Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"We thought it was a boy..."

So lots of Good News!  I'm still in Sioux City!  I'm also still with Elder Juan!  Also none of our District Changed!  And the best part... I'm done with Training!   I'm like a normal missionary now!  
Lots of weird stuff happened this week.  I'm really starting to realize just how weird and random Sioux City is.  There's people from everywhere here.  For example we're teaching people from Cuba, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and a couple other countries that I can't think of right now.  I love the diversity!  I'm learning all sorts of different cultures!   I love being a Spanish Missionary! 
The Spanish Elders with Javier and our Branch President
To give you an update on our favorite Investigator, Martha:  She's doing awesome!  We met with her on Saturday and she said she cancels everything on the nights that we're coming to meet with her so that she can focus on our message.  She told us she loves how everything we're saying makes sense. She talked to her friends about what they believe and she said nothing of what they were saying made sense.... and then she opened up the Book of Mormon and read for a little bit and everything was clear and plain and she loved it.  She reads everyday now :)  She loves the Plan of Salvation and we're hoping to help her be baptized within the next few weeks.  She just needs to come to church!
I learned a very important lesson this week:  When a Cuban is hard to understand, his older brother is even worse.  We were talking with Norberto and his brother Chino the other day and he kept asking me questions and I had NO idea what he was saying.  Apparently he'd been asking me questions about BYU for like 3 minutes straight but since he mumbles so bad and drops off the end of the words and I was tired because it was late, I missed the whole thing.  Whoops.  Anyways we're meeting with them again on Wednesday so that should be fun.  Wish me luck!
Oh!  other quick news!  I don't have to compete in  the NOM Olympics anymore at Zone Conference!  Another Elder came into the Zone during Transfers that did a whole bunch more than me so now I don't have to.  Instead, the AP's called us and asked Elder Juan and I to give a training in front of 60 missionaries and President Weston.  No pressure right.  I think I'd rather do pushups but oh well!  Should be fun.  I'll let you know how that went next week.  
So funny story time :)  We went to visit a potential and he answered the door and said "Brothers!  Come in!"   Well his wife heard that and we hear her scream, "Is it the Church boys?!"  She came running into the front room holding a cat and said, "Can you please pray for my kitty?  We thought it was a boy but then he swelled up all big and, well, I guess he... or she.. is pregnant.  But he's just so little!  I don't want anything to happen to my kitty!  Please pray for him!"  

sooo...ummm.... yeah.  I prayed for a cat this week.  Check that one off my "Things I never thought I'd do in my life" List.  

Anyways I'm having a great time!  I love this place!  I love these people!  This week was weird but we're seeing our area grow with Investigators every week!  Pretty soon, good things are going to be happen.

I love you all! 
Lots of love,
Elder Zack

PS  Sometimes, when you're a Spanish Missionary, you play UNO during language study.  Just for fun :)

"Language Study"

PPS Sometimes when you're a Spanish Missionary, you play Soccer on P Day and end up head butting another missionary (AKA Elder Harrison) in the eye and giving him a black-eye... whoops.  My bad.  
Sioux City Spanish District

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Painting, Push-ups, and a Party!

Hoooooollly Cow this was a good week!  I was right!  The work here is just about to explode!  Little by little we're all gaining more investigators and more progressing investigators (meaning they're keeping commitments) and we're all about ready to have a baptism!  All our hard work is about to pay off really soon I can feel it.  
Here's a recap of this week's greatness in a couple paragraphs :)

Post Painting 

 We went and did more service at the Habitat for Humanity.  This time we actually got to paint the inside of a house that's getting built for one of our members!  It was so much fun!  My favorite part of the whole thing though wasn't even the painting but the break time.  We and all the other workers were sitting around eating pizza and talking and all of sudden the conversation switched to talking about us and the Church.  They were asking about why we're here, how a mission works, how long a mission is, how much it costs, etc and then one of them asked, "What makes your church different from all the others?"  That's my favorite question to answer!  I started telling them that the difference is that we're a RESTORED Chuch, not a reformed church.  It turned into a really interesting discussion about Joseph Smith and temples and the Book of Mormon.  It was so much fun.  However I'm really glad I'm not an English missionary.  While I can talk to them better and get my thoughts across better, White people are so hard to please.  Hispanics just love to talk about Christ and God and will let you in pretty easily while White people are very set in their ways.... 
Well I guess thats true in MOST cases.  Some times you have people like Hector Ochoa.  Hector let us in, sat us down, and said, "OK.  You ready?"  to which we replied, "Always."  and he said, "Lets open up to Galatians."  He then went on a spree of reading Bible verses and telling us what they meant to him, all the while trying to convince us that we were wrong.  We then had the lovely opportunity to tell him why were right using the Bible.  I'm really glad I paid attention in Seminary my last two years (Old Testament, New Testament years).  The best part, and the part Elder Juan and I still laugh about is when he asked us where it talks about the Book of Mormon in the Bible.  I just said, "Well if you'd like to read Ezekiel 37:15-17 I can show you."  And he said, "OK lets do that, shall we?  Lets open up to Ezekiel."  When we read it he just sat there for a little bit and said, "Well I don't have a response to this one right now so I'm going to read it a little more and we can talk about it next time, Ok?"  
People are silly.  I love them though.  Bible Bashing is dumb.  Practically pointless.  No one really learns anything.  I usually end up laughing after we leave because what they're saying doesn't make sense and Elder Juan just gets frustrted because he's been hearing that for 19 months straight on his mission.  
Moving on :)
Our mission's started this thing called the NOM Olympics.  It's got 5 catagories : sit-ups, ladders, bicep curls, stick pull, and push-ups.  First you compete in your districts, then the winner there competes at Zone Conference (which is just your zone) against the other district's winners, and then the winners there compete at Zone Conference (2 Zones) against the winner of the other Zone.  Some how or another I ended up getting thrown into doing the push-ups.  My goal going into it was just to beat the kid next to me.... but then I got competitive and decided to win.  I ended up doing 103 push-ups within the 5 minute time frame.. and some how I still won!  My arms were dead and I couldn't move for the next 2 days.  Now I have to do it again next week at Zone Conference.... dangit.  Its all good though.  At least it gives me motivation to do my morning excercise!

As far as Valentines Day goes, Elder Juan celebrated by eating chineese food and going tracting.  Its lots of fun being a missionary.  Holidays are just days here (Unless its Christmas or Mother's Day).  I did get your package though so thank you!  The 4lbs of Jelly Beans made Weekly Planning sooo much better :)
Saturday though is a different story.  Our branch threw a party with music and dancing and everything!  It was awesome!  These people know how to party!  Sadly we have a rule as missionaries that we can't dance... but it 2 years I'm definitely coming back to dance with these people who I love!
Hispanic Valentine's Day Party
Two Sad missionaries who wanted to dance...

Last cool story.
We have a 15 year old investigator named Hector who we've been visiting for a while.  He sent us a text last week that said, "I got my answer from God and he says I should join myself with the church in South Sioux."  We just stared at the phone and were so confused.  I KNEW that that was not the answer he got.  It couldn't be.  So we went and visited him and talked about the answer he got. He said, "One night, I kneeled down and prayed.  I had the Bible in one hand and the Book of Mormon in the other and just asked God which one is true.  The answer I got is that they're equal..."  I just cut him off right there and said, "Wait!  So you know the Book of Mormon is true?"  and he said, "Yep."  Elder Juan and I were stunned again!  It was awesome!  The other part of his answer said that he should just go with what he's comfortable with so we talked to him and asked him how he could know if he's uncomfortable with our church if he's never come.  He's coming this week :)

Anyways life's good, people are crazy, I'm tired everynight because we're working hard, and the work here is getting ready to burst with baptisms.  Love you lots,
Elder Zack

Ps the Paint came out of my State Jacket.  Thanks for teaching me how to do laundry, Mom :)

part of Zack's email to Mom:
You should check out puzzilla.org!  Its through Family Search and it's soooooooo cool!  IT shows you all the descendants of anyone in your family tree!  Check it out, ok?  

part of Zack's email to Dad:
The weather here is as stupid as ever.  It was high 20's yesterday, dumped a ton of snow last night, now its almost 50 and the snow is all melting.   Elder Cabezas says it'll freeze tonight and give us black ice tomorrow.  Awesome.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Elder Spanish Lone Wolf

Hey there!
This week was by far one of the best weeks that we've had in the 10 Weeks I've been in the field!  SO many great, crazy things happened this week that I have a lot to say... but sadly only so little time.  I've shortened down to 3 cool parts of the week.
Elder Linford & Elder Paddock

First- This week, Elder Juan had to go to Omaha for a Leadership meeting, leaving me as the only Spanish Elder within Sioux City, so I got put with Elder Linford, an English Elder.  Being Elder Spanish Lone Wolf (as Elder Linford called me) was so hard!  Elder Juan left me the phone and I had to take care of a situation with our Cuban, Norberto and since I don't usually understand him face-to-face, over the phone was extra hard.  After that we decided to go visit Emma in her tortilleria because Elder Linford, my comp for the day, hasn't seen her in a while.  Emma speaks English so we decided that'd be alright.  Three seconds into talking to Emma, Jose showed up and started talking to me in Spanish.  It was going great, just a normal conversation, until he said, "Well you're already here so I'll just ask you my questions."   Oh boy does he have a lot of questions.  First off, he's read all the way to Jacob 4 in the Book of Mormon!  Thats like 164 pages in Spanish!  Thats awesome!  But from him asking me lots of questions PLUS All the phone calls I answered,  I really learned the importance of having a Spanish Companion because answering tons of questions all by yourself (because my comp didn't speak the language) wears you out fast.  Elder Linford and I rewarded ourselves after a long day of work with going skating on a frozen pond in a park nearby :)

 On the bright side, I learned that my Spanish is a heck of a lot better than I thought!  One member commented the other day that she was surprised that I've only been on a mission since October because she thought I had a whole year at least since my Spanish is so good... It was a nice little self-esteem boost :) I guess I'm better than I thought!
Last cool thing.  WE MET WITH MARTHA AGAIN!  Its been almost a whole month since we last saw her because she's always so busy!  Once again she let us in, we talked for a couple minutes and she said, "Ok I'm ready. Teach me something, please."  Aw she's great!  We talked about Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Since she didn't make the date that we originally had set for her baptism (because she has to work on Sundays and can't come to church) we invited her to be baptised again.  She said that the Gift of the Holy Ghost would be a huge blessing for her and her family and that of course she'd be baptized after she knows more and comes to church!  She's so great!  At the end of the lesson, she expressed to us how she's been feeling really sick lately.  Elder Juan and I explained to her a little more about the Priesthood, that we have it, and that we are authorized to give her a blessing of healing if she desired it.  She quickly accepted.  I did the annointing and Elder Juan did the Blessing.  The Spirit was so strong.  In the end she was crying because she felt the Spirit so strongly.   She's so great.  She makes a lot of the hardship and rejection we go through worth it.  I'm really happy to be a part of her progression through the Gospel onto Eternal Life.  
I love this Gospel.  I love my Savior.  I love being a missionary.  
I love you all and I hope all is well!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

(Insert Creative Title Here Please :) )

Hey!  I only have a few minutes today so it'll probably be pretty short.  This week was really good!  There's just a few things I've got to tell you about. 
The first one is that we're making some really good progress with one of our investigators named Jose and Emma.  Their really starting to open up and trust us.  The other day they asked if we could come over and help them with some "house work."  They didn't tell us we were actually tearing down a wall of their house!  It was super fun!  We called the other elders so they could come help us.  We tore the wall down in an hour with hammers and a pry bar and then it took us 3 hours to put the new wall back up with Sheetrock.  Super fun but Super tiring.  I slept really good that night :)
Next thing.  We had interviews with President Weston!  It was so awesome to have some one on one time with him and talk about my goals for the upcoming year.  I could really feel his love for me individually and in the end I felt great :)  Too bad interviews are only every other transfer.  I highly enjoyed it.  President's such an awesome, smart, spiritual giant and its always fun to talk to him.  
Last quick thing.  Our District's been having a hard time staying confident.  All the other districts are having  a lot of success with Baptisms and working with members and our work isn't seeming to progress at all.  That's not the way I see it.  Its been amazing working with these other 5 missionaries.  Sure, our numbers might not show a lot of progress.  Sure, we haven't had a baptism in our branch for a while.  Sure, we may feel like we're not progressing, but I know that we are.  Each of us has been improving rapidly in one area of the work or another.  All of our Spanish is getting sooo much better.  All of us are using the Book of Mormon in every teaching environment.  And all of us are growing and progressing and becoming more like the teachers and missionaries and representatives of Christ that we need to be to help this area to grow.  Big things are about to happen here in Sioux City.  I know it.    I just hope I'm still here for a little while to see it happen.  
I hope all is well!  Sorry its so short.  The way I see it is that you can read my journal when i get home and then if you read it along with the letters, you'll have the fullness of the Mission of Elder Paddock :)  
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack