Thursday, October 20, 2016

Week 55 (10/17/2016)

Hello everyone!

This week was really different from normal. We started off early Monday moning heading to Acuña to spend pday with the other elders. We played basketball and hung out for a while (which doesn't happen too often when your area is three hours away from the rest). Later one of the zone leaders bought a bunch of ingredients to cook for us so we went wih one of the members and cooked hamburgers and some other dishes (I don't remember the Spanish names). To finish off pday we worked in the area of the zone leaders.

Tuesday we had the zone meeting and the zone leaders trained us. They gave us several key points on how to be baptizing missionaries. Lately the mission hasn't been having a lot of baptisms so the leaders are trying to train us on key points. After the meeting we stayed in Acuña and went in trios with the other missionaries. That ended up being really fun especially because the sister that gave us lunch that day also gave us icecream cones! I ended the day sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor.

The next day President and Sister Cahoon and the assistants came for interviews. Sister Cahoon was going to check the houses that day so I spent the morning helping the other elders clean. A lot of elders don't keep their houses very clean...

Interviews were good. President has been working on changing the focus of the mission and working out the wrinkles. President Cahoon is a really good mission president and I like what he has in mind for the mission. While I was waiting for my interview I helped Sister Cahoon talk to the other elders because she has been having a hard time learing Spanish. It's funny because sometimes I start talking in Spanish without realizing it because I hardly ever have a chance to speak English here.

We returned to Allende Wednesday afternoon and got home around 7:30. That night we started divisions. Elder Castro, the new missionary in our district, and I stayed in Allende. We had an okay day Thursday. We ended up contacting in the sun for about two hours which wasn't very fun or effective but I had plenty of time to get to know Elder Castro. :)

On Friday morning we finished the divisions and had a normal day of work. However, Saturday morning the assistants came to work with us and Zaragoza. We were in a trio with Elder Franco. He had actually been in Allende six months ago so the members were really glad to see him. That night we went to the birthday party for one of our investigators as well. Our ward mission leader brought a bunch of chicken for the party.

Elder Franco stayed with us for Sunday so all the members got to see him in church. We worked with him all day Sunday and then him and his companion left for Saltillo at 12:30at night. And that's how our week ended.

It has been kind of different this week but it has also been a really good time for me to learn. Working with different missionaries and anilizing what we can do better is really important.

This week I didn't see any particularly different or exciting birds. I did see a different hawk yesterday but I didn't get a good enough look to identify it. :(

That's all for this week! I hope that your week has been less hectic than mine and I hope that you all have a good coming week.

Les amo y les extraño.
-Elder Steiner

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Week 54 (10/10/2016)

Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a great week.

This week has been pretty normal with a lot of extra walking and a lot of looking for our investigators. One thing I have noticed about this area is that we have plenty of peole to teach from references and contacts (considering that we cover several cites) but we have a hard time finding many of our investigators at home. Another difficult thing is that when we get references or investigators in other towns we need the members to give us rides to and from the lessons. At least I'm learning how to be a little more efficient about my contacting and planning lessons.

Yesterday we had a mercy from heaven show up at the church. Yesterday afternoon we ended up without lessons and at 7:00 pm we need to call the other missionaries for their dats so we ended up going to the church. When we got there some of the members asked us if we had invited someone to the church that night. I was kind of confused because we weren't expecting anyone but it turns out that someone the missionaries had contacted about five noths ago came to church that night. His name is Lionel and he had remembered the invitation the missionaries had made back then so he came to the church looking for us. We ended up giving him a short lesson and answering some of his questions (he had a lot of questions...). By the end of it he seemed really interested and said that he would read the Book of Mormon and would come to church with his wife and kids the next week. I know that that was definitely a miracle. It was a miracle that Lionel remembered the missionaries from five months ago. It was a miracle that he showed up at the church (even if it was several hours after the services) and that people were there, and that we happened to show up a little after he got there. I know that the Holy Ghost guided Lionel and us so that we could meet.

Other than that not a lot happened this week. We did have to deal with a loud puppy during sacrament meeting (our investigator brought it as a gift for his girlfriend). We ended up taking the puppy in it's box behind the church. I said a prayer that the puppy would clam down and not bark anymore and it worked! 

Here are the birds!
Swainson's Hawk
Say's Phoebe
Greater Roadrunner
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (These are really cool looking)

Well, that's about it. I can say that my testimony of missionary work has really grown in these last few days. I've been feeling a little bit worried about my weaknesses and faults lately but I know that God is molding me into something great. I also know that He is preparing people, like Lionel, to receive His gospel and make the changes to return to His prescence. I am so happy to be a missionary and to be a tool in God's hands.

Thank you for all your suppport and love! I hope that all of you are well and that you have a good week. Also, I hope that all of you are reading the Book of Mormon every day. It's super important!

-Elder Steiner

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 53 (10/3/2016)

Happy post-conference Monday!

This week has gone well. For the first week of the change it was extra normal. Being here in Allende with the same companion for two changes in a row sort of makes all the weeks and days blend together in my mind.

One intersting thing with changes is that a new elder that just got to the mission is here in Zaragoza (20 minutes away). It will be intersting to see the little baby missionary grow up in the most isolated area of the mission. Haha!

This week we had the chance to contact a reference in one of the neighboring cities. His name is Thomas and he shows a lot of interest. We have only had two lessons with him but he accepted the baptismal invitation really well and he started reading the Book of Mormon. The sad thing is that we have had this reference for several weeks... That's why you need to contact all references within a day because if not your golden investigator will be waiting for a while.

The highlight of this week was conference so I think I'll just write a little bit about my impressions. I really liked the talks by Elder Oaks and Elder Andersen. They both talked a lot about missionary work and how we as members can involve ourselves in that work. I liked them mostly because I know that as members involve themselves in missionary work we can press this work forward even more effectively. I hope that all of you can listen to Elder Oaks' talk again and try applying some of the points he gave about sharing the gospel.

I also liked Elder Bednar's talk about how we can know Christ. Knowing Christ should be the center of our testimony and conversion. I feel like as a missionary I really need to work on knowing Christ because He is the center of everything I do. I think that this is so important for all of us as children of God.

Here are the birds!
Broad-winged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Scaled Quail

About the birds: I only write the cool or different birds I see each week. There are all sorts of cool birds here but I figure it would be boring to get a list of the same 15 birds each week.

Well, I'm about out of time but thanks for everything! I hope that everyone is well and that you all enjoyed conference.

-Elder Steiner

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 52 (09/26/2016)

Hello everyone!

This week I completely forgot to take notes about what happened but we'll see if I can remember. On Monday I got a haircut. I can't rmember anything else that happened that day.

Tuesday we had a district meeting here in Allende with just four missionaries. It was  a little weird having the meeting without the other district being there but it was good. Elder Antonio trained us about charity and working with the members.

On Friday night the zone leaders came to interview our baptismal cantidate Saturday morning. We spent Saturday morning with them and then they went to do the interview. Sadly, our investigator was not ready for baptism for a few details so he couldn't be baptized this Sunday, but we are confident he will be baptized this coming month.

Saturday afternoon we went to Zaragoza to do an interview for their baptism which went really well. While we were there a huge storm started to roll in. The four of us started to walk toward the church when the lightning started. Then we saw a whole bunch of vultures flying away, and that's when the rain started. It was really heavy rain and it's been a little cooler these last few days which is a lot nicer than the regular heat.

Sunday was normal but really nice. I always like Sunday as a missionary because it just seems to be a little less busy than the other days. A recent convert brought her sister to church so we got a new investigator as well.

Today is changes and I'm staying right here with Elder Antonio. Super exciting, I know. I'm excited to see how this change will go because we have several people that I'm confident can be baptized this month. This last change was a little hard because we had a hard time finding new investigators but This change will be awesome. Woo hoo!

Also, everybody get pumpped for conference this weekend! It's like church Christmas. :) I love conference and I hope that all of you are ready and as excited as I am to hear the talks. I think next weeks email will be mostly about the talks and whatnot. :)

-Greater Roadrunner
-Lesser Goldfinch
-Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Well, that's all for now! I hope that you have a great week and that you enjoy General Conference!

-Elder Steiner

Week 51/52 (09/19/2016)

Happy Monday everyone!

Sorry for not writing last week. We had to go to Acuña so our pday time was cut short.

Last week was pretty normal. I learned how to solve a Rubik's cube which was pretty cool. I also had a really interesting service experience on divisions. I went with Elder Garcia to Zaragoza and for our last lesson we went with an elderly homeless man named Elias. He was really interested in everything we taught and he received the lesson really well. A few lessons before Elder Garcia and his companion had given him blankets and this time we gave him shoes and a new shirt. One of his legs was injured pretty badly so we helped him put on a new pair of pants along with the shirt and the shoes. It was really interesting reflecting on it afterward with Elder Garcia because I think it embodied "the pure love of Chirst". 

President Cahoon has started to put a lot of emphasis on charity and I'm so happy for this change in the mission. I think I truly have been lacking in my love for everyone here. I have been a missionary for one year now and I've learned so much, but I think I sometimes forget about the most important part of being a missionary. Love and charity are so key to becomeing more like Christ because charity is where we all must start. I was reading in Moroni 7 the other day to learn more about hope and faith. In verses 40-48 there is a fantastic explanation of how we can have greater faith and hope. Every characteristic of Christ can be obtained if we start having greater love and charity for all of our brothers and sisters. Charity leads to humility which in turn leads to hope and then to faith.

This week was a little more exciting than normal. On Wednesday I ended up waiting for my companion in the bus station for three hours while he returned from Acuña. There were probably the most boring three hours I have had during my whole mission...Haha!

This Friday was Mexico's independance day so there were several celebrations Thursday and Friday. I also completed one year as a missionary! WOO HOO! We had a special activity in the church for independance day and several investigators came which was good.

Yesterday we had the chance to give the sacrament to an elderly sister who can't come to church. It was a great experience because she took the sacrament with such deep apreciation and love for us and for Christ. She shared her testimony with us afterward about the priesthood and the baptismal covenant. It was by far one of the most powerful testimonies I've heard as a missionary and it made me feel so much love for what I'm doing here.

Being a missionary for a year has been really interesting. I've grown in a lot of ways and I know that I've definitely improved, but I can also see my faults so much more clearly than ever before. There are so many things I need to change and improve. My testimony of the gospel and of our Saviour has grown more than I can say. I know without a doubt that I am doing the right thing and that this church is the true church of Jesus Christ.

Here are the birds! (almost forgot)
-Black Swift
-Zone Tailed Hawk
-Cassin's Kingbird

Thanks you all so much for your love and support! I hope you all have a great week and that this email isn't too long/confusing.

I love and miss you all!

-Elder Steiner

Week 50 (8/7/2016)

Hello everyone!

Happy Monday/Labor Day/day after my birthday!

I don't have a lot of time to write but I'll try to write what I can.

This week was pretty normal. 

We had a really interesting lesson with the parents of a less active member. The sister (named Diana) was really interested the last time we had seen her and we were really confident that she would be baptized soon. However, two days later we went and taught her and she started off by saying that someday we would see that we were wrong and that we would recognize the truth. It was kind of confusing but her son, the member, told us that between our visits she had met with her other son who is a Christian pastor. I was a little uncomfortable at first because I had no idea what to say but then her son, the member, started telling her how it was. He raked her over the coals a little bit (with love) and I could really feel the spirit. I know that probably sounds kind of weird but it made me realize that the members or family members can have a lot of power in lessons.

On Friday we had divisions. I went to Zaragoza (a tiny area next to ours) with Elder Hernandez. Elder Hernandez has a little less time than I do but he is senior companion now because his companion was sent to an area in Saltillo last week. He seemed kind of worried about directing the area as a senior companion but we worked hard together and he did really well.

Yesterday was my birthday but it went by like any other Sunday. We went to church then went to eat with some members and then we worked all day. Haha! We did have some cake at lunch but other than that nothing special. Oh, and some YSA from the ward came and gave me a tiny jello cup bucause they had forgotten it was my birthday. That was pretty nice. :)

I didn't see any especially cool birds this week but there is a swallow nest on our back porch. That's pretty cool. Also, we are in the middle of butterfly migration so while we are walking lots of butterflies pass by the puddles in the street.

That's about all for this week. Thank you for all your love and support! I hope you are all well. :) Have a good week!

-Elder Steiner

Week 49 (8/31/2016)

Happy Pday!

This week was a little less eventful than last week so this email might be little shorter but here goes.

On Monday night one of the zone leaders came and stayed with us so he could go to our district meeting the next day. My companion and Elder Paredes (the zone leader) spent a while planning the training for the next day so I went up on the roof to look at the strs for a bit. I ended up falling asleep so it turns out that when they couldn't find me they went out in the street to look for me. They ended up looking for about ten minutes when I finally came down. Luckily they were in the house when I came down because they had locked the back door when they couldn't find me.

The next morning I left at 8:00 for Acuña to do divisions with the other zone leader while my companion and Elder Paredes went to Zaragoza to hold the meeting. I was on the bus while the district in Acuña had their meeting so for the first time in my mission I went without a weekly Tuesday meeting. When I got to the bus station the other elders weren't there so I waited there for about an hour. I worked in Acuña all day Tuesday and then I went back to my area in the morning on Wednesday. During my bus ride my companion was left alone in the bus station here in Allende so he sat in the bus station for three and a half hours by himslef. We practice patience a lot as missionaries. Haha!

On Friday we had a movie night in the church. We watched The Other Side of Heaven, the one about the missionary who served for two and a half years on a tiny island. Several of the members brought investigators and their friends so I think it went really well. After the movie some of the sisters in the ward have strted calling me Kolipoki like the American elder in the movie.

On Saturday we had a really good lesson with an investigator named Ricardo. His wife is a less active member and the missionaries have been working with them before. It was really cool because Ricardo said he wanted to get baptized and get rid of his past mistakes. It's really great when the people we teach really understand the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how the Atonement can function in our lives. I'm really happy to be here and to be helping all the people I can to come unto Christ and be clean of their past mistakes.

Thank you all for your support and for your love. I hope you all have a great week!

Les amo y les extraño.
-Elder Steiner

Week 48 (08/23/2016)

Hello everyone!

This week has probably been the busiest of my whole mission. It has also been really fun.

On Tuesday I left Piedras to come to Allende which was about an hour bus ride. When I got to the bus station I didn't see any other elders waiting for me so I was a little confused. I thought that I had gotten off at the wrong place for a minute but then a member came over and started talking to me. After that my companion and the other elder from our district came around the corner from eating breakfast. After that we went to the house to drop off my stuff and then we went to get the other elder that was arriving from Saltillo. Then we went to eat and got on another bus to take us to Acuña (three hours north of us) for a zone meeting the next day. We ended up staying the night with the zone leaders in Acuña.

The next day we had our zone meeting and then we took another three hour bus ride back to Allende. The rest of Wednesday was normal missionary work.

On Thursday we worked like normal but that night the other elders from our district arrived from Zaragoza which is about an hour away from here. They stayed the night with us being the second sleepover this week.

On Friday morning the four of us went to the bus station to go to Piedras Negras for our zone conference with Elder Valenzuela of the Mexico area presidency. I learned a lot of ways I can improve during the conference. Elder Valenzuela and President Cahoon both taught us a little bit. I really like President Cahoon's new vision for this mission. During a break in the conference we went out in the hall and I was eating some trail mix for a snack when Elder Valenzuela came over so I shared some trail mix with him while some elders asked him questions.

After the conference we went right back to Allende with two elders from Acuña. Apparently the secretaries messed up and these two didn't have a bus so they came to our house. We did mini divisions Friday afternoon and Saturday morning which was a little crazy because I still have no idea how to get around in this area. Saturday ended up being our first full day of work this week. It was a little weird to work all day after being on the bus for so long. Haha!

Overall, this week was a lot of bus rides and several sleepovers with the other elders. I'm excited for this area because the ward is really strong and the members help us out quite a bit. I'm excited to work here even though it's hot. :)

This week I saw quite a few birds.
-Crested Caracara
-Chihuahuan Raven
-Common Raven
-Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
-Common Nighthawk
-Black-bellied Whistling Duck
-Swainson's Hawk
-Western Wood Pewee
-Common Moorhen
-Black-crowned Nightheron
-Black-chinned Hummingbird
-Green Heron
-Green Kingfisher
-Little Blue Heron
-Whit-faced Ibis
-Great Egret

On Monday I was by some wetlands in the evening so I took advantage to see some cool birds.

Well, that's about it. This email ended up being a little longer than normal but I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures here in northern Mexico. :)

Thanks for everything!
-Elder Steiner

Week 47 (08/16/2016)

Hello everyone!

Well, once again I have come to the end of the change. That makes seven changes in the field. It sure has gone by quickly but I still have a little bit more than a year to go.

This week was a little difficult but still good. I worked with some of the other elders on short changes because Elder Domiciano was sick a few days this week. On Saturday I went with one of our zone leaders to cover the appointments for the afternoon while Elder Domiciano stayed with the other zone leader. It was only for the afternoon but I learned a lot and I feel like those short divisions got me way more pumped to work and teach. I've seen that good divisions can really change someone's whole mission.

On Tuesday we had our last zone meeting for this change and we talked a little bit about how there was potential that some areas might be closed or "white washed" (where a whole new companionship comes in) and that's exactly what happened with my area...Our area was merged with the other one and three out of the four of us are going to different zones. Elder Muñoz, my trainer, is staying and is now in charge of the whole ward in terms of missionary stuff.

I'm going to Allende tomorrow which is part of the Acuña zone. It doesn't really make sense to me because Allende is a lot closer to Piedras Negras than it is to Acuña, but I don't make the rules so no problem. I'm pretty excited for my next area because apparently it's kind of like ranch country. I think it will be a little more calm and whatnot. Also, I've met my new companion before and he is pretty cool. He's named Elder Antonio.

There's not a lot more to report specifically this week. One of our investigators is finally starting the divorce process. Her name is Patty and she has been going to church for a long time but hasn't been able to be baptized because she is married to someone else. We finally were able to get the process started yesterday and I am confident that she will be baptized next change.

This week I didn't see many birds apart from the usual. This morning apparently there was a barn owl outside of the house of the member we were with but I couldn't see it. I sat at the window for about 20 minutes waiting for it to come out but it never did...

That's about it. Thanks for everything! See you next week!
-Elder Steiner

Week 46 (8/09/2016)

Happy pday!

I don't have my agenda today because plans got changed a little but I'll do my best to tell you about what happened this week.

This week has been kind of tiring. Piedras Negras is really hot and we're going through the hottest part of the year right now. I think that walking around in the sun all day makes it a little harder to go the extra mile while contacting and looking for new investigators but we're working hard and trying to find people to teach and bring to baptism.

Thursday some of the zone came and did a contacting activity in our area to try and find new investigators. We used the whole afternoon after lunch knocking doors and contacting. We ended up with about 8 new investigators in one day and Elder Domiciano and I have been giving follow up to have lessons and appointments with the contacts we all made. It was really helpful for our area because we have been having trouble finding new people to teach.

On Saturday Elder Muñoz and Elder Ray, the elders that share our ward, baptized one of their investigators so we helped them out with the service and to get some baptismal clothes.

On Sunday we had an interesting class by the ward mission leader. He taught all of the priesthood and Relief Society and basically told them all that the member missionary work in this ward was basically dead and then presented our ward mission plan. I think it was pretty good because if the members are helping us it makes the work a lot easier and a lot more efficient. I expect that as we apply our ward mission plan there will be a lot more work with the members and we'll start to see a lot more baptisms.

Sorry that this email is a little shorter. I can't quite remember all the stuff that happened this week and I don't have my bird list. I hope that all of you are well and that you have been having a good summer. :)

Thanks for your support and your love.
¡Les amo y les extraño!
-Elder Steiner

Week 45 (8/2/2016)

Hello everyone!

I don't have a lot of time to write so I'm sorry if this one ends up a little short.

This week we did divisions and I went to the outskirts of Piedras Negras for the third time on divisions. The area I went to is called Villa de Fuente and it has a weird stretch of desert that goes through the middle. We had to cross that deserty part four times on Tuesday. The cities here are kind of weird sometimes.

On Wednesday we helped the Relief Society president cook for the youth conference. They had to make a bunch of sandwiches so Elder Domiciano and I went to help them out. We made about 150 to feed all the youth and leaders. I didn't help a lot with making them because there were a lot of people helping but I was in charge of putting the sandwiches in the cooler. I was complimented for my good arranging skills. I feel like that's a good thing but kind of a lame thing to be complimented on. Haha!

On Thursday and Saturday we ate with some members who live in a tiny town outside of Piedras. It was pretty cool because there were all sorts of goats and chickens and whatnot. They also made really good food. We had carnitas on Thursday and then carne asada (steak) on Saturday.

On Friday we helped out with youth conference. Each missionary companionship did an activity and taught a little bit about the Book of Mormon. We also did BoM jeapoardy at the end. It was fun to help out and do some games with the youth.

The two investigators we were going to baptize this coming Saturday, Ana and Arlene, went to Dallas with their mom. I don't think we will  be able to baptize them now but we are going to put them in contact with missionaries over there. It's a little rough having them leave just before their baptism date but I think it will all work out.

Here are the birds!
-Green Kingfisher
-Great Kiskadee
-Fulvous Whistling Duck
-Snowy Egret
-Double-crested Cormorant
-Chihuahuan Raven

Sorry it's shorter this week but thanks for everything and thanks for your support!

Les amo y les extraño!
-Elder Steiner

Week 44 (7/25/2016)

Hello everyone!

This week was good. Only a few things to report but basically same old missionary work. It's a little different with President Cahoon but not much has changed.

On Wednesday we had interviews with President Cahoon. It was a little different than a regular interview because he was trying to get to know each of us. He asked about family and what we like to do and stuff. He also encouraged me to study Preach My Gospel more profoundly so on Thursday I started, and I got through two pages the first day. One of our zone leaders told me to take my bird book to show him I like birds, but at the end of the interview he told me "It's good to like birds but it's better to like Preach My Gospel." 😥 Thanks Elder Bermudez... He was just joking but I still felt a little dumb. We also talked to Sister Cahoon while our companions were being interviewed. She can't speak Spanish so I helped her translate with a few of the other missionaries. They're both really nice but it's different to have an American mission president.

Wednesday was also Elder Domiciano's birthday. Early in the morning the elders who live next door came over and sang and played the guitar. They also brought cookies. Later that day we visited some members and they had a cake for him, and President Cahoon brought a package that Elder Domiciano's family sent. By mission birthday standards it was pretty good. We also had cake on Saturday and Sunday with members again. The members here like to feed us which is pretty nice. Even with that I still don't think I'll gain any weight. I'm still as skinny as ever. Haha!

Today we went to the border. Here in Piedras there's a really big flag in the plaza by the bridge. You can see the flag from all over the city. I was telling Elder Muñoz that Eagle Pass should get an even taller pole and flag.[?] Haha! I looked over at the US with my binoculars and I saw a stop sign in English. You've got to love the little things as a missionary. This morning we also went to get our haircut. While we were waiting for our haircut a rabbit ran out into the street in front of us so we had to go save it. A few minutes later the owner came and got it but we just sat there with it on the curb.

We have two really good investigators now. They're named Ana and Arlene. They're the granddaughters of a recent convert and they're planning on being baptized the 30th. They are the best investigators that I've had so far because they do all their homework and go to all of the youth activites. If only everyone could be that way...We're also working with a sister named Patty. We're helping her to get a divorce and then married so she can be baptized. We hope she can be baptized next month.

Here are the birds!
Greater Roadrunner
Ring-necked Duck
Common Merganser
Common Nighthawk
Black-chinned Hummingbird

Even though it's really hot here I like being in Piedras Negras again. If I can get through the heat here it should be a piece of cake next year. Haha!

Thanks for everything! I hope that you're all well and that it's not too hot wherever you are.

-Elder Steiner