This is part four of a ten part series chronicling Jake’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.
My new companion has the same last name: Elder Hernandez. He looks like a bishop because he has glasses and is a little fat. He is a great teacher and missionary and I am learning a lot from him.
I am still in Tultepec. The municipal of Tultepec is known for fireworks. All of this week there are going to be a ton of fireworks. They make huge bulls (kinda like the huge mammoth that we made for the Kaysville parade) and they fill them with fireworks. On Thursday they are going to parade them around and then set them off. It is a bit dangerous so we might have to go to our house a bit early.
To answer questions. Yes, they do have piñatas. They even have a song that you have to sing while the person is swinging. We had one once and broke it up for a party. The weather still changes a lot, but it is never too hot. Sleeping at night is easy. No need to worry about that. My mattress is better than the one I had at home. I’ve spoken in church. They usually ask us to speak on missionary work. I sum up the important parts of the restoration and bear my testimony on them. I wish I had taken that same speech class that Daniel has.
How is the math going for everyone? I tried helping out someone here, but I had forgotten how to explain how to get the answer—I always had done it in my head. All of the people have a really hard time singing. Mom, Dad sings pretty well. You only have to sit through one meeting here to know it. Not sure if you have sent the package, but I am in need of more shoes. If Paul can head out to that same store and pick up some more Doc Martins that would be great.
The work is growing fast here, we hope to baptize enough people in the next couple of weeks in order to divide the ward. We have a couple of families that have strong priesthood. There are four elders in this ward, so there are a lot of people in the Gospel Essentials class each week. The elders here like to hear stories of Utah where almost everyone is a member and the streets are paved with gold. Health is great, clothes are working just fine, and I could use a haircut. There is a sister in the ward that gives haircuts to the missionaries if they wash the dishes. I think I’ll take her up on the offer next week.
Things are going great here in the mission. I recently read a talk by Elder Bednar about studying the scriptures. It makes my head hurt trying to use all three methods and find all of the connections, patterns, and themes in the scriptures. It is something different so it takes some practice to make it effective, but he says each method “can help satisfy our spiritual thirst.”
I’ll be watching conference in Spanish. The experience of a member in a different language is really fascinating. It is amazing how effectively the church manages so many members in all parts of the world!
There were transfers today. They came a week early and nobody really seems to know why. I am still with Elder Hernandez. The ward is a great ward because the church is right in the center of the ward. It feels a little like Utah with a chapel so close. The chapel is small—there is only one ward in it. About 120 people attend on average. Once we get it up to 140 people they are going to divide the ward. Lots of work.
I thought conference was great. An investigator that thinks we don’t believe in the Bible went to one of the sessions. The talk by Elder Ballard helped him out a bit. There was a huge baptism between the sessions—20 people. All of the elders from the zone joined together to make it happen. It was neat.
Exercise will be great for Dad. The people [at the gym] usually know how to exercise right so you don’t get hurt. If you exercise wrong you will leave hurt and permanently damaged. If you exercise right you will just leave hurt. Simple exercises should help ease the pain of the ankles and knees. My physical health is great. I walk really fast to help my companion lose weight. We played soccer today on AstroTurf. I am the super gringo portero (goalie). I managed to get some cool saves and scrapes. Looks like the Easter vacation was fun. I hope you didn’t get too sun burnt. Guns are really fun to shoot, we got to shoot shotguns for Young Single adults. I think all of the computer games helped a bit. I found a nice little bug in our bathroom, maybe one of you can identify it. My companion burnt it with a match. All I know is that because I am in Tultepec they do everything with fireworks. People come from all over the world to see the fireworks here. I bumped into a tourist from London a few weeks ago. About everyone here works in the fireworks business.
Mexico is great. It truly is a blessing to be among the children of Israel. My companion and I can’t work enough. Our area is very large and there are lots of people that need to be baptized. The spirit guides us to those that need help and they join the church. Two years ago this branch (now a ward) had 35 attending sacrament meeting. Now there are over 120 each Sunday. The Lord is accelerating His work here. The bug was about the space of your middle digit on your pointing finger. It was weird. The apartment is made of cement. I don’t know how but it stays really cool inside. It is fairly large. I don’t have the package. I imagine it is in the offices and I just have to wait for the next conference (we get the mail every month) in May.
I think I have grown a bit taller. Dad might have to kick me out because I don’t fit in the basement. My weight stays the same. I have a bowl of cereal each morning and I eat a big lunch. They don’t usually eat dinner here. Dad would like how the cell phones work here. You don’t pay anything monthly. All of them are like the phone that Daniel has, but you don’t need minutes to be able to talk. The system is the caller pays. You can talk on your cell phone forever and not pay anything as long as they call you and not you call them. It works out that the standard equipment for every household is a big television, a big stereo, a DVD player, and a cell phone. Doesn’t really matter how poor you are. Spanish is really easy. I am still working on every aspect so I can get it really perfect. I use the translator a lot… you might want to see if there is one with a different dictionary—the examples and the translations are sometimes a bit off.
Mexico keeps getting funner each day. We play soccer, read the scriptures, baptize the people, and improve ourselves in the process. What more can you ask? My soccer skills are improving drastically. We sometimes play the American missionaries versus the Mexican missionaries and we have only lost once. We play every week outside of the church. My knowledge of the scriptures and how to teach from them is improving bit by bit. Studying everyday really helps improve your understanding and application. You can learn each day in a different way how the church is true. The Mothers Day call will be Sunday in the evening because we have to attend church early. I will let you know the number and the hour next week. Looks like everyone is getting prepped for the Stake 5k Run. I think choosing to run is in my list of
The Best Decisions I’ve ever made. If you want to do well in the 5k, do it once, and the next year do it better. It helps to time all of your practice runs/walks to track your progress. Just calculate your time per mile for everything. Transfers are not until May 21st. I will let you know what happens. What sort of things are you going to ask in the phone call? It might help to note them as the time grows close so you can remember everything.
Things are great here in Mexico. It is starting to get a little hot. We keep on working just the same. As a mission we are going to read the Book of Mormon in 3 months. We are going to read and underline various things that our president has instructed us. We are going to learn a lot.
Feel free to quote as you need in your talk. Print the rest out, put it in an envelope to give to her just before the phone call on Sunday:
The Bible says that we should honour our mothers and fathers that our days may be long. I would like to have more days, so it sounds like a good deal. There are various meanings of the verbhonor. One isto regard or treat with honor or respect,and another isto confer honor on.I think the scripture refers to the first, but right now I’ll settle with the second. My mother is a mother of five children. Not your average family size in the world. My mother maintained the home with four boys. Not your average number of rambunctious males.
My mother prepared me to serve my mission.
Together with my father, my mother patiently taught me to keep the commandments: that we have an Eternal Father in Heaven; that we must pray to him frequently and keep his commandments; that we must study the scriptures; that we must keep the Sabbath Day holy, including partaking of the sacrament each week; that we must follow the prophet; that we must keep the ten commandments; that we must live the law of chastity; that we must obey the word of wisdom; that we must always pay a full tithing; that we must fast and pay fast offerings; that we must obey the law of the land. My mother helped me live and understand to keep the commandments by word and example.
My mother encouraged me to save my money for my mission—both by word and by helping me with other expenses. She has worked hard for many years to help support the family. The extra money allowed me to focus on saving for my mission.
My mission right now is what her mission was from the day I was born. My mother’s mission was to bring a child into the world and teach him to follow the example of Christ—both by word and by example. My mission is to invite others to come unto Christ—both by word and example. The success that I have in my life and in my mission is a tribute to the effectiveness of her life and her mission.
Thank you for your love, work, and sacrifice.
I love you.
Times are great in Mexico. Transfers again. I stayed in the same area but switched companions. His name is Elder Sanchez. He is a hard worker. Congratulations [Daniel] on the record and the first place [in State]. That is a great achievement. My name isn’t in the school records. Keep working hard. All of my companions have liked to play soccer. I never have to worry about that. I assume the summer olympics that you are talking about are the Utah Summer games. Not many fast people go so the medals are kinda hollow. It would make for a nice trip if he’d like to go. Patrick’s mom put everything together the last time. Thanks for the letter Daniel. Send some pictures.