Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hector's Baptism Day
Baptismal Font with extremely cold water!
Elder Joyner with Hector on Confirmation Day

Monday, November 12, 2012 - You Won't Belive It! God Must Want Me To Learn Something....

Hola Mi Familia! So it is cold here! Ha, yeah...all of a sudden Saturday was really cold. I have had to pull out my PJ pants and long sleeve shirts and my hoodie. It is a little chilly! And apparently there is a rumor that it is supposed to snow here this week? Not sure if that is true, but we will just have to wait and see. I completed 9 months this week! Wow how time flies! It seems like I just completed 8....crazy! I've begun to realize just how fast the mission goes....sometimes it just feels like a dream. This week was the big party of Nacozari Jesus Garcia. Apparently in the 1800s there was a train with explosives heading for Nacozari and the conductor, Jesus Garcia, drove the train through Nacozari to another town where it exploded and he died, but he saved the people in Nacozari, so they celebrate that every year on the 7th of November. So there were fiestas and bands and dances and all tha stuff. It was cool to pass by and watch from a far. won't believe.....This week, I attended my 4th funeral here in Nacozari. In just the 3 months I've been here, I've attended 4 funerals...What in the world is God trying to tell me!?! What does he want me to learn!?! Most people don't even attend 1 funeral in their mission, but me? I've attended 4! I must say that my testimony of the Plan of Salvation and our purpose in this live has grown tremendously, but I still don't get it. Is there something else I am suppose to learn or is He preparing me for something? I was with an Elder in Esqueda waiting for our comps and we went to talk to a member and they mentioned that this brother from Nacozari had died the day before. Well, since I was in Esqueda, there was no way for anyone to tell us. This member who died is the husband of the sister that has the cake shop. His wife lives in Nacozari, but he was attending church in Esqueda with a daughter and her family because of a family argument that the mom and daughter had about a year ago. The 2 haven't been talking for a year, and well, this event brought them together and now it seems like everything is all good and they have fixed the problems they were having. This brother that died also wasn't living with his wife and they were separated more or less. But just these past few months and this last week before he died they had been together again which is good. When we arrived in Nacozari, we went and my comp wrote his family and then we later went to the funeral home to be with this family. A sister from Esqueda and her husband (Justin knew these 2 really well when he was here) came and she brought her violin. She began playing hymns and after a while, a daughter of this brother who died suggested that I sing while this sister plays the violin. So I sang hymns and was accompanied on violin. It was really beautiful if I don't say so myself. After about a good 45 minutes of singing we stopped (my voice was so tired for singing non-stop for that long) and the family had a little testimony meeting. The next day, we arrived at the funeral home and one of the daughters of this brother that died had organized a small choir of family members with songs to sing during the service. We participated and sang "He Sent His Son", "A Child's Prayer", "I Am A Child Of God", "Families Can Be Together Forever", and a few other children's songs and hymns like that. The service was us singing those hymns, the family saying a few memories and their testimonies, and there was a picture slide show. Afterwards we all walked behind the hearse (spelling?) to the cemetery (spelling?) as such is the custom here in Mexico. At the cemetery, the Elders from Esqueda came since this brother attended church there, and they helped us sing hymns as they buried the coffin in the ground. When it was all covered we all gathered around the grave and they dedicated it. This funeral didn't seem to be as "heavy" and depressing as all the other. I think it made a difference that all the family were members and they had a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, and they knew that their family was sealed together forever and that one day they would see their father again. The only people there that weren't members were just friends, so I think that that made a difference. Funerals are a spiritual experience. They are sad, but it is always spiritual and you just feel so close to the veil. There are probably 2 events in life were you feel that close to the veil: birth and death. I can't say I enjoy the funerals....well sort of...Ha! They are sad and depressing, but also uplifting. This first week as Senior comp has been a little hard. I have felt quite alone a bit this week and there have just been times when I've longed to be around other people like members or other missionaries. I don't know why, but that has been hard. I think I miss Elder Cruz. I liked how we both worked together and were equals. We have been having a rough time because, since we can't knock doors, we don't know where to get more people. The members don't help and give us references and so we have very few investigators. We have talked to the Branch Pres. and hope to create a branch mission plan to help get more support and help from members. We will see how the next few weeks go. We did have a first lesson with a couple this week that seemed to go pretty well. I always love teaching the first lesson, The Restoration. It is a message that only we teach. Not even the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Baptists that go out and preach have this message! It is pretty unique. They seemed to understand and accept it pretty well, so we will see where it goes. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to confirm Hector. My first time confirming someone! It was a neat experience and I enjoyed it. Sorry, I feel like I didn't have too much to say this week, but I hope it will suffice! Tonight we are going to Agua Prieta to have interviews with the Pres tomorrow. So I hope to pick up my packages! (since my comp didn't bring them last week....). This week is the big 2-0! Crazy! I've tried really hard not to tell anyone, but I think the family that we eat with on Fridays found out and maybe have something....I hope not. I don't want attention! Ha! We will see! Thanks for the Birthday video! Until next week... I love and miss you all tons! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, November 5, 2012 - Changes!

Hola Mi Familia! Sounds like you all had a nice week with the Halloween happenings and all that jazz! Seeing all the kids here dressed up and going trick or treating made me miss home and the good old days of my youth! So when I wished you all happy voting last week, I was thinking that voting was on the 2nd of November, so I was expecting news in emails today. But it is actually the 2nd Tuesday in November. I think the 2nd WAS a Tuesday last time which made me think that...oops! How embarrassing! Shows what I know about my country's voting system! Ha! So this was a week with a few things that happened and a lot of changes announced. This week on the 30th, I celebrated "Wicked Day" which is the 9th Anniversary of "Wicked" on Broadway! I wore black pants and my green and black tie. I meant to take a picture, but forgot.... :( My sickness has sort of continued this week. My cough worsened and I started to feel a vibration or rattle in my upper chest when I coughed. My nose got better, but the cough was horrible. Saturday was not a good health day for me. I felt kind of nauseous all day and got tired really easily and my body ached. I have not wanted to go to the doctor because I just thought it was a cold I would get over or just a reaction to the flu shot I got. I asked my comp for a blessing Saturday night and then I went to bed. Since then, my conditions have been improving and I feel quite fine today. I have little to no cough and my throat doesn't feel as swollen or hurts too bad. Hopefully I'm on the uphill? With the news last week that they might be closing the area we really pushed to get Hector, his sister and his mom baptized this week in the case that they closed the area and there wouldn't be missionaries here to baptize them for a long while. We had a special lesson discussing the importance of baptism and then we invited them to be baptized. Hector immediately accepted. His mom said that she would, but she said she wasn't ready just yet. His sister once said she wanted to get baptized, but then got scared and said no, and so when we asked he again this time, she was a little wishy washy. With at least one firm yes, the next step was talk to the dad to get his permission. This was going to be hard since he has never wanted to meet with us or listen to us before. But, Elder Cruz wrote him a note saying we wanted to meet with him and Thursday we went and he was working outside and we helped him move some wood and had a little chat with him. We prayed good and hard before hand that this would go well. We taught him a little bit about what we do as missionaries and our message that we teach. We then talked to him about the importance of baptism and that his family had the desire to be baptized. He said that if that is what they wanted to do, he didn't have a problem with that. So we excitedly set up an interview and started getting a baptism ready. On Saturday, the family invited us over for carne asada tacos (most famous and most delicious tacos from Sonora) and cake for Hector's birthday. This night, we also had the baptismal interview and everything went well! Sunday morning we went to the church early to clean the baptismal font which, like Sonoyta, is outside. We filled the font during church, and afterwards, we had a baptism! I directed the services and had a few of the youth give spiritual thought and messages. I also sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and Elder Cruz performed the ordinance. It was a really special day. This kid has made such a change in his life. After being involved with drugs, he started going to seminary every morning and was learning so much and loved to share with us what he was learning. He has become good friends with the youth, and they all love him. And his desire he had to be baptized was so wonderful! He is such an example for his mom and sister and cousin who also want to get baptized, so we are going work hard this transfer and see if we can't have more baptisms before Nacozari closes. This week, the Zone Leaders went to Hermosillo for their monthly meeting with the President. They came back and organized a zone meeting to share with us what the President told them in Hermosillo. Wow is all I can say! There are quite some changes taking place in missionary work! First off, we are going from 6 week transfer to only 5 week transfers. One of the biggest changes is that the church area presidency for Mexico has decided that all missions in Mexico will no longer be doing door contacting! Isn't that crazy! I think that Mormon Missionaries are famous for coming to your door and sharing a message, but we will not long be doing that. Not really for security reasons, although that is a small percent, but mostly because missionary work is with the members! We will be now relying heavily on member references and help from the members. Our work and success as missionaries will now depend more the members and their involvement. But it makes total sense. People are more likely to remain active if they have a friend they know in the church. It makes them feel more comfortable and provides a support system. As opposed to people who become good friends with the missionaries and when they leave, the members become inactive. This is supposed to decrease the number of converts who go inactive and increase the number of true CONVERTS as opposed to just numbers of baptisms. For this reason they are closing smaller areas that don't have complete church organization, because we need the help of complete organizations and members. So today is transfers and we didn't close Nacozari this transfer, but apparently next transfer in December is when it will happen. Elder Cruz was transferred back to his area in Obregon that he came from before and he will be training. I have been appointed as Senior companion now and will receive Elder Alvarado. I feel ready to be senior and then again, not. I'm not sure what how much we will be able to do this transfer not being able to contact anymore and since the members don't really help, us I'm not quite sure where we will get out teaching pool either. And since they are just going to close the area at the end of this change, I don't know how much progress we will be able to make. Oh this transfer will go, I do not even know! It will be quite different to have a companion that has less time in the mission than me. That is a weird feeling to have so many Elders that I know going home and many new ones coming in and that I am slowly becoming one of the oldest in the mission. What a crazy, weird feeling! Speaking of transfers, I found out that "mi papa" my trainer, Elder Melchor was made Assistant to the President this transfer! That is crazy! I am happy for him! I feel like there was one other change that we had in the mission, but I don't remember what it was...maybe that was all.... Well, that seems to be about all for now. I feel like I didn't really write that much, but hopefully enough to keep you all happy! :) This week, I complete 9 months in the mission! Isn't that crazy! Just 3 more and we have 1 year down and 1 to do! It is hard to believe that it is November already! How fast October went! I love and miss you all dearly and hope all is well! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, October 29, 2012 - Woah!

Buenas Tardes Mi Familia! Wow! What a week this has been! So much has happened! It has been crazy! Sounds like you all have kept quite busy yourselves... That is flipping fantastic about the BYU game! That is so great that they dominated and all! Sounds like it was fun, no? Well, I've got a lot to say, so I will just get to it! Starting off chronologically... So when I was talking to you all last Monday I was starting to have drainage and nose problems and all that junk! The next day, I woke up and my problems had worsened. We have investigators that have been sick so I think I may have gotten it from them. Our leaders called that morning and told us that Pres. Hernandez wanted all the missionaries to get the flu vaccine. So we went to the "hospital" to get that taken care of. There are 2 types of hospitals in Mexico: a big hospital that we think of and then something they call the "seguro" that is like a scaled down hospital, but it is all free, you just have to pay for medicine. That is something that I found out interesting. Since there is so much poverty here they make health care available free to everyone. So we went and got the vaccine for free! What I didn't know, but found out afterwards is that if you have symptoms of the flu such as drainage, etc. , you aren't supposed to get the vaccine because the symptoms could worsen. Well, no one asked me before and I didn't know, so I went ahead and got the vaccine and well, what do you know, my symptoms worsened. I woke up Wednesday with an achy body and got really tired really easily just walking around the house. Well, things got a little worse and I developed a bad cough Thursday that I assume is from the drainage that I have. Well, since then I've purchased pills I've been taking and I am getting slowly, better...a little bit. So that happened and was quite rough this week. I now do not have a voice, but we will get to that later. So there is this sister in the branch that lives in a little town called Cumpas that is an hour away. Nacozari is the closest branch to Cumpas so she comes here. Well, apparently missionaries have gone to Cumpas before to work before, and this sister has a friend who comes to church with her almost every week and seems really interested, but we have never talked to her. Well, we wanted to get permission from the Pres. to go to Cumpas to teach this friend and maybe work a bit there one day. Well, Elder Cruz called and the Pres. said no, and that we needed to work in our own area. He also said this and gave a reason. He said that according to certain numbers and such that he went to a meeting with the Area presidency and that they are planning on closing certain areas to missionary work that don't have a strong leadership organization in the church and they are going to be focusing more in areas that have more member support and help. Well, he didn't specifically say Nacozari was going to be closing, but he hinted at it right there and now we are thinking that they will be closing Nacozari to missionary work for some time. That is sad because we have a good teaching pool of people right now who want to get baptized. We have transfers this next Sunday, so we only have a week left and we will see what happens.... but there is a possibility that I could be transferred this next week. Last week in Naco Town (possibly)...sad! I really like it here! Now to the main part of this week.... So we found out Friday morning that a brother in our branch had passed away. I don't know if you remember that picture I sent you a few weeks ago with Elder Miranda and I with an elderly couple. Well, the man in that picture is the one who passed away. He has been sick for the past 3 months and has been having issues. He went to Hermosillo a few weeks ago to be operated on and just returned this past week. We went to visit him and his wife with the Branch Pres. this past week and he was in a lot of pain, but getting better. I gave him a blessing in this visit. Friday, we found out he passed away all of a sudden and we went and spent a few hours with his wife and a few members who were there. At this point, the Elders Quorum President that was basically taking care of all the services and everything asked us if we could help him later on in the day to dress this brother that had died in his temple clothes, since his wife and him were the only members of their family and there wasn't really any more priesthood brothers available. I thought, weird, but okay. About 2 or so hours before we were supposed to go help I started to realize what we were going to do. I started to think how I don't even like going to viewings and seeing the dead people in their coffins and how in the world was I going to go now and dress this brother having to touch and handle the dead body! Oh I started freaking out! I prayed hard asking "Heavenly Father I don't know what I've agreed to do. I don't like seeing dead bodies much less touching them. I don't know that I will be able to do this. Please, help me make it through". We got there and the 2 of us with the Branch Pres. and Elder's Quorum Pres. dressed this brother in his temple clothes. Well, once again, God really does answer prayers and I was able to make it through. It turned out to be a really special and spiritual experience believe it or not. Just dressing the guy would have been one thing, but the fact that we were dressing him in his temple clothes and that he had returned home to "the God who gave him life" it was really special and just made me think about a lot of things. The next day we were asked to prepare a small talk to give at the service. Again, preparing for this, like the other 2 funerals I have attended here in Naco Town (3 funerals just in this area!) my testimony of the plan of salvation grew! A few hours before the service, the Elder's Quorum Pres. who was supposed to be directing the service and dedicating the grave called us and told us that his wife's aunt just died and he wouldn't be able to make it and that we would have to direct the service and dedicate the grave! I was freaking out! I was so worried and felt like breaking down! I felt like I wasn't qualified to do any of this and why us? I again prayed, really hard, and again my prayers were answered! I was in shock for a while, but I was able to accept the fact that we had to do this and just move on. I said that I would direct the service if Elder Cruz would dedicate the grave! (Ha! easy out for me!) We postponed the services an hour of so and right as we were getting ready to start and the Elder's Quorum Pres. walks in. He was able to make it after all and direct the services and everything and dedicate the grave! What a blessing! My prayers were truly answered! All I had to do was speak and give a musical number (which ended up with me losing my voice a few hours later due to my sickness...and I still don't have a voice to this moment.) which went really nicely and left everyone crying even due to my sickness Interesting things about Mexico and funerals. They stay with the body throughout the night for the viewing. We started the viewing Friday night and the widow stayed at the funeral home that night and some members stayed with her. Another thing, they don't put the coffin in a steel/metal box going into the ground. They just put the coffin in the ground and then bury it. And everyone stayed they till it was buried and some of the family members helped. Well, to top that off, we had to speak in church yesterday which made my voice even worse! Well, that was my week! Like I've said before, the mission give you experiences you wouldn't otherwise have had. How many 19 year olds do you know that have had to dress a dead body and almost direct funeral services and dedicate a grave...I don't know too many, but that happened. I am grateful for these experiences though! They strengthen my testimony in so many ways! Before the mission I had such a fear of dying, but now I am so excited to die! I am not ready, there are still many things I want to do in this life, but when the time comes, I will welcome it with honor being able to return to my Father in Heaven having completed my purpose on earth. Well, that was my week, let's hope this one is not as crazy! Ha! I love and miss you all dearly! Have nice week, happy Halloween, and vote MORMON on Friday! :) ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner!
The shirt is a gift from Elder Melchor, 1st companion and trainer
Elder Joyner and Elder Cruz - 3rd Companion

Monday, Ocotober 22, 2012

Hola Mi Familia! Another week gone, and it sounds like you all made it through your craziness last week! Un montón de felicidades a Elise y Alex y sus concursos! I was thinking of you both Saturday. I am just bursting with happiness that one act was dominated! And Megan got Best Actress! That is fantastic! I sure hope it was recorded so I can see it when I get back! Good luck with State! I have been thinking a lot about Spelling Bee lately with it being that time of year! So many good memories that I miss. Good times!!! That nice that you all were able to spend time with Aunt Melon and you all enjoyed Blue're making me jealous! I have heard of Jerico Road! I really like them! I'm jealous that you heard them! And I LOVE "Homeward Bound"! One of my favs! Thanks for sending the packages mom! I'm sure I'll get them soon! I am supes jealous about the BYU game that you all will go to! Are they going to do a fireside and tailgating like they did at Florida State? That should be fun! I miss college football! This week was pretty decent. A little stressful at times, but such is the life of a missionary! We had a reference from one of the Youth for us to visit. It is a young family. The mom was just there with her 2 kids. She started off asking questions about the 2nd coming of Christ and the 3 days of darkness and asked if the world was going to end in December. We assured her that the world wouldn't end and that the Lord always reveals to his prophets what will happen. Like he did with Samuel the Lamanite about the death of Christ. We then transitioned into there are things we can do to be prepared for when it comes and be saved or whatever and then we taught "The Gospel Of Jesus Christ" and told her if she and her family followed the 5 steps of having faith, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end, they wouldn't have to worry about a thing. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted and said she wanted us to talk to her husband (who was working at the time). So we have to talk with the husband and teach him too and hopefully we will have a family of 4 to be baptized in a few weeks! And thankfully they are legally married so we won't have to deal with that mess! It was really great having members (the girl who gave us the reference and her sister) present to help with the lesson and give testimony of what we were teaching. It is always so great to have a member present to have someone the investigator knows and can easily trust in! So we are hoping for them! Also we have been teaching a family that is a reference from the sister that works in DIF. Unfortunately this family was separated this week because of the abusive alcoholic father. But they really want to better things and work to be a better more responsible family. Here I go again on a family rant! The mission has just made me so thankful for my own family! I am so thankful that I have loving parents who love their kids and who love each other! Parents who aren't abusive and are good example for their kids. I have never heard my father raise his voice to my mother and I am thankful for the love they share. I am so thankful every single day for the parents I have and for the family I am blessed with. I cannot wait to be reunited with you all and share this new love I have for you all! I am so thankful that we are sealed for Time and all eternity and that we can be together forever! You guys are the greatest! I love you all! Raul still has not made it to church which is quite frustrating! He has now passed 2 baptismal dates that we put and so now we need to think of something else. We are planning to teach him the importance of keeping the Sabbath day and going to church as well as the importance of baptism. We are also planning to have some members go with us to the lessons. So hopefully this will help him. Hector and his family are progressing so nicely! They just need to get baptized right now! They are the greatest and we always have a good time visiting them! This week we are going to teach the law of chastity and I have come up with a story to tell with visuals to help explain this commandment. I will have to take pictures of my visuals, I'm quite proud of them! I plan to relate our lives to being Prince and Princess of our King (Heavenly Father) and that there are those who want our inheritance (the power to have a family) and how important it is to save ourselves for someone who wants to cherish this inheritance that we have. I am hoping it goes well like I have planned. I will give a report later on. This week we had the opportunity to give quite a few blessings to a few different people. I am so grateful to hold the Priesthood of God and the power to help bless and heal people! Each time my testimony grows of the power of the priesthood and of how much God loves his children! Every one of those blessings were to none members as well, so it is great that they have the opportunity to receive these blessings and see the power of the priesthood and how it can bless their lives if they join the church! Good news! I've finally learned how to make Frijoles or refried beans! They are my favs along with flour tortillas! Believe you me, we will be having quite a Mexican Feast in a mere 15 months! So yesterday in church the Branch Pres. wasn't there because he had to go to Hermosillo, so we were in charge with the Elders' Quorum Pres. Luckily we got him to conduct the meeting, but we had to give the Sunday school class to the youth. My comp delegated me to give it and unfortunately we didn't have a manual to go off of so we had to wing it. Of course we had a blast with me teaching and I made us have a good ole time! But it was tough and a little stressful not know what to teach. This past Friday was also Elder Cruz's birthday and so in the morning I made him pancakes and I bought him a cake from the Sister who owns the cake shop! We didn't do anything too special, but I was nice to him! :) ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Dayne's mom says - Sorry for the late posts! We have been slacking!