Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mom of a Missionary...E-Mails from Mexico....December 26, 2018

Feliz (tarde) Navidad!!
 Hello, Family and friends! Merry (LATE) Christmas!

Oops! Can you find me in this blurry photo?)​

Well, the past week has been quite the blur. I arrived in Ciudad Victoria in a nervous panic, I slowly adjusted to my surroundings and situations as we worked what little time we had up until the Christmas celebrations, a video call with my parents that barely worked (faulty camera 😕), and the celebrations yesterday. All in all, it was a very interesting week! I'm also starting to see a bit of progress in myself and that makes me happy.

In brief, the new area i'm in is very interesting. The streets appear to be as a network of spiderweb-entangling-confusion-on-top-of-hills and I'm utterly confounded as how to navigate it. Lots of dogs that are really I'm doing my best to augment and amplify my faith in the Lord so that we as missionaries can work miracles among the people. Small miracles at the least.


The Christmas Celebrations were really fun. We went to Tampico for a big get-together of Missionaries and we enjoyed a devotional alongside a bit of sweets, food, and little skits performed by the missionaries. This photo should describe everything.mean, and firecrackers go off every ten-or-so minutes. But man, is it cool!

(Even missionaries need to have a little fun every once in a while).

I participated a bunch and I had the satisfaction of hearing a room full of missionaries applaud after my group and I finished. It seems like "being recognized" was a Christmas Wish that came true, in a way! Now I just need to share that feeling with others. It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.

Yesterday, we had a day-long celebration where we joined together as a much smaller zone for a little Christmas break. We had surprise breakfast​, played games, had a gift exchange, and whacked a Piñata!
I recieved a book with coloreable Mandalas to keep myself relaxed... and BOXING GLOVES! (also to keep myself relaxed, hahaha).

And after all of it, here I am again, ready and refreshed to get out there and work.
Thank you for your Christmas wishes and your love! I'm grateful for your prayers, and I hope that all of you have had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy New Year!!

I will see you on the first of 2018 because it's a monday.

Love you all, miss you loads!
-Elder Bowlby

We spent an hour talking to our son on Christmas Eve.  We were hoping to also see him when we skyped but his computer camera was not working.  Perhaps that was for the best, as we probably would have all been in tears by the end of the hour.  It was wonderful to talk to our son, hear his voice and have a moment with him.

Mom of a Missionary....E-Mails from Mexico...Decmber 18,2018

Uh oh, CambiO's!
 here has been a very big change in my location today.

I am now located in Ciudad Victoria, much more north in Tamaulipas. I have officially been to both boundaries of the mission, the southernmost being San Felipe, and now in the northernmost Ciudad Victoria.

I hear it gets pretty cold here. I'm going to save up to buy a coat, perhaps. But right now, it's pretty hot.

It's really funny how everything worked out. We finally arranged everything with our house in Altamira, that being that both sides of the house had electricity, we got our fridge working again, and we both got really comfy...
And then they take us both out of the area and are replacing us with other missionaries. Elder Estrada and I parted ways this morning at 6:45 AM in the Tampico Bus Terminal.
My new companion is Elder Allred, and he's from the United States! He speaks really good spanish and is also from Utah. Two gringos together... what could go wrong?

I'm getting all moved in and I hope that there won't be too many problems. The christmas devotional for the mission is closing in, and also Christmas itself. It will be my first Christmas away from home.

Well, it's time to push forward and get to work. The Lord has plans for me, and while I don't know what they are, I hope I can become a better tool in his hands to bring forth the work.

General Conference: "I have a Work for Thee"
This talk helped me understand that every missionary (and everybody) has a divine purpose in the eyes of the lord. Whether and how we can fulfill this work is based upon how we submit ourselves to the will of God.

I love you all. Stay safe and warm. If I cannot mail the 25th, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Mom of a Missionary....E-Mails from Mexico...December 11,2018

MexiCOLD
 Hello, family and frieeeeAACHOO!!

Oops. Sorry about that. Guess I wasn't all that prepared for the northern winds that came about this week.

If anyone had told me that I would be cold in Tampico, Mexico... I would have laughed and said they were crazy because when I looked up Tampico online I saw nothing but sand and sun and heat.

My view on everything changed when I found myself huddled under blankets with my companion trying to stay warm one morning. Our already faulty power went out and we couldn't heat up water to bathe with (because we also don't have a boiler and our water comes out freezing cold), so we just resigned and decided to buy hot biscuits and huddle in bed for a bit. All of our milk spoiled and yeah that wasn't fun, but hey! At least my bed is warm.

Apparently, the jacket I have wasn't enough to protect me from the cold. Thankfully, I was given two more jackets by some loving hermanas in the ward... and I still got sick. My companion said it was because I didn't cover myself enough (but I had three jackets on I don't think it was avoidable at that point).

It's been a crazy rollercoaster ride back and forth in between our house and the house of the other missionaries (because, well, we need to eat and bathe), and I'm glad that I'm only mildly sick and not frozen to death (or vomiting). All of you living out there with heat in your homes this winter... you are blessed! It didn't snow or anything here, but wow! I'm so grateful that in the U.S we've got central air and heating and stuff like that. Our house barely managed to stay warm... I hear that another Elder put a hot iron to his bed, ironed it, and then went to sleep on the residue heat.

I'm learning a lot about who I am and how to better do the work of a Missionary. We're also looking for little miracles here and there, whenever possible. All that we can do to see the hand of the Lord in our lives.
We've worked much harder this week, and our faith is still being tried, but we push forward in knowing that we'll remember these moments when we get back home and we will be strengthened for them! Yeah!

So, that's my week, in short. I'm glad that you're reading my e-mails and that I'm in your prayers. I hope that all of you can take time to remember what Christmas is really about. Joining together as a family to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Gods beloved and begotten Son was born for us in Bethlehem, and though He wasn't really born in December, it's not the date that really matters. It's what He did for us that makes the celebrations truly meaningful.
Take some time to ponder the nativity story this week in preparation for the 25th (in just two weeks!)

Love you all,
-Elder Bowlby

Mom of a Missionary...E-Mails from Mexico...December 4, 2018

New house, new difficulties!


 Hello, family and friends!

I bring you good tidings of great joy. I'm doing better than last week! Hahaha.

We have finally moved into our new house, Elder Estrada and I. We moved in on tuesday and we were confronted with a load of new problems. Let me list off a few!
1: Faulty lighting. There was only one lightbulb in the whole house and it appears that none of the lightbulb sockets in the salon work. We now have three light bulbs.

2: Faulty electrical sockets! Basically the same issue.

3: Our lawn was infested with burning caterpillars! Yes, you heard that right. If you touch even one of these ugly little spikey caterpillars (that don't even metamorph into butterflies they just stay ugly caterpillars), they will burn your hand with an intense burning pain. It's enough to make a grown man cry. We got rid of them as fast as possible.

4: Our refridgerator didn't work! So we changed it. The neighbors were very kind in guarding our food in their refri so it didn't spoil.

5: Our washing machine doesn't have room to work! So I washed my white shirts by hand (and they came out cleaner than they normally do in the washing machine).

6: The house did not have water! Someone disconnected the mediator to our water pipes (which are blatantly placed outside in our lawn for anyone to meddle with) so we had to buy a new mediator for 23 pesos (and it leaks).

7: The iron refuses to connect to any of the sockets that is not the kitchen socket. Huh! We iron our clothing in the kitchen, then.

But, we now have everything in order. I feel great, and incredibly pepared to move into a house when I'm older! Yeah! I kept returning home dead tired, but wow! What an experience.

I'm going to keep things a bit short today because I'm trailing behind on time. I would like to answer a question I recieved as a result of the horse-dumpster question. Do animals just roam around free where I am?

Yes.

The streets are full of stray cats and dogs (in varying conditions, I might add), as well as (from what I have seen) horses, cows, donkeys, iguanas and chickens. Regarding the stray horses, I had a really strange encounter with two of them this saturday.

We were walking in a fraccionamento late at night contacting houses when we spotted two horses eating from trash bags, and we were like "eh, this is normal". We were pretty close to these horses, I might add, when we saw a little tiny flame hop over a fence and land in the midst of the garbage.
Somebody from the other side of the fence threw over a fire cracker...
and then POW!! The fire cracker blew up and startled the horses and they began to run.

I was super freaked out because I thought "oh no, these horses are going to trample me", but luckily they just ran into the nearby field.

There are plenty of experiences with wild animals out here. Apparently it's not only horses that are eating tortillas out of the trash, but it appears that the cows, cats, and stray dogs have this habit as well. Poor creatures.

There's also the evil burning caterpillars but those are no problem if you have shoes, really.

Overall, I can barely believe it's december! Time goes by so fast. I remember when I was celebrating christmas at home, and now I'm in Mexico. It's astounding! I'm learning a ton, and I'm very glad, despite all the challenges I face.

And yes, we are working much, much harder to achive our goals.

I hope you all are enjoying the thrills and chills of december. If you have snow, enjoy it. I do not have snow, and probably will not see snow up until I return.

I love to read your e-mails and see what you are all doing. I hope the best for you as we move closer to a new year. Do your best and stay strong! Remember to search for the best gifts, physical and spiritual ones.

Love you all! Stay safe and warm.

-Elder Bowlby

I found what I think is a photo of the caterpillar that was in my son's yard.  it is at the top of this letter.

Mom of a Missionary....E-Mails from Mexico...November 27, 2018

ills, spills, and occasional chills.
 Hello friends and family! Soy yo, otra vez. Bienvenidos a la carta semanal!


I don't have a lot to report this week, other than the insane roller coaster ride I took this week. Uh, where do I begin?

Monday
Monday of last week was normal. We had our preparation day, we e-mailed our families... and everything finished at 9:00 in the house. We bought pizza from dominos!
Well, against my will I spent 100 pesos on Pizza. I had already refused to eat on the grounds that I was not ready to spend my passage money on pizza... but the other Elders had already bought three pizzas. Reluctantly, I decided to cave in and enjoy the moment. It was really good, but I kept feeling that if I kept eating, I would be sick or something. I stopped after three slices and the other Elders finished off the rest.

TUESDAY
It was about 1:00 am and I woke up with a serious stomach pain. I was sleeping on the floor, and I was basically the only one with easy access to the bathroom (thank goodness) and so, recognizing that I needed to get up, I got up, and threw up.

Unfortunately for me, that wouldn't be the first time throwing up that night.
Apparently, the pizza gave me a stomach infection called "gastrointeritis" in spanish, and my stomach went into panic mode and tried to take out everything that was in my stomach (and refused to stop there). I was vomiting every five minutes... and also with diarrhea. My stomach was leaving from both ends of my body, and even after I had vomited up everything my stomach I couldn't stop vomiting. I tried drinking an electrolyte drink to keep hydrated, but it too, left my system after a mere two minutes. In this moment I asked my companions to take me to a hospital (and they did thank goodness I love them). I was very cold. I was hooked up to an IV and recieved medicine, and yeah! I'm all better. Don't worry.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON

So, after the hospital it was decided that I, in the condition I was in, could not go out and preach for two days. Rather than be a burden and force my companion to stay at home too, the Zone leaders decided to send me to the house of other missionaries to spend the night. One of these Elders (a peruano named Elder Chero) was also sick, recovering from a very strong illness that also prevented him from leaving, so I stayed with him for the afternoon.
Oh yeah, and we had to wear mouth coverings to prevent me from catching his illness that was fun.
We played the board game "Risk" with some of our companions that had pity on us and decided to stay the night with the two of us, making it an official ENFERMIFIESTA!
 Risk is a pretty neat board game where you try to conquer the world with little soldiers and it's really fun!
After playing a game (I lost) we went to bed.

Wednesday
Basically I stayed with Elder Chero all day and lost two times in Risk (and we only played two times). We returned to the house and slept.

Thursday
We had interviews with the mission president this day. He said that I'm making good growth and I need to keep pushing onward.
He also said that our area is slacking and we need to pick up the pace. We all resolved this day to correct ourselves and walk more rectly than we had been. I could not eat anything but saltine crackers. No, we did not celebrate thanksgiving.

Friday
We started making changes in our schedule to better ourselves and we're doing great.
Sadly my companion began to have an intense migrane so we returned home early :/

SATURDAY
We worked hard and well this day! Yeah! We encountered a bunch of new people to teach! And it went really great.
 Sunday
A normal sunday. Whew! I can finally eat normal things.

Yeah! That was... fun?
I love you all and miss you dearly. Please visit Mormon.org to find 25 ways you can #LightTheWorld this December by doing 25 different acts of service towards your fellow man. I am very excited for what we will be doing :D

Stay safe, avoid pizza, and remember that you are loved!

-Elder Bowlby

Just a note...I'm kind of glad to only here from my son once a week, as what a worry it would be to know he has been sick and in the hospital.  I guess in this case it was better that I heard about all the issues after the fact...I say a lot of prayers every day for my son, and ask that he is watched over, as that is all I really can do.

Mom of a Missionary....E-Mails From Mexico...November 20, 2018

Yet another monday. Hello!

 Short E-mail! Hello family and friends.

Hope all of you in the United States will have a lovely thanksgiving this year. I will not be celebrating with turkey but there's more or less of a chance I will be eating ceviche (a type of Mexican seafood (mariscos!))These past few weeks have been very interesting. Please allow me to roughly quote one of the modern day prophets to sum up what's been going on recently:

"Nothng happens in Missionary work without someone to teach".

For the past few weeks we've been doing a lot of work in our area to find someone willing to hear our message... and we haven't found very many people to teach. This sort of thing happens in the mission, you see. It's without a doubt, a test of my faith. We knock doors and talk to people in the street to see if they'd like to come closer to Christ, but it's very rare that we have a second appointment. To be honest I feel that the experiences I have had in this past week are the Lord's way of saying "you need to be more humble".

Speaking of making changes in my life, I'm trying to counteract my rampant perfectionism. I've been reading a few documents from the mission about how harmful perfectionism is, and I've been trying to avoid it!But when I notice my bad tendencies of perfectionism, I get frustrated with myself because I'm not perfect at not being perfect and the whole cycle starts again.

To help myself I've been setting small goals here and there, hahaha.

Basically we go to our area, talk with people in the street, visit members to share brief spiritual messages and give service, and then go back to our house, sleep, and repeat the cycle. It's a blast.

I'm working more and more to better myself, the church, and the area i'm assigned to. I have plenty more time to do all of that, really... but I'm also trying to fight my procrastination, so lets do that now!

I love you all. Please remember that in this life, we will never achieve perfection. Only through the grace of Christ can we achieve perfection and salvation. Don't be so hard on yourselves! Life is meant to be lived, mistakes meant to be made. That's why pencils have erasers, you know!

-Elder Bowlby

Mom of a Missionary.... E-Mails From Mexico... November 13, 2018

Nuevo cambio, ya nos vamos!!

 Buenos tardes, amigos y familia. Today marks the start of a new transfer, a new lapse of time where I am to go out and to get to work!

The last six weeks have been a rollercoaster ride. Last week itself has been a challenge, but hey! I'm pressing forward. This is part of life! Woohoo!

I almost lost all my photos to a Virus
Okay, this is a pretty fun story.
Monday we hop into our normal Ciber and we're writing and everything is completely normal up until the point where my companion asks me to take a photo of an important document and send it to him. No problem. I take the photo, connect my camera to the computer and make the necesary preparations to send a photo.

I open up the files on the computer and I can already tell something was fishy. A file named BAT was installed on my SD card that is only used for photos. It was an executable file that opened up any time I tried to access my "photos", which was very strange. Trying to send anything to my companion from my SD card would instead send the executeable file. In a hurry, I asked the owner of the ciber to change my current session to another computer as I assesed what was going on. BAT could not be deleted from my SD card, so I disconnected my camera from the computer, turned it on, and tried to access my photos from the camera itself.

When I tried, the camera merely beeped and said "No Picture!".
I was incredibly nervous. I had all of my photos from my six months in Mexico on this device and a virus just ate them all. Connecting to the other computer, I was pleased to see that there was an antivirus program installed that quickly got to work, eliminating BAT and restoring my photos, locked away in a folder named .Trashed.

Long story short I lost no photos and invented a new cartoon character based on the experience (I'll send the drawings in an art dump).

I almost lost my companion
Please remind me to tell you both parts of the story when I get home it's a pain to type both versions of what happened.

In short: We entered into a Farmacia Guadalajara to buy a quick snack before getting back to work. While I was paying for my snack and waiting for my change, my companion left the pharmacy and began to walk out into the dark streets alone, not figuring out what happened up until he was four blocks away from the pharmacy. He freaked out and thought I had been kidnapped, so he began to search for me and quickly returned back to the pharmacy just as I had recieved my change.
Elder Estrada was not very happy, basically.

I gave a neat talk in sacrament meeting and everyone liked it
 
I have it written down and I'll share it with you when I get back because it's not the same if you just read it.

That was basically my week. We are very close to getting a house, and bit by bit we are moving forward! We have encountered some really nice people in our area that we hope to start teaching. And I'm very excited to help the work of God push forward! I have goals to better myself this transfer... and It's almost Christmas! Woo!

I'll be sure to send more photos in the upcoming E-mail.
Scripture study tip: Highlight! I'm always marking my scriptures with colored pencils. Every time there is a mention of God or Jesus (or any of their many names) I mark it in a bright yellow. I also mark their words in bright yellow, so I know when they're speaking to us. I mark verses and phrases that I especially like in red so I can always pick them out. Let me share one of my highlighted doctrines with you.
Jacob 1:8
Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi.

Little treasures like that which you can find in the scriptures. One of the many reasons we have scriptures!

Please stay safe, study hard, and be a better you every day! You are loved.

Ever thankful for your prayers,
-Elder Bowlby