Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013 (Week 41)

May 27, 2013

It's hot. and I'm burning down here, haha. I start sweating at 8:30 in the morning, and I got a new nickname. Dinner plates. That means that I sweat so bad I've got dinner plates under my arms, hahahaha!
But, a semi positive, is that it's rainy season. That means it pours every night literally pours buckets on the tin roof, wakes me up cause it sounds like a machine gun in my ear, and then stops, and the next day, the streets are a foot of mud. It's interesting.
"Hey Elder. Wasn't that river a street yesterday?"
"Huh. Come to think of it... yeah."
But anyways, we get stuck in mud haha. My church shoes plowed through it like a champ though haha. 
The house is good. Mostly waterproof, the only weakness is not having windows hahaha. But I forgot to tell you guys. The water here is pumped from the Popomuluopan River, and they shut it off at 9:45 every night. It's interesting to shower in dirty river water! To beat the cutoff is different every night too.
This letter is like random thoughts. I'm sorry if I'm confusing anyone. I don't think it even starts right in my brain. 
We were going to baptize this kid Johnny. He's like Matt Hudspeth status. 12 and HUGE. We tried to baptize him, but he got scared and wouldn't put his head in. After the second try he got freaked out, took off the overall, put on his shoes and bounced. We are going to give it another shot tonight... haha. He likes kicking bullfrogs, too. Gave one about 8 inches wide a boot about 30 feet.. weird cat. Still hoping to abduct Giermina and Carlitos....
Me and Elder Mendez put a bet on who could finish the Libro de Mormon first a few nights ago. We stayed up late, he passed out, and I read till five am. Bad idea. We put up super high stakes, so it was worth it. We ended up calling it quits cause it ended up being a speed read competition. The first, and only, all nighter of the mission. Boy was I tired...
Its funny. I really love this area. More than any other area. I've actually thought about moving down here. Me and Elder Mendez are actually scared to go back to the USA. It's weird. I like the people, the attitude, the music, the food. Basically life as it was is dead... I don't really think I even want to go back up north. I like it down here. It helps they love soccer.
Last night was the final between Cruz Azul and Club America. Basically the Super Bowl down here. The only difference is that it was fútbol. Boy, did I love it. Me and Elder Mendez saw parts at a house we were at, and then after planning stayed up and listened to the either disappointed shouts or the hysterical half crying yells when someone scored. I went out on the porch and started talking to neighbors about what went down. It was funny how everyone is so open down here. I just walked out and yelled "what's the score?" and everyone told me. But Club America won, which is good. I hate Cruz Azul. To celebrate, Me and Elder Mendez spent all our money on Club America jerseys instead of food. Stay tuned for fotos. That might be all you'll ever see of me again ;)
That's all from your favorite 6'2" guero [white/blond boy] Mexican Elder,
Elder Mortensen

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 20, 2013 (Week 40)

May 20, 2013

Well.... I'm stuck in the basin, o cuenca [or watershed]. I took my Bus ride down 2.5 hours from the port, and passed jungle and fields of sugar cane. Its pretty cold here. But that's not true. I literally can't drink enough water. I sweat drops when I wake up, when I leave it's like I showered, and when I shower, I shower, and usually stay wet. Man. It's super humid down here. I thought Virginia was bad. Oooh buddy. If only you knew. BUT, I'm so stoked to be down here. It's so sick.
I'll send some photos, but there is a huge river Popomuloapan. It's sweet. We have to drive an hour in a small car with 6 other people to get to the other elders in our district, and then have to take a ferry to the other side. It's sweet. There is a factory of sugar cane, or caña here. They burn day and night, so the entire town is covered in ash. But this sugar cane is everywhere. Banana trees, and cane, and drunks. haha there's a lot of drunks here. Our house is pretty ghetto, it doesn't have windows haha just screens to keep the blood sucking creatures out.
My comp is Elder Mendez. He's hilarious. It's great to be down here with a good buddy. I'm not sure what's gonna happen soon, because I'm only here because his kid [MTC Companion] didn't get his visa, so when he does I'm out. Who knows! But it's sweet while it's lasting. We had two baptisms fail, because they weren't home, or couldn't escape house arrest haha. We are going to help her a 50 year old woman break out from her house to get baptized. Sounds fun, right?
On transfer, we took a 2 hour bus to downtown Tuxtapec. On the way back, I bought my Sprite, and my cookies and settled down for a nap. A drunk walks on, and sits down real close next to me. FREAK. I look at him and shut my eyes. He pokes me and said tell me your experience. Umm... what experience... of GOD. That experience. umm... Hermano, you should get some sleep. Give me the word! This is the point when he is spitting on my face, and the whole bus is watching some gringo in a tie argue with this drunk.
I pulled out the "I don't speak Español card". He says, "well, cool, I speak french. EFJie EIRJ iheric ERIAPIjh erijhfiopñetk Ppiojgn ioj ioerup ja."  That gibberish for 20 minutes. I finally said I'm gonna put my backpack over there. I left, and sat with another solo elder. He went and bugged a girl, who got up immediately and left. He then started to cry and sing up and down the aisle of the bus. Translated, he said something like, I don't have mother.... I don't have a father.... nobody to carrrreeeeeeee for me.... I hope that one day,,, you'll return to meeeeeee.... He would sit down, think for a minute, and go spit another improv verse. He then returned, and put on some huge medical sunglasses, and started spraying the entire bus with cologne, which didn't smell half bad. I contemplated giving him 10 pesos for it,  hahaha. It smelled better than he did. He then took powder cologne, and started throwing it on his shirt, face, glasses, and the bus. We are all dying of laughter silently. He then sat down, and passed out hard core.
And that kids, is why you don't drink.
But my area is super chill. The ward has young people. Miracle, right?? It's got a lot of dirt roads, and its super duper chill. I love it. Just another day in Mexico. 
The family that we ate with Sunday had a girl that's 18. She told me she recognized me from a dream she had the night before she met me in church. It was Mendez and Willie, who left, and their bags, leaving the city, and I came and told her what tribe she was from, like how it says in your blessing. Super wierd. She said she recognized my eyes. Mexicans have dreams a lot more that I do apparently. sheesh. Let's see if I'm right hahaha
But, im pretty stoked. Its hot, but i love it. Gotta keep working. Take it easy.
El Elder Mortensen

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 13, 2013 (Week 39)

May 13, 2013

Did you guys video record our Skype session? It's not everyday I get to see both my families on Skype at the same time!!! haha. It was pretty mind blowing... It's been a rough weekend for the mind. So many crazy things have been happening! Skype was great. The crazy part is that I don't really miss anything. My mind is so focused on the mission it's hard to even think about home! I guess that's what happens when you forget yourself and go to work though right? I literally forgot myself, (and half my English).

But the part that I'm transferring to, Carlos A Carillo, is pure basin. It's about 2 hours away from Tuxtapec, the city. It gets pretty dang hot down there. It's all green and humid and hot. Tierra blanca is right there and they get up to like 120 degrees easily. Even the port doesn't stay in the 90's anymore really. Right now the warm winds are starting to blow in.
As for the temple, it was fantastic. I'm going to try draw out some mental fotos I have. See if it works! haha but yeah. I don't know. To be their witnesses, and to be such a huge part made it that much more special. I literally fasted and prayed harder for them than at any other time in my mission. It's really really cool. I was just sitting there talking with her alone while Elder Lehikainen was Skyping and we just talked about my conversion up to the date, and actually how weird this change was. The fact that they literally transformed into my family, I don't know. I just changed. My cheeks got fatter, and I'm a different man. I can say man now, because I'm getting a beer belly, or tortilla belly. Wow. I really don't know how to describe the temple. It was so much better than in December, because I was in there for 20 minutes praying a staring in awe, and then my favorite family walked in. Man. super duper chill. Butttttt.... I literally can't think of what else to write. I'm pretty stumped/in a mind block. I don't even know if I'm making sense. I probably better stop. Love you all! 

Elder Mortensen. 

May 6, 2013 (Week 38)

May 6, 2013

I look at my hamaka [hammock] like she's my only true love. la Bamaka! It's a hamaka, with the color of a banana. I call it a bamaka.
Esperanza is amazing. Makes us food and horchata every weekend, 3 meals. I almost need to leave this transfer. I think she feels so in debt to us she wants me to eat. I paid her once with a dirty trick of leaving money on her counter. She glared the next time I saw her.... oops. But no, she's great. More on her later. It'll be sad to leave her though. She is so disappointed she can't give me a hug. She made me promise to come back as an ex misionero to give her a hug. I said "alright, have some horchata waiting!" It's literally better than Mountain Dew. You hear that, mom???
Tonio got up and bore his testimony last Sunday. It was incredible. His conversion story is pretty cool. He bit the hand that fed him, by going against his mom and being baptized. He said it was tough, but in his testimony said that he has never had his mom be this nice to him, or respect him, and he knows it is a blessing of following the Lord. He KNOWS that la Iglesia de JESUCRISTO de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es la unica verdadera [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church]. It's so cool. He got up and said, "well, I don't know much, but I know that the gospel has changed my life." We are working on a mission with him!
The Familia Guzman has turned into my family. We have been given an extra hour of language study every day, and the hermana likes reading with us cause it forces her to read, so she just planches [chastises] our español. It's great for all of us. But they are still fighting to go to the temple. The stake president didn't get the the stake center till 10:30 at night, so they had to wait till tomorrow. Now she has doubts. FREAKING SATANAS [Satan]!. He's my enemy and I hate him. We have to get the Familia Guzman to the temple. They need it bad. The storm is just at full speed. Hurricane 5. But I love them so much. Its amazing to see how the Lord blesses you with a familia away from your real family.

Well... we found this old bugger. Ramon 66 years old. and accepted church, baptism, and the Book of Mormon, first time. He loves church, and cries every time. He wants God more and more and can't wait for his baptism. During the new convert class, principios del evangelio [Gospel Principles], the bishop left, probably to eat cookies on Fast Sunday, and Tonio, Esperanza, and Ramon were in there. They were all sharing testimonies and stuff. super spiritual and awesome!!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Man, I'm so blessed to be a tool in the Lords hands.
By the way, the Sacrament is the most important 15 minutes of my life. I can't describe the feeling I get every Sunday now. I feel like my spiritual understanding has increased infinitely and that my life has changed so drastically I can't imagine sinning. I finally feel like Alma the Younger. Change of heart. Man, the mission, has planched [chastised] me, dragged me, destroyed me, kicked me, but then lifted me, healed me, helped me, and changed me. I don't know what happened. It definitely wasn't overnight, but with time, man.... its crazayy... 

GO ON MISSIONS ANYONE WHO READS MY WORDS. the food, the sacrifice, nothing is even close to the blessings you get. I've been thinking about it... People say 2 years of the mission is tithing for 20 years of life. But every night I go to bed I end up more and more in debt.... The Lord will never cease to bless his children. That's something we have to learn by ourselves.
Funny side note, we went to the church to start the fast this Saturday, instead of walking 2 miles to the house. We entered, and heard a little beep. what in the gale.... ah whatever. suddenly, WOOOOP WOOOOP WOOOOP. no manches!!! "Call the bishop. Call him! Call him!" Finally it stopped. We said our prayers, and walked out the door. WOOOOP WOOOOPP WOOOOPPP. a la macina!!! The marines show up. 4 fully dressed soldiers jump out of the truck to greet us at the gate. fully locked and loaded with grenade launchers and rifles... uh... "yeah I'm a misionero aqui.... don't shoot." They wrote down names, asked questions, and had to wait for a member of the church to show up and identify us. We were held as suspects for 30 minutes.... haha. that's a interesting time. Got outta there fast! 
Well, that's it for the week. Until Sunday, at 6 my time, I'll see you on skype. We will get something together. Don't stress. I'll find you on a computer and get you added. hasta luego [See you later]!

El Elder Mortensen.

April 29, 2013 (Week 37)

April 29, 2013

Taking a shower after some service! hahahahahah
Well.. it's been an interesting week to say the least. One of a lot of different emotions. Tuesday, we had conferencia de zona [Zone Conference]. Translated, that means 9 hours of lots of spiritual, planching [chastising], uplifting, headaching discourses from The president, assistants, and his wife. Lots of information, but a few really good talks from President. He first talked about repentance, and how sweet the atonement is, and then for his last he talked about finding that spiritual water and talked about how he drilled 100 meters into the ground to get some water for his house, fasted prayed, and did everything possible, but he couldn't find the underground water. His prayers were answered a few weeks later when a neighbor said they had one more spot left on the water tank if he wanted it. He gave the example of Shadrack Meeshack and Ebed-nigo. We all know the story, got thrown in the fire, saved, super chill stuff. But he pointed out three words to us. When they are testifying in front of the King, they said our God will save us, we have faith, yada yada, but the next verse says, Y si no. (and if not) like per say, And if he doesn't save us, then it doesn't matter. we will still not worship your gods.Such strength and faith to say that. They realized that they had a will, but God had his. and if he didn't save them from the fire, they still wouldn't retreat from their Maker. So cool. 3 words. Y SI NO. Ten fe, mi hija, tu fe te ha salvado. The Bible and Book of Mormon are full of that. por causa de su fe...[because of their faith]


After that, I snuck off a few blocks to go see Angel y Donata. They still recognized me :) haha I loved it. Although they made a pact with his dying father he wouldn't go to the Mormon church, (pure catolico [Catholic].) so he said I won't. Just an obedient son, but their testimonies just weren't deep enough. Still have a testimony and read their Books of Mormon, but can't/won't go. It hurt but they are doing good. I ran into the missionaries and the bishop of the ward and asked them, they said ah they are dead [not worth working with]. Won't visit them. I wanted to beat all 3 of them. I realized that's the crappy part of the mission. You have to leave your brothers and sisters to other elders who just know them as inactive shmucks that won't go to church. I hate it. Like Elder Lehikainen started telling Trinidad that if she goes to the temple (11 months in advance) and breaks those covenants she will be punished. I tapped his foot and said enough. Trinidad is still drinking milk and hasn't done baptisms yet, let alone needs to know the upper significance of the temple. He blew up on me after that lesson. He's kind of a hot head. He's from California, played baseball his whole life, and is your average jock. The people I never really got along with in high school... great.

I don't know. This semana [week] has been weird. I feel like Woody in this ward and Buzz just came in. Not necessarily better or anything, but just new. He now knows the ward and the people, so he doesn't need me now. I try to help his Spanish, and he throws books and slams windows. ayyy... my head hurts. I've stopped caring, and I feel like nobody really cares about that. People just say I'm "dead" and get mad at me. It's because Elder Lehikainen came in to save the day.He came here to bring the family Guzman to the temple, and to finalize the conversion of Toño. ay manches. It's been really hard. Being here another transfer and to start feeling like this... I miss Westhoff. There wasnt competition for the love or attention of a family like with Lehikainen. We were both equal. This kid just gets mad because all I do is boss him around.. or something. so yeah! Real fun. I've had a great week along with you guys! haha like father like son right dad?
The good news is, I went to the hospital, it was mocking my desire to work... but I went, and he threw out all of the crappy farmacy medicine that made it worse, and gave me the good expensive astro zeneca stuff. I feel tons better. But I realized I need to take care of my diet out here. He said I have too high of blood pressure and its because I've been stressing. I need out of this city! Oh well. I'm glad for the unbelievable stretching opportunities I've had. just time to move on...

We baptized Toño. He is the novio de [nephew of] Karla me and Westhoff started the teaching like 3 months ago. He has had some real difficulties with drugs and alcohol until he met Karla, and he changed. Now he just wanted that forgiveness, and this week he wanted it so bad he went against the hand that fed him, his mom, and did it. She was pissed. I talked to her on the phone. Not fun! But we got baptized, without the support of the ward bishopric. They were upstairs eating with the stake president. Arturo, Ana Maria, and Karla are converts of a year, speaking of which, this Saturday I might be the accompany of Arturo during the session at the temple :):) cross your fingers and pray that the president let's us!!!! I'm so stoked! I love you all. 
Note the arms of Arturo and Ana Maria in front of me :) pure laughs during that foto! Really special family. Love you all. Nos vemos [see you later]

El Elder Mortensen

April 22, 2013 (Week 36)

April 22, 2013

 "Conner´s interesting story about what happened in Mexico this week!"

We show up to this Hermanas house to eat Tuesday.She looks surprised, and my stomach grumbled, because I knew she forgot. She went to the kitchen to prepare something. This lady is nuts by the way. She thinks she is more 'chosen' than Joseph Smith or Adam and Eve... She comes back out with hard tortillas, 5 chicken nuggets, and 2 bananas. For the both of us. saweet! Sounds delicious and filling! We ask for water, and she comes out with Agua de Limón. alright, I'm cool with that. but it looks different. It's yellow, not the pale white it usually is. I have a sip. It's blended lime juice...... what in the gale? It was so bitter we just chugged it and choked back tears. Ate our 2.5 chicken nuggets, and listen to her say, don't worry about me. I've already eaten! "Oh muchas gracias hermana por preocuparse por nuestro salud y bienestar" [thank you very much sister for caring about our health and wellness]... We leave. my comp is still weak in the stomach, so he loses it all in 20 minutes. I laugh, until the next day. We eat a huge meal. He goes again. Me, nothing. freak... Esperanza gave us a hugeeee meal Thursday. Still nothing. My stomach is so tight. I've been trying laxatives, half a papaya, (natural laxative the size of a pumpkin) and other things. Nothing! I go to a doctor. She gives me more laxative. great... I take it, pain gets worse. after 3 doctors visits, I end up back with worse pain Saturday. The doctor pushes around on my stomach and finally says I have gastritis complicado. fun.... This never goes away once you get it, just gets under control. She also tells me the gastritis was made worse by the laxative because it cleaned my stomach and burned it and my intestines, so now I'm all inflamed. idk. She is going to give me some pretty powerful laxative today. I'm in a world of fun! haha man. I asked if the gastritis was caused by the agua de limon. She says "yup. That'll do it!" Freaking hermana.... no manches [no way]. I guess I shouldn't have laughed at my comp! Sheesh. I'm doing better now. Just have to watch my diet and not eat anything good for 2 weeks, namely, milk or grease. The only staple food down here. Chicken and rice and stovetop meat.

So that's the story of how I received Gastritis complicado in Mexico!

I've been playing the piano for the ward hermanas. They want me to play hijas de un rey, or daughters of a king. I play alright for the amount of time I've had to practice, but they are just straight miserable. They always tell me "it's the Elders fault we don't sound good!" Noé had to save me and got up and told the hermanas they need to stop shrieking... the lady that gave us 2 chicken nuggets and a glass of gastritis just screams her little heart out into the woman in front of her, or noés wife. They are a cool couple. He's huge. Benches 140 kilos 8x4.

We kind of stopped teaching the gang man, Cutberto. Although it was fun to teach in English. He doesn't want to change his religion, because he's a non-practicing Catholic his whole life. They have so much pride in a religion, they don't even know. His wife is cool. We've been teaching her. Also, we found his neighbor, Milton. He's hilarious, But he's living with a 32 year old with two kids who works 12 hours a day. He's pretty irresponsible and knows it, and knows he needs to shape up and keep a job, but can't for some reason. It scares him. He could progress though. Then again, the last time we went over he was higher than a kite from his marijuana... He was too funny though. "Here, have a seat, sit here. Sit down please. Now. Here. Seat. Would you like some coffee? Here take a mango, have another, another, wait, that one's nice, I'm gonna eat that one. Nah, you take it. Take it! It's good. Nah, I'll eat it!" He's a good guy. And the church is lacking priesthood like you wouldn't believe down here... Mangoes are fantastic. They fall like raindrops down here. So good. really sweet and dulce [sweet].

I discoursed this last Sunday. Finally got my chance. Another girl spoke, took her time, then Elder Lehikainen spoke, did good job on prayer, scriptures, and church assistance. This ward is so fried nobody listens. They left me 3 minutes. I wasn't gonna go for the bishop cutting me short this time so I walked up and immediately started talking. I think I did pretty good. I gave it on the caridad, charity. Pretty good. I got up and told them what Moroni said, that if they didn't have charity and stopped backbiting and fighting and being jealous and angry they were nothing. I then told them that the assistance was pathetic, (in a nice way) by telling them that 4 benches being filled is not good enough. the entire front should be filled. They should be filling up the back chapel as well. In the class following, principios del evangelio [gospel principles], the bishop first planched [chastised] my investigator, saying he couldn't date the Guzman's daughter or be her girlfriend after he joined the church and until he got back from the mission... We had to calm his fears after in private. Freaking bishop. Apostasy and personal opinions are the only doctrines preached in that class. Lazy scrub. But he brought up our talks, and said something interesting. He first said we know the Elder Mortensen doesn't speak that good, but he doesn't speak too bad either. Thanks, bish. But then he said at first it was hard to understand me, but then about halfway, it just became crystal clear (my Spanish). Then Hna Guzman agreed. saweet. I know they all heard me. I looked every one of them in the eye and told them what they needed to hear. 

But yeah. gift of tongues. cool experience. No se preocupen por mi salud, estoy bien, gracias por todos sus oraciones. Las necesito yo. Gracias. [do not worry about my health, I'm fine, thanks for all your prayers. I need them] 
Hasta la proxima [until next time], Elder Mortensen.

April 15, 2013 (Week 35)

April 15, 2013

Well.. I really blew it this time! I''m already over the time limit... oops. It's alright, all we really did was knock and walk literally 18 miles a day looking for inactives, Not a whole lot. Well, you all got little letters in a package I'm sending... We had a lesson with a guy that got into a gang in Texas when he was five, sold drugs, did drugs until he was about sterile, tried to shape up his life, had a kid, got deported when his wife told lies to the judge, and now he his here, with a ton of regrets. Talk about the need for a second chance. Man. I really do love my job. I have the priviledge to tell people that Jesucristo is willing to accept them. Even after all the stuff this guy did. I hope he gets baptized. If anyone I've ever met in my life needs it, it's him.
Had some fun with the Familia Guzman talking about the dirtbag team that is Cruz Azul. I think it's fun I can talk sports in Spanish. We are going to put up a bet. If USA loses in September against Mexico, the Real Jersey is hers. If USA wins, I get a new Mexico Jersey. hahahaha We will probably end up trading. it would be a cool memory to have. I can always buy another Real Jersey, but I won't always have a jersey one of my favorite families gave me. Who knows. A lot of fun, and hard work this week. Gotta go! Love you all, c
Cuidense, Hasta La proxima! [take care, until next time]

El Elder Mortensen.