"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, September 24, 2012

Families are Forever

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, I'm afraid all of my comments and stuff may have scared away a few future missionaries. To you, I have to say, yes, this is difficult. But I'm still here, aren't I? So, there has got to be a reason. And, if you are interested in that, read on.

So, this week was a bit of a shift. Can't really say it was a shift up, but definitely somewhere. But to start, let me tell you of a miracle that happened. As with all miracles, you have to have the right heart to recognize it, so please take your time to get there if need be. So, Friday, we met as a Zone with President Castañeda. He really is like Bill Cosby (someone mentioned they looked alike) in that he seems to be good at everything (a master at piano). He has that charisma and smile, but still has the capability to be very serious at the same time. So, as he met with us, he was encouraging us to meet our goals as a mission, zone, and area. While talking about this, he asked everyone who had a baptism that weekend. In my district, only one of the three companionships did. Then he directed to us the importance of planning a baptismal service every week. (After all, when we invite people to be baptized we tell them we will be having a baptismal service on a specific day, so have it prepared!) After that, he told us to go back to our areas and prepare a baptismal service, and we would have a baptism. So, Elder Andrade and I did just that. But, it was a little odd because we already knew that none of our investigators were ready to be baptized. But, we came back and started talking about a boy we had met with a week earlier--son of some less-actives who said he wanted to be baptized, but his father wasn't ready to let him be baptized. So, we prepared a baptismal program and took it to the boy and father for their approval. The father wasn't for it still. But the son wanted to be baptized and since everything was already set, the Father suddenly had a change of heart and consented. There is the first miracle. The second is that the boy still wasn't quite prepared--he didn't know of all the things he was committing to do through baptism, right? So what did I get to do? We went back the next day (this time on splits--Elder Andrade was not there) and I got to teach him EVERYTHING. I did it all (with quite a bit of help from my new companion Elder Cuecuecha I will admit). But we did it all in an hour. It helped that he was a smart kid. And remembered it all that night for his interview too! And he was baptized, by me. My first baptism, and it was special--for him and me.

But the SAME thing happened with the other companionship in our district without a baptism. So as the companion to the District Leader we got to walk to their area for their interview. It took us 50 minutes at quite a good pace under the heat of the sun after already walking around for lessons and Comida all over the island. After returning for the interview of Derek (that was the boy we baptized name) we took out the records for the Zone Leader to sign, looked like we dropped them in the ocean because they were that wet. Elder Andrade didn't believe me that it was just my sweat, but I assure you that my whole backpack, including the things inside, were soaking wt from my sweat alone. Welcome to Mexico. 

Also, we had splits on a different day too (for the whole day though) and I was with Elder Cuecuecha in his area. It is a bit nicer, but that's just cause he can actually see the beach most of the time--more hotels more money kind of thing. But, it is what it is. The people were a little more crazy because of that. And this is where the family comes in. I miss my family dearly, and last week I had to opportunity to hear from many of them, which was awesome. And everything this week had to deal with families. Saturday a couple (who own this 'Ciber Center') got sealed in the temple. And with Elder Cuecuecha we reinvigorated the enthusiasm of families to a less-active family who were excited to come back. We helped a young couple in their search to be legally married. And under an assignment from the Bishop, we counseled a couple about a divorce. Through all of them, the power of my calling was manifest. What do I know about marriage? Practically nothing. But I do know something about family, and that is mainly that I am thankful for mine. Be thankful for yours. I love you all, and wish you the best.

Also, the Assistants here have never heard of Pouch Mail. Emily's got sent back too. So, I guess I would advise not sending through the pouch. I guess DearElder is the way to go, although real letters are nice too. But, that's for you to decide, I'll appreciate anything I get.

Scripture for this week: Romans 8:18

Elder Andrews

Comida=Lunch (at least in Mexico; literally it means "food")

Note: "Splits" are more formally known as exchanges. This is when a missionary exchanges his companion for another missionary or Melchizedek Priesthood holder in order to do cover more ground, do baptismal interviews, or to get to know the needs of the missionaries in your district, zone, etc.

For those unfamiliar with any of the mission/LDS (Mormon) lingo that will often come through in these letters, please feel free to comment below for clarification or questions.

Emily's letter was returned because she was unaware of the new Pouch Mail instructions.

Derek with Elder Andrews after his baptism.

Next to the beach on exchanges with Elder Cuecuecha.

Elder Juarez and Elder Andrews. This picture appears to be from the MTC in Provo, Utah, USA.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Letter #2 From Mexico

Friends and Family,

Did I mention this was hard? Cause it definitely is. Mainly just cause I am still adjusting. The changes that occur to your body here aren't exactly desireable. But here I am still the same. I can now say that after two weeks I have knowingly eaten/drank more bugs than I ever did in the rest of my life. And somehow they still taste better than other foods. But, I have since learned that food is not meant to be enjoyed, it is just a necessary part of life. I also learned to chew softly. It was my pleasure to enjoy some of Mexico's finest meals during the week of their Independence--pazole, mole, who knows what else. P.S. Happy Birthday Derek (My brother)! Anyway, in pazole, are chuncks of chicken--with bone (which my mother knows I despise). The bones are the same shape and color as a certain type of bean here in this dish, and they all get lost in the sauce so I am still timid in chewing my food. So, I usually just swallow it as whole as I can. It helps it make it taste better too. :)

Anyway, I hope that I can defer away from describing the setting after this email and focus more on what I have been doing (honestly right now it just feels like I've been doing the English homework of all the members children). At least they have a reputation of giving awesome references, so hopefully we will see the benefits soon.

I live on the North shore of the island close to a Colonia (pretty much a neighborhood) called Primero de Mayo just on the north side of the canal. Also, Dad, I feel like I am living your mission. It is so hot here you sweat when the sun touches you, so you could never be cold! Also there are soooo many motorcylces (and scooters) cruising around the island. Also those bikes that you see in Nacho Libre. At least one on every street. Sometimes I think it is more fun to just watch Nacho Libre on the TV... but here I am living it. Easters. All I have to say.

I've been complaining an awful lot to you guys I feel, and I'm sorry that you've suffered a drought too, so I'll try to send pictures to you guys as often as I can. I included on of my Italian curls and one of my best friend here Carlos (baptized in January). He is the Executive Secretary in the ward. He is 20. Has a two year old daughter and a good wife, although I can't really understand her much. But I trust she is nice. Also, me eating my first mango in the nicest house I've been in here. There is a pit in a mango if you didn't know. And it is quite...hairy. Anyway. It was good. I was waiting there while Elder Andrade was doing a baptismal interview (he is District Leader too). By the end of the time there the sister who owned the house was pretending it was my house with all the jokes that were being said. No worries, I cleaned up like it was my house too and did the dishes and got people refills.

Which reminds me, joke time:
¿Cuál es la diferencia entre una pera y la novia de un misionero? -- What is the difference between a pear and a missionary's girlfriend?
¡Una es pera, la otra no espera! -- One is a pear, and the other doesn't wait.

It might be a little better in Spanish...but, I like it.

Anyway, I have been doing a bit better this past week although it is still pretty rough and I do worry for all of you often. But I've learned that Salvation is not cheap. And I'm afraid I truly haven't finished learning that just quite yet--there is still much more to come. But, I have been reading Our Heritage, Alma 7:23-24, and D&C 123:7-9 that have really helped me push through. And here I am, still in Mexico. Still trying to lose myself in the work. Mainly I just lose myself in my Spanish study and take solace in that for now.

I love you all, I take solace in knowing I'm not alone here and that I have all of you following along. Hoping we can grow through this together, and if you have any questions, I'll answer them. Stay safe.

Elder Andrews

pozole = traditional Mexican dish
mole = traditional Mexican sauce
colonia = neighborhood (literally, "colony")
Primero de Mayo = the first of May

The joke is a pun using "is a pear" (es pera) and "she waits" (espera).

Elder Andrews and Elder Milovidov in the MTC (Provo, UT).

Elder Andrews, Carlos (Ward Executive Secretary), and Elder Andrade in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico.

Elder Andrews eating his first mango in Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pouch Mail Service

Elder Andrews only receives regular mail once per month. He would like to hear from us more often, though, so you can e-mail Katherine Andrews (Mom) at a weekly letter. She will compile these letters into one e-mail for Elder Andrews to be able to print more easily so he can read our letters when he is not pressed for time--remember that he only gets a small amount of time to use e-mail each week.

Keep in mind, the addresses for letters and packages are available below Elder Andrews' photo (available throughout the blog).

--------------The following options will only get to him once per month!--------------

The Church provides a more reliable mail service for missions in countries that do not have reliable services otherwise. Elder Andrews' mission is part of the pouch service. For detailed information on their strict policies, please visit this link.

If you would rather use a free service--such as remove the headache of making sure you followed the guidelines correctly, I have some instructions you can follow below.

    Step 1
    Click on "View Your Account" in the upper lefthand section.

    Step 2
    In the "Tool Bar" (upper right hand section), either clear any previous addresses for Elder Andrews OR when completing the following steps, use a name you will recognize for POUCH mail. Then click on "Add Missionary."

    Step 3
    Select "Elder" from the drop-down menu for the appropriate title. Enter his first and last names. Select the Mexico Villahermosa Mission from the next drop-down menu. Optionally enter his birthday (12 April) using the drop-down menus.

    Step 4
    Make sure you get this screen indicating "Missionary Added." Then click on "View Your Account."

    Step 5
    Now you will see in the "Tool Bar" that I have Elder Caleb Andrews in my "Quick List." I will now click on his name for the next screen.

    Step 6
    For security purposes, I have removed my address, but that normally shows up automatically. Elder Andrews' name and mission show up automatically since I saved that information to my "Quick List." My e-mail address automatically shows up. I could e-mail the same letter to Elder Andrews, but he has very limited time to sort through e-mails. Instead, consider e-mailing this letter to Katherine Andrews (Mom; to compile and send to him. I will likely use this option and let Katherine and Elder Andrews that the letter will come to him in print later on.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ciudad del Carmen

Family and Friends,

Did I forget to mention that this is hard? (And I'm not just talking about typing on a Spanish keyboard--so please excuse any typing mistakes in the next two years). Speaking of which, typing my password is so much harder now. Just a side note. This last week was probably the most taxing on me thus far. So much stress and uncertainty. And change. I have recently discovered that I'm not a huge fan of change (at the time), but end up liking it after a while. So, before I get started I want to say a few things. I am here in my first area in Ciudad del Carmen with Elder Andrade (a native of Mexico City). He was a Mexican folklore dancer before his mission, so our interests are...different. But he is trying his best to look out for me. I like with him and two other Elders. Elder Cuecuecha (also from somewhere in Mexico) and Elder Alvarez (from Guatemala). I don't need to say much more to get you to know that in the last week I have known practically nothing of what is going on. But you'll hear more of that later. I only get mail here ONCE a month, which I already worry about because it is something that I was highly dependent upon in the MTC when we got to check it everyday. Please still write me though, because having something to read from family and friends really helps get through. With that, it was really sad to log on today and not have any email. Especially since my Zone Leader promised me that I would and I shouldn't worry. But, I won't have time to read much, so if you have anything to say, updates or whatever, please just reply to whoever forwards you the email and they can compile them so I can read them all fast. Also, I am hoping to send letters to you all as well, but it costs about 4 dollars (apparently) to send one. So, I'll see what I can manage about that. Anyway, this past week:

Sunday, last day in the MTC: It was Mission Conference. Fast Sunday. I was already getting nervous the previous day and you could say I was already fasting (when I am nervous I struggling eating). Not the normal me, and its not too much fun not being yourself either. But, with Mission Conference and all we had a lot of Devotionals with our departure and all. But nothing seemed to have my complete resolution. Right before the last one, I said something like "The only thing that could help me calm down would be if the Prophet himself were here talking to me". Wouldn't you know... They changed what we were supposed to be doing! And ... we watched his birthday celebration (yes, a few weeks late). So, I kind of almost ate my words there. But, hearing Phantom of the Opera and all just made me miss home more (P.S. I miss you all so much, more than I'd like to admit). But, afterwards, we watched...can't remember the name of it right now. The one with the Missionary coming home from his Mission in Colorado. He's tlaking to a guy on a plane, I don't know. So that helped. And I rested well, even though I had to wake up early to catch my plane.

Monday, the day of travel. Ay. I was freaking out the whole time (in my mind, I was keeping it in pretty well, I think). But, I had Elder Cox just randomly talking to me the whole time. I was also freaking out because my travel group (of which I was the leader--which really meant nothing) was on the first bus to the airport and I was on the second and it took forever for us to leave. So, we never caught up until we were boarding. Lots of confusing things getting into Mexico. But, once we were there the Assistants and President Catañeda were there to pick us up. We stayed at the assistants' house in Villahermosa (they just refer to it as "Villa"). Right outside it smells like...something very undesireable.

Tuesday we went to the chapel in Villa and got our new companions. Mine is Elder Andrade of course. We spent the whole day traveling to our area after that (three hour bus ride) plus taxis on both ends to Ciudad del Carmen. Which is an island in the Gulf Coast apparently. I saw the water once. But still haven't seen the beach. So it's pretty normal for me. But I am the closest to you (Mom and Dad) that I'll ever be! (Not sure if that is an exclamation of excitement or fear, but take it for what you will). They showed Karate Kid on the bus. We aren't supposed to watch movie, but you kind of can't not (if that makes sense) because its right in front of your face. It wasn't too hard for me though. Cause it was in Spanish, so I had no idea what was going on. The first thing Elder Alvarez said to me was "What's up broski?" in the most uneducated English you could imagine. I have since learned that it is pretty good (especially since he has been teaching himself). So, I guess that is funny. 

A thought that keeps coming up in my mind is something I heard on my last Sunday in the MTC: "The Lord will shape the back to carry the load placed upon it". To me, it is very comforting at least. Especially since we don't have pillos here! So, my blanket is stuffed inside my pillow case. I think I might like it better that way even. I learned you really don't need a blanket here in the mission because it is winter here (technically I guess they say), but when the sun touches you, you are immediately drenched in sweat. I can't say I have never sweat this much before cause I have played in some hot lacrosse weather. But for this duration of's taxing for sure. Always thirsty. Also, Mexicans here apparently only eat one meal a day "Comida" between lunch and dinner. So, I have been starving pretty bad and learned to be appreciative that my stomach started shrinking while I still had food. We went shopping today and I bought stuff for PB&J's. Peanut Butter cost me $57. Which is in peso's, so just under $5 American still... Considering we get about $80 dollars [USD] a month to live on, it was a sacrifice, but my hunger the past week justified it. I also bought yogurt for the morning. It is a struggle to stretch the money, but you learn to manage hunger and thirst. We don't have cars or bikes in the whole mission. So money needs to be stretched. But, with the Lord we can do it. We had a baptism, but he, Manuel, refused to be confirmed on Sunday because his Uncle scolded him that morning. He since moved back to Puerto Rico, which is a city 30 minutes away... So, not much we can do there any more. Sadly. Anyway, I know you are all supporting me, but I'd like to hear from you guys. I really am struggling here. To understand what's going on and all. So, I'll push through to the next week for you guys. Love you all so much.

Elder Andrews

P.S. Pictures take forever to upload. I'll try again next time. It rained. The windows were open. My bed got soaked. Welcome to Mexico? It looks like I peed on my whole bed. I don't miss you that much. Unless you think it is tears. Then yes, I do. Also, it rains soooo hard here. Nothing is scarier than mangos falling on a sheet metal roof.

I forgot to mention that I have ridden in some of the shadiest vehicles. Sometimes I feel like a clown. Also, I was expecting the fruit drinks here to taste more natural. I had an orange one today that tasted like a bunch of Vitamin C dissolved in water. I wouldn't exactly say it was enjoyable.

Elder Andrews

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Letter #9

Family and Friends,

Sorry I forgot to mention that my preparation day would be changed to Saturday. I am still alive, although rather anxious/nervous about getting to Mexico. It feels like I am leaving home again. Also, it is rough to realize that here at the MTC everything is really nothing like what it will be in Mexico. I guess I'm experiencing a pre-shock to the culture shock I know will be coming. So, I suppose the best thing to do is pretend to enjoy it. We've been rushing around a lot lately, which just makes you more stressed. But, our district seems to be doing well nonetheless. This week there are 4 districts in our zone leaving (roughly half our zone if not more). So it's a big time.
On Tuesday I got to go to the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City to sign my visa. What we had thought would be an awesome trip to the outside world turned out to be a little odd. You forget while in the MTC that things still exist outside, so it was interesting to drive past all the places that I would go to during my time at BYU. While we were getting processed at the consulate I was standing in line with two Elders from our zone (Elders Rodriguez and Vargas) and was just talking to them. Nothing special, right? Apparently while Elder Cox was sitting in the back of the room (he was already done) he turned to the Elder next to him and asked, "Do you see those three Mexicans in line?" The Elder then said yes and thought I was Mexican for the rest of the trip. I guess its a compliment since I'm headed there, but Elder Cox couldn't stop laughing.
Injury struck two Elders in our zone as one dislocated his shoulder and another one got a concussion. It was both of their first weeks, so they still have some time to recover, but sad nonetheless. Elder Cox was one of the Elder's hosts and so he checked up on him often. During gym time Elder Cox went to sit next to him (the concussed Elder) and visit with him. Elder Cox mentioned that he was leaving on Monday and since the Elder was still so emotional from his concussion he could not stop crying. Any time someone asked what was wrong he just whined, "Elder Cox is leaving on Monday!" After that he went around the gym telling everyone how great a missionary Elder Cox is going to be. But what makes it funnier is that night when he was off his pain-killers, he couldn't remember a thing. He still doesn't believe that he did it.
Anyway, this is my last email from the United States and it is odd how Monday is approaching so fast. Hopefully Derek (my brother) will send out instructions to mail things to Mexico if you so choose or even just using the Church pouch system (he'll explain it somehow, eventually). I'll write anyone back who writes me and so far I think I am keeping that promise. Let me know if I'm not and I'll try to get my act together.
But now, I want to share something that has helped me get through nine weeks of difficulty here, and will hopefully help me and you throughout the rest of our lives. It all traces back to Luke 17:32 "Remember Lot's Wife". So just keep that scripture in the back of your mind. But then it also has traces back to my favorite scripture of Christ in John 15:13 that says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that layeth his life down for his friends." (That was a paraphrase). So with that, going back to Luke. Read the next verse, Luke 17:33.

--Continued from previously sent e-mail, which he thought he had deleted--

Family and Friends,

Well, I just deleted the large email I wrote to you. It's pretty depressing. Don't even know how I did it. But, here is the nine minute version of what I said (since that is all the time I have left)
Elder Cox got another Elder to believe I was Mexican while we were at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City last Tuesday.
I forgot to mention to you that my preparation day was changed, so, I hope no one freaked out cause they didn't get an email yesterday. I'm alive.
I'm pretty anxious and nervous about finally heading to Mexico. It's like I am leaving home again.
Now, I was describing something that I found helpful to make it through hard times. First of all, yes, I am a missionary. But I am still just the average Caleb I was before I left. No different than anyone who will read this email. Human. We make mistakes. And something I mentioned earlier in my mission was Luke 17:32 "Remember Lot's Wife". Basically saying, never look back. But really never look back longingly. But now it is important to know my favorite scripture about Christ: "Greater love hath no man than this, that layeth his life down for his friends" (John 15:13 more or less). Then read the verse after the original in Luke 17:33. While there are so many other things I could be doing with my life, I ask myself, is that what I want? Think about that for your life, is what you are doing getting you to where you want to be?
I hope to spend the next two years of my life in Mexico doing the best I can for my future friends there, laying down my life for them.
Keep love in your hearts through service.
I'm sorry it's so short.
I wish you all well,
Elder Caleb Andrews