Julio Velazquez-Elder Tyler Blanchard
Po. Box 1486
Presidio, TX 79845

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 7 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

TYLER:   I´m getting along really well.  We are both learning a lot from each other and he is a great missionary so I couldn't ask for a better companion.

TYLER:   My companion cooks eggs for me, and soup, which has been nice.


Sunday went great, I am in just a small little ward.  I counted and there were around 44 people there total, a few might have come in after I counted.  My comp actually speaks a small amount of English.  He doesn't understand a lot but he is able to help me remember basic words.  He also seems to be picking up on my English as I am picking up on his Spanish.   My Spanish is coming along well,  I am learning so fast.  I am able to understand so much more than last week.  It is nice to have an American around.  He doesn't come with us in the streets but we are in the apartments and eat with the members with his companionship.  He explains all of the little sayings or different things that aren't in the Spanish books.

I couldn't believe that I got to baptize two people either, it was a cool experience. I got an opportunity to do that because I was new to the mission and since they were the sister missionaries investigators, I was able to baptize.

That is too bad to hear about all of the controversy in Bingham, and with those people.

If you could send food that would be nice.  Peanut butter, granola bars (not the chocolate covered ones), maybe some fruit snacks, some candy...anything really.

I´m doing great, my teaching still isn't the best, I do a lot of listening. I still have two baptisms. I have had a bit of a celebrity status with the kids, because I speak English and I'm from the United States. They always ask me how to say simple phrases in English or how to pronounce words or my name.

I have lucked out with my apartment.  Today I spoke with Elder Brown who was in my district and he has had to wash clothes by hand and doesn't have hot water. I sent some pictures of our apartment and it is actually pretty nice.

The rain hasn't been a problem this week, just lightning storms here and there. I have been making sure to take care of my feet, the biggest threat I think is the shower.  It is just nasty in there so I wear my sandals.

Ya I do feel like a bit of a giant here.  There are a lot of short people here, not only members and investigators but also the missionaries from Mexico.

My missionary work is a bit different than usual because my comp is District Leader, but most new missionaries have a District Leader comp.  We traveled almost every day to Cuautémoc last week for interviews.  I haven't really talked with people but I guess I can start trying.

That's too bad to hear that you guys got sick. My companion has been sick off and on this past week, but luckily I'm doing well.

It's cool to hear you have been listening to a lot in Spanish.  Listening is the part that is the toughest right now.

Sorry about the inconsistency of times for writing.  It is just whenever we can right now, we are both new to the area and it will take a bit to find the best spots and times.

MOM:   Have you been able to play soccer yet?

TYLER:   Once at mutual with a few of the youth.

MOM:   Where the youth impressed with your soccer skills?

TYLER:   Ya, the youth and my companion were impressed haha.

TYLER:   My companion and I switched stereotypes, he likes American football and I like soccer.

TYLER:   Here in Anáhuac baseball and soccer are both pretty big.

MOM:   Do you have a ball in your apartment?

TYLER:   No ball in the apartment.

MOM:   I hope you get to do some fun things for p-day. How is your mission president?

TYLER:   I haven't really talked with my mission president much.  He is busy and we are an hour or two from where he is at.  I had an interview with him last week because he wanted to get to know me a bit, and he is really nice and seems like a cool guy.  For p-day today we got up at four-thirty because we had to go to Chihuahua for me to get my picture taken for emigration documents.

TYLER:   When is the best time to write, just so I know for the future the best times to try and find an internet cafe.

EMILY:  Hi Tyler how was your first apartment?

TYLER:   My apartment is actually pretty nice.  Everything is new; new beds, pillows, utensils, refrigerator.  I sent you some pictures of the rooms in our apartment so you can get an idea.

MOM:   Tell me about the city.   

TYLER:   The city of Anáhuac is kind of small.  Some of the members and investigators are really poor and their little houses are in bad shape, but there are also some pretty nice homes.  There are dogs and cats everywhere but they don't bother us.  If a dog comes our way all we have to do is bend over, acting like we are picking up a rock, and they scatter. There are tons of mosquitoes here, but spider wise, I haven't had a problem.

MOM:   How are the members?

TYLER:   The members and everyone are really nice, this is the coveted area of the mission because of this.  Everyone is friendly and very nice.

MOM:   Emily prays for you all the time. She likes to tell everyone about how her brother is serving a mission.  I think she is really proud of you

TYLER:   Haha, that is good to hear.

MOM:   Is there a WalMart or a store for you to buy things? Like a sweater or gloves or hat?  Or, do you want me to send you things? Has it gotten cold yet?

TYLER:   I haven't had to help with the sacrament.  The food has been great.  I don't know how to explain what we eat.  There are soups with carrots, chicken or steak, potatoes and tortillas.  There are enchilada things with tortillas, there is rice and chicken with tortillas.  Lots of meat and potatoes here, I can't complain.  I don't need gloves or sweaters, they are dirt cheap down here and it's not even cold yet.  Everyone else is cold, but it feels great for me because I'm from Utah.  Candy wise, I don't know anything really,  little bite sized Snickers or 3 Musketeers.  Just little things I can snack on I guess.

TYLER:   They have WalMart, Sam's Club and a bunch of little shops too.  Tons of different things to choose from.  You don't need to worry,  I'm set with that stuff here.

MOM:   Do the people ask you where you're from? Do they know there is something Latin in you?

TYLER:   People ask, but just because they hear my accent and see my name.

MOM:   What about fast food?  Are you missing that yet, or do you prefer the food you have there?

TYLER:   Fast food I haven't been missing because the food here is great.  Last p-day we had subway, but I really haven't been missing it.

TYLER:   Oh, if you could send me a little compact umbrella that pops open like the one I left with, that would be great too because I forgot mine on the bus and I haven't been able to find one like it here.

MOM:   Do you know how long it would take for you to get a package?

TYLER:   I don't know how long it would take, sorry, probably a week or so.

MOM:   Tyler, I heard it could take anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks? Ask your American companion.

TYLER:   My American companion isn't here with us.  I think it only takes that long because it sits in the mission home until we are in town to pick it up.

MOM:   Are the Mexican people what you expected?

TYLER:   Ya, they are a lot nicer and friendly than I thought, but maybe that's just my area.

MOM:   You have been out for almost 2 months!!!  It seems to be going fast.  It really helps seeing the pictures. You truly look happy. 

TYLER:   It's crazy how fast time flies, it feels like I just started.  Looking back it is fast and happens all so fast, but in the moment it is the opposite.  Everyone says after the first three months in the mission the time flies.  I can't imagine it going any faster but I guess we will see.

TYLER:   How is it for you guys, does it go fast as well?

MOM:   Time has been flying for us too. I truly look forward to Mondays!!

TYLER:   Sorry, it started pouring rain, lightning and thundering and we lost power for a bit.

MOM:   Do you have any time for finding investigators?  Or, are you too busy trying to interview the other Elder's investigators?  How big is your district?  Do you have to spent a lot of time traveling on the bus or walking?

TYLER:   Last week we didn't spend a lot of time in our area, we traveled a lot.  We walk on average 10 or 15 minutes to get to locations within the city of Anáhuac.  We do have time at night to meet with investigators and a bit in the morning.

TYLER:   We walk quite a bit, but it's not bad.  It's nice, especially with the weather we have been having.

TYLER:   My English is so bad now.  I feel my grammar slipping and I always forget how to spell words or I add unnecessary things to words.  But, I'm glad to see my Spanish is going in the other direction.

MOM:   I also hope you get to have a fun P day and maybe visit a fun city or Museum.

TYLER:   We will try.  We still have to get to know the area.  Everyone is new and we have to get to know what's around.

MOM:   Have you heard from Elder Gumm yet or seen him?

MOM:   Also make sure you keep saving your pictures. And make sure you don’t forget it in one of the café shops after you down load some pictures.

TYLER:   I have not heard or seen Elder Gumm yet.  I don't think we have each other's email.  Next time I go to Chihuahua I will ask the office.

MOM:   Also, I keep wanting to ask you if you have a way of listening to music?

TYLER:   We have a little portable DVD player that can play music off of USBs but only music.  My companion has a bunch of music that we are able to listen to which is nice.

MOM:   How often do you have transfers? Is there a set day of transfers, or are they random?

TYLER:   I have to go now, we are out of time, talk to you next week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 6 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

We were able to hear from Tyler on his first p-day since going down to Mexico.  His new address is:

Julio Velazquez-Elder Tyler Blanchard
Po. Box 1486
Presidio, TX 79845 

There is a member in Texasthat will take any packages or letters down to him in the mission in Mexico.

Letter from Tyler:
My companion is Elder Maldonado, and we are serving in the city of Anáhuac. It is right next to Cuautémoc.  Cuautémoc is the city that everyone wants to serve in because the people are nice and it´s not too hot. 

(The Chihuahua Mission is outlined in red with the State of Utah overlapped to see to size and dimensions of his mission.)

The food here has been really good so far, we have to eat a meal at two o'clock every day with members. Nothing too extreme just stuff like burritos, soups, and chicken. 

Our apartment is good, except for we don´t have a mirror, and the bathroom door does not close. Luckily we have hot water. I don't know much about the ward because there was a conference this last Sunday, and no I haven´t had to give a talk. The weather here is perfect, not too hot and not too cold but it has been raining a ton.  The streets get flooded pretty bad in some areas and the water goes up to the mid-shin area, not too bad but it sucks for our shoes. To cross these streets, we wait for a car to cross the river area and we run behind the car because it pushes the water out of the way.

On Saturday after personal study, we went over to the chapel to help clean for a baptism. Once we got there they told me that I was to baptize someone. So we went back to the apartment which was like a 15-minute walk to grab my white clothes. On the way back it started pouring rain.  We got soaked even though I had my umbrella.  They took a bunch of pictures of how soaked we were and I will try and send them to you.  Luckily my bag is water proof and my books did not get wet.  But I was wetter from the rain than from the baptism.

The baptism went well but on the way to the apartment, I had to memorize the person's name and the baptismal prayer in Spanish.  After this baptism, I baptized someone else that I did not know about and I did not have time to memorize her name. She was an older lady with a last name that was long and way hard to remember.  My companion just had to end up whispering the name to me during the baptism.

For most of the week we shared an apartment with another set of missionaries.  Elder Hurtado and Elder McGavin. Elder McGavin is from Holiday, Utah.  He went to school and knew a kid I played with on Sparta.  I don´t know a whole bunch about the other missionary because he speaks too fast for me to understand, but I´m starting to understand him better.

Yesterday, my companion and I moved one apartment over for more space.  We got a whole bunch of new stuff.  The bathroom door still doesn't close, we still don´t have a mirror, and we don´t have a boiler or gas so no hot water.  So for showers, we go over to the room next door with the other missionaries and use theirs.

None of the elders from my district are in the same area.  I think we are all spread out across the state of Chihuahua. Elder Rudy who was in our travel group (who I had made friends with when I went to the Mexican Embassy) is serving in the city of Cuautémoc the city right next to Anáhuac where I´m serving.  I get to see him every once in a while because we travel to Cuautémoc (half-an-hour bus ride) to do baptismal interviews for some of the people in our district that serve there.  We do this because my companion is the District Leader.  We also do our laundry in Cuautémoc and use the computers here.

I´m going to try and send the pictures now but I don´t know if I will be able to find them because the computer is in Spanish.  It´s way old and I think it´s using Windows 95 or just some really old OS.  

Talk to you guys next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arrival in Chihuahua (Mission Home)

We received an email from Tyler as soon as he arrived:

"I made it here!!!  I don't have a companion yet and I don't know where I will serve but we find out tomorrow morning. 
They said that we won't be able to let you guys know until next p-day.  The weather is perfect, or at least it was today. We started off with a meal at the mexican version of golden corral. 

Talk to you guys next p-day which is on Monday."

Through the mission blog page, we were able to see Tyler the following morning in their assignment meeting and with his new companion.  

Through some investigation we found out his name is Elder Maldonado from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico!!!  I guess he got what he wanted.  

We don't know how much English he speaks but we're excited for him.  

As soon as we know his new area and address, we will post it to his blog page.

Leaving the MTC

Tyler called home at 9:34 a.m. the morning he left for Chihuahua, Mexico as I was just finishing my Visiting Teaching!!!  I just basically ran out of her house!!!  Then, when receiving his call, I hung up on Tyler 2 times!!!  I was so excited and I was trying to conference Chad onto the call!!!  Then I kept putting each of them on hold, first Tyler then Chad, then Tyler again!!!  Luckily, I finally figured it out!!!

Well, he sounded very happy.  He told us that they never went to sleep that night.  They had to leave the MTC at 2:30 a.m. so they figured they rather not sleep.

Out of the 10 Elders in his District, only 5 went with him to Chihuahua.  He was very sad and was going to miss those Elders a lot.  He said that they really got along great and had become close during their stay at the MTC.  He told us about a tradition they have at the MTC passing down items.  For example, someone had to wear an old t-shirt all day long that had not been washed.  Tyler had to carry around an old ball.  Someone else had to smell and take care of an old fruitcake, etc. (Tyler really lucked out).

Tyler really enjoyed the teachers and will miss learning from them but he said he feels ready.  He felt that he could understand Spanish pretty well, but was still struggling with speaking it.  Chad told him to just wait until he gets to Mexico, and he might not understand anything at all.  He did remind us of his setting apart as a missionary that he was promised the gift of tongues.  He was told that he would hear a word only 1 time and that he will be able to retain that new word.  He told us how he felt that it was really working during class and that he always  knew what a word meant when asked.

He also mentioned how his testimony has grown at the MTC and how they studied the gospel A LOT!!!

Tyler was telling us that he was hoping to get a Mexican native companion to be forced to speak Spanish the whole time.  Part of him says it would be easier to have an American comp, but learning the language would be more important in the long run.  He told us a little bit about some people that he saw at the MTC and said he met a lot of people from his old Bingham High school.  He said that it was fun seeing them all there getting ready to go serve on missions.

They made Tyler the travel leader and he told us he had no idea what that meant.  

We spoke for quite a while and my impression was that he sounded way excited and ready to go!!  He said he was starting to feel very tired. Haha, I wonder why?

It was great to hear him all excited about his Mission…so now for the wait!!!

Week 5 (MTC)

TYLER:   I'm on for a bit if you want to email.

TYLER:   I got my travel plans, we leave the MTC for Chihuahua at 2:35 in the morning. Today Elder Gumm and I packed up. I don't have to worry that much about exceeding the weight limit, I think I'm well below. I got the package with all of the ties and food, thank you. I really liked the ties that were sent. I also got a package from the Wendt's. They sent me a cool tie, a letter, and a lot of candy. This morning I stuck a letter in the mail for Emily but I have no idea when it will get there. Today I saw Matt Hansen and I talked to him for a bit, it was cool to see him.

MOM:   Hi Tyler, so what day are you leaving?
TYLER: We leave Monday morning.
MOM:   Where are you flying too? How long is the layover? That is probably the time you could call. Your dad send you a letter with a calling card in it.
TYLER:   We are flying to Dallas Texas, we are supposed to get there at about nine and there is supposed to be a three hour layover.
MOM:  You actually liked the tie? I thought you would exchange them.
TYLER:   I did like them they were all pretty cool.
MOM:  Is that the new tie I sent?
MOM:  Are you all set for Monday? Is there anything you would like us to send to you before then?
TYLER:   I don't think I need anything, I think I have everything that I need.
MOM:   Have you gotten dads letter?
TYLER:   I haven't gotten dad's letter either.
MOM:  So how are you doing? Are you ready to go? Probably tired of the MTC? Or are you sad that you won't be seeing some of the elders anymore? I think you said half of your district is going to Puebla?
TYLER:   I'm doing great. I am definitely ready to go.  My Spanish isn't the best but I feel like the only way for me to progress at this point is to just be surrounded by people who speak it.  Ya it will be sad not seeing some of them anymore, but I'm excited to get out of the MTC.
MOM:   Have you gotten any letters from him before?
TYLER:  And yes I have gotten his letters in the past.
TYLER:   I don't have a lot of time to talk, we did endowments at the temple today and that one takes longer. We are going out to eat right now, but if you have any more questions just ask. I will try and get on later and answer them.  I will also try to take a picture of my travel itinerary for you.