Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

Hey Family!

How is everybody? Looks like from the picture your enjoying some Christmas traditions and family time! Perfect Christmas Eve! I super jealous of the Christmas dinner tonight with the Lamberts and Greens, that’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas. You will all have to write a little letter telling me how it went and how Christmas goes tomorrow morning!

So it was really good to talk to you all last night, but I don’t have a whole lot to say today. I want to thank mom for sharing her experiences with me; that was really cool. Here in our ward we have been working on the young men and women a lot. I have thought a lot about them and about my own experiences in Young Men’s. One thing that really had stuck with me is something my bishop said in our singles ward when I was at school. We were talking how it’s kind of hard for kids that grow up in the church to get and maintain a really strong testimony because the church is all they know and they don’t have a lot to compare with. But in one of our bishopric meeting he said something like “we already know that, but all we can do is invite and create opportunities for these kids to feel the spirit”. I think that is super important, maybe it’s not going to mean anything in the moment or the kids that you work with won’t be changed right away. But as a leader of young people I think that the key is just to provide them with experiences to feel the spirit, and when it really counts they will remember all the have learned, what they know, and most importantly what they felt. I know that how it was for me and a lot of other kids my age. But when it came time to make decisions I always had that foundation from all of the experiences I had in the past.

So that’s my little two bits on the young men and women, which you all probably already know haha, but there it is. Merry Christmas to you all, remember it’s all about Christ. This week I had the opportunity to finish Jesus the Christ (I am pretty excited I finally finished!).  His life, His example, His qualities, and His love are truly amazing, something you cannot describe with words.

Don’t forget to read the nativity tonight! And you should read 3 Nephi 27:27 as well. It’s one that has been on my mind since I started my mission.

Love you all
Elder Utley

Another Transfer

Hey family!

Sounds like it’s been a crazy week with all your Christmas parties! And will continue to be until Christmas, but so much fun! We also had a couple of Christmas parties here, each of the different wards have a dinner and a program type thing, and we participated in the programs (we sang, and did a nativity scene) and also got to eat dinner. That was the best part, they don’t have a lot of Christmas traditions here and they aren’t really big on the presents either but they eat really, really well at Christmas time. One night they did like a traditional soup and a drink called ponche, it’s really good it’s like apple cider but with all the different fruits here. The other night they did tamales, enchiladas and hot chocolate (it’s not as sweet as at home and super thick, but still good)

So I hope this week leading up to Christmas will be good for you guys, I am super jealous of all the Christmas things you guys are doing. And I am stoked to talk to you guys over Skype, I think we have everything worked out.

I heard from Dani this week, she wrote me a letter almost completely in Spanish, it was super easy to read and understand but it was really hard to respond in Spanish. Fun to hear from her though!

So the big news this week is that we had our second transfers. And at least for me nothing changed. I still here in Irapuato and so is my companion. We both thought he would go for sure, it’s not common for companions to be together more than 2 transfers and even less when it’s your trainer. Plus this will be his 4th transfer here which also is almost unheard of except for zone leaders. Truth is he is kind of bummed, but kind of excited at the same time. He will get to see some of our investigators get baptized we thought that he wouldn’t. I too have mixed feelings, he is almost done with his mission and ready to go home, so sometimes that is annoying, and I feel like I could learn a lot with a new one. But I am excited to, he is a great missionary and I learn a lot from him, and the members of our ward really love us right now and we have gained their trust, so that is good we won’t lose anything there. All I know is the Lord has a plan and there is a reason we both still here, I’m excited to find out why!

So we really don’t have a whole lot of new investigators but we have a few really good ones. We are not allowed to knock doors or contact so it makes finding rough, we only can teach through referrals. But honestly we have a lot more than any other companionship here. The whole mission is kind of struggling with baptisms right now...

The apartment still sucks, we now have a hot water heater but it isn’t set up and we don’t have a tank of gas to make it work. The brother in our ward that we are renting from we have really grown to not like, he talks a lot and is kind of two faced.  But what do you do. Also to answer questions I haven’t been in a Wal-Mart or anything like that, but I will go next Monday, I also want to see what it’s like. And hopefully buy some Christmas candy. Also I don’t know what panettone is but I will keep my eye for it! Oh and I don’t really have any other photos to send but I will try and take some more this week, with Christmas stuff!

The family we are teaching is doing well, the dad finally got out of the hospital, he had 7 screws put in his femur. But is doing better. His wife and son will baptize the 29th and hopefully him too! And we have one other that will baptize soon! I am excited. I see the Lord’s hand in my life and in theirs!

Remember the Christmas spirit, spirit of Christ! Look for the Lords hand!
I love you all!!! Can’t wait till Sunday!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Busque el bueno en tiempos dificiles

Hey family!

It was so great to hear from you guys this week! Sounds like you had a good one. Tell coop congrats on his ordination to the priesthood and that I am so proud of him! Tell Mary that I am still waiting a letter from her; it’s been a while since I got one from her. And tell Brooke congrats on her singing. It’s crazy how fast Christmas is coming! I hope you are all enjoying it and living with the true Christmas spirit.

So I have learned a little bit more about Christmas here. Here in the city of Irapuato they have a special Christmas celebration that is evidently exclusively here. It’s called Barrios; it literally means neighborhood or ward. But they basically have a huge party in every neighborhood of the city. They start the first of December and take turns in every neighborhood every day of December. I have yet to see it but I hear it’s pretty cool! They also do piñatas for Christmas, kind of weird but I think it’s kind of like their Christmas stockings. Oh and the tamales are awesome!

Thanks for the updates on the missionaries, that’s so cool to hear about all the people getting ready to go. I actually had written down to ask about Jon G. I guess he leaves this week? And Nefi? I didn't even know he had a call where is he going?

What else, oh I know exactly who Elder Atkins is, we arrived together from the MTC, I don’t know him that well cause he wasn't in my district in the MTC but he seems like a cool kid. It’s crazy how small the world is sometimes I know a kid here that is going to Logan after Christmas and his girlfriend goes to Utah State. And tons of people that know Utah.

The language is better... it’s coming but slowly. I feel a lot better about it now and can at least see my progress. At the same time it is slow and really frustrating at times. But it doesn't seem like as much of a barrier anymore. I know the Lord is constantly helping me with it.

I don’t have a lot much more to say but I want to share an experience that I had this week. We have been teaching a family here, the mom and the oldest kid have been super stoked and ready to join the church, but the dad wasn't so ready. We had baptismal dates with them and everything, but the dad got in an accident about 2 and a half weeks ago and has been in the hospital. I felt really bad, and was also a little bummed because they haven’t been able to be baptized. But we have been helping where we could, we found blood donors for him (he broke his femur and needed surgery, and blood donors, I couldn't because I am taking vitamins, they have a lot of weird rules here, I really think it’s because I am white and the nurse was nervous that I had some disease or something). And we have been visiting, teaching lessons, and we gave him a blessing. Last week he started talking about taking his family to church when he got out, which shocked us because he was totally against it before. We went to visit yesterday and he started asking all these questions about the Book of Mormon we left him, but super specific. We answered them and found out he has read all the way to the middle of Mosiah! And he is praying to learn the truth! The change we have seen in him is amazing. I hope it continues when he leaves the hospital. But it all came out of a trial in his life and testifies to me that God always has a plan. We need to trust Him and look for the good in the hard times!

I know the Book of Mormon is true and the keystone to our religion. It changes lives and if we just read it, it can change our lives for the better too. The church is true!

I love you all!
Elder Utley

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ya esta deciembre. Que loco!

Hey family!

It was so good to hear from you all this week! Really, really good letters, and I even got one from Coop! Speaking of Coop tell him HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope everything goes well this week and you can all celebrate a little bit. I am a little jealous that I can’t be there for his ordination, but hey, I should be there for the next one! I hope his feet start feeling better, that’s pretty rough not being able to play. Sounds like Mary has been super busy, and did really well in her swim meet! Tell her that I remember when she could only do a 50 in 1 minute 24 seconds but now she can do 100! That’s awesome. Tell Brooke great job in the concert!!

Mom I think you’re crazy how did you work 20 hours straight? I think I would die! Dad, I do remember the time we went fishing at the Barker’s just you and me, that is one of my favorite memories, and I think the best fishing trip I have ever been on. Less than 2 short years and we can go again!

It’s been fun hearing about all the mission calls the last couple weeks. I didn’t know Morgan Lewis too well but she was in my lifeguarding class and a friend to Bri, so I know who she is. Florida would be a sweet mission. Keep me updated on everyone’s calls, have Kendell or Becca gotten theirs yet?

So my car was broken into? Ha ha well they got away with like 5 dollars in change max. No there wasn’t anything of value in there I took it all out the day before I left. I just hope the sunglasses of mom’s weren’t too nice. All my climbing stuff is in a grey box that I used up at school. It’s in the house somewhere because it will get ruined in the garage. It might be in my room, upstairs washing room, or one of the empty rooms upstairs.

So our house... still no, we really don’t have a lot of stuff like appliances. But we made a deal with our renter today and we are going to use the rent money to get a hot water heater this month. And we are going to get it today!! I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. We are still waiting on the washing machine and stove... although I think we have a stove type thing that will work if we buy the gas. I have figured out how to keep the shirts white more or less, an Hermana in our ward that we wash with a lot showed me how to do it’s, it takes a lot of scrubbing but they look as good or better than anyone else’s here. Still not great, but mom don’t worry about it. Also mom I have been asking around and I have only heard of one elder with a problem of a package getting here, and it had an iPod in it. So obviously not for Christmas or anything, we already have the worked out but in the future don’t be too scared to send a package.

So how did everyone like the Christmas devotional? I absolutely loved it in spite of only understanding about 80 or 85%. The words of the prophets are always so inspiring. And I particularly like Elder Uchtdorf’s talk. I want to go watch them in English now.

The area is really good, I have heard it’s not one of the nicer areas in the mission but the people here are really amazing. There are a lot of people in the ward that I feel really comfortable in their home, and I know if we need something we can go to them. So if you get the chance, make the missionaries feel comfortable in your home, because it really helps a lot. The leaders are ok... Our ward mission leader was just about as good as you could get for a while but he is getting married in 2 weeks so he is kind of slacking off right now. Our other leaders had some bad experiences with missionaries in the past and are slow to trust, but we are slowly gaining it. Right now we are doing really good with the bishop and that is the first step.

So I hear mom has to give a talk on hope in Christ, and partly how it helped me in my decision to serve a mission. Well I want to say that hope in Christ was almost everything in my decision to serve a mission. The word hope has been something I have been studying a little bit here in the mission; hope is an attribute of Christ. For me it is a combination of two things: faith and trust. Faith was really, really important in my decision to serve a mission. I had to have the faith to know that this church was true first, a faith strong enough to lead to action, and eventually here. The second part, trust, I think is even more important. Once I had the faith, I had to trust in the Lord. I was giving up two years of my life; I didn’t know where I would go, or what language I would speak. I had to trust the Lord to send me where I needed to go, and help me in what I needed to do. I had to trust that this was the right thing to do in my life, and that I would be blessed for doing it. More than anything I had to trust and hope that the mission would change my life for the better. And the Lord would take care of me and give me the answers I needed. When I sent off my papers I was really having a hard time. My plans in life seemed like they were falling apart. I felt completely lost. Luckily I had the faith to turn to the Lord and I trusted in his answers. I know without a doubt I am supposed to be here. And while I still don’t have all the answers I have the faith and hope that I will get them. And I will be blessed during my time as a missionary and after. I know that the Lord will take care of me, if only I do the things that he asks. That, to me, is my hope in Christ; and I would not be here without it. Hope in Christ was everything when I made my decision and is everything now. Because of my hope in Christ I am happy and doing what I know is right.

I love you all and miss you all, I can’t believe it is December already and Christmas time. I can’t wait to talk to you guys this month

Elder Utley