Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fun Stories I Haven't Shared For Some Reason...

Passing on the Provecho to District C.
 I'll have to explain that another time... ask me in 2 years :)
Hey there!  We've got tons of left over time so we get to email again!  I was thinking about it there other day and realized that my emails home have been missing something... the funny stories!    I'll only share two because I'm short on time, but I've really been having the best time here every single day!  

The first one started the first day we got here.  Our bathroom is a little special.  Someone thought they were funny, or they were just on the toilet for a long time, and scratched off the lining on the window of the stall so that you can perfectly see through, making the stall door useless basically.  As you can see from the picture,  the whole is probably in the most awkward spot possible.  SO to fix this problem, we came up with the best solution we could think of.  We took a piece of paper and taped it in front of the whole.  Then Elder Bergivin got the brilliant idea of taking a pen into the bathroom with him and the paper turned into little drawings of artwork while you did your business.  Pretty much the best idea we've ever had.   
The toilet problem...

The toilet solution!

The toilet solution!
Second quick story.  Both Elder Meidell and I have been super sick lately and at one time, he had pink eye and I had a sinus infection.  We were supposed to take medicine every six hours and he decided he was going to be super strict about that rule and wake up at 3 AM to put more drops in.   I was not aware that he was getting up at 3 so when his alarm went off, I rolled out of bed and started saying my morning prayer.   Elder Meidell was so confused because he couldn't remember why he was supposed to get up or why I was praying at 3 AM.  He said that he just thought, "Should I be praying too?"   So he knelt down to pray too and then realized, "Oh Elder Paddock's just an idiot."   so he got back up and put in his drops and went back to sleep.  I finished my prayer got up, looked at the clock, laughed at myself a little, and went back to sleep.  I don't remember this, but He said at 5 he got up again to go to the bathroom, and I just kind of sat up, because I thought it was time to get up again, and he just said "nope"  and shoved me back into bed and I fell asleep with a "happy little smile".  

Oh!  Also this week, I learned that the word for "Pansy" en Español is "Pensamiento" :)  
Little dumb things like that make me think of home and smile. (Mom note:  Mason jokingly calls us "pansy" when we're being wimpy.) Elder Meidell looks at me funny though when I call him a Pensamiento (which also means " Thought") while he's complaining about something but I just smile and laugh to myself :)  

Anyways I've had the greatest time here over the last 6 weeks!  My testimony and my Spanish have grown so much and I can't wait to get out in the field tomorrow!  I leave the CCM at 2:30 AM  and get to hang out in the airport for 3 hours.  I think thats when I'll try to call home, but I also want to try to talk to people and share the Gospel or something missionary-like that can bless the lives of the people that are stuck with me until Dallas :)    I'm so excited!  

Love you!

Elder Zack

PS  The only thing that's helping me not get frustrated with packing is knowing that it all fit in here once and it can do it again... somehow.
Packing fun...
Mas Pajaritos.  I'm going to miss these noisy birds :)

This cool rock is a replica of a carving here in Mexico that shows
 Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life!  Pretty cool, eh?
Mom note:  Zack was able to call us from the Mexico City Airport at 4:20am this morning.  Mason, Meg & I loved hearing his voice! We got to talk for 20 minutes and then the call just suddenly ended. He sounded SO happy and eager to get out to Nebraska and get to work. He said he loves being a missionary.  There are 5 missionaries flying to Nebraska together. I'm glad he's not flying alone. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last week in the CCM!

Holy cow!  I can't believe that I leave in 6 days!  These past 36 days have flown by but I guess thats because of all the fun that I'm having every single day.  I love being a missionary!  I have really loved every single minute here.  There's been amazing moments and really hard ones but I've definitely learned something from each of them that's brought me happiness and has helped me in my journey to becoming the Missionary that the Lord wants me to be for the people of Nebraska :)  I'm feeling more and more ready each and every day! 

This week's been super cool!  Well.... except for the part where I had a cold and a sinus infection.  I had my first and hopefully last Spanish speaking doctor's appointment though!  The only thing I knew how to say when he asked what I was saying was, "Tengo duele en mi cabeza y cosas en mi nariz"  Which translates into I have a headache and things in my nose.   He just kind of looked at me like I was stupid and then slid some medicine across the table that I've been taking for the past few days.   Tuesday night was really bad though so I asked Elder Meidell and Elder Ogan and Elder Bergevin to give me a blessing.  Right after the blessing, I immediately felt two times better than I was feeling and my headache was gone. I love seeing the Priesthood power work :)  

Also Tuesday night, our Morning teacher Hermano May came running in and said he had a suprise for us and we needed to meet him in the Teacher's lounge at 6:45.   Remember our Investigator "Victor"?  That was Hermano May with a profile, but Tuesday night we had a Skype conversation with the REAL Victor!  He's a convert that Hermano May taught on his mission in North Carolina!  (Fun Fact: Hermano May's Trainer was Caleb Anderson from our ward and together taught Victor!)    It was soo cool to feel the love that Hermano May and Victor had for each other and how grateful Victor was for the missionaries knocking on his door.  I can't wait to feel that same kind of love with the people I'll teach in the next coming weeks :)
Hermano May & I
Speaking of Hermano May,  we had to say goodbye to both of our teachers this week because all the gringo teachers got sent back to the US because the Mexico teachers can handle it now with the huge decrease of missionaries coming in until January and also our other teacher, Hermano Villanueva is going to Columbia to see his "casi-novia" (almost girlfriend).  We're wishing them both luck with whatever their doing and we invited them both to our MTC District reunion in October 2015 :)  
Our district with our morning teachers Hermano Salvador and Hermano May.
IT's really crazy how close our District has gotten.  We're pretty much a group of 11 best friends by now and everything is always fun and entertaining when we're together.  It's going to be really weird our in the field to only be with my companion all day every day instead of with a group, but that's the pattern the Lord has set for missionary work,  "two by two" proclaiming the truthfulness of the Gospel everywhere we go!  I'm so excited to get out in the field but it'll definitely be hard to start saying goodbyes Sunday night.  We're all getting shipped off at different times between Monday at 2 AM and Wednesday at 11 AM.   We find out our for-sure flight plans tomorrow during In-Field Orientation.
 I don't know how to explain this one...  I just like it a lot :)

Our family picture with Hermano Villanueva

My district at the Temple in Mexico for the last time. 

The holiest place in Mexico City.  I love this temple.  Definitely in my top 3 :) 
Me and Elder Meidell with Elder Day and Elder Welch.
They're headed to St. George, so if you see them, feed them or something :)  

Look what I found!  If only we could've got off the bus for a few minutes... :)

Anyways that was my week!  I hope you're all doing great and having lots of fun together!  I love you all so much!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Thursday, November 14, 2013


¡Provecho! (translated: benefit, profit, advantage, gain, improvement, proficiency, progress, advancement,  Not sure which meaning Zack meant.  Possibly all of them.)

Hey there!
I can't believe that I've already been gone a month!  It's crazy!  Time flies when you're learning everyday and having lots of fun like this I guess!   
I've already been noticing some changes in myself since I left.  I didn't think it would happen this quickly but I guess I was wrong!  First off, I'm gaining weight.... I mean my 8 pack has dropped down to  6 pack now so I guess I need to start getting back in shape :) The only way I realize that I'm not getting super hefty is when I put on my sweaters/jacket that are way to big to me, look in the mirror, and think, "well we're not big enough for this to fit yet so that's a good sign!"  Second, my soccer skills are getting so much better.  Yesterday when we were playing,  my foot actually made contact with the ball!  Its OK if you're impressed just a little :)  Thirdly, there's moments throughout the day when I forget how to say some words in English!  Our District has a goal where every MondayWednesday, and Friday we speak nothing but Spanish until Dinner. Its helped me so much and has really helped a lot in lessons and given me a lot more confidence in my ability to speak.  And lastly, My testimony of the truthfulness of the restored and complete Gospel of Jesus Christ has been strengthened so much!  I thought my testimony was good before I came out, but since I've been here and begun to teach it and share it with the people here, it's become stronger than I ever thought was possible!  I love it!  

This week's been a little different than the others.  The Paradise that I thought the Mexico weather was decided to switch things up on us and dropped from 75 to 45 in one day.  It was crazy!  Everyone was taken off guard by it.  Because of this, my title of being the only one in our District not sick yet got taken away.  Tuesday I woke up with a super-stuffed nose, a super deep voice, and a really bad headache.   I popped some Dayquil and just kind of hoped for the best.  When it came time for gym time, we came back to our room to change and I just passed out on the bed.  An hour and a half later, I felt great!  Not completely healed but a whole lot better.  Elder Meidell wasn't too happy that I wasted gym time, but I was really grateful that he didn't wake me up until it was time for lunch.  Everyone in our district has been sick at one point or another since we got here.  I'm pretty sure its all the same thing and we're just continually passing it around.    

This week Elder Meidell and I really had to start being Zone Leaders.  When I say that, I don't mean that we were slacking off before, we just never had to do anything because our Zone's been awesome.  Friday night though, Elder Woods, the District Leader from District A, came and asked if he could talk to us.  District A showed up 2 weeks ago, but they haven't been improving or focused at all.  The Elders were acting like a bunch of high school students, and not the Representatives of Christ that they're supposed to be now.  Elder Woods just kind of broke down and told us how he just wants so badly for these Elders to be awesome missionaries and be ready for the field in a couple weeks.  He said he didn't know what to do to help them realize that.  Elder Meidell and I just looked at each other and knew we needed to go talk to them.  We went into their class during additional study time and began to talk them about being a representative of Jesus Christ.  While we were talking, 3 Nephi 5:13 popped in my head which says, "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."  I knew this was something they needed to understand so I had them all read it outloud, and while they were reading, the Spirit filled the room testifying to them that this is serious stuff we're doing right now.  There's no time to waste.    They've really improved since then and happy that through me and my companion, the Lord could help them to realize their calling.  I love being a Zone Leader! I felt kind of weird up in front of them, but if I found that if I picture the group I'm talking to as the swim team, it makes it a lot easier for me to talk to any group of people.  It doesn't make any sense but it works!

Last thing I realized is that pretending to be an Investigator is really hard for me.  Its really hard to look someone in the eye and pretend that I don't feel the things that we know in the church are true.  For example, the other day I was an investigator for Elder French and Elder Atkinson in our District, and my profile of my investigator didn't believe that God cared about them.  Saying that literally made a little bit sick to my stomach because I KNOW that He does care about each and everyone of us! My only regret from before coming out is that I didn't take the opportunity to share this message with the people in my life who don't know these things for themselves.  I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, restored to the Earth by God through a living prophet.  I know that anyone can know this is true by reading in the Book of Mormon and praying to our loving Heavenly Father to know for themselves.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission and to help people come to know for themselves about the truthfulness of this church.  I love you all!  Thank you for all your support and love.  I feel it everyday!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

We said goodbye to our Native roomates again on Sunday. 
Elder Valazquez and Elder Romero were two of the funniest
Hispanics we've met and they'll do great in Tijuana.

Our District poster.  Its parts of all of our Mission Plaque scriptures
 all put together into something that keeps us motivated on Mission Work.  

PS When you get a haircut here, you sit down and the lady just goes to work.  She doesn't ask you how you want it cut or anything and she doesn't speak ANY English so you just kind of have to hope for the best!  I sat down and the first thing she said was "Tiene mucho cabello" (You have a lot of hair).  She then proceed to fix that problem but cutting it all off.... Lots of fun!
Pre Hair Cut

Post Hair Cut

P Day ping pong while we did our laundry

Friday, November 8, 2013

Another week in the life of Elder Zack

Hi!!  Guess what!  My Spanish is starting to get good enough that I can start learning random words!  So I thought I'd share some with you that I learned this week:
  1. Cuetes - Fireworks (Had to learn because of the explosions keeping us up at night)
  2. Cohete - Spaceship.  I'll probably never end up using it but its still fun to know!
  3. ¡Oh Chispas! - Oh Sparks!  Basically the way to say "dangit" in Spanish.  Easily my favorite spanish phrase :)
  4. and lastly, Incómodo - Awkward.   
I also found out that one of the Native Speakers that we eat with was a swimmer!  He taught me "Mariposa", "Cotín", and "Kroll" (Fly, Back, Free).  It was so nice to be able to talk to someone about something I know instead of Soccer 24/7!

Last Thursday, after I got off the computer, Our District had our own little Dia de las Brujas party where we all brought all the candy that our moms had packed secretly in our bags and ate all of it and played volleyball for 3 hours.  I was definitely one happy missionary that day.  I also found out about these type of Mexican cookies called Chokies that are AMAZING!  (That's where my money's been going, Mom).  Between me and my companion we eat at least one pack a day because they're sooo good :)  Its no wonder I'm getting fat here because all we do is eat, sit, teach and study all day.  Its great :)
  1. A very Happy CCM Halloween

Speaking of my companion, him and I are practically best friends now.  It took us a while because we're so different but now we're doing awesome!  Our lessons have definitely benefit from it too!  Our "Comp Unity" is really working and we're starting to be able to just know what each other is thinking and be able to build on it.  It's really great!  
  1. Chokies!  Our new favorite Mexican food :)

  1. Sleeping Elder Meidell on the bus.... He still doesn't know I took this :)

This week's been awesome!  My testimony of the Truthfulness of the Book of Mormon has really been strengthened through studying the words throughout the chapters and prayerfully searching for the answers to my questions.  Reading it has also been an answer to my prayers for help.  For example, I was reading in 1 Nephi chapter 17 on Friday and I was really feeling like I was not progressing and everything was really hard all the time, but as I was reading in that chapter, in verse 46 it says something along the lines of "He (meaning the Lord) can make the rough places smooth, and all of  a sudden I knew that I needed to stop worrying and put my trust in the Lord and he would help my "rough places", or in other words, my struggles to be able to become smooth and through putting my faith in Him and trusting in Him, I can become the missionary that He needs me to be so I can effectively invite the people in Nebraska to come unto Christ.  Such a cool experience and many more have happened throughout the week!  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it contains the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know, like it says in the Introduction, that a person can grow closer to God by reading the Book of Mormon than by reading any other book.  I know it.

Second cool experience!  Last Sunday during Sacrament Meeting, the Branch President invited all of us to get up and bear our testimony in Spanish.  I was nervous as ever, but when I got up to bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the things that I know to be true, the Spanish just flowed out of me and I was able to share what I know with my branch.  President Suaste, the Branch President, said that my Spanish was completely fluent and he was really really impressed with my progress! I know that was only possible through the Holy Ghost helping me and guiding my thoughts and my words throughout my testimony.  
My Spanish is getting a lot better!  I improve everyday!  I'm able to have full conversations with our Native roommates now every night with conversations ranging from Temples to Super Smash Bros!   
Crazy experience right here, you ready?  The other day we were teaching one of our investigators, Raul, and right when we're about to start our lesson, he falls asleep right there in the chair!  So we wake him up and ask him whats going on and find out he was just up until 3 AM talking to his girlfriend on the phone.... so we walked around the CCM campus while we taught him so he could stay awake!  Definitely the most fun lesson we've taught yet!

Two more things:  Today we got to go to the Temple again!  Have I mentioned how amazing it is?!  Its also so big that they have escalators inside!  Two of my favorite things in the same building: The Everlasting Gospel and stairs that move so you don't have to!  On a more serious note though, it was truly amazing and helped me to keep focused on my work here in the CCM and help prepare me for the work to come in Nebraska.  I love the temple!
  1. Me and the temple sign :)

  1. District 13B on the bus from the temple}
  1. A tiny part of Mexico City from a bus window

Last thing.  On Tuesday we had a devotional with Elder Daniel Johnson of the Quorum of the Seventy and he talked all about how important it is for our investigators to know that God is our Loving Heavenly Father (PMG, Chapter 3, Lesson 1, First Principle).  He said that our church is the only church in the world that knows the truthfulness about our Father in Heaven and a lot of us just kind of take that for granted since we've grown up with that knowledge that we forget that not everyone knows it.  He reminded us that when the people we teach gain a testimony of this doctrine, that they'll want to just continue learning and be willing to change anything so that they can grow closer to Him.  Lastly he said that in order for us to teach this principle with the power and authority that it deserves, we first need to strengthen our own testimony of it.  He invited us to ask 5 questions in our prayers that night and he promised us that we'd receive answers.  These were the questions:
  1. Heavenly Father, are you really there?
  2. Do you really have a body of flesh and bones?
  3. Do you know who I am?
  4. Do you know all about my trials, my strengths, my talents, and my challenges?
  5. Do you love me?
I challenge you to ask these questions in your prayers tonight.  I promise you that you can know for yourself that He does know, love, and care about each and every one of us.  I know that we do, in reality, have a loving Heavenly Father and that he knows each of us individually and personally and that He wants us to return to live with Him more than we could ever realize.  I know this Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that it is the way to back to Him, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all so much!  I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for being placed in such an amazing family.  Love you!

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

One more Thing!
I realized I forgot to share my favorite moment of the week.
We were teaching a lesson to our Investigator Victor and we focused our time on really getting to know Victor better and understand what he needs and why he was meeting with us.  At the end of our lesson, out of no where, I got the feeling I needed to ask about Faith.  So I asked him, "Victor, do you have faith in Jesus Christ."  And he said, "I have a little."  And at that moment I just bore my testimony that I know that even a little bit of faith in Jesus Christ can work miracles if we let it grow inside us.  I then committed him to read Alma 32, without even knowing fully what Alma 32 was about!  We walked out of that lesson feeling the Spirit so strongly and not entirely knowing why I had said what I'd said, but we knew it was good.

In my personal Study the next day, I read Alma 32 to kind of try and understand why I asked him to read that.  Alma 32 talks all about how Faith is like a little seed, and if we let it grow in our hearts it can sprout into a "tree" with many "fruits".  It also talks about how when we Humbly seek having faith in Christ, that even the desire to believe is a good place to start.  I was floored.  I was so taken aback and so filled with the Spirit that I teared up a little, which is something that doesn't usually happen to me.  This Mission thing's made me into a big ol' softy I guess :)  It was crazy how much it applied to Victor and I'm so excited to find out if he read it or not in our next lesson!  

Thats all!
Love you!

Elder Zachary Paddock
  1. The closest thing to a sunrise in Mexico City

A very happy missionary with a letter from his momma :)
  1. My new tiny journal for writing new words in.  I saw it in the store and knew I had to buy it :)

  1. My computer screen saver at the MTC :)
    St. George temple with the weather for St. George, Mexico City, and Omaha.  Notice how much colder Omaha is than the paradise I'm in right now :)  Its 70-80 degrees all day every day here!  I love that Mexico doesn't know its supposed to be cold right now!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Many Mighty Miracles

Hey!  Happy Dia de las Brujas!! (Its called Day of the Witches in Mexico)

This week has been absolutely AMAZING!  Let me start out by telling you some fun facts I've learned these past two weeks!

  1. There's a giant gold statue of some super buff guy flexing right outside the MTC.  Everytime I see it I think of Mitch Hutch and just laugh a little :)

    the classy giant statue
  2. The Cheetos here are soooo much better than American cheetos!  They've got some kind of zing to them that just makes them so much better! 
    Mexican cheeto goodness from heaven
  3. We literally have some kind of mystery meat, beans, rice (or noodles), and tortillas every day for lunch along with some weird Mexican desert.  Some times the lunch is really good... and some days I just look forward to Pizza night on Tuesdays.  It's all you can eat though so thats nice!  I'm pretty sure they're just trying to fatten us up so the chairs we sit in all day don't hurt as much.
    lunch everyday
  4. Sick companions/Districts aren't nearly as much fun as healthy ones.  Elder Meidell and pretty much the rest of our District (Except me!) have been sick all week.  Elder Meidell has had some nasty kind of head gross-ness so he's been kind of ornery these past few days.
  5. Every couple of minutes in Mexico city, someone sets off a firework!  We've been trying to figure it out by talking to the Missionaries from here and we've narrowed it down to two reasons:  The Catholic church celbrates a different Sain everyday with fireworks throughout the day, or People write their sins on pieces of paper and attach them to fireworks as a sort of Repentance type thing...  We got used to it our second week here so its really fun to watch all the new kids jump when one goes off :)
  6. We pray like 40 times a day here!  Its great!
  7. Spanish Hymns are so much more beautiful, even though a lot of the Hispanics I've been singing them with are tone-deaf... Super quick story: For Sacrament meeting last week, a group of all the District leaders in our Zone, Elder Meidell and I (ZL's) and a few other people guys who are just talented, got together and sang "Señor Te Necisito" (I need thee every hour)  and it actually sounded pretty good!  
This week has had some really awesome experiences too!  I've learned sooo much and I want to share 4 of these experiences with you :)

Like I said earlier, my compañero has been pretty sick this week so Saturday night I asked him if he wanted a blessing.  He said he'd love one, so when we got back to the classroom to study for 3 hours after dinner, I had the opportunity to give him one.  I'd never done it before so I was kind of nervous, but since Saturday night, his health has improved rapidly and He's back to his normal, ready-to-go self!  I love seeing the Priesthood of God work in people's lives!

Next experience was actually the day before that, so last Friday.  I was really struggling with Spanish and getting really frustrated that I wasn't able to say what I wanted to say and I KNEW that those were not the feelings that would help me improve in any aspect of missionary work.  So I knelt down and prayed harder than I ever remember praying in my life and asked my loving Father in Heaven to help me through this and to help me feel peace.  IMMEDIATELY I felt his love surround me and I knew everything would work out if Ikept my head up and my faith strong and got back to work learning. IMMEDIATELY I knew that He was wathcing over me and that He cares about me and everyone else on this Earth.  IMMEDIATELY!   Such an amazing feeling and I hope and pray I never forget it.

Next experience involved being frustrated with Spanish as well... Its kind of a re-occurring problem these past two weeks.   I was in class learning how to teach a lesson and our teacher only knows a few words in English, so he was just rattling off Spanish and I had no idea what was going on.   I was understanding nothing.  So again, I said a little prayer to help me know how  to understand better and how I can change whatever I'm doing wrong so I can learn faster.  IMMEDIATELY I remembered something Elder Meidell told me.  He told me I needed to stop translating everything into English in my head... but being the stubborn person I am, I told him there's no way that would work.  But there I was in that lesson, having no idea what was going on and I decided to humble myself a little and try it.  As soon as I began to listen with my hear and not with my mind, the entire lesson began to make sense and I understood almost everything!  Sometimes I hate when my companion is always right, but I'm incredibly grateful for that prompting from the Spirit.

My last super neat experience was actually just in these last two days.  Tuesday night after we taught one our "investigadors" (who was actually the teacher I previously mentioned) I asked him what I can do so that I can know what to say in the lessons to help the investigator understand things more and be able to apply in to them.  He told me he'd think about it and get back to me the next day.  Yesterday he in class, right before it was our turn to teach him again, he told me to read in Preach My Gospel on page 185 under the paragraph titled "Listen".  The whole paragraph was exactly what I needed to help me help the investigators!  It talked about how if I just sit back and pay close attention to what they're saying and not worry about what I'm supposed to say next, that through the Holy Ghost, I will know exactly what to say.  I tried this with our lesson with "Raul" and everything worked soooo much better!  Suddenly I knew twice as much Spanish as I had in previous lessons and was able to teach probably more than half the lesson (compared to the 2-3 sentences I've said in the past) and we were able to teach as a companionship and apply it to Raul's needs.   

I know that without a shadow of a doubt that our loving Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.  I know that he cares about each and every one of His children on the Earth.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share this happy message as a missionary°  I love all of you and I know that without you, I wouldn't be where I am today, having the time of my life and sharing the message of theGospel that's brought me so mcuh peace and joy and happiness into my life each and every single day. 
I love you! and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

The native speaking roomates we had, Elder Cabaña and Elder Palmas.
 They were only here for 2 weeks since they already know the language.
There's three rooms in our dorm.  Me and Elder Meidel,
 Elder Ogan and Bergeven, and the two native speakers.
The other four guys in 308A.

The view outside our dorm.
Elder Ogan drew this lovely piece of art of the 8 guys in our District.
 I'm the far left... I think.

Me with the sign.
The flag and the B.