Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 18, 2013

Hello Everyone,
How have you been? I am doing great. The mission is doing very swell and I am loving every moment of it. Well this week looks like it will be a lot of work and things to do. I hope there is enough time to take in the Mexican culture and all before I leave. But I am excited for this week and it should be a great one. 
This past week went by very quickly and I am literally shocked to be in front of the computer screen again writing to you all about the past week. 
Well on Tuesday it was fun. We went on an interchange with the Zone leaders in Reynosa West, and it was funny because the Elders are called Elder Jensen and Elder Powell (yes another elder Powell) and the funny thing is is that we are both from Spokane, Washington as well and I am like 3 months older than him. Oh that day while we were contacting and working, it was funny because everyone thought that it was a joke or that we were in some ranking system in the church and that the name "Elder Powell" is like a rank like a bishop or father or priest in the church. Haha Yeah it was funny. But he is a good friend of mine; maybe he is a family member of mine. Who knows? But it was a good day with Elder Powell. 
Bowling...Mexican style
On Wednesday, it was a lot of business in the offices and then we had a pretty good moment in the lunch. Well it was my last lunch with Sister Alma Ochoa and it was kind of sad because she cooks soo well and she is a great sister and always pumped. She is a high spirited person and it has been a joy to work with her this time I have had here in San Jose. But we have been teaching this sister named Arizeli and Alma has been helping her out with giving testimony and stuff like that, and Arizeli has had this super hard decision to make at the end of this month. What happened is that she left her boyfriend in this other state when the whole family came. The family got to know the church here in Reynosa and got baptized just a little bit ago and she was the only one that didn’t because she has this super difficult work schedule and all. But returning to the time with Alma Ochoa in the food, we decided to do a fast with the sister to see if she would open her heart and stuff, it was definitely needed because we are on the clock because she is leaving November 28th. Ugh... 
Well the next day we had a lesson with Arizeli and it was pretty powerful. In the morning Elder Capiz and I had a good study session and learned about the charity. While we were reading about charity, something came to my mind about what to do. So at the lesson, we read Moroni7:44-47 with the family and afterward did this dynamic where we all gave a compliment to Arizeli. I started and told her that she is a great person and trying to do the best, and that she is a great example and all that. My companion was next and then after it was the family. Oh it was super spiritual! All the family members were just sharing how much they loved her and wanted her to stay with the family. They were all crying pretty much and it even got me teary eyed as well. But it didn’t end as well as we planned because she has a hard heart and pretty much told her family that they will be ok with her being away from home and family while she is looking for fake love. Well I stepped in because I have gotten a firm testimony of where the true love is. I told her that her boyfriend probably loves her, but the only people that love her the most and unconditionally is the family and that she is about to abandon the family for one that loves her conditionally. By the sounds of it, the guy doesn’t sound very great and she is a typical 19 year old girl. But I shared with her that I was exactly the same way. I told her that I have come to realize and I also regret that I didn’t spend that much time with the people that love me the most- my family. And that instead of playing baseball with my little brothers, I was better off going to the movies. Yes I love my friends, but I spent far too much time with them rather than with my family that loves me unconditionally. Arizeli was kind of pricked but still was hard in the heart, but I pray that she finally realizes that before it’s too late, like in my case where I finally realized that lesson in the mission and not before. Well I hope it’s not too late right ;) But maybe she will realize that before she lives, pray for her please! :)
I am very excited to see my family and be with them and I am grateful for them. I say family as well to all who are my dear friends and that have helped me to be here. I have an enormous family and I love you all very much. It’s going to be difficult balancing my American-Puerto Rican-Mexican family :) haha
Well that was the experience of the week and there were more, but better to tell you when I am home. 
Here´s to the last week of pure work, well it’s a lot of planning and meetings with the transfers coming up, but it should be a great one. A lot of activities and farewells. I am mixed up with the feelings but ever so pumped to serve. I love you all so much and have an amazing week! :)



Elder Justin Powell  


Leia Mais…

November 11, 2013

Hola Everybody,
How are you all doing? I am doing really well. This past week was a pretty good week especially yesterday with the events that we had. There have been a lot of good things going on and I love the mission. I cannot believe that this will be my third to last letter to my home. A lot of my companions from the MTC and stuff are already home or are going home this week, but I will be the last one. But I will be home the day before thanksgiving haha. I am excited to see all the family and friends! I am not excited for the snow and cold though. Now that I am Mexican, who knows if I will be able to handle the cold over there, haha. Believe it or not, it’s still hot over here. Not like that much but you can still work up a sweat. And in the nights it gets pretty cold, so a lot of people are getting sick. It’s just a bad time to get sick and all...that’s all. I don’t know why I get sick, I always wonder if I am normal or no because the other day it’s cold, it was raining and we are dripping wet. I didn’t get sick, haha. Not like I want to get sick, but who knows why I am not. 
Soaking wet in the rain
Today is going to be interesting because all the office missionaries and us are going bowling! It should be fun, I have never gone bowling on the mission and I have always wanted to with my buddies in the offices so it should be fun. I am excited; we are going to leave at like 4.
Well this week was very good; on Tuesday was a normal day. Nothing too special, just that this sister in our ward has been struggling with life and she is very good at putting on a mask because she is very happy always. Well on Tuesday we felt this impression in going to this sister´s house for some reason. Well we went and we sat down with her and her 2 kids, we winged a lesson because we didn’t know what to really say due to not planning much, but we confided in the spirit and taught a good lesson. At the end, after her being happy and all, she starts crying and the kids got serious as well. I kind of started worrying a bit and then she said that we came at the precise moment because she was thinking about doing something drastic and life changing in those very moments. She shared that if we wouldn’t have gone to her house in time, something could have happened. Wow big testimony builder again for me!! We gave her a blessing and she felt better, every day we have been going by to see how she is doing and she is doing a lot better. The family is a great family and pray for them please. 
Teachers and missionaries at an Open House
On Wednesday, we had interchanges with the missionaries in Rio Bravo. It was interesting in the morning because this one elder had his birthday and President wanted to take him to breakfast, so we had a really good American breakfast on Wednesday morning. Afterward was one of the weirdest experiences that I have ever experienced in the mission with the weather. It started raining and then it rained hard for like 4 hours straight. And we were outside for all of it. We helped this guy get his truck out of a hole in the road because the roads were like rivers, oh we were all wet! We were just walking through rivers and floods. It was quite the experience. We got to the church for the ward counsel and went to the bathroom to dry off; we used the electric hand dryer to dry a bit. It was pretty funny, Elder Gonzalez, Javier and I had a funny time drying off. 
On Thursday I had another surgery on an ingrown toe nail again. Due to walking a ton, we can get several so I was due in again. Well going in, I was nervous because the last time I fainted while I watched my toenail get ripped out and everything without any feeling or pain. So this time I had my eyes closed. I swear I can handle blood and stuff, but not my own. I guess I just get super nervous, but it was an experience that my companion even took video. Haha
Yesterday was an awesome day. Cielo got baptized yesterday and she was very excited. The primary organization has been helping this girl in a part family get active in the church and we taught her and she got baptized. It was very neat because in her baptismal service she sang a hymn and it touched her mom´s heart. Now her mom is getting active and her brothers as well. It was a pretty neat experience. I am happy for that family. And yesterday was the open house; I will send you all a picture of us with the teachers in the open house activity.
Cielo and her family
Well everything is good, I love you all very much and I hope you all have an excellent week-

Elder Powell 


Leia Mais…

October 28, 2013

Hola to everybody,
How have you all been?  I have been doing super good; just busy with a lot of things this past week. Let’s see where we begin haha
On Tuesday we had this sister training meeting. Well it’s to train the sisters in the mission to learn English and to work harder in the mission. So we came to the offices like at 630 AM to finish the training PowerPoint. What was funny is that now with Elder Ropp gone, I was the only American that was going to participate in the training meeting. So yeah it was pretty interesting because my English is seriously close to awful and I was battling a bit with talking and teaching the sisters their English. But it was fun, and then we taught about how we can be better missionaries with more success. We gave each of the sisters a little planner cover that reminds the sisters of their purpose here in the mission. 
Visiting a quarantined Elder
Well my mind is on another planet right now because we have so many things to do but I will tell you all of one thing that happened yesterday. We had a mission devotional last night where we invited all of the x missionaries to share their experiences and it was super good! There were like 80 people that showed up. This one sister had her tape player and put on a recording of a day in the mission. She held it up to the microphone and it was very spiritual! She was crying while it was playing and she shared a great testimony. Afterward, many other brothers and sisters that are dear friends of mine shared their testimonies and it was very neat because there were PowerPoints and stuff like that. I almost cried because of how much I am going to miss the mission. I will definitely miss it because it is a great experience. Afterward we showed a video and it’s the new hasten the work of salvation videos and it’s called "I´ll go where you want me to go". I invite you all to watch it because it is super good and it can help a lot to sharing the gospel with people. But we asked for referrals last night from everyone and we received 50!! So we have a ton of work to do!!!!! :)
Well I love the mission, even though it is quickly coming to an end, I hope that you all that are able to serve, go because it is the best experience and you can definitely receive much life guidance. It will help you to be a better you. 
Eating American food at Carl's Jr.
I love you all and see you soon, I will write more next week because we will have more times :)

Elder Justin Powell


Leia Mais…

October 18, 2013

Hello Family and Friends,
How are you all? I am sooo sorry that I couldn’t write a letter to you last week. I was super busy and there was literally no time to write and just enough time to tell the family that everything was all good and safe. But this week was a great one and I have a lot to share in this letter. So brace yourselves for a lot of experiences that happened this past week.
Well last Monday it was super crazy the whole transfer and everything. We had already planned the travels and everything for all the missionaries getting transferred. Reynosa is the center of the mission, but there are several zones that are hours away, and we always travel on charter bus when we get transferred and have exchanges. So Nuevo Laredo is like 6 hours away on bus, and the highway to Monterrey from Nuevo Laredo was flooded... And so we had to cancel the whole trip of that group of missionaries and readjust a lot of trips, because missionaries can’t travel alone in transfers. Oh what fun that was, but it came out fine. Just some pulled hairs from my head, but all good. Well the two missionaries arrived at like 3 pm Monday, and President and Sister Morales took Elder Capiz and I with them to meet the new missionaries. The two new missionaries are called Elder Andersen and Elder Ricks. They were actually pretty excited and fine when they got off the plane. I was expecting to be a stress counselor for the new American missionaries due to all the gossip of Reynosa and how super dangerous it is, but no they already knew about Reynosa due to several former missionaries that were here before and that I knew from this mission. Indeed it is a small world. Afterward we went to Carl's Jr. (classic American missionary choice), and it was pretty good, I have kind of lost the sense of how good fast food is. Pretty crazy, maybe my homecoming dinner will be at McDonalds (hahaha just kidding). 
Elders Capiz and Powell
On Tuesday was the transfer-training new assistant-trainer training-new missionary training-interviews with the finished missionaries-dinner with finished missionaries-entertaining missionaries waiting for their companions- day. Haha Oh Tuesday night was the best sleep I had ever had in my life. But it was pretty good, a lot of familiar faces of former companions and friends. Elder Berrios (my former companion and friend) finished his mission and he left on Thursday to Texas. Good missionary and will be missed. I just feel old now, it’s very strange because I don’t feel like I have 23 months in the mission, but everything is telling me that I do. I have mixed feelings about the whole finishing. It’s just weird, but I am very excited to see all of my family and friends.
Well on Wednesday we had a great day with it being the first work day, well it went alright because I still don’t know the area super well, so yeah it was a bit of a struggle. But Elder Capiz is a great missionary, super humble and kind. He is seriously this little kid in a tall man´s body. Haha. Everyone calls him Niño (kid), it’s pretty funny.
Thursday we had a really good experience in teaching. We are teaching this family, and the mom is named Monica and her kids Alejandra and Miguel. Well Monica has been in a deep struggle lately due to family issues. It’s been really hard for her because her husband lives all the way in New York and she lives all alone with her kids here. She feels sad a lot of the times it’s a struggle for her. But we talked about how confiding in God will bless lives and help people feel confident and peace. She said that she learned some things about confiding in God more and I am glad that she feels peace. We gave her a blessing and it was super helpful. She said that after the blessing, all of her pain was gone and she was fine. Very neat experience, very spiritual. It was a testimony builder for me to see how depressed she was to finally now gaining self confidence and good self esteem.
Friday was my companion´s birthday. We got a cake and pushed his face into it. Pretty funny moment. Elder Barlow had the cake in his hands and shoved the cake into his face. Super funny! Haha. 
Elder Capiz's birthday
We then went to go teach and had a lot of great experiences as well. We taught the importance of reading, praying and attending church using the demonstration with the 3 cups and 3 spoons. It was pretty cool; it’s a great example of how the 3 activities of reading, praying and attending church are all supported by the other. I learned that if you do the three frequently, than you will have much spiritual power. You will be able to overcome your challenges and difficulties. I know it’s true because it’s happened in my life. On the mission, it hasn’t been the easiest with a perfect life and no trials. I have had many trials on the mission, but I have received much guidance and peace when there has been times of much frustration. But there have been days where I haven’t read the scriptures, and the day kind of goes by like whatever. When I have been obedient to applying the 3 principles, those weeks are the best and miracles happen. It can and will happen to all of us who give it their best to doing the 3 activities. You cannot just pray without reading, because how would God be able to specifically answer your prayers with guidance. We can’t just not go to church because where will we be able to apply what we have received from God in serving actively in the gospel of Christ. We can just apply one principle or another, but it’s not or near the same as applying the 3. I invite you all to apply the 3 by praying, reading your scriptures and attending church, and God will bless you. And if you have doubts, read President Uchtdorf´s talk this past conference. Everyone will have doubts, I still have some doubts because that is part of this life and I am willing to accept that I cannot know everything, but we should give it our best shot with what we already have from God and run with it. It was very interesting teaching that lesson to the 2 families because I really just realized all this recently, it’s like connecting all the puzzle pieces together. Haha. But it was a good teaching day Friday. 
Saturday was even more interesting and fun. Well we went to the offices and walking out of the door at like 11 AM, passes this new Toyota corolla into the parking lot. Elder Capiz and I just stood there like "who is this?" And we see hopping out of the car was Elder Gonzalez (Area 70) and Elder Johnson (70 and Pres of Area Mexico), our faces changed just pure shock and we went to go help them with their luggage. Oh that was a nerve racking hand shake because Elder Johnson is like our head boss here. Haha. After helping Elder Johnson a little, we had to go help the sisters move into another house and it was a sketchy experience. They live on this 3rd floor apartment, and we had to move all the furniture down these steep stairs. It was pretty freaky but we did it. And then we returned to the offices at like 2. After we went to our food with this family, they took us to one of the fanciest restaurants here haha. I was surprised, but I had Chile Relleno. Oh it was delicious!!!!! I will miss the Mexican food a ton!

Well this week was great, there were many other things that happened, but I have no time to tell all the experiences. But I love you all and I hope everything goes well for you all.
Love,
Elder Justin Powell  


Leia Mais…

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Justin's flight itinerary for his trip home!! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Leia Mais…

7 October 2013 -- More Conferences and Justin's bulletin talk/letter in Spanish

Hello Everybody,
How are you all doing? I am doing pretty well. Today is crazy because we have to plan transfers and a missionary is going home today so we have a planning day today and not a preparation day. So yeah it’s a bummer and I don’t know if my letter will be very long, but I will try to write a good letter to tell you everything that went on this week. 
Well on Tuesday we were in the offices all day doing a training meeting for the monthly leadership council meeting. It was focused on how we can study better and be more diligent in the morning with the studies. I learned quite a bit from it and it was pretty cool to look up how to study better. Something interesting that I have learned from studying is the very importance to having a study journal when you read your scriptures, because pretty much you are writing your personal scriptures. It’s one thing to just read scriptures, but it’s another thing to scrutinize the scriptures and to study it out. So, it's best to write down personal revelations and feelings close to the scriptures. And of course to be focused :). But on Wednesday we gave the training and it was pretty good. President Morales gave a good training about a real growth in the church and how we should convert the new members and not just baptize the investigators. Something that is much needed in these days. Something shocking about the church growth in Mexico is that there were 40,000 baptisms last year, and only 100 are completely active!!! :/ But we learned about how to have a complete retention of those new members, and we have definitely slowed up on the whole conversion process, but the people that are getting baptized, are people looking to serve and stay in the church. It will be a real growth in the church. But on Saturday in conference I heard that the church is the fastest growing in the world now with 15,000,000!! Let’s keep it going right so that all can be blessed in the world. 
The Sister Morales shared this very neat experience with us. It’s a long story, but she has a firm testimony that the Holy Ghost is what guides us and brings us the closest with God. She talked a lot of having the spiritual guide always by your side that you can always be happy and pumped to do the work. The spirit really does help us to be in the right path and it’s definitely a helper so that we can feel comfort at all times. I really loved her talk. 
Everything else was good at the training meeting. It was a blast. We ate tamales for lunch, good food.
Leadership Council Conference
Well conference was awesome!!!!! It was the best I have ever seen in my life because the messages were so inspiring and I really did receive a lot of answers!!! :) I hope you all feel the same with the conference! I really loved Pres. Uchtdorf's talks!! They were amazing and the two of them were both huge answers to me. I invite you all to read the talk his talks from the regular session and priesthood session to learn more and receive great answers because they are both very, very inspired. I love conference and you should love it too when you watch it, hugely inspiring.  

General Conference in Reynosa

Well I will send my talk that I had to write to the entire mission in the monthly mission bulletin. It’s in Spanish, sorry but there ya go. I love you all; I will try to write more next week. God bless
Elder Justin Powell

Sea usted mismo
 Queridos Elderes y Hermanas,
 Es un gusto poder compartir algo con ustedes y estar sirviendo a su lado. Espero que mis palabras puedan ser de ayuda en su servicio misional.
 La obra misional es algo magnifico y nosotros como misioneros hemos sido llamados a servir a nuestro Padre Celestial, “Creemos que el hombre debe ser llamado por Dios...” (A.F. 5). En esta época, el evangelio realmente está siendo predicado “…a toda nación, tribu, lengua y pueblo” (DyC 133:37), con la visión de cómo predicar el evangelio elevándonos más cada día. Hemos sido muy bendecidos al estar sirviendo en este tiempo de cumplimiento.
 Estamos aquí con el mismo propósito y llamados a la misma obra, pero Dios nos llamó específicamente a estar en donde estamos en este momento para poner en práctica los dones y talentos que tenemos.
 Somos diferentes en persona, cultura y habilidad. Somos de diferentes partes de este continente (o del mundo), y hemos venido de familias distintas. Tenemos el mismo propósito, y la razón porque estamos aquí es para servir Dios con los dones y talentos que él nos dio.  Porque Él tiene un propósito para cada uno de nosotros en esta misión. Él tiene un camino preparado para nosotros en esta misión para conocer personas que necesitemos conocer.
 A veces sentimos presión a ser como otro misionero, como un misionero robótico, o como otra persona admirable a nosotros. Pero realmente debemos ser nosotros mismos para poder cumplir con nuestro propósito que Dios nos ha puesto. Realmente es posible ser obedientes con exactitud, mientras que magnifiquemos nuestros dones y talentos.
 A mí me gusta la parábola que Jesucristo contó de los talentos, que se encuentra Mateo 25:14-30. Cuando el señor dio a sus siervos talentos, Él estaba esperando que no solo se quedaran con la cantidad de talentos que recibieron al principio, pero que los talentos de los siervos podrían ser multiplicados. El señor quería que los siervos hicieran algo más con sus talentos.
Nosotros somos los siervos de Dios. Hemos sido dado talentos y Dios espera que magnifiquemos nuestros talentos en una manera extraordinaria. Cuando realmente estamos magnificando nuestros talentos en la obra misional, estamos cumpliendo con el plan de Dios y utilizando los dones y talentos que Él nos dio. Al cumplir con el plan que Dios nos dio, realmente podremos recibir muchas bendiciones, lograr mucho éxito y ser un instrumento más eficaz en esta gran obra del Señor.

 Yo sé que tenemos un amoroso Padre Celestial, que está dispuesto a ayudarnos desarrollar nuestros dones y talentos para que seamos grandes misioneros y misioneras en esta obra. Yo sé que no requiere muchas cosas diferentes e incomodas para lograr éxito en la misión. Solo sea usted mismo en la obra misional, guardando los mandamientos, para que cumpla con su propósito en la viña del Señor. Y ustedes tendrán mucho éxito y un desarrollo de ser un gran instrumento en las manos de Dios. Que Dios les bendiga, les amo mucho. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.  

Leia Mais…

30 September 2013 -- More travel and funny Sister Conference

Hello Hello Everybody,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!! How are you all doing? How was your week? What is new? I would love to hear from you all; you can all send me emails when you get the chance.
Well everything is going good, working with our ward and all. Really cool things happened this week. Everyday something very interesting happens and I love that about the mission, there is always something to learn from everything, even the bad. 
Well on Monday, I played basketball for the first time in a long while and I am bad now... It’s sad but I will get the skills back hopefully. Haha. But it was fun just shooting hoops. Today we are going to play soccer and some catch with the mitts that I have still from you, Dad. I love the mitts still and it’s fun to play catch still. :) 
On Wednesday we went to Valle Hermoso to have interchanges with the ZLs and it was a good interchange. I saw a lot of familiar faces over there and people that I dearly admire. I love Valle Hermoso and the people there are very nice and Friendly. This time it wasn’t the best because there were a bunch of mosquitoes!! We were in a lesson outside with this investigator and his wife who is a member. I was with my dear friend Elder Muñoz and the lesson was during the sunset and at night is when there are billions of mosquitoes in Valle Hermoso. Well every hand movement I made, I hit like 100 mosquitoes... Oh it was crazy. The thing is that we were teaching the investigator how to fast to receive an answer, and this guy was wearing shorts during this lesson with a gazillion mosquitoes! I told him that that for God being outside with shorts on was enough of a sacrifice to receive an answer. I felt for the guy, but somehow he managed. He said that he will still fast, so he should be receiving a super answer from God for his determination and sacrifice. Haha Also we had to clean the baptismal font there and in there were a ton of mosquitoes as well... Well I jumped to hold the tube that pumps the water out and yeah what a blast! Haha Getting in the water and doing that job was for sure my ``dirty jobs'' application. Hopefully they call me so that I can be on TV. I`ll include that photo too.
Dirty Jobs...cleaning the font!
   
I saw the Sister Maria Ezequiel and she is a member! I don’t know if you remember her but I was teaching her almost a year ago and after separating herself from her boyfriend and baptizing herself, she got baptized a little bit ago and when I saw her we were both sooo happy to see each other. I will include the picture, but she is very active and I am glad that everything worked out for her and that she got everything arranged to be able to take that step in her life and be very active in the church. She went to the temple last weekend and said that she loved it soo much and wow, she has changed a lot. She is this new woman ready for anything to happen, and she is a strong missionary as well, she is inviting every moving object to church. Haha. I felt a lot of competition with her to preach the gospel haha.
Justin and Sister Maria Ezequiel
But I saw other familiar faces as well. I didn’t get to see Max but I heard that they are going to get sealed on December 14th! I might have to return to Mexico, or extend. Who knows, but I would love to go to see the sealing in Monterrey. I am going to pray a ton to see if I can go. Also some dear friends of mine in Valle Hermoso are getting married in December. Ugh they are the same age as me and already in that process, haha. I am not a kid anymore it seems. Haha. 
On Thursday we went back to Reynosa and had a good day. Nothing much happened that day—just work and good work. It was hot that day but it was good. 
On Friday we had this conference to train. We trained all the sisters in the mission with their English. Super interesting--nothing like training 12 sisters that don’t know how to speak English. Haha No but it was very fun. Sister Morales was directing the conference and she wanted to do this special day with the sisters to try and pump them up. And so we trained them for about an hour and ate pizza.
Elders Barlow, Powell and Vargas with the pizzas
It was kind of awkward because Elder Ropp and I were the only men there, and it was like this girly conference. At the beginning we started with the hymn and prayer and wanna guess what hymn we sang? Yep As Sisters in Zion... haha and yeah Elder Ropp and I felt kind of weird and nothing like sisters giggle at us singing this very sisterly hymn. Anyway we were teaching basic English communication to the sisters because most of them are going to train American sisters in the very near future, like the first American sister in like 5 years is coming in November. And she has red hair! Haha just like my family. Haha But we were focused on how the Latina sisters can survive with their companion for the first week with the American sisters.
Then on Saturday was a pretty good day, well remember Gerardo? He got baptized finally and I got to go to Rio Bravo to see his baptism. It was really good and he was ready. He is a good friend of mine and now he is pumped to be in the church and to serve diligently. He is definitely responding to God`s call to serve him in his church. I'll include the pic as well. 

Baptism of Gerardo

Well everything is going well, wanna know something funny? I weighed myself the other day, and I weigh 153 pounds when I started the mission 177. Haha but I feel great, but nothing like having huge shirts and parachute pants right? (Haha the clothes aren’t that big... haha) Don’t worry though I am eating, Mom! Haha. But just working and walking all around kind of makes it hard to gain weight. But I promise that I will try to eat more! Haha 
I love you all and take care! Be cool and serve your fellow man. 
Elder Justin Powell 

Leia Mais…

23 September 2013 -- Justin travels the mission and enjoys Mexican culture

Hello Everybody! How is everyone doing? I am doing great! Just working a ton now with everything and it’s been a blast with the work. My ward is super cool and fun and always willing to work with us and I feel very grateful to be with them to work. I am in an area that is fairly small and there is quite a bit of work to do still. We had to leave behind a bunch of investigators this past week because we didn’t see a bunch of progress with them, but we were able to find more people that really do want to progress and teach. But hopefully we can dedicate a good amount of time to them, it’s just we have so many things to do here in the offices and less time to the area, but it’s all good. I found out that 2 people that I was teaching in Rio Bravo were baptized this past weekend and I was super happy to hear that! It was soo sweet and they were both happy so I am happy for that. 
My companion and I went all the way to Nuevo Laredo to have an interchange and it went well. We woke up at 5 in the morning to go on the bus. We went to the bus station to leave at 6pm to Monterrey and the buses were filled until the bus at 7:45... Well that was a good start. But Elder Ropp and I slept a bit at the station and hopped on the bus. Oh I was sooo happy to see mountains again in Monterrey. Here in Reynosa its desert and flat. The only closest mountains are in Monterrey (3 hours away) and oh it was cool being in Monterrey again. I really miss that city and the vibe. I would love to tour the city on day. It’s a fun city. And we left on a bus to Nuevo Laredo and we traveled a total of 7 hours to Nuevo Laredo from Reynosa. Pretty fun trip. I tried to sleep but I don’t do very well in moving vehicles so it was a little difficult, but Elder Ropp was out like a baby pretty much the whole trip. Well we were late to start the interchange but we got there and had a good day. I got to work in a half of my old area and it was great to see a lot of the people that I knew and the progress that there has been. My friends that got baptized while I was there went to the temple this past weekend and it is super cool to see that effort they are giving to live the gospel and they both have planned to go on the mission and bless other people. I was very happy to go and see a couple of my dear friends again and maybe in the future I will see them again. 
This week we are going to Valle Hermoso to do interchanges with the missionaries there and President wants us to do interchanges with my old area as well :) haha. Interchanges are fun! I can visit more dear friends and help the missionaries to learn something new. Interchanges are cool to get to know many missionaries and people. I have gotten to know so many people and their backgrounds. I always learn a lot from the interchanges and I hope that the missionaries learn from me in the interchanges and they are always a blessing for me. 
This past Friday was the Noche Mexicana (Mexican Night) and like last year, just filled with rich Mexican culture and it was a blast.
 There were so many investigators there as well and that had fun, and they want to know more about the church. But it was very neat to see the ward having fun and I have already made dear friends here in this ward and it was just a fun night. I will include pictures. It was funny because everybody wanted me to participate in a game and I was scared and my companion pushed me to play and I went up with some other brothers and it was pretty funny what happened. So its hot potato with a sombrero (Mexican hat) and you have to put the hat on your head while the music is going on and twirl in a circle and pass the hat off to the guy next to you. I was the first to lose because the people in the circle were dancing to the music and twirling fine and I had to do it slow because we can’t dance... But it was a temptation to dance the Macarena haha.
Playing Mexican Sombrero and dancing
Then we went to the house with tacos and had a good dinner at home because the party went on and we had to be home on time. But it was really neat and culture filled. It made me think about how much I am going to miss Mexico and the culture here. 

Well I think that is all the abnormal for this week because the normal is preach and teach the gospel and everyday is filled with those things. I love the work, it’s awesome and it’s for everyone. Help and serve everyone and be kind to all. We all need to be a light to this dark and ever darkening world. And so shine that light bright! I love you all and God bless
Elder Justino Powell

Leia Mais…

Thursday, September 19, 2013

16 September 2013 -- Justin continues learning life lessons

Hello Family and Friends,
How have you been? I have been doing pretty good. This week has flown by soo fast and I can’t believe I am here again before the computer writing you guys. It’s crazy all that you learn and how fast the time goes by. Today I complete 22 months in the mission and I cannot still accept that I am this old in the mission. I hope the time goes semi slower so that I can finally realize how old I am in the mission and that I can enjoy more of Mexico. Today is the National Mexican Independence Day! So today should be kind of fun, haha. A lot of parties and stuff here in Mexico, I think there is a big parade. Looks like everyone will be having fun. For us, we will be chilling in the offices.
Well this week was loaded with many events!! It was a really good week of instruction and learning. So we have been applying a lot of changes in the mission. There is a program called ''The Work of Salvation'', and it’s a program implemented even more since the world training session in June from the general authorities. It consists of many changes of the way we work and that we work more efficiently. A lot of the x missionaries would be shocked to see how we work now because it is very different. Well this past week Elder Valenzuela (Member of the 70) came to give training to the missionaries and leaders in our mission and it was a huge success. I learned a ton, and even though we weren´t doing a lot of proselyting, I was still exhausted by the intense spirit in those meetings. Well there were a bunch of changes. But I want to give you all some info on what he said before I drop into the changes. 
First of all Mexico is a powerful country in baptisms, but it is horrendous in retaining the new converts. Last year there were 40,000 converts last week and only 100 of them are completely active and progressing perfectly. When he said that, I was sooo shocked and I asked what happened to the rest???? Well the rules here for one to be baptized is to make sure that the investigator goes to church twice before he gets baptized. Well now it’s been changed to 5 times. 
Another change (or clarification) is that the stake president and the bishop control the missionary work in their areas. So we have to coordinate completely with our leaders. I´m guessing that the culture back then, and even now, is that the missionaries have their work and the bishop has his. Well the work is for everyone! If the missionary work is struggling in an area, well it’s not just the missionaries that are in need to improve, it’s the ward and the leadership. Now everyone is living the words of David O. McKay ''Every member a missionary''. So it’s been pretty cool to see the transformation and it takes pressure off of us because we don’t have to do a lot of finding and stuff. The key is that the members are finding and we teach, so that the investigators don’t just go to church because they are friends with us, but they go because they have a friend, and that we taught them until they are converted, and that they work and be like Christ. So really cool way how that is transforming. 
I have learned a lot when it comes to what I want to be after the mission. Elder Valenzuela said something really interesting to us yesterday that stuck to me. He said that these changes aren’t for us but for your kids when they serve their missions. And he explained that when we go home, we have to teach them everything that we have learned so that they can be more powerful missionaries than us and that they can be better Disciples of Christ—that they can love and serve the people a lot better. So I have the goal to be a great role model and missionary for my future kids so that they can be better missionaries than I in the future.
Office missionaries with President and Sister Morales and Elder and Sister Valenzuela

Wow seriously, I learned a ton!!!! Sorry if I am going off on a spur... My journal was super full that day.
Well something that I learned yesterday in the ward conference yesterday. It was very interesting and I want to share with you all what I learned. Well the counselor in the stake shared with us that the love of Christ and to love like him is for all of the life. And he shared a story of something that happened. There was a man who had a 7 year old house. A wall in the house got damaged so he took the sheet rock off and there was the framing of the house. The owner noticed that there was a lizard that was on the wall stuck, and he looked closer and saw that he couldn’t move due to a nail that went through his leg when the house was being constructed. For some random reason the lizard was in the way when the nail went hammered through. Well the owner was astonished that the lizard still had a body and looked closer and saw that the lizard was still living! So for 7 years, the lizard was living in the same position without movement due to his leg being nailed to the wall, underneath sheet rock and wood! It is impossible I thought and couldn’t believe it. But the man observed the lizard for a little while and what he saw was astonishing. He saw another lizard, that came with food in its mouth to give to eat to the lizard that was stuck. The lizard ate and kept holding on. Does this amaze you? It’s to say that this other lizard gave to eat for 7 years! 
The point here is that this lizard that was free stayed with his companion and gave his companion to eat for 7 years due to an attribute, love and charity. It touched my heart because Jesus Christ is the best example of this; he serves us forever and loves us forever. He serves the people and loves them endlessly. Imagine everyone had this type of love and charity in their lives, the world would be peace. I invite you, like how I was invited, to love and serve your fellow man. Start in your families with your husband or wife, brother or sister, father or mother, son or daughter. Love them and have the attitude to serve them endlessly and without expecting anything in return. Jesus Christ is the happiest man in the world and to be like him in service and charity means we will be as close to happy as he is. I promise that your lives will change for the better and you will be happier. No one is perfect like Christ, I certainly am not, but we can all give it a shot and change gradually everyday so that one day we can be just like him. 
Well as you can tell, this week was fantastic and with a lot of learning lessons. Church is great, it’s true and I love it. It’s a great place and everyone should be a part of it, and if you just believe that it’s true, you will gain a testimony soon. 
Love you all and thanks for everything that you have done for me. 
Elder Justin Powell 

Leia Mais…

9 September 2013--First week in mission office

Hello Family and Friends, 
How are you all doing? I am doing fine and dandy. I am just here in Reynosa now in the mission offices. It’s been a lot of work this past week. It’s quite a bit of work for sure and I am seriously learning a ton! What a different experience from being in the field full time. Well it’s been a good week though, I am in the area San Jose (Saint Joseph Smith haha), Reynosa. 
Justin and the rest of the Reynosa Mission office missionaries

When I got here on Monday, well we were with all the new missionaries. There are quite a bit of Americans this time and it was cool talking to all of them and to see how animated they are to preach. It’s so strange because I remember super well when I was in their position more than a year ago. And when I was talking to them I felt soooo old! They graduated this year 2013! I am seriously old now! :/ Well I do have 22 months in the mission, soo I guess I am old. The other day I hopped in the mission van (2013 Honda Odyssey) and I saw president take his iPhone and make this phone call from the van and with video, and just a bunch of other gadgets that I have seen though.. It’s quite the advance that the world has made and I have to catch up quite a bit...
The great thing about the offices is that there is always food and we eat quite a bit! When we went to the last supper with the Heroes (missionaries that finish), we went to this buffet and it was delicious and as well, we ate with the new missionaries. It was seriously hard for me to eat a lot because my stomach is a lot smaller than before and little by little I will be gaining weight! So I won’t hop off the plane super skinny or anything like that. Haha
Justin and his new companion

The families that I have met are very genuine and I love them as well as all of the families that I have met in the mission. There is this family called the Salazar family and they are very spiritual and so converted to the gospel. One thing I learned yesterday from their testimonies in a lesson yesterday is that they are recent converts of 2 weeks!! I was amazed on how converted and united they are as members of the church because it would seem like that they have been in the church for a very long time! But they shared their testimony about baptism, and trying to help this man to be baptized. It was a very good moment and I was spiritually moved by their example and dedication to the church. They left their home to come to Reynosa from Michoacán (Southern Mexico). They came here with nothing and they found everything when the missionaries talked to them. They shared with us that starting with nothing, they found the greatest treasure, which is the gospel of Christ. They came without jobs, pretty much sleeping on the ground, but still united and changing their lifestyles, they were able to receive the fullness of blessings from the gospel, and are now very happy. It’s a miracle and I am so grateful to my father in heaven that they are in my life. I have met great examples of people and families and I hope my family can turn out as successful as many of the families that I've met. 
One thing that helps a lot for a family to be very united is to do small things together, like eat together, family home evenings and family prayer. I think family prayer in the morning is what sets off the families on the right foot and it’s something that I have learned this past week. It’s a goal that I have to pray with my future family and be united in that way and I invite you all to pray in family and see the blessings. I have seen many miracles and changes from families praying together and it’s a good way to grow closer together. 
Well I love the mission and I love you all. I think they already have my plane ticket bought for the 27th of November. So I will see you very soon because the time flies quicker now with this assignment. May God bless you all and read your scriptures!

Love,
Elder Justin Powell 

Leia Mais…

Monday, September 2, 2013

2 September 2013 -- Justin is the new AP in the Mexico Reynosa Mission. That's my boy!!

Well Family and Friends,
How are you all doing? I am doing pretty well. Today are transfers and I am getting transferred again...to my 8th area! I will be going to Reynosa and now it’s a for sure that I have been in every city in the mission. Seriously, I have known Monterrey, Matamoros, Rio Bravo, Nuevo Laredo, and now Reynosa. Haha. It should probably be complicated now to visit because there will be too many places to go and visit. But my new assignment should be fun. It was kind of funny how I got it. I will tell you the story. On Friday night, we had an appointment like 8 blocks from our house and it was this sister that wanted us to teach her husband. Well we arrive at the time that she says, 8:15, and we enter and just sit there waiting for the husband to finish showering, or in the bathroom. Well he comes out at 8:45 and was surprised and then we started talking and sharing a lesson, but it was getting late and it was past 9 and we were worried. Well the lesson was awesome, he said that he has had 17 years getting to know the church and learning with his wife and he has never wanted to get baptized. Well he accepted a second visit, which was a miracle that he accepted. And he said that what we were talking about in the lesson is exactly what he was reading in the bathroom in the church magazine that was left in the bathroom. Super interesting and another miracle in the mission where it wasn’t just a casualty that he read what we talked about. But during the last prayer at 9:25, the phone was ringing. I look and it’s the mission President…oh I was freaking out. He had said in the last conference that the goal is get home at 9pm, but if an appointment goes longer than expected, than by 9:30 at the latest. Well we book it home and then at home I call him, and he was like how are you, and we start talking. Well he asked if there were going to be baptisms in the zone and I said yeah president, and I was kind of confused. But then he said ok Elder that good, well I call for transfers in the zone, and I was like oh ok. And then he said there have been transfers in your area, and I was like oh wow, and then he said that we need to report to the offices on Monday at 4pm to and that we will stay the night in Reynosa and that in the next day there is a training with all the new missionaries, and after Elder Love (Assistant to the President) will be going to Rio Bravo with my companion Elder Gonzalez (now is where my jaw is dropping to the floor), and Elder Powell you will stay and be the new assistant to the President. The world blacked out in those moments but I was grateful for the new assignment and I accepted it. So now I am going to Reynosa and work in the offices with President Morales. My last 2 transfers, and there will be no feelings of being trunky or anything like that. I am excited and I hope I can fulfill to the fullest my new calling. Pray for me please! :) 
Well other than that, life and the mission have been great. We have been teaching Gerardo, and he is a grand friend. It’s been 2 months since he´s gotten to know the church and he has progressed so much this past month of August. This past week has been pure of miracles that happened to him, where basically he cannot deny that the church is true. We taught him on Wednesday about the law of tithing, and told him as well that he will have an interview with the mission president on Thursday due to some repentance issues. Well he told us on Thursday about what happened on Wednesday night. He was praying to God saying that he doesn’t want to be a part of the church, and asking why I need to be there and a bunch of questions like that. Well he fell asleep and was brought to a dream where he was before a blurry window, and he saw a king behind the window and Gerardo said that he asked the king ¨why do I need to be in that church?´´ and the king replied, ''because I love those people, and my heart is saddened´´. Gerardo told us that I felt the spirit strongly because Gerardo that day had a huge change of heart. I was super shocked by that change and he is doing sooo much better. Well he is progressing and is changing. It’s a true repentance and it’s a miracle. Gerardo is going to be a grand leader in the church and here is a photo of us. 

Justin and Gerardo in Reynosa.  Geez, I should have always been taking pictures of him against a green wall if I would have known it would have made his beautiful green eyes stand out like that.

Well I leave today at 2:30 pm. ugh...but here comes the new adventure. Bring it on. I love you all, the mission is the best. Lesson of the week for me that I learned from Gerardo is that knowledge of the scriptures is nothing until we put the knowledge in practice. It’s all about the action and not about the knowledge without action. Blessings come for those that work and put all the teachings of Christ in practice. For God, those books of words from prophets and apostles are nothing of importance to Him. What´s important to him is the application of the teachings and not just knowing the teachings without doing them. Live your lives in action; serve and love your neighbor and you will be much happier than you already are. 
I love you all and thanks for all your love and support. 
Bring on these next 3 months of missionary work! 
Love,
Elder Justin Powell
The Reynosa Zone with President and Sister Morales

Leia Mais…

26 August 2013

Hello Everybody! Well today is a crazy day because we have to do a bunch of
internet things in preparation for Elder Valenzuela (70) that is coming in
about a couple weeks and we have to do a bunch of predations and studying
so very little time today. But I will send a couple pictures so that you
all are happy! :)
Something interesting that happened is that we are working a ton to
make the branch into a working branch so that the members don’t just go
to church on Sunday, but that they start working in the missionary
work.
This past week we had a family home evening in this less active
member’s house and it was pretty neat. We went and invited this other
family that we are teaching to come to the family home evening and
they live super far away in this neighborhood like 2 miles away from
where we were going to do the family home evening. Well we went for
them and they were all ready, Manuel and Silvia, and their daughter`s
Itzel and Dora. Well we went in bus and that was pretty fun, it was a
super long bus ride but we were just talking about things and it was
fun. And then we got to the house, had the family home evening and it
was very well done by the other family and I felt the spirit. We
talked about the importance of the family and this family was touched
and they now want to get married and do things the right way. I
was impressed. At the end we played a game to decide who says the
prayer, I learned this game from Elder Berrios and everyone needs to
say "yo (I) (a type of metal)" and I started saying "yo cobre" and
no one knew anything about the trick to this game and the trick is
that when one says "yo oro", he or she says the prayer because they
said "I pray" but they thought that they said "I gold". It doesn’t
work in English, but in Spanish it works because ``oro´´ is gold and
pray. Haha.
Well we are off; I love you all and have a great time. Schools back!
Love,
Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…