"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, January 27, 2014

A Week of Trial

Good news and bad news.

The bad news is: My companion had to stay home all week.

The good news: I read all of Isaiah out loud in one day to Elder Segura and am now starting Ezequiel in my quest to finish the Old Testament.

It seems the mission repeats itself. Just one short year ago I was the one suffering in a bed at home. This year, it is my companion. Last Tuesday, he tried to get his wisdom teeth out since they have already knocked some of his teeth out of line. Shouldn't he have done this before the mission some would ask? The answer is yes, but you have to give him a break since he had his appointment for the 5th of April and his call came after telling him to report to the MTC on April 3rd. However you look at it, he is paying for it now. 

Keep in mind we are here in Candelaria, one of the remote areas of the mission without specialty doctors. For example, no one here sells glasses. No optomotrist. Therefore, it makes sense there would be a specialist to take out wisdom teeth. Apparently that is normal, so he went along with it. I didn't realize how they planned to do it beforehand, but when we showed up the dentist got to work giving him 4, ultimately 5, anesthetic injections. Then the dentist cut open the gum with what honestly looked like a butter knife. He then proceeded to just dig in as would Captain Hook and pull up relentlessly. All to no avail. I laughed. Elder Segura got mad. Ha. 

The end of the story is that he got no relief to his pain of his wisdom teeth pushing on all his other teeth. But he also now has pain from when the dentist cut down to his bone and just left it there when he decided he wouldn't be able to do it. No saws, no stitches, just Captain Hook. Somehow I doubt Elder Segura feels as good as Peter Pan. 

So, I'm no dentist and have little idea of how to take care of him. He can at least talk now and eat normal. But I made him rinse with salt water. It was pretty gross when he couldn't brush his teeth. But, we're past that now. We haven't really been able to do much this week so I can't say how things are going. One day we sat in the Church all day as I shouted that I would buy their tortillas or an ice cream if they beat me in Book of Mormon Memory to try and trick them to come inside the Church. I stationed Elder Segura at a desk with a piece of paper to write down all their information that I got out of them while we played so that the other missionaries could go visit them. We got one person to come to Church that way. And I didn't even buy anyone's tortillas. 

So, it's been a rough week, but we've been as dilligent as we could. All the time in the house is more tiring then the hot Mexican sun and has made us eager to get back to work. 

So, I'll finish with a scripture that I read today in Lamentations 3:40 "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord."

We all lose our way sometimes, whether it is for sin or lack of paying attention. May we each meditate on what we do each day and give a report to the Lord and let Him help us reach higher.

Elder Andrews

Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting Creative

A year and a half into the mission and although the people always change, their reactions somehow seem to stay the same. So we always look for a few ways to change it up a bit. Anyway you can get the people to pay attention a little bit more. 

We're having a good time balancing out how we work with the different people we find ourselves with. Elder Segura is funny because he is whiter than me, so sometimes people think he is from the United States as well. I love how much I am learning in the mission.

This week I learned how to peel an orange with a butcher's knife.
Taught myself how to make a house of cards (interesting story with the Church of Christ)
And I started cutting people's hair(s) with scissors as well instead of just with the machine.

The part I love most of being a missionary is seeing the gospel in action. We helped Brando clean up the local high school where he works as the landscaper. The first time I touched a lawn mower in a long time. I missed it. But, it didn't handle me too well since I bent the blade. It's interesting cutting grass in Mexican swamp. Haha. But we were able to get it almost back to normal. 

May the Lord bless each of you as you bless each other.

Elder Andrews

Elder Andrews with his house of cards teaching aid.
Elder Andrews peeling an orange with a butcher knife

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week of Work

It gets tiring, but you learn to keep going. It's one of the things I've learned on the mission, it is nice to relax, but if that's all you do you haven't achieved anything. So we work.
It seemed the day would never come, the baptism of Brando and Lorenzo. When it finally came, I felt odd baptizing someone who, to me, was already a member. For lack of members in such a small branch, we had to find and baptize our most important leader. Having that said, Brando is our Branch Mission Leader. So, he'll really be able to have some progress. His mother still has her doubts, but that is because she is still accustomed to her own ways. She doesn't tend to like reading anything we leave her, and although we read it with her afterwards as punishment, it just doesn't have the same effect as if she were able to come to that conclusion by herself.
Abril, the sister of Brando, was in Campeche taking exams for college, so, although she did not get baptized last Saturday, she will be getting baptized in two weeks by Brando himself! I think that will be even more special to see than his own baptism.
Brando is so big that it turned out we didn't have any clothes big enough to fit him. But, we figured that out early, so we had time to look, but it turns out the Zone didn't have any either, or the mission offices, and so we were given permission to baptize him in his khaki pants. Brando asked me to baptize him although I still wonder if he did that just because I am the biggest one here. But, the fact that the river was high up helped to get him under rather easily. The first baptism of Elder Segura as well. Its good to help Elders get their first baptisms. Although they don't know how to help much when it comes down to the details.
During the baptism, I felt different. I felt outside of myself, watching the world around me go on. I saw the future of the Church inside these new missionaries that surround me as well as the new members we had just baptized.

It was odd to think that just one year ago I could not walk, and to see all that has happened since. I will ever be grateful for the actions of all around me to help me stay in the mission. Had I not, the Lord would not have been able to bless Brando and countless others as He has. Don't let your actions bind the Lord, but give of yourself daily.
That is the only way to give all of yourself and be content at the end of the day.
Consecrate yourself.
Elder Andrews

Elder Andrews presumably wearing Brando's pants.
Enjoying a coconut drink.
Elder Andrews, Brando, Lorenzo, and Elder Segura at Brando and Lorenzo's baptism.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Companion

Not even 2 hours after I had emailed you all last week, I got a call saying that we got special transfers. Elder Rime was headed to an area closer to Villahermosa, closer to President. To keep it simple, Elder Rime had a rough time adjusting to the missionary life and the help he needed could not be found here in the corner of the mission in Candelaria. So, they sent him near President, and hopefully he fairs better there and can stay in the mission. I did everything I could for him, which I'm not so sure he noticed, but down the road, if he continues, he will start to figure it out.

So, on the 31st of December we headed out at 5 AM to get to Villahermosa. Getting there turned out to be the easy part. Getting back, not so much. We got to Villa at about noon. And who had they put in charge of the transfers? None other than my pal, Elder Rangel. It was good to see him, and he'll be Elder Rime's new Zone Leader, so I explained to him all he needed to know to be able to help out my son.

There waiting for me was my new companion as well, Elder Segura. Turns out I had already met him when I went to pick up Elder Rime, but he has 9 months in the mission now. Since there was no chance of me getting to eat lunch we decided to stop by the Subway sandwich shop there in the ADO bus station. Especially since none of that exists in Candelaria. Haha. There we met a lady that was struggling to order a sandwich. By her Spanish I had assumed that she was American and offered to help.

Turns out she sat down where my companions suitcases were saving our spots so we talked to her a little more. Well, I did because Elder Segura doesn't speak English. Turns out she is from Russia, her dad is Orthodox, her mom is Muslim and she doesn't believe in God. I became much more thankful to be here in Mexico where everyone at least claims they believe in God even thought for the most part none go to Church.

So, if I made the trip just to learn that one lesson, it was probably worth it. But, getting home New Years' Eve and Day was a story. We had to sleep halfway in Tenosique with the Zone Leaders where we actually had a great time since my friend Elder Frazier also lives with them and he bought piñatas to burst open at night.

Then the next day we had to take a taxi to the, well, it's not even a bus station, its literally an intersection where the mini van stops. Some said it was not going to come. Others said it had already came. Mainly to get us to pay more to go with them. Then it really did show up and since there where only three of us, it wasn't going to make the trip. But it made its way and only took us half way to El Triunfo. From there we had to take taxi for an extra hour. Long days of travel. All just to get to my area to start. Ha, I love it.

So much has happened, ups and downs, but we are pushing through it. Brando and Lorenzo are getting baptized this Saturday. Still looking for white clothes big enough for Brando, and he asked me to baptize him, so I'll have to do a few push ups this week.

Love you all,
Elder Andrews