Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 36 in the field!!!

Happy Saturday everybody!!!

Yeah, yeah, I forgot to remind y’all about the special PDay again. But it’s okay - the time’s passing so quickly that I don’t even notice it anymore. It’ll be next Monday in about half an hour.

LECCIÒN DE LA SEMANA: It’s always better to love than to judge. We had our interviews with President this week in the church building, and as Zone Leaders, E. Sanchez and I directed the proceedings.

One missionary, who has been causing problems in the zone, returned to the chapel after his interview in tears. I knew in that moment that he was being sent home. There were many thoughts that came to mind - what did he do? - but I felt the need to be a friend instead of a shamer, so I went to sit by him in the back pew and talk things over.

For a moment, I felt like my eyes were opened, and I saw the Elder from a different perspective. No longer was he a "headache to deal with" or a "danger to our success" - he was just a kid feeling like a failure. One of God’s own children who had just received a tough wake-up call.

We talked, and I felt like we ended up as friends. He thanked me for helping him out, and I made him promise to be more active in the church than he was before. He promised.

When people have tough times with failure, we, as their friends, have a great opportunity to love and teach. If we waste that opportunity spreading rumors or simply letting bad thoughts stew inside of you, we’ll miss out on lots of sweet moments.

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  • President told me about EVERYBODY’s transfers in my interview. It was interesting to get to know his thought-process behind it all. He told me that E. Sanchez will be leaving and that I’ll be receiving E. Mun, my Korean-looking zone-leader from Palmas! :D He challenged me to learn as much as possible from the guy (becuase he’s a super-elder) and that he expects lots of success from our zone.
  • There was an EFY program in our stake this week, and the ward secretaries were all asking us for 50 Restoration pamphlets each. LIKE WHAT? It was a fun Tuesday - we had to run around searching for materials in every corner of the zone. I consider it a good investment - the young-uns are going to be sharing the materials with their non-member friends to generate referrals as part of the week-long camp.
  • READ "BUILDING BLOCKS OF CREATION" by Elder Skausen! Read it!
  • The president of the Relief Society gifted me the ingredients to make a lime-cookie-cake! That was a fun little project. Delicious, if you haven’t tried lime-cookie-cake.
  • We had a grand shopping spree on Wednesday to get the food for our Zone Conference! We had planned to buy 72 DELICIOUS tamales (thereby funding the business of a sister in our ward) but she had to cancel because she couldn’t find the banana-leaves to wrap them. So: HAM AND CHEESE, YO!
  • The Zone Conference was great! E. Sanchez and I had the assigned topic of "Just Get Them Excited About Baptizing", so we whipped out our scriptures and testified!! I shared a story that got Hna. Reynoso to tears (which I secretly take pride for), and the Sister Trainers repremanded everyone for being disobedient. Overall, I think President got a great impression. He was laughing about it in the car-ride home.

Thanks for tuning in, everybody! There should be lots of great stories next time! Be sure to check out the pics below from our trip to the zoo, hit that "like" button and be sure to subscribble! Oh, and the most important part - LOVE, DON’T JUDGE.

With love (not judgment),
Elder Carson

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Ferocious

"who dat white guy?"

"Do you have time for a message about Jesus - " 
"RAAAAAAAWWWWWRR!" 
"... okay, have a nice day!"

"Maybe if I keep REAALLY still, the Mormons won`t see me..."

*drunk guy in the street* "heeeeey, come teach me, man!!"

Santa Clause delivering 56 ham and cheese sandwiches.

Lime-cookie-pie

Friday, July 28, 2017

Week 35 in the field!!!

HEY FRIENDS!! 

It was a week of miracles! I’m so excited to tell y’all about it!

LECCIÓN DE LA SEMANA: We’ve got to go to God for our answers, folks. After sending the last email, my companion and I went to buy some groceries in the supermarket near our house. A priest came up to me and started talking at me in English. He said lots of things, comparing Mormonism to Islam and citing his extensive (YouTube) studies on the subject, including one video named "The Book of Mormon vs. the Bible". Sigh. I came about THIS close to giving Bible-bashing a whirl, but the Spirit told me not to. Instead, I told him that we can’t rely on the opinions of men to give us divine guidance. We have to go to the source. I gave him a Restoration pamphlet to read and invited him to pray about it. He thanked me and went away without another word.

The truth is, friends, Bible-bashing doesn’t work. It creates a contentious atmosphere, and both parties get lost in the complexity and interpretation of Biblical passages. By nature, apostate religions rely on concrete evidences, professional opinions, historical studies, and even voting to back up their claims, but the truth will always be the same: "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God."

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  • We set a baptismal date with a teen named Santiago! He seems committed, but we’ll have to see if he follows through with his homework
  • We found a small family to teach! Initially, the mom rejected us, saying that she attends a different church, but we asked her, "would you like to know why we say our church is THE true church?" and she said, "well... sure!" So we sat down and taught her the Restoration. Turns out, she’s a former investigator of the sister missionaries. The Spirit hit us like an ocean wave as we recounted the story of Joseph Smith. She told us, "wow... I feel like this is a call to action from God, himself!" YESSSSSS!
  • That same day, we found another former investigator who’s missing a leg. His name is Carlos. He invited us in and we taught him the first lesson. He had a TON of questions, but we tried to be patient and explain everything well. At the end of it all, he looked at us and said, "well, then, when do I get baptized?" WHAT?? "Why, good sir, that is PRECISELY the question we were hoping you would ask!"
  • The assistants stayed two nights in our house! It was cool - they’ve grown a ton in spiritual power these last two years, and they helped several missionaries in our zone set baptismal dates. They talked a lot about home, which was rude ( XP ) haha but we enjoyed their company. They’re going home in a week.
  • Maleny called us to tell us the news: that she planned to get baptized on Sunday!! :D We yelped for joy and made hurried plans to go to Bacalar on Saturday and have her interview. As it turns out, due to complications in travel, President authorized me to give the interview to my own investigator (that’s weird), so I did! My first interview! :D
  • SHE GOT BAPTIZED, YO!! It was a great service, 8:30 am on Sunday. She got confirmed in Sacrament Meeting about ten minutes after the service ended. After her confirmation, she bore her testimony to the WHOLE CONGREGATION - sweet, simple, and doctrinal! I was so proud :D

That will be all for this week, my beloveds. Lots of great experiences here in Mexico - hope you all enjoy the next seven days in what everyone here calls "Trump-landia". :) Remember to search the scriptures and pray for guidance when you need answers that the world cannot provide.

Love you all,

Elder Carson

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MALENY AND HER FAMILY :DDD

Again with the Bacalar sign. Super pretty place to wait for a taxi.

It´s our obsession, the dragon fruit. In the background is Santiago, the kid we´re teaching. He´s legit.

Elder Carson with Elder Carlson, the assistant. :D

Elder Drew, the assistent, with Elder Carson... hehe. And Elder Sanchez.

Week 34 in the field!!

Welcome to the Elder Show!!! 

This week was rather full of fluff - we had to do a lot of odd things that WEREN’T teaching lessons, but I love being a missionary anyways!

LECCIÒN DE LA SEMANA: Last week, we talked about changing faith to knowledge. This week, we’re taking our ideas and changing them into realities.

I discovered a piece of the "success" puzzle that I have been missing for quite some time. That is, the Human Factor. I was always a little tyke with lots of grand ideas (ask my momma), but I thought they were perfect and didn’t want anyone else to touch them. They normally stayed in my journals and notebooks. Hidden. This week, in my spare time one night, I drafted my "Ideal Ward Mission Plan", but, instead of keeping it locked away in the notebook, I decided to share it with my companion (partly because he insisted to see what I was doing). He thought it was cool, but had some suggestions, so we changed it. Then, he said, "let’s bring it to the Mission Leader!" We scheduled a meeting, and our Ward Mission Leader thought the revised plan was cool, BUT he had a few suggestions, so we drafted another. He told us, "let’s bring it to the bishop!" so we scheduled a meeting for Bishop Herrera to look it over. He liked the third draft, BUT (what do you think?) he suggested some edits.

After ALL those edits were completed, the bishop looked at us and said "... you know what? I think we should bring this to the Ward Council!" And it was done. After a few of their final pieces of feedback, we now have a Ward Mission Plan.

When we have an idea, the first thing we should do is OPEN THE MOUTH THING THAT’S ON OUR FACE! God has given each one of us unique insights, and with the help of other perspectives, we can take these insights and make a real difference in the world.

... Whew. I cede the soap box.

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  • Elder Sanchez, while receiving a report from the Sister Missionaries, decided to practice a little English. In an attempt to say "One Moment, please!" he said "Want Woman, please!" I HEARD THE ASTONISHED CRY FROM THE PHONE ACROSS THE HOUSE! Death by laughter is real, folks.
  • We spent almost a whole day planning a Zone Conference and meeting with the Sister Trainers to revise said plan, but at the LAST MOMENT Hna. Reynoso called us to say the Conference was calcelled for an unforseen emergency..... mega sigh.
  • E. Chamberlain and his son stayed one night at our house during exchanges! It was super - E. Chamberlain and I had a great time remembering our good times in the CCM and talking about other mish stuff. Also, we bought a bucket of Oreo ice cream and ate all of it. The four of us.
  • Our baptism in Bacalar is postponed because the extended family from Hidalgo wants to come... sigh. Some of them better be investigators! XD
  • I bought a dragonfruit and ate it. Because... it’s just one of those little bucket-list things. SUPER YUM.
  • We went to church in Bacalar, and FOUR of our investigators came!! I was super happy - the leadership there is on point.


That’ll be it for now, friends :) I admire you all for staying so strong despite all the worldliness that surrounds you. You have the power to make a serious impact, as long as you’re "anxiously engaged in a good cause", embracing the Human Factor, and sharing your great ideas with the world!

Keep it real!

Elder Carson


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From the patio. Chetumal is beautiful!

I may be a terrible photographer when rushed, but MAN I make good fruit-buying decisions in a pinch.

They made fun of me in the mission newspaper, (a) because they love me, and (b) because the Assistent, Elder CarLson, had a birthday.

This guy`s going home soon. This shot is of our last moments together. *sniffles*

I took a random photo of my companion, and it turned out to be the advertisement for his future photography business. (all rights reserved.)

Church in Bacalar - it`s a cute little town :D

Bacalar in the streets. Love it here!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 33 in the field!!

Wow, the weeks are honestly flying!

LECCIÓN DE LA SEMANA: How do we move from a faint belief to a firm knowledge? Speaking in spiritual terms, Alma 32 is perfect for answering this question. Our first step, after realizing that the "seed" within us is good, thus forming a belief, is setting our sights on OBTAINING THE FRUITS of said seed. This is a process that requires patience, effort, and perseverance. Furthermore, we must focus ourselves on SPECIFIC GOALS and an AMBITIOUS VISION to maintain ourselves steadfast in times of trouble. Maybe you’ll be the best home-teacher in the ward. Maybe you’ll offer more service. Maybe you’ll go on a full-time mission. Whatever it is, you’ll FOCUS IN and watch for the fruits as the time passes. You’ll recognize some blessings, but you’ll begin to thirst for more.

It’s a process that lasts all your life. Then, as you look back and identify the fruits of the Gospel in your many years, you’ll realize that the seed you planted is now a full-grown tree rooted deep in your heart. Try as you might (hopefully not), the roots will be too strong to pull out - it’s no longer something you can deny. That’s knowledge.

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  • We found a family of seven! The Dominguez family! The uncle who lives with them looks somewhat like Snoop Dogg. I honestly hope they progress so that you can see that baptismal photo.
  • We went to the conference in Cancún! It was super! President Reynoso chewed all the leaders out for permitting gossip in their zones. It’s honestly a problem! DON’T GOSSIP!
  • Monday night, when we arrived, we stayed in E. Melena’s house. It was like a family reunion! :D
  • A dude came to church with tribal feathers in his hair! I think he was high on Marijuana, but we were happy to see him, anyways! Every time someone finished their testimony (first Sunday of the month) he pumped his fists and said HALELUJAH! He told me he was born in Egypt, but at a very young age, he was teleported to Texas, where he was raised speaking English (that part checks out!)
  • Best part - a young man told us afterwards that the dude is a locally-known artist. He even showed us photo-proof of the paintings.
  • We had a Family Home Evening with a certain Brother King who served here, in Chetumal, SIXTEEN YEARS AGO! It was awesome! Now he’s living in Arizona.
  • We had a bunch of activities in Bacalar this week, in which we confirmed that our investigator, MALENI, is gonna get baptized this Saturday!!! :D WOOHOO!!
  • Brother Wood showed up after THREE WEEKS as a returned missionary!!! He surprised us all in the Leadership Conference!! What a stud! My eyes about fell out when I saw the dude in shorts (oh, the whiteness!) He made us all mad showing us pictures of the beach.... haha.

There’s more to report, but simply not enough time to report it! But don’t worry - we’ll share tales around a stereotype fireplace when I get back. :) Much love for all of you - think hard this week about how you can transform your beliefs into FIRM TESTIMONIES!!

Elder Carson

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Problems with the memory card!! Next week I’ll send photos! :D

Week 32 in the field!

You know what time it is!!! It’s time to talk about stuff that happened to one of your old buddies super far from where you live!!! :D

I certainly enjoyed this week, but the truth is, we didn’t have much time to work in our own area!! More on that later.

LECCIÒN DE LA SEMANA: Enjoy every experience as it comes. This week, I talked with lots of other missionaries and heard lots of different viewpoints regarding mission-life. It saddens me to report that a number of elders focus A LOT more on getting home than on the task at hand. I talked with one elder, though, who really impressed me with how tuned-in he was to the work. When I asked him about his future after the mission, he told me simply, "I have a plan, but my heart is here right now." He then proceeded to direct the conversation towards his investigators and how we can better treat their needs. What a boss!! We actually had a super interesting dialogue about how the Savior would approach his particular situation, and I learned that it’s a lot better to live in the present than in the future. This particular elder is one of the happiest guys I know, and I would definitely like to improve and become as laser-focused as he is.

As it happens, I am content with my situation. Life is great here in the field, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, despite how much I love you all!! :)

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  • On Tuesday, E. Sanchez and I went to a small town about a half-hour outside of Chetumal called Ucum. We were planning on doing some exchanges with the missionaries there, but just as we arrived, President called us with the surprise news that the very elder we were going to visit is getting sent home! It was a shock, and we had to cancel our plans and return home to organize his trip. It was a bummer, even though Ucum was stunningly beautiful.
  • This elder’s companion was GOING to accompany him to Cancùn to drop him off in the missionary offices, but at the last minute, he got super sick, and the next in line for the job was... yours truly. So I spent all of Wednesday on the bus! We got on at 6am, arrived in Cancun at 12pm, ate lunch in the offices (Hna. Reynoso makes a mean ham sandwich), socialized briefly with the secretaries while President gave the elder a talky-talk, and took the other bus to Chetumal at 2:30 to arrive at 9pm. Doing nothing is exhausting!!
  • On Thursday we were able to work in our area.
  • On Friday (yesterday), some sisters got special permission from President to teach us the area of Bacalar. It was strange to walk around the small town with sisters, but they knew everything about the area, and we honestly would have been lost without them.

Bacalar is AMAZING! It’s called the "Pueblo Màgico", and it’s true to the name - I left feeling enchanted. It’s about an hour from Chetumal, nestled into the jungle, and borders the Lagoon of Seven Colors (can’t describe it with words - look it up). There are ruins and everything!

We spoke with the brach president there, and, seeing as there aren’t currently missionaries, he’s going to coordinate so that we can travel once a week to work there. President’s in on it, because there are a ton of potencial baptisms.  SUPER EXCITED :D

And TODAY! It’s a special PDay because on Monday, we’ll be leaving for a leadership conference in Cancùn. I’m excited AND nervous because my companion says there’s always PLENTY of repremanding! Haha but it’s cool, President loves me, so I feel relatively safe :)

That’s it for now. Remember, as you finish reading this letter, you’ll have lots of things to do. DIVE IN! Give preference to God in all things and invest your time in good causes. Live NOW!

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Anyone want to tell me how many of these colorful signs there are and where the tradition started? I'm honestly curious.

Eating with rich people can be fun.

On the way home from Cancùn with the bros. :D

In the mission offices with my secretary buddies. They`re enjoying it, I promise.

​"On the left, you have Nutella, and on the right, you have money, scriptures, and your largest mission journal. Which is more powerful?"  "Well..... hmm.... I`ve gotta say the right side, but only for the scriptures."

Week 31 in the field!!!

Hey goofuses!

Thanks for tuning in this week to the Elder Assistant-TO-the-zone-leader’s channel! (Think Dwight Schrute). This week has been a marvelous adventure, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Here we GOOOOOO.........

LECCIÒN DE LA SEMANA: There are ALWAYS chosen ones. Not just in Harry Potter. I was reading in the Book of Mormon this week, and I came upon Alma 13:24. You’ll have to read it in English, but I LOVE how it says that there are ANGELS preparing the hearts of the children of God in OUR land (area) and in OUR time (right now). What a promise!

Now, for the kicker: YOU GUYS are the angels! That’s right: you’re the ones winning the confidence and the hearts of non-members through your example, words, and service. We, the full-time missionaries, are here to harvest YOUR efforts and bring salvation to YOUR friends.

This scripture gave me a lot of energy this week as I arrived to Chetumal to fid the Area Book almost empty. We’re building from the ground up, here, but I KNOW that there are chosen ones here in this area!

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  • I left Palmas. That was sad. I didn’t cry though - not even leaving my beloved son, Elder Coello. I think the mission is numbing me to change XD
  • We got to ride (and sleep) in a super fancy bus for six hours!! It honestly felt like an airplane ride in the first-class section. They put on worldly movies, and it was REALLY hard not to look. But from what I heard, they were cheesy, anyway.
  • I met Elder Sanchez! He’s from the Dominican Republic, and so far things have been great with him. We have the best house in Chetumal (says he), and we’re confident that the waters of baptism will be flowing here in our zone!
  • I GOT ROBBED! My first day! Imagine that! It wasn’t super-cool or intense or anything - there was just a drunk guy who took my watch and left (walking casually). I even gave him a hug. We were ten yards from the police station, so we reported the incident, and the police grabbed the guy quick. I have my watch now.
  • The first time we met our bishop, he told us he needed help pushing his car. And BOY, did he need help pushing a car! I think we must have gone a quarter mile. It was a great opportunity to soak ourselves in sweat and win the trust of my new ward leader.
  • We had a stake activity that was SUPER cool! There were games and music and stuff, but we (the missionaries) stuck together in our Book of Mormon give-away stand. :D
  • We gave talks in Sacrament Meeting! I went last, and my companions barely left me any time, but with my five minutes, I tried to act cute and professional to win the hearts (and referrals) of the Relief Society. I think it worked! There was a little old granny who tried to hug me. (Recent convert - no worries).

Anyway - that’ll be all with the time I have. I thank you all sincerely for your continued correspondence. I keep you guys in my prayers every day. Keep talking with your friends about the Gospel. Without you, we are nothing!


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In the super-airplane-bus-thing!

New compa and new haircut - we gotta look the part.

Some members brought these over (semi-legally) from Belize.

GUESS WHO`S IN MY WARD? :D :D :D

... And his son, E. Tellez!

What a great activity it was!!! Happy first impressions of Chetumal Stake.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 29.5 in the field!!!



No, not week 30 - not yet. There’s still a day left! Bwahaha I know I’m evil for ruining the fun, but exactness is important, right??
 

LECCIÒN DE LA SEMANA: You want to see God in your life? Be an act-er. An act-er is someone who doesn’t stop at just EXPRESSING your ideas. An act-er moves swiftly from theory to reality and has an incredible potential to bless the lives of others. I would like to point out a few great act-ers of whom I’ve taken note:

  • Hna. Livi. Wow, this sister has no fear. She’s been rejected about three times by everybody on her street, but she PERSISTS in inviting them to Family Home Evenings to learn about the Gospel.
  • Elder Vega. I talked a little about him last week. He’s only been a member for a year-and-a-half, and here he is in the mission field. The man’s a tank - he extends invitations fearlessly and understands the scriptures better than many life-long members because he dedicates himself to study. 
  • My little brothers! Stoney, from what I’ve heard, is doing wonders at church and in his academic life. Oli is getting INVOLVED with cello and rugby teams and lots of other things, I’m sure! And Bertie, well... he’s really cute. :)

Sometimes it’s confusing to just GO without thinking too much, but if you’re doing good things and keeping the faith, God will be with you, and He will direct you towards the future He knows you can achieve. I see and feel it every day here in Cancùn. BE AN ACT-ER!!
 

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  • I’M LEAVING THE CITY - today, the assistants called to let us know about the transfers. I’ll be going to Chetumal, which is on the border of Belize. I’ll be serving as a Zone Leader with Elder Sanchez! Super excited!!!
  • We helped the neighbor of our recent convert, Karolina, resolve some of her questions about the church. Apparently, her preacher had been telling everybody that the Mormons invite demons into their services.... Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought not. 
  • I got mad! It was amazing - I don’t think I’ve ever gotten mad before in the mission. But, then again, I’ve never encountered someone who tried to personally insult us on the basis of the Book of Mormon (which he had never opened). We ended the conversation quick, and E. Coello felt the same, so we said a prayer to calm ourselves. Prayer works, people!
  • We visited the ex-husband of Nely (Sergio), and he, too, accepted a baptismal date! He wants to leave behind alcohol (like many), but unlike many, he said he’s willing to go to church meetings, activities, read and study the Book of Mormon - all that’s left is the follow-through. The hard part. But I think he’ll do it.
  • We went to the doctor for E. Coello’s knee! He said it didn’t hurt that bad, but (feeling like my mom) I insisted that we go to the consult, because knee-problems are the NUMBER ONE reason that missionaries go home. They gave him a bunch of medicine and told him to go to a radiologist if things get worse.
  • Played basketball with the assistants, Elder Drew and Elder Carlson (...coincidence?). They’re both super tall, so they gave it to us baaaaaaad. But it was fun! :D
That’s all, folks!! You can expect a good letter next time, because there’s nine days between now and then. I love you all, and I thank you for your sincere correspondence. :) Remember: that good thing you thought about doing? JUST.....DO IT! (Shia Le Bouf)
 

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Rayjan - A truly photo-worthy pre-schooler.
 
HELPING PEOPLE MOVE, NOT ROBBING TELLY'S
 
Amezcua Aguilar family - one of the friendliest (and most sarcastic) of our member families.
 
Hno. Williams. The great, the wonderful.
 
They said "POSE!", and the result was a perfect description of the relationship between Julian and I. Luna Miranda Family.