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!

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 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! 
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
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!
Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

19 August 2013 Sometimes the mission is just...logistics.

Hello Everybody,
How are you all doing? I am doing great. Just enjoying the heat, getting super tan and skinny. Loving life and we are getting the ball rolling in this area where I am at. It’s hard because this branch is full of Sunday members, but we are trying to bring some mission spirit in this area so that everyone starts working and getting referrals. We had some successes in this week with some referrals, but they came from less active members. 
Something cool happened with a less active member this past week. His name is Gregorio and we visited him on Wednesday. He is an ex-missionary, not married yet, is like 26 years old, and we went to his house and he was there. And we invited him to the church to chat and we went. He said that he felt super special and wanted to continue. He was pumped and now he is working with us and he wants to be our branch mission leader because we don´t have one right now. So I am pumped because he wants to work and he has some pretty killer ideas that can help us a ton to have some more success here. We are at a slow climb but now some pieces are coming together and we are getting the things going. 
This past week we had a zone conference and it was pretty special. There was a lot of information shared that helped us a ton to get some things going. We watched the videos on close to the missionary work and how to do the work more efficiently. Well the videos were super cool, if we had members thinking the same way as those members and doing the same things that they do. We have got work to do and we have a bunch of projects thought of:
1) A HUGE map: We went to this print shop and ordered a map of our area about 5´x6´ and it’s huge! And we are going to put with tacks and banners all the members--active, inactive, and investigators. And we are going to use it to plan our days and to present in Branch counsel to show where the presidents of every organization can go to save and help the inactives come to church so that we can have bazillion members at church now. 
2) An X missionary activity: There are sooo many inactive x missionaries! So we are going to do a conference-barbecue, invite our mission president to come talk at the conference, and all the x missionaries are going to present photos and stuff of their mission. So it should be pretty cool how that all turns out. I am stoked for it; it will be on August 30. 
This week rained for 2 days. Well it was pretty crappy what happened. Because in the morning it was super hot and sunny. Oh the sun was horrible. And then at like 4 these huge clouds just came and poured. We were soaked in the rain because we were really far away and where we were there are no trees or anything. So just getting wet, pretty fun. All these kids just playing in the streets getting soaked, taking a bath, and everyone was looking at us like they are crazy... haha. But it was fun. 
Today is cloudy and hot, maybe it will rain? We cleaned the whole house, and now it’s a clean, clean house. Thanks mommies for teaching me some cleaning skills, they come in handy. Especially when there is a house full of spiders and cockroaches! It’s a war against those things, but little by little we are winning. We were remodeling the house quite a bit; we were under construction with the map and the new planning desk that we put up. 
Well I love you all, 21 months completed! Time is flying soooooo fast!! I am now kind of freaking out because there are only 3 months left; I have to do more exercises so that I don’t get off the plane skinnier than a stick and everyone freaking out. Haha No don’t worry I am eating. I love you all and may God bless you. Go to church, it helps and saves your life. :)

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

12 August 2013 Justin is learning some life lessons

Hello Family and Friends, 
Well this week was sort of uneventful. Sorry. Haha. I am asking my companion right now what happened and it sounds like from him as well that nothing much happened either. It was a super fast week and we worked a lot and it was a bunch of the same things. We are preparing 4 people to get baptized this next week and they are awesome! Well we are going to marry another couple again! Haha. But the sister is so happy to get baptized, and really I saw how the gospel was able to penetrate into the family´s heart and help them in their situation. They were struggling big time and they wanted to separate, but now they are trying and will get married. Hopefully everything will turn out well. 
I am still trying to get accustomed to the area and love it, I miss the Condesa. When I was in the branch here in Rio Bravo a year ago, I came to the branch where I am at right now in interchanges like 3 times and didn’t like this area and loved my area Condesa more. But now since I am here, well I am giving it what I got and trying to be very positive. My companion and I are trying to be positive about everything, even when there are bad things. I found this cup in our house and drew a line at the half of the cup. I put it in-between our desks and told Elder Gonzalez that we need to remember this glass and look at everything like the glass half full and not half empty. It’s helped out quite a bit; there has been more progress here. My companion is a perfectionist and can be critical, even when something good happens. Like when we put a baptismal date with a couple of people this past week, and when these people never accepted before, my comp was a bit critical on what were the small defects and hard on himself. Well I am trying very hard to help him out with being positive and he is getting better. I told him today that life sucks. It sucks horribly if we just look at what is going on. If we focus on the now and just float, it sucks. But what makes triumphs in life are the goals and plans we put and our focus on the future and what we can become. When we focus in progress and in the future, life is beautiful because we are always remaining positive and always forgiving ourselves of what are our defects. I told him that I am a perfectionist, but in the mission, there is no perfection at all. Nothing turns out the way we plan, so the mission would be horrible if we were always trying to focus on the defects, but if we focus on the future and but goals and plans every day, we have more success. I had to learn that here in the mission, and we always have to be willing to adjust to circumstances. So we are both learning together, to be more positive with everything. 
Well everything is going great! I love the work still and sorry if this letter wasn’t the best but there are sooo many things to do right now and this week is going to go by super fast too and be eventful. I love you all; I promise more info next week. 
I love you all,
Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…