Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 12 - Brownsville, TX

This one will be short because I dont have a lot of time and because I have a new planner for this transfer and I left my sticky note with highlights throughout the week in my old one. I dont remember a lot of the stuff off the top of my head. So I will start with your questions. My bite mark is fine, I just have a litte scab now and just a little bump still. But it is fine. Yeah we ate the limes. We made limonada. Just squoze the juice out in water and added sugar. The people like that down here. It is pretty good. But no I havent learned how to make tortillas yet. Elder Guillette knows how to make corn and flower. He knows how but is still working on them. Sister Izaguirre is going to teach us sometime when we go over to her house to eat sometime. I want to learn how to make the Mexican green chili also. It is super super good.

Santiago and Ashley are doing great! They are so awesome. Santiago was confirmed yesterday. Ashley wasnt able to come but she is going to next week. They really like church a lot.

We got transfers this week and I am staying here in the southmost area in Brownsville. I have a feeling that I might get it during this transfer.

But yeah I saw Elder Wolfe at the MTC. I talked to him for a little bit.
[Editor's Note: Elder Wolfe served in our ward here in Gastonia and left for home over a year ago. He worked at the MTC teaching Spanish for a while].

Thats cool that school has started. Most of the schools here started today. But man I really got to go. Sorry that I couldnt tell you more.

I love you!

-Elder Dawson

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Handwritten Letter from Alec!

[This is from a six-page hand written letter from Alec while in Texas written over several weeks dated July 21, 29, August 5, 11, and 19 – received August 24, 2013]

Man, so it’s been three months since I have left. That’s the longest I have ever been from home so far. Sorry that I haven’t really written sooner. You would think that there is a lot of time but there isn’t. Things are just kind of a blur. You and Grandma dropped me off at the MTC and then I was off. Those first couple of days were intense. We went to get a few things like my name tags, and my room key. We put my bags up, got my supplies and then go to my classroom. I walk in and the teacher starts speaking Spanish. I ended up having three teachers. I think that’s normal because they were all the same people that we taught as our investigators. Which the first one [lesson] was the Friday after we got to the MTC. In Spanish . . . it was rough. It was a super great experience. The zone I came into was great. I loved everybody that left and came into our zone. The devotionals were great. The choir was so much fun. And the food was pretty good. Never had any orange juice though.

So then I ended up going to the Texas McAllen Mission for reassignment. Things have been great. The night we arrived we ate dinner with Pres. and Sis. Trayner. We had ribs, steak, pulled port, and brisket! It was super super good! Next day I received transfer papers and found out who my companion and trainer was going to be. Then I had to drive all the way to the bottom of Texas. That night I heard a language I have never heard before, Spanish. I seriously heard someone talk and I went “Holy crap, how the heck am I to learn that. I don’t even know anything he said.” Pretty much the first week when people would talk I would just smile when they smile and say “Si”, “Si”. I have gotten pretty good at fake laughing! It’s a challenge to listen to people and know what they say.  Sometimes I understand people and other times I can’t. Sometimes I can get the jest of an entire conversation.

On my second day here we talked to a guy named Gabriel. I talked to him a little during the lesson and invited him to be baptized at the end. He didn’t accept a date. But main point, after all that he started talking to Elder Torres about my Spanish. But I totally knew that he was talking about me. He was talking about how I don’t understand Spanish and when we come over again bring someone who can understand Spanish and is over 40 years old. It was pretty dumb. The guy was drunk too so we haven’t talked to the guy since.

So lets see, I serve in a Spanish Branch and an English Ward. The Spanish Branch is super cool. Its had maybe around 50-60 people the last couple weeks but this last Sunday (7/28) was packed. 

We get fed a lot. Usually it’s by the same people. The Castillos take us out to eat every week. There are 5 of us they feed. There is a Bro. and Sis. Ortiz who feed us weekly, they make good food. They are so kind. Sis. Ortiz has been using a walker and a boot because a while back she fell or something and broke her ankle. They are in their 40s I think. They have a daughter that served a mission in Utah. Served in Lehi for a little. She is 29 right now. They also have two sons who are serving in Brazil right now. They have a couple more kids. There is Sis. Olvera. She usually drops off food at the church for us. But we have been over there a couple times. Her husband is the 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency. The Young Men’s President, and also a cop. She is the Young Women’s President too. They have 3 kids. Then there is Jaine! Oh my gosh, she is super great! She is probably in her 60s. She actually served a mission so I think that’s why she loves missionaries! She orders t-shirts for the missionaries. We have been fed by her at least 3 times. She gets us stuff like a carne asada tray or two pizzas. Also two gallons of Blue Bell ice cream. Then there is another member named Hermana Izaguterre who feeds us every week. Also she make super yummy Hispanic food. She makes super yummy homemade flour tortillas. Next time we go over I think she is going to teach us how to make flour tortillas. Then I can know how to make them in Argentina. I guess she is called our mission mom. She is way cool.

So then we have the English Ward. There are around 25 or so missionaries in that ward. Lots of them. We only have around 3 or 4 families that live in our area. The people here are pretty cool. There is a lot of missionary work going on here. We are not to go around and knock doors. For the most part we are trying to work around the members.  

There is a RC [recent convert] named Jessie. He was baptized in March I think. He is turning 24 next month. He is a BOSS! I love him a lot. He comes out with us and enjoys it.  He is thinking about a mission. There is Juan Quiroz whom I sent a picture of. He was baptized in April. Ever since then he has read the BoM, D&C, PoGP, the New Testament and also JSH stuff. Now back on the BoM. BEAST! He goes out with us on lessons with white shirt and tie with his hair slicked back. Looks good.

Now investigators. I will talk mainly the ones we have now. We have dropped and gone through a lot of people since June 3. Mainly we have Santiago and Ashley. He is 14 and she is 9! They are the grandkids of a member. We already have a signature allowing them to be baptized on the 25th. Possibly the 18th. We talked to them on the 28th of July. They are just soaking everything up. When we first met them they were super shy. They have opened up a lot!!! We went over yesterday on the 4th and he told us that he was on 1 Nephi 20. He was telling us about all of the stories that had happened up until that point.  Then we watched the 20 minute Joseph Smith Restoration video. During the video it skips and says “7 years later.” Then Santiago was like “Wait, I thought it was 9 years later that he got the plates.” Then he was like “Oh no, 7 years was the plates and 9 years was when he got the priesthood.” Me and my companions look at each other and were like how does he know that. We hadn’t like taught about that at all. This kid is just super smart!

There is a guy names Macario. He has super big desires to change and be an example for his family. In our two lessons with him he has cried and been really sincere. We haven’t seen him for a while because its hard to get a hold of him and he works a lot. One time he didn’t come to church and so that night we went over to find out why because we had also gone over that morning to make sure he was up. But I guess he was there when we knocked but didn’t hear it. But I guess a little bit before we came over that night he cut his leg with a machete. He had a big band aid but blood was still kind of running down his leg. That was the last time we had seen him so far. It’s been almost a week I think. 

There was a girl named Lizzette that we have dropped kind of. Actually we have. She wasn’t really acting and now she is taking care of her best friends little boy because her friend got caught trying to sneak 36 kilos of heroine across the border so year, she hasn’t really talked to us since.

There is the Cuerro family, mom, daughter, and 3 grandchildren. They are not the kids of the daughter there. Their mom was killed in Mexico. But we started talking to them about my 2nd week here. We still talk to them. The mom likes the church and everything but won’t accept a BD [baptism date]. So we are now trying to work on the 3 kids because if they go she will go. Things are just hard with them because the mom works all the time.

We are working with a guy named Ray and his brother Daniel. We are sitting down with their family today (11th). We will try and set a BD with all of them. Well we have dropped them pretty much. They won’t really make some changes and are too busy to talk at all. That’s a little handful of people we have worked with or are working with.

When I email you now, I am writing down things that happened throughout the week. I’m not thinking of much else to say right now. I think I have covered most things. I hope this is good because it’s taken 5 weeks to write this! Haha!

Thank you for all of your love and support. I am super grateful for what you do for me. I pray every day for forgiveness and help to become better and the person that my Heavenly Father wants me to be. I know that this gospel is true. There is no place I would rather be right now. And nothing I would want to trade the gospel for. The blessings that we receive from living the gospel are greater than any temporal joy we could possibly imagine. I know Heavenly Father cares for us. I know He loves me. I know that you care for me and love me too! You are the greatest parents, mom and dad, I could ask for. I love you!

Elder Alec Dawson

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 11 - Brownsville, TX

How are you guys doing? So everything is doing pretty good. To answer your questions. I am pretty sure that the flower was on a bush [picture from August 12 email]. It was just right next to a house that we were at. The wedding was for investigators that were living together and were going to get baptized. A bishop from another ward did it. Our branch president is gone for like 3 months. But they got married and then baptized the next day. 

Thats super awesome that Logan got his visa. Does that mean he is in the Brazil MTC right now? Could you be able to send me his mission email and everything. Man, I am so stoked for him. So when do Steven and Allison leave too? I dont remember. I think Steven is September, and Allison October right? (Editors Note: Logan did enter Sao Paulo MTC last week. Allison actually entered the Provo MTC on September 25 and Steven entered the Provo MTC the next week on October 2).

Alright so this is mainly my week. Last Monday we did the usual. Ties, shopping, email, and sports at the church. We played poison ball. Its pretty much dodge ball except everyone for themselves. We played with one ball. If someone got hit they would sit down. If the person that got them out gets hit then they get to stand back up. You pretty much have to get everyone out to win. It was really fun and crazy. One point I jumped up to catch the ball, and so did Elder Jones and another Elder. Elder Jones was close lined because my elbow went into his mouth. He landed on his back and was okay. But his teeth went into my elbow. I bled a little bit.

Nothing really happened on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Just super hot and not much success. The highlight on Friday was finding a super huge lime! Super gigantic. 

Saturday morning, the Jehovah's Witnesses came to our door. Elder Jones and I answered. We talked to them for a little and they asked if they could give us a Watchtower magazine. We said yeah we would take it if we could give them a Book of Mormon. He asked a couple times because he was like then you wont read it. We said we would if he read the Book of Mormon. He didnt want to do anything though. Eventually they said goodbye and left.

So Sunday! Super great. We had two baptisms. Santiago and Ashley! It was my first baptism! I was able to baptize Santiago! Such a great experience. They were really excited and so were we. 

So yeah, I havent heard anything about missionaries and visas. I feel like I might get it half way through next transfer. We get transfer calls this weekend. I dont know if I am staying in this area or what so we will see. I will send some more pictures! See you next week. I love you!

-Elder Dawson

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 10 - Brownsville, TX

So, this has been a pretty crazy week. I dont know exactly where to start. Well, last Monday we played soccer at the conch. Its like a mini soccer field with walls around it and you can play off the walls and stuff. It is super super fun. It was also really hot. I am pretty sure that this last week was mostly in the 100's every day.

On Tuesday thru Thursday Elder Torres would go to McAllen in the morning and come home in the afternoon because of three-day leadership training. For all of the DL's [District Leaders], ZL's [Zone Leaders], and trainers. So Elder Guillette and I were riding bikes that entire time. We rode so much! Every day in the first 10 minutes of riding our backs would be soaked and then once we would stop our entire bodies would be dripping. Super hot and crazy. It was a lot of fun though. I enjoyed it. It makes me feel for the Elders who are assigned to bikes. They have to do it every day.

Thursday after biking for three days.
So for those three days nothing special happened. I sat awkwardly next to the oldest lady I have ever seen in my life. She had no teeth and was just like licking and smacking her lips the entire time. We also talked to a conspiracist guy. It was pretty funny about how he said that he hates the Catholic Church because they turn guys into homosexuals and he hates really feminist women. It was crazy.

On Friday we had dinner with a LA [less active] family. Elder Torres was with the other Elders in our apartment doing baptismal interviews for a family that was getting baptized Sunday. So it was just me and Elder Guillette. We pretty much left when they got done with the interviews and picked us up.

On Saturday I had to ride bikes more because Elder [Torres] was still going to do more interviews with the other Elders. That night we had a wedding planned with the other Elders at 8. It didnt get started until like 8:45 though. It was the family that Elder Torres interviewed, and they were getting married. It was a fun short ceremony. We had some cake and cookies. Then we booked it back to the apartment for the night.

Sunday we went to Spanish church and after had the 4 baptisms of the family. It ended at like 2. English church started at 1 so we didnt go to that church. We just went back to the apartment grabbed a sandwich to eat then went to the YSA [Young Single Adult] ward. We got there in time for the priestood class. Then at 4:30 after church ended the other Elders baptized their 19 yr old investigator Austin. So there were 5 baptisms yesterday for Elder Jones and Bawden. Jones is as old as me in the mission.

So this next Sunday I am going to have my first two baptisms. I am so excited. They are Santiago and Ashley, 14 and 9 yrs old. Super smart kids. They are the grandkids of a member. She set us up with them.

Thats mainly all that has happened this week. It was fun and hard but I am looking forward for this week too.

So anyway, I have to run. That letter might be done next week. I am trying to finish. But I hope that everything is going great. I hope that you will have a great week. See you next time! I love you!

-Elder Dawson

Hermana Izzaguire
[She feeds Alec each week. He will explain more in another letter].
Super cool flower I just took a picture of
Pouring rain we had yesterday, Sunday.

A member named Ivan drew this. He is a super great drawer.
He has won a national drawing competition and has a picture of his

hanging up in Washington D.C. somewhere. But he just drew this one.
 It is super cool. Its his biggest drawing of 5 ft tall.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 9 - Brownville, TX

We dug some pretty good ones [ties] today. Last week I pulled a tie that still had the tag and it was $95. Its crazy that ties are so expensive. We have got ties that cost over $100 too.

How long has Andrew had his braces on? He better take super good care of his teeth cause I know that I could have done better. I think I have lost a piece to my day time retainers. But I wear my night time ones every night. As long as I wear those my teeth wont get screwed up bad. The summer really has gone by super fast. I got into the field on June 3rd and now its the second week in august. At the end of this transfer I will hit my six month mark in the mission. That is weird.

I am still writing that letter for you guys. It takes so long because I can only write on PDays. But I am trying to get it done. Tell Sis. Cran that I am working a writing the letter. She sent me a card and told me that I need to send more details home so she can know too.

We are going to be baptizing some people this month. I am super excited. It will be a great experience seeing some of Gods children come back.

But thank you so much for all of your love and support. I love you so much!!

-Elder Dawson

The Ortiz Family
[They feed Alec each week. He will explain more in amptjer letter]

Part of the fence in our area.
[Border fence that separates Mexico and the U.S.]

More fence!

More fence!!!

Juan Quiroz a RC[recent convert]. Super great! 

Mowing a lawn at night at a LA [less active] house.

Another bodega picture!