Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 1: I thought a lot happened in the MTC!

Oh man... I thought a lot happened in the MTC! It's crazy here! I still don't think that it has fully settled in that I'm in Mexico. Life is sooooo different. It's all very humbling. 

So on the plane flight over I sat with another missionary from my zone named Elder Parker. There was a Mexican lady that sat next to us and she could speak English. When she first said something to us in English Elder Parker and I looked at each other knowing that we were both thinking the same thing. I said a quick prayer and we started to get to know her and asked a ton of questions. We eventually started to talk about religion and found out that she was Catholic. I introduced who we were and started to talk about our beliefs. When I asked her if I could share a scripture from the Book of Mormon she quickly said ''no'' and there was a bit of silence after that... I then started to talk about why we were going to Mexico and how excited I was to share the gospel. As we continued to talk about how excited we were about dedicating two years of our lives to share the gospel she started to ask more questions. She kept saying that we were both so happy and seemed sincere about wanting to share the gospel not because we had to, but because we wanted to. We eventually got her to hold the book of Mormon, then we had her read the introduction, then a few scriptures. It was amazing to see how the Spirit guided the conversation and the obvious change that happened in her. At first she didn't want to have anything to do with the Book of Mormon, but when we told her that she could keep the book, she was thankful and kept asking if we were sure she could keep it. This experience sure got me excited to get into the mission field. 

When I landed in Mexico I quickly realized that it might be a while before I have another teaching experience like that because I really can't speak Spanish... It has been really hard not being able to communicate with anyone here. But I have a great trainer named Elder West and I'm still with my companion from the MTC Elder Huefner in a trio! Elder West leaves for home this December and speaks really good Spanish, sometimes it gets discouraging when we talks to us and both Elder Huefner and I sit with blank faces... But I continue to try my best to have faith that the Lord will provide a way for me to learn the language. Because I know I'm incapable of learning it on my own without his help. 

The living conditions here are crazy... It has been the most humbling experience to walk into some of these homes, if that's what you can call them. Some of them are more closets. One member that we visited brought us into his home which was just big enough to fit a bed and a tiny chair. He cleared his bed off and we taught him while sitting on his bed. I can't tell you how many times I've walked out of a home holding back tears because of their living conditions. Last night we visited a single mom with two daughters ages 13 and 9, they live on the second floor of a cinder block building with a tin roof. We threw little pebbles on their roof to knock. Their house was two rooms hardly furnished. When we sat down on their little couch and they pulled some chairs up to listen, I had to fight the tears back. I imagined my younger sisters living in those same conditions and I have never wanted to help and serve anyone that much before. I tried my best to convey that as I bore a simple testimony in Spanish. I really want to learn Spanish as fast as I can, because at that moment I couldn't tell them what I wanted... 

There are dogs everywhere! seriously. On the roofs, in the streets, under the cars... everywhere. It's pretty sad because they obviously don't have anyone to take care of them, most of them limp because they've been hit by a car or something. Oh yeah and the driving here is insane! Red lights are just suggestions that most people don't pay any notice to. Crossing the street is risky, but we do it a lot. 

I spoke in church on Sunday! I actually did alright I think. I spoke about prayer and how it can bless our lives. It was pretty simple, but that's all I could do in Spanish. The ward members that are active are amazing! They're all super nice and help out a lot! But there are only about 40 of them... We have a lot of work to do. Inactivity is a big problem here. 

We were visiting people with a member when a truck drove by selling batito de pollo (chicken feet) yep... I've had chicken feet already. It didn't taste bad, it was mostly the thought that almost made you throw up. The way you eat it is stick one of the toes in your mouth, it falls off at the joint, then you move it around in your mouth until all the flesh falls off, then you spit the bone out. Simple..... I'll have to do it again so I can get pictures. yippee…

Sorry that I don't really have a spiritual thought in this letter.. I just had a lot to talk about! I'll try to include something spiritual next week :) I love you all so much! Thank you for your support. Serving a mission truly is a honor, it's hard work and stressful at times, but it's worth it! I just can't wait until I can participate in the lessons more and teach. 

I love you,
Elder Twede


I do get dearelders here! So feel free to send as many of them as you want! That way you can be sure that I get what you send :)

studying by candle light because the power went out. I don't know why it looks bright outside... but it wasn't.

Up on my roof. oh and by the way. my area is called Santo Cruz Meyehualco. It's the very edge of the mission. I'm actually in Mexico city where I'm at. 

I don't take many pictures outside because I'm scared to take my camera out in public... but I did take this one on a bridge when no one else was around. 

Bringing our laundry back from a members house. we were lucky enough to find someone that has two washers! So we didn't have to do it by hand! but we still had to hang it out on our roof to dry.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

MTC Week 5: "Describe Him to Me"

Wow! Only 4 days left in the MTC! I can't believe that it's almost over already! And it's basically only 3 days left because I have to leave at 3:30 in the morning on Monday. I hope that I'm ready to be out in the mission field. I really have no clue what to expect, my life is going to be so different next week. The MTC is all going to feel like a dream kind of like most of life did when I got dropped off here. 
I got my travel plans last Friday and I've been super excited to get out there since then! My desire to serve has grown so much since the first day I set foot on the MTC campus. The more I learn about Christ, the more I can't wait to go share the gospel with the people in Mexico. This week has been a great week! The language is really coming along; it's surprising how much you can learn in only 5 weeks when you have the spirit helping you! I've learned so much spiritual stuff that it would take all day to write it all... But I'll at least share one thing with you :)
As a missionary I do a lot of self-inspection and evaluating to see where I can improve and be a better missionary. This last Sunday we had the chance to watch The Testaments movie. While watching the movie I did a little self-evaluation on my desire to know Christ. The father in the movie that goes blind (played by Brother Macy), I believe his name was Helem or something like that, I love his example as a person who has a pure desire to know Christ. His faith was exceedingly strong and he's an example of what's said in 2 Nephi 25:26 "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ". Seeing his example of faith and his rejoicing in that which he could not see made me reflect on my own desire to know Christ. 

My favorite part of the movie is when Christ is among the Nephites and Helem can't see him because he's blind. As he stands by his son’s side, he pleads with him to describe Christ to him. I can't really describe exactly how I felt when I watched this part except for humbled. I'm given so much in life, yet do I have the same determination to know Christ? When Helem got as close as he could to Christ behind all the crowds he didn't stop and say "that's close enough." He still desired to know more. His plea to his son to describe Christ shows how he had a constant desire to come unto Christ. 

At this point in my life I am the closest to Christ I have ever been. But, like Helem, do I ask "describe him to me" even when some might say that I'm close enough? The only way we can come to know Christ is if we have a constant desire to seek him in our lives. 

I encourage everyone to never stop seeking Christ. Make it the priority in your life to know him. Have Helem's courage to act on your faith and gain that passion and desire never say that you have come close enough. 

I love this gospel and this work! Nothing else in this world can bring so much joy and peace in life. I can't wait to bring it to the people in Mexico! 

Elder Twede

This new camera is awesome by the way!

My classroom

That was quite the storm right before the BYU game!

I had to do it.. because it's just classic!

not really as good as Bryce's... but maybe if you cropped it it would look a little better :)

I try to eat healthy!

My district picture before our hair cuts. I'll have an after picture later today :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

MTC Week 4: I've loved this week! Trials and All

It's amazing how much can happen in one week! On Friday I flew to Vegas to sign for my visa, that was quite the adventure! I was supposed to be at the travel office at 4:30 in the morning, I woke up at 4:38... I have never changed so fast in my life! I was up, dressed and down at the office in 2 minutes. 10 of us Elders were shuttled to the airport and I flew for my first time! When we arrived we were picked up by an old guy that took us to the UNLV Institute where he then started to talk. And talk. And then talk some more... He started out by drawing a green arch on the white board, and then asked us to tell him what it was. After about 5 minutes of guessing, he told us in a disappointed voice that it was the fertile crescent. Seriously. It was just a green line. We were asked ridiculous questions like this one for the next 3 hours. He finally took us to the Mexican consulate where everything was in Spanish and I couldn't understand anything, that was an eye opener of what I'll be experiencing in only 11 days! After we signed for our visas we went back to the Institute where he continued to talk for another 3 hours. Over all it wasn't a bad day, but I probably wouldn't want to do it again..
On Sunday I had the privilege to say the closing prayer for the devotional! I've never said a prayer in front of over 3000 people! It was a very cool experience. I had to try very hard not to say anything in Spanish, it had been a while since I had prayed in English. Speaking of my Spanish, I'm finally really feeling like I'm starting to catch on! I can teach most of the lessons pretty well. I'm still very slow, but I get the words out eventually. Last night while sitting in class my teacher was speaking Spanish and I understood every single thing her was saying! And I didn't really have to translate it all into English in my head! It was one of the coolest moments I've experienced yet!
Yesterday on Wednesday my district was chosen to help host the new missionaries coming in. It brought back those vivid memories of the day when I got dropped off. I really enjoyed being able to be the first person that some of these Elders met at the MTC. It's funny how in only 4 weeks I feel like I've experienced so much and that these Elders seem so young, when in only 11 days I'm going to be the "youngest" one in the field. 
This has been an interesting week with my district. As district leader now, I've started to feel responsible for how the time is spent by the other Elders in my district. I've tried to be gentle in the way I tell them to stop playing with all the study time, but it has progressively gotten worse to the point where most of the Elders wouldn't ever study. After hosting yesterday the Elders met back at our rooms. We were supposed to hustle back to our class to teach a lesson, but they wanted to pretend that hosting was taking longer than it really was. It took me 30 minutes to get them out of their rooms and they dragged their feet the whole walk over to class... (30 minutes may not seem like a whole lot, but on a mission it sure is!) I was called a few things and one Elder even let me know how much he disliked me for always being a stick in the mud. (stick in the mud is nicer than what he actually said.) I was feeling pretty down when we got to class. We taught our lessons and our teacher Hermana Luna left us to do our personal study. Again nothing was accomplished during the time. That night when my other teacher Hermano Byrd came I pulled him aside to talk about what was going on and to ask for advice. This was the turning point in my day. As we discussed what was going on he reminded me that I'm a representative of Christ, as such, I'm going to experience some of the things that Christ did. Such as being disliked for trying to do what's right. Ultimately all I need to worry about is my standing with the Lord. I'm just grateful that Heavenly Father loves and trusts me enough to experience these things! Because I have already grown so much in just these short 4 weeks. I absolutely love the work that I'm doing here! The more I study the gospel, the more I realize how everything in it points to Christ. The more I understand about Christ, the more I want to serve him. It's a wonderful cycle :) 
Really the main thing that I've learned this week is that we don't live the gospel for the blessings, some people might and that's a good place to start. But we do it because we love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. In our Tuesday devotional one of the 70 spoke and he talked about how even the Savior asked his father if that bitter cup could be taken from him. But, out of his love for his father, he was willing to follow Gods will. Not because of the blessings that he would receive after, but because he loves his father. I've learned that if I teach principles, say the word of wisdom for example, by saying "if you follow this commandment, you will run and not be weary, walk and not faint." but what if they have health problems after. Will their faith and testimony be shaken because they didn't receive the blessings the way they wanted? It's possible. There's a reason that faith in Christ is the first principle of the gospel. When we have faith in Christ, we don't keep commandment just to receive the blessings. We keep them because we love him.
Overall I've loved this week! Trials and all :) Thank you for all of your support and letters! I ran into Saralee Dunster yesterday! I came this close to reaching out and giving her a hug... You'd think that after 4 weeks I would have that drilled into me by now.. I think it was just because I normally give my cousins hugs. But you can tell her family that she looked great and had a big smile on her face. 

Elder Twede
at the Vegas airport!

couldn't be happier to be a missionary!

My district with our teacher Hermana Vawdrey on her last day of teaching us

Hosting the new missionaries! such a great time!