Monday, November 30, 2015

Last week's missing pictures and the first week with Elder Castillo

Here are the missing pictures from last week.

train tracks in Esquinapa
More parade pictures from Revolution de Mexico

Painting at Hermana Isabels

I almost got splashed, haha!

Pictures by the sea

Goodbye to Elder Moncayo- not fun!

Buenas dias!

This was a challenging week I would say but it was good. My new companion arrived to Teacapan last Wednesday and since then we have got right to work. We have been very busy visiting the members and riding our bikes around Teacapan to help him know the people and the area better. My companion is Elder Castillo from Mexico City. His last area was in Los Cabos so it was a long journey here. He has 9 months in the mission. He is a kind, lovable person. He is very knowledgeable in the scriptures like Elder Moncayo. I like that he is very sincere in bearing his testimony. I will finish my 12 week training with him this cambio. There are definitely tests and trials with a new companion and I've definitely learned patience, charity, and kindness with both of my companions so far. When I look passed the little things I am not used to things are so much better for me and him.

My new companion Elder Castillo from Mexico City
It has been a little difficult trying to plan and help him know the area and the people and it has been a test of faith but I know I am strengthen by the Lord each day as I truly give my best effort. At first my planning wasn't very good and we were riding our bikes all over town and not having success. Because of this I know the Lord was trying to teach me something. However at the end of the week we had success. We were blessed with a busy schedule for next with a lot of appointments and an activity at the church on Saturday. We had to change the date again to watch Meet The Mormons at the new Casa de Oracion so it is this Saturday for sure haha!

This week we had our first Sunday in the new Casa de Oracion which was awesome! The new building used to be a hotel so it has many rooms and a big space in the middle for activities. 

New Casa de Oracion in Teacapan
The first Sunday was great. We had 62 members attend church which is the most we've had since I have been here. It is a little bit of a walk to the new building but that is okay. We also taught the Gospel Principles class which was good! 
Classrooms- it used to be a hotel- we might get to live here
The branch is planning an activity for Christmas coming up on the 19th of this month. We are going to slaughter a pig and have 500 tacos and games, dancing, and a Nativity. Of course they ask me to be the angel because I'm a gringo right? We invited all the people who live around the new church building to come to church and we had a few people come to see what it was like which was good.
The pig that we are going to eat for our Christmas activity

This last week we had another hurricane come our way. Hurricane Sandra, category 4. Nothing major happened. Just storming and lots of rain again. It was really refreshing this week since it was cloudy and the sun wasn't beating down on us. The bad part is the streets are full of rain and mud and it gets up on our pants when we ride our bikes which isn't fun. But this is Mexico and this is the way things are down here I guess haha.

We didn't have thanksgiving here unfortunately. We just ate a members house like usual which was good as usual. We had crabs caught from the sea with Hermana Ana which was new for me. Turns out I really like crab! 
Crabs at Hermana Ana's- yum!
Today for P day we went with a member who is 19, like us, and is going to serve a mission, to a Japanese restaurant here in Teacapan. I ordered sushi and an egg roll which turned out to be very good. This was my first time eating sushi. I talked to the owner a little bit because he is from Japan but he married his wife who lives here in Mexico so he knows English, Spanish and Japanese which was cool.
Japanese restaurant in Teacapan
My first time trying sushi

This last week we went to Cristo Rey and it was difficult because it was really windy from the hurricane winds. We taught two lessons to the members there which was really awesome. We taught two parables. We taught one from the Bible about the rich man and the beggar and taught that this is the time to meet God and the other was in Doctrine and Covenants. I really felt the Spirit when we taught the lessons and I know it was the right things for them to hear.

This week we were contacting in the street and we went to a man's house that had shown some interest before so we went to his house and we knocked on the fence of his house and said the usual Buenas Tardes and nobody came. But I had a prayer in my heart that someone would come and after a few minutes he came. Nothing came from it but its just the little answered prayers that strengthen my testimony and faith in God and Jesus Christ.

I love this Gospel and the opportunity I have to be here in Teacapan! Thanks for your prayers and support. Cuidese!

Elder Bennett

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Revolution of Mexico


Well this was a pretty crazy week! We had a pretty busy week. We had divisiones this week which means I went with another companion for a couple of days. I went with Elder Moreira serving in Escuinapa who is from Ecuador also and he finishes his mission today. It was cool to get some advice and stories from an experienced missionary. With him I discovered these little ice creams that we can buy which are really good! I had a good time with Elder Moreira and we challenged one man to baptism and he said yes. I returned to Teacapan with Elder Moncayo and we got back to work. We found two more investigators that we are going to start teaching, Lorenzo and José. We have them and Estevan and few others that we are teaching right now.

Last week on the 20th of November was the Revolution of Mexico. It was a fiesta in Mexico all last week. The plaza was filled with games, food, carnival rides, and people. Its like the fair for us in Nebraska. So everyone was doing that and there was hardly anyone home so it was difficult. All the students in elementary, middle and high school participate in a parade. The parade for the kids in kindergarten was the 19th and on the 20th was the big parade. There are bands, dancers, cheerleaders, and others who participate. It was really cool to experience the culture of Mexico and experience they way they do things here.
Little Kids Parade

Today is transfers and it was sad because my companion Elder Moncayo left. Today we sent him off to La Cruz which is close to Culiacan. I will see him in our multi zone activity for Christmas in Mazatlan. My new companion is coming from Los Cabos in La Baja and comes in to Escuinapa later tonight. His name is Elder Castillo and he is from Mexico City. He has 9 months in the mission. I will meet him tomorrow at our district meeting. He is going to finish my 12 week training. I was sad that Elder Moncayo left because we had grown pretty close but all is well. I am still here in Teacapan with my new companion Elder Castillo so I am going to teach him the area and the people here. This is going to be a test for me since I am still fairly new. I know the Lord gives us challenges to help us grow and this is a opportunity for me and my testimony to grow.

We had our last week (for real this time) in the old meetinghouse in Teacapan. We are moving things to the new and finished Casa de Oracion Nueva this week. It has air conditioning and I am really excited about that. We are having about 60 people come to church every week so it is time for a change. We are having an activity this week of watching Meet the Mormons in the new chapel. We are inviting a lot of people to the activity.

I am really improving in my Spanish and I am able to say things rather than think about it and translate so I am kinda excited about that. I know the Lord is blessing me with learning the language.

They don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico but I want my family and everyone to know how much I love and appreciate you all for your prayers and support for me. I know the Lord loves us very much and we have much to be thankful for! Gracias por todo. Take Care!

Elder Bennett

(He was trying to upload more pictures but they never came through :( I sure miss seeing his smiling face! )

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 5 in Teacapan

Hola todos!

This is week 5 in Teacapan! Next week is transfers so we are going to find out if either myself or my companion leaves here or stays. I hope I stay another transfer because I love it here. Its fun getting to know the members and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have fun and amazing experiences everyday. Each day is different and I learn something new each and everyday. This week was good because I felt like I could understand Spanish a lot better this week which was nice because I like to know what is going on haha. Although we have our challenges here I wouldn't trade these tests, trials, and experiences for anything because I know this is where I need to be and there are people hearing waiting to be taught specifically by me.
More Playa

On Friday we went to Culiacan. Its about a five hour trip there. The bus ride there isn't so bad though because the bus that we went on was equipped with comfy seats and movies. We watched the movie Pearl Harbor in Spanish which was good, it helps me with my Spanish a little bit. I also caught up on some sleep since we had to get up at 4 in the morning that day. We went to Culiacan because I needed to fill out some forms for Migration so I can stay in Mexico. My green card last for one year then I can renew it again. After filling out the forms we talked to Presidente Velez and he congratulated me on my first baptism. We then took a bus and ate at KFC which is much different than the KFC's in the United States haha. We got back then I went with another Elder in the office to a lunch appt and I was already full and I didn't want to be rude so I ate lunch there too. I think I literally rolled out of the members house. Presidente told us to return to Teacapan the same day so we stayed the night in Escuinapa since there are no busses at 11 at night.
Get that corn out of my face!

Save me a piece of that corn for later- Nacho Libre

We had a few interesting experiences this week contacting in the street. We talked to a few people of different faiths and just simply bore testimony of our beliefs and share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they told us they we were wrong and that they didn't believe what we said was true. It was kinda frustrating because I know its true and its difficult when people try to contradict what I know to be true. It was a learning experience and a testimony builder.

We had our last Sunday in the old chapel in Teacapan. The new meetinghouse is finishing up painting right now and next Sunday we will meet there and have air conditioning again! The heat has been relentless here. And so have the mosquitos. This week on the 19th we are having an activity, movie night watching Meet the Mormons. We have invited a lot of people and so we are hoping there will be a good showing.

We were able to help Narciso out this week and we got him a white shirt, tie, pants, dress shoes, a large sized Book of Mormon because he cant see well, and some sandwiches. He is now set to go and he is doing well. We have a few more potential investigators that we are teaching right now and this week we are going to challenge to baptism.

On Sunday we went to a Priesthood Mtg in Escuinapa which was really awesome. Presidente Velez and his counselors came and talked about the priesthood and leadership responsibilities which was perfect because it was exactly what the Teacapan branch needed to hear. Today all the missionaries in the zone came to Teacapan which was a blast. We played soccer on the malecon. It was very hot. We then did laundry and now are writing!

The work keeps pressing on no matter what and there is nobody that will bring us down. We are praying hard and doing our best! An attitude of love and patience is something we have been trying to do because everyone deserves it. I love this work and I am doing well!
Thanks for the love and prayers! Take care everyone.

Elder Bennett

Monday, November 9, 2015

Baptizing Narciso

Narciso and I

This was a pretty crazy week! First, the highlight of the week was my first ever baptism! Narciso's baptism got moved up two weeks. We talked to Presidente Velez and had Narciso talk to him also and the zone leaders came down and had an interview with him and said that he was ready to be baptized. My companion and I worked really hard to get ready for the baptism. The font in the church hadn't been cleaned in over a year because the last baptism here in Teacapan was last September! We took out all the water with buckets and cleaned the font and filled it back up which was a lot of work. 
An inch of dirt
Cleaning the font
We also made programs for everyone and invited all the members to the baptism. 
First baptism for Jameson
When Elder Moncayo told me that I was doing the baptism I was shocked and scared because I had never done a baptism before and now I was going to baptize this 74 year old man in a tiny font for the first time. Also I would have to say the words for the ordination in Spanish, memorized. Plus, there was about 30 people at the baptism so I was really hoping I didn't mess up. Everything went fine though. I said all the words correctly and lowered him into the water and quickly back up and everything was good. I didn't have to do it again which was a relief. This was a very special moment for me especially since this was my first baptism. This is an experience I will never forget. Both him and I were kinda scared together but the Lord blessed me and everything worked out. We were so excited for him. He was confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost the next day by our Branch Pres. This is why I am out here. To bring people unto Christ and change their lives through the ordinance of baptism. My companion gave a talk on baptism on Sunday and I liked the part when he said that baptism is the key to kingdom of God. Baptizing Narciso motivates me to work hard, study more diligently, and be more obedient so I can share the message of Jesus Christ with everyone I meet.
Those who came to the baptism
We ended the week good with the baptism and we found a new investigator, Estevan. He is 72. We hope everything goes well with him. We are still struggling to find people tho. We have been asking the members for referrals of people that we can visit or teach with. This week, our Zone Leaders gave the whole zone some goals for the week which are going to be difficult for us to accomplish. We are trying really hard to be exactly obedient so we can find people so we can meet our goals. We also try to share a message with the members that feed us. Just a short simple scripture and testimony. This week the food was really good! One of the members that we visit a lot is a fisherman in the sea here and he caught a stingray and a turtle. He said that we are going to be eating it next time we go there for lunch. I also tried tamales for the first time which I enjoy. Today we had octopus for lunch which was different but I liked it.
Stingray- next week's lunch?
My Spanish is continually getting better. I learned a lot each day by listening and asking questions. This week we had splits with Elders from Escuinapa for a day which was fun. Elder Villeda came to Teacapan and my comp went to Escuinapa which meant that I was the Senior Companion for a day which was scary but fun. I was responsible for deciding who we were going to visit and go to for the day. It was a successful day. We gave 4 lessons, 3 to members and 1 first lesson. Luckily I know the area well enough.
Another amazing sunset on the way back from Esquinapa
More Sunset
The weather has not gotten any cooler lately. I got a haircut today which was nice because we still sweat a lot. There are 
sooooo many mosquitoes here. It doesn't feel like it is getting closer to Christmas. The time has been going by so fast. I am thankful to be here though. I have gotten closer with the members and people here. I really enjoy Mexico and serving the Lord. Thanks for the prayers and support. Les amo!

Elder Bennett

More Day of the Dead pictures
Day of the Dead Dulces
Day of the Dead- families decorate graves and care for the graveyard
Day of the Dead at a graveyard
More graveyard pictures
More graveyard pictures
Inside the burial tomb

Monday, November 2, 2015

Daylight Savings & Rain

Flooded streets

Hey Everyone!

Things have been good but kinda difficult because Daylight Savings and rain. The time moved and now it gets darker earlier and its harder to meet with people and do everything before it gets dark. Presidente Velez just made a rule that everyone needs to be at their casas by 8 pm to study since it's dangerous to be out at night. We also received 11 inches of rain in 2 days earlier last week and the streets are literally rivers. 
Rivers for streets

Sunset selfies

The water is actually on the road- we could get through with our bikes
Another awesome sunset

Our shoes and clothes get so dirty from having to ride our bikes through the ponds in the streets. One time I fell and my whole shoe got soaked and muddy so that wasn't fun. Our numbers were kinda down this week because Moncayo went to Culiacan and I to Rosario and we went to Escuinapa for a zone meeting also. Our meeting with the Zone was really good. Our zone leaders taught us about our purpose as leaders in the mission. They counseled us to not have fear and to always have the Spirit with us wherever we go. We also took pictures at the end which was fun.
Junta de zona
Zone Conference

This week was Elder Moncayo's 20th birthday! On his birthday I made breakfast and ironed his shirt for him. Then I paid for dinner that night which we had hamburgers and Coca Cola. The members were really nice and made him a cake and we all sang to him. His birthday was on one of the days that it rained a lot so that was kinda a bummer but it was still good for him I think.
Hamburgers for Moncayo's birthday
Celebrating his birthday

Castro Family's home

We had an activity at the church this week. Every last friday in the month is a activity at the chapel lead by the youth in the branch. This month a few of them talked about their favorite General Conferences talks and gave spiritual thoughts from the Scriptures. It was a neat thing to witness. After we had a snack and played a few games, one of which was tug of war and Elder Moncayo and I had to compete against each other. Beforehand, they told us who was Jesus Christ and who was Satan. Elder Moncayo was Jesus and I was Satan and we had to try to persuade the members to help tug the rope. More people helped Elder Moncayo (Jesus) who of course won haha.
Activity at the church

Me drawing the sacred grove
Our good friend Santiago

Last week was Halloween and the start of the Day of the Dead activities. There was a lot more people in the small town of Teacapan. They've been having a dance party on the beach every night this week. On Halloween night it was cool to see the kids running around getting candy. The kids only go to the little stores and businesses for candy since no one really goes house to house. The kids also just paint their face or wear a scary mask and don't go full costume. On Nov 1, the Dia de Muertos started, and that was the day to honor the children. Today is the actual day of celebration and there's lots of food, flowers, dancing and people visiting the graves.
Elder Moncayo in a Halloween mask

Our investigator Narciso is doing well! He is progressing and understanding what we teach him. He came to church for the 3 time last sunday. We visit him almost everyday. He lives by himself so I'm glad we are able to give him some company. We made lunch for him and ourselves and ate with him. He has no job and no money and his family doesn't help him so I don't know how he gets by but I'm glad we can help him. He said he would like to be baptized a week early than planned. He will have to talk to the Presidente Velez on the phone to see if he is ready. The time that we brought him lunch and had a lesson was really cool. We talked about the Plan of Salvation. My companion and I were able to easily say what we needed to say and he listened and learned. It was a great spiritual experience for the week.

The language is doing better but still difficult. I just need to keep having patience and take it a day at a time in learning. I do feel little more comfortable though.

I'm happy that I can share the same happiness that I feel with the people here. It's been difficult but last week in the Zone Conference I really liked that they said the Lord gives us this tests and trials to prepare us for future experiences. I am grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with others everyday! Take Care everyone!

Elder Bennett