Wednesday, October 24, 2012

24 October 12

Hello everyone, 
How is everyone doing? I am doing pretty well. I am now losing my English pretty bad because I never speak it anymore. I am the only American in my whole zone and no one really knows English and so I am stuck with the Spanish. The funny thing that is happening is that I don’t know some words in Spanish still, but I forget the words in English, and so technically I don’t know how to speak perfectly in the two languages! It kind of blows but it’s a process I need to work out. 
This past week was very good! We had a lot of work to do! Oh and sorry I didn’t write yesterday, I was in a zone conference and so our pday is today now. Well yesterday in the zone conference we learned a ton. 3 guests accompanied President Walker and Hermana Walker. 2 from the department of security of the church and 1 from the church mission department. We learned many methods in being safer and smarter about where we go and what we do. The training pretty much led to one thing, being very obedient and nothing bad will happen. Pretty interesting training and very helpful. He gave us statistics of missionaries in the world, when something bad happens to a missionary, they investigate and all of the cases have something in common, they broke the rules severely to getting hurt. So it really surprised me and I am going to keep being as obedient as I can because God really does protect the missionaries that obey. And then for the past 5 months we have been a Guinea pig mission with trying a new system of work that the apostle Elder Bednar created: no contacting in the street like knocking on doors and all that stuff, just references from members, and we looked at the statistics of our work and we were the best mission with results in all of Latin America! So now all of Mexico and several other missions are using this new system. It was very cool. 

Baptism of Ernesto in Valle Hermoso

On Sunday we had the baptism of Ernesto, he is the husband of a recent convert and he was so excited to be baptized and we have been really animating Ernesto and his wife Maria to go to the temple this coming December. They are super excited and it was a thrill to see Ernesto be baptized. Now this week are two teens in this part member family that will be baptized this Sunday and a couple as well that we`ve been teaching for a while. The teens are named Alicia and Angel, and the old couple are named Juan and Maria. They are all pretty excited, they all love church and it will be a neat experience. Well I love you all and I hope that everything is going well for all of you! Take care and God bless.

Elder Justin Powell

Hola Familia,
¿Como están? Estoy muy bien aquí en Valle Hermoso. No se preocupen por el paquete, va a llegar como quiera. Jaja La temperatura ha subido mucho en esos días, no voy a necesitar los suéteres todavía. Pero, la conferencia fue muy buena, me siento viejito ahora porque hay muchos misioneros ahora con menos tiempo que yo. Espero que la escuela esté yendo bien por todos ustedes. Les amo y quiero mucho y les extraño bastante. Están creciendo demasiado rápido y ¡necesitan parar! jaja. Cuidasen mucho y que dios les bendiga.

Elder Justin Powell

Pdt- No hay nada mexicana aquí en Valle Hermoso y van a necesitar esperar hasta cuando me cambian para enviar cosas chéveres de México. Mil disculpes pero espero que si pueden entender. Yo creo que va a ser un regalo después de Navidad... ¡Que tengan mucho exito!

Leia Mais…

15 October 12

Hellos to all! This week was a great week!!! A lot of success and there is a lot of progress here in Valle Hermoso. I am sorry that this letter will be a bit short, but I am in the process of doing something with my pictures and stuff because I am about out of space on my camera. I have been taking a lot of photos and videos on the mission because those are the best memories when they are captured in a picture or video. So we had a baptism this weekend, her name is America. She is a 9 year old, and she is soooo smart! I got to baptize her and I was honored. And we also sang a primary song, 3 youth and Elder Manzanarez and I. It was pretty fun and it was a good baptismal service. 

America's baptism with the Valle Hermosos ward

America's baptism with her mom, Elder Manzaneres and JD

This week we will have much to do, a lot of work still because Juan and Ernesto are preparing to be baptized this week. They have a grand desire and it will be a good week to work with them to achieve their desire. Wow I will be completing 11 months this week.... Big surprise for me because I feel like I am pretty new in the mission still, but now I am growing old... haha. Well I love you all, here are a bunch of pictures for my lack of writing, enjoy. 

May God bless you all and much love. 
Elder Justin Powell

JD riding his bike with a garrafon de agua (giant container of water)

The Valle Hermoso Zone Elders

Leia Mais…

1 October 12

La Familia Gutierrez de Rio Bravo

La Familia Rocha Solis de Rio Bravo

Dear Fam and Friends,
HAAAAAPPPPPPYYYYYYYYYYYY BIRTHDAY KATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I hope you had a great day!!!!! How are you all doing? I am doing pretty good, just living life in Valle Hermoso. It was a fast week, a lot to do, a lot to get to know and just a lot of getting used to. Valle Hermoso is a bit different, not much but the life here is a bit. It’s more like Grantsville I would say, except in Mexico. jaja. But everything is very calm here, nothing really happens, it’s more just ranch style of living. There is nothing of fast food :(; no ordering pizza anymore, but that is alright. I have a Mexican companion now, Elder Manzanarez (or English translation, Elder ¨Apple-Beef¨ hahaha) He is a funny hard worker who has a huge love for the people, he reminds me of myself when I got here. I was kind of impatient and I have come a long way, and he is learning still because he has less time than me. But we get along. It’s all good between us. Just sometimes I need patience because we have our differences like we are sort of the same type of red personality, so it’s another patience builder. And I have a great district that wants to work and improve, it’s a huge relief on my part because it’s easier to give advice and teach them. Elder Robledo, Elder Diaz, Elder Manzanarez, Elder Vera, and Elder Ramirez are in my district, and yes I am the only American here in Valle Hermoso. Everyone thinks that I am Mexican now for my skin now very dark, until they see my eyes and here my accent. And then the questions about the states come. But it’s fun to answer and chat about where I come from. And also, I am the first American in a long time to come to Valle Hermoso; I didn’t ever think I would come to this Zone, but yep. But the people here are awesome. I loved Condesa, I miss them dearly. Rocha and Gutierrez family and all the rest will always be in my heart. I will visit again in the future. Well I love you all and I miss you all! The time has definitely flown and I can’t believe that I only have a little over a year left. Who´s pumped for conference?? I AM!!! Haha Love you all! Go UTES!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEAT USC!!!!
Elder Justin Powell
OH and don’t send letters and packages to that address in TEXAS!!! I will put the new address in next week, it’s a safer address. I love you all!
Dear Family, HOW ARE YOU DOING!???!! I am good, well I will be sending a package very soon, for Christmas and birthday gifts combined. And Dad I was thinking, we should come to Rio Bravo when I am done with the mission, I would really love to visit again and all like before Christmas, take a bus. We´ll talk about it as the time gets nearer, but it would be a thrill to visit with you.
Well Kate I love you and I hope your birthday was awesome!!!! Princess, you are growing so big and you are so beautiful! Do well in ballet and I am so proud of you and all that you do. You have grown so fast before my eyes, moving to Utah and you in my arms and crawling and barely walking, and now about to enter Elementary School!!!! Wow!!! I love you so much Kate and I miss you, we will talk soon on CHRISTMAS!!
I miss you all and I hope you are all doing well, living life and have fun! Valle Hermoso is calm and it’s a good ward, a lot of work to do. Keep up the prayers and hopefully my prayers are getting answered for you. Take care and send me a package with the card please by next week when I send the address. I love you all
Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Transfer, Sr. Companion and District Leader all in one day!

Today was a big day for JD--a bittersweet day but a big one. Justin has a way of working his way into your heart and he does that with the families he meets in Mexico.  He is very sad to be leaving Rio Bravo and the people that he has grown to love.  He is also sad to be leaving his wonderful companion, Elder Pierce. However, after being in the mission 8 months, he has become a Sr. companion and a District Leader and is moving to a new town where he will use the love and compassion that he has to work and serve the people of Valle Hermoso. I'm so proud of this kid.  Please write him and keep him in your prayers.
Justin (representing the Mighty Utes) and his district on P-Day

Hello how is everyone!? I am doing great, today is transfers and I am going to get transferred to a town called Valle Hermoso and be district leader! I am pumped to have this opportunity and sad to be leaving this area... Its bittersweet to tell you the truth. I really dont know how to react but I am hoping that this new area is everything that I think it to be! Today I am packing everything and its a very busy day today. I am also sad to be leaving my buddy Elder Pierce! He has been a great companion, patient with me and very helpful. I learned a lot from him, and we had a lot of success together. 
Birthday Party for Sra. Gutierrez with her family
The members and I are very sad that we are breaking apart, but I know that the other companion will come in and continue the success. Its sooo weird to be leaving already because I feel like I just got here like a little bit ago, like these 3 months just flew right before my eyes!!! I am going to miss a lot of people like crazy from here, I am going to have too many second families here in Mexico if I keep changing at this rate, but the mission continues and its where they want me. I know that we will have a lot of success in this next area. Well I love you all and take care! Be safe and God bless each one of you. 

Elder Justin Powell

Dear Family,

Well How are you all doing!!! ??? Thnks for the help with the card stuff, hopefully that never happens again. But thanks for the emails and all. I will read them. Everything is going well, month and a half and comes the year!!! Can you believe that?? I Cant!!! But my comp is named Elder Manzanares from Cancun! We will probably talk all about the beach! hahah But I love you and I hope everything is going well!!

Love Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

September 17, 2012

There was a short note last week that I didn't post--JD was having a really hard time with the news of his friend Jim Hodgson's accident. He is very close to Jim and his family and took the news with difficulty. He and I chatted and he'll certainly be all right, as evidenced in this week's letter, but any letters from home would be great!

Happy Mexican Independence Day!
Well hello to all of you, I am doing pretty good today! Everything is going fine in Rio Bravo and the work continues. This last week was pretty fun because it was the Mexican Independence Day. 
The whole district (stake pretty much) did this huge party at the the stake center and all the missionaries and branches went to the party to eat, to have fun and to see what a Mexican party like. The Youth from each branch did a skit, or a Mexican traditional dance and it was pretty entertaining. All the missionaries took a ton of pictures with the sombrero and flag for memories and I took a lot of pictures and video of the whole thing. So it was pretty fun! Sad news is is that transfers are in one week... And it’s looking like I am leaving again... So I am sad because I love this area and the members are just like family here, and I am most likely leaving because Elder Pierce has two transfers left after this one and it will look like he will be finishing up here. But who knows because maybe I will stay! :) Well what’s new with all of you? I have completed 10 months on the mission and wow I feel like it is just flying by very quickly. Hopefully I have time to learn more because I can’t believe I only have a year and two months left. Well take care everyone; I would still love to hear from you all. I am sorry that I am not good at responding quickly, it’s just we never have time for us. Haha Love you all and miss you all!

Love, Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

September 10, 2012

Hellos to Everyone! How is everyone doing?? I am doing great still in Rio Bravo where it’s calm and the work is rich. We had another baptism yesterday. Her name is Maria Concepción and she is a great person! We met her a little over a month ago and she had a huge smoking problem. So then she kept trying and trying to quit but she about gave up, but then we went and put a plan with her. And then we told her about it, she was not very convinced that it would work, but then she quit because the next day she felt very sick every time she smoked. She threw up every time she went and smoked, so then the day after that she didn’t touch a cigarette at all! Surprising huh?? I was shocked but then she stopped and was baptized by her cousin on his birthday yesterday. It was sooo cool and she was a changed person. And now we are working with her son Noe. We also have other people, this teenager named Santos who is highly interested in the church, he is Christian, but he is super smart and loves to investigate, so we show him a lot of things in the bible for him and that he should pray to know if it’s true. Pretty good guy. And there are other people. A lot of success here in Rio Bravo, a lot of the members are now participating the missionary work because they see the changes in the people that have come to the church. We had interviews from the President last Tuesday; it was a very helpful interview for me. A lot of questions answered and I feel better than ever on the mission. This week is a loaded week and the work continues for us. It is still hot!!!! But hopefully it cools down in a week. We are so lucky because we have an AC in the bedroom, all of the houses in Mexico don’t have central air and sleep with fans. It’s probably like 85-90 degrees in the houses at nights I believe and so we still sleep comfortably to rest from the hottt days! But it will get cooler and so it is a good thing. Elder Pierce and I are still going strong and he is a great comp! Funny guy and obedient. Well I love you all and this is Elder Powell with another weekly mission update here in Mexico. I will keep you up to date! But I would love to hear from all of you who read this!!! Send me an email, a letter, or something because I miss you all!

For Letters and Packages:
Los Indios, TX 78567-0071
United States

Love you all!

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

JD's letter from August 20, 2012

I'm not even going to make excuses any more.  I have, again, been horrible at posting Justin's letters. Today, I apologized to him and re-committed to doing a better job.  I feel like I owe this to him as this is his way of communicating with most of you while he is out--a way to write one letter and still let his friends and family know how he is long as his dad does his part. I need to do a better job and I'm sorry.  Here is JD's letter from August 20, 2012.

Hola Familia y amigos! What are you all up to? Well this week was pretty good; there were a lot of good things that happened. Well beginning with what happened this week, Tuesday was a good day because we had this little wedding party for Alvaro and his wife. Alvaro was baptized last Sunday, and he and his wife were married on the Friday before the last Sunday (almost a week and a half ago). And then we wanted to make a special moment for them, and so we (mostly the members) threw a little party for them. With a lot of help from the members, it was a success. Of course we didn´t participate much with us being missionaries, but we took pictures with them, ate a little bit, some investigators came too, it was good. And then on Friday we had another activity with the youth though. It was directed to the families of the youth because there are a lot of youth here without their families. So we did this open house activity, where we broke the youth up into teams, gave them a topic in the strength of youth pamphlet and then they were stationed in a room and they taught their parents about what they learn in the church. Well the purpose was so that these families that don’t really know about the church and have bad thoughts about it can see that it is actually something good for their kids. And that it creates opportunities for us to teach the families. We had some success, not as much as we wanted, but it created opportunities for us and especially for the youth to help their families out. So that was Friday and it was awesome, and a dear friend of mine, Edgar who is an 18 year old in the branch, got his mission call and is going to Villa Hermosa, Mexico (touching Guatemala). He is sooo excited and we were soo excited for him. He has 2 years as a member and is a strong kid because his family doesn’t really support him, but he is strong. And then Natalie was baptized on Saturday, she was happy. Her husband baptized her and he was changed after that. And something also that happened was that Maria is an investigator and she wasn´t wanting to really change, but her cousin that lives with her, wanted her to come to church. And as well, she didn´t want to stop smoking. And so we would put goals with her, but she didn´t progress. On Thursday, she was saying that she cannot stop smoking, we were crushed and then we left without any reason to return anytime soon because it was disappointing. Well we prayed for her and then the next day we got this impression to go back and visit her. Well we did, and she said that she hadn´t smoked that day and wants to change. She wanted to be baptized the soonest possible so she will be baptized this coming Sunday. I was shocked but grateful that prayers are answered. I learned something that every trial can be resolved, if you let God resolve. Well when a trial comes, pray and fast if you need to and God will send peace if it be a blessing or a feeling. And that was special for us. I had a great week and I am ready for another one. I love you all and I hope you all have a marvelous week. Take care 

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 13--one more stint in Rio Bravo with Elder Pierce

Once again, I have been less than prompt in posting the last two letters and I’m very sorry. Life takes over and before I know it, too much time has passed.
Justin sounds great! Every Monday, I wait for his e-mail to arrive—always before noon-ish.  This week, it didn’t come and at 4 pm, I was still anxiously waiting.  The second it hit my phone, at a little after 4, I immediately replied and this began an impromptu chat that lasted about a half hour.  It was sooooo good to be able to get a live update and he was in such great spirits. He thanks everyone for their love and support and sends his very best wishes to all.  He also said that he loves getting letters and loves hearing news from home about all the things he misses—sports, friends, family events, etc. So, with that in mind, let’s all keep up the great work. If you haven’t written lately, he’s already almost half way finished—don’t wait too long.
As always, I remain grateful and indebted to you all for the support and love that you give to my son. You are all amazing and, as always, love and peace in your lives.

Justin and Elder Pierce

Hellos to all!

Well transfers came in and I get to stay with Elder Pierce for more time! I am sooo glad because this area is awesome! We have had soo much success! They sent us here with much expectations and everyone said it was bad here... But it is not bad at all! The branch members are awesome and we just keep working together to help the others come to the church. Well this week was pretty good! Alvaro and Claide got married on Friday and Alvaro was baptized this Sunday. And then the Branch is throwing this wedding party tomorrow for them! It will be fun and I am soo glad for them! Alvaro was pretty happy and he is shy and all, but he is getting to be more open. He shows us magic tricks and all. Photos on the way. 
Well Elder Pierce is a pretty awesome, companion that loves to be happy. He and I work great together! He is senior comp, but he is not demanding or anything like that. He lets me lead too which is awesome because I do love to lead! Haha. You all probably know that. But I am probably gone from here in six weeks, again! I don’t think a missionary has ever had 4 areas, more than 4 comps before he reached the year mark! But the President really likes to change things up just to keep everyone working hard, because areas do die because of the same missionary for a while, and so I am glad I get to have those changes to keep me going hard in the mission. Well this week is the baptism of Natalie, she is an 18 year old with a baby and her husband is a member but less active. They came to church yesterday; he came for the first time in 6 years! He got advanced to priest in the priesthood to be able to baptize his wife this Saturday! That made me super thrilled! I was glad for them. And this week we have an activity directed at the families of the youth in the ward. There are a TON of youth that come to church without their families; a lot of them aren’t members. But we want them to come to an activity where they learn what their kids are doing in the church and what they are learning. So they are going to come and learn from their own kids in 5 stations or rooms about a theme in the strength of youth pamphlet. Because there are a ton of parents that think the church is bad for their kids, but it is indeed a refuge for them from all the bad in this world, especially the bad influence here for the youth. So I am glad to be a help for these youth in the branch and the youth that are investigating the church, it is a joy to help them with a better future.
Well I am up on time; I hope I get the package today! Maybe I will... I love you and take care! Be safe as well! 

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

August 6, 2012

Here is Justin’s letter from the 6th—it sounds like he’s doing so well! I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Hola familia y amigos! How are you all doing?? I am doing pretty good! How is everyone enjoying the Olympics? Well obviously it has been hard to not be able to watch them, but we always hear the news about them and I heard that it is a tight race for the states huh? And Usain Bolt broke the record again?? Wow!! Well good luck United States and always Puerto Rico! Haha Well this week was very good! We worked super dang hard in the heat this week. We found a lot of people this week to teach and all. Hopefully they progress more and more. But we planned this activity for families of the youth to come and see what their kids learn and all. It will be pretty cool; tomorrow we will have a video shoot to put the video on DVDs so that they can take them to their parents as invites to this activity. The problem is that there are a lot of youth that come to church by themselves and don’t want much with the church. Well now we want to do an activity directly for these families where it is meant for them and the video invites are going to be like those ¨¨I am a Mormon¨¨ videos. It should be pretty fun, the Gutierrez family is helping us a ton with this activity. And once again, I am a wedding planner with my comp Elder Pierce. One of our investigators is not married, he was supposed to get baptized with his 2 kids, but didn’t because we found out that he wasn’t married to his wife (that is a member). SO they will be getting married this week, and then Saturday the baptism, and then the wedding party afterward. Well it should be an adventure this week, a lot to do! And transfers are coming up once again. I hope they don’t ship me off again because I wanna stay here! We will see what happens. I have loved my last 2 areas; maybe my 4th area will be neat as well, who knows? And today, we will be playing soccer like every Monday at 4. We went and washed clothes, shopped for food. I promise I am eating! It’s just we eat once a day. In the morning is cereal or eggs, at 2 PM is like a dinner or big lunch. And then that’s it. But we are eating!   Well I have lost weight, quite a bit, but I will try to eat more! Haha Well I love you all! This week will be Natalie´s and Alvaro´s baptism. Natalie is this 18 year old that is married to an inactive member. She loves the church! And Alvaro is the unmarried man who will be baptized this Saturday. It will be good! 

Alvaro Jr., Julissa, and Elder Pierce

Baptism Pictures of Alvaro Jr. and Julissa (the kids of Alvaro Sr.). Julissa was super scared and didn’t want to be baptized but her mom got her to do it. And she did very well, just isn´t that into pictures. Well that is about it for last week, but this week will be crazy! I love you all and be safe! Take care and write lots! Now I get letters in 3 days! Send them to the PO Box in Texas! 
Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Friday, July 27, 2012

Justin sounds so happy--not much makes his Pops happier!

This week’s letter is such a great one.  Justin sounds incredibly happy and focused and I can tell that he is serving with a smile on his face and joy in his heart and there really isn’t much more that a dad can ask for. It sounds like his birthday was a blast and that his friends in Rio Bravo came through for him. The only thing I have to complain about this letter is that he first says don’t worry about the safety issue—the news exaggerates and it really isn’t that bad—but then he says that he won’t be afraid to walk through Jersey or Compton now. Seriously, Justin? That isn’t very comforting for your old Pops. Oh well.  To all of you that continue to support my son, you have my most heartfelt gratitude. I can’t express to you what it means to me. Thank you, a million times over.  Remember, “Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.” Peace and love in your lives.

Hello Everyone! This week was very, very good! I had a very great birthday! I am sure that there were a lot of pictures already published on Facebook, because everyone has been telling me about how they saw my pictures on Facebook. But we had a baptismal service for 2 teenagers named Miguel and Crystel. They were super pumped, but wanted to be baptized on my birthday. So we went through with it, and then this family brought a birthday cake for me and pizza for a little celebration after the baptism. It was super fun!! And then here in Mexico, after they sing happy birthday, you have to bite the corner of the cake. And while I am going for the corner, Elder Pierce, Jose and Nelly push my face into the cake!!! I was shocked but it was funny. It’s a tradition here in Mexico. And then we had a little party, took a ton of pictures and it was a very good day, more because Miguel and Crystel were baptized! And this week we received news that 2 more will be baptized! I was so happy! So baptism tomorrow, and then Saturday!

Justin and Elder Pierce doing to face plant in his birthday cake

Looks like Elder Pierce got him good!

A very happy Justin celebrating his birthday with his great friends in Rio Bravo

Justin's birthday celebration included the baptisms of Miguel and Crystel

Everything is going super well here in Mexico! Everyone right now has this Batman craze right now, and to tell you all the truth, I really wanna see the new Batman and it’s hard to not be able to for another 16 months. But I will push through. The worst are missing the Olympics!!! Please record much of it for me please!!!! Haha! Especially the ceremonies!
Well off to another week of work, it’s hot and it’s sunny, but the work is good! We are working super hard, but there is nothing better than just coming home to collapsing on the bed (after showering of course) haha. I will let you know if I got the packages! The address to send letters and packages is now:
P.O. Box 71
Los Indios, TX 78567-0071
United States
Well I love you all and take care! Be safe and send me a lot of letters because this new address is very secure! And tons faster!

Elder Justin Powell

Hello Family,
Still haven’t received the package yet, but it should be here very soon! Probably later today because the guy goes over twice a week. Well everything continues well. There should be a letter coming soon, and then I will see about a package. Probably the next month, it’s just there is really nothing here in Rio Bravo that is touristic. Not like Monterrey... But I will work something out. Well it sounds like things are going well with everyone and that makes me happy! So if this package comes through, I might need a request of some things... I will probably need more garments and shirts. And, I’d love 2 baseball mitts and balls to play with (from DI). I don't know--whatever you can find. We are bored of soccer and wanna play some good old baseball. Let me know what I can send, but I would love those things right now and some Utah Utes Shirts too, to give to some of my friends here (can be from DI) and my Utah Tie!! Haha I don’t know, you can decide. Jack, keep up the good work buddy! And Noah, don’t let the ladies get in the way of your success! There is a time and a place to worry about them, focus on school!! Hahaha- just kidding. And Katie, I love you sooo much. Keep up the good ballet skills, okay? And all of you as well, I love you very much. And Mom, don’t worry. The drug cartels are not that horrible here. Rio Bravo is very calm and nothing happens here. I promise. We are in by 9 and no later and GOD DOES PROTECT. I don`t know how many countless times I have seen that on the mission, but it happens. The thing is that it is dangerous, but you know how the news blows everything up. One shoot out in Reynosa, and the whole state is put on the news because a shootout in the middle of the night. Don`t worry, I know it’s very hard for you guys because the news really is scary. But we are protected; keep praying for me and everything will be fine. Let’s just say that I am not scared to go through New Jersey or Compton, California at night now! Hahaha I love you all and thank you for your support. Take care and much love!

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Very Happy Elder in Rio Bravo

This morning, as I wrote to Justin, I was anxiously waiting for his latest letter from Rio Bravo.  Since he moved there I’ve worried about his well being, happiness, and most of all, his safety. Today’s letter put a gigantic smile on my face. He sounds so, so great and that makes me excessively happy as his Pops.  What a treat to read how happy he is becoming and how well he has adjusted. I’m still worried about his safety—he re-opened an area that had been closed because of the dangerous climate near the border. That worry, as a parent, will be hard to overcome.  Lend us your prayers and petitions for his continued safety.
Finally, once again, I thank you for all of the support that you have given to Justin. I know, from his letters to me, that he loves hearing from all of you and appreciates the time you take to write to him.  Please continue—he’s on a roll. Thank you, so much, for all of it. I’m grateful to each and every one of you.

Hola Familia y Amigos!
¿Como Están?
I am doing very well! The mission is very good right now and I think I feel like just went over the hump in thinking only about the time and now loving the work! Well to begin before I forget, I was reading some of the letter that you just sent because I do read
them all, it’s just that its difficult because this time is sooooo rushed and I never have time to write a lot, so I will write a letter today to you because we are 5 minutes to Texas, a lot of Members go to Texas and so easily I can send letters/packages. And you all can send packages to a PO Box of a member that lives here (I will send info next Monday on the address).
So I hope Sister Hinckley is feeling a lot better, please tell her hi and that she is in my prayers. We will fast for her, Elder Pierce and I. My dad wrote to me about the experience that the Hinckley’s had and about how the ward fasted for Sister Hinckley. That is a very cool story, though, the power of fasting. I know it’s real and it has worked a fortune for the mission here in Mexico. And please tell the whole ward that I love them and that I wish the best for them! They are all in my prayers!
So what has happened this week, 4th of July!!!! That is the cool thing with having an American comp is that we get to celebrate the same holidays and talk about the same things like sports and stuff! Pretty cool night though on 4th of July, we got hot dogs and roasted them in the night with a teenager that is going to the mission in 4 months. And we also made coke floats (because they don’t have root beer here), and they tasted pretty great! Just a good American night—I wore this corny golf red, white and blue tie during the day that Elder Pierce had, and it was pretty fun. Also we worked a ton this week! We had a lot of progress with Investigators and we have a baptism this coming Sunday! And a baptism on my birthday! Haha This teenager that we are teaching wanted to be baptized on my B-day! Haha. The mission is fun, I love the people here and I am now really loving the mission! The time is seriously flying soo fast! I am already 1/3 of the way done! I cannot believe it! Well take care and much love! I love you all and write me often ok? I will send that PO Box info that you can send me letters and packages to ok? Thanks for your support and you are all in my prayers!

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Reader Comments

I understand that some have tried to post comments to the blog and they have not appeared.  I don't have any idea why this is.  I have gone in and ensured that the settings for this blog are such that reader comments are allowed, without any need for approval, and all that I can find leads me to believe the way is clear.  I don't know if there is something I'm missing.  If anyone does, please contact me at
Also, in the interim, if you have a comment, e-mail it to me and I'll post it--at least until the issue is fixed.  Thanks everyone and I'm sorry if this has inconvenienced you.  Cheers!

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Life In Rio Bravo!

Justin’s latest letter shows that he is definitely adapting to life in Rio Bravo.  He called me on Father’s Day and told me of his disappointment because he had received a call from his mission president asking him if he’d be willing to go to Rio Bravo and re-open it to missionary work. He was less than thrilled to leave Lomas del Pedregal area because he had been working so hard and was finally seeing some results.  Also, he had established some great relationships with the Mexican people in Lomas.  I worried, for a bit, about how he’d do but it was needless as it’s apparent that he’s doing great.
Just as a side note—Justin’s 20th birthday is on the 18th.  I’m sure that he’d love to get lots of birthday wishes from all of his friends in the States. As always, you area all amazing and I’m sure that you will continue to rise up and support this son of mine and for that I’m so tremendously grateful.  Peace and love to you all.

Hello everyone!
How is everyone doing? Well I am doing spectacular, just another week flown by and I can`t believe I am sitting in front of a computer once again! Haha. Well this week was a great week. We had a lot of success with meeting some people and as well as teaching a lot of efficiently. We are pretty much settled in Rio Bravo, Except that we need to chisel a hole in the wall in the house to put an air conditioning unit so we don’t have to sleep in our own sweat anymore! Haha Well nothing super different this week really happened, just still working and still pushing along. I have a lot of friends already in this Branch (too small to be a ward) already because they are super nice here! It’s awesome because they didn`t have missionaries here for a little while, but then they put us here and what happened was: A. they had investigators for us to work with already. B. They were really excited to work with us in this work. And C. There are a lot of part member families here and a lot of people that want to listen. It is very pleasant to come from a ward where I was at in Lomas and have a Branch that loves to work as well. My companion Elder Pierce is a very funny companion. He just jokes all the time and is one of the most positive missionaries I have ever met. Everything that is happening good or bad, and if it’s bad, it’s always a positive experience. We had some sad news from the dad of a new convert of ours, Nelly, and her dad didn`t want anything with our church and stuff. But Elder Pierce was still pretty positive and we were still smiling, laughing and all that stuff. So Elder Pierce and I work very well together because even though he is senior comp, he lets me lead! haha Everyone thinks that I am senior comp, but he has always not been one to lead or any of that and I love to lead, so it works out with us. He also had great ideas and so we work super well together.
Well I received sad news about my area before... We had 8 investigators preparing for baptism for the 30th of June that were pretty sure about making this decision and progressing quite a bit, the thing is that Elder Santiago and the new comp over there only had 2 investigators baptized over there on that day. It was sad because we worked soooo hard with those 8 and only 2 decided. So I hope that they can be baptized and even that I can`t be over there working with them, I really do hope that I can see that they were baptized in the very near future.
Well I am out of time... I hope everyone is doing okay! I love you all and thank you for all your support. Take care and God Bless

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

First Week In Rio Bravo

I know that I didn't have a post on the week of the 18th, but that is because Justin really didn't send a letter.  He was transferred to a new area--Rio Bravo--and his letter was 3 lines long, saying that he was just moving in to his new apartment.  Rio Bravo is an area that hasn't had missionaries for quite a while and Justin was asked to be one of the Elders that open it back up. He was very sad to leave Lomas del Pedregal but he has a great attitude and will do really well. 
The letter that he sent on the 25th wasn't much longer but it did have some good words that Justin will surely want passed along to all who are interested in him and in his mission. He sounds like he is adapting and doing a great job.  I'm a bit worried because he's back on the border but as with his time in Matamoros, I'll try to find peace trusting.  Enjoy the letter and continued blessings to you all.

Hello Family and Friends,
How are you all doing? Well I am doing pretty well so far here in Rio Bravo. I am not going to lie, I am so glad being here for 2 summers is it because it is HOT!!!! Dad I might take you up in living in Alaska because anywhere cold would be soo lovely. Well other than the heat, the work continues! We had a baptism on Saturday with this girl named Nelly and she is 16. It was actually pretty good because of the disappointment I had when president specially changed me to open an area with another elder when we had 8 baptisms for the 30th of June. I really do miss my old area a ton, but this area is pretty good. It is not as bad as I thought. One thing I love about this Branch is that it is very centralized on the young men and women. I think in these days it is so much better to convert the younger generation because it helps them so much in having much more success in these difficult times, and plus it is so hard to try to convert older men and women here because of their traditions in Catholicism and other religions. But that is what I love about this area is the concentration in them and I do believe that is the reason why I changed to here because I love helping the youth out in finding a way out of the holes that they are in and it is soo cool to see the grand changes in their lives. GREAT NEWS!!!! Juan de Dios (Juan in that couple, Juan and Paloma, the converts of Elder Perkes and I) received a calling, 2nd counselor in Sunday School and received the priesthood!!! I was so happy when I received that news!!!!!! I wish I was there with him when he received it! But we will be together in the temple when he goes with Paloma! Great news, right? That is awesome that you are keeping in touch with the ward and please keep showing support to them! That ward, Lomas Del Pedregal is probably my Mexican home ward! haha Well I am sorry time is up, very busy day today, we had to fix the water and other stuff in the house and that is why we are late writing today, but take care all of you and I love you all very much! Stay strong and write me huh? Haha.
And that is soo awesome Jack got to take the field to warm up with the Bees! Please give him a big high five! And give the whole fam a lot of love!

Much Love,

Elder Justin Powell
Map of Justin's new area--again at the border--in Rio Bravo City.

Justin with Nelly and Elder Pierce

Leia Mais…

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wonderful life lessons being learned

I love this letter.  I love it because it makes me so happy to read that Justin is learning a lesson that will benefit him throughout his life.  He is learning that our happiness and our optimism need not depend, nor should they depend, on any external force or circumstance.  Our lives are often pummeled with difficult situations but how we face them and the attitude that we adopt in the face of them makes us who we truly are. True happiness and well being are generated inside of us and then radiate outwards and I'm so proud of Justin for learning this über-valuable lesson. These life lessons are the ones that money can’t pay for and that life will teach us, if we are paying attention, as Justin obviously is.
Please continue writing him.  I’m so grateful for all of you that take time out of your schedules to support this son of mine. That, also, is something that money cannot buy and I’m deeply in your debt. Peace and love.

Well another week already flown by, how is everyone doing?? I am doing pretty well! The heat is on the rise here and we still are pushing hard to help all that need help. This week was pretty interesting and alright, I was in a lot of interchanges this week. I went to an area called Pedregal on Thursday and Friday I was with Elder Fowler (Zone Leader) in Victoria. I missed my area like crazy! But the thing is that I learn a lot from going to other areas and learning from other missionaries, etc. The thing I learned this week that an ex-missionary and I talked about was to make the mission the best experience of your life. It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s hard to see people not progress, but we can make the mission much more positive. Like being happy, having fun with the mission as well. This called my attention because of another missionary in the district that is sooo serious about the mission. The thing is that when you are preaching to somebody about the gospel that it’s to make people better and happier, shouldn`t we be happy and of good joy? That`s what we talked about and it all kind of clicked in my mind. We have soo much more success when we talk with the people and not recite the first lesson to someone. When we preach of the gospel of happiness, we have so much more success getting down to earth with the investigators rather than trying to be somebody that we are not. Now, what I hope that everyone could learn is that, everyone in this gospel should be happy, should be funny and the gospel isn`t sooo serious. It hurts to try to be so serious to investigators while in a lesson and it’s about happiness when we are not happy. It doesn`t work. Sorry this was on my mind this week because it called my attention and it all clicked this week. Be happy with the gospel, have fun with life because the gospel is about true happiness! Talk to your friends about the gospel, but be real about it and happy. When you are sad or sooo serious, it doesn`t work out with getting the message to their heart. So I have made adjustments to my mission, to take every day of my mission and make it positive. Be funny, happier and look at the brighter ends of everything. It’s 120 degrees outside, but it’s not humid! Haha. I`m losing weight in the mission, but at least I will have space when I return home and eat all the food that I miss! hahaha Sorry I just felt like sharing that with you all because being positive and happy about everything really matters, especially in preaching this gospel. I love you all and I hope everyone is ok! Write me often and I miss you all! Already 17 months left in the mission! Take care!


Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Monday, June 4, 2012

A great letter from JD

Hi guys and gals.  Can you believe that I'm actually posting this on the day that it arrives.  I promised that I would do better and be more prompt.  This is a great letter from JD--I love it because I can tell that he is learning great lessons about patience and about being able recognize his feelings and promptings and then putting it all in perspective--even when it is hard. As always, thank you for supporting this son of mine. I miss him and can't wait until he is back but as he is far away, I'm grateful to you all for the love, friendship and support that you give to him that sustains him. I am a firm believer that this wonderful energy will come back to you all, magnified.  Thank you, from a grateful father.  Peace.

Hello Family and Friends,
How is it going? Well we are still pushing through the mission, one week at a time. Well the area ``Lomas Del Pedregal`` is still good, we worked a ton this week, a lot of work with the members. And we had a ton of success with finding great people, and as well as a lot of the members progressing. Maria Guadalupe got confirmed yesterday and she is doing a lot better now. A lot of my converts though are not coming to church!!!! For some emergencies or because they don`t feel welcomed now, it’s frustrating when they don`t come because it feels like to us missionaries that we baptized them in vain, and not when they were entirely ready. Well we still try to work things out with them, and slowly but surely they will come back if we stay persistent with them and their needs. Other than that, we found a great couple named Ivan and Norma. We contacted a young lady in the street and she showed some interest and accepted that we would come another day. Well we went and she didn`t seem interested until the 3rd visit, and she accepted a Book of Mormon. Well then the next visit we wanted to talk with the husband as well, but she was scared that he wouldn`t accept. But we went—he was pretty nervous and it started out a bit on the line, but then we shared something with him, and he said that he read the same thing in the bible that same day, because he was trying to prepare for our visit. It was like, wow! Another spiritual moment; he changed after that and they were accepting everything that we said. They were reading the Book of Mormon when we went for another visit. What I have learned is that as missionaries, we are like those of the phone company, we hook up the line for the investigators to God, because we don`t hardly do anything. We are just tools in his hands, and I have seen so much of that on the mission! Those are testimony builders of mine. The mission, I am not going to lie, is pretty dang hard for the fact that our testimony goes up and down like the world`s biggest roller coaster! It`s like God gives us 99 reasons to believe that the church is true, but there is always 1 that just sneaks in that makes your testimony kind of tear down. But we have to keep going to just keep that faith up, and that is the hardest thing to do!!!!!! But that is what I have learned and that I hope you all can see that and remember that when you had that experience that built your testimony because that was true, that you can focus on those 99 things and not on that 1 doubt, because it is a faith tester— that is all it is. Well times up and now I have got to go, but I love you all and you are all in prayers! Dad I haven`t read your email yet, but by the looks of it, something happened and I will read later. You are all in my prayers and dad I am worried, I hope nothing super bad has happened. Stay happy everyone, I love you all and now it’s SUMMMER TIME! Time for the 120 degrees! Hahaha! Love you all!

Elder Justin Powell

I am sorry My English is HORRIBLE, I am serious, and English is becoming distant for me! I am turning Mexican already, skin color and everything! Hahaha! 

Justin played a silly string prank on his friend, Elder Montejano, as he came out of the bathroom.

JD said that this is the most intense rain/thunder storm he has ever been in in his life!

Picture following a ward mission activity that JD and his companion planned for the youth in his ward.

Leia Mais…