Thursday, May 31, 2012

"To Love Another Person Is To See The Face Of God..."

Hola Mi Familia! So I just spent the last 40 or so minutes reading your wonderful, inspiring, and uplifting emails! Thanks so much and keep sending them! They really have no idea! This week...was soo good for some reasons and soo not for others...ha! I will start with the bad because it really doesn't matter anymore. I absolutely hate it when you are in a rough spot and you think things are getting better and starting to look up and then BAM! You sink again! Well, that was kind of this week. I was feeling better with transfers and new Elders in our Zone and such and then in the middle of the week my comp and I sort of had a rough time. It was brought up again that I apparently have no personality and am too serious and don't talk conversationally at all (well it's hard sometimes since he talks a lot....). I thought I was progressing and we had our times of fun where we both would laugh till we cried and had fun with the youth and such, and then we have a relapse and I'm apparently not....I don't know....whatevs! I have gotten over it in the day or so. Reading your emails really helped too! I love it that conversational difficulty is a trait in the West Family side of the family! It makes me feel better that I'm not the only one! And Justin's letter really helped so much too! I wish I could just talk to him more instead of just by email. So many things that he said he felt are exactly what I am feeling! It was so comforting to read his words. I will respond to his email, but will you thank him personally for me? Well, I don't care anymore, I am just going to do my hardest to do the best I can with what I have and if that isn't enough for some people...well tough! It is a personal trial that I have in this life and I am working my best on it. Moving on....thinking happy thoughts... So I think I mentioned last week that we were trying to have baptisms for this past Saturday...well that didn't work out! The 2 teenage girls that we were teaching decided they didn't want to get baptized. It was really quite sad! They are our friends and we like to have fun with them. They were progressing very nicely, but when we extended a firm date they said they would like to get baptized, just later on. Apparently they weren't ready to wear long dresses and no make-up and not play around and flirt with boys. We had to quickly resolve that that was not our religion, but they still weren't really into it. However, their 11 year brother we were teaching as well, we still have hope in him and he seems to want to get baptized! That is really exciting! He is such a neat kid and I can see him progressing in the church and serving a mission and hold priesthood callings in the church...he he will only get baptized! Hopefully this Saturday! Well, Hermana Marisa! We hoped to have a baptism for her last Saturday too and we came very close, but things came up. As I think I told you, she is a divorced, single parent with 3 kids. She has no job and no money and has been looking for a job. This whole week she has been progressing very nicely! She has been reading the Book Of Mormon, she prays with us, and she has given up coffee which is so fantastic! It is a constant everyday trial for her, but so far for the past week she has been doing well. She was even offered coffee by someone and she told us she rejected and said she didn't like coffee! How awesome! Everything was well and we really pushed her having a baptism Saturday and she said a definite maybe. However, things can change in one day. Since she doesn't have a job, money and has 3 kids to tend to she had the opportunity to earn money selling clothes with a cousin in Penasco Saturday and she decided she was going to go do that and that we would have to wait a week for the baptism. Well, something else happened... One night while we were at her house getting ready to have a lesson, we were outside and her neighbor was talking to her and said there was a job opening at a motel for washing towels and linens and things. She decided to go have an interview. Before the interview she came to us and told us she wasn't going to Penasco Saturday, but had an interview. We still kept pushing her for a baptism and we have been promising her blessings for this all along. Before the interview, we invited her to say a prayer in her car and ask for a job and we promised that she would get a job....pretty big promise no? Well, later that day, she called us and said she prayed before the interview and walked away with a job! This made us thrilled! Now she has a job that she can earn money and support her kids and I truly believe this is a blessing from Heavenly Father because she began making a change in her life by listening to the Gospel message we shared. We now hope to have a baptism for her this coming Saturday...hopefully! It is so amazing to see the change that is brought about in people who listen to the Gospel and want to follow Christ! I love it! This is what I love most! To see people understand and want to change, and want to receive blessings! It is so amazing how much love I have gained for the people we are teaching! We teach them and I was so badly for them to understand and for them to want to change! It was told to us many times in the MTC that to have success as a missionary, you have to love the people! It is so true! A brillant Lyicist once wrote (and I'm sure you will recognize...)"To Love Another Person Is To See The Face Of God...". I think quite often about God's love for his children. He loves us soo much! Constantly, everyday events happen to us as missionaries and to our investigators that are just signs of God's love for us. It may be something as simple as a cooler, breezy day or a ride to another part of town so we won't have to walk! God loves us soo much! Uh! I can't even describe it. Well, that's about it...Yes, I do like the new Elders we have in our Zone! We had a District and Zone meeting last night (which we never had before) and it really made me happy to associate with the new others and made me really motivated and excited to go out and work this week. We have a good Zone! Thanks again for your many emails! I appreciate them more than you know! I feel refreshed because of them and am ready to go out and work and baptize! I love and miss you all as always! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Just Breath"

Hola Mi Familia! Crazy stuff: I've made it through one complete change! Crazy! 6 weeks has gone by fast! I am excited to start a new 6 weeks with new goals for myself and continuing to help our investigators porgress. This week was kind of an off and strange week. I've learned that most missionaries "die" as they like to say before changes. Meaning they don't really like to do very much and get trunky. However, this was pretty good in a few ways. So this week we have been working really hard on certain investigators: the 3 siblings, Marguarita, Isabel, and Angel, and then this Hermana Marisa as well. To start: Hermana Marisa. I don't remember all that I've told you all about her, but we have been working really hard with her. She has been going to a bunch of different churches trying to find the right one she likes and the true church. She is divorced and has 3 kids ages 16, 11, and 9.Her kids don't really like us meeting with her and don't like the church but whatevs! We taught her The Restoration, Plan of Salvation and everything. She attended church a few weeks ago when it was testimony meeting. She liked it a lot, but said the members talked too much about Joseph Smith and so we tried and tackled that. We watched the "Joseph Smith: Prophet Of The Restoration" movie with her to help her see that we don't worship Joseph Smith and to help her see the importance he had in the church. She said she really enjoyed the movie and has a better understanding. We did service for her this week by "cleaning" her backyard. I didn't really see much of a purpose to what we were doing since it was like weeding out a desert, but whatevs. We also invited her to the District conference we had this past weekend and she came and was able to see what the church was really like in more of a ward setting instead of our little branch. We have gained so much trust so much and she loves us and enjoys our visits. This week we really stressed prayer and the importance of finding out answers for yourself. We invited her to pray about being baptized this coming Saturday and we're pretty sure she is going to get baptized. If not this week, then really soon after. We have also been working with the siblings Marguarita 16, Isabel 14, and Angel 11. We have gained their trust as well and they are our good friends. We like to play and have fun with them. This week we watched the Joseph Smith Movie with them too, but it was more difficult. They are teenagers and so it is harder to keep their attention and they have many distractions such as cell phones, ect. but we did our best. They came with us to Mutual this week and the depressing thing was practically no one showed up. It was so cool, we had 7 investigators (they 3 siblings, their 2 friends, and then 2 others) come to mutual and practically 2 or 3 from the branch showed up and then more when we were finally done and play futbol. It was disappointing and we don't think they enjoyed it as much as they could have. We invited them also to the District conference and they came as well! It was cool! I think they were a little bored with how long it was but it was good for them to see a ward setting too and not just the branch. They also met some of the youth and chatted with them which was nice. We are trying to plan a Family Home Evening with them this week to ask them to be baptized this Saturday as well and to get permission from their parents. So that is the investigator status this week. Progressing and hopefull baptisms soon. So the District Conference was nice. It was the 2 branches in Penasco and then our Branch from Sonoyta. It is a district because it isn't big enough to be a stake. President and Hermana Velez came to Preside. I just love them so much! We had the Saturday night session and they we returned the next morning with our investigators for the Sunday session. This was probably the last time we will get to see President and Hermana Velez before they leave, which is after this change in just 6 weeks. We had changes today and 2 of the Elders from our district in Penasco were transferred. This will be good and I think the new ones that are coming will be a little bit more straight and not so crazy...! Hopefully... Elder Melchor thought that he might be transferred because of something the President told him, but thankfully he was not and I will get to finish the 2nd half of my 12 weeks with him. It is crazy to think that May is almost flew by quickly! Also, I don't think we will be going to Penasco anymore for P-days thankfully. After I talked to the President he thought we didn't need to stay there so much so from now on we should just be going Sunday afternoon for District meetings and then return that night or sometimes they will come to us I that should be better! Well luckily you all with your summer break and all...sounds like you are going to keep busy with all of you activites you have going on...have fun and stay safe! :P Haha! I am kind of get ansy about my packages....the one from the youth and then the one from Debbie and then you all....I have 3 packages in route...I want them!!!! Since the package from the youth wasn't here when we went to Hermosillo makes me nervous to think that yours and Debbie's package won't get here before the beginning of June. That would suck if it took a month even if they say it won't take that long......ugh!!!! So somethings I have been thinking about/ interesting facts about Mexico: - I guess everyone like so run on empty...I notice that whenever we ride with someone they gas is either practically empty or really low. Maybe they just don't like to fill it up all the way. - Speaking of Gas, this is quite interesting and cool: they have workers that pump your gas for you. Every gas station I've seen/been to has people pumping gas, you just hand them the cash with however much you want and they pump it for you. You don't even have to get out of your care. How nice is that!? Geez America, step it up...Ha! - They only have scented toilet paper here. I browse and all I find is scented....I think I know why though...they don't flush the toilet paper. That's right, no they don't! Almost every public restroom, and house restroom too, has a garbage can right next to the toilet in which you stick your toilet paper in. We don't do this in the house though, we just flush it...just a fun fact for you! :) - People aren't should I say...thoughtful about the earth? It is so dirty, there is trash everywhere and so many people litter and just throw things where ever. Even in the desert as we drive to Penasco I can just see so much trash just left out there. It's sad. - It is 108 degress right now...what?! - There are so many dogs! They like to attack too! You have to carry rocks be to ready to throw in case they come charging! Being a dog lover, it is hard to see how many dogs are quite nal-nourished and not well taken care of too! I hate to see an animal that is just flesh and bones or that has infections in the eyes and skin. It pains me to see this! - I had something else, but forgot...oh well! I had a relapse this week with an investigator and my comp of the difficulty and frustrating trial that I have of not being able to carry converstation. I get quite upset and frustrated when this gets brought up and I just don't know what to do. I try, really, but it is just so hard! It is a little easy in English, but in Spanish I just have a hard time coming up with things to talk to people about. They ask me to say something, anything at all, and I don't know what to tell them. I feel like a load on my comp sometimes because I'm not able to help out in this. I can go in and teach a lesson just fine but talking with people is just so hard. Another trial, I am quite a sensitive person sometimes and I don't hold my emotions well. People can see when I am upset or scared or ticked and they just attack like a dog that smells fear and can be so insensitive and mean sometimes. Oh to be an American in a foreign land! People like to attack Americans too! I can't even count the times I've heard gringo. My favorite was when I was in line at the grocery store and the checkout lady told the bagger, "these gringos don't understand anything" it was fun to turn that back at her when I told her I understood perfectly and begain speaking to her in Spanish, Ha! So things are still hard and not too much better in this aspect, but I am trying and just struggling through life. Ugh! I have to repeatedly tell myself to "Just Breath..." and then of course I being singing the song from "In The Heights" Ha! Oh, my life IS musical! Can someone please smack Justin upside the head! I have been patiently waiting for a response to some questions and an email for WEEKS now and I've got nothing! I understand that he has like a wife and kid and job or something, but can we just take 10 minutes to give Dayne a little comfort? Thanks! Ha! Well, hope all is well! Here's to another week with heat! Yikes! Love and miss you all tons! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baseball Field in Sonoyta, Mexico

"Oh Of All Things, Can It Be Really..."

Hola Mi Familia! So it was absolutely so wonderful to talk to you all on Thursday! Hightlight of the past month! It was hard to get off, but luckily Heavenly Father helped me quickly redirect my thoughts to the work and I was able to move on the with rest of the day and week. Happy 3 Months to me this past Tuesday! And Thursday was 1 month in Mexico! I have one week left and then I've made it through my first change! Crazy stuff! It did go by pretty quickly! So I will just start over with the week for those who I didn't talk to. So we decided after P-day last week that we were going to have a baptism this week. This young chap named Jose who is 23 years old has been coming to church every few weeks and we have met with him a few times, but he is kind of a flake sometimes. He is homeless and his identification/work papers were stollen so he is not able to work, so he sells candy in front of the grocery store to earn money to eat that day, ect. Because of this he has been kind of hard to make appointments with. However, this week we decided that we were going to prepare him for baptism and convince him that this would turn his life around and help him in so many ways! So, all week have been teaching him and he more or less decided that this is what he wanted to do. Our lessons are quite difficult sometimes because he likes to talk alot and when he starts talking the subject quickly changes multilple times before we can bring it back in to the lesson we were teaching....Anyway....We taught him all the lessons and helped him clean up a bit. We got him a haircut and helped him fix some of his clothes. We set up an appointment with the District Leader for an interview this past Friday. Well, when we went to go verify this with him on Thursday we couldn't find him anywhere. We told him to meet us at the Chapel at 5PM Thursday, but since our phone call on Thursday went a little long, by the time we reached the church he wasn't there. We went everywhere trying to find him, but couldn't. The next morning we found him early luckily and still made it through the interview that day. He went through the interview and the District leader said he was ready. I think the interview was really quite a spiritual experience that helped him understand the importance of baptism. That night, Friday night, we had a Branch Actvivty for Mother's Day. They had games for the moms to play and a big bbq. We didn't get home till like 11:15 PM! Ha! The activity was supposed to start at 7, but the food didn't get there and most of everyone else didn't show up till 8:30PM. It was a fun night and we had a good bunch of our investigators show up who we invited which was exciting! I think they had a good time! The next day we left for the chapel early to fill up the font. The font is a little font outside and we had to clean it and the fill it with the hose which takes about 3 hours. So we got to the church and did all that hoping it would be ready for a 3PM baptism. Well about 3PM people started arriving and I got dressed to perform the baptism and Jose got dressed too. A few minutes before we were going to start it I remembered that we never showed him how we were going to perform the baptism. So we were about to show him and we asked for his full name so I could practice and he tells us, he doesn't think he wants to do this or he's not ready. I had heard about this from our MTC teachers: Satan will try and persuade people that they are not ready, but that they should just go ahead with it and when they are baptized they will feel it was the right thing to do. We tried to convince him of this and he said he had an empty feeling inside. The branch President even talked to him and he still wasn't feeling right and like he wanted to do it. So after keeping the members waiting for 45 minutes, we called off the baptism. It was kind of disappointing! I was so excited and prepared myself for this day hoping that I would have a spiritual experience and rejuvination as well as Jose. It was hard, we had already filled the font and the members were there waiting and we had to call it off. "Oh of all things, can it be really" that we aren't having a baptism today?! The branch presidency had brought the left-overs from the activity the night before and we all ate our emotions out...okay, really just I ate my emotions out, everyone else was probs just hungry! The next day was Sunday and during our Gospel Principles class, Elder Melchor received a call from President Velez saying that he needed to come to Hermosillo with me! I was relieved that I wouldn't have to go alone. We left that afternoon and arrived around 10PM. There were a bunch of other Elders in town for this gathering too and there wasn't room at the offices for us to sleep so we got to sleep in the Mission Home with President and Hermana Velez! It was great! There were about 6 other Elders staying with us too. Yesterday, we began our meeting at 8AM and went till almost 2PM! Long day, but full of great stuff! At the meeting was the 3 of us newbies that came in at the beginning of this 6 weeks, and then the missionaries who came in 6 weeks before us. So who knows, maybe I will have to go again at the end of this next 6 week to close our 12 week program, but maybe not since that is when we get a new President. The meeting was good and re-energizing! We talked a lot about planning and the key things we need to do to be successful missionaries. Afterwards, we had a lunch and went back to the offices for interviews! Can I just say I love my mission President so much! He is just the greatest! I am really going to miss him and Hermana Velez! I was able to tell him everything that was bothering me that I talked to you all about. I had a hard time trying to collect my thoughts and express it in spanish, but I did the best I could and luckily it sounds like there will be some changes with some missionaries in this next week with changes being Monday! I still feel like I could have talked to him more and that there was more I wanted to say, but it is hard when you don't know the vocab to say it...oh well... We returned to Sonoyta late last night at 11:30PM. So that was my week! No questions this week mom? I guess the youth's package hasn't made it wasn't in Hermosillo yesterday...hmmm... Sounds like Mother's Day was nice! I wish I could have been there! I was confused, I thought Mother's Day was this coming Sunday, but I guess not. I love you so much mom and am thankful for you and your love and example. I haven't been able to send your letter, but I am doing it today! So look for it in a few weeks! Happy Birthday this week to Max! I miss that little fur-ball tons! Well, not too much else I guess... The photo I am attaching is of a baseball team here in Sonoyta called Los Misioneros! Ha! The sign says "Helping the Missionaries!" Ha! Isn't that great! Well, thanks for all of your love and advice this past week in the call home and emails! I really appreciate it and hold it dear! I love and miss you all so much! Keep the emails coming! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Much Amor, Elder Joyner

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mexican Road Sign - Guess Hoola-Hooping in the streets is a real problem!
A very happy Elder Joyner!
Sonoyta, Mexico

"Gotta Find My Purpose...Gotta Find Me..."

Hola Familia! It's crazy! Everytime we come to Monday, I can't seem to remember the past week....let's see what happened... So exciting things are happening with investigators! Hopefully we will have baptismS soon! We have been teaching these two teenage girls, Marguarita and Isabel, and their younger brother, Angel. They seem to be really interested in the church which is super exciting! We've taught them The Plan of Salvation, which they had a lot of questions about, and we also taught them The Restoration with the Branch President and his wife who is the Young Women's President. I am excited because we are going to watch the "Joseph Smith, Prophet Of The Restoration" movie with them this next week! That is such a powerful movie and so it should be good! They also came to church with us Sunday and seemed to like it, which is good! And they have been reading from The Book Of Mormon and they Pamphlets we leave them! They usually have friends over when we are there to teach and so we have a little posse of interested teenagers! How awesome! Speaking of church...we had quite a congregation yesterday! about 8 total investigators came (3 families) and it was great because it was testimony meeting and so they got to here everyone's testimonies and they spirit was really strong and it was just a really great meeting! We aquired 2 other investigators this week. One is man that is staying in the Branch President's motel (he owns a motel if I haven't mentioned before...). His name is Manuel and he is pretty cool! He seems pretty receptive to what we are teaching and is a nice man. We think he has some trials in his life though - wife family and work, etc. because one of what he mentions in prayers when he prays with us, but we haven't asked him specifically. The other investigator is Marisa. When we were contacting this one day, I decided to knock on this door and this kid answered and said his mom wasn't home. As we were leaving, she drove up and we talked to her as she got out of the car and helped her with her natural gas tank for her stove. We hooked up the gas for her but there was a leak, and so we called our branch mission leader who is a construction/builder guy and he came and took a look at it. During this, we talked to her and found out she has been attending many churches trying to find the right one and the one she likes! Bingo! We hopped on this of course! :) We asked if we could come back and share a message. We returned the next day and she was cleaning her house. We shared the message of The Restoration and resolved some things she has heard about our church. Teaching the first lesson is the best! In all the lessons you can feel the spirit, but the spirit is the most strong when we talk about the restoration and particularly Joseph Smith. Everytime without fail I feel the spirit so strong as we testify of Joseph Smith! It is really great! He really was an amazing man and a true prophet of God! We then helped her clean her house to her dismay...ha! :) She came to church Sunday with 2 of her kids and she seemed to have a good experience. Neat we were walking down one of our dirt roads a car passed by and it had a Georgia License plate from Fulton awesome! I freaked out of course! A little close to home... So today was quite a busy day, thus why the email is so late... we woke up and did the ususal, but came back to the house and got ready for a wedding! Ha! One of the companionships here in Penasco had an investigator that was getting married this morning and then later this afternoon we had a baptism for that same member! It was pretty neat! It made me excited to work and get our investigators to that point! Since so many people here aren't married to their 'spouses' we will probably be having some weddings as well! They are quite anti-climatic! HA! The couple just signes papers and then the official says some things and announces the marriage as official and that's it. I'm super stoked to talk to you all this Thursday!!! We can call whenever we want so we'll see what happens.... :) This week has been a bit tough speaking. Those who know me know I'm not very much a conversationalist. I love to talk to people, but I have a hard time making conversation. So it is difficult making conversation with people in my own language, imagine what is happening in another language. It is hard! My comp usually does all the small talk and makes conversation and I just kind of sit there quietly. People often ask why I don't speak. It's cause I don't know what to say. And everyone thinks I'm so serious all the time. First, I have a difficult time understanding and when I do understand, I don't know what to say. I am just not a very out going and talkative person and it is hard! This is just my trial that I have to deal with and work on. But I'm not exactly sure how yet....what do you ask people/talk to them about? There is only so much I can think to talk about. So I'm trying to "find my purpose" and trying to be more out going and talkative, but I am just having a really, really hard time. Even with other missionaries I and not talkative. It is just the Latin culture is very vivacious and out going and talkative and LOUD! People aren't afraid to yell...they like it actually. Ha! And I am just the complete opposite: quiet, tranquil, I like my quietness, ect... Yeah, just something I need to work on. But I pray and I know he hears me and can help if I do my part and make an effort. Well that's about it for this week. Next week I have to go to Hermosillo for our Mid-12 week check up! It is crazy, tomorrow is my 3 month Anniversary and then Thursday is my 1 month in Mexico! I've almost made it through a whole change! So the 3 of us newbies who came in last month are getting together with the prez for more training. I have to travel by myself which I am a little unsettled about, but hey! That's life! Maybe the package from the youth will be waiting for me. Since I will be there Monday, I'm not sure If I will email that day or not. I will have to see... Well, I love and miss you all so much and can't wait to chat a bit THURSDAY!!! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner