Sunday, December 4, 2011

Last Mcom Post

To be totally honest, I don't remember 100% what we are to mention in this post. So to cover all my bases I will be including a lot of stuff that probably isn't necessary.

I enjoyed this class because it was very practical. The information in the book was most valuable to me when it came to things like DOCS, HATS, OABC, etc. I enjoyed learning some of the grammar rules as well and I wish they would have been included in my freshman writing class. My only suggestion about the book/quizzes is that there should be an end of year review. Perhaps there is and I'm jumping the gun, but it would make studying for the final that much easier.

The group project was fine, other than it helped me see how hard it is to write something cohesively as a group. I suppose that was actually a good thing - extra preparation can't hurt right?

As far as blogging is concerned, I really enjoyed it because it got me to blog consistently. Most times I was unsure what to write though. My only suggestion comes from my freshman writing class. We had a class blog and part of the assignment of blogging was to critique others blog posts and write constructive criticism. We would include things like "you have a great style, but you jumped between 1st person and 3rd person too much" or other things like that. I would suggest making this part of the assignment, but only checking each other on things we learned on the grammar test. Doing so would help us remember what we learned and would allow us to put it in practice.

Overall, I liked the class and felt that I learned a lot from it. I am feeling a little stressed out this week with the single presentation and the final project that I still don't fully comprehend. I suppose that's all part of the last week of school though.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Best Two Years: Xoxtla

Editor’s Note: After rereading previous blog posts, I’m trying to find a good balance between telling a good story, presenting the facts, and using my writing skills…yes, I do have some – somewhere. Point is I apologize if things haven’t flowed as well as you would have liked, if something hasn’t made sense, or if the format changes. I’m still trying to figure this out. One way I’m working on this is actually doing a draft, so there you go. Also, I really just wanted to put “Editor’s Note” in a blog post in smaller italicized font.

So it’s January 28, 2008 when I get to Mexico. If you can’t tell from going outside, it gets dark fast during this time of year…meaning I couldn’t see much on the car ride. I could see the outlines of things, some lights, big buildings, the soccer stadium, but not enough detail to get what was going on. President Freestone’s house was normal enough – it had carpet (most places don’t in Mexico). I don’t remember much other than we got in, brushed my teeth with bottled water because “that’s how you stay healthy” (false, you can brush your teeth with tap water, it is ok), and went to bed. We got up the next day and went through all sorts of orientation and interviews. I never thought there was so much formality to missionary work. I eventually got assigned with my trainer, Elder Olsen from Provo/Orem and then we went on our way.

We took a taxi and drove to my 1st area (called Xoxtla, roughly pronounced show-sla), which was right next to the airport, so I got to see everything I missed. My favorite part was seeing the soccer stadium again. Between driving fast, traffic, driving in the nice part of town, then to the industrial part, I never fully grasped just how different Puebla was until we got into the little town I was to serve in. It was a third world country extravaganza. I wish I would have taken photos so I could post them here and so you could fully comprehend what it looked like; however, I usually only took photos of people, and most of the photos from my first area are gone. I would tell you to google it, but after trying it myself, I don’t think google is totally sure how to find it. And that might just make my point of how small the town is.
My trainer and I opened the area. It had been closed for 2-3 years due to some questionable missionary behavior. The church had a branch there. It was always borderline ward, but could never quite get over the hump. I loved that area and most of the people there. We had a decent amount of success given the circumstances, and about a month after I left a large family we had taught was baptized. It was rewarding given the fact that we had so many promising people fall through for one reason or another. I won’t go into many details about the families, because these blogs would get to be way too long. I will relate some interesting experiences though, both of the spiritual and not so spiritual type (this applies for the whole blog, not necessarily here).

As far as little experiences go, I was starving most of the time in the area. Going from all you can eat in the MTC to a poor little pueblo was a huge change in food quantity. The quality also saw a hit, which I didn’t think was possible – MTC food was questionable to say the least. I eventually learned to like them, but eating cactus was one of the weirdest things I’d thought I’d ever eat (ya, not even close), and learning to eat tortillas as much as they did was hard. I did discover something amazing though. Mexican bread stores, and Mexican coke. Those are two of the things that I still miss most to this day (as well as tacos and other foods I don’t even know how to describe in English).

And here’s a not so spiritual story for you…I was kissed by a drunk man. Not once, not twice, but 3 times! We were with a member family and some of their friends that we were teaching and we were about to go have FHE with them when this drunk guy comes up and talks to us. I don’t know what it is, but those drunk guys love talking to white people. We said we’d talk to him another time if he’d give us his name and address, and when we left I called him hermano (brother in Spanish). He started going off about we can’t be brothers because he’s Mexican and I’m American, white and brown, etc. I told him we were all children of God, so we’re brothers. He said “If we are brothers, hug me” while opening up his shirt at the same time. That was awkward. At this point the family is watching us, the 2 daughters are giggling, and I think the parents are about to as well. To be a man of my word I went and hugged the guy and I got a big one on the cheek. I still shutter thinking about it. He then went and hugged my companion and gave him two wet ones. He went back to me, said thank you so much and got my cheek and neck, and then went back to my companion for two more. By the time we got inside everyone that hadn’t been kissed was laughing ; I was in shock and wanted to shave the skin off of my face. I’m pretty sure that was the only time I was ever kissed on my mission, thank goodness.

As far as a spiritual story, here is a quick rundown on the first lady I baptized. We had been teaching this woman for a while, and her two children were members. It was hard to get a hold of her, but the lessons were always good when we did. Once she said she knew the church was true, it became really hard to find her again. One day we talked to her daughter, figured out a day she would be home, and we took drastic measures to go see her – we got up at 5 so we could bike to her house. If you know me, I love sleep, and seeing as how it is limited on the mission, I was none too happy about this idea. Plus we had to bike when we could have taken a bus. But we eventually got there, and started talking to her… for the record, her name is Bertha.

So anyways, my companion did most of the talking because Spanish was not my strong point. We were trying to get a baptismal date for her and nothing was work, and I thought “hey, how about today” … so I told my companion to ask her and he did. At first she laughed and said it couldn’t happen. But the more she thought about it, she realized it would work out. It was one of the busiest days we had, and I never had a baptism again on such short notice, but it was an amazing experience. I ended up seeing her again some months later, and she was still active and loved the church. It was because of people like her that I loved my mission so much. She is one of those unforgettable people and stories that I look forward to sharing someday with my kids when Jocelyn and I start to teach them about the importance of going on a mission.

Well, this is going to be my last mission post for a little while. I have my final M com project this week, and then finals. Not that any of you will be too sad, but we will be taking a little break from the mission blogs. If you see any other activity on my blog, something awesome happened, or it was more than likely something specific for my M com class. Until then…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Best Two Years: MTC

First thing I did in the MTC was get lost on my way to get shots. I hate shots. That was not what I needed with the stress of being in a new place. The line for shots and all the other paper work was funny. Everyone was trying to show off and talk themselves up… 1) Because of everyone trying to feel better, and 2) a few cute sister missionaries were in the line. I find it funny I remember that. Well moving on, I won’t give you every single detail of the MTC like the food and everything, but I do want to mention the important highlights.

My companion was Elder French from Texas, and we got along great from the get go because we had so many similarities. My whole district was great, a lot of great friends. I haven’t seen most of them in almost 4 years, but I still think of them as some great friends that I went through a lot with. I would post pictures here, but they were mostly erased in my 2nd area (more on that in my blog about my 2nd area). Fun Fact for DHS alumni: If you went to the 9th grade basketball game against Kanab, you will probably remember how they dribbled the ball out for about 10 minutes with their point guard, the same guy who missed two game winning free-throws…ya, that guy was my district leader. Small world.We had a lot of fun in the MTC (too much probably) and learned a lot together at the same time. We also got a group of St. George missionaries together and took some pictures. That was another great experience.

We were there over Christmas time. At that time, it was rough, but looking back, it was a great experience (minus the 2 hour fireside on how to mark your scriptures… that was worthless). We thought we were getting President Hinckley, but we got Elder Perry. The funny story is that three weeks later we thought we were going to get President Eyring, and we got Elder Perry again. At the time, we felt shafted, but looking back, it was awesome. For the Christmas devotional, I know he saw me. I was in the second row. Like first row was reserved for important MTC people, and I was dead center of the second row. I camp out for movies, Harry Potter books, and Apostles (more on that later too)…ok, so we didn’t camp, but we were there earlier than anyone else. We weren’t able to call our families, and it was a hard experience, but it was definitely a great time in my mission.

I want to wrap up with three things. 1) I know it should have happened beforehand, but I remember when I gained an unquestionable, no-doubt testimony. I won’t go into details, because they are personal, but it came during “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration”. I absolutely love that movie and recommend it to everyone. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but if not, go now…unless you’re reading this tonight. If that’s the case, go on Friday.

2) The day before we left to Mexico, our branch president told us to pack that evening and not worry about going to the devotional. So my district stayed in. When everyone got back most people were crying. We all thought somebody was sent home, but it turns out President Hinckley passed away that evening. That was tough. I’m sure you remember that time frame. Pres. Hinckley was a great man and I loved everything he taught and did. I understand why everyone loves the prophet of their youth, because I definitely love that man.

3) Going to the airport was crazy. I never thought I was going to leave the MTC. Those evil time gremlins really make the MTC last a long time. The worst part was seeing friends come and go before I ever left. Those lucky 3 week missionaries. Saying goodbye is always tough, but it was fun to have one more night with all those guys before we left. So anyways, we got up, got out, and got into SLC. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent so much time on a phone as I did that day. I had a couple of hours in SLC, and then even more in Houston because of flight delays. Tying #2 back in, it was really nice to have so many non-members come up to us and pass on their sympathy when they heard about Pres. Hinckley’s passing. So we eventually took off from Houston after 2 hours of delays and we got into a tiny little airport at about 11 pm. I couldn’t see outside when we landed, so I didn’t get a good first aerial view of Mexico, but I was excited to finally be there. Elder French and I found the mission president, got in his car, and took off into the night…I’m sure there are plenty of captivated readers out there (yes, that was sarcasm) but this will have to do it for you tonight.