Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 19 (1/25/20160

Hello everyone!

Thus begins my third change in the field. This week has been really good. I think I already said that Elder Muñoz was changed to an area in Saltillo. It's a little weird to have a new companion because I'm still just a little baby missionary out here.

My new companion is Elder Gallegos. He has two more changes than I do here on the mission and he was already training the previous two changes. He's really good and he loves to contact and find new investigators. He's from Tabasco, Mexico and he's 22 years old. He was studying English in Arizona for six months before his mission so he speaks some but it's a lot easier to speak Spanish with him. During language study I help him to read my scriptures in English. It's pretty funny to see someone struggle to read the scriptures as much as I do with Spanish. "Ye", "yea", and all those other words are really confusing for him.

Elder Gallegos' desire to contact non stop is really what I needed because there are so many available investigators here that we need to find news and drop olds within days in order to find the chosen people. In Europe and the US the missionaries hold on to every investigator they can get. Here, everyone is willing to hear the word of God but we really need to weed out who actually wants to progress rather than just talk to us. The worst is when we do a first lesson with someone and then invite them to be baptized and they say that they've already been baptized. Then we need to teach the great apostasy and all in about five minutes so we can get to our next lesson in time. Even worse is when they say "It's all the same God" which, in a way it is, but the Bible (THE Bible that they all read) says that Christ was baptized by immersion and that that's how we should do it (Romans 6:3-5). Yeah, it's the same God but God still has rules and steps that we need to follow the way he told us. I'm always so relieved when we get a contact that doesn't say "it's all the same God" because it shows that they are willing to listen.

Well, enough of that nonsense. This week has been really fun. Partially because we're working hard and partially because I don't need to do 12 weeks anymore. We have had lots and lots of lessons and we even managed to get 4 people to come to church!

One was Gustavo, as usual. He is progressing really well and my worries about him flew out the window when we talked with him about the gift of the Holy Ghost. He really understands everything we've been teaching and he really wants to learn a lot more.

Another was Jesús. He is reading the Book of Mormon and he's already started sharing it with his friends and family after about a week with us. His mom was also interested in listening to us but she left to Saltillo to be with some family for about a month. When she returns we'll be able to teach her.

Noe also came to church and he knows Jesús. We didn't know this before but it was very convenient to have them at church together. I was a little bit doubtful about Noe when we started but he is progressing really well and his sister and mother are listening to us too.

Last of all Ernesto...Our eternal investigator. We would drop him (we only visit him about once a week) but his wife and his daughters are members. Awesome faithful members (that like to give us snacks). We're going to keep moving forward with him and see how it goes. It's kind of frustrating because he always goes to church (early too!) and he understands it all. We're going to keep visiting and see is anything changes.

Here are the birds!
Yellow-rumped Warbler -Chipe Rabadilla Amarilla
Ladder-backed Woodpecker -Carpintero Listado
Cooper's Hawk -Gavilán de Cooper
Tamaulipas Crow -Cuervo Tamaulipeco
Verdin -Baloncillo

That's about it for this week. ¡Les amo y extraño!
Gracias por todas sus oraciones y amor.
-Elder Steiner

PS We played basketball at the church this morning. I'm still not very good at basketball but it was still fun!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Week 18 (1/18/2016)

Hello everyone!

I finished my training today! Woo hoo! The training program for missionaries is called "The First 12 Weeks". It basically helps you know how to direct lessons and everything you would need to do to immediately train another missionary once you are done. Luckily I am not training anyone. I'm staying in Piedras Negras for the next change as junior companion. Elder Muñoz is headed off to Saltillo and my new companion is named Elder Gallegos, I think. I'm not 100% sure because it was just related to me over the pone by Elder Muñoz. Regardless, this next change will be filled with all sorts of exciting things that I'll probably forget to tell you. However, I will try!

This week was a little bit different. We had to go to Saltillo (for the third time) so I could sign something for Elder Franco, the new secretary. I had signed the same thing for Elder Leon, the previous secretary, but it was under his name so Elder Franco couldn't use it. Regardless, we had another 8 hour bus ride to Saltillo. We went in the night so I didn't see any birds on the way there...However, I did spend some time on the bus reading the January Liahona. It was a little hard to read because the movie screen was right in front of our faces (we're not supposed to watch but it's REALLY hard on the buses) but I had a nice spiritual moment on the bus. I was just reading and I felt a new peace about my mission. It was a calmness that I hadn't really felt since before I even left and I felt at peace with it all.
We arrived in Saltillo really early in the morning and since there weren't a lot of taxis we walked all the way to the secretaries house. It took about 45 minutes and we got there at6:00 in the morning. We went inside and then I went and laid down for about an hour. After that we went to the office around 8:00. This was the first time I went to Saltillo not expecting a package and there just happened to be 3. That was pretty cool. Haha!
So, I signed the paper and then we waited around for a bit until we got back on a bus to Piedras at 12:20. On the way back it was day so I saw a few different birds.

This Friday we had a zone conference. The president came up and gave us the new mission moto. The old one was "¡En este misión bautizamos!" and it was changed to "¡En este misión enseñamos arrepentimiento y bautizamos conversos!" The change was made to help us focus on teaching the importance of repentance and making sure that our investigators are converted. It's part of a world wide change in mission culture. The conference went really well and it helped me change my mentality about my attitude here and how I teach the investigators.

This Tuesday (sorry, a bit out of order) we had our last regular zone meeting. This time it was actually kind of weird because a lot of the elders were actually moved around today and yesterday. We said goodbye to a lot of the elders. We took a zone photo in the baptismal font. We set our cameras on timers and ran around through the bathrooms and into the font but Elder Marin was a little slow running around so he tired to jump over the barrier (see potos).

Here are the birds!
Killdeer -Chorlito Tildío
Verdin -Baloncillo
Common Raven -Cuervo Grande
American Kestrel -Cernícalo Americano
Black Vulture -Zopilote Negro
Swainson's Hawk -Agililla de Swainson

Thanks for all of your support and for writing to me! Thanks to those that sent packages for Christmas (even though I got them late)!
I miss you all and I hope that everything is going well.
-Elder Steiner

I forgot to mention! Nelly had her farewell at the church the other day. We took a picture with her.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 17 (1/11/2016)

Hello everyone.

It's about time I wrote a good weekly email so here goes!

First, a little bit about our area. There are 4 wards and 1 branch here in Piedras Negras with 16 missionaries. Piedras Negras is right on the border of Texas across from Eagle Pass. Our area is one of the smallest out of the 8 yet it's still pretty big. It would take us 45 minutes to go from one end to the other since we can only walk. There used to be bikes but there were some accidents so President decided there wouldn't be any more bikes. 
Our ward is very nice and the members like to help with missionary work. One sister, named Nelly, that is leaving on her mission to Brazil this month likes to help us out a lot.Tonight we are having a noche de hogar (family home evening) with several families and a few investigators.
The stake center is about 3 blocks away from our house so it's pretty easy for zone meetings and Sundays. Our area is half of our ward and the other half has two other missionaries. We do a lot together since they are fairly close to us.

Our house is very cold at night. Everything here in Mexico is made out of concrete so we need to have our heater on all night. Then during the day it starts to get hot. I wear my fleece in the mornings and the night and often by the middle of the day I wish I was wearing short sleeves. Even though it is cold at night our house is pretty good. The toilet doesn't quite work all the time and our couches are a little torn up but I've realized it's good most missionaries are young men because young men usually don't complain about dirty conditions (i.e. Henry's room).

A summary of our investigators:
Oscar: 43 years old and taking care of his sister who has cancer. We've been teaching them both but Oscar is worried about coming to church and he has a hard time keeping commitments. He has a lot of trust in us and he really likes when we visit. But we decided that if he doesn't come to church next week we'll have to leave him.

Antonio and Lorena: A couple that's been living together for several years. They have 3 kids ages 5, 3, and 1. They are not married which makes things really hard for us. We keep teaching them and waiting for Antonio to finish up the divorce from his previous marriage so they can get baptized. They have really strong testimonies and they really love the church but we mostly just need to wait.

Gustavo: This guy is really smart but I think he's a little crazy and may have some issues along the way. He studies Hebrew and knows a lot about the Bible and other doctrine. He accepted the Book of Mormon right away which was fantastic. He's been reading and saying that it's answering his questions. We set a baptismal date for February 6.

Ernesto: He is an eternal investigator. His daughters and wife were baptized over a year ago and he's been receiving the lessons for 2 years or so. He says he has doubts about lots of things. He comes to church and reads the book of mormon more than the rest of his family. I think the main doubt is with his financial troubles and tithing...

Here are the birds!
Cattle Egret -Garza Ganadera
Great Egret -Garza Grande
Green Parakeet -Perico Verde Mexicano
It's pretty short this week. I saw a few different birds but I didn't get a good enough look at them to identify them.

I'm going to try and include more details moving forward because I have gotten several emails about how my emails are too short. :P I hope that this is sufficient. Haha!

Well, I love you all and miss you a lot. Thank you for writing and for all your prayers and love.
-Elder Steiner

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 16 (1/4/2016)

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm sorry. I'm a bad missionary and I forgot the birds last week... Here they are (this week and last).

Killdeer -Chorlito Tildio
Cattle Egret -Garza Ganadera
Cooper's Hawk -Gavilán de Cooper
Great Egret -Garza Grande
Black-crested Titmouse -Paro Crestinegro
Greater Roadrunner -Correcaminos Mayor
Cedar Waxwing -Ampelis Americano
Lesser Goldfinch -Dominico Dorsiocsuro
Clay Colored Thrush -Zorzal Pardo
Bell's Vireo -Vireo de Bell

Okay, this week was pretty good. We had dinner with one of the member families for New Years which was really nice.

We met a cool investigator on Sunday that I forgot to mention. His name is Gustavo and he's really smart. He studies all sorts of things in Hebrew about the Bible and whatnot. I think he will get baptized.

This is gonna be short again because we had to help somebody during our writing time. I hope this is suffficient for all of you...

Just remember that I love and miss you all even if my emails are short.

Thanks for everything!
-Elder Steiner