Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I was dreaming of a white Christmas. . .

Hello everyone. I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas. I enjoyed mine, even if it was one without snow. It´s pretty warm here. It would have felt more like Christmas if it had been colder. On Monday we had a good day. We visited some investigators, had some good lessons. 
Zone Christmas Party
Tuesday was also a good day. We had exchanges with our District Leader Elder Lopez and my companion went with Elder Dansie to Huamantla. We had a bunch of lessons but almost all of them were with members. We had a good lesson with a couple of investigators as well. They are a couple and the husband, Edgar lived in Jackson Hole for a while a few months back. I enjoyed working with Elder Lopez as well.

On Wednesday we did our weekly planning and in the afternoon we had the ward Christmas party. We got there at four when they said it was going to start but it actually got started at about 5:30. I know there is a stereotype about Mormons being late but sometimes it´s too much here. It was alright because we didn't have any fixed appointments and we were able to help set up. We ate some pretty good tacos that the bishop made. They also rented some inflatable slides for the kids. There was also a projector set up for a movie, we didn't stay though haha. 

On Thursday the 24th we had a Christmas zone conference! It was really fun. It was different from last years. Last year it was mostly spiritual except for the end when we played a game with dice. This year it was almost all games and group activities until the end when we had a spiritual part. It was a good conference however. The food was also very good. Mashed Potatoes and pumpkin pie for desert! I miss pumpkin pie! That night we got back to the area and visited three families and shared a short spiritual Christmas thought. It was a good evening and I was glad that we could share something with somebody instead of just losing the night.

Calling Home on Christmas Day
Christmas was a good day. So in the morning we had to do service so we went with Hno. Serrano, a member of the ward to his little field and helped him collect his corn. We went pretty early in the morning and my companion was upset because they mission gave us permission to sleep in until 7 but we left the house at 6:30 haha. I enjoyed working in the field however. It´s really simple and you can just kind of turn off your brain. After that we ate breakfast with the Serrano family, went home and showered then went to eat lunch with the Landeros family. There we also talked with our families. I really enjoyed being able to talk to my family, and especially for Skype. Technology is pretty cool. My companion also really enjoyed talking with his family. After that we visited an investigator that had called us who was devastated because his girlfriend left him haha. He was a mess, but it was a cool experience to teach him. He had found our number from other Elders that had visited him. He disappeared the day after, but we also started teaching his parents and brothers who are solid. In the evening we ate dinner with the Hernandez Rodriguez family that had invited us to eat. I ate way too much on Christmas.

On Saturday we had a good day. We visited some recent converts, found some new investigators and prowled around. It got a little cooler that day but I´m realizing that I´ve gotten used to the weather here. I´m going to die in Utah haha. On Sunday we didn´t have many people in church because everyone is on vacation. Yup. Today we´ve had a uneventful P-day. We´ve just done the basics. Buying food, cleaning the house, washing clothes. Well, everyone have a great new year!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Feliz Navidad!

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas this week. I honestly don't really feel like it is that close to Christmas but it's this Friday. Kind of strange honestly. I think it is also because it really isn't that cold here. Last year it was colder. Also there is no snow.

So this week was good, I liked it a lot better than last week. So we aren't getting lost as often which is a step in the right direction, On Monday in the evening we taught some investigators that were new to us Miguel and Alicia. They're pretty open to the gospel, but at the same time not super excited. We'll see if we can get them to church. We also taught that night Noemi and Steve. They're doing great. They are one of the few people I've seen in my mission that actually have family prayer every night and we've seen how that has blessed them and their two little girls. 

On Tuesday we had a tougher day. Just a couple of lessons, but we met a really cool member. She is an elderly lady an one of the pioneers here in Apizaco. She has about 45 years as a member. She is also really funny and chatty. We also taught our other investigator Jesus, who was supposed to be baptized this week. He told us that we were going to have to postpone his baptism because he wasn't going to be able to get out of working every night this past week. We were a little bummed, but it's alright. The thing is, is that we lost communication with him until today which has concerned us. He didn't go to church either. We're going to see how he's doing in the evening. 

Wednesday we had a cool experience. We contacted a woman in the street in a farther away part of the area, and when we asked her if she thought God had a plan for her she started crying and said she didn't know. So we put an appointment to visit her on Saturday and when we visited her she told us that she had been feeling really bad that week with her work, and her family and that morning prayed and asked God for guidance. She told us that she thinks that we're that guidance that God sent her. Prayer is powerful. She´s named Carmen and has an adult daughter named Guadalupe and a 11 year old son named Angel. They're awesome and went to church with us yesterday! Also we visited her after Church and said that she made a goal to go to church every week because of the peace and spirit she felt. However they are going on vacation to a city called Huachinango for a couple of weeks so we'll see them when they get back.

On Thursday we had a zone meeting. Our zone here is super small compared to the other zone I was in, it was kind of strange. We also taught Melissa, the deaf recient convert we have. On Friday we taught a baker investigator that we have that makes the best bread I've ever tasted. Saturday we had a few lessons and went to an activity with an investigator named Felipe. The activity was called "Trip to Hawaii" and was awesome! So it's basically like you go sit in a room in the chapel that looks like and airplane and there are flight attendants and the captain talks to you. They the plain crashes and everyone dies. Then appears an angel and we went to different rooms that represented the different Kingdoms of Glory. It was a super cool activity and the celestial kindom was sweet. It made me want to go to the temple haha.

Church on Sunday was good, it was the first time we attended with the ward. It was so nice to bring investigators. Yup, that was our week. It was a good one. Well, everyone have a great Christmas and look past the trivial things and remember the things that matter like family and the Savior! Merry Christmas! Love you all!

John 3:16-17

-Elder Hartvigsen

  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Xicotencatl 1

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well and enjoying the lead up to Christmas. I realized today that at the end of next week it will be Christmas. Super crazy that it is almost here. It feels a little bit like it, but honestly it isn't the same without snow and really cold weather. Alright.
New companions
So on Tuesday we had the changes and I was assigned to a ward named Xicotencatl, which is in the city of Apizaco in Tlaxcala. Its a fairly big city. Our area is also pretty big, with a fair part of the city and neighborhoods that are farther out amidst the fields. It seems like a cool area. We've been getting lost which always happens when you open an area. My companion is named Elder Cornejo and is from El Salvador. He´s a cool guy. He has just over a year of being a member and is excited to be a missionary. He is also a Chef, plays guitar, and speaks English almost fluently. He has a lot of talents. So Tuesday we had the changes meeting and then came to the area and had an appointment. A Hno. named Hno. Serrano (you will remember him as the Hno. that cut my tie in Zacatlan) took us to the appointment. We taught an investigator whose name is Jesus who has a baptismal date for this week. He´s a good guy, and was a little stiff in the first lesson but loosened up in the second one on Thursday.

On Wednesday we had a fair amount of appointments and had a district meeting with the new district. So our district are the four Elders from our ward, and two other Elders that are in a town called Huamantla. They´re good guys, but now I´m the old man in the District. It isn't a feeling that I like honestly. Thursday we got to know a bunch of members that live pretty far away in our area and taught Jesus and Geraldine again. Friday we had Weekly Planning (Elder Cornejo´s first weekly planning! Whoo!) and visited a really Catholic guy in his panaderia. Oh, we also are teaching a recent convert who is deaf and doesn't talk. We have to write the lesson out. Her name is Melissa and it is so cool that she found the church in spite of the obstacles. On Saturday we also taught another couple, Steve and Noemi. Steve is a less active guy coming back to the church and Noemi has a baptismal date for the next week. It was great to get to know them. 

Tijuana Mexico Temple
And on Sunday we went to the Tijuana temple dedication in the stake center. It was a really cool experience. Pres. Uchdorf dedicated it. Also his Spanglish was really funny. When he wanted to say border he said bordo (in Spanish it's frontera). And in the evening we visited some members.

Yup, Things are going well here, but we also have out work cut out for us. Everyone have a great week!
-Elder Hartvigsen

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Translado (Transferred)

Hello to all. This week was a good one. We had some ups, we had some downs and at the end of the week we had two baptisms! It was so awesome! I'll get to that right now. If I don't write my email chronologically I'll get lost. Alright. 

So Monday was cool, we had a few lessons in the evening. Tuesday was also good. We visited many of our investigators, like Xicotencalt and his son who is also named Xicotencalt. His son is really cool. He started coming to mutual a few weeks ago and made friends with the two young men so he's been going to church and Mutual. It's kind of funny, he gives a ride to another young man on his motorcycle and he's 15. I'm not sure if that's legal but whatever. He's solid and he'll probably get baptized even if his dad doesn't.

Wednesday we had the last district meeting of Elder Hammer! It was pretty normal. Afterwards we took pictures with the sombreros we bought. Afterwards we had exchanges so that Elder Hammer could do the baptismal interview so I went with Elder Pantoja. I like the area of the other Elders, it reminds me of the city of Puebla. Our area is more towns-like. We had a good night. Also on Wednesday the assistants called me to tell me I
'm going to train again! I'm really excited to train again! It's a blast even though it can be kind of hard some times. 
Final days in Zacatlan (de las Mananas)
Thursday was a tough day. We had a lot of appointments but they all fell through until 6:30 at night. Also it was super cold that day. Oh yeah, I didn't mention it but this week it got cold. It started on Wednesday I think. I honestly don't know how cold it got but it was cold enough that I bought ear warmers haha. However that night we had a cool lesson with an investigator named Yazmin and her kids. She has two daughters that are 9 and 11 and they're always really into it w hen we teach. They're really excited to be baptized. The only things it that this week they wont be able to attend church because they're going to do their first communion :(. Oh well. They're doing more out of commitment.

On Friday we had a ton of appointments. It was awesome. On Saturday we went to Puebla for the trainers meeting and my companio was super sick. He was just miserable all day and for the 5 hours in total that we were in a bus. It was a good trip to Puebla. Also that night was the baptism. It was great. We were so happy for Pablo and Karina. They were so prepared. It was a really spiritually strong service. 

Also that night they let us know about changes and it turns out that I`m going to leave Zacatlàn. I was pretty sad. I really like Zacatlàn. That also means that I`m going to open area again which is kind of tough but also an adventure. I'll probably be lost for about a week again. It`ll be fun. Sunday was also awesome. I had the opportunity to confirm Karina and my companio confirmed Pablo. That was cool, and the first time I've confirmed someone. Very cool experience. Yup, so today we came to Puebla so that we can stay the night with other Elders. So we'll see where I go tomorrow. Have a great week!

-Elder Hartvigsen


Monday, November 30, 2015

Slumber Parties and Zone Conference

At the gorge in  Zacatlán 
Hello everyone. Tomorrow is December. I realized that a few hours ago. That's crazy. I like the weather here so far. It still isn't that cold. I'm beginning to doubt that it gets cold. Who knows. 

So we had a good week. On Monday we had a good evening, taught Pablo and Karina. Tuesday we also had a good day, we visited a lot of investigators, we've also started teaching a investigator named Clemente who has a taco shop. He´s a really friendly guy.

On Wednesday we had a good day. Found a new investigator, visited some youth of the branch that had stopped going to church and visited Pablo and Karina again. Fun fact. Karina´s last name is Lee, and it is because her great grandfather was Chinese. He came to Mexico in a war or something and got married in San Luis Potosi. She can look for ancestors in China once she starts looking for names. Also that night we stayed the night in the other Elders' house to leave early in the bus to go to the zone conference. It was fun. We ate tacos and there was a mariachi band that was playing in their street until late. It was pretty cool. 
Waiting for dinner
On Thursday we had a zone conference. It´s funny, every time we go to one of those, I´m reminded that there are sister missionaries in the mission, We´re in a bubble of Elders in our Zone. The Conference was really good, I learned a bunch of things, such as in a typical mission, only about 25% of your time is actually used proselyting. A lot of time is used sleeping, studying, in meetings and eating. That night we also had a good family home evening with some members where we played gospel pictionary. On Friday we went to Olintla, the far away town. The trip didn't seem that bad this time. Especially because we got back at about 5 PM and had time to work in Zacatlán. Those investigators in Olintla are solid. This week they told us there are going to come to see the baptism of Pablo and Karina and go to church the next day. They also told us that they are seriously considering the option of moving to Zacatlán in January. We're pumped for them.

The youth of the branch
Saturday was normal. For mutual we made the kids clean the house of prayer with us after talking about service. In the afternoon we had some good lessons. Sunday was cool. President Nelson went to church with the branch, and we had four investigators in Sacrament meeting. Pablo, Karina, Clemente and Xicotencalt Jr. the son of the other investigator. It was really cool to see him there. He made friends with the other two young men in the branch.

So also this week is the last week of the transfer. That means that my companion or I will probably have changes because he's going to end his training. Also Elder Hammer is going home. I'm really going to miss those two. So we'll know what's happening next week. Everyone enjoy your first week of December!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, November 23, 2015

Olintla and Thanksgiving

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well. Things are well in Zacatlan. Its getting a little colder but not really that cold. I´m just a wimp because I´ve gotten used to a 80 degree climate. This week was pretty awesome. 

Elder Hartvigsen with the Branch Primary
Lunes we had a few lessons in the evening. On Tuesday we went to cut wood in Hna. Paulita's house. We also helped her with other things like feeding her sheep. Wednesday was a good day, also normal. We had district meeting, visited a few people. 

Thursday was a crazy day. So on Thursday we went to a town called Olintla, which is 3 and a half hours out of Zacatlan. We went to go look for a reference that we had gotten from the reference system. So we left our house at about 7:30 and got there around noon. The ride is pretty rough. The roads are pretty bad and are super windy. Also the combi drivers drive super fast around every corner to be able to get there in a reasonable time. So after the 3 hour roller coaster ride we finally got to Olintla. It´s a pretty town, and it´s also really warm there since it´s almost in Vera Cruz. So when we got off the combi we asked someone in the street if they knew the guy or where the direction was. The person we asked didn't know anything and said that the street didn't exist. It was pretty disheartening after the 3 hour combi ride. However we asked someone else and they said they might know him and sent us to ask in a store in the next street over.

Travel Day
We went to the store and the lady that answered us said that she might know him, but we started teaching her a little bit about the restoration. After a minute or two a guy passed by outside the store and she told us it was him, so we went to talk to him. He was actually happy to see us and told us to come by his house when we finished talking to the woman in the store. When he went he was very friendly and open. He told us that his siter that lives in Florida had sent the reference but he doubted that we would come. He was really suprised to see us. His sister had recently been baptized and gotten married with a member. His mother who lives in another part of Mexico also is going to be baptized in a few weeks. His name is Alfredo and is from Chihuahua, he lived in the south of the US for like 10 years when he was in high school. There he met his wife, and returned with her to Olintla where her family is from. We had a super awesome lesson with him. He was stoked to read the Book of Mormon. Also his wife got home at the end of the lessons with his two kids and her mouth dropped open when she saw us. They were both very happy that we went. We´re going back this friday to visit them, but we´re also going to teach them more frequetnly throught Skype (even though it´s a little town in the middle of nowhere, they have internet!). We also talked to him by phone saturday and he was super syched. He was reading the Bood of Mormon and said that he was having nightmares but says its because there´s something that doesn´t want him to read it. It was a super good trip and we ate some really tasty stomach pork tacos.

Saturday we had a bunch of lessons and finally did splits with some members! Its really hard to do splits here, one because there aren't a ton of members and many times they cancel with us when we ask them to accompany us. Saturday we also had a bunch of lessons.

Celebrating Thanksgiving??
Sunday was the primary program and I played the Piano. I did pretty well considering that I didn't have too much time to practice some challenging songs. At least they were challenging for me haha. 

Today we had a little Thanksgiving celebration. We made instant mashed potatoes, bought rolls and chicken and watched The Prince of Egypt. It was fun. Also a member from a ward in Apizaco came and he has a tradition of cutting the ties of missionaries. Right now I have half a tie on haha. My companion too. He said he´s collected like 400 ties that he's cut from missionaries. Yup, pretty good week. Everyone have a good Thanksgiving and remember of all the blessings that you have!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Corn Boys

Hello everyone, the weather is crazy here. It´s like Utah, one day it gets hot, the other it gets really cold and rains hard. Everyone says it gets really cold here, but we´re still waiting until it really gets cold. Maybe more in December. Who knows.

We've had a pretty fair week. Nothing too out of the normal. Last Monday we had a cool family home evening with Pablo and Karina and our Branch President. We talked about the plan of salvation, baptisms for the dead really caught their attention. Tuesday we had a day with a lot of lessons! It was great. We visited a less active guy that is coming back to church that´s named Froylan who is super cool. He reminds me of a Pirate with his gruff voice. We visited Xicotencalt and had a good lesson. The relief society president accompanied us and shared a really powerful testimony. We also found two new investigators, Jorge and his kid Angelo. Wednesday we visited some investigators and Pablo and Karen again and also had a zone meeting in Apizaco which is about 2 hours away in transport. It´s always a little weird leaving Zacalán because they usually put a movie on in the bus. Sometimes they'll put on some really sketchy or weird movies too. 

The "Corn Boys"

Thursday we did service (or however you say it in English, in Spanish it´s prestamos servicio) with a member of the branch that has a field of corn. We worked from 8 until 2 pm. It was actually really cool. We opened the husks and collected the corn in costales (sacks). It was actually pretty fun, and we ate tamales after. I was pretty sore the next day though. Missionaries walk a lot but don´t work too often doing farm work. Friday was another cool day. We taught Pablo and Karen about the word of wisdom since Pablo smokes. He was kind of on edge in the lesson, and we think it´s because he read the pamphlet we left him and stopped smoking and was thinking about how hard it was going to be. He smokes a fair amount and more right now that he doesn't have a good job. Hna. Lucia also was with us (relief society pres.) and also shared a great experience with them and then my comp gave Pablo a powerful priesthood blessing. It was a very spiritual moment.

Saturday we had Mutual with the young men and women and my comp was in charge this time. We ate hot dogs and played family feud with scripture questions. It was really cool and the hot dogs were really tasty. Sunday was good. We had Pablo and Karina and another investigator named Alejandro in church. The services were good, and I´m playing the piano to help the primary kids practice for their program next week. I wish I would have practiced more. Some of those primary songs are tough. Well, everyone have a great week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Normal Week in Zacatlan

Hello to all.
I don´t have too much time, so this will most likely be a short e-mail. We've had a good week here. I can´t really remember anything out of the ordinary to be honest.

Memories of home 
Tuesday we had some interesting lessons with new people but they didn't become new investigators because they didn't accept another appointment. Wednesday we had exchanges and I was with Elder Hammer in his side. We had a great day with like 8 lessons in the afternoon. It was a solid day with a chess game at the end haha.

On Thursday we had planning, did the family home evening again and visited an investigator. Friday was a good day, we visited our investigators who are progressing and they accepted a baptismal date for the 5th of December! We´re so excited for them! On Saturday we worked and went the mutual because my comp is the Young Mens President. We made pizza which was tasty, and on Sunday we had a good day with investigators in the church! Pablo, Karen and another one named Xicotencalt (I think that´s how you spell it). 

Everyone have a great week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, November 2, 2015

Philippians 4:4

Hello everyone. We are doing very well here in Zacatlán. Time continues to go by very fast. When you can work and also joke around a lot with your comp, time goes by almost too fast. We had a good week. Technically it was the first week of the transfer, but because training is 12 weeks the transfers didn't affect us. The next transfers will likely affect us.
Some good exercise and service 
So on Tuesday we had a good day. We did some service for an older sister cutting fire wood. She lives pretty far away, like 30 minutes in combi from our house. She has a pretty cool ranch. It was fun cutting wood. Also interesting to see the way that they cut wood it a little different. Instead of cutting it from the top down, you kind of cut it on the side. It was fun, but I was a little sore after. However I felt like a Mexican lumberjack for a few hours haha. 
A floating caterpillar 
On Wednesday we had interchanges and I was with Elder Pantoja in the other area. It was a good day. The other area has a lot more "city" than our area. It was cool to get to know it and get to know some of their investigators. Wednesday went well as well. We had to do the family home evening of the branch again. The branch president had to stay late in his work so he called us minutes before it started and asked if we could do it. It went well though, the members are fun here. Friday we found some great new investigators that my companion contacted in the street. Their names are Pablo and Karina and they are a young comple with two little kids and the best part is that they´re married! I was so suprised when I asked them that. Its also kind of funny, because they´ve only been in Zacatlán for like 2 or 3 months and before they lived in Tlaxcala in my last area. They also went to church after only having one lesson. They´re the bomb.

Dia de los muertos 
Saturday was weird. It was Halloween and we didn't have much of anything. We just taught some members and less actives that day. In the nights after about 7 pm there wasn't anybody in the street. The other Elders told us that the center was packed and that´s where everyone went. Sunday was great! We had 3 investigators with their kids that went to church! It was also a good fast and testimony meeting. On Saturday the branch went to the temple (we couldn't go), and many of the testimonies were pretty powerful. I miss the temple so much. But the services were good. I had the opportunity to teach the Sunday school class and it was cool as well. The streets were also empty too, because it was the Day of the Dead. It´s kind of strange how the custom is. So what they do is make like an altar with a picture of the person that´s dead, and put their favorite food and vices on the table with candles. In the center there were a lot of really big altars and I saw some in some houses of investigators. Interesting however.

Well, I hope everyone has a good week! Can you believe that it´s already November? Bye!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Another Week in Zacatlan

Hello everyone. 

This week was a lot more normal. We didn't have any grand adventures to any town where the vegetation is different. It was an alright week. I left my agenda at home so I´ll see what I can remember haha. 

In the fog
On Tuesday I can´t remember what we did. I think we taught Karen and Edwardo. We taught them the Word of Wisdom because they smoke a bit. Karen is willing to give it up but we´re not sure if Edwardo really has the desire to change. Wednesday we ate Cochinita Pivil which tasted awesome! However the Jalepeños were pretty spicy. Me enchilé. That night we taught a few less active members that are doing alright. There are children of the other less active that we are teaching. 

On Thursday we had weekly planning which was actually really good. We had a change in our mission, we had been using different formats to do weekly planning that the mision had implemented and it was kind of complicated and took forever. However now we just use the basic planning papers that come in Preach my Gospel. It was so much simpler! Also that night we had to change plans because our branch President that morning dumped a branch activity on us that we had to prepare that day. We had to cancel some appointments but the activity was a good one. We used a projector to watch a bullying video and talked about why it is important to love the people around us.

So much candy!
Friday we went to check out another town nearby because we had a reference there. The reference didn't exist but the town was pretty cool. It was really tiny. Saturday we were helping prepare a lot of things for a baptism of one of the 8 year old kids in the branch. The parents threw a big party for his birthday after his baptism. We went to help them fill bags of candy. It was sooo much candy. The baptism went well. Things always start so late here. I know there is the joke about Mormon time in the states, but here it's way worse! It´s Mormon Mexican time. The baptism started 50 minutes late. The family of the boy showed up like 25 minutes late. 

On Saturday the mission also told us to buy extra food just in case with the hurricane Patricia coming. We´re kind of in the mountains however. We were fine, but I didn't mind shopping Saturday instead of Monday :). On Saturday it was just windy. There hasn't really been weather out of the ordinary. Lots of fog and some rain. It has been getting colder however. Everyone have a great week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, October 19, 2015

Caxhuacan - Alma 13:23

Hello everyone. Espero que todos se encuentren bien. I´m tempted to just write in Spanish. I feel like sometimes it would just be easier. Anyways, we had a good crazy week, full of adventure and excitement! No but really, we went to a really far away town on Tuesday. It was quite the experience.

So on Tuesday we got up early and went to go search for a reference that we received through a the missionary web site. So when we got to the bus stop we got into a combi that went to a town called Zapotitlán, to get there we had to cross the mountains through winding roads and cliffs. Two and a half hours later we got there and then took a different combi to a town called Ixtepec. It also went on an even more treacherous road with some really good views. After an hour in that combi we came to the last town that the combi went to. So we got off the combi and it was pretty hot and humid. All of the people had traditional clothing on, all of the women were wearing a white skirt with a red band around their waist with two pig tails. The men all were wearing white pants and white shirts and had Jesus sandals on with white hats. There were a fair amount of younger people that did have some regular clothes on like jeans and t-shirts. So we went to go talk to the people to ask them how to get to Caxhuacan, and we went with one group. Out of the 5 ladies only one spoke Spanish so we asked here how to get there. It was pretty funny, we would ask a question or say something then they would talk among themselves in Totonaco (their native language).

So we figured out that to get there we would have to take a truck that passed by every 30 minutes we we got in the back where there were some benches welded in and rode another 25 minutes into the town. The town itself isn't actually too tiny, and it was really surreal. It was a different climate with different plants because we were on the border of Vera Cruz. It was interesting to talk to all the people. It was a pretty sweet experience. We did not however run into the reference that we were looking for. We got to the house, but the person was working and wasn't going to get home until 4, and we had to leave at 3 to catch the last combi back to Zacatlán, but we left her a Book of Mormon with her son :). So after that, we went home the way we came. We also saw a funeral in Ixtepec as we were waiting for the combi. Everyone was dressed in the traditional clothes. Also we saw a big street market in one of the towns on the way. It is super beautiful in the sierra.

Nearing the end of the rainy season??
Yup. Wednesday we had some lessons, talked to Edwardo what he would have to do to get married. Thursday we had a few other lessons and I taught mission prep in the branch. Friday we had to go to Tlaxcala for a mission conference. The president talked a lot about obedience and changing the culture of the mission. I think we had the conference because some things happened with some Elders in Puebla. Who knows, we´re pretty out of the loop out here. That night we stayed in Puebla with the Secretaries so we didn't have to travel to far for a meeting of the trainers the next day. We were 7 Elders in one house. It was pretty crazy and I understand why there is only one companionship per house generally. However it was really fun to be with the secretaries and with Elder Breceda. Later in the day we came back to Zacatlán and helped the other two Elders out with their baptism. It was a very spiritual experience, except that when the convert came out the water, he said, "I feel like a cat." haha.

Sunday was disappointing. We didn't have any investigators again. We even went to the house of one and woke him up. He told us he would be ready in 10 minutes, but after the 10 we went to check and his cousin told us he had left. It was pretty frustrating. Oh well, we can't take away their agency I guess, even though it would be easier. And I would be Satan in that situation. Have a good week!

-Elder Hartvigsen 

Alma 13:23 And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored, for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Branch Changes

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well and enjoying your fall. It still gets hot here during the day but in the mornings it gets pretty cold. I`m expecting the temperature to drop pretty soon. We've had a good week. We've been finding a few new investigators (some that live pretty far away) and have been teaching them.

Mowing the lawn??
 On Tuesday we had a day of walking around looking for people until the evening. That night we had a good lesson with one of our investigators, Asael. He`s a 17 year old guy who is the cousin of some members. It`s a little funny because the other Elders are teaching his mom. He lives with his cousins on our side and his mom lives on the other side. Wednesday we had district meeting (in our house :D) and had exchenches with the other Elders. I was with Elder Hammer in our area. We had a good day, a member took us with a few references and we taught some investigators. We also tried unsuccessfully to fix the churches electric piano. It was a good day, and it`s always interesting to be with another American working all day. 
Better days for the church electric piano
Thursday we had another day of searching and had weekly planning in the morning. In the night we went with a member to a part of our area called Ayeualulco (something like that) and got lost looking for a reference. I just love when the people who we talk with just blatantly lie to us. We were looking for the contact that we had talked with and we knocked a door and asked if they lived there and were home. The guy said just a minute and went to look for them. When he came back out he told us that they didn't live there. Yup. It was pretty funny.

Friday we went to another part that is pretty far away in our area called Tlatempa. There we contacted a reference (yay!) and did a bunch of contacts. We also had a funny experience but to understand it I need to explain something. So in Mexico there is a store called Coppel that sells a bunch of stuff like appliances and they give people loans to be able to buy there. So many times they have people that go out to collect loans from the people. So when we went to see if one of the contacts that we had done was home, his wife greeted us and then when we asked if he was home he wife told him "the people from Coppel are looking for your!. Also when we had talked with him before he didn`t tell us his name at first because he thought we were from Coppel haha. Friday night we also taught Edwardo and Karen the law of chastity so that they get married. It was a good lesson but Edwardo didn`t seem too excited. He told us he wants to save up to have a fancy wedding. He told us maybe in about 4 years they could get married. We`re shooting for November haha. We`re going to see how it goes. 

Saturday we had more lessons, one was really tense with the daughter of a member. The member is really pushy that they accept the chruch. It was a pretty akward lesson. You can`t really force the gospel on somebody. We`re going to see if we can visit her without her parent there. And on Sunday President Nelson came to the branch to implement a lot of changes in the callings. President Cordova now has two councilors who are members! Now the missionaries won`t have to be councilors in the branch presidency! We`ll have less meetings!

Yup, it was a good week. Tomorrow we are planning on going to a town super far away. It`s called Caxhuacan. See if you can find it on a map. It`s on the border of Puebla and Veracruz and is going to take 3.5 hours to get there in a micro-bus. It will be an adventure.! Have a great week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, October 5, 2015

D&C 1:23-24

Heyo, everyone. Hoped you all enjoyed your general conference weekend. I sure did. General Conference in the mission is like Christmas haha. All the missionaries get pretty pumped up. It was a really great conference too! Three new apostles! That's not something that comes along very often. There were a lot of talks that I really liked. I especially liked Jeffery R. Holland´s talk, Pres. Eyring, and many more. If you missed them go check them out or rewatch them on lds.org!
Working out in the country
This week was a good week. We had a lot of things to do this week too. On Monday we had a good lesson with an investigator that has an autistic son and it was really spiritual. She just didn't want to commit to go to church. That is one of the hardest commitments sometimes. Tuesday we had a good day, we visited a sister of the branch that is recovering from a health problem induced by her diabetes. She´s doing well, but I´m sure that when she had the problem it was pretty scary because their town is 4 hours out of Zacatlán and 2 hours away from a clinic. She´s recovering however. On Wednesday we had interchanges with Elder Hammer and Elder Pantoja. Elder Pantoja and I were in our area working with my comp in the area of Elder Hammer. We had a really long day of appointments falling through. We were walking around from lunch until we finally had a lesson at about 8 in the evening. It was a long day but we had a lot of contacts.

Thursday we ended our interchanges and had interviews with President Nelson in Chinaguapan. They were good. Also while we were waiting we went to a nearby catholic church with a virgin that is 13 meters tall. Es gigante! We also had some good appointments in the night with Karen and some new investigators. On Friday we moved into a different apartment because our old one is the branch Presidents and he wanted it back haha. So we spent the whole morning doing that but now we´re good and settled into our apartment which is a little farther out in our area. However it´s OK because there is a really good panadería (bakery) nearby! And on Saturday and Sunday we enjoyed general conference! However our investigators didn't show up this week. :( Also today we played pool in the morning which was fun. Well, everybody have a good week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

D&C 1:23-24 - That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. Behold, I am God and have spoken it; there commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
The gigantic statue

September 28 letter

Hey everyone. Another week has flown by. 

We´re doing well here in Zacatlan de los manzanas [of the apples]. I don´t know why it´s called that, I haven't even seen one apple tree! But one of the things that I do love is that the sweet bread that they have here is super cheap. 2 pesos. I might gain some weight here for that. We've had a good week. We had a few days of a lot of walking around but overall it was good. We've found even more of the investigators that we hadn't been able to find. We also found two new investigators. On Wednesday we found the two new ones and they´re good people. The only problem is that the husband talks way too much. We couldn't control the lesson very well and we had also brought a member that likes to talk. We could barely squeeze in a word between those two haha. But they have a lot of potential, he´s named Carlos and he seems to have a lot of interest and is ready to study what we give him.

Thursday we taught a few lessons to members and taught a mission prep class to a member who's preparing to go on a mission. Friday we made contact with another investigator that also talks a lot, but we managed the lesson a lot better. We also had a really good lesson with another investigator and her less active boyfriend. That was a really good day. Saturday we taught some recient converts and passed by with Karen and Edwardo (the investigator and her boyfriend). We just read a part of 2 Nephi 32 with them but the spirit was really strong and Karen had a bunch of really good questions about baptism. The best part was that on Sunday Karen and Edwardo went to church! It was great! Now the only thing we have to do is get them married and help them quit smoking... We´re really excited for her though. Its always a big obstacle to get investigators to church.

OK, now for a funny story. It will make more sense if you speak Spanish, but we were talking with some people in the street about the church the other day, and one of the ladies asked us why we both have the name Elder. So in Spanish there´s a word  that means that two people have the same name, which is tocayos (or however you spell it). However I got my words mixed up and said tlacoyos, which is a a type of Mexican food. So I basically said to this person "Yup, we´re quesadillas!" Tlacoyos aren't quesadillas but you get my point haha. It was pretty funny, we all had to laugh it out.

Well, I hope you all have a good week! Enjoy the first days of October!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, September 21, 2015

Zacatlán de las Manzanas

Hey y'all! How are you all doing? 

I've had a week with a lot of firsts, and it was a great week! On Tuesday we had the changes meeting and I met my companion! So my comp is named Elder Dominguez and is from Cuidad Juarez, Chihuahua. He´s an awesome Elder, and has really surprised my of how prepared he is. If I didn't know I would say that he has at least a few months in the mission. He´s never afraid to do anything, he talks to everyone and teaches really well. I feel very blessed to be with him. We are in the area of Zacatlán, which is one of the three branches of the mission. We´re pretty far out of Puebla. From the bus station it takes about 2.5 or 3 hours to get here. However I love it! Its super pretty out here and I like the town a lot. Our area is huge however, there is one part that takes 4 hours to get to because the roads are pretty bad, but we've been here in the main town for this last week. Maybe this week we´ll go check our some of the other ones. It has also been a little difficult to open area. We've gotten lost a few times and one time at night haha. However the people here are nice and help us out.

So on Wednesday our first day in the area we helped out the Branch President, Pres. Cordova clean up a little shop that he has. Also, Pres. Cordova is good, he´s an ex-missionary that served here in Puebla and in this area and came back and got married. But that shop was super dirty. The floor was also made of wood, and it was rotting. We had to start taking out the floor. We also saw a parade if like the whole town that day for the Mexican Independence day. Thursday we had a zone conference with Elder Valenzuela who is an Area Seventy. It was a powerful spiritual conference. But we went to the conference really early and got home really late. We´re pretty retired from the other parts of the mission.
Mexican Independence Day in the rain
Friday we had a day of normal work. We've been working on finding the investigators that the other Elders left behind and getting them progressing. We had a good lesson with an investigator who accepted a baptismal date but didn´t look too convinced. We´ll see how she progresses. Saturday we got to know the area better (AKA we were lost much of the day) and had a lesson with some recent converts who are awesome. They were so happy to see us. It was a really good lesson. Sunday we had church in the house of prayer (its like a mini chapel) and about 60 people showed up. It has a whole different feel than a ward does. Sunday was also really good because we had 4 lessons that day.

Beautiful Zacatlan
Yup, I¨m really content to be training out here. It's a really cool experience. Oh, we also share the area with Elder Hammer (ex-assistant who's a great elder) who is also training a new elder as well. I´ll have to take a picture of us 4. Have a good week!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hijo! (A Son)

Hey everyone. The time of transfers rolled around again and it happens that we are going to close our area. That means that both my companion and I have changes. We´re pretty sad to leave the area, and the members are also a little disappointed too. It seems like the president always closes our area. The sister missionaries are also closing area, but they´re closing theirs for good. Next change there is only going to be one pair of missionaries in the ward Tule. 
Last days in Tule
We had an alright week this week. It was full of stuff that took us away from really working. On Tuesday we had an average day. Only a few lessons with new investigators and a meeting with President Nelson and President Delgado, the stake president. It was a good meeting. Both of the presidents are great leaders. I like our stake president a lot, he´s a great guy.

On Wednesday I got sick. Who knows why. My companion ate the same things and he was fine. I was pretty miserable that day, so we stayed in the house. It is the worst thing ever to be sick as a missionary. However I have been very fortunate in my mission so far. Many times the Americans get really sick sometimes, and sometimes they get sick frequently. I´ve only gotten really sick 2 or 3 times in my mission. I have a pretty strong stomach, most of the time haha. Thursday we had our weekly planning session in the morning and in the afternoon we did splits. My companion went to San Martin Texmalucan to do a baptismal interview for a member had his information lost in the system, and I stayed in the area with Hno. Artemio Perez. It went alright, all of our lessons fell through, which is tough to deal with when your in splits apart from your companion. In the end we finally found an investigator in her house and we were able to teach a lesson.

Tlaxcala Zone Conference
OK, I forgot to mention that on Wednesday we received a call from Elder Suarez one of the assistants who told us that we´re going to close area and that I'm going to train! I´m really excited for this opportunity to be able to train a new elder. It'll be a great experience and I'm looking forward to it. So on Friday we went to Puebla for a meeting with the trainers. It was really good, we learned that we need to provide our companions with opportunities to make decisions, and how to provide "leadership as a shadow." Afterwards we went to the baptism of the son of our (awesome) ward mission leader. It was good but they fed us tacos de canasta (it literally translates to basket tacos). They´re these tacos that they make in a town near here with a ton of grease and they usually sell them pedaling around on bikes all day. So there is always a bunch of guys with their bikes around here that have baskets full of little tacos. They also sometimes call them tacos de la muerte lenta. I¨ll let you all translate that haha. After we had a good activity in the ward.

Concilio (Council  Meeting)
Saturday we were in Puebla all day in the hospital with my companion and his knees. We also saw the cultural event broadcast for the rededication for the Mexico City temple. On Sunday we saw the last rededication session with Pres. Eyring and Elder Holland and it was sweet. Really powerful.

Well I have to go but have a great week everyone!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Mexico City Temple - rededicated September 13, 2015