Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mission Conference
Happy to be at Applebees Disappointed there weren't more fries!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hola Mi Familia! Ah! Wasn´t Conference weekend just fantastic!?! I will get to that soon.... Well, like with all new transfers, this first week has been kind of a long one--especially since we don´t have very much work at all right now. Our main focus: Finding new investigators and encouraging the members to get more involved in missionary work. Although the week was a little dry, I do have a few special experiences that I would like to share with you all. A little blip....a member wasn´t able to have us over to eat this week so they just gave us money to eat. So we decided to go to Applebees! It was fun! Here is a first that I had never done before. So my comp is really good about the concept of ¨Talking To Everyone¨ which is something we should do. You really don´t have any progress in missionary work until you have someone to teach and so you need to talk to everyone to tell them about this wonderful message and invite them to come unto Christ. I feel like this is one of my weaknesses sometimes talking to people randomly on the street, or the cashier in the store, or the person cutting your hair. But my comp is really good at it which makes up for my weakness. So we were waiting at the bus stop one day this week and the bus was taking FOREVER to pass by. While there we just start talking with random people there getting interested in their lives and trying to get a reference out of them. Well, they said that they weren´t really too interested about us passing by their house and so the conversation kind of died there. Like I mentioned in my last email, my compp really likes to sing too and we sing in all of our lessons and he had the idea of singing for these two women that we were talking to. I was a little hesitant and just a kind of surprised seeing as how he just wanted to sing right here on the side of the street, but then I remembered how much music and especially the hymns can bring the spirit and so I gave my consent. We pulled out the hymn book and started singing to them ¨Nearer My God To Thee¨. That was a first for me...singing on the street....As we sang, there was sweet spirit and even a few people who were a little ways across the street turned their heads as we began singing. In the end, we still didn´t get the references, but it was still a neat experience sharing the spirit through song with random people on the street! For the past few weeks we have been trying to contact a member´s friend who said that they wanted to hear the discussions, but we have just hadn´t had any luck finding her in her house whenever we go. Well, this week we stopped by and she was actually there! She listened as we talked to her she began telling us of a few problems that she has in her life. Listening to her I was happy to be going through my mind and thinking all of the ways the Gospel will be able to bless her life. We were able to teach her the first lesson and she apparently really liked it. We still don´t know her too well, but when we did talk with her she just kept telling us how much she like church the one time she went with her friend a few years ago and how much she wants her kids to be in a good place. So we are hoping to really focus on here and get a baptism here soon! I really like this next experience. One day this week, we were looking for a reference we had and we couldn´t find the house and so we decided to stop by a member´s house who lived nearby to ask them if they knew the person. This member is a single mom who just moved here from Mexico City with her older mother and she has two young kids. When we got there, she told us that her kids were really sick from some kind of something they got from the heat (it isn´t as hot in Mexico City and so they are still trying to adjust to the climate here.). We could hear her 2 year old in the back screaming and crying because of the pain or irritation of the sickness. We offered the sister blessings for her two kids and she was a little hesitant not know if the 2 year old would sit still, but in the end accepted. We entered and the mom took her young son in her arms. We placed oil on his head and then proceeded to give him the blessing. Exactly when we began to give the blessing, the young screaming 2 year old went quite all or a sudden. We were able to give the blessing in peace and without a peep. At the end, the mother told us that when we began, the kid had crossed his arms and closed his eyes listening to the prayer. Afterwards, he went off as happy as can be and resumed playing with his toys. For the rest of the time we were there, there were no more tears. I am so very grateful for the power of the Priesthood and the opportunity that I have as a priesthood holder to hold the power of God and to bless our Heavenly Father´s children here on the earth. One last one. We went and visited a less active and upon talking to him and getting to know him, he told us of some personal problems in his life that have kept him from going to church. We began to give a lesson on faith and the wonderful and powerful concept of repentance. At the beginning of the lesson he countenance was a little bit depressed and burdened. We began talking about repentance and the wonderful opportunity our Heavenly Father gives us to have a 2nd chance. We went through the steps to repentance and explained each one in detail and importance. Through the lesson, you could see a progression in his facial expressions. He began to lighten up and by the end of the lesson he had a smile on his face and a confidence that he could repent and put his life together thanks to the miracle of forgiveness and the powerful Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Conference was just WONDERFUL! We have been anxiously waiting and preparing all week for this wonderful time of year! The talks were just magnificent and I felt like I received personal revelation for things that I need and things that I didn´t know I needed, but I got more council and help. I love the focus on missionary work and moving forward in life through tough trials. I was especially touched by our dear prophet´s words as well as Pres. Uchtdorf´s conference address. I would like to share with you a few points from the conference that called my attention and that were especially important for me. * ¨The Scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection¨ --E. Packer * ¨You can do it now¨ --Pres. Uchtdorf * ¨You must become the rock the river cannot wash away¨ -- E. Maynes * ¨How would you feel if someone promised you something every week, but they never kept the promise¨ (Speaking on the Sacrament and baptismal covenant every week) --E. Vinson * ¨The decisions that we make everyday have eternal consequences¨ --Sis. Oscarson * ¨Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith¨ --Pres. Uchtdorf Just a few favs! I can´t wait to get all of the talks in print to be able to review them and study them again! It was just such an uplifting and spiritual weekend! Tell me your favorite parts! Well, I hope you all have a superb week and that your week is filled with missionary opportunities! I challenge you to do what our leaders told us this weekend and pray specifically for missionary experiences to help others come unto Christ! Until next week.... ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner
The Hermosillo Sunset!

Monday, September 30, 2013 - "Wake my up when September ends....."

Hola Mi Familia! is over? Are you for reals? That was quick! And that just means one month less of heat! We can already feel the weather changing and the sun has shifted into its winter position and slowly it is starting to get darker faster. I opened the door one morning and felt a rush of cool air! They say we are just passing through a ¨cold front¨ and that a little bit of heat will return in a week or so, but who knows. Mexico never is too predictable with its weather patterns. But, we have enjoyed days as cool as lower 90s and nights as cool as lower 80s. Haha! How´s that for being cooler weather! Well, transfers were today, and just like we thought, my comp was transferred. He was sent to open a new area in Agua Prieta, but in the 3rd branch, where I was not. He is training a nubie. Here I sit with my new companion,.....another Gringo! He has 1 year in the mission. He sings as well. I have the reputation as the best singer in the whole mission (humbly) and I think he is second. Fun Fact: He tried out for American Idol one year and got his Golden Ticket and made it to the group round, but only made it to there. But it must have still been a cool experience. From what I hear from everyone else, he loves to work and is a really hard worker and so I think we will be able to do some damage this transfer. This is the real test for me, because I just finished being trained Zone Leader, and now I have to train him as ZL because this is his first time. So let´s just hope I learned all that I had to from my last comp to be able to continue forward. This week, was kind of a rough one for us. We weren´t able to have as many lessons as we would have wanted for various reasons. Tuesday we had a meeting. Some of the areas in our zone are in the other stake and so we had to go to the meeting with Pres. Hernandez and the Stake Pres. of the other stake to report on the wards and how they are progressing as far as the missionary work goes. Wednesday, we had our frequent interviews with the Pres. and we had to stay in the offices all afternoon to make sure everyone in our zone got there at their planned time slot. The rest of the week was just full of trying to find more and more work and people to teach. We did have a good moment this week. We reported our phone with the Secretaries that we had lost it and they were able to get another one with the same number and we got it pretty quickly. So that saved our lives! I have found quite a few families here who knew Crandon and Carmen and Carmen´s family. Although I didn´t know him, it is fun to hear the stories and memories that people still have after all of these years. One particular family in our ward actually knew the church because Crandon was the first missionary to knock on their door. Although he didn´t get to baptized them, they still have fond memories of the first time he went to their house. He is most widely known for his height! Haha! When someone starts out telling stories of a tall, but really tall missionary that served here a while back that married someone from Hermosillo and they mention the last name Pineda--I´m automatically like, ¨yup, that´s my distant cousin (or they would call it here my uncle)¨. I even have a few pictures of Carmen and Carmen´s family that I will try to send! We didn´t have anything really major happen this week, but we have found a family or two that could potentially progress. We just need to be consistent with them and make sure that everything goes well. I must say I am quite thrilled that this coming weekend is conference weekend! I LOVE conference weekend. I am excited to ponder certain questions this week that I want answered and to be able to receive personal revelation. This will be my last conference in the mission and I know it will just be a good one! Well, sorry if that was kind of a dry uneventful email, but I couldn´t really find anything too cool to say or think of anything too neat that happened this week. I hope you all have a super duper week and can also prepare yourselves to receive personal revelation this weekend! Love you all so much! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hola Mi Familia! Weeks seem to go by faster and faster! It seems like we were just at Monday a few days ago and here we are. Well, this week was a little weird for many reasons. A lot of things happened. Let´s see if I can describe it all. I would like to start out with some little blessings the Lord has given us this week. The last weekend, the stake had a Mexican Culture night in honor of the Mexican Independence. About a 6 months ago Pres. came out with a ¨rule¨that we can´t go to ward activities/parties if they don´t do anything with missionary work. So we weren´t able to go. But apparently a bunch of investigators went and someone told us that a less active brought a friend with her to the activity. Apparently this friend has received the missionaries a few times over past years and she hasn´t been baptized for one reason or another. Well, apparently this person was telling a sister that she wanted the missionaries to visit her again and that she might be interested in baptism. This has been a real blessing. We haven´t had time to visit her yet, but we are hoping to do it soon and see if we can help her progress. A week ago when we did interchanges, my comp and our district leader went to go look for old investigators to try and find more people to teaching. Upon looking for someone, they came to a house and when asking for the young guy they were looking for, someone told them that he had just died a few hours before they had arrived. Well, they took the opportunity to talk with the father of this young guy and he was pretty upset so they couldn´t do too much, but set up an appointment to return. Well, we went back and began to talk with him and he was just really devastated and hurt by the death of his son. I can imagine. We decided to teach part of the plan of salvation and while teaching he paid a lot of clear attention to us and was taking everything in. He was really amazed at hear that we had lived with our Heavenly Father before this life. It made me think about our experience here on earth. How before we were taught all this, but we just don´t remember and that is what we as missionaries are doing--helping remind God´s children of what they have already known before. It is sad that is takes a difficult event like a death for someone to hear the restored gospel, but we are thankful for this opportunity and feel like he will be able to progress. So, some calamities.... On Thursday, while riding the bus to go eat, our cell phone fell out of my comp´s pants pocket and we didn´t even realize. We got to the food appt. and realized it wasn´t with us. We have been devastated! Being Zone leaders the cell phone is our life! Especially this coming week when we have meetings and interviews with the Pres. and having to call and tell everyone about transfers this coming week. We tired contacting the bus station to ask if they had seen a cell phone, but they couldn´t find it. Mexico doesn´t really believe in Lost and is more like Found and Found. If one finds it, ¨finders keepers!¨ So we are waiting for the secretaries to send us a new one, but they said that it could take up to 2 weeks. So we will just see what is up. This calamity had a blessing with it. We had a FHE with the primary because of some kids we were teaching and we were in charge of the lesson. We planned on bringing a video for everyone to watch, but when we got to church, no one had keys to the office where the TV was and so we couldn´t do that and had to change plans completely and make up a new lesson. I had a thought to do an obstacle course in the dark where the kids would have to follow a light to make it to the celestial kingdom with God. We did a quick impromptu set up and gave a little scripture to start out. We said that sometimes the world is dark and full of obstacles and Jesus is the light that showed us the way and how to get back to live with our Heavenly Father. We did the obstacle course in the dark and at the end we did a review of what we learned. I was so surprised to see how well even primary kids caught on to important ideas that sometimes seem complicated. We even asked who was the light and a little 3 year old told it was Jesus who is our Savior. It is amazing the knowledge that little kids can take it! We were talking to the sisters this week and they just began to tell us of the rough time they are having with the ward. This ward doesn´t really like to help us too much with the work and it can be quite stressful and frustrating. This has been the first of all of our wards for the 4 of us here, were we have had low totals each week for numbers and where investigators are so hard to come by. This is just a hard area. But only have 1 transfer here and I could be here for the rest of my time and so I have NOT lost faith and I have NOT become discouraged yet, but it is just a little frustrating trying to find something that works. While talking, we talked about our heavy weight that sometimes we carried as missionaries. But while talking about this, we also thought of the weight of the cross that Christ had to carry. Although we carry our own load and cross, nothing will ever be as heavy as what Jesus had to carry--the sins and sufferings of the WHOLE WORLD. This thought really gave me hope to keep on. I may feel weighed down at times, but it will never match what Jesus did for me. In the bible, he tells us all to take up our own crosses and follow him. This thought made me feel proud to be part of the army of God and it gave me a new resolution to be brave to fight for the truth. Well, I hope you all have a super fantastic week and have a lot of fun and success in your activities! Just 2 weeks away from one of the best weekends of the year....GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner
Making Choco-Flan

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hola Mi Familia! You mentioned summer is coming to an end, and we are feeling it too! These past few weeks, it seems like the heat has been slowing reducing which is nice. It is still HOT, but tolerable. However, these past few days have been kind of killer. Guess the weather is just getting everything out before it starts to cool down a bit. . Were you all interested in the boxing fight there was between Mayweather and Canelo? I don´t even like boxing, but everyone was talking about it here because they were supposed the best 2 boxers in the world and Mayweather is from the US and Canelo from Mexico so it was US vs. Mexico. Just wondering if it was as big there as it was here? Speaking of Mexico, today is the 16th of Sept. Mexico´s Independence Day. There is usually a parade and no one goes to school or work, but we didn´t do anything too special. Well, I start this week off leaving where I left off. I mentioned to mom, but I don´t remember if I said anything in my email last week, but after writing last week we went to learn how to make ¨Choco Flan¨ one of my favorite mexican cakes! There is a girl in our ward who just got back from doing a visiting student summer term at BYU and she is the only member in her family, but her mom LOVES us and the Sister missionaries and so they are always inviting us over to eat, ect. They invited us over to learn how to make Choco Flan with is basically a chocolate flan cake! Well, the girl´s mom wasn´t supervising us while we were making it and apparently we added caramel that was really cold and that prevented the consistency of the cake from coming out well so it came out a mess! Oh well, it was still able to be eaten and it was still really good. I have the recipe and know how not to make the same mistake, so we will just see if I will be able to reproduce it. We have been just having a real struggle to find more people to teach. I don´t want to blame it on the area saying that it is rich and not full of too many humble people who want to listen to us, because I know you need to have faith and be diligent, but things just aren´t coming out. A lot of times when we go to find someone they aren´t there and then we go with thier neighbors and they don´t want to hear us either and it can just be rough. But, I won´t get down and will just try to keep having faith and keeping my head up. This week we did interchanges with our district leader and I went to his area with the junior comp. I didn´t really like his area much, but it was a good interchange. I did a baptismal interview for a kid that was going to be baptized and we went with an investigator that loves to cook and she just fed us well and then we were able to share a message. The message was about a question the investigator had about why bad things happen to humble people and why there is so much suffering. We shared Mosiah 24 about how the people of Alma where a good people, but were persecuted and how the Lord helped them through their trails. Well, I feel like I don´t have a lot to say this week, so I will leave you all with a thought. Being in the mission, I have really become more conscious about how short this life is. We have been sent here to earth for a specific purpose and we were not make to stay here forever. Sometimes, I feel like the mission is just a dream because it goes by so fast. I think that it is just a short time and I will soon wake up and be in my bed at home. I imagine we will feel like life will be like that someday. That we will have returned to our God that gave us life and we will be reflecting on our earthly experience and we will think ¨wow! , that was just a finger snap and it was over. Being in an interview with Pres. Hernandez once, he talked about how we are really in the last days and how we are preparing investigators to maybe be leaders in the millennium when Christ come. I have thought about this a lot and have thought how all we do in this life just prepares us for the next and maybe for the millennium to help other to come to the knowledge of the Gospel. This has shaped my thoughts and has made me want to choose a career that will be helpful to me in the millennium if I make it to that point. I imagine that life will go on in the millennium when Christ is here. We will still continue working, ect. So I have a desire to choose a career and a future that will help me be of us in the future to help other come unto Christ and to know our Heavenly Father. I really strongly feel like we are in the last days and that is why missionary work is really taking off in our days. I think we must evaluate our lives and put our priorities in life in an eternal perspective and focus on the things that, like Pres. Uchtdorf said once, ¨really matter most.¨ Well, I am quite embarrassed with how short and uneventful my email was, but I couldn´t think of anything else to say. Just 2 more weeks left of this transfer! That is nuts how time is flying! I love and miss you all tons and hope you have super duper fantastic week! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hola Mi Familia! Wow! I open up my inbox to a pretty neat newspaper article that the Bishop had sent me on the Scout rescue! That is awesome! Why did no one tell me about that?!? I loved your descriptions about J&J! I know exactly what you mean! And here they are really big into like yard sells and things like that. Every Saturday and Sunday! So just be planning to save one of your Saturdays in 5 months to take a trip to J&J and we can try some REAL Mexican food there! Yum! Yum! HAPPY 19 MONTHS TO ME!!!! I´m getting so old! Ha! I like barely know anyone in the mish anymore because they are all going home and I am rising up to be some of the oldest generation. That is so nuts! 18 was cool, 19 was just like whatevs, but I know that in a month 20 will just be MIND BLOWING!!!! 4 Short weeks to mentally prepare myself for that one! Well, this week was a week of meetings! We started of the week, Tuesday, with the Mission Leadership meeting. It was pretty fun! I personally am a big fan of meetings of every kind so being able to have meetings with the Pres at least once of month is just fantastic! The Mission Leadership is made up of us zone leaders from the 8 zones in the mission, and then 2 sister companionships who are ¨Sister Coordinators¨ or basically ¨Zone leaders¨for all of the sisters in the mish. We went through a bunch of announcements and new rules in the mission, then we did reports of all the zones how our zones are doing and how we are going to get better and then we had trainings. We had some news from the Area Seventy Presidency. Almost a year ago, they changed the requirement of church attendance for investigators from 2 times to 4 times to try and up the retention of new converts. Well, they have changed the attendance requirement again. To up the retention rate even more, investigators now will have to attend church 5 times to be able to get baptized. Apparently the baptism rate in Mexico is high, but the retention rate low. Many are getting baptized, but few stay active, so that is why they are doing this. This will be a bit of a challenge for us to get used to, but it is how the Lord wants it, so we will just have to do it. As a mission, we are going to have a new focus. The President wants us to start focusing more on Repentance and teaching that completely to the investigators. I think it is really good! That is what his training was on Tuesday and how we as missionaries also need to experience this repentance to be able to teach it to the rest. This week we also had a meeting with us, Pres. Hernandez and the Stake President to talk about the wards in the stake and how they are handling the missionary work. Apparently about 20 missionaries will arrive this next transfer and about half will be sisters so they have to try and find where to put everyone. Apparently a lot of American sisters will be arriving too in the next few months. Before there were like no American sisters in Mexico for security reasons, but I guess with so many wanting to serve they are now sending them. We also had a zone meeting this week to tell the zone what we learned in the Leadership meeting and then we did trainings. Mine was on repentance and make a connection to the tabernacle of Moses. It was fun! Saturday, the Stake had a missionary activity day to try and encourage the youth and we had a part in it. We just sang called to serve at the end, but it was neat singing it wiith 30 missionaries from the Hermosillo area and about 20 RMs. I also saw a few people from my other Area, Nuevo Hermosillo, including....My favorite Family from my last Hermosillo area! They were there! That was fun to see them and we have made plans to have an FHE with them soon! As far as investigators, we are kind of fresh out! The ones we had have lost interest. Especially the cousins we were teaching. They are like not interested anymore. Yeah, they are just kids, but they are getting bored, so we have decided not to go with them anymore. We do have a few people that could progress; we just need to start focusing on them more to see if it would really happen. Well, that is about all I got for this time around Sorry this email wasn´t too spiritual, just business. I hope you all have a fantastic week and that the yard sell goes well! I love and miss you all tons! 5 months and counting... ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner