Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 22nd

Hey family!

So first off I am sorry I did not get to email on Tuesday. Oh and thank you to Larissa and Grandma Davidson for the letters, they were very uplifting and I really loved the pictures grandma. Thanks!

On Monday afternoon I had to go down to Chihuahua and sign a few papers and get finger printed for my visa to be here for a year. And after a year I think I go back and sign some more papers... I don’t really know. But on Monday we had zone conference, but it was a multi-zone conference with all 4 zones of Juarez and Casas Grandes missionaries too. So there were like more than 100 of us at this conference. One of the members of the Seventy was there and he wanted to talk to all of the Juarez missionaries.. Oh and yes he knows Spanish, he was a mission president down in Paraguay for a while. But his wife’s Spanish is so horrible - it’s hilarious! It gave me confidence with my Spanish! It was a really good conference and I really learned a lot. He also updated the way the mission does a few things to be more efficient. So I was really happy about that. But the best part of conference was me realizing how much Spanish I can speak and understand now. At conference I understood just about everything, no joke. I only asked what like a word or two meant; I was able to get everything else. I was really excited! And during conference I was able to talk to everyone and really joined in all of the conversations and have conversations with just me and someone else. I sound like a socially retarded kid who figured out how to talk to people, but it’s just in Spanish... I had been really excited the 3 days before conference because I am to the point now where I can understand without trying really hard to understand if that makes sense. Anyone how has learned a second language knows what I’m saying. Like before I had to think as hard as I could and translate stuff and be real slow about it. But recently I have understood without thinking twice about it. And I can talk without planning out in my head what I want to say. Obviously I’m very very very far from fluent, and I can understand far far far more than I can speak, but I’m really a lot better now. Like for the most part, I understand Spanish. This has made my life a whole lot better to say the least... I like a lot more people now that I can understand too, so that is good. And in like odd lesson situations when we are talking about odd things I can actually talk more and speak a lot more of my own words! Exciting huh?! I have a long way to go, but I like Mexico a whole lot more now that I can understand people more... Oh and at the conference all of the Americans from my group, the ones who don’t know Spanish yet like me, were all together talking the whole time, well when we had time to talk after the conference, and I decided I rather go talk to some of the other Mexican elders in Spanish if that makes sense. It was good and I guess I love the fact that I can carry on a conversation for the most part... Obvious I can’t understand much of what drunk people say, or when people speak REALLY fast, or when people don’t speak well. Anyways, I have been pretty excited about that this week.

Oh and Chihuahua was good. I was with 5 of the other elders from my MTC group, called my generation in mission terms... And so it was fun to see how much more Spanish we knew. And see how much less Spanish the elders whose companions spoke English knew... We drove down with the president of the mission after conference, which was about 4 hours and then came back Tuesday on a bus, which took about 5 hours. We stayed at the mission home on Monday night and Tuesday early went to the consulate or to sign visa papers and then came back to Juarez. It was good because I was able to talk a lot with Elder Jon Killpack who is a really good friend of mine. We get along really well and talked a lot about life and such. He also knows a lot of Spanish too and we helped each other out a lot. It was also fun because a lot of people, who know I have only been here for 7 weeks, complimented my Spanish and my pronunciation a lot, so that was nice because I usually feel pretty down about my Spanish because as much as I know, I have a LONG LONG way to go. Oh and when I was just with the other Americans on the bus and stuff they relied on me a lot to understand what people were saying! So that was fun. But we all know a lot more and are not afraid to talk to random people or ask questions and stuff, it was just a much better experience than the first day at the mission home... We were all a lot more relaxed and way TAN!

Anyways, so this week has been a good week for the most part. No baptisms, but in the beginning of May we should have a lot of baptisms going for us. Oh and Danielle you asked about how our converts stay in the church and do they stay active and such. Well, we have a ton of investigators in the first place because the Mexican culture is a Christian culture through and through. Like I doubt I will meet one non Christian in my two years here. It’s rude to ask someone if they believe in Christ here because everyone does and it is just ingrained in them. Also people in the states, who are ignorant to say the least, think that Mormons are not Christians. But here, more people know more about Mormons and so everyone knows Mormons are Christians and believe in Christ and the bible and such. So people just overall know more about Mormons because religion is a very open discussion topic here. People love to talk about religion and Christ because everyone believes so strongly in Him. Also Mexicans are much more family oriented and have huge families and so if someone has a Mormon member of their family, they know a little about the church. So that is why we have so many investigators and people here are baptized quicker here. To be honest they are far more humble and they have a strong faith in Christ to begin with, two things which are much more rare to come across in a person in the states.

Sorry if it sounds like I am bagging on Americans... I promise I’m not... I think they gain testimonies quicker because when they pray, they have that true intent to know and they truly have faith in Christ and know He will answer their prayers. All of which is necessary to receive an answer. When we teach people that prayer is a two way communication with God and that they can have a personal relationship with Him, they love it. They are like that is how I always thought it should be! So because of this they receive an answer in their hearts, and once you know something in your heart through the Holy Spirit, you know it more than anything in the world. It has little to do with what we teach, and everything to do with our investigators desire to pray with humility and faith. God does love us and truly cares about us and our lives and I know that he WILL answer our prayers. When we ask with true intent, faith, and humility He will answer our prayers. I know it because I see it every day in my life and I see it every day in our investigators lives. It is EXTREMELY obvious whether our investigator has really prayed and asked God for themselves or not. So yeah Danielle, that is why people tend to get baptized quicker here... Oh and they stay active because we visit our converts a lot and the wards are extremely good at involving our converts. They are all so excited when we have a baptism because they know how the gospel has blessed their lives and are so excited for our investigator to receive the same blessings in their lives. So they all some to the baptism and really include and befriend the new members because most of them were new members not to long ago. And the wards are smaller so everyone knows when we have investigators there and comes and welcomes them, well one of our wards is really good at this. So yeah, I think that’s about it for my response... let me know if you have more questions Danielle.
Oh and a bum came and told us he was Jesus the other day and was way crazy...Oh and I saw a lot more violent stuff happen this week. So that was sad. Like someone getting thrown off a bus by a couple guys. It was sad, but it didn’t even phase my comp! He is like used to it! Mexico is Nuts! There are just so many things in a day that are SO different from US lives... Oh and I learned about cock fighting this week too, there is a lot of it here. It’s really bloody and sad... I didn’t like it much at all.... Sorry I do not have more time I love you all so very much! I can’t wait to hear from you!
Elder Andrew Davidson

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