Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 1 In The Field!


There ain´t a ton of time today, so I´m gonna try to keep things to the point. 

LECCION 1: Through contacting, I have learned that there are three types of people in this world: Those with headphones, those without headphones, and those with invisible headphones. Just ponder that for a second. 

LECCION 2: God loves EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. Elder Melena and I were out and about the other day and we came across a old old man with no legs, practically no vision, and no family. He lived in a concrete cube smaller than my bathroom back home. He was wearing scraps and said that he didn´t have time to talk to us because he had to get himself into his wheelchair to go and beg for food all day, or risk not eating. 

This man's name is Miguel. 

I asked him if we could say a prayer with him right then and there, but he really had to get going. I expressed to him the sentiment that God loves each one of his children, and that, through faith, we can overcome the plights that life brings us. I really felt that. With my whole heart. He seemed taken aback and then asked if we could come back and visit him sometime. That´s the plan. Thursday. 3:00. 

LECCION 3: The Spirit has real power to guide. Wow, he does. Elder Melena and I were looking for a contact in a neighborhood (which they call super-manzanas - super-apples...?) and we turned down a street with a dead end. Feeling doubtful, I said, "let´s go, E. Melena, this doesn´t look like the right way." But he kept walking. I followed, thinking it might be a prompting he was receiving. Turns out, it was. At the VERY LAST HOUSE, scrunched up against this cement wall, there was an open door with a man standing inside. We asked him if he knew where this certain contact lived. He didn´t, but as we started speaking with him, we realized that he was super open to the message of the Gospel. Religion had never played a huge part in his life, but he invited us back to teach him the lessons! Yay!


Lots of other stuff happened this week, guys. For real. Honestly, it´s been one of the craziest weeks of my life. It´s hot, tiring, frustrating, and oh-so-worth-it. I love every second of it, if only looking back at the end of the day. 

I want to share a few of the things I love about the mission so far:
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the feeling that both my Heavenly Father and my Savior are proud of me. 
  • The knowledge that my family (both now and in the future) will be blessed by my service and growth. 
  • A great companion. It was hard to say goodbye to one of my best dudes, E. Chamberlain, but E. Melena has been so patient and encouraging with me. He has his weaknesses, but he is willing to work on them alongside me. 
  • Personal Study Time. Oh, how I love you, E.P. It´s a chance to rest my introverted tendencies while still feeling spiritually nurtured. 
  • Writing!! HELLO EVERYBODY! :D I love doing this because it helps me remember the good things about life. Also, I still haven´t missed a single day writing in my journal, and I gotta say, I´m a little proud of that. 
  • SLEEPING IN A HAMMOCK, MY GOODNESS. It´s awesome - no two nights are the same because you find different positions to lie in. Like last night, I started diagonally and then somehow ended up with my feet way above my head. It´s fun. 
  • Plain water isn´t a thing here. Everyone makes fresh agua de piña or agua de manga and it´s HEAVEN SENT.
Okay, and now for some things that make the mission.... well, adventurous, let´s say: 
  • Trying to cross the street with a giant piece of plastic garbage tied around your legs because it´s alive and wants to kill you.
  • Trying to cross the street in general because traffic lights are a myth and everyone thinks their Civic is a Formula 1 racecar.
  • Cold showers! Yay!
  • I´ve forgotten what it means to have water pressure.... 
  • When EVERYONE gives you ten servings of food because they assume that nobody else does. And you´re expected to eat all of it. (Actually, I don´t mind that; it´s all amazing.)
Finally, thank you all for the birthday wishes. It truly was amazing. AND I got to extend my first baptismal invitation!!! (SHE SAID YES, GUYS). We´re working towards the 5th of January. 

Love all of you.

Elder Carson


 BACKYARD!! Prime hunting ground for the evasive gecko.....

One of the CCM group - these people are unforgettable.

Another of me and the comp. Just look at that smile!

Public transport! You have two options - this is more expensive but we use it to get to the church building. The other one - los cambis - are little vans with no seats that you pile into with a bunch of sweaty people to cross town. Great place to spread the Gospel because no one can escape... That´s a joke...

​For all you Americans... This is what an Internet Café looks like!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Week 6!! Welcome to Cancun!

Hola, amigos!!!
Thanks to everyone who´s written me - I really appreciate the love you show, and it always makes me smile.
This week is a little different because I´m writing y´all from an internet cafe near mi casa en CANCUN. That´s right! My first area! I don´t know where exactly in the ciudad I am, but I´ve heard that we´re about 15 minutos from the beach!
LECCION 1: True friendship doesn´t come easyy. You´ve got to talk. You´ve got to struggle. You´ve got to confide. This last week en el CCM has been so spiritual and wonderful, but also super sad because el distrito had to go our separate ways. I feel so close to each and every member of the district, and I think it´s because we were all equally dumbfounded and humbled by the process of missionary work for six weeks. All the while living in close quarters with one another. 
The last night in the CCM, after our Sunday devotional, Hna Herman suggested that we have one final prayer together before going back to las casas. So we knelt. Right there, in the dark, on the sidewalk, wind blowing rather furiously. It was cold and uncomfortable, but I felt such a strong comraderie with my fellow servants of the Lord. By the end of the prayer, ALL of us were crying, and some of us were all out sobbing. But it was a good sort of pain, becuase we know we´re all going on the Lord´s errand, and we´re doing it for His children. 
So, choose your friends wisely, and treat them like real friends. Trust in them. Confide in them. Build them up with the Gospel. Develop a relationship with them. 
Choose Christ. Do all these things for your brother who did them all for you. He suffered and died to Atone for the sins of the world, and while he did so, I´m positive that he thought of you. When He thought of you, He couldn´t stand the thought of you not being able to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father, and that thought gave Him the strength to continue. For you. 
LECCION 2: BE HUMBLE. There´s always more to learn. ALWAYS. I got out to the field yesterday. I thought I was doing pretty well in the CCM - I thought I was already a stud missionary. Turns out, it´s easy to talk to people when you know they´re not real investigators and when the appointment is already set up by your maestra and when you don´t have to think about what happens if you fail. Real investigators aren´t necessarily going to stick with you through a bad lesson and then hand you nicely-packaged feedback so you can come back and try again and do it better. They might stick with you for ten minutes (out of respect), but you probably won´t ever see them again. 
This is the same thing that happens in all aspects of life. Sooner or later, we´re going to have to take what we´ve learned in school or at a job and we´re going to have to apply it in a way we´ve never had to before. That´s intimidating. Sometimes the stakes are high. But, as we learn in 2 Nephi 32:9, we can consecrate our acciones unto the Lord (that includes the things we do in pursuit of our righteous desires) and, when we do so, we are assured that it will be for the benefit of our soul. Even if we fail (which we will. A lot.) we will learn and progress spiritually, which is all that matters in the end. 
We´ll cut it off at two this time because I only have like ten minutes to tell you about the happenings of the last twenty four hours. 
Yesterday, I got up at 1:15am and got ready to leave the CCM. We (E Chamberlain, Hna Flores, another Hna, and I) piled into a van and were shuttled to the airport around 2:30. Two faculty members helped us get our baggage taken care of and then said adios. Our plane left at 6:00, and suddenly we were in the air, headed to our home for the next 17-22.5 months (BTW, I´m already more than 5% done with the mish, which seems nuts. Makes me sad, honestly). 
We were received into paradise. We flew directly over the resorts, islands, and other tourist-y things. The ocean was amazing. The sunrise was amazing. All of it. Amazing. 
Our mission President, his wife, and the assistants were waiting at reception. They cheered and held up signs for us, and they proceeded to help us get our luggage to the car. We filled up every seat in that little minivan with adult human beings in a hot, humid climate (seriously, guys). It was nuts. 
We were driven to the Mission Offices, which are next to a church building in the city. We took photos with the President and his wife, and were then invited into the buiding to eat. To our surprise, upon opening the door, we were met by a zone of beaming missionaries singing Called To Serve!! My smiling muscles ached after that. 
Anyway, we were given the rundown and assigned trainers. Mine´s name is Elder Melena. He´s great, and I love him already. He´s super helpful and super native, which means I get to learn Spanish reeeall fast. 
Together, we took a taxi to our casa, which was about five to ten minutes away. We proceeded to do a few basics - unpacking and ironing the folded clothes. Then, we went out to work. 
Turns out, none of the investigators E Melena planned to see were in when we came to their houses, so we contacted a little and he introduced me to some of the ward leaders. Let me tell you, YOU DONT KNOW FEAR UNTIL YOUVE TRIED TO GIVE SOMEONE THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE OF THEIR LIVES IN A CASUAL SITUATION IN A LANGUAGE YOU REALLY DONT KNOW THAT WELL. Super scary. But, we did it. 
Later that day, I shared a spiritual thought with a family from the ward. Everyone seems super friendly and supportive of the new missionaries. 
We passed a lot of groups of kids playing futbol in the street, but we weren´t allowed to play with them. It´s one of our presidents rules (probably good, considering my history with futbol). 
That was it. We went home and I slept in a hammock. Now, today, we have some appointments. I´ll tell yáll about it next week. 
Mucho amor, 
Elder Carson

My new companion, Elder Melena!!! :D
E Pearson saluting a piece of dirt of the wall as we pack up.
No no, Elder

Monday, November 21, 2016

I made it!!!


I don't have time to really write you guys right now, but they told me to log in and let you know that I made it to Cancun in one piece! 

I love it already!! President and Sister Reynoso seem very loving and dedicated, and the place is beautiful, of course. Stepping off the airplane, I felt like I was entering a paradise on Earth. Also, we had an amazing welcome from the other missionaries.

I'll write you a real email my first pday :) 


Elder Carson

Week 5!!!

Alright, amigos, this is it. One more week!! The next time you hear from me, I'll be under the Cancun Sun. 

Tons of stuff happened this week. I'll see how much I have time to type. 

LECCION 1: The Lord will magnify you when you strive to be exactly obedient. I will say, it's hard to be the guy who's always like, "cmon guys, we gotta...." you know. The fun-spoiler. But I've really been trying with my companions to be an example of exact obedience for the district, and one result is that we've had some AMAZING lessons. 

First, with Regina. Our goal was to teach about la Palabra de Sabiduria, and she followed along pretty well. At one point, she expressed some concerns over her ability to fulfill the commandment. She wasn't sure whether God could work a miracle in her life. A thought came to mind, and I opened up to a scripture that my companions had been talking about earlier that day. Mormon 9:18-21. LITERALLY PERFECT RESPONSE. She declared right then and there that she had experienced something unusually strong and that she knew Joseph Smith was a prophet. We had no trouble with the comitting her to live la Palabra de Sabiduria. 

Next, we taught about the Ley de Castidad. Her main concern was that she wouldn't be able to raise a righteous family because of the mistakes in her past. We talked about repentance and then I promised her as a servant of the Lord that, through her faith, she would experience that great change of heart that lets you know that you are forgiven completely. After the lesson, she pulled me aside (Hna Zuniga) and told me that it was the FIRST TIME she had ever felt that sort of power behind a missionary's words as a teacher. I was so grateful that the Spirit had put that power behind my iffy Spanish!!! El don de lenguas is reall!

LECCION 2: Time passes according to your attitude. I know a lot of guys who say it feels like we've been in the CCM for eternity, but honestly, I feel like I got here yesterday. I love every minute of service, and I'm learning SO MUCH. It's great. Learning's great. The Gospel's great. (If you read that in Donald Trump's voice.... I did too).

LECCION 3: The natural man really is an enemy to God. And to happiness. I was thinking during personal study that it's crazy how our natural minds want to insist on being alone in this life. Like Laman and Lemuel when they make fun of Nefi for trying to build a ship. ITS NOT JUST HIM PEOPLE. We have the most powerful being in the universe on our side, and if we cling to that belief, we are empowered to do amazing things. 


Since I'm leaving this next week, I want to take a sec to pay tribute to the missionaries in my district: 

E Chamberlain - Prime Chamberling - keeper and tamer of wild, magical beasts - preachin what he knows with an extra-terrestrial charisma - future star explorer and space pirate. 

E. Pearson - straight outta the 50s - dancin like a grandpa and keepin the collective groove alive - layin down the beat of the Gospel with his mighty pen-tapping skills - hes alive, man.

E. Hassard - workin haaaaarrrd, straight off the farm
got that straaaight faaaaace, and simple taste 
speakin so well,
makes our mouth go sour, 

preachin out the word with that p-p-p-p-power, 
teachin all teh people like king Ben from the toweeeerrrr

E. Ellsworth - A true man plucked from the college scene - working and studying like the great erudites of ancient times - a skilled craftsman of the celestial work. 

E. Johnson - The leader of us all - The great, the happy, the huggable, the hungry - the only one of us who can pull off being slightly inappropriate and still spirichal - He's..... EL GATO GORDO GUAPO!!!!!!! *Self-proclaimed title

E. Christiansen - Futbol extraordinaire - ready to juke out all the unbelievers with raw testimony and focus - He wont deal with your nonsense - success is written in his DNA. 

E. Fillingim - He is our rock, built upon The Rock - Defines strength in all facets - physical, mental, spiritual, and indeed, heart - Gonna give it all to Tennessee cause hes the only 10 I see! ;) 

E White - A free spirit and truly the artist among us - words flowing life the Amazon, cutting through a jungle of confusion and change and keeping us all tethered until we reach the open peace of the sea. 

Hna Herman - Like the mother duck, she chastises and corrects, but without fail demonstrates genuine concern for us - Her heart fierce, she defends her friends as a valiant warrior of the faith. 

Hna Flores - The senior citizen and big sister among us, shes the only one with the guts to be the Chicken Wing Queen - Cancun-bound, she'll bring the party off the beach and into the hearts of the investigators. 


We had a gastrointestinal plague spread through the district immediately after my companion opened a package containing a pillow in the shape of the rainbow-poop emoji. We think it is probably of Satan. 

We taught Priesthood, and despite the fact that we used our lesson-prep time to administer blessings to the sick, the Lord helped us and the lesson went fantastic. 

We got our travel plans from Reception!! Our maestras were literally crying because they say we're an amazing district and all the new districts are looking difficult. They might kidnap us and keep us here..... 

Our old zone leaders who were a week ahead of us left.... that was sad. They were great examples to us all, but I know they'll do great in the field. We are officially the old geezers of the CCM.

We found out that the doorbell in our casa is a plug-in speaker.... you can only imagine the pranks, given all the outlets next to the bunk beds.... belts were a-flyin. 


Don't know when my next Pday is, so keep a steady eye on the horizon...

- Elder Carson

Totally not posing... "Why, good sir, this is a mighty fine breakfast!"

Looking out from the temple doorstep on our second trip!
.... Um? 

Thanks, Grandma Sorensen for the donuts!!! :) 


I'm leavin on a jetplane! Cancun-ready!! 

I woke up and he was there...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Elder Carson's 3rd Week (right?) - and 4th...

Hola, mi gente! 

First of all, sorry about last week - just after I finished a few personal emails, the internet went down campus-wide and I couldn't finish. I'll include stuff from both weeks today :) Also, I have my journal, so I'll make sure to share the best stuff! 

LECCION 1: LISTEN TO THE PROMPTINGS OF THE SPIRIT. Just. Do. It. (Shia LeBouf). I've been playing lots of cage futbol, and it's been fun and all, but it seems like every time I play, I get hurt. The other day, this futbol legend Elder Farados slammed the ball right at my face, popping the lens out of my glasses, which in turn cut the eyebrow area of my face. I think the Spirit told me right about then, "let's take a break from futbol for a while". Of course, being the competitive winner that I am, I promptly forgot that little message and went back to the courts next gym time. 

Bad idea. I rolled my ankle probably worse than I ever have. I got back to mi casa and it was all swollen. My companions helped me ice it and elevate it that night.

The next morning, I couldn't even make it to the bathroom on my own feet. It was painful. I was so scared that they were gonna send me home to recover. I asked my companions for a blessing, and they agreed. It was funny - I don't think E. Chamberlain has ever given a blessing before - but he prayed that I would be able to go to the Embassy that day and walk by myself. He promised that the Lord would use this experience to teach me, and that it wouldn't inhibit my role in this work. True story - by that afternoon, I was walking PERFECTLY NORMALLY. I couldn't believe it. Blessings are legit, guys.

LECCION 2: ALWAYS WATCH THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST VIDEO. Seriously. It's a missionary address by Elder Bednar, but it is applicable to everyone. He talks about what differentiates Christ from normal people, and what we can do to be more like him. By the end of the video, my mind was blown hard-core.

LECCION 3: THE BOOK OF MORMON IS AMAZING. I was thinking about this during personal study. How many Christian lives are based off of (or at least influenced by) the teachings of Christ?? A TON. And here we are, with records of ANOTHER one of Christ's minitries! How many Christians would die to read that if it came from their own preacher?? Therefore, as we share the message of the restored Gospel with others, we should be EXCITED. The Gospel has been restored! We have more to learn!! Yay!!! As we take this approach, people willl feel the living, breathing energy of the truth in these Latter Days.

LECCION 4: IF YOU CAN GET TO THE HEART WITH INSPIRED QUESTIONS, YOU CAN CHANGE LIVES. We had been talking in class about inspired questions, so I decided to go for it in our next lesson with the fake investigator, Sara. While we were teaching about the Plan of Salvation, I asked her, "Hermana, if you could have the chance to sit down with God and Jesus Christ and ask them a question, what would you ask?" She started crying. Right there. She told us about a hard experience in her past and that she would talk to them about it. I was sincerely moved by her words. Plus, after that, she was willing to commit to every challenge we extended.

LECCION 5: YOU CAN'T TEACH SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T WANT TO LEARN. One of the maestras from the neighboring district asked me to come and help an Elder who is struggling with the language and with staying on task. Well, I tried. For the first half of the session. We drilled some vocab, and I think he got a few words, but I soon realized that it wasn't the most effective way to teach. So, for the next half, I asked him about himself. I asked him about what he likes, what he knows about his mission, and what kind of missionary he wants to be. That did it. I promised him that if he would be strong and obedient for his time in the CCM, he would come to be an expert in the language.


So, just a few more tidbits about the past couple weeks!

Spanish is coming great. I had a fifteen minute conversation with a latino elder over lunch, and he praised me on my pronunciation (great feeling).

I'll tell you a bit about my teachers: Hna. Sanchez is nice, goofy, and fun. She tries to use American slang and she even dabbed in front of the class XD When we're teaching fake investigators, she's the more cooperative of the two. Typically. Hna. Zuñiga is a little more on the ball - she gets stressed when we have to time-crunch. BUT, she's a lot more helpful with answering questions, and she introduced my companion and I to a Hermana who served in our mission!

Speaking of this Hermana, she had lots of good things to say. She said it's beautiful and that there's a lake called the Lake of Seven Colors where you can baptize (you can see all the colors of the rainbow in the water). She told us she'd get back to us with some Mayan flashcards, but we're still waiting on that.

In the casa, the elders also drafted a Bro. Constitution. Nuf said.

Anyway, that's all for this week! I love you all, and wish you the best. More coming next week!

- Elder Carson
Language Study with the mission fam.
We did a little bit of decoration during an extra-long district meeting. Notice in the top right corner that we are creaming the maestras in a game of "Quien es el latino?"
 It looks worse (read: cooler) in person, but you get the picture. *pre-shave and pre-haircut*
The ankle set-up on the night of the event.
 My companion got a box of donuts, but not just any donuts....