Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalms 46:10-11

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Have News!! 8/27/2012

First off, before I forget, I must tell you. I expressed to President Bautista in my letter to him last week a few of the setbacks that we've been having as well as the potential for success that appears to be in the near future, and asked to stay another change. Well, today he got back to me and told me that I'll be staying another change!!!!! So changes aren't for two weeks but I know already what's going to happen with me, I'm staying for another 6 weeks in San Antonio!!  I think that Elder Vega will have changes but nothing is for sure, we'll have to see what happens but at the very least I know I'll be here.  LOVE IT!!!! SO STOKED!!!

Now, that's awesome that y'all got to meet Zimmerman, that really excited me :) Although I was hoping for a little more detail on the visit, what kind of stories did he tell? What of my secrets do you know? Lemmie know the details :)  And you called him Conner.... Ew.  

Now, to answer mom, of the missionaries that you mentioned, I only don't know Elder Oborn, but I am up here in the jungle wilderness and I haven't been to Huehue for a long time so I don't know hardly any new Elders haha.  But from the ones you mentioned, they are legit.  Hna Broadbent is from my group so she's going home soon...... WEEEEEEIIIIIRRRRRRDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And to calm your doubts, sunglasses are indeed okay. There is nothing in the mission rules against them, of course I don't wear them contacting or anything but on a bus when the sun is CRAZY it's fine :)  And to answer dad, everyone in the mission got microwaves, not just us, it was just that time. There have been rumors for the last year (weird I can say that haha) and the rumors finally came true.

Now, we have news about investigators as well. We dropped a TON of people. Fam Marroquin (we're pretty sad about that one, but they decided the didn't want anything. Marvin had a hard time because it doesn't say in the Bible that Sunday is the Sabbath day... he told us if we couldn't show him in the Bible where it says SUNDAY that he can't continue with us).  Anyone who's studied the Sabbath Day knows that it doesn't say SUNDAY but that we know it through modern revelations.  But he didn't want to accept that. A few other people as well we dropped, so we're looking forward to finding news and all that good stuff :)

Now, we do have good news. There ARE people who want to be baptized... but of course they have desafios.  More than anything Sabbath day, meaning attendance.  First,two brothers. Their parents are chill if they get baptized but they don't want anything, but one of them works for his dad Sunday mornings and he can't get it off, so we're working with that. But we sat down and we're like "so the other Elders talked to you about baptism" "yeah" "and what do you think about that" "I want to be baptized" ..... so we just need to get them attending haha.  

Johana, she gets super excited for a few days then no, then yeah, then no.  So, we'll see what happens there.  Pablo  FINALLY told us his doubt, he didn't know why he needed to be rebaptized if he was baptized in the Catholic church as a baby. So we explained that and left him to pray haha.  We also had a great cita with Clemantino, he pretty much wants to get baptized, he just needs to attend, the most difficult compromise to get people to keep haha. But things are going good here and I'm going to be another change :)  Our members went to the temple on Saturday and it was super cool to see them so excited to go, I'm way happy for them.  

Also, just a thought that I LOVED!!!  A lady gave her talk yesterday and it was on obedience.  She talked a little about how a lot of people go to whatever church they go to and then in the afternoon they're drunk or fighting or working or something.  And she said something I loved!!  "Si no vivimos nuestra religion, no estamos haciendo nada mas que calentar un poco las sillas y no nos sirve por nada" roughly translated.  "If we don't live our religion, we just come to church to warm the chair a little and it does us no good"  Just a thought I loved :)  I hope y'all like this email, I'm kinda running but I hope I'm understood, sorry no pics this week we're on slow Internet again but hey, that's life :) I'm happy, content, alive, and well, and absolutely in love with the mission :) 
-Elder Westenskow

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Went To A Hole In The Earth!!! 8/20/2012

First off, the pictures are from our activity today.  We went to a hole in the earth. That's basically it. It was a hole. In the earth. And a river disappears into the hole. It was WAY WAY WAY COOL! 

Also, y'all sent me some pictures. Zimmerman in my kitchen holy crap haha. That was a weird sight. I'm excited to read your emails about the whole thing. Zimmerman was in my kitchen, and y'all called him Connor, weird hahaha. But I'm glad he could go see y'all and that you made him great dinner. Lasagna haha.  

First, to respond, I hope y'all enjoyed the pictures from last week and from this week, we've been using Internet in Santa Ana for the last couple weeks and it's a little faster so photos can successfully be sent haha. And you asked about the fabric, I think you mean the expensive one right? I'm still working out if I can buy it on day that's not Sunday but the lady is proving difficult to work with. I'll let you know, or when I take a bunch of money out of the bank you'll know haha. Also, the 15 years party, I'm not really sure about it to be honest with you, the whole thing seems strange to me. Nicole probably knows more lol.  

I LOVE your idea of reading the Book of Mormon again together. You talked about how the Stake President talked about that that was how we could have REAL growth and it's absolutely true. Reading and applying the principles in that book are the method to real growth, real personal growth. I wont go into to much detail but I have a few goals as to who I want to be when I get home and I know that the Book of Mormon is the way to achieve them. I just hope I'm strong enough to continue in those goals.  

Now, we actually had a really good week! First off, the family Marroquin, we still are working on their marriage problems but we had a great FHE with them on Monday in which we taught about enduring to the end. And how even though they hadn't completed the steps of baptism and the Holy Ghost that they could still endure, and do the things that God wanted them to do. That this time is a time of testing for them to see if they'll remain faithful even in times of trouble. Excellent lesson and it had results, they came to church for the first time in a month yesterday! YAY!!!! So that's great!

Next, Johanna came out of NOWHERE! Y'all remember her? Look back on the old emails if you like but she's an old investigator that we dropped. But she called us one day to see if we could do her a favor, chop some wood. So we went and got a cita. In the cita we challenged her to be baptized and she accepted and accepted the fecha!  We put it for the 1st of September but we have to bump it back because she didn't come to church yesterday. We went after church to see why and she's like "Well, I went up to go with my mom, but she said that they always say that the Sacrament is the most important thing and she figured if we weren't going to make the sacrament that we just shouldn't go". We explained to them the principle of better late than never and set a cita for a FHE on Wednesday. So she had plans to go yesterday just her silly mother haha.  

Last as far as good news goes, we finally had a cita cita with the family Lucas. And it was kinda a throw down. We knew it was last night or never. So we just went for it. Nicole advised me to use the machete in appropriate situations and it was used well last night. We talked about baptism, authority, the need of a baptism that counts, the importance of the Book of Mormon.  The husband and kids are down, they even wanted to come to church yesterday but she said no.  But she was letting doubts fly and we just answered all of it with scripture. She asked us "what's the difference between your baptism and the baptism of any other church" we talked about authority. "Why does it really matter which church you go to?" we talked about how Christ is not divided. "Why doesn't the bible mention Joseph Smith?" we explained dispensations a little bit. There were just so many questions she had and it was all great. Really really spirit guided lesson. Like Nicole said, the machete can be correctly used and to good effect.  

Now, I know this email is short but its packed with good news and I hope to have more good news for you next week. I love you all a flippin ton and I hope y'all have a great week LOVE YOU!!!

-Elder Westenskow

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Progress! 8/13/2012

Well hello family!  

So, this week. We have some developments that will interest those out there who read. The family Armas. We finally got out of them why they are pretty hesitant. A few years ago the elders went to their house and taught them about 3 times. In the fourth visit the elders got to their house and said "hey, so this Saturday, we have everything ready and we're going to baptize you in the river. Just be there at such and such an hour" and of course they didn't like that because God has given us all our free agency and so they said no and that the elders couldn't just take the decision for them. So, when we went on Sunday we just sat down with all of them and we're like, "okay, we want to wash our hands of this mess so here we go. It was not right what the elders did. That's not how things are. Clearly we have the same objective as them.  But, we want you guys to arrive at the desire to be baptized through your own personal experiences and all that good stuff" and they seemed to like it and opened up to us. So, PROGRESS!!!!!

Now, I don't know if I've already told you about Garillo, but he's a reference from a member, an old investigator. So we went and taught him last week and challenged him to be baptized and he says he wants to! Just a matter of getting him to church. Because he's told a bunch of people that he wants to be Mormon ha ha. We received this reference from like 4 people in different times ha ha. So we're going to keep going with that. He seems cool it's just a matter of getting him to church.  

Now, we also have 3 jovenes. Marlin, Areli, and Darlin. They almost got baptized almost a year ago and nobody knows why they didn't. And they still want to apparently. We only were able to meet with the smallest, Darlin of 14 years but he REALLY wants to be baptized ha ha. So we put a fecha for the 19th but I think we'll have to change it so he can go with his siblings. But hey, its a FECHA!!! FINALLY!!!!!!! Two and a half changes and finally I put a fecha ha ha.  

We also had several really, really good less active visits which led to an excellent Sunday. We reactivated 2 more people officially which brings the number of people reactivated since I've been here to 5 and they say a reactivation is as good as a baptism so.... Go me? ha ha. Nah, I feel great about it and it really was a great block of meetings yesterday.  Other good news, president called me on Friday night to tell me that Saturday morning he wanted us to be in Santa Ana so he could give us something.  That something? MICROWAVE!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE A MICROWAVE!!!! Oh so happy about that, how I missed them ha ha. So yeah.  Just so you know, Nicole's package is here... well not HERE. In Huehue my zonie just told me "hey, Westenskow, you have a HUGE package here ha ha" so we'll see when I get it lol.  

Now, a request, if y'all could sent me, just digitally is fine, I can print it cheap, a picture of my baptism, I'd like it to be able to show to people, so if I could get that that'd be super ha ha. And I think that's it.  A short email but a good week and looking forward to another :) LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Stay safe and congratulations to Meagan and Brad on their apartment, it looks great :) LOVES!!!  PS. pictures are of the house, the landscape and me on a bus ha ha

-Elder Westenskow

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm Happy! That's What This Work Does, It Makes You Happy! 8/6/2012

First off, to convince y'all that in spite of that everyone seems to think that I'm dying of sadness or something, I've located another fastish internet in which I can send photos and y'all can see that I still smile :)  I'll try to remember which ones I attatched :)

1. A fun one with a lizard friend that we found in the house and then captured and then he got scared and ran up on my shoulder, we named him Johnson.  Good stuff :)

2. WE FOUND A FLOATING LEAF!!!  I'm not sure if it was tied by a spider string or what but it was FLOATING!!  It was so cool.  We took fun pictures and even a video :)

3. A fun one with a recent convert family, I know that my face looks poopy but it was cause we were joking around :)

4. A tarantula that we found while playing soccer a few weeks ago... ya that was fun ha ha.

5. A GIANT spider that we found in the house while cleaning, not a fan of the spiders!

And I think thats them 

Now, to answer questions (thanks for asking questions btw, it helps me a lot!)

Q: How are the crickets and how do we deal with them? A: They are gross and black and range in size from almost unnoticable to holy crap big ha ha.  We deal with them by stepping on them, it seems the most effective method.  :)
Q: What is my kitchen like? A: To be honest y'all probably wouldn't recognize it as a kitchen ha ha. It's just a room with kinda a counter thing in it and a stove.  There's no sink ha ha but we have a pila on the other side of the house. (makes for really inconvenient when you're cooking and have to wash your hands in the middle ha ha)
Q: How is travel to Huehue? A: It's not horrible but it's not great ha ha. I actually, coming back from Huehue this week (yes, we had to go AGAIN ha ha) getting on the bus and looking around the terminal and hearing people just shouting, selling all kinds of whatever and whenever for whatever price you want to give them. Sitting on an old school bus painted a mix of fire red and lightning green and containing an odor of old meat. Crazy music just blasting so loud the ayudante has to yell so he can hear where you're going. I just sat there for a minute, and thought "Is this what my life has become, that none of this seems strange to me?" Heck, I even bought some tamalitos, 2 for Q5, who can pass that up? ha ha. So for y'all it would probably be like, HORRIBLE. But for me it's not too bad ha ha. Hope that helps clear up the doubts a little bit. :)

NOW, to comment on your week :) MOM, you helped in the yard!  Nicely done. I'm sure it looks GREAT!  I also did some yard work this week (but I doubt you used a machete in yours ha ha) That's legit that Meagan and Brad had a great celebration and all of it :) 

And now what you're all waiting for, did Elder Westenskow have a good week? The answer is: AL FIN, SI!

After a few weeks of discouragement (as you might have been able to tell) we had a great week! (In spite of the Olympics being on EVERYWHERE and me loving the Olympics and all, so that was tough but whatever, we had a great week!). I'll start with the least good news and then move up. Family Lucas, we couldn't teach them. But they invited us to a dinner that turned out to be a celebration for their daughters 15 years. Now, don't worry, it wasn't one of those HUGE parties that this country is famous for for 15 years but it was a dinner (that one of the Elders from Santa Ana made, TACOS!!!) with just a few close families and us. WHICH MEANS; that they really consider us good friends and we've grabbed confidence with them as they say here. SO, this week we're going to change things up a bit. Instead of trying to go to their house where there are a ton of distractions and everything, we're going to invite them to come to the church (now that it's all clean and stuff :)) And we'll see what happens.

NOW, Fam Marroquin, not much there, we're going to Xela this week for a meeting so we're going to stop in Huehue on the way back and talk to the lawyer there and see what we can do.  They didn't come to church but they did come to the EXCELLENT activity that we had.  

Fam Armas, still there. Didn't come to church either, but the dad got a tooth taken out so that was probably an excuse ha ha.  When we went to their house the Book of Mormon was on their couch and we asked who had been reading and they said that he had been reading so that means that he put our book before that of the testigos o sea, that our idea to go read with them to motivate them animated them a bit to read! EXCELLENT!! One step forward. We watched the movie "Together Forever" with them and they loved it :) We took a member, their aunt, and it just went swimmingly :) They're becoming more and more excited each time I think :)

Pablo Vasquez, FINALLY PROGRESS!!!  We shared with him in John 21 the story where Peter, after the death of Christ goes back to fishing because it's whats familiar for him. The apostles are scared and don't know exactly what to do, so they turn back to the things of before. Now, the first point being that they don't catch anything, that's significant and we'll come back to it later. Second, Christ comes and asks Peter "lovest me thou more than these?" (meaning the fish, or the things of before) and Peter follows Christ. But at the last moment he turns back and sees John and says "what of him?" and Christ basically says "What does it matter to you, follow me"  NOW, the application. When we begin to progress in the gospel, sometimes we get scared or things hold us back because we don't know exactly what to do or exactly what will happen.  These things, for investigators, can be sports on Sundays, smoking, coffee, work, etc. But Christ asks all of us "lovest me thou more than these?" and we have to decide if our love for Christ will conquer our fear. What do we love more, sports or Christ? What do we love more, coffee or Christ? We all have to answer that question. However, in those moments of decision we oftentimes look back and say "what about him? what about my coworker? what about my brother?" and Christ just says "what does it matter, follow thou me" o sea, worry about yourself, this is YOUR salvation. Really made him think, he still didn't accept a firm fecha but we really think he will this week.  :)

NOW, new guy, Garillo. SUPER POSITIVE. Found him this week, he's a reference from a member and we walked in (and maybe a little frustrated from not having progress or success) just threw it down. We asked if he was baptized. He said no.  So we said "well, to get to heaven you need to be baptized, we all need it. Our goal as missionaries is to help you find and recieve the only one and true baptism talked of in the scriptures. Everything we teach will have that objective, to prepare you to be baptized. We will be asking you to do certain things, and all of them will have that goal. We want you to know for yourself that these things are true and that this baptism and this church will help you get to heaven" or soemthing like that.  And he accepted the invitation to be baptized! No fecha but still :) Happy.  

Now, the activity. WAS EXCELLENT!! Forgot to take pictures, silly me ha ha.  But I'll try and get some for next week, the church really looks great and we even cleaned the land in the back up to be able to use it for activities. It had plants up to 7 feet tall back there ha ha. But we cleaned it SO good and there was a ton of people there and it was just excellent, I'm not sure about details because that's pretty much the activity but it was a great end to a great week!  

I hope this email is good and that y'all enjoy it, remember that I love you and in spite of anything I say or don't say I AM HAPPY :) Becuase that's what this work does, it makes you happy.  

LOVE YOU ALL!!!! Have a great week!
-Elder Westenskow