Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lots of wonderful experiences!

Hola Familia!

We had changes yesterday, now I´m Senior companion! It’s funny though, I still have the same companion. So really the ONLY thing that will change is I carry the phone. So now when I need/want to make a call, I don’t need to ask. :)

We were walking the other day and contacting people, there was a couple that I hadn´t even seen but my companion stopped to talk to them! It was an awesome contact, we gave them a Book of Mormon and set up an appointment to talk to them yesterday. But we saw them again Saturday walking in the street! We talked to them again and they told us that they had read it and had some questions! They are also a family of 5, with 4 eligible for baptism. 2 boys and the youngest is a girl. They like super heroes, and the favorite of the oldest is Green Lantern! I thought that was pretty cool. We passed yesterday but they weren’t home. We called them and set up an appointment for tonight at 7. I really hope they progress, they are super awesome.

Oh and we´re looking forward to success! We have baptisms lined up for these next 4 weeks! So 
we´re praying they all come through! :)

Did I tell you I bought a hammock?

So this was a really cool experience we had this week, and a testimony of the Power of the Restauración:

We´re looking forward to another good week! We talked to our investigator who had his interview the other week and everything is good now. We also started talking to his wife and teaching her as well! She is a Testigo de Jehovah and didn´t want anything to do with us for a while. Until persistence got to her. We were looking for her husband on Tuesday but he was still out working. So when she told us he wasn´t home we said that we would also like to talk to her upon his return. She flat out said, "I´m not going to study with you, I already study the bible." After she said that, I just felt like I needed to keep talking to her. I didn´t know why, I just felt like I needed to keep our little conversation going on for just a bit more. So then I asked her kind of a funny question, "Alright Hermana! So what do you study in the Bible?" I think this question kind of caught her off-guard because she asked me, "What do you mean, what do I study?" I responded to her question with, "Well there are lots of things in the Bible! What is it that you study? What does the Bible say?" I think she thought she could get out of it by saying, "I already study with the Testigos de Jehovah, y estudiamos la Biblia." But she still hadn´t answered my question of what she studies. So I once again asked her, "Yes, hermana. But what is it that you study with them?" She was on top of her house when she was talking to us so she said, "Ya, voy." She came down and started talking to us at her gate. She said, "Look, I can´t be changing my religion every 2 seconds." So this started up a conversation a little better than what we were having before. We talked about how WE don´t change people, they change themselves. Then her husband got home and gave us a free invitation to pass. So the four of us sat down, Elder Brooks (we were in divisions), Me, Victor, and Monica (his wife). We opened with a prayer and then started by teaching the Restauration. We taught the first 2 principles of God and Families but Monica still had the face of doubt and as if she wasn´t interested. So I asked her what was wrong, and she said again, "I´m not going to change my religion." So I again replied with, "Hermana, you are never going to hear us asking you to change your religion, all we ask is that you listen to our message and talk with us." The coolest thing that I noticed was when we explained the Apostasy. I asked her if she had heard of it before and she hadn´t. We taught it, and she was completely focused in the lesson for the rest of the time and it was a lesson of conversation. It was awesome. She understood Apostacia very well, and it made everything else come together for her. We taught her from both the Book of Mormon and the Bible as to answer a lot of her questions. We gifted her a Book of Mormon, and she was very excited to read it. It was so awesome to see how the power of the message of the Restauración works on people. She went from, "I´m not going to study with you." to "Thank you for coming, when will you come again?" with a smile on her face. We hadn´t yet taught baptism, so we passed by again through the week and taught lesson 3. Monica understands the authority restored concept very well, and accepted a baptimal date to progress. ALSO Victor also recovered a lot of interest and animo because there were a lot of unanswered questions he had from when he had been taught the Restauracion the first time. But reviewing everything really helped him, and made him a lot more interested again.

I also did drive a car last night... Haha it’s a funny story. We were with some members and it started raining, hard. Like really hard. We were just about to leave and then they told us that they weren´t going to let us leave until the rain calmed down a little bit. It never did and it was getting late. We told them we would be fine walking but our house was kind of far. They tried to call a taxi for us but they never answered the phone and they wouldn´t reply to messages. We think something happened with their electrical systems. But we waited and finally the mom said, "I will drive you." We asked her if she knew how and she said yes, but she doesn’t drive in the night time because she can’t see.... and it was night time. We were a little hesitant but they weren´t going to let us leave without some way of getting home "safely”. So she was trying to pull her car out of her.. well... area where she parked her car? I don’t know how to describe it. But it was dark, she couldn´t see, she didn´t know how to maneuver it going backwards, she almost hit a bunch of stuff, and she was taking forever. So finally I was talking to my companion and he said, "You know how to drive, you can do it really fast." I figured there wasn’t any harm in just backing it out. So I backed it out pretty fast and then parked it. She was like, "Wow, that was really fast!" I don’t know where you live and I can’t see so you just drive to your house and then I can drive back. At this point I was like... Ummm... what?. So I had 2 options. Let her drive, fear for the lives of the 4 of us in the car (me, my companion, the mom, and her kid) and probably die, or I could drive, be a lot safer, and have the experience saying,"I´ve driven in the crazy traffic of Mexico". Also I confirmed it with my companion and he wanted me to drive too, he didn’t want the hermana to drive us. So I thought about it and made my decision...... Now I have bragging rights to say I´ve driven in the crazy traffic of Mexico. ;)

Me and other missionaries in my District.  I've been getting
 good use out of my rain boots lately  :)

My companion and I sporting our new "church approved" hats.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Birthday Packages, Saying Goodbye to My Area and a New Companion

Hola Familia,

We had a good week. We had a fast to find some new investigators and we did! It´s been raining pretty profusely in the night time so we hope they are ok. Some of them live in areas where there is a lot of mud and hills, and given how hard it rained Saturday night, we think that is the reason why those investigators didn’t come to church.

There is a lady (reference from member) that we found this week, super humble, super awesome. She is deaf and can´t hear anything. She told us that within these past weeks she has been able to hear a little bit, but now when we teach her she can´t hear. I use the book you sent me with the gospel art and it helps soooo much. But something else that makes her great, is how humble she is. She has such a hard time with her life right now. Her husband lives in Tampico and is cheating on her, her son beats her and his little sister, she can´t hear anything, her son and his friends read the book of the dead and his eyes are always super red (she believes he has a demon in him), and she is afraid to live in her house. Rather than curse God like much of the other people we have found, she wants to look for God, and she says she feels happy when we come to visit her and share our message. She seemed really excited to come to church and told us that she had made the plans to go, but she is one of the people that lives on the muddy, dangerous hill. So she and the members who live near her weren´t at church... We hope they are ok and we are going to go visit them tomorrow.

Another of our investigators, Victor, is preparing to be baptized on the 19th. We´re excited and so is he. He will have his interview this upcoming week. Not gonna lie, I think fasting in Poza Rica is the hardest thing ever. We fasted twice this last week (during the week and again for fast Sunday) and I think it’s harder on the mind than it is physically. The dreaded sun drains all the water from your body and then leaves you dry for the rest of the fast. It’s definitely a sacrifice, so I guess Poza Rica is where you receive the most blessings for fasting.

Elder Martinez and I get a long great and we just bought food today. We will be even happier when we are in the house because we won´t be cranky when we´re hungry. The only thing that would make it better is if we had clima (A/C) in the house. The nights are killer because all day long the sun hits our house, so when we get home we walk into an oven. So the fans that we have only blow hot air on us. We’re going to talk to someone about getting a clima (A/C).

I feel pretty good about our ward leaders, they seem like they care how things are going. They show how much they want success by how much they work, so I assume they want a lot.

Something that was pretty significant about this week was a dream that I had. So to explain why this is even more significant is because normally every night, I ask for good dreams, to remember my dreams, to wake up not tired and to sleep well... But this night in particular, I remembered to ask to remember my dream, but I forgot to ask for a good dream.

In my dream, everything up until the middle part was normal and happy. I was with a family and I apparently knew them (thinking about it now I have no idea who they were). But there was one part when I was talking to them, when one of the family members (older, young man) looked at me. His eyes turned pitch black. After this moment, a demon was tormenting me throughout the rest of my dream. I was constantly searching for ways to avoid it, run away, find a solution to get rid of it, or something to give me peace. The hard thing was, I couldn´t see it. But it kept taking all my new friends away, and eliminating them from the dream in some way. Towards the end of the dream, I walked into an area with 4-5 mirrors. I could see the demon standing and facing towards a wall. The only way I could see this demon though, was through a mirror. It started talking to me, but it was yelling, and saying terrible things. It turned around and faced me, and I could see what it looked like. It just looked like a dirtier, deformed, sad, miserable me. Then it jumped at me to attack. It moved out of the way of the mirror so I couldn´t see it anymore. I don’t know why, but I sprang my hands forward. I couldn´t see the demon, or feel it, but I just felt it´s presence. But, I wasn’t going to bring my hands back down. I got the feeling to look over to my right, and I saw another mirror. I had in fact stopped the demon when my hands shot forward, but it was trying to attack me still. Very violently and angrily waving its arms, yelling, and trying to attack and kill me. I pushed it away and ran. When I started to run away, I woke up.

At first I thought this was just a bad dream. But then the other day I was talking with some other Elders and one of them told me about how he was reading in the bible, how dreams can be revelation. I didn´t take that much into thought or perspective until I got home. I walked into our bathroom and saw our mirror. I will admit, I was a little hesitant because the last time I remembered actively looking into a mirror, there was a demon hunting me. But as I looked in the mirror, I only saw me. At that moment was then everything started to come into perspective. Everything seemed to have some type of symbol.

1) I could only see the demon if I looked into a mirror.

2) The Demon just looked like a very terrible version of me.

3) I couldn´t see, or feel the demon, but I could feel its presence.

4) Without use of my own force, I shot my hands out to stop it.

5) I felt like I had been protected.

There were multiple things I learned from this dream... How does Satan work against us? Does he always talk directly to us or through the actions/words of other people? Or does he mess with our mentality, our way of thinking, to make us work against ourselves. When I couldn´t see the demon in the mirror, It’s because the demon was "in" me. The ugly part of me, was in fact that. Our ugly, negative thoughts come from a demon, but in our way of thinking through our own mentality. When we think badly or negatively, it’s not anything we can see, or touch. But we can feel the negative presence. But I had help to stop it. When the scriptures talk of the Holy Spirit as a Guide, Protector, and Comforter, I feel like it applies specifically like this in my dream. The guide was to spring my arms in front of me to block my attacker, I couldn´t see it, but He could. He was my protector in keeping the demon away and letting me know it was still there by making me look in the other mirror. When I threw the demon away and ran, I woke up. It was when I woke up, how the spirit comforted me. I felt nervous, agitated, and it was difficult for me to keep my mind off of my nightmare. But all of the sudden, a hymn started playing in my head. The exact hymn I can’t remember, but all I know is that as I thought of that song, I was calmed, and I was able to go back to sleep peacefully. This I know was the spirit, comforting me when I felt alone, and scared.

I have applied this dream to my way of thinking with many things throughout the week. Whenever I start thinking negatively about something, I remember this experience. And how they are my own thoughts, or bad spirits messing with my thoughts, to make me think in a negative manner. This dream has helped me think a lot more positively throughout the week. Not that I´ve had a problem with negativity, but when I do start to think bad of someone or something. I take a step back. I feel like I have the spirit more with me, and He helps me think in this more positive manner.

We just had a baptism yesterday! Her name is María and she´s really great :)

Remember how I told you about the fruit I wanted to try really bad? This is a lichi :)  They taste like those peachy o´s but they are healthy for you :) 

 Oh and there are a lot of people here who think the little ventilador (little fan that hangs around your neck) idea is great. People want you to send more out here so they can sell them hahaha. Oh, and there is one hermana who has her life long journey to try and get a hold of some Red Vines. They are her all time favorite candy. She has told me which Elder first introduced them to her and how long a go. She was like 13 and now she is in her late 30s. So maybe in this next package you send you could include a couple things of Red Vines? I know it would really mean a lot to her add she would love you forever. They don’t make them out here and she has looked everywhere. She even tried ordering them straight from the factory. But she never got them :(

I had the best tacos of my life the other night. Ohhhhhhh they were soooooo gooood. I went with Elder Jackson, Elder De Mata, and my companion to a street vender in Elder Jackson’s area who makes BOMB tacos. Best things I´ve ever had.

I asked him what their plans were for that evening: Well Elder Herrera (my trainer) is in my zone and he passed me a reference of a pretty awesome reference. He said he set up a noche de hogar (Family Home Evening) with this guy. The reference works in their area but lives in ours. So he said that we can go meet him today and then he is going to pass him off to us to teach. But, I´m not too sure about all the details. I need to talk to him more about it, I´m gonna call him here in a bit.

Well, hope you have a great week. Love you all!

Elder Koontz

My last day with Aldo and Griselda  :(

Hermana Nora and her mom Hermana Aurora! I´m gonna miss them a lot. They were super awesome and sweet.

Before having my face smashed into my birthday cake

And after

Another birthday cake :)

Finally!  Time to open my birthday packages from Mom  :)
Am I spoiled or what??

Homemade birthday card from mom  :)

You can't tell but these are super hero tie clasps.  Superman, Batman and Green Lantern...YES!!

I put 19 candles on my betty crocker microwaveable cake mom sent me. It was delicious :)

It was REALLY good!
Thanks mom for all the birthday goodies!

Met with Elder Falabella, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy

A surprise visit from a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.  I can't remember his name  :-/

The English school where we help teach had a little birthday celebration for me. 

Another birthday cake.
Taking the ferry to go find out about transfers.

My new companion, Elder Martinez