Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mom of a Missionary...E-mails From Mexico...September 11th....

​I'm going to be brief because I don't have a ton of time. We're in a little road-side ciber right now because we don't have access to the chapel office right now. The situation is a bit rough here in San Felipe.

Our shining ray of hope and encouragementIn our ward, there's a young man who has already returned from his Mission, named Beto. He's incredibly kind, and always ready to help us out. Whenever we feel down he's always there to help us back up onto our feet. I'm incredibly grateful for his attitude and example. He's the kind of person I want to be when I return. 

Nothing much is really happening...We're doing our best and doing what we can, but we're not seeing the fruits of our labors. Perhaps we are here to sow seeds for future missionaries. Whatever the case, my companion and I are getting better each day. I'm becoming more and more confident with talking with people, sharing lessions, talking with people in the street...
More and more I'm reminded about how I need to be more humble. I'm working on fixing my flaws every day, and even if I can't help others fix their flaws I can at least know that I am refining myself in the process.

Our investigator Fidel showed up to church this sunday! We're very happy for him, as this marks a step towards promises with the Lord, and leaving his old drinking habits behind him in the dust. 

StressA lot of stress recently. I feel a lot of pressure to do something but I don't know what to do. It's weighing down on me a bit, and I'm looking to see what I can do to improve, but I just don't know. 

A lot of buzz about hurracanes and earthquakesI'm fine, really. Nothing struck here and everything is quite normal and sunny. Nothing more than a bit of rain and my broken umbrella (which more or less still works).

I'm running out of time, so I'm going to quickly share some of the drawings I made for sharing with the people here. I don't have quite enough yet for what I need to do, but I'm going to make copies and work hard with them this week. I sadly do not have a spiritual thought to share with you this week, but I would like to encourage you to read your scriptures daily and keep working hard to do good in the world.

Good luck with your adventures and daily battles.
Jesus and the hill where he gave the sermon on the Beattitudes (with the Sea of Galilee in the background).
My interpretation of a temporary paradise
The forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. It looks like a strawberry, but it's not. I think the forbidden fruit has a prismic shape. If you can spot the gospel truth I've hidden in this card, you're probably one that is very keen with the spirit.

God Bless, and stay strong. Ye are the light of the world. 

-Elder Bowlby

Mom of A Missionary...E-mails from Mexico.. Being soaking wet is the most unpleasant feeling I have ever felt in a long time.

Hello, Hello! It's me once again. Elder Bowlby here! Welcome to the rainy season. It's going to be raining a lot here in San Felipe... Yikes.

Lots of Rain.
It appears that my umbrella has finally started to break and fall apart. Uh oh. Looks like I'll be using my rain jacket a lot more. I'm not too ready to buy a new umbrella just yet, as there aren't any chain stores around here like Walmart. Everything I want to buy is either in the street or in a street-side store run by who knows who. Maybe I should just wait until I get transferred to a different area.

We were out in a colonia that was more or less 10 minutes away from home. We arrived and it was cloudy, which was no big deal.
The problem was that as we started to walk back the rain started to downpour and I had nothing with which to protect myself. Elder Araujo really likes the rain because it doesn't rain a lot in PerĂș, and he was happily walking and singing in the rain.
I on the other hand was very unhappy with the situation, but Elder Araujo helped me lighten up and we both returned to the house laughing and drenched. 

Lack of people to talk to.
Yeah the people still aren't too ready to talk to us. My zone leader encouraged me to think outside the box with how we find people to teach. I haven't arrived at anything sure yet, but I have a feeling that it will require the use of my drawings. They can reject my presence all they want but if they reject my drawings there is no hope because honestly what more can I do?

We're doing what we can to lift up the wounded.
We've been meeting with a man named Fidel recently. He's had problems with alcohol and he's been looking for change in his life, so we are helping him as best we can. He's really talented with woodwork. He makes wonderful looking doors, handrailing, closets, tables... and he learned at the age of 25 without formal schooling! I really feel that the message we share will be able to help him overcome his addiction and never return. 

All in all...

With every week comes a new trial of faith. I'm doing what I can to adjust, to learn, to move forward and to become a better servant/Missionary. I'd like to share a scripture with you that I found during my study time. 

2 Nephi 25:26
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

My dearest friends and family, It is my hope that you continually look unto he  will see you all next week. Good luck, stay strong, and make the extra effort to do something good in the world! Make a change for the better. In Spanish, change starts with U.

Well, not really. Change still starts with C (the word is Cambio). But I'm sure you get what I meant. đŸ˜‰

-Elder Bowlby
who is able to save, to he who is ready to lend a hand to those who are in need. We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach and prophesy of Christ, and we do this to bring all to a knowledge of our Savior and Redeemer.

Mom of a Missionary... E-mails from Mexico..August 28th...

This has been one of the most bizarre transfers of my Mission thus far... and I'm going to be a bit brief because time is shorter than it seems.

The stomach issues are gone. I've been taking my vitamins, eating better, and finding more vegetables and fruits to eat. Sad thing is that apples are 70 pesos a kilo and I have no idea how much it is to buy a cucumber.

Elder Araujo
My new companion is very professional with the calling of a Missionary. He's got knowledge, scriptures, questions, and a desire to serve, which is amazing. He's a real role model.
It seems however that he's not too fond of the area, as he was just transferred from the area named Madero. It's a city full of rich folk, with walmart and everything. San Felipe on the other hand...

San Felipe
It's been by far one of the roughest weeks for me here in San Felipe. I'm not too good with making desicions, and I'm required to direct the area... which means I choose where to go and who to talk to. We've been looking for our investigators from the past few transfers and they're still recieving us which is nice, but we lack new people who are interested. I haven't been doing too bad, really. I've been following the Spirit as to where I should go, what I should do, and what I should say...
Except... nobody wants to talk to me.
We find new people to serve and teach by knocking on doors, talking to people in the street, offering as much service as humanely possible... But a lot of people are rejecting us and hiding. Perhaps it's because I'm an American or I don't speak spanish very well? I'm not sure.

Patience is key, and it's also something we're lacking.
I've noticed that neither of us happen to have very good patience. Something i'm going to try and develop with the next few weeks (whether I want to or not, really).

The strangest experience
While we don't exactly have any investigators who are keeping invitations we extend, we at least have people to meet with and firm goals. When our plans don't work out, it means that we have to buckle up and follow the Spirit as to where we need to go and what we need to do.
We arrived at a moment like this one fateful thursday (this past thursday), and with a deep breath I made a desicion that seemed more or less effective in the moment. I made the choice to visit a colonia that we had visited often with little success to see if one of our past investigators was interested in another lession.
Well, she wasn't. Broken hearted, we were about to return home when the impression came to me to see if another person we had talked to earlier was in their home... and along the way we encountered an older man working with his grandchild, picking up huge blocks of concrete and putting them into a wheelbarrow. We offered our service, but he declined it. Determined not to let this opportunity go to waste, I made my best effort to talk to the man, to figure out who he is and to hear his story...

Turns out he was the drunk pentacost who approached Elder Arellanes and I on the highway one day. He said he has a very bad alcohol problem that he wants to shake off, and while we didn't get an exact time to meet with him... I have a feeling we'll meet again. We left him a pamphlet about faith on the Lord and repentance, and I hope that we'll be able to have a lession with him.

All in all...

This week has been rough, stressful, and agitating. I woke up sunday feeling awful and empty, and it just so happened that I needed to cry a little. It seems that every step I take reminds me that I'm not perfect and have a lot of need to grow, to improve, to repent, and to change. It seems bleak but I'm confident that this is all for my benefit. I'd like to share this scripture with you that has helped me recently.

Alma 36:3 
And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.
Put your trust in the Lord, and he will always be ready to extend a loving arm to you, to guide you onward. This is something that is becoming more and more powerful to me as I learn how to become a better servant of the Lord.Here's to a new week of challenges, adversity, and hoping that my monthly amount of money arrives so I can buy milk.

Love you all!

-Elder Bowlby

Mom of A Missionary... E-Mails from Mexico...August 21, 2017

Hello, everybody. Elder Bowlby here.

Transfers are in, and Elder Arellanes has left the area. Quite sad I am, but the poor Elder had six months in San Felipe and to be honest, he needed a breath of fresh air. Sad to see him off, but I know things will work out well.

I'm no longer a missionary in training. Now, I'm a real Missionary! ...And I have to direct the area! 
I'll do my best!

My new companion is Elder Araujo from PerĂș! He seems pretty serious (and has a lot of stuff). I have no doubt we'll be good friends in no time.

Truth be told, the only accomplishment we had this week was a baptism. We were both working hard for this moment, and we baptized a very worthy and prepared young man named Ivan. He lives in a community called Huitzitzilingo (where they don't have an LDS chapel) and he took combis out here to meet with us and to attend church. He can speak Nahuat'l, which is basically the ancient Aztec dialect (and can do so quite well). He stopped drinking coffee, read and prayed, and recieved an answer that the church is true. His baptism was a very spiritual experience.

I found out what's making my stomach churn. It's because... Surprise! I'm not eating enough vegetables. Yikes, it's something I took for granted in the States. Vegetables! I never would have imagined that I'd be missing vegetables of all things. 
I dug out my multivitamins that I had stopped taking because they tasted horrible, and now I'm taking them every day. It appears that the frijoles, mole, enchiladas, gorditas, carnitas, aguacate, arroz, y mi triste cereal con leche is not enough to keep me going (or at least without stomach pain). So I'm going to see what kind of vitamins and such I can buy... (but nobody sells vegetables in San Felipe).

Lots of questions about the food recently. I'm eating lots of grains, meat, beans, and fruit... but no vegetables. Real Mexican food. Lots of beans, rice, pork and chicken. Very rarely is beef served but it's quite nice to know that my food is natural. I also know that if the chicken's a bit rough, just means that it's been out walking around on the patio. Talk about free range. Also, I don't normally use salso but I'm getting used to all the picante. Apparently there was some spicy in the beans we had for lunch today and I didn't even notice. An improvement!

No eclipse here in Mexico (at least nothing I could see.)

Thank you for your time and your e-mails. Rest assured, I am doing alright. 

I love you, and I'll see you next week. Stay strong, God Bless, and do your best!

Mom of A Missionary...E-mails from Mexico... August 14th Stomach pains and hurracanes.

Happy Monday, friends and family.

It was a calm week here in San Felipe OrizatlĂĄn. Nothing exciting happened, really.

Monday we had the baptism of our investigator. We were quite worried that evening, because at Six O'Clock, nobody had shown up but us! It took a while, but by 6:30 things were finally moving. There was a cake too, for her birthday. 

That night, we recieved a phone call from another Missionary who said that Tropical Storm/Hurracane Franklin would hit our area, and for that we needed to be on watch and stay in the house for most of Wednesday, all of Thursday, and part of Friday.

Wednesday was fine up until mid-day, so we left to work. My stomach started to feel off, but I did what I could to work. When the rain started to pour down harder, we retired to the house.

Thursday we stayed in the house all day... except for the time when we went to the local pharmacy to buy medicine for my stomach. The rain had stopped and we were able to safely go and return... and I had something to help calm my stomach. We did nothing else that day.

Friday I still felt awful. We tried to walk, but every so often I had to sit down because my stomach was reeling. We returned home and rested.

Saturday was a normal day of work, and we did what we could. We contacted and contacted, and found some people that we could return and teach, but at a later date.

Sunday was a normal Sunday. Turns out that we were supposed to plan talks, so I prepared half the morning of, and ad-libbed the other half in whatever spanish I could muster so my companion could have time to search scriptures for his talk. It went really well, actually.

All in all, I'm feeling much better now.

Spiritual thought of the week: Muy breve.

Every day there is always something we can improve. Perhaps there is a certain scriptural teaching, a rule, or even something we do in our everyday routine. Every day we read about our rules and we read the scriptures, and we always look for something to work on. Whenever there is something that we do incorrectly, we must always remember that there is repentance, or changes we can make, and then we can move forward and do our best to not make the same mistake.

That is something I learn more and more each day.

Well, until the next week. I love you all, and I miss you! Thank you for all of your e-mails. I'm always happy to hear what is going on at home and abroad. Best wishes!

-Elder Bowlby

Mom Of A Missionary...E-Mails from Mexico...August 7th..

This weeks e-mail brought to you by...

... The unpleasant sensation of an unknown number of ants crawling on and biting you!

Hello dearest family and friends. It is once again that special day of the week when I have time to write. No photos this week, sadly.

In brief, we had little success looking for new people to teach this week. This friday we even had an activity where we took some of the young men and young women of the branch out to see what it's like to contact in the street.

Every single one of them recieved a no, but they enjoyed it nonetheless. I'm glad that I have Elder Arellanes by my side because I had no idea what to say and when I tried, all of the jovenes laughed. It was pretty fun.

We have a baptism planned today for a young investigator named Aymar. She just turned 8 yesterday and her older sister and older brother have already been baptized, but since her parents aren't married and baptized, she still counts as an investigator. The parents are having issues with their relationship right now, and as such, we're quite lucky to have this opportunity. She is very happy.

We have another investigator who is very close to baptism. An athiest named Ivan! He's about 17 years old and was friends with a member that went to our branch, and even after the member family left, he's been meeting with us and coming to the chapel. The reason he's investigating the church is because he wants to make a change for the better in his life. He's attended numerous churches and has felt something different in our little branch. He learns quickly and applies the principles twice as fast. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom, and how in our Church we don't partake of certain substances, like alcohol, cigarrettes, drugs, tea, and coffee.
He told us that he drinks up to nine cups of coffee a day, but after the lession he quit cold turkey. Straight from nine to zero. We are amazed by his faith.

This past Sunday was a fast and testimony meeting, and I tried to fast for 24 hours. Unfortunately, my body didn't exactly like that idea, and midway through a lesson with Ivan, I started feeling quite sick. My companion told me that my face looked green, and as such, I had to break my fast early. I remembered the scripture where Jesus told his disciples that they should not be as the hypocrites, painting their faces to show the world that they were fasting and hungered.
Unfortunately, looks like my face painted itself!

Every day I am thankful for the blessings and experiences that I have here in Mexico. I might not be in the greatest of situations, but I'm grateful that our apartment is not made out of sticks and sheets of metal. I might have ants swarming the house, but i'm grateful that I don't have to constantly ward off mosquitos or wild animals. Overall, this is a nice place and I'm always counting my many blessings. I hope you are too.

Love you all! Miss you so much. Soon enough, we will meet again (ant free).

-Elder Bowlby

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mom Of A Missionary...E-Mails From Mexico...Oops! That was too much Jalapeño for just one Bowlby!!

Hello, Family and Friends! Yours truly, Elder Bowlby here! Woah, it's almost August! 

This week was a little bit better. We stopped stressing about the numbers and got to work with all that we had! Yeah!

A ton of our appointments fell and almost nobody wanted to talk to us! Aww...

But we have investigators who are progressing, who we are visiting with regularly, and who are keeping commitments! Yeah!

Buuuuut none of them showed up to church on Sunday. Aww...

Such is the life of a Missionary! You can't force somebody to do something, everybody has the wonderful gift of agency given to us by our loving Father in Heaven. As such, it's important for the investigators to understand that we don't make commitments and invitations merely because we want them to do something for us... We invite them to learn more and to make changes because it's between them and the Lord!

Speaking of agency, my companion and I seem to have the bad luck of arriving at a point in the day when all of our appointments fall, the contacts are unsuccessful, and there is seemingly nothing to do. What next? 
After thinking about it, the only logical thing to do is make a change! As such, we've been looking for more opportunities to give service to the members and less-actives. One day we helped sort and clean chili peppers for a member! That was fun. They were surprised that I didn't enchilé mis manos (That is to say, my hands didn't get covered in spicy and begin to tingle and burn. The verb is "Enchilar" which means, roughly, to get that hot chili-pepper sensation. The burning!).

We had a night where we went to talk to a Less-active member. It's an important duty of the members to visit those who haven't gone to church in a while, to ask them what happened, what struggles they're having, and how they can help. It seems that this job has been left with us, the missionaries, and as such, we're trying to help out whomever we can. The less active Heber owns a tortilleria en la calle principal (main street, in english terms), and we see him and his returned (very active) missionary brother often. We're pretty good friends at this point, as nobody has visited the poor guy in his home for about two or so years. We show up to talk a little and he kindly offers us dinner (and he's a great cook) but unfortunately, my weak American tongue couldn't handle a certain pepper that was added into the mix... y yo enchilĂ©. They thought it was pretty funny, and I was laughing the whole time. 
Even funnier, my companion was very surprised that I was drinking down Coca-Cola like there was no tomorrow. I explained to him that because my tongue was burning because of the jalapeño, the gas of the soda didn't bother my tongue. He thought that was funny. I did too.

Mom said that as of the 26th of July, I had completed 100 days in the Mission. Loco! Took a mini-selfie with my camera to compare how I looked fresh out of home.

Overall, we're working hard in San Felipe. No effort is wasted, and as long as it's not raining buckets, you can be sure that I'll be out there doing what I do best! Getting Sun-Burned! Oh, um, I mean... preaching the Gospel. 

I close with a spiritual thought, as always. 

The importance of knowing our Father's plan for us! We taught a lot of Lession 2 this week, which is the Plan of Salvation! Our Father in Heaven lovingly made a plan for our return to live with him, to grow and progress in this life, and to have experiences here with those we love, having those experiences extend beyond death!

I've certainly learned a lot. One of our investigators had a question about Evolution, and I too had this same question without even knowing it! We studied and studied, and while the Church has no official stance on the subject, what we must have faith in is that Adam and Eve were the first children of God on the earth, that through Adam's fall man can have joy, and through the power of Jesus Christ, we can be saved from the effects of Adam's fall.

It's sad to see that many people don't understand this. Some have no hope in a life after death, some don't believe that the fall of Adam was a good thing, and many don't believe that we came from anything more than dust. 

For this is the reason that there is need for Missionaries in the world! To teach people about the grand workings of our Father above. After all, some are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it!

Love you all. Miss you so much! Stay strong, do your best, and never forget that you are children of God!

-Elder Bowlby