Friday, September 28, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012 - Changes....JK..ugh....!

Hola Mi Familia! So I am writing today because....we didn't have changes... >:l Yeah....every companionship in the zone had changes....except for us....*sigh* This has been a little hard to come to terms with. I think we both were looking forward to one of us being transferred, but yeah no! I feel like this next change will be a little rough, but we are going to try to make the most out of it. I guess the good thing is that I will be in Nacozari in the Mountains for a little bit of the cold. I guess that is nice, right? Well, we learned a lot of good things in this past conference that I hope to apply and implement to help the work out. I like transfers. They give you a chance to start again and change the things you want to change and better the things that you want to better. Here's to another 6 weeks! So we will get to this past week and everything that went down at the conference soon, but first, last week I failed to mention Mexican Independence Day! Independence Day was the 15th (and 16th ...and basically this whole month) of September. Since Mexicans like to party and all that, the festivities started a whole week before Independence Day! The week before they set up a whole bunch of games like a carnival or fair and little store tents in the town center and every night the center would be alive with people. So this happened the whole week before. The actual day of Independence was the same but they had like bands and more things going on. And that night at 12AM all of Mexico every Political leader of their town or city goes out into the town center and shouts "Viva Mexico!". Since there is a 2 hour difference between here and Mexico City, they did it at 10PM here. We didn't get to see it, but could definitely hear the fireworks afterward. The next day they had a parade at 10AM in the morning (the same time as church) in which all the schools participate in, so there was like NO ONE in church. And it was our turn to speak. Thank heavens that this time I had quite a few days to prepare unlike in the past. I spoke on the trials and tribulations we have in life and how the Atonement helps us overcome them. It was a pretty dang good talk if you ask me. I talked for almost 20 minutes, which I have never done before in my life! Go me! Ha! But yeah, there were only a total of 13 people in the was depressing. Oh well! The next day we traveled to Esqueda to stay with our district and then to travel to Agua Prieta the next day and then Hermosillo. There is a sister in our ward who has a cake shop in Nacozari and I wanted to learn how to make a tres leche cake or something so we were going to do that this day, but since we had to go to Hermosillo we didn't. However, this sister has a daughter in Esqueda who also has a cake shop, so that night we went with her and although there wasn't time to learn how to make a cake, we learned how to decorate! It was pretty neat! Makes me want to go into cake making! HA! The next day we woke up and traveled to Agua Prieta and went straight to the other bus station to travel with our Zone to Hermosillo. We got to Hermosillo around 5PM that night and took a bus to a little place by the offices to eat (Grandma & Papa: we were going to go eat at Carl's Jr. but decided not to. Tough, I know! I wanted to!). Afterwards we went to the offices, but no one was there. Everyone must have gone to dinner, so we all went to the Dairy Queen around the corner! Yes, I know! AN AMERICAN ESTABLISHMENT!!!! Oh, it was such a beautiful experience! It makes me want to serve in Hermosillo really badly! We returned and everyone was back and more zones were starting to arrive. I was able to see my old Penasco Zone and friends and made me miss being there. I think that I would really like to serve in Penasco! I already basically know the area! We then left with the zone leaders of one of the Hermosillo Zones to their house to stay. The heat in Hermosillo was death! I guess being in the mountains, I kind of forgot about the heat and when it didn't get cool and fresh at night like it does here, it was not fun! I guess we are spoiled in this zone! The next morning we woke up early to get on a bus at 7AM to go to the offices because the house we were at was clear on the other side of Hermosillo. Well, being rush hour time it was hard to find a bus that wasn't packed, so we ended up just taking a taxi and getting there really - really early. No one was there and so we had to wait for like an hour and a half till more people came. Elder Castro was there and it was really great to talk to him and see how Sonoyta was doing. At the end of last change, I was so ready for a new companion, but I really miss him actually. We had fun as friends. Unfortunately it wasn't the whole mission that came, just the zones from the north. I was really hoping to see Elder Melchor, but since he is in Guymas in the South, I didn't get to. For the conference, first Pres. Hernandez spoke to us and then Elder Alonso from the Seventy. I thought that it was just going to be an area seventy, but it was an actual seventy from Salt Lake. He was so awesome! He served in this mission as a missionary quite a while back and was telling us a bunch of stories. We talked about so many things, but focused on getting references from everyone we talk to. Like you said mom, some missions are not contacting door to door anymore and are just getting references from members, this is what we talked about. Everyone knows someone that could benefit from the message of the Gospel. And it is so easy to get references just by asking members. This is cool: we did a little something. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about, I think we were demonstrating how everyone knows someone. Elder Alonso told us to take out a piece of paper and write the names of 3 people: a friend, family member, and neighbor that we would like to see baptized in the church. He then took all the papers and said that he was going to take these names to his meeting in the temple with the First Presidency next week and that they are going to say a special pray for the names. I can't remember what he exactly promised us, but it was something along the lines that at least 1 of those people that we wrote down would be baptized. It was really neat. It was such a great conference! And I learned so much that I want to change and apply to really help the work. Afterwards they fed us lunch and then we went on the bus station back to Auga Prieta. We arrived around 10PM at night. We stayed in a house that is in an area that is currently closed, but the mission still pays rent so that one day they can open the area again. Unfortunately they didn't pay the electricity so there was no light, but it was just overnight so it was all good! We then returned to Nacozari Thursday Morning and that was the trip....whew! So my package....yeah....I got one....just not the one that had my shoe....! Thanks for all the food though! Yum! I made my shells and cheese that night and boy oh boy was it good! I wanted to make the brownies, but haven't really felt like buying a ton of eggs just to use one and a whole bottle of oil to use just a little bit. I will probs give in soon enough though. Thanks for all the Cliff bars! My favorite! It is okay to send other flavors besides just chocolate chip! Not too much happened the rest of the week. We had a "Mexican Night" activity at the church Saturday. We just cooked a "Carne Asada" tacos which are the best tacos ever. And Sonora is really famous for Carne Asada. It is the best in Sonora, apparently, than all of Mexico. And boy is it good! :) Well, that about raps this week up for me! Whew! I just have one more little add in! I would like to encourage all who read this to think of someone who could benefit from the message of the Gospel. Everyone knows someone who could benefit....a friend, family member, or neighbor. Everyone knows someone. Give this reference to the missionaries! We LOVE reference and thrive off of them! They give us more people to teach and make us happy. You will find that doing this little deed with make you happier too by fulfilling your duty as "every member a missionary"! Do it! Missionary work is great and "how great will be your joy" if you help someone find the truth! I love and miss you all tons! Thanks for all of your love and support! Yo se que vive mi Senor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, September 17, 2012 - Here we go again!

Hola Mi Familia! It is crazy how fast the weeks fly! Seems like days can last for a lifetime, but weeks go by in the blink of an eye! This seemed to be an especially interesting and good week full of lesson and helping people. So something exciting! We are going to Hermosillo tomorrow to have a meeting Wednesday given by an Area Seventy. I'm not sure if it will be the whole mission at one time, or if they will split it up by zones...we will see! So that should be fun! Yeah mom, we are supposed to be getting a ton of new missionaries in the next few transfers, so who knows, I could be training soon! By the time January comes around a lot of Elders will have gone home and the mission will be quite young which is what I think Pres. Hernandez wants. He is trying to clean and tidy things up and get us a little more stricter and straighter! Sounds good to me! Speaking of new missionaries....another transfer is almost over! Just one more week! Thank heavens too! I am ready for some changes...hopefully! So it may not be until Tuesday till I write again. But we will see what happens. That's quite hilarious about that kid helping at the Football game! Little busy body! I'm sure he was quite good! Ha! That is quite hilarious about family home evening prayers, dad! It does bring back memories and good that Cole takes command of things! Ha! Does Cole's email work yet? So to start of the week...we got our tank back and I have been enjoying HOT WATER again for the past 7 days!!!!! Oh so wonderful! 4 weeks of bathing in cold water has not been fun! It was quite a different experience and it took a few showers for my body to get used to warm water again! But oh, it is so lovely! So we have been a few weeks out of August now, the hottest month of the year, and finally things are starting to cool down some! It gets quite fresh and cool in the early evening and through the night! I LOVE it! I have almost forgotten what cool weather is! The sun rays still seem to be a tad bit strong, but it isn't as hot which is nice. Let's just hope this next transfer I don't get transferred to Hermosillo or somewhere south. This week we had a really good lesson with an investigator named Raul. I don't remember if I have talk about him before but he is a guy who contacted us the in street one night when he was drunk and said that his ex was baptized and he wanted us to come and help him "feel good again"(most likely referring to the Spirit). So have visited him one time before and left a pamphlet of The Restoration for him to read. When we returned this past week we were going to talk about The Restoration, but began by asking him if he had any questions about what he read. He said yes and asked, what this baptism thing was and he said that he had never been baptized. So we immediately shifted gears and talked about The Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had a bombin lesson and he was understanding everything and very responsive and talked a lot about what we were teaching. At the end of the lesson, I invited him to be baptized this next Sunday and he accepted! This is really exciting that he has this desire and a date, but first we have to conquer some Word of Wisdom problems and he has to come to church, so we will see where we get to. This week we had a district activity where the missionaries from Esqueda came and the 4 of us (our district is just the 4 of us) worked together in Nacozari to find more people to teach. It seemed to be quite successful and we found some pretty good people that I am excited to work with! One particular experience, we gave a first lesson to this woman who just had a baby and we taught her how her family can be together forever through the Gospel. We invited her to be baptized and she said should would like that. We set a date and asked if she would prepare to be baptized this day. She said "it's that...."and immediately your mind starts to wonder..."it's that what? It's that your catholic? It's that you have already been baptized? It's that what?" She said "It's that we have an appointment in Hermosillo that day! Ha! that was relief! Of all the things she could have said she just had an appointment and that is why she didn't accept the date. We set up another appointment yesterday to meet with her husband, but they weren't home when we passed by. I'm just full of experiences! Another! We passed by Saturday to a little old lady that Elder Miranda and one of the Elders from Esqueda contacted. This visit was quite heavy and depressing. She is 63 years old and was telling us that her husband had just left her after being married for 47 years. He just up and left her for prostitution. And apparently her 2 daughters have abandoned her and want nothing to do with her. She was just crying and crying and telling us how bad that she just wanted her husband back and how much it hurts being together for 47 years and he just ups and leaves her saying she is good for nothing. She also has basically nothing. She has no food to eat whatsoever and has no money. She eats only coffee and a tortilla every once in a while for food. It was so sad! I was just aching with pain to hear her story and of her sad circumstance! We couldn't really do too much for her temporally, but we tried to uplift her spiritually. Luckily a sister in our Branch was just made director of a DFACS (or however this is spelled/abbreviated) and we told her of this woman and she is going to visit her and see what she can do. We invited her to be baptized and told her it would help her situation and she said she would like to, but we don't think she will progress much! Oh the experiences and stories you hear in the mission! On more! We had an awesome FHE last night with a part member family. The sister and her 2 kids, ages 9 and 13, are members but the dad is not. The missionaries have been meeting with the dad for sometime, and he says he will get baptized, but this is not the time. He says he has a problem with bad words and he wants to rid himself of this habit first. We had and FHE and talked about the family and the responsibilities of the parents and then the kids and how families can be together forever. We then watched "Together Forever" a church video that is a bit older, made in the 80s or so. During the video, the 13 year old boy started to cry and was touched by the spirit. At the end we shared more about how special it is to be sealed together forever. We then asked the dad if he would like to one day enter the temple to be sealed to his family and he said yes. One thing led to another and we began talking about baptism and we extended the invitation to baptism and he said that he isn't ready yet. We asked if there is anything we could do to help and he didn't really respond. All throughout this convo, the 13 kid was adding in his 2 cents every so often and you could just tell how much he really wanted his dad to be baptized. Nothing really happened, but we just said that we were here to help their family to be together forever. So hopefully someday soon the dad will accept. I reflect often how much the mission really is life prep! I have seen so much how Satan is attacking the family and how it is important to have a family reared in Gospel teachings to withstand the attacks of the devil. I have seen so many examples that I can apply to my life later on. Like how not to be when I am a husband and father. But also HOW to be when I reach that point in life. It is really crazy the experiences that the mission brings and I am grateful for these teaching experiences. Well, I think I have pretty much written your eyes off (talked your ear off?) so we will call it good for this week! I love and miss you all tons! Stay fresh, but keep it wrinkled! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Week......

Hola Mi Familia! Wow! Another week has gone by! Just 2 more weeks and only 1 P-Day and we have transfers again! Crazy how fast those go! Sounds like you are all doing well and not too much new. Same here not too much is new. So we had a Cumple Meses this week! We are now up to 7 months in the mission! Crazy how time flies! So crazy! And so it continues to fly. First mom, I need to tell you that I wasn't able to buy shoes this week. I took out the money out of my card and then went to the major shoe store they have here and there were no shoes in my size! The biggest they have is a 10, I think. I think they said they have 11s, but couldn't find any. I've been contemplating whether or not to go to Agua Prieta or not, but they have the same shoe store there, and I fear they won't have my size either. I just have a big foot I guess. Oh well! I can tolerate and live with what I have for a few more months. So this week we had a really special visit that I want to share. There is a less active that my companion has never visited and he has been here for 4 months and so we decided to go visit her and get to know her. Her name is Hermana Emma and when we arrived she happily invited us in and said it was a miracle that we came to visit. She then proceeded to tell us how much of a rough time she has been having and how depressed she has been. She is in her 60s and about 2 years ago her mom died and it has been really hard on her and she has been really depressed and has had a lot of pressure weighing down on her. She said it has been over a year since she stopped coming to church and even longer, that the missionaries have come to visit. She kept saying how everyone has forgotten about her. After she told us about all the depression and pressure she was having we asked her if we could give her a blessing. It was a pretty powerful experience. I could really feel the spirit and when we finished, she was crying and I could tell that she could feel the spirit too and that she was touched. I then sang a hymn for her "Where Can I Turn For Peace" (You should review the lyrics, they are really quite powerful and brilliant!). She then promised that she was going to come to church yesterday without fail! We told her we would pass by for her so that she wouldn't be embarrassed walking in alone. When we got to church yesterday she seemed a lot more upbeat and like she had the spirit with her. All the members greeted her and it was really special to see all the love they were giving her after she told us how everyone had forgotten about her. It was a really special experience with this visit that we had and I was glad to be able to use the power of the priesthood to help someone in need. I thought a lot how much God really loves his children and how much he really cares and knows what is going on in our lives and knows our pains and needs. I feel like we were sent to help her and we did help her. I have come to love the lyrics to the hymn "Have I Done Any Good In The World Today" and have made it my "Theme Song" or motto. I occasionally go over the lyrics in my head at the end of the day and ask myself the same questions that the hymn poses. "Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad or made someone feel glad? If Not, I have Failed in deed. Has Anyone's burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share?" I love those questions and love it even more when I can answer yes and the end of the day and say "I HAVE helped someone in need!" Mom, last week you asked me what I like most about being a missionary and I told you teaching and testifying of Christ. I was thinking more about that this week and I want to add that I really love listening to people! People are so interesting and have so many life experiences and stories to share! That is something more I love! We also had intercambios this week...I forget what it is called in English....exchanges? Our district leader came from Esqueda to Nacozari to be with Elder Miranda and I went to Esqueda to be with the District Leader's comp, Elder Graves from Idaho! It was nice to have an American Companion for a day and have some American/English talk! I think it would be kind of nice to have an American comp in the future! I think I talked his ear off a bit and he the same to mine. .My comp doesn't really talk to me all....I usually have to initiate conversations with him because he NEVER does and convos don't last that long. And then I seem him with the District Leader who is from Mexico too, and they just have a grand ole time laughing and carrying on...I guess I'm not that great....Oh well.... So I have really wished that I had brought my knitting stuff that Hannah Sikes showed me, because I would love to knit on my down time. I don't want to have you send it, because by now I have forgotten. However, I found a peg-board at the house in Esqueda. Justin has one that he made Aunt Lori a scarf from this last Christmas. We also made hats at EFY for kids as a service project one time from this same peg-board time thing and so I remembered how to do it and I have been knitting again! Well it is different from regular knitting...much easier, but it is bringing me much joy! Ha! I am making a scarf! Hopefully next week I will have a good bit done and can take pictures of my progress! Well, that is about it for this week. Not much to report on! Thanks for your emails! I look forward to them every week! Love and miss you all tons! Yo se que vive mi Senor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weddings, Babies, and Ghost Towns!

Hola Mi Familia! My inbox was quite full with all kinds of interesting news about a variety of different people... Well, congrats to Brice and Charlotte! I always liked her and hoped that they would get married. Yay!!! How exciting! So exciting thing: just walking down the street and randomly saw some guy wearing a "University of Georgia" T-shirt...ugh What!?!? Haha! It was pretty awesome though! So first week in the house and I'm still with the cold showers.... :( So the family that was living next to us in the last house had the mission's tank of natural gas and had been using it since there wasn't gas in the house we were living in. So when we left we took theirs so that we could have gas to hook up to the boiler. However, when we tried to hook it up, we came to find out that the tank is American and the connections are Mexican so we haven't been able to hook it up. It has been quite a headache dealing with this going to different stores asking what we can do. The family said that when our tank that they are using runs out they will fill it up and we can make the exchange. However, little do they know we are living without gas and hot water still! Sucks! This week we had a nice lesson. Our investigator, Luis, the young kid about 19 years old wasn't at his house one day, but his dad was there and so we taught him. It seemed to go really well the lesson and when we testified of Joseph Smith, the Spirit was so there! Like the experience you told me of, mom, from your mission, and there is something they told us in the MTC choir that anytime you teach about Joseph Smith or testify of Joseph Smith, the Spirit is ALWAYS there! I have put that to the test in the past 7 months and have found that to be so true! Whenever we testify of Joseph Smith, the Spirit is always there. I could tell that this Hermano was touched by the Spirit. In the end he was really quiet and I couldn't really tell if he was humbled and believed it or if he was offended that we said that we had the true church. I'm still not sure, but he said we could come back if he doesn't get transferred to Hermosillo for work. We will still stop by to see Luis, (whom we haven't talked to at all this week--he has never been there) and see if he is there or not. This week we also had the opportunity to bless a new house of a family in the branch. The Elder's Quorum president gave the blessing, but it was still a neat experience to participate in. Yesterday was probs the highlight of the week! A couple in the branch invited us to go to Pilares de Nacozari, an abandoned mining town about 30 minutes away in the mountains that was inhabited by Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. They Chinese were then forced out around the time of the Mexican revolution when it was commanded to kill all Chinese in the country or something like that. It was really interesting. The Hermana had made shish-ka-bobs and we took those and found some fire wood on the way and cooked them there. It was a really neat little place and a fun time! The drive was about 5 minutes on paved road and then 25 minutes on dirt roads in the mountains. It was a pretty drive and reminded me a lot of the Utah Mountains and at times even the Georgia Appalachians. There was a time when we could see the mountain tops and they had a blue tint to them like the Georgia Blue Ridge. Everything was so beautiful and on the way driving back we watched a lighting storm in the distance to one side and the other side a sunset! I couldn't help but think about how big, grand, and amazing God is and we are really nothing compared to Him, but mean EVERYTHING to Him. Something I think about a lot! All in all it was neat afternoon! Dayne responded to a question from his mom: After being out for 7 months now - What is your favorite part about being a Missionary? Being a representative of Jesus Christ and teaching people about the lessons of Jesus Christ and everything about God. Although, they may not accept it and may have hard hearts, I still love teaching! Well I think that about does it for me this week. It is crazy to think that we are half way over with this transfer and there are only 2 more P-days until the next transfer! Crazy! Hope all is well on the home from! Miss and love you all like crazy! Yo se que vive mi Senor! Con Much Amor, Elder Joyner