Monday, September 29, 2014

Forjadores

Hello once again everyone. So we now have I guess just over a week been here in the Bario (Ward) Forjadores, and things are going all right. We honestly haven't had a ton of things going on this week. Before we arrived the Hermanas that were here had to open the area as well (which means there both came at the same time to the area and both didn't know it) so they hadn't become really established and therefore didn't leave us many investigators. Things have been good, just a little slow and frustrating at times. We do however have one really solid investigator named America who has been receiving lessons from the missionaries for about 3 months now. Honestly she just needs to start coming to church regularly (which she has) and she is ready to become baptized. We have a few other investigators that we have taught but we´ll see what happens with them.
New study companion!
So we got to know the two other elders in our District (and ward) better. Their names are Elder Lochmiller and Elder Santizo and they are both great elders. Elder Lochmiller is from Idaho and Santizo is from Guatemala, and they´re some pretty funny elders. So our District is just us four right now, so District meeting was pretty small but it was good. I always like district meeting, because it gives a chance to analyze our contacting and teaching skills, and really gives us an opportunity to recieve feedback. You can´t really ask your investigators what you could have done better to teach them a principal haha. 


Evidence that the sisters lived here first!
("I am Mormon; I know it; I live it; I love it")
 Last night we also had the program I mentioned in my last email and it was pretty good. They invited the whole stake and a lot of people showed up, they filled up almost every seat and they had a ton of seats! They showed off that diary thing I mentioned that is basically a diary of a persons conversion that a member can fill out while their friend is investigating the Gospel and give to them after (or if) they become a member. It is a good thing, and it has the potential to really get the members involved in the missionary work, and really invite their friends to come and see. We have hopes but we´ll see how well it is implemented. All the Missionaries in the Estaca La Libertad also sang a rendition of Praise to the Man, and it was pretty powerful. All in all it was a good meeting. 


At the Great Pyramid of Cholula
Steps of the Pyramid of Cholula
That was pretty much our week, just getting to know the people that are in our area, getting to know the area. We also went to Cholula today, which is a ancient pyramid with a Catholic church on top. It was pretty sweet, and the Cathedral is pretty bueautiful. I think it is actually the largest pyramid in the new world. Pretty cool stuff. It is really interesting to learn the history of Mexico, and the people here. There is also a really cool story about the Volcano Popocateptl and the mountain next. It is really Romeo and Juliet-esque, I´m sure you can find it on wikipedia or somewhere.
Church at Cholula
Popocatépetl and Izaccíhuatl
 Anyways, con amor -Elder Hartvigsen


Elder Hartvigsen - Overlooking Puebla from Cholula

Forjadores District

Monday, September 22, 2014

Changes

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a good week full of excitement and interesting things. I definitely have.

So right now I am writing from Puebla in the stake La Libertad, Forjadores Ward. So last Tuesday we were having a normal day until we received a call from the Assistants who told us that we were going to have emergency transfers on Friday. So we had emergency transfers, and we are now working in Puebla and no longer in Tlaxcala. If you want to see where this is use the Church´s maps and search for barrio Forjadores or search for the neighborhood Momoxpan. We´re on the west side of Puebla right now. The reason that we had these emergency transfers is that apparenty the Hermanas that were here had a stalker, so they changed us because Atempan is a really quiet tranquilo place. It´s kind of funny, this was actually Elder Delgado´s first area where he served for 5 months, so it has been fun for him to see all the members that he knows.


Some of the last views from Tlaxcala
So this last week we also had Zone Conference on Wednesday (in Tlaxcala before we changed) with President Christensen. It was awesome! We talked about the state of the mission, how to teach with power and the spirit, and also in depth about the atonement. It was great and I definitely learned a lot. The spirit was very strong and definitely helped me understand everything that was being said since it was all in Spanish. It was great, and I always love seeing the other missionaries that are serving around us. I also saw a couple of the Hermanas from the MTC. They were doing well, but the past week had been in the hospital because they got Salmonella! Yikes! So far I´ve been blessed not to get too sick. Hopefully that keeps up. We also ate together too and the food was great! Sister Christensen provided it and they were meatball sandwiches and cake from Costco! Its funny to see all the stores that are familiar to me, today we ate at McDonald's and there´s and Auto Zone in our area too.

Final days in Antempan Ward
So it was really tough in those last days in Atempan to say goodbye to everyone. Our investigators were sad to see us go, and we were sad to have to go too. It was especially tough to say goodbye to some that we had taught a lot like Hermalinda and Joel, and this other investigator that worked in a bread shop. It was nice to see that they actually liked us too haha. I really hope that our old investigators keep on progressing and make it into the church. We had a couple that were really close, one investigator was completely ready but just needed permission from his mom!  It was also rough saying goodbye to some members and the Hermanas that we shared the ward with. We´ll miss working with them and seeing them around.

Pizza farewell
The Thursday before we left we went and blessed a home (and pizzeria) of some investigators that the Hermanas have. It was great and we had some good Pizza too. The Investigators are a couple with a daughter who is a member and we were going to be witnesses at their wedding so they could be baptized. It was pretty tough saying goodbye to them and the Hermanas that night. It was a good experience none the less.

So then that Friday we finished packing and cleaning our house, helped the new Hermanas bring in their bags when they got there and then got a ride with the Bishop to our new area. It was a pretty strange day, with the new area. It is pretty different here but not a ton. It is totally city with more people. Our last area had more rural parts with some corn feilds but here its just houses and buildings. Its good here though, the members are strong here as well. The ward isn't as big as Atempan but its still the same spirit! I also met a really awesome member who is totally stoked on missionary work who was a Cristiano (different prominent religion that proselytes here) for 40 years before he converted. He is a really awesome guy and is going to help us out with our work. I think that this area is going to be more tough that in Tlaxcala because the people in Tlaxcala area a little more relaxed and humble but here they don´t really want to stop and talk. This area only really has one solid investiager but none of the investigators here have attended the capilla yet. It will be good though, and we are planning on trying to work with the members and getting as many referrals as we can.

Now in Puebla
Also yesterday (Sunday) we had a meeting with the Stake Presidency here about a new program that they are going to start implementing here. It is to help get the members more involved and it is basically a little booklet that is a diary for the members to keep track of their friends progress in their conversion and the gospel. It is pretty comprehensive and has places to record feelings and pictures of stuff like their first lessons and the first time they attended the church, their baptism and stuff like that. It looked pretty good and streamlined, so I would imagine that the church is trying to implement this all over the world. It seems really good and a great way to the the members involved in the misisonary work every step of the way. Also so that the converts can have a really concrete way to look back at their conversion and how it happened.

After that we also practiced singing for a program that the stake is going to have next week. It is a rendition of Praise to the Man and its pretty cool. All the missionaries and the stake are singing and it´s pretty powerful. Also after that meeting when we were walking home we almost got robbed. There were a couple guys that started following us that looked pretty sketchy and then they stopped someone else and we think they robbed him. Crazy!

My Spanish is good, I think I´m am actually doing well in comparison to how other Americans are. I actually have been getting some compliments and people are surprised when I say that I've only been in Mexico for two months (yesterday!).

Anyways things are good. We´re sad that we had to leave our old area and we miss it and the people, but we are also looking forward to working here in Puebla. Espero que ustedes tengan un semana con divertido y éxito en sus esfuerzos. ¡Les amo! 

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, September 15, 2014

¡Feliz día de Independencia de México!

Hola a todos, and happy Mexican Independence day! At least I think its today. They might just start celebrating tonight. We actually have to go home early tonight because there will be a lot of drunk people in the streets, or at least that's what I understand haha. Also it seems like all of the drunks here can speak English. It's kind of strange. Anyways it was a good week here in Tlaxcala. Still a lot of walking, and a lot of rain this week too. We also had some great lessons and taught a few new people.


Mexican Independence Day - (Actually September 16)
So with our two newer investigators Joel and Hermanlinda we are making good progress with them. We taught a good lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and talked about baptism and attending church. It was really good, and Hermalinda actually showed up to church! Joel coudn´t because he was working, but it was very nice to have a her and another ´´investigator´´ (9 year old son of a member) at church. Now we just need to get all of our other investigators attending! It´s especially tough for us, because our investigators need 5 weeks of attending sacrament meeting before they are eligible for baptism, so if we don´t have investigators attending baptismal dates fall, and then they can´t get baptized until the next change even if we feel that they are ready. But we are making progress, which is good.


video

So also after that lesson that we had with Hermanlina y Joel we had to walk back to Loma Bonita (the area that we live in) from El Rincon (where Joel-Hermanlinda live) for another appointment. It was a half hour walk and it started dumping soon after we started walking! It was the most rain we´ve gotten since I´ve been in Mexico! It was also pretty crazy because in our area there isn´t very good drainage on the streets so the water just kind of flows with them. We were soaked, but then our next appointment fell through so we had the opportunity to go home and change. Also a couple days later it rained pretty hard in the early afternoon but then stopped. However later that day we had an appointment in El Rincon and when we got out there one of the streets was completely flooded! It was litterally a like a little river! Since we didn´t want to wade through it we bushwacked through a some corn and fields to get to our appointment. That was pretty exciting, we saw some pretty big spiders on the way, too.

Sunday was also pretty exciting. Apart from having 2 investigators at Church we had divisions as well. I had the opportunity to teach two lessons with new investigators by myself and members. It was a good experience and it really put my Spanish to the test. It was good however, the spirit was there and the members helped me out too. That´s another thing, we have been working a little more with a Hermano that lives near our investigators in El Rincon and he has been so helpful. He has a combi (van) and gave Hermanalina a ride to church because its a long way to walk and she´s pregnant. The members here are very good, they are very upbeat always willing to help out. I feel very blessed to be serving in the ward I'm in.

Well, I hope you all are still doing well and enjoying the end of summer and beginning of fall. They tell me the rainy season is almost over here, but we´ll see. Con amor

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, September 8, 2014

Walking, Walking and More Walking

First week of this change went well. The only change that happened that affected us was that we received a new Hermana fresh out of the Provo MTC. Other than that things have been mas o menos the same. I think that a lot of times Atempan (our ward) is used the train new missionaries. I know two or three other Elders whose first area was in this ward as well. Interesting to think about.




This week was pretty normal, a few good lessons, lots of contacting and walking, lots of appointments falling through. We´ve been trying to contact more the past couple weeks and because of that we have been getting more appointments. This is a great thing, but many times it seems like we show up at the house and the person is never there. It´s frustrating but there isn´t much we can do about it. Just need to keep working with what we have.

Also this week my rock climbing skills came in handy ha ha. On Saturday we stopped by the house real quick in the afternoon, and when we left and shut the door behind us Elder Delgado realized that he locked the keys in the house! Luckily our house has a balcony with a sliding glass door and this kind of ledge thing below it. It wasn´t that hard to climb. For all you climbing people our there I would rate it a 5.7 or 5.8. However once I got up to the balcony I realized that the door was locked. Also luckily there was a pre-existing hole in the glass door that was just covered by some tape. So I ripped through the tape and used a stick to unlock the latch. It was actually pretty fun, I felt like McGyver or something.

The Elder's Apartment
Success!
"The Hole"
We also had some pretty interesting food this week. On Tuesday one of the members that was going to feed us had to cancel and gave us some money to go get food and we went to this Chinese place in the grocery store. It actually wasn't that bad, and also interesting to hear the Spanish of the Chinese family that run it. 

On Friday we had a pretty normal la comida, but at the end they brought out these worm things. They showed them to use when they were alive and it was pretty knarly. I thought they were going to eat them live for a second, but they cooked them. They were alright, kind of a neutral flavor and crunchy. Elder Delgado wouldn't try them though haha. 

We also had the chance to have Chiles en Nogada which are very good. It is actually a dish that originated in Puebla and is a kind of national pride food becuase it has all the colors of the Mexican Flag. It is a chile that is stuffed with some fruit, meat and some other stuff and covered in a cream sauce and pomegranites. It was really good and you get a chance definitely try it!

There is also kind of nationalistic feeling right now becaue about a week from today is the Mexican Independence day. There have been a lot of flags around and a lot of sort of Mexican type items being sold at different places. That will be fun, but I´ve heard that on the night of Independence day if you aren´t a missionary from Mexico you have to stay in the house.

Chiles en Nogada - ¡Viva Mexico!
Yup, things are still about the same here, doing well. I hope all of you are doing well! ¡Hasta luego!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, September 1, 2014

Last Week of my First Cambio

Hey everyone! Hard to believe that it is already September. Before we know it, it will be October.


Things are still well in Tlaxcala, we had a pretty exciting week. On Tuesday we had to go to the Oficinas again to do some things for our Visas. They took our fingerprints and had us sign some papers. Real fun stuff. However I did get to see my old MTC district again which was fun. I had the opportunity to talk to my MTC comps about what their areas are like. Everyone is still doing well.

Elder Hartvigsen, September 1, 2014
This week I also had another intercambio with my district leader Elder Benavides. So Wednesday after District meeting he and I came to my area and Elder Delgado and Elder Vela went to their area in Chiatempan. It was really good to work with Elder Benavides. He is a good missionary who really likes to talk to everyone! We had some really good contacts that day, and now we have hopefully some new investigators. We'll see when we drop by all the addresses we received and see if they are real or not haha. Also when I was with Elder Benavides we met with a member to help out with some questions about verses in the Book of Mormon. Turns out she wanted us to explain the Isaiah chapters. Luckily I didn't have to explain much. If you think trying to understand Isaiah is hard in English, try trying to understand it in another language!


That day was fun. It is always good to gain perspective with different missionaries. Also that day we taught two new investigators, and we taught them again on Saturday. They are really solid, and have great spirits about them. On Saturday when we taught the Restoration, we had a really spiritual lesson. It was great, and really reminded why I´m out here is to help people come unto and learn of Christ and his gospel. These two seem really prepared, and I´m so glad that we have the opportunity to help them. They are very accepting, and we actually found them while we were contacting. We have another investigator who we are starting to teach that had  been taught by the old Elders that is also really strong. So that has really brightened up my week.




We also received some bad news this week from a different Investigator. We had felt good about the lessons we were teaching her, but we received a text from her saying that she didn't want to continue talking with us. She also mentioned that it was because she thinks we are just trying to increase the numbers of our church. So that was pretty sad for us that she didn't understand that our purpose as missionaries is to help other come unto christ, and not just to promote the church.


We also found out whether or not we have cambios (changes). Elder Delgado and I are staying in Atempan 2 for this change. There was actually only one change in our entire zone, one of the Hermanas in the other area of our ward (Atempan 1). So we will be getting a new Hermana, who actually might be a brand new missionary. That will be good, and I look forward to at least another 6 weeks in this area.



Sunday was a very interesting day. When we arrived at the capilla (chapel) we found out that there was no electricity and that one of the cables that connected the church to the electricity grid had something come undone. The Hermana´s also had a baptism after church and since there wasn't any power the pump didn't work to pump the water into the font. 

So, in order to fill the font, we ended up getting some buckets and opening the hatch where the reservoir of water was for the font (at our chapel the font water is recirculated). So we had to draw water with buckets in a really tight space and pass it through a window to fill the font. So we did that for about an hour and still didn't have much water in the font. 

Luckily the two that were being baptized were children, so in the end they just had to basically lay down in the water when they were baptized. It was a pretty unique experience. It was good that we were able to make the baptism happen, it seems like there is always something to complicate our work.

Sunday Elder Delgado and I also spoke in Sacrament meeting. That was pretty nerve-wracking and really put my Spanish to the test. It went well though, I actually spoke longer than my companion did. We also had to speak very loudly because there wasn´t power for the microphone.
All in all it was a good week. Some pretty high highs, and some pretty low lows. Anyways, love you all, adiós!


-Elder Hartvigsen