Monday, November 30, 2015

Welcome to December!!! :O

Greetings from the Land of a Sunny, Warm Christmas!!!  (or as they say here, Navidad)

Wow, this week welcomes in the month of Christmas!!!  But I probably won't be dreaming of a white one.  Ajusco is in the mountains of Mexico City, so it does get colder here than in other parts of the City, but I'm still wearing short sleeves most of the days.  Occasionally a sweater.   The members say that every year they see snow on the peak behind our houses, and every few years they see snow in the village of Ajusco, but from what I can tell, their understanding of snow is really more like frost.  ;) 
Elder Mayoral and I had the idea of making a Christmas tree this year, since we won't be able to buy one or cut one down.  We bought wire and green paper to fashion into branches and my comp wants to use our plunger as the base and trunk.  We'll see how it turns out when we're done with it.  :D   

Yesterday was the Branch Primary Program and I saw more people in the House of Prayer than I have ever seen before!!!  Our branch has about 20 active members that come every week.  Yesterday I counted 78 people during Sacrament Meeting!!!  We had to use 3 different rooms in the house to fit everyone and we put chairs in the hallway as well!!!  Not everyone could see the children, but I feel like they still enjoyed it. :)  Children have a very special Spirit.  And I believe that all the adults can watch them and think of themselves as the little, innocent children they once were and laugh at the funny things tney do and say.  The children bring many more people to the church on Sunday than the missionaries can alone.  :)

This week I'll try to summarize each day of the week to give you a run-down:

Tues:  We worked hard all day long and taught 5 lessons.  One of our investigators, Ximena Flores, has seemed to lack a little bit of interest or motivation recently.  So we taught about temples to try and help her.  She showed more interest than I've seen in her in a long time!  She told us that she wants to take her family and go to the Visitors Center to see and learn more!  I know that the Temple is the House of the Lord!

Wed:  We searched all day for less-active members of the branch.  I found many streets I had never visited in my time here.  And we found the houses of some of the members!  A large part of missionary work is working with less-active members as well.  And the greatest way to help them is to give them a friend in the ward/branch.  So go find yourself a friend and go to church with them!  :)

Thurs:  Weekly planning session and more lessons.  We found two new investigators!

Fri: Zone Conference with President Mecham!  I love Zone Conferences!  I always leave feeling so inspired and uplifted to rededicate all of my life to the church!  President has been focusing a lot on that he wants every area in the mission to teach 40 lessons every week, 20 of which to be lessons to an investigator accompanied by a member.   It is vital that we teach this many lessons so that we can really teach Everyone and find those that are ready to receive the gospel in their lives!  It is a large goal, but every week, my area has been improving and I'm determined that we can do it.   We also did an activity where people with blindfolds had to blow up a balloon, pick up a pencil, sharpen it and pop your balloon.  There were people tempting you to walk the wrong way and get you lost, and also people to help you.  I was one of the missionares that was blindfolded.  It represented that to blow up a balloon is to put a baptismal date, but even after this, there is still work to do to pop the balloon and get baptized.  We have to include the members in the work so that our investigators can have more guides to help them.

Sat:  We did an Area Attack in Topilejo.  President Mecham came up with the idea of Area Attacks, when we send the entire zone of missionaries to one area and we all go out with the members and contact as many less-active members as we can in a few hours.  When the zone leader was putting the companionships with members, he told one members, I'm going to put you with the two best missionares, Elder Jarrett and Elder Mayoral, everyone else in the zone was still standing there and heard it and all said, "Heeeyyyy".  Hahaha, it was funny.  And the whole experience was very cool!

Sun:  Primary Program and another Area Attack in San Pedro.  I went on divisions (left my companion and went with members) with the Stake President and his wife!  Again, we were able to find and motivate and help more less-active members and I was able to meet and spend the night teaching with the Stake President!  :)

Well, until next week!  I love you all!

Elder Jarrett

Monday, November 16, 2015

A New Transfer, A New District, A New Start Here in Ajusco

Hola Mis Hermanos y Hermanas!

¿Como están esta semana?  Espero que estén muy bien.

So, Transfers were last week.  It seems like this week has been so long though.  The changes were very unusual.  My comp and I are staying in Ajusco and both of the other Elders were taken out.  And the President put in two new Elders,  Elder Tapia from Veracruz and Elder Cruz from Quintana Roo is just starting his mission here in this area.  Elder Tapia is three months from finishing his mission and he came here to Ajusco after one year of being Zone Leader.  In fact, he was my Zone Leader in Iztapalapa when I was there, so I already knew him pretty well.  He is very serious when it comes to missionary work.  He likes to get things done and is very persistent in doing them.  When he contacts in the street, he is like a missionary machine, contacting all the people he can.  He is a good missionary and does the work in a very different form than Elder McClure did it, which is good because maybe this is exactly what Ajusco needs to change drastically.  But this week has been an adjustment.

We haven't been able to find many new investigators recently, and the first night that Elder Tapia arrived, he called us and asked us to put the goal of 5 new investigators this week.  It was a big goal and we worked very hard all week to achieve it.  There were a few stressful days when we worked hard and still didn´t have anything (another day was just like last week with many appointments and we ended the day without any lessons) but we kept powering through it.  Wednesday, I did more street contacts than I've done in any other day of the mission.  I iniciated 10 or 11 and my companion started another 8 or 9.  Of these 20ish contacts, we only got 5 addresses that we could follow up on.  Throughout the week, we kept a goal of contacting 5 people each. Last week, I mentioned the references we have received through a program called Missionary Contacts.  We have been searching for these contacts every week all last transfer.  And there were a few that we could have dropped.  One of these was a lady that we went to her house and she said that the lady we were looking for didn't live there.  My comp said that we should drop her, but I thought we should try again another day.  So we did, and we found her!  Yesterday we had an appointment with her and taught her (Magdalena), and two of her family members, Carolina and Israel.  They told us that they have family problems and our visit was an answer to their prayers!   Then we made contact with another reference from Missionary Contacts named Bryan and invited his sister Lilian to join our lesson!  They accepted very well as well!  So as of last night, we found our 5 new investigators!  It was a lot of work, but we did it! 

Here is a picture of our old district, our branch President (center), and our branch mission leader.

I Love You All!!!  You're in my prayers!

Elder Jarrett

Fwd: View of the City at Night from Ajusco

View of Mexico City from Ajusco at night.

Fwd: Gracias again for the piñata

Birthday Piñata

Fwd: Photo of our District!!!

My old District.  Elder Mayoral and I and Elder McClure and Elder Miller.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Staying in Ajusco!!!

Hola amigos!

Last night we found out about transfers this week.  For the first time in my 8 months as a missionary, I will be having a companion for more than one transfer.  My companion, Elder Mayoral, and I are staying in Ajusco!  But the other two Elders in our district, Elder McClure and Elder Miller, are both getting taken out.  So we're not sure if they are going to close their area for good, whitewash it with two new missionaries, or there's also an option that he'll put in two sister missionaries here (because our mission is receiving more sister missionaries than male missionaries.  And the number of missionaries in our mission continues to drop lower and lower every transfer.  When I got to the mission, there were close to 250 missionaries in this mission, now there´s about 160.)

Well, as for MY area of Ajusco.  It's difficult at times because we don't see much progress.  The members have told us numerous times "The people here are very hard.  Ajusco is a pueblito (very small town) and the people are very stuck in the Catholic traditions of their families.  They´re very hard to convince."  In another Zone Conference this week, the zone leaders mentioned again that Ajusco is a very difficult area.  So it's no secret that things move a little slower here in our area.  We don´t see as much change as we would hope, but truly, little by little, things are changing.  

When I arrived, many of the members had hard feelings towards the missionaries and didn't really show much support.  When we would go talk to the members, they would share experiences they had had with disobedient missionaries in the past and would tell us that we weren't doing our work here because there are so many less active members in the branch and we haven't baptized in this branch in a while.  In the past few weeks, we have seen that the members now have begun to have trust in the missionaries again.  These members began to be willing to help us.   Our branch called a Branch Mission Leader, which we had not had.  They began to have a Branch Council meeting every week and invite us to come talk about our investigators.  Many of the members now know our names and have given us their friendship and support.  

 Last week, I was thinking about each of my three areas.  Each one has been unique and had a different feeling to it.  As I thought of my time here, I thought of the work we've done and the slow progress we're seeing.  We've tried contacting references received in the past and never contacted (and we've done a lot.  We started the transfer with 21 old references, now we're trying to find the last few), contacting in the streets, working more with the members, starting an English class, everything we could think of.  Sometimes it's discouraging to think that you're trying to do all you can, but you're still not seeing much success.    Last week, we had a really bad day like that.  We started the day with five scheduled appointments and really good plans for the entire day.  Every one of our appointments told us that they couldn't talk with us when we arrived at their house, all of our backup plans weren´t there, and before the day was even over, we had gone through all of our plans and didn´t have one single lesson.  We felt we had done all that we could and yet the people still rejected us.  
I began to think about how the people that reject us don't understand that our message can bless them more than anything else in the world, but no matter how bad I want them to accept it, they have to choose to accept it.  I then began to think that our Father in Heaven at times probably feels very similarly.  He has created a Perfect Plan for his children.  He has sent his Son to save us and has given us every opportunity to accept his gospel in our lives and receive this peace and forgiveness.  He has done literally everything he can to help us receive this happiness and peace in our lives, even down to giving his own Son for us.  But it still comes down to our decision to accept it our own lives.  He probably feels sad with us when people reject our appointments and don't want to hear from us.  He probably doesn´t see as much success as he would like either.  But he is very patient with us and I need to be patient as well.  

With President Mecham, our new mission president that arrived a few months ago, we've just started to see all of his new changes.  I'm really happy with them.  He's really taken out a lot of unecessary things we've had to do so that we can devote more time to the really important things.  This week in our Zone Conference, we heard many new changes.  One is that he wants us to be able to actually relax on P-days (because really, P-days have been nothing of a rest so far) and now on P-days we can travel to anywhere in the mission boundaries!  I'm so excited to see new places in our mission and get to know Mexico City a little better!  Hopefully more updates on this to come soon!

I Love You All!!!  Have a Great Week!!!


Elder Jarrett