Missionary Jake – Part 7 of 10

This is part seven 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.

October 2007

I’ll buy the camera. Transfer some money from my savings to my checking so I can buy it directly from the card. I am still in the best zone in the mission going for 3 months baptizing more than cualquier otra. Who is Adelaide? Maybe a picture of them dos with her last name? Elder Ontiveros is my new companion. The mission continues progressing baptizing more than every other mission in Mexico for a couple of months. Good to see that Steven is happy as ever.

Halloween is the same here in Mexico. Just think of Mexico as the United States but with a culture twist to everything. I don’t know what you can send in the newsletter. I barely have time to get an email off to the family. Just don’t paste in things like “my mission is the best in the world”. They might not like stuff like that.

Missionaries from my zone

The camera was probably stolen from my backpack in the chapel. Another missionary had his camera stolen from the same chapel. There really isn’t a way to report it. The police would just laugh. The members are keeping an eye out, and we are thinking of setting a trap so I can at least get my pictures if they even still exist. The cameras here are about double the price as in the United States. I am going to buy a new little Canon for 4100 pesos.

Adelaide Sprague. I knew two Sprague does she have sisters? What are their names? P-Days all morning we are in a meeting. In the afternoon we wash our clothes and we buy food. At 6:00pm we are out preaching. This week we baptized two daughters of someone we baptized the past month, when her husband returns from the United States we are going to baptize him as well. Looks like I will have to come back to Mexico when they get sealed.

We are still the best zone in the mission. The president is really proud of our work. In November we are going to break another record. There are two wards in my area. One ward is really strong and the other ward is a little weak. We are working hard to keep the attendance high with lots of new converts. I am in Valle Dorado. The Municipio is called “Atizapan de Zaragoza”. My area has two big hills. We climb up between 500-600 stairs a couple of times everyday. I’ll try and count how many they are to get an exact measurement.

I bought a Canon Powershot SD1000. The pictures seem to come out always a bit blurry, but they still look pretty good. I like it because it is really small.

This week we baptized a 13 year old girl. Her sisters and mom are already members. Her dad went to her baptism and to church. His baptism should be in a few weeks. It is raining hard right now. The streets look more like rivers. Every once in awhile it rains hard now that we are leaving summer. I am going to buy a compact umbrella for $4.50. Everything is going well. I am having to take out more money because I am buying cereal and milk to eat for breakfast every morning. My companion is learning how to be a good missionary quickly. I do believe he will be a better missionary than me.

I need to know exactly what day classes start in Fall 2008. The President might do some tweaking or an extension depending on what day it falls. Having a lot of fun in the work. One of our zone leaders changed and we have all found a different level of spirituality and work. We have been in a cold spell for the past few days. In my room at night we have a portable heater, so I don’t feel it much. Sounds like all of the family activities are a lot of fun. I hope everyone is learning and progressing spiritually as well as all the other aspects of life.

Yesterday we confirmed a family that we had baptized. It is neat to see the changes that happen in a marriage and a family when they accept and apply the gospel.

Mom, the school commented that you only had to inform them which semester I would be coming back. I think my release date is planned for the 28th so there shouldn’t be any problems. I think I have stayed basically the same. We keep on hiking up big hills. My companion has had to make three new holes in his belt because he has lost so much weight. Lots of candy is great in every package. Some of my recent converts are asking me when I am going to get candy once again. I’d like another one of those pies if it fits. If there are food like brownies or cookies that you can do in a microwave it would be good as well.

November 2007

Transfers again. We have a new zone leader and most of the zone has changed. One of the Elders in my District left as a District Leader and the other as senior companion. I am still training Elder Ontiveros, he has progressed a lot.

The camera is fine. No accessories are needed. We climb 423 stairs at least once every day, sometimes up to three times. All of my mission in every area the members help the missionaries with meals once a day. We do our own laundry, but a Sister lets us use her washing machine. I have only used a drying machine two or three times here.

Mom, don’t worry about school. The first week they usually cancel half of the classes anyway. Adjustment time will just make me lazy. If the pictures made it my companion is on the left and an Elder in my district is on the left. The other is a picture of an orange that I really enjoyed when I ate it. It is almost a mission rule that the tie just reaches the belt, no more, no less.

We had a baptism this past week. She really has changed a lot and wants to help her family progress in the gospel. Her son is going to be baptized this Sunday along with another family we are teaching. The work is definitely of greatest worth for all us that are working here. I have never had to pay for a package, I’m not sure what happens if the packages come to the church office without being paid. My companion and I are working hard. It is still amazing to see the change that happens in an Elder in the first months in the mission.

Looks like the new couch is nice. Where is the TV at? This week we baptized a 31 year old man that has changed his life around a lot. It is a lot of fun to be around him. He will be a great support for us in the upcoming weeks accompanying us with investigators. The Spirit is being poured out here. The ward is animated by our baptisms and the new priesthood holders in the ward. I had the privilege of giving the priesthood to a recent convert yesterday. Every week we find several new families to teach.

This house is Catholic. We don't accept Protestant propaganda or from other sects

This week pray for the opportunity to share the gospel. We are animating the members here to do the same. When they have faith they always find someone that they had never thought of before that is waiting for the gospel. I know this church is true and that the Lord is completing his promises to the remnants of the Lamanites. Thanksgiving came and went and we didn’t even notice. We baptized a single mother with one of her daughters this week. It is exciting to be part in the Lords work helping people each week receive a sacred, salvatory ordinance.

The problem with most members in sharing the gospel is

  1. They don’t know where to start or
  2. They think they will lose friendships if they try to share the gospel.

If we pray and are focused in simple things that we can do (have conversations about gospel topics, look for simple ways that we can serve another), the Lord will bless us in our efforts and we will know with whom, when, and how to share the gospel. Knowing what is at stake will help us become more valiant in talking with others.

That is exciting that Sarah gets to go to Las Vegas. Just keep your poise and sound like you know everything and it will be a lot of fun. How and when to say “I don’t know” is a great thing to learn in life, but the clients hate it. The Prophet taught us that we should obtain all of the education that we can. In general conference when he gave his talk I decided that I would go to graduate school, and it is still one of my goals (Fall 2006). I know he is a prophet and I will be blessed for following his counsel.

December 2007

Great week. We baptized one of the daughters of the family that we baptized last week. They are new, but really strong members. The mom works all night and in the morning goes to church at 8:00am! She doesn’t even get a chance to sleep. It is a great example for me as a member the importance of being in church.

I got the package. Thanks for all of the food. I need another pair of shoes. My toes are starting to stick out on the pair that I last received. We really don’t have time to go shopping for shoes that might not work out that well. I am going to send my other pair to be repaired. Perhaps you can tell Derek’s brother to send me some shoes… I have heard that they are really cheap in that part of Mexico.

The counselor in the stake presidency wanted a programmer to do some customized work. It seemed like just a one person job. I recommended Steven. The snowman looks great. You should make one for each member of the family and take a picture in front of the tree.

This week I was able to see four members of my ward be sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. I have worked with three of them directly. One is even a brother that we baptized three weeks ago! My old companion Elder Hernandez B. says hello. He is in the same zone right now.

Excellent snowmen. I like the picture taken from the door towards the street. Looks like the snowmen are already meeting their fate.

The secret to life and missionary work: “Trabajo, Trabajo, Trabajo. No hay ningun substituto satisfactorio.” (Preach my Gospel, Ch. 6, diligence)

Short time to write because I received so many messages. Tell Brother and Sister Hulse “thank you” for the Christmas card. They said it got rejected so they scanned it and sent it by email. We played hockey in the house with a rat and two brooms. It never snows here.

We baptized a Sister that has attended church for about 6 months now. She had to wait a long time for the permission to get married as she is from a different country. They are already planning which temple they are going to get sealed in. All of my companions are well off. The conditions here in Mexico are not so extreme as other South American countries. There are a ton of sites that would make it a neat vacation for the family. You can even come in car without many problems.

The call will be the 24th or the 25th depending on the instructions that they give us. Most probably the 24th.
Tell the Dixon family thanks for sending an email.

The phone call will be today between 8:00-9:00 pm (local time here). It is 30 minutes. It will be much better if only the family is there (no extended family). Everyone can figure out what they want to say for 20 minutes and then I will just need 10 minutes at the end. Not really sure how you call here. If someone still has the numbers that finally worked the last time, only the last 8 numbers change. You might have to look it up in the internet. Try the number before you gather everyone together just to make sure it rings. If it doesn’t I will call to give the number correctly.

Christmas looks like a lot of fun. The Wii would be a perfect date compromise: the guys always want to play sports and the girls do not want to put in much effort and sweat. With the Wii you can play sports with less effort. Sounds like everyone had fun. The phone call was great. I think everyone that asked me a question I gave an answer (if not too big of one). In May it would be great if everyone had one question about missionary work. That way it will be more of a spiritual experience and really worth the 30 short minutes.

The snow looks great, it is still really warm here! I sent my old [shoes] to have new airplane-tire soles put on. I will be able to keep the new pair nice for Sundays.

To Dad:

The Joseph Smith manual is going to be two years?

Glad to have you as a father that taught me the Gospel and to live a productive, hardworking, righteous life. I find myself often saying “What my Dad did to help us with that is this…” with all sorts of subjects: how to keep them in school, how to encourage them to read, how to discipline them. It is interesting to give advice to adults from my own childhood experience.

I have a greater respect for what had to have happened in your life thirty years ago when you were baptized. The changes and new things that you had to learn must have been overwhelming. I remember that you told me you were a seminary teacher. Were you a recent convert when they assigned you to teach? What advice have/did you find to be most helpful when you were first assigned a calling or all of the callings that you have had? Thanks for everything, sometimes Mom gets more attention because we favor mothers in our culture, but you are not one step behind in deserving gratitude and thanks.

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