Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Week 28 (3/28/2016)

Hi everyone!

This week was really fun and a little bit crazy the last few days, but still very fun. We were visiting Pedro and José every day to get them ready for the baptism on Saturday. We did lots of practices for the interview with José because he's kind of old and doesn't quite understand/can't hear all the words. They both passed the interview just fine. It looks like I'm actually doing a pretty good job as a missionary. :)

The baptismal service was a Noche Blanca where the whole zone was supposed to baptize. However, only three companionships ended up baptizing out of the whole zone. That was a little disappointing but it's okay. All together we ended up baptizing nine people because the zone leaders slammed out some lessons on Friday and Saturday. As district leader of the zone leaders, Elder Hernandez has to do all the interviews for their investigators. The whole morning on Saturday we were with the zone leaders finishing up the interviews and lessons. It was a little busy and we had to pay for several taxis it worked out pretty well.

Yesterday we went to Arteaga, a small city near Saltillo, to have an Easter contacting activity. Every Sunday there is a huge market with lots of people in the park so we figured it would be a good place to contact. We set up a screen to show some of the Easter videos that the church has made and then spread out to contact and bring people to the videos. It was pretty fun. We got a lot of rejections but there ended up being several contacts from our area. I'm certain that there will at least be a few baptisms from the activity.

This week I started teaching Elder Hernandez English. He wants to learn because his girlfriend is on her mission in Canada and is learning both English and French. He's eager to learn but isn't trying very hard. Haha! He has a hard time with the "th" sound. I give him a hard time about that sometimes, but it's fun to teach him English.

Today we went hiking in the mountains with one of the brothers from the ward. We didn't go very far but it was still pretty nice to get away from the streets and all the dogs in the city. I also saw a lot of birds! I was hoping to see some hummingbirds but the others wanted to keep moving so I had no time to wait around. It was really fun but it made me miss the mountains in Utah. It was also pretty difficult to get up to the hiking spot. In Utah you just need to drive 30 minutes or so and you're already hiking.

Here are the birds!
Clay-colored Thrush -Zorzal Pardo
American Kestral -Cernícalo Americano
Curve-billed Thrasher -Cuitlacoche Piquicurvo
Prarie Falcon -Halcón Pradeño
Black-tailed Gnatcathcer -Perlita Colinegra
Broad-winged Hawk -Aguililla Adura
Mexican Jay -Chara Pechigris
Turkey Vulture -Zopilote Cebecirrojo
Cassin's Finch -Fringílido de Cassin
Northern Mockingbird -Centzontle Norteño
Pyrrhuloxia -Cardenal Desertico
Black-throated Sparrow -Gorrión Gorjinegro
Common Raven -Cuervo Grande
Killdeer -Chorlito Tíldio
Greater Roadrunner -Correcaminos Mayor
Sharp-shinned Hawk -Gavilán Pajarero
Black-and-white Warbler -Chipe Trepador

The other day I was listening to "I Need the Every Hour" and I started thinking about how much we really need Christ every moment of our lives. Christ is someone we should call on only when we need Him but that is literally all the time. We all have so much to change and improve in each of our lives. Through the Atonement and the sacrifice that was made for us we can really change and improve. Not only that, but we can also receive the comfort that we all need in this life. I'm truly grateful for what Christ has done for us and the comfort that I have every moment here in Saltillo.

Thank you all for your prayers and support! I hope that everything is going well for all of you.

Les amo y extraño.
-Elder Steiner

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Week 27 (3/21/2016)

Hello everyone and happy Easter week!

This week was pretty normal other than a handful of things. We've been working with several of our investigators and whatnot. We've also found a handful of new people but mostly same old stuff.

We were working specifically with our investigators Pedro and José G. this week to prepare them for baptism this Saturday. Pedro is fantastic. He met with the missionaries a long time ago, but Elder Hernandez and his old companion found him again. He lives alone, is missing a leg, and is super ready to be baptized. He does the homework better than anyone else I've taught.
José G. lives with one of Elder Hernandez's converts. He's 77 and can't read so it's kind of hard to teach him sometimes but Hermana Susana (who he lives with) is really good and helps a lot. We're confident that he can be ready for baptism this Saturday.

We also have a few other people that we're prepping for baptism in April. José B., Cecilia, and Alejandro.

José B. is pretty weird and he also lives alone but he really likes when we visit and he understands the lessons pretty well. He was also working with other missionaries several years ago.

Cecilia is the "wife" of a reactivated member. We're working hard to get the divorce finished up so that they can get married and Cecilia can be baptized. I don't know if she'll be ready by the end of this change but we'll just have to see.

Alejandro was meeting with the missionaries before us as well. His wife is a recently return missionary and he has basically all the lessons. It's kind of like a baptism just fell into our laps. Haha!

This Sunday I was surprised to be called on to speak in sacrament meeting. It was kind of cold this weekend so not a lot of people showed up to church yesterday. The bishop called us the night before and said Elder Hernandez would speak. When we got to church the bishop told Elder Hernandez that the two of us would be speaking. That was a really nice thing to hear...While Elder Hernandez was speaking I scrambled to put together something about Easter. It wasn't so bad because I already had some ideas but I think I'm going to try and be prepared for the next time I'm called to speak.
After that Elder Vargas and I went and taught the primary about prophets. I thought talking in sacrament meeting was hard, but teaching little kids is way harder than teaching investigators. It was fine but I basically tried to keep the kids calm by drawing and folding paper cranes with them.

Earlier today we went to El Museo del Desierto. That was really cool. There were less birds than I would have liked but it was really fun. It had a lot of different things about geology, fossils, and all sorts of desert things. Elder Hernandez said that I should work there because I was explaining about each thing we saw. We also took a Book of Mormon and acted like we were reading it with some of the fossils and animals.

Here are the birds!
Orange-crowned Warbler
Barn Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bewick's Wren
Magnolia Warbler
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Black-throated Sparrow
Red-tailed Hawk
No Spanish names this week because I'm running out of time. Sorry...

This week's spiritual thought is about the Atonement. The theme in all the classes for this month has been the Atonement and this week should be a time to really think about Christ and what He did for us. Christ willingly suffered everything for us. The Monday before His death He withered a fig tree with a word. He could have struck down His tormenters just as easily and gone away without suffering any more. He also died willingly for each of us. His death on the cross occurred after only a few hours. Death by crucifixion regularly last days. Christ gave everything completely willingly according to the will of our Heavenly Father. I hope that this week we can all think about how we can apply the Atonement in our lives and become more Christlike by showing obedience to our Father's will.

Thank you all for everything!
¡Les amo y extraño!
-Elder Steiner

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Week 26 (3/14/2016)

Hello everyone!
This email might be a little short because the first hour we used to write I couldn't get the email to work so I was waiting around for a while while Elder Hernandez wrote. I don't want to use too much time on the computer today.
This week there was a storm that lasted about three days. It started on Tuesday night and went all the way through Thursday. It was pretty cold and wet but it wasn't so bad. It's all dry now because it got really hot on Friday. The mountains here even had snow! It was pretty good to see some snow even if I couldn't get up to it. We are probably going hiking one of these days but I'm not sure when.
Elder Hernandez promised one of our investigators that it would rain so that he could plant his corn. I think his promised worked pretty well. On Wednesday we went and planted corn and squash with our investigator. It wasn't raining too hard when we started but the storm got pretty strong so we put it off for another day.
This week we also learned how to make flour tortillas with one of Elder Hernandez's converts. It was pretty fun. I wrote down the steps so we can make them at home.
On Wednesday night during the storm we were trying to contact some references but either no body was home or no one wanted to listen. It was getting a little late so we thought about seeing if some less active members were home but we weren't quite sure what to do. When it's rainy it's pretty hard to contact so while we were thinking about what to do a quote by Elder Holland popped into my head. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity" After that I practically ran across the street to contact a tiny blue house. We ended up finding a family of 4 new investigators. We only had a short lesson but when we were going to finish with the prayer we asked if they had anything they wanted to ask God. The daughter almost immediately began to cry. She didn't tell us why but it was a really powerful experience to find that family.
Here are the birds!
Yellow-crowned Warbler -Chipe Corona Naranja
Turkey Vulture -Zopilote Cabecirrojo
Cassin's Kingbird -Tirano de Cassin
Brewer's Blackbird -Tordo de Brewer
Common Raven -Cuervo Grande
Say's Phoebe -Mosquero Llanero
This weeks spiritual thought is from Mosiah 28:3.

3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
As a missionary working to the maximum is really important. It's also really hard. It's very easy to be lazy or selfish but that doesn't get anything done. As I work I'm trying to get over my tiredness or selfishness or impatience to bring this message to as many people as possible. It's really hard but I know that the more I understand about the importance of this message and the Atonement the easier it gets to open my mouth and talk to everyone.
Sorry it's a little short but I'm happy I actually got a chance to write. :)
Thanks for everything.
Les amo y extraño.
-Elder Steiner

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 24 (2/29/2016)

Hello everyone! Happy Leap Day! 

This was the last week of my third change here in Piedras Negras Barrio 5A. Tomorrow I'll be on a bus heading to Saltillo for the fifth time (I'll talk about my Saltillo trip this week in a minute)! I'm going to Valle de los Flores, the zone where the mission offices are, so I'll be there with the secretaries, the assistants and President Rodriguez! Also, my dad (trainers are called dads and whatnot), Elder Muñoz, is there! I'm excited to see him again even though it's only been six weeks. My new companion is named Elder Hernandez and he is one of the district leaders in Valle de los Flores. I've been with a district leader every change so far so I think the Lord might be preparing me for something. Or maybe President just flipped a coin to decide where I go. Who knows. Regardless, I'm excited for a new area. I'm going to miss Piedras Negras but I've heard only good things about my new area.

Last pday we had a very fun zone meeting. The zone leaders made crepes for all of us and we got jerseys of the Coahuila Santos, the soccer team from this part of Mexico. It was really cool and I'm definitely never going to forget this zone and what I've learned here.

This week I took my fourth trip to Saltillo for my visa. I'm not sure but I think the secretaries are doing stuff wrong on purpose at this point. Haha! Just kidding, this time it wasn't so bad. However, I did realize that with all the bus trips I've taken during my mission I have over 72 hours of bus time. I'm not sure quite how to feel about that, but it's something! I was able to get a handful of letters that had arrived in Saltillo as well. All of them, other than the one I got from Elder Muñoz, were Christmas letters. Haha! However, even though I didn't get them for a while I'm really grateful to those that sent them.

So here in Mexico most people are Catholic. The two main saints here in Coahuila are the Virgin of Guadelupe and Saint Judas. The statues and paintings of Saint Judas look more or less similar to the way Christ is portrayed and they are all over the place. Something I found a little funny was that two times now we have shown kids a picture of Jesus and asked them who is in the picture and they have said Saint Judas. Just something interesting I noticed. Haha!

Here are the birds! There are quite a few this week.
American Goldfinch -Dominico Americano
Yellow-rumped Warbler -Chipe Rabadilla Amarilla
Verdin -Baloncillo
Turkey Vulture -Zopilote Cabecirrojo
White-faced Ibis -Ibis Cariblanco
Chuihuahuan Raven -Cuervo Llanero
Tamaulipas Crow -Cuervo Tamaulipeco
Inca Dove -Palomita Colilarga
Great Egret -Garza Grande
Tree Swallow -Golondrina Arbolera
Barn Swallow -I saw this on the way to the computer place so no Spanish name
Osprey -Gavilán Pescador

I didn't notice the change in birds during the winter here as much as in Utah but during the colder months I saw a lot fewer of the little doves and I actually haven't seen and Common Ground Doves since the begining of December. Just something I noticed. :)

This weeks spiritual thought came to me on the bus. While you're on an eight hour bus ride you have a lot of time to think. On Wednesdaywe sang Qué Firmes Cimientos (How firm a foundation) in a lesson and I was thinking about the english words during the day. While we were on the bus to Saltillo I kept thinking over the words, especially of the last verse, and how firm my testimony has become while I've been here. The words to the last verse read:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

I feel like these words are echoing around in my mind all the time now. Here in Barrio 5 there are quite a few less active members and it makes me kind of sad to see these people that have found the path but fallen away. However, even though it makes me sad it just gives me stronger conviction to never falter in my testimony and to never forsake what I have learned to be true. I hope all of us can have so strong of a conviction such as to never stop believing in Christ and following His example no matter how difficult our trials are.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support. I'm really grateful to all of you.

Les amo y extraño. -Elder Steiner