Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27th 2013

Well, we had an exhilarating train ride last Tuesday! Just kidding it was like 2 hours long and nothing special haha. Ogden is seriously so rad so far. The president and his wife are so cool and there's tons of rad Elders here. 2 kids from San Diego came here the same day as me and I actually worked in the temple with one of them! Maybe I shouldn't have given him a hard time for serving in Ogden...Karma! 

After we had been at the mission office for only about 2 hours we went out tracting! We went to some super ghetto apartments and got to meet some interesting people. This guy came to the door in his underwear because he thought the knock on the door was his girlfriend....awkward. But we still managed to place a LdM and set up a return appointment for the missionaries in that area. 

The next day we got assigned out trainers and new areas. All the trainers and new missionaries gathered in the gym and it felt like something out of gladiator or something. When all of us greenies walked in they were all yelling and cheering and it was so fun. It was pretty much a huge party and everyone would yell and chant and make noise as the trainers were one by one called off. My trainer is Elder Aragon from Tijuana! He's learning english so it's funny to try and teach him. I also realize how funny it must be when i try to speak Spanish to him. My other companion is Elder Rupp, who is actually a visa waiter for monterrey east as well! He's been out for 1 transfer so far. We definitely have a fun time together. We have a car but are only allotted 900 miles a month, and we have 10 more for the next week so we have been walking everywhere. Luckily there's a solid amount of members here so we often get rides which are seriously the best. If you ever see missionaries walking, offer them a ride! They will be eternally grateful! 

Well I am serving in the Jefferson 2nd Spanish ward, and there are actually 7 missionaries serving in this ward because we have such big ward boundaries. It's pretty run down but it's not super ghetto. We've only walked past 1 knife fight so far but that's just a small detail. hahaha. We do tracting whenever we don't have scheduled lessons and we definitely have knocked on some interesting doors. We normally tract about an hour or 2 per day. We have a few investigators right now and they are all awesome. I can say what I want in lessons, but trying to understand them is the hard part. It's getting better though! 

I want to introduce you all to Rosario real quick. He's about 40 years old and we've met with him once so far. We taught him about the restoration out on his front porch in the pouring rain. Although it was hard to understand and hear him, the spirit was so strong so i knew we were doing something right. All of a sudden he just broke into tears and I felt bad because I couldnt understand what he was saying. Turns out his daughter is in immigration detention in Spanish Fork and he hasnt heard from her since she was taken in, which was a few weeks ago. We told him how the gospel could help and after the prayer I invited him to be baptized ont he 15th and he said he would! We also invited him to a baptism later that night for other elders in our zone and he said yes! But then he never showed foe the baptism and we havent been able to find him since. I really hope he shows back up! 

Our zone theme for this transfer is Stay Posi(tive). I know it's something we can all work on and improve. Every morning I study Preach my Gospel in the Christlike Attributes chapter. I just pick 1 attribute and dive into what it is and how I can develop it more. I know that as I strive to become more like Christ and understand him more, I will better be able to represent him as a missionary.

Still no word on my visa, so I just have to wait and see. Im just serving as if this is my final destination and trusting that everything will work out how He wants. I just have to be patient. I love you all and hope that the end of summer isnt too crazy! There's no such thing here as weekends or summer vacations so it doesn't change much for me! haha

Con mucho amor,

Elder Connell

Where I will be serving until I receive my visa for Mexico

Me and Elder Nick Gruen who is also from SD and actually knows TJ Pugmire. Small world!

Me and my companion Elder Aragon! In a XXL Tall winter coat we found

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15th 2013

Hola Familia!
This is the last time I will be sending email from the crazy is that! I'm not sure where my next email will be coming from because I did not receive my visa. I will most likely be reassigned to a state-side mission for 6 weeks, but who knows. I will find out either later today or tomorrow. Either way, I know I will be exactly where the Lord needs me and I guess he just needed me to take a pit-stop somewhere for him.
Because Elder VonStrahl went home I am now companions with Elder Sawyer. He's super funny and a total stud to work with. His Spanish needs work but I have been able to help him a lot with that and I know he's improved so much. We have taught a couple of lessons together and they have all gone really well. We just naturally are able to work together. One thing I learned about missionary work this week is the power of testimony. Our teacher said that is one thing that we lack as a distrci in our lessons, is bearing personal testimony. I tried to focus on that in our lesson yesterday and it was so powerful and awesome! On Sunday the CCM Exec Director spoke to us. I just want to share one quick quote from it. "If we labor with remission of sins as or goal, we are promised the blessing of missionary work. The blessing of missionary wok is JOY." I just thought that was so cool that it is not our job to get baptisms, but to bing people unto Christ through a remission of sins.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I'm not even living on the main CCM campus anymore! We are over on west campus so we live in the Wyview apartments! It's so much nicer than the dorms. I'm pretty sure it's actually where Tom naylor lived last year, or at least it has the same layout. We have a fridge, couches, 2 seperate bedrooms (1 for each companionship, so 4 in an aprtment.) and it's just a lot nicer and more open. It's been fun to move over here and we are outside walking a lot more because everything is more spread out.
THE coolest part of the week though was foreshadowed in the Subject of this email. For our Tuesday night devotional we had a special visitor. Richard G Scott came and spoke to us! AND it was broadcast to all the MTCs worldwide :) I sat next to Elder Purcell in the choir for the devotional and that was also really cool. Elder Scott's talk was all about prayer and it was seriously so cool! Prayer is such a sacred opportunity we have to speak to our Father, so we need to take time and not rush it. Spend time thanking Him and just speaking with Him about how you're doing and what you think you need. One of my favorite things he hit on was 3 ways to receive answers. 1) We receive peace and a confirmation that our choice is correct. 2) We get a stupor of thought and obviously we need to rethink our plan. 3) We don't receive a definite answer. This is not him ignoring us. This is him either testing our faith, or He just trusts us. He trusts us to use our agency and do what we already know to be right, He's taking our spiritual training wheels off in order to help us grow. We have to act in faith if we act before receiving an answer. He sees the end from the begininng and He knows what our potential is. We can increase in happiness when we realize that everything is for our ETERNAL good.  "pray even when you have no desire to pray. That is probably the time you are in the greatest need of prayer". I know there are some nights where I just want to crawl in bed and sleep, but I have learned the importance of just offering a simple prayer every night and every morning and really dedicating my life to the Lord. He also gave all of us a blessing with his authority that we will receive the gift of tongues with faith and the language will not be a barrier. He repeated the blessing 2 times in his talk, so I know it was important to him. It was really cool because he made sure to emphasize that every time the 12 and first presidency meet, they pray for US! How cool is that. The 15 people on the top of God's good list pray for us as missionaries. That's so humbling. One of the most powerful parts came near the end of his talk. He said that this talk was difficult because he was emotionally weak and sensitive during it. he gave us an explanation why. His wife died in the 1990's but he said that he could feel so strongly her presence there and he was so grateful that she was allowed to be here. Once he said that I felt the Spirit testify so strongly that she was there and I could just imagine her sitting in his chair as he spoke. As he was leaving the gym, he turned and shouted, "Be good!" then he turned again and said "much love coming your way" It was just so spiritually powerful and I could tell that he is definitely an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I've learned so much here in the CCM and I'm soexcited to get out into the field, no matter where it is for a while. I love you all so much and hope all is well. I will keep you updated on where I'm headed and all that good stuff. Hasta Luego,
Con amor,
Elder Connell
Elder Blume, Me, Elder Purcell

Well hello Elder Scott.....sitting next to MTC President Nally

Ya Boy

Elder Childs before he heads off to Kobe Japan!

Our District with one of our teachers, Hermano McPherson, on one of our last days at the CCM. Taken at West Campus

Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8th 2013

Hola Familia,
This week has seriously flown by. I forgot my journal in my room so I will do my best to try and remember everything that happened this week. Or at least the important stuff! hahaha. Everyone in my district has started getting their visas! You have to go sign for them so you get a day trip to either Vegas, Boise, or SLC. Me and 1 other elder in my district are still waiting and hopefully they come this week! If not, I'll probably get reassigned to a state-side mission for a transfer. If that happens, I guess the Lord just needs me to make a pit-stop somewhere before I head down to Monterrey! I'm already starting to get "homework" for when I get to Monterrey. Since my teacher served in Monterrey East, he gave me a list of his areas and converts in those areas, he told me if I'm ever in those areas to check up on those people and then let him know how they're all doing! I also met a man in TRC (where members come and talk to missionaries in their language) that is from Saltillo but was a branch president in Monterrey! Tomorrow he is going to bring us names of family he has in Monterrey that aren'y members! So I'll have referrals before I even lleave the CCM :)
On Sunday I got to go to a devotional where Jenny Oaks Baker spoke....Elder Oaks' daughter! She's also one of the best classical violinists in the US, so she bore testimony through words and also song!! It was sooo cool, she was so good! She also had her family there and of course they're all musicall gifted as well. Her 3 daughters (ages 11,10 and 8) and her 6 year old son all played I am a child of god. The little boy played the guitar and he was actually quite good for a 6 year old! I always feel the spirit so strong through music, sometimes I wish I was musically gifted so I could just do that instead of trying to bear testimony in broken Spanish! hahaha On Tuesday Jay E Jensen came to our Marriot Center devotional and spoke all about how we can use the scriptures! He gave us tons of tips on how to read, mark, study, and use them. One of my favorite things he said was to ask yourself questions. When you have a question it provides a gateway to revelation. This applies to us asking ivestigators questions but also for personal study. I always love the Tuesday devotionals because there's just a mob of thousands of missionaries walking from the CCM to BYU, it's a pretty amazing sight!
Well, the Spanish is coming along fairly well, but then somedays I just feel like I forget everything because my brain is so overloaded! It's crazy to think I only have 11 days left here, the time has really flown by. I've tried to refine so many things about myself that need fixing. As cool as the name-tags are, it's a huge responsibilty to bear el nombre de Jesucristo on my chest. We're trying to represent the only perfect man to ever walk this Earth, what a great privielege but a huge responsibility as well. I'm so excited to go and actually get out to el campo. My brain is a bit scattered today so sorry if this email was a bit all over the place! hahaha. Since the temple is closed until next week, they choose a couple districts to clean the temple on their P-Day, so I get to go clean the temple in a couple of hours!  It'll be kinda cool to go to the temple when it's not a session. I miss being able to go to the temple as much as I did before I left. that was such a blessing to me! I know the blessings of the temple are real and impossible to number because there are so many!
I seriously love the opportunity I have to be a missionary and to learn the best language in the world. There are actually mandarin-speaking elders studying next to me....I'm so glad I'm not them haha it sounds so hard! I know that Mexico is where the Lord wants me to go and where I need to be. Im grateful for all the support you guys are and the examples so many of you have set for me. I will keep you guys updated on the whole Visa situation, but just know that whatever happens that it's what the Lord wants and needs! The Lord sometimes works in very mysterious ways and I guess we've just gotta roll with it. Yo se que esta Iglesia es verdadero y el Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios. La Obra misional es un gran bendicion en mi vida y estoy muy agradecido por la oportunidad de ser un misionero ahora! 
Con Muchisimo amor,
Elder Connell 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1st 2013

Ohhhhhhh we're half way there!! Just kidding "KISS" is definitely part of Babilonia so no need for it here haha. "Babilonia" refers to anything outside of the MTC besides family and the prophet pretty much. I guess other general authorities too hahah.
          First off, Feliz Cumpleanos Meghan!! Hope you had a rad time and are enjoying the life of a real person with your big girl job and all.
          This week flew by, it's been kinda crazy! I got the package, thanks so much!!! The Mexican flags are a hit and of course the goodies inside were a hit too! We also got the Sour Lovers from the Porter's and everyone is constantly asking me for them! haha the teaching is going so well and I'm learning so much about how to teach the people and not lessons. Yesterday we taught Antonio and we went in planning to talk about the restoration but then he had a bunch of questions about the Libro de Mormon so we just talked about that for the whole time we were there. The spirit was so strong and my mouth was definitely filled. All those brutal years with Mrs Ocampo and Mr Castillo are paying off. The Spanish is coming along really well, at least when I talk to fellow gringos. In response to your questions mom, we have Preach My Gospel in Spanish and English and I have a mini Spnaish one too. We have a bunch of textbooks and workbooks for language and then a bunch of the missionary "folletos" in both languages also. They are so helpful and everyone should have some for when friends have questions, it makes them so easy to answer! I also have my white bible in Spanish and English as well. We received the Standard works in Spanish and Ive already got a few Scripture masteries down, and the primer vision and Doctrina y Convenios Seccion 4. The scriptures definitely help with language a lot. I asked my teacher to talk full speed and I caught maybe 25% of what he said hahaha.
          Me and my companion taught a lesson on Sunday about the spirit and I was able to talk about receiving a witness through the spirit and it was just way cool and I feel a lot closer to my district members now that I've bore really personal testimony to them. I remember in one of Elder Robbin's (Parker) email, he talked about that one companion who he struggled with but was able to feel Christ like love when he counseled a fellow missionary about this same companion. I've had a similar expereince with a kid in my district. He is struggling with some parts of his life before the MTC and I know what he's going through so we've been able to help each other a lot and I've truly come to love him and love serving with him.
          The tie-trading is going well and I've acquired some gems. It's really fun because we sign ties whenever we trade them so I'll have a token of my favorite missionaries here! My district is still the youngest district in our zone, and we are down to just 3 districts because we haven't gotten a new one in 3 weeks! Hopefully we get one next week! I should get my travel plans next Friday so I'll have a bit more info on that, but my expected date is August 19th. I should be able to call home if I have a layover! I'll let you know more when I find out more.
          Another cool spiritual thing this week was our Tuesday devotional at BYU. A former 70 spoke and I just wanna share a bit of what he said. He talked about why missions can be so difficult at times. Why is it difficult? Salvation is not a cheap experience. It never has been and it never will be. Why should we believe it would ever be easy for us when it was NEVER easy for Him whose name we bear on our chests. We're representatives of Jesucristo, and so we need to walk in just the most microscopic amount of his difficulty, in feeling rejected, spit upon, or mocked.  We're also not the first to ask if there's an easier way, Christ asked the same exact thing. We need to realize how much easier our mission is than His was. Elder Ah Hoy in my district shared a quote that said, "ALWAYS be grateful to suffer in the Lord's name. I know that parts of my mission will be difficult but I am so honored to be able to give 2 years of my life 100% to the Lord. I've already had struggles here and I know it will be harder in the field, but I have also had some of the best times of my life here. I've grown so close to people after just 3 weeks and I have come to feel so much closer to my Savior.
          Well, I love you all so much and I'm glad to hear everything is going well. I love all the mail and packages and love from all of you. Yo se que esta obra es lo mas importante en el mundo. Estoy agradecido por la oportunidad de servir un mision. Les amo mucho!!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Connell