Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas with the Crazy People of Iowa

Hey there!  This week's been a weird/great one for sure but I loved every minute... well maybe not Christmas Eve's dinner but besides that it was great!

Christmas Eve's dinner...

Christmas Eve's dinner...
Christmas Eve, we went over to Presidente Lagunas house and had dinner with his whole family.  The people were great, the weather outside was a nice and warm 15 degrees, and the food was...special.  I knew coming out on my mission that the food would be weird and I promised myself I would try anything that they put in front of me... but when they plopped the giant goat stomach on the table, I started having second thoughts.  They told us they emptied the stomach and intestines of the goat (which they killed themselves in their basement) and then put the intestines and the blood back in the stomach and cooked it like that.  It was easily the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten but I did it!  Soooo gross.   
Christmas Eve Pajamas (They're amazing by the way, thank you!)
After that the ZL's came over with all their presents and slept over so we could open them all together Christmas morning.  
All the stuff I got

My presents :)

Cheesy matching hats.

Thank you so much for all the presents!  I loved every single one of them, including my own 1/2 eaten jar of nutella from home :)    Skyping home was easily the best present of all though.  You guys looked so happy and I was so glad to see your faces!  

Now let me tell you about what's been going on since Wednesday!  Elder Juan's had a mix of super bad back pain and some kind of sickness so he's been out of commission for about 3 days.  We go to work for about 2 hours and then he can't even walk anymore so we get a ride from the other Elders home and he goes to bed.  The doctor also gave him this really strong muscle relaxant for his back which just knocks him right out so I've been doing a lot of studying lately.    I learned something really cool this week though that I want to share with you :)  In Matthew 28:19, in English it says, "Go and teach all nations..."  but in the Spanish version it says (translated) "Go and make disciples of all nations..."  That's so cool!  That's really what all of us 80,000+ missionaries are out trying to do!  We're not just trying to teach a few lessons to people and dunk them into some water and hope for the best after that,  we're out to teach people the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ  and help them to increase the faith they already have unto repentance, baptism by immersion, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end, and become a true disciple of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I love being a missionary :)
Elder Juan during one of his naptimes.  He was only half awake in his drug-induced state so I said, "Hey Elder Juan, do you want Scott Thompson (The stuffed animal he recieved as a Christmas Present from Sisters Scott and Thompson)?"  and he said "mmmm" so I took that as a Yes, got it for him, and he cuddled right up to it :)  He was really confused when he woke up.  

Last cool story is about Javier.  Javier is Presidente Lagunas less-active nephew.  We started talking to him and inviting him out to things like Basketball with the Elders on P day and the Branch Christmas Party and he comes everytime!  We finally sat down and talked with him a few weeks ago and he said he really wants to turn his life around.  He's come to church 3 weeks in a row now, reads in the Book of Mormon everyday, and is now working towards getting the Priesthood and hopefully a mission when he turns 18 next year!   I love the kid.  He's like our best friend now :)
My First Cornfield :)

Anyways thats all I got!  Love you! 

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day Skype (post written by Mom)

Elder Paddock on Skype
We got to Skype with Elder Paddock on Christmas Day for about 47 minutes.  It was our favorite Christmas present, just getting to see his face and hear his voice!  He is so happy to be on a mission.  He is learning so much!  He has gained 20 lbs, but that just means he's been eating and not been too sick, so that's good.

He shared lots of little tidbits of information:
He told us that he lives in a duplex, he & Elder Juan have the upstairs unit and a lady lives downstairs.   They are supposed to exercise for 30 minutes a day, but he's not sure how to do that without a pool and without bothering the lady downstairs. They share a car with some other Elders who have it most of the time because they live outside of their assigned area and need the car to drive the 10 miles to their area.  They buy their groceries at Wal-Mart.  They each get $145/mo for groceries.  Last week they were down to just some cereal and PB&J's.  They were looking forward to grocery shopping day.  He is learning about budgeting.  He said they get fed by members or investigators about 3 times a week.  He likes that even though some of the food is "interesting".  He told me to feed the missionaries here.  He likes a little Mexican restaurant down the street.  He gets something that he described like a sandwich,  tortilla on bottom, beans, cheese, tortilla on top.  I can't remember what he called it, but he really enjoys those.

He was really thankful for all of the packages and cards he got from everybody for Christmas.  He said he got 8 new ties, some yummy fudge, and some random fun things.  Thanks for remembering my frozen missionary this Christmas!

He was just so happy about everything.  Not one complaint.  We loved talking to him!  We are so glad he's happy & healthy & serving the Lord and we look forward to hearing his voice again on Mother's Day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas!!  I love you guys!
 Lots of love from your frozen missionary,
Elder Zachary Ashden Paddock

Hi there!
This week's been rough but we've had some awesome experiences!  Our time is shortened today since we're skyping on Wednesday, so I'll only share my favorite one :)

We were walking around, trying to figure out which of our 40 something Potential Investigators we could go visit and decided to go see a guy named Pablo who lives pretty close to were we were.  We got to his house and, like all Spanish people, he let us in because he hates the cold and loves to talk about Christ.  We started talking to him and getting to know him better and while we're talking to him I look across the room and see a woman who looks pretty confused, so I started to talk to her.  Her name's Kimberly, and she doesn't speak any Spanish, which explains why she looked confused.  Her and I started talking and we finally started talking about Religion and what she believes.  She said, "I don't usually like to share my beliefs because people think I'm weird."  At this point I got super interested and said, "Ok. Lets do something.  You tell me your beliefs and I'll share with you ours."  She was pretty open to the idea and started talking.  While she was talking I was genuinely shocked by everything she was saying.  It was all true doctrine!  She was saying our beliefs before I even had the chance to talk about what they were!  She believes that we have a loving Heavenly Father, that Prophets need to be called by Him, and that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way to return to live with Him again.  The part that floored me though was when she was talking about her friend that had passed away.  She said, "I believe that since he didn't get the chance to learn about Christ or the Gospel or anything that Christ is going to go visit and teach him personally so that he can learn."  And this point I still hadn't said anything about our church, just listened and when she stopped talking I just looked at her and said, "Are you sure you've never talked with a Mormon before today?"  to which she replied, "No.  Why?"  and when I told her that we also believe all those things she got so happy and just was ready to learn more.  She soaked up the message of the Restoration like a sponge!  She got so excited about the Book of Mormon that she said she was going to read the whole thing and share it with her friends at work!  It was so cool!  It was super weird teaching a lesson in English and even weirder teaching it without my companion because he was teaching Pablo in Spanish on the other side of the room but it was still such an amazing experience and I'm super excited to go talk to her again tonight :)

So yeah, thats the cool part of my week :)  Besides that, we haven't been able to teach a whole lot of other people.  No one seems to want to talk to us, but the people we are meeting with are great and I'm excited to be a part of their journey to the happiness they didn't know existed.  

Thank you for the Christmas package/Christmas Card.  I loved it :)  I'm going to get super fat off all the delicious fudge from Tammy though but Elder Juan and I are always grateful for snacks that we don't have to buy ourselves :)  Thank you for everything.  

I've got homework for you though :)  This week we also had Zone Conference and the focus of the whole thing is noticing the Atonement in our lives.  This week I'm challenging you to study the Atonement.  There's great talks from the Prophets and Apostles online at and the Scriptures are full of all the information we could ever get!  There's great chapters in 2 Nephi 9 and Alma 7 and Matthew 11:28-30 just for starters :)  I've really enjoyed studying it this month.  I know that Christ loves us and He is there for us in every aspect of our lives.  All we have to do is turn to Him.  

Christmas Zone Conference
Christmas Zone Conference
I love you and I'm super excited to Skype with you on Wednesday!  Elder Juan says that I'll just call your phone first and tell you I'm on.  I don't know when yet so just be prepared all day :)    Love you!

Elder Zack

PS Can someone PLEASE explain Iowa Weather to me?!  One day its 10 degrees and the next its 55 and now its -3 outside.  I'm confused. 
Weather changes

PPS Turns out Guatemalan's cut hair pretty good!
 and when the Guatemalan is your companion, its free!
Companionship trust exercise

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Una Vez, Fue Dos Changos..."

Shoveling snow for the first time
Hi there!  
This week's been great!  My little Guatemalan companion and I are doing great as well!  We're struggling to find people to teach since 65% of those 23 people we found last week "weren't home" or straight up told us not to come back, BUT the one's that do like us and listen are great!  I really feel like we found a few people who've been prepared by the Lord to listen to His message of the Restored Gospel!  Ok fine we only found 2-3 Spanish people who are prepared and a whole lot of people for the English missionaries but hey, every soul is great in the eyes of God, right? :)  

Knocking doors all day with Elder Juan is great!  We've started this new thing where we just make up stories in Spanish while we're walking.  They always start with, "Una vez..." (one time), and end with "y entonces, ellos fueron bautizado."  (and then they were baptized).  It makes walking in the 10 degree weather and the snow slightly more tolerable :)

This week we had the awesome opportunity to have a mission-wide Spanish Conference where all the 30ish Spanish missionaries met in Omaha to recieve training and other good stuff.  It was so cool to be around all the other people in the mission who are struggling through a language barrier like I do!  It's nice to know you're not alone.  During one of the training sessions, Bishop Spangler (the Bishop for the Omaha Spanish Ward) said something that really stuck out to me.  He pulled out some old beat-up shoes and said, "These shoes symbolize my mission to me.  They were the last pair I owned during my 2 years in Argentina.  They symbolize the work I put into my mission and the blessings I've received since. You only have two years to dedicate yourself fully to the Lord.  Let your work be a symbol of your time here.  Let you're work be a symbol of who you are."  And I just sat back and thought, "Well ok.  Lets get to work."  At the end of these two years I want to look back and be proud of what I've accomplished and see how its a symbol for the way I am.  I think Elder Juan is getting tired of me because all I want to do is work and get out and start finding people who are prepared for us instead of doing the 12 Week Training Program that we have to do everyday but its ok.  I think he's getting used to me now :)
Spanish Conference
Elder Juan & Elder Paddock at the Spanish Conference
Back to those golden investigators really quick.  We were walking around, about to go home, when I thought, "Hey!  We should knock two more doors."  So we did, and we met a lady named Martha.  She was super nice and happy to see us and was really excited to talk to us, and best of all, she's hispanic so we don't have to turn her over to the English missionaries!   When we met with her, she soaked everything, asked questions, and even applied it to herself!  It was amazing.  At the end, the Spirit was so strong, we couldn't help but invite her to be baptized.  SHE SAID YES!!  We commited her to the the 25th of January (She has to come to Church 3 times first and can't until January)!!  I'm so excited to meet with her again this week.
Celebrating after visiting Martha by cooking Spaghetti.
Elder Juan's Selfie

Lastly, I found an "Application to Date a Return Missionary From the Nebraska Omaha Mission"  the other day.  I'll make a copy and send it home so you can hand them out in a 22ish months for me :)  It's pretty much the greatest thing I've read.

Anyways that's all I've got this week!  Glad to hear you're all doing great!  I love you!  

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack  
Quality Sign we see walking every day

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Besides getting food poisoning, freezing my tail off, and almost dying a couple of times, this week was great!

Me with some sign we found.

Elder Juan
Hi there!  Sorry I didn't get to email yesterday.  The website wasn't working and so we decided to come back today and give it a shot!  I left the library yesterday thinking, "Oh man.  Mom's probably going to flip when she doesn't see an email tonight."  So yeah, I'm great.  Don't worry :)

Besides getting food poisoning, freezing my tail off, and almost dying a couple of times, this week was great!  I'll get to that stuff letter but first off guess what!    Because of how hard we worked last week, we ended up finding 23 Spanish people willing to listen to us!  We found a couple more awesome white people too, but we had to turn them over to the English missionaries...  

Today was so warm!  It was a blistering 15 degrees!  These past few days have been dropping below 0 pretty consistently because of the wind here ( -14 the other day with the wind chill)  so I've been really grateful to have two things:
 1. My giant warm jacket from the Abbotts and 
 2. A companion who complains about the cold as much as I do.  It makes it really entertaining to go hiking through the cold as he starts making up songs about how "its so cold and the people should let us in because the little Guatemalan missionary and his gringo companion are going to die".  
The weather when we got back to our car after a couple hours of walking

This week I also learned that I'm not a huge fan of white people, at least not while we're knocking doors.   The Hispanics hate the cold more than we do so they almost always say, "Por Favor, pasan."   (Please come in) while the white people just say, "Get off my porch."  Its a lot of fun :)  I love being a missionary.  

Guess what I tried this week!  One of the members in our branch brought me a bowl of soup but didn't tell me what it was and sat there staring at me until I had finished it... turns out the little weird chunks of meat were cow stomach...  The soup wasn't half bad.  But it also wasn't half great.  Elder Juan just about died from laughing when he told me what was in it because apparently my face was priceless.  Also during that meal, the member asked how I wanted my eggs, and not knowing how to say how I liked them in Spanish, I just told her I'd have them like Elder Juan had his.  However, apparently Elder Juan likes his eggs almost raw so I woke up the next morning super sick and couldn't leave my bed until around 10:30 because I was so weak.  Elder Juan and the Zone Leaders gave me a blessing though which gave me the strength I needed to get out and work.  I still couldn't eat a lot though (which offends the Hispanics that make the food you eat) so when we were at the house of another member for dinner that night, she made me some nasty alkaseltzer apple juice medicine mix that she said would help.  I figured, "Well heck, if I can eat cow stomach, I can drink this too."  It was awful.  But it helped a lot!  I'll have to get the recipe from her so I can send it to you :)
Sunsets here... amazing :)

Last story of the week.  We met this guy named Maynor this week who knows the Bible and believes in it more than anyone I've ever met.  He let us in and we got to talking to him about his beliefs and about our beliefs and the whole time he was just trying to contradict us with the Bible.  It was so much fun.  It was great to see his face when we would prove our points using the Bible and explain how it made sense.  When we got to talking about the Book of Mormon and inviting him to read it, he just said, " I can tell you guys are representatives of Christ.  I'll read your book.  If I pray about it and feel its good, I'll keep reading.  If not, its going in the trash."  All I said was, "Please do."  After which I followed up with my testimony of how I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true.  That its another testimony of Jesus Christ and that it contains His full and complete Gospel.  I know that if he reads it and prays, that he too will know that its true.  I'm really excited to meet with him again tomorrow :)

Anyways this weeks been great!  I love you all!  Thank you for your love and support.  Have a great week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

Quick Story:
This is the quick little story of two missionaries with a broken dishwasher.  We didn't know the dishwasher was broken.  We loaded it.   We started it.  We started our studies in a different room.... we came back to this... 

the end.

Don't Steal Because Things Explode (letter from Elder Zack postmarked 3 December 2013)


Feel free to add these to the blog if you so wish :)

Hi there!  I don't have a lot of time to email anymore so I don't have a lot of time to share some of the cool experiences that I'm having out here or the funny moments.  So I might be sending home a few more letters then you guys are used to :).

Cool experience #1:
When we first got here, we met with President Weston as a "get-to-know-you" interview so he could receive inspiration for who to be our Trainers and where we should serve.  During my interview he asked me why I decided to serve and I told him, "I'm here because I love the Lord, and I know he loves me and everyone else in the world.  I know he wants all His brothers & sisters, our brothers & sisters, to be able to receive the Gospel and to enjoy the blessings that come from it.  I know he's prepared people specifically for me, even though I don't know where they are or who they are, I know that they're prepared for me."

And he said, " I know where they are."  And I was just kind of floored and got really curious to know where I was going to be assigned.  I guess Sioux City, Iowa is the place for me for now and I'm excited to start the work here!

Second Experience:
Saturday we went shopping because the house we moved into is new for missionaries so it had no leftover food from the last missionaries.  As we're walking back to the car, I look in the cart and see a gallon of milk that I know I didn't buy.  So I asked the other Elders if they bought it and they said, "no Elder Paddock.  You were supposed to..."
Awesome.  So in a hurry to repair the commandment I'd broken, I grabbed the carton, grabbed my companion, and started running.  But in the hurry, I dropped the milk causing it to explode all over the street, all over cars, and all over me...
Lesson learned:  Don't steal because then things explode and you look like a milk covered idiot walking back in the store to buy a couple of pieces of an exploded milk carton...

Anyways things out here are going great!  We Can't have ipods or mp3's so if you could send me copies of all the church/EFY cd's that we have that'd be great!  Not that I don't love Elder Juan's Spanish Christian music... I just could use something normal :).  And if you can find Spanish Hymns too, that'd be amazing.

I love you guys so much!  I hope you have an amazing week!  President Weston says to just send all the letters to the Mission Office (something something Martha Street in Omaha) just to avoid confusion and then they'll forward them from there.  I love you!  Can't wait to hear from you in a week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Paddock

Letter from President Weston dated 3 December 2013

Pres Michael D. Weston, Elder Zachary A. Paddock, Sister Zoe Weston

Mom note: We got a letter from Zack's mission president, President Michael D. Weston, saying that he had arrived safely in Omaha and that he was eager to get to work.  He has been assigned to serve in the Sioux City 3rd SP #2 area of the Sioux City Zone.  His trainer is Elder Higinio D. Juan.  He included these 2 photos.
Elder Paddock in Omaha Nebraska (2nd row, 3rd missionary)

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Here!

Nebraska out the plane.  So flat!
I'm here!!  I'm loving being back in the States!  I miss Mexico like crazy though... everything is so quiet and boring here BUT the water is clear and not gray and the sky is blue and not nasty colored so thats nice! 
Let me tell you about my trip here!  We got up at 2:30 AM and got on a bus to the Mexico airport were we waited for a couple hours, called home (which was lovely by the way!  It was so great to hear your voices!), and sat around.  While one of the Elders in our Tri-panionship was on the phone, the other Elder and I went to the M&M store across the hall where we could still see him but give him his privacy.  All of a sudden I felt this impression like I should talk to the Mexicana lady working at the counter, so I struck up a conversation and we talked for a little bit.  Then she asked why in the world I would go to Nebraska from Mexico so I told her a little bit about how I'm serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She'd only heard a little about our church so I asked if we could share a quick message with her, which she agreed to.  We were able to teach her all about the Book of Mormon and give her a copy to read!  SO cool!  (Random side note: I'm pretty sure sher threw it away right as we walked away but at least we gave her the chance, right?  She can use her agency however she wishes, we're just giving her an option)  After that I was super excited to be able to share the message of the Restored Gospel with Anyone, so on the plane ride over to Dallas, the same sort of situation happened with the guy I was sitting next to.  His name was Victor and he said he was "Super Catholic" but he agreed to listen to the message I had. During our three hour flight, I was able to teach him and talk with him about everything in the first lesson and invite him to read the Book of Mormon! (which he started to do on the plane!)
Want to know the coolest part for me?  All that was in Spanish!  I just somehow knew the words to say and was able to just share the message of Christ's restored church without much difficulty with the language!  6 weeks in Mexico really paid off I guess!    The only problem with all that Spanish though was when we got to the US, all we knew how to speak was Spanish and English was really hard for us!  People looked at us pretty funny because we're just talking Spanish to them and they had no idea what we're saying.  It was great! 
Cool sign we found by the temple. 

The Winter Quarters Temple.  We missed fall by two days
I heard but I was able to get this picture!   Its a beautiful building :)

My Mission President is great!  President and Sister Weston are probably some of the nicest people I've ever met in my life.  They're nice and geniune and care for each of the 250 missionaries in the Nebraska Omaha Mission.   They're fantastic   
Mission Office
Thanksgiving was great!  We went to the Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters (Which is amazing by the way!)  and they had a full on feast for us!  It was amazing.  I forgot how good American food is. 
The next day we found out who our companions are and where we're serving.  Just so you know, there's only 30 Spanish missionaries (24 Elderes, 6 Hermanas) in NOM and so I was worried I'd be English speaking... but I'm not!  My companion is Elder Juan.  He's originally from Guatemala but has lived in Kansas and Manti for the past 5 years.  Fun fact: His first language wasn't Spanish... or English... It was Mayan!  I didn't even know that was still around!  It sounds funny and I don't understand any of it so he doesn't speak it a lot.  He told me he didn't know hardly any English when he got out here though so he's been doing a lot better.  During language study, he studies English while I study Spanish.  Its a lot of fun!  He's probably one of the funniest guys I've ever met.  President Weston has assigned us to open up a new area in Sioux City, Iowa so thats where we are now!  I've heard that the Sioux City missionaries get super fat during they're time here because the members love us so much.  That'll be fun!  Maybe my jacket will actually fit!      
Elder Juan and I
Sioux city water tower.

Its not too cold yet.  There's already snow on the ground and we wear our suits all day but I'm not dying yet.  Give it a few more days and I'll be pretty cold I think.   
Thank you so much for the packages!  They made my day!  I'll try to find time to respond to those letters but if I don't, try not to be offended.  We're super busy opening up this area and finding people to teach :) 
Thank you for the Christmas box :) 
We already hung up our "tree" :)
Last thing, Tracting is super fun!  I like it a lot!  Maybe its because my little Guatemalan companion is super funny but last night (our first night knocking doors) was amazingly fun.   We met all sorts of people: White, black, hispanic, muslim, catholic, baptist, etc. you name it!   And thats just within a mile of our house since we don't have a car!    Whats really funny is when you knock on a door, they come out, see who we are, and shut the door again and turn off the lights like they're not home.  That happened three times and each time Elder Juan will just yell in his funny accent, "OK you have a good night!"   and then we'd just laugh and walk away.    We ended up finding 10 people to teach!  Its going to be fun going to talk to them this week.   
Thats all I have time for this week!  We only have an hour on the computers in NOM so I don't have a whole lot of time for anything.  I love you all so much!  Thank you for your love and support! 
Lots of love,
Elder Zack