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Monday, June 25, 2012

Pictures June 25, 2012

Change of Plans

This week was really really good. Really, really hard but wow I love this area.

 First off, it has rained allllllll week long, really strong. The picture of the two kids under the umbella is funny, but that´s been the week basically.

 We had a cool experience this week. On tuesday, we had a day....horrible. So bad that we came back to the house and talked forever about what we need to do to be more eficient here. We talked about how there are lots of members and inactives who need lots of support, help, and love. We talked about how we felt like we weren´t helping all that many people, that we had just been searching frantically to try to find more people. Our missionary purpose is to invite PEOPLE to come unto Christ, and we decided that we were not focusing enough in strengthening the members and inactives. Before we can find people and convert and add people to the branch, we have to make sure that we are constantly strengthening the branch itself.

 So in our plans the next day we put a ton of inactives to go vist in place of contacts that were more or less that we were going to waste a ton of time searching. We organized some visits with the members and took them to help us visit the inactives, and had a couple come to church. The members were really excited and willing to help us, and they are going to start getting together amongest themselves to start visiting more people. The first day we did this, we found 5 news, had 5 lessons, visited 4 inactive families, received 2 references and contacted them both.  Up to this point, we hadn´t had a day like this. It showed us that if we plan eficiently and look for the best use of our time, we really do have time to find, teach, visit, contact, and strengthen the members and inactives. It was a cool experience, and we are going to continue to do it. We also went to a new part of our area that is kinda far so we always have to take a taxi. The misionaries hardly ever go there and so there are a ton of inactives and people who have never listened to the missionaries. The town is really big actually, there are tons and tons of people there, and we decided to work there alot more. So it has been really fun this week to basically have an entire new town to work in, and we are going to do some good things there.

 We had alot of people in church this week, close to 30. The branch president and his family are really struggling. They are going through lots of hard stuff in their lives and we are doing all we can to help them. Pray for them that they can receive the answers and directions to their prayers that they need.

 Dad, I absolutely loved the email with all the stuff from cinco. It was very special and much needed to hear all of that stuff, I really am starting to realize what a blessing it is to be hear. I feel really inadequete at times, I feel young and inexeperienced, like I don´t always know what I´m doing but I guess thats the mission, huh? That´s why I´m learing sooooooo much stuff because there is no other way to learn it. I can´t even express how hard this is but how much I love it. I can´t describe how up and down it is but how Heavenly Father always always always climbs the mountains with us, and decends in the valleys with us too, because he knows it is hard and because he loves us he never leaves us alone.

 Good to hear that all is well, way to go Parker for having such a great time at EFY! I love you all soooooooo much, thank you for the prayers, we can feel them here and we need every prayer that you can send our way!! ;)

Mucho amor,

Elder Eastmond

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pictures June 18, 2012

Rough week but hanging in there!

Well, this has been a rough one. But before you think anything, just know that I have grown sooooo much this week and I really feel like I am learning how to be a missionary here. I have had the help of my Father in Heaven so much in this area to help me be patient, humble, and diligent.

We´ll start with church. We had 4 people in church on sunday. No, I didn´t leave a zero off of the end of 40, we had 4. Haha it has rained really hard the entire week, and sunday morning it was raining really hard. We woke up and just had the feeling that it was going to be a rough one... We got to church and when 10:30 rolled around we couldn´t start because we had three people. Us and the first counselor. So we waited like 20 minutes and one hermana showed up. We left to go see what was going on with some of the members close to the chapel, some of them were sick/ had sick kids, so we went back to the church and there was still only the two other people. So we had the sacrament with 4 people and Elder Herron and I read a scripture and gave a thought, a little after the Sacrament 3 more hermanas came with some kids, so we had 11 in the chapel. It was kinda a hard situation but a testimony builder at the same time because during the sacrament I felt really good. I felt like I was where I needed to be and the Lord was happy because we as missionaries were worthy and ready to bless the sacrament for the few people that were there. (we bless every week, of course :) I felt the strongest feeling that the church is so true, so perfect, and it didn´t matter that we only had 4 people there. I was worried for the branch and for the members but it didn´t affect my testimony of the church at all, if anything it strengthened it. But....more members really do need to come. 4 is just not gonna do it. :/ We still had sunday school, Elder Herron and I had to just whip something up really quick, don´t know if it was that great but it worked, haha.

After church we went to Visit the branch president, we actually ate with his family. He had been at his house the whole time but hadn´t come. It´s hard when the branch president is inactive... We talked with him for a little bit about the atonement and how everything we do shouldn´t be for fear of punishment or because "it´s my calling and I have to do it" but we should do everything out of pure love for our savior after all that he did for us. Elder Herron gave a neat example of the atonement. He said that someone in a General Conference had explained that lots of us imagine the Atonement as a huge pile of sins and pains heaped upon the Savior at one time. But this general authority said it was more like a long long line of people. One by one, we all stood in front of Jesus and presented to him all of our sins, every single thing that we would every do wrong, and Jesus looked us in the eyes while he suffered for these sins and pains. Then I read him the scripture where Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, Peter answers yes and Jesus tells him to feed his sheep. We explained that if we truly love Jesus we will do EVERYTHING in our power to serve others, help others live the gospel in their lives. The spirit was really strong, me and Elder Herron were bawling...but we still don´t feel like we could touch the heart of president. He just had alot of excuses and is more a man of words than of actions. We hope that something we said will help him but it´s hard because he has to be the one to act, we can´t do it for him. It´s been hard because we feel like we are responsible for the branch and the members and when things don´t turn out we feel like we are doing somthing wrong. I know it´s not like that but that´s how we feel sometimes. But we will never quit helping the members get excited and this week we are going to visit a ton of inactives and non members with the first counselor in the branch, so we´ll see how that goes.

We have struggled to find investigators, we have been working hard to talk to everyone, to ask everybody for references and find the people who need this message in their lives. We had a couple of dates but they couldnt make it to church (turned out to be a good thing with 4 people there...haha) We have been teaching this guy named Conrado. He was drunk when we knocked his door and his mom let us in. He had been drunk for like 2 months straight. But hasn´t drank for like a week and a half. We put a baptism date with him and he accepted but really likes the Catholic church so we are trying to help him come to ours so he can feel the spirit. Pray for us that we can teach good and find lots of people this week!!

I love you all soooooooo much and thanks for all the prayers!! Hope all is well!

Elder Eastmond

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pictures June 11, 2012

Hola Familia!

Thanks for the emails, good to hear that Grandma Bonnie is ok, that´s super scary...

This week was crazy. We are both so tired, we feel good because we did just about everything this week. We planned two noches de hogar, a HUGE activity on saturday, we talked on sunday and taught gospel doctrine, went to Veracruz on Wednesday, and did divisions on tuesday.

The Activity was amazing. elder Herron and his other companion had been planning an activity for saturday but hadn´t really planned any ideas, just told everyone that we were going to have a huge activity. So we had to come up with everything, plan it all, organize it, invite everyone, and buy the food. We planned for about 80 persons, we decided that if we were going to do it we were going to go all out. Because all the members had been planning on it for a month and supposedly were inviting all the less actives and everything. So we bought A TON of food on saturday morning to feed everyone. We are talking like 10 kilos of tomatoes and 3 kilos alone of chile. This was serious business :) So we were in the chapel cooking everything and setting up our activity. We cut out pictures of church related stuff and made puzzles, and hid the pieces everywhere with clues, and made it into a scavenger hunt type deal. We were going to start at like 2, but 2:45 rolls around and basically nobody showed up... we were panicking a little because we had put sooooo much time and effort into this to help the branch be more unified and invited less actives. Then we thought, "wow, we are being super dumb right now, we haven´t even prayed yet" so we went in the president´s office said a prayer, and left to go remind some people. When we got back, there was like 50 or 60 people in the chapel. Not exaggerating. We did the scavenger hunt, everyone had an absolute blast with that. The adults were crazier than half the kids, trying to look for all the pieces. Then we ate and even though we bought a ton of food, enough people came that we used every last bit, and everyone was super full, it couldn´t have gone any better. We had lots of inactives come, only a couple investigators but they had a good time. After the activity we returned to the president´s office, this time to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for his help. :)

We found some good people this week, we put some dates and the people are really good, they just need to come to church. We still don´t have anyone who has really progressed a whole ton lately but there are a couple of news who are really good, they really want to be baptized. Speaking of church, we pretty much ran the show this sunday. We talked for 20 minutes each, and then the hermana who was going to give the sunday school lesson didn´t come. So we just kinda winged it but had tons of participation from everyone and the spirit was super strong, it turned out really good. The branch president came for the first time in 3 weeks, and was really excited to be there, the class and talks that we gave actually applied perfect to what is going on in his life right now. We are already good friends and we are going to do all we can to help him come and stay excited. The hermanas who were kinda iffy about having another american are doing better with it now ;) I just had to really really open up and show no fear and we are all getting along really good, I love the branch. It´s hard sometimes but the members really are amazing.

We had a zone conference in Veracruz on wednesday, we learned alot of good stuff and it was sooo good to see a bunch of the Elders from my distict!

Well, I´m out of time but thank you all for the emails and the prayers!!

I love you all soooooo much and hope everything is going well!

Elder Eastmond Jr.

Monday, June 4, 2012

pictures June 4, 2012

Emergency Transfer to Baxcaxbaltepec

Que dice familia?

This week was crazy! I don´t even know where to start. I will try to fit everything in that happened this week, but I´m sure I´ll miss a couple of things, haha.

So I left for the bus station at 3:00 in the morning, Elder Carmona, Elder DeFreese, and Elder Vasquez came with me to drop me off.  I was on the bus for 5 hours until I got to Veracruz, and then 3 more to get to the Tuxtlas. Too much time on the bus... ha it felt really good to get out and start working and walking.

The area I´m in is called Baxcaxbaltepec. Took me about an hour of practice to finally memorize the name. It´s pronounced Bash-cash-baltepec. We live in a city called Comaopan, and we are also in charge of some other small cities (when I say city its more like tiny little towns, called pueblitos in spanish) and one of them is called "Cerro de las iguanas," and I put a photo of the sign so you can see it, haha. It means hill of the iguanas. Kinda weird because we haven´t seen a single iguana yet...Love the names in mexico. It is really hot and humid here. I want to say that Poza Rica was a little bit hotter, but at a certain point, there isn´t really a difference, it´s just plain hot! We have a full house instead of a room, that is kinda nice to have some space. My companion is named Elder Herron, he was actually in my zone in Poza Rica. He is super cool, even though his is American (he actually lives 10 minutes away from our house, crazy huh? I think I used to run by it every morning in highland during the summer) he always speaks spanish, so I feel like our spanish is still improving even though we are two americans. He is a super hard worker and has 9 months on the mission, we are co-senior comps again. He actually reminds me a ton of John, not gonna lie, it´s kinda cool. :)

As far as the area goes, it is super super super green, its already rained a couple of times really hard. One of the pictures I put is a good example of how green it is. The other night it rained and afterwards when we were walking home, there were GIANT frogs EVERYWHERE just jumpin around every which way. I was going to take a picture but I left my camera in the house. The people are a little bit more humble than in Poza Rica, which is good. Elder Herron said that they baptized two people in 12 weeks and said the area is kinda hard. The problem in the branch. There aren´t enough people in the church to be a ward, so we have a branch. it is a weird adjustment to make from having two wards, haha. But there was about 20 people in church, the president of the branch is un excited and hasn´t come in a month, and we don´t have a second counselor, because there isn´t enough priesthood. The cool part was that in testimony meeting, the spirit was super strong and I just couldn´t help but smile because the church is true no matter where you go. But it´s going to be a tough here. When I got here, about half the members welcomed me with a smile. The other half were asking why the other mexican Elder had to leave so soon, and just saying how much they missed him, to my face and everything...kinda hard but within a couple of days I think I have gained alot of their confidence and things are looking a little better. Most of the members are pretty discouraged and down in spirits, we just gotta try to add lots of new converts and help the members get excited. I bore my testimony and just told everyone that we have sooooooo much we can be grateful for, that we are in the only true church, the only way to never ending happiness, and we just need to endure to the end to obtain it. We have so many reasons to be happy, even if the branch is kind of small, the church is true and it doesn´t matter how many members there are. So we are going to have two family home evenings every week with the ward and try to do an activity every week to get them excited, and give them a chance to invited less actives and non-members.

This sunday we had 3 less actives in church who hadn´t gone for like 6 years. Someone from the district (we don´t have a stake yet) showed up to priesthood and just chewed the heck out of the hermanos in priesthood.... We will see if any one comes back. He went off about how nobody was doing their responsibilities and this person needs to show up earlier and the structure of the classes is horrible and the home teaching is non existent and basically how if every wants their salvation they need to do better.... Are you kidding me?? We have like 4 people in priesthood, in total, (not including us) and he is worried about home teaching? The look on everyones faces was horrible. We had a chat with the hermano who chewed everyone out after church. So ya I was kinda discouraged when I first got here, the branch needs alot of work, and the Elder who was with Elder Herron wasn´t the hardest worker, so we hardly have anybody to teach right now.

But the truth is I´m really really excited for the challenge and I am glad I was in Poza Rica to learn alot about how to work in a tricky area. We are going to strenghten the branch alot, and Elder Herron is super excited to be co seniors so we can just get to work. We have lots of good ideas and I know we are going to learn a ton from this area, we are going to help lots of people: members, inactives, and the people who are searching for the gospel. We found a couple of new people on sunday so we started the week good, and we are going to work our tails off during our time here!

Thank you for the emails and prayers, I would recomend not feeding the phone to Kasey... :)

Love you all so much!!


Elder Eastmond