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