and a little over four months later, a new set of Elders knocked her door, taught her, and she, her husband and 4 kids ended up getting baptized. I can’t describe how I felt after hanging up, it was an instant testimony to me that the lord does bless us when we pray, always have a good attitude and never give up. I plan on going to visit her and her family the next P-day I have some free time.

I am really excited to hear that Bryce is on his way off to the MTC. This will be the greatest adventure of his life. Colorado will be awesome. I am happy to be here in the Mexico, Leon mission, my time is slowly ticking down and I am trying to do all I can to help everyone I meet here. I know that God lives, he watches us every single day. Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, he truly has "descended below ALL things". Joseph Smith is a prophet of god, he saw god, he saw Jesus Christ, he heard their voices, and he restored the gospel and the priesthood of god in their purest forms. The book of Mormon is another witness of the savior Jesus Christ; it has been preserved and saved for these latter days, a divine purpose, to prove to the world that Jesus is the Christ. I know that it is evidence of the truth of this great church. There is absolutely no way a farm boy of 21 years old could have written that book. Thomas Monson is called of god; he is our prophet, seer and revelator. I am very grateful to be here, to know and to share these things with the people of Mexico.

I love and thank you all. Thank you to my family, Ricky, Justin, Nathan, their wives/gf's, The Crespos, the Traders, the Bowring’s, Bro. Benagas, the Clarks, and all of the GG 6th ward for all the love and support, I feel the power of the prayers you give in my behalf.

Love Elder Salazar!

I will now answer your questions...

1. What makes Salamanca so beautiful?
------It has some areas that are really old and colonial, and then there are the new houses which are really nice. It’s the best of both worlds.

2. Is your ward a strong ward? How many members are there?
------My ward is pretty strong, a lot of the members have really strong testimonies. There are over 150 members but only about 75 active members every Sunday. A little smaller than normal.

3. Tell us about the ward leaders, and the young men/women programs.
------I still haven’t seen them do too much. I know the YW, just got home from their week long campout, it looks like it went well, and they put up a bunch of pics in the foyer. The YM, usually play soccer on Friday, other than that I haven’t seen too much from them.

4. What food and shopping places are in Salamanca?
------The only big food place well known I have seen here is KFC. There is no Carls Jr. =( or B-King. There is a really big mercado here, a big swap meet, where they sell a lot of stuff. There are a TON of shoe stores here.

5. What do you like best about Salamanca?
------Probably because the city changes a lot, we never get bored or tired of seeing the same things because like I said, there are nice new houses, and there are really old colonial houses. I guess it would be that I like the variety of Salamanca, just not the smell =/. It smells really, really bad here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Salamanca, 1 baptism, finally recieved care packages, 3900 hits

Hey dad,

This email is going to be short due to our lack of time. I will give a quick run down of the week.
Saturday we baptized a 16 year old girl named Ivonne. The baptism went well. If all goes well this weekend we may have 7 baptisms.

* My foot is slowly getting better, the pain is less and less.
* The District/Zone leader conference in Leon was awesome, very spiritual. Sis.Cox made us lasagna. I haven’t had lasagna in over a year.
*I got my packages, THANK YOU TRADER FAMILY!! and my family also. Most definitely some of the best packages I have received yet. The pants fit and everything.
*Elder Bednar will be here the 19th, the whole mission will be traveling to Leon to see, meet and hear him speak to us. Sadly, he will not be interviewing us all as we had thought. =(
*Salamanca is a great place, there is a huge refinery here called PEMEX, basically all of Salamanca is employed there.
*Due to the poor health regulations mexico puts on pemex, the entire city smells very badly due to the excess waste of pemex.
*Even though Salamanca smells bad it is a lot more beautiful than Irapuato, we are about 40 minutes from the city of irapuato.

Love ya!

El Elder Salazar

I will now answer your questions...

1. Tell us about Salamanca. Is it a big or small town, what do they do for work there? How does it compare to the other cities you've been in?
------It’s a relatively small town, but is constantly growing. There are a ton of people living here. Most people here work in the pemex refinery, almost all the members atleast.

2. Tell us about Elder Whittle (parents, family etc? What's is he like, what does he like to do for fun back home?
------Elder Whittle is a really good guy. He just reached his one year mark in the mission. He is obedient, has a desire to work hard and do his best. He is a big kid that’s for sure. He’s about 6 foot 4, 220 pounds. You will see him in the pic. The top of my head reaches to his shoulders. He wears a size 14 shoe!! He’s a football player. His whole family are members, his mom and dad have been on missions. His grandparents have been on more than 5 missions themselves.

3. How is your new ward, is it a big ward, are the members strong? What is the Bishop like?
------My new ward is ok. Our meeting block just changed time, from 12 to 830am. The time change has affected a lot of members. Some have a hard time getting up earlier. The bishop is a good guy, this is his 2nd time being bishop, he has a son in the Monterrey East mission right now.

4. Are there artisans or people hand making goods in your area?
------That I have seen, not really. But I am always looking. In the state of Guanajuato the big trade here is shoes, this state is FILLED with shoes. Because Leon is the leather capital of the country.

5. How many missionaries are in your area now? Do you or the zone leaders do the pre-baptism interviews?
------In my district we are 6. 4 here in Salamanca, 2 in a small town another 30 minutes away called Valle De Santiago. I do all the baptismal interviews for my district. And when I have baptisms I cant do my own interviews of my own investigators, so the Z-Leaders come out and interview them.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Transfered to Salamanca, 350 baptism's for the month of May. 3825 hits

Hey mom and dad,

I am in my new area, here in Salamanca, Guanajuato, in the Irapuato Zone. I am really enjoying it, the city is actually very nice. I must say I am really enjoying it here. My comp is Elder Whittle, he's a really good kid, who has about a year in the mission. He is from Riverton Utah. Hes about 6´3 and 215 pounds, he's a pretty big guy. His spanish is coming along, he struggles a little bit, but is always making progress and willing to accept suggestions. He's a really humble, quiet person, and very, very patient, but he likes to work hard which is good, we get along very well.

As for my foot, it still hurts, right now medication helps but it doesnt take the pain away like before. Today I am actually going to Leon to have a meeting with Pres. Cox and a few other Zone/District leaders, so I will talk to Sis.Cox. But until we get more Xrays of better quality, we wont know what to do.

Elder Ditto is doing well, right now he is in San Luis Potosi. He is still a trainer, but I think he will be moved up to District Leader by next change. Elder Maxfield is still an office secretary, and Elder Callen was also moved up as a district leader, so we are all doing well. As for feeling like an old timer/experienced, sometimes I do because all of the people that were in the mission when I got here are all going home. Even Elder Velez MY trainer from Irapuato is going home in August, so the mission is changing alot. As for President Cox considering who will be a District or Zone leader, I know he considers our weekly numbers, what the zone leaders opinion is about us, and our interviews with him tells him alot, other than that I am not too sure. As for the packages, I STILL havent gotten them, although I know they are in the mission offices. Today I am going to Leon for a leadership conference so I will pick them up today!!! =D! Other than that, All is very well. We were informed that Elder Bednar will be coming the 20th of this month! But we will not have interviews with him =(, just a mission conference. Either way it will be fun, and a great experience. Also, we ended this month with a little over 350 baptisms, we over shot our goal of 300 by 50 baptisms! We are all very excited. And tired, =D.

I have to run, but I love and miss you all.

Con amor, elder Salazar