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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 23 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

This last Tuesday we had a training from our president of the mission. He is crazy smart about all of the doctrine and stuff like that. He talked about the millennium and that was really cool but he also talked about the importance of teaching with objects and how it is important to have knowledge or an understanding of something before you know the value of it.  Like a baby will just past an iPhone on the floor because it doesn’t know the value or understand, it is the same with us and the gospel. He also talked about the importance of using our own words or the words from the heart not memorized words.

That night we took too long doing a lesson and got out at like 8:50 and we were really far from our house and had to run like crazy to try and make it back on time. We ran for like ten to fifteen minutes which normally wouldn’t be too bad but we had our giant bags.

On Wednesday we took a video in sign language to communicate with the deaf parents of the two little girls that we had been teaching. We found out that the restoration video that we have does sign language and we took a portable DVD player and showed them it was a really cool experience. The dad wasn’t there and the mom didn’t understand very much because she doesn’t know a lot of sign language. She is like 40 and just learned sign language like 14 years ago. We have a few other videos that we are going to take over and show them later.

That night we had an activity at the church with the youth where we had a few investigators come and we played soccer. It was actually really fun and turned out well.  

On Thursday we started divisions and I worked with an elder named Elder Johnson he arrived six weeks after me he still doesn’t know a lot of Spanish. I guess he went to the MTC with almost no Spanish. We visited a family of investigators shared a lesson with them and they gave us homemade tortillas at the end with honey and an apple it was really good.

The next day I worked with him again and we did a family home evening at a member’s home with an investigator. We talked about eternal families. It actually turned out really well.

That Saturday I was still with Elder Johnson and for food with a member we got to eat hotdogs American style. They were so good and it was so good to have them like that again and I think I ate like 9. The members kept telling me to eat more and more and I wasn’t going to argue because they were so good. Also when we first got there they taught us how to make some juice with real fruit. We just cut up a pineapple and threw it in and they asked us what our preference of fruit was and we couldn’t decide so we threw in lemons, oranges and guava it was really good.

This week I had the opportunity to give two blessings of health. One of the members that we ate with asked me if I could give her one because she was having problems with her leg. Then on Sunday, a youth was a bit sick and asked for one. It was pretty cool.

I have kind of learned what goes into the tortillas here so hopefully I will be able to recreate them for you guys when I get back. Everyone says that they are really simple, and that is all that I have really noticed that is different from the burritos in America. 

Sounds like a cool book (The Biography of Joseph Smith). It is really hard to comprehend what he went through and all that he had on his shoulders at the time. That is really cool that through all of those trials that he didn’t betray God or lose sight of his mission. That just compliments all of the other facts showing that he really was on the errand of God. You should send some of the stuff you learned or that you weren’t aware of.  I always like learning more about him. That is really what our message as missionaries comes down to. 

I am actually not really sure how many people we teach in a week, it is not a lot so my companion and I have been trying to give short summed up parts of lessons to people we contact right there on the street if they have the time because it has been a bit difficult finding people in their homes. 

I am getting along with my companion really well actually. I am learning a lot too, he knows the scriptures really well, especially the bible.

Transfers are this week but I am not getting transferred, and neither is my companion. They usually call Sunday nights and let us know what is going on. My zone is barely changing. Only my zone leaders are getting switched but that is it. My companion says that this is the first time in 3 cycles (each cycle is 6 weeks) that him or his companion haven’t been changed. It actually isn’t that nerve racking for me. I was actually really convinced that I was getting changed because I had been here forever I even started packing ha-ha.

I am not disappointed I was hoping that I would stay I wanted to stay, I was just convinced I would go because I had been here for so long. We have had baptisms in our areas but they don’t really count. There was this couple from the Tarahumaras (direct descendants from the lamanites, and they wear floral dresses and live apart from every day life) came up to Anahuac so that they could get baptised. The husband of the couple had been baptised a while ago and know the bishop or president of our branch. He brought his wife up here because she wanted to be baptised. It was reallly cool that they got baptised and they counted for our area but none of the missionaries taught them. There was another lady that lived in a little ranch outside of Anahuac that wanted to be baptised but neither of us taught her either. Neither my comp nor I have been at eiuther of the baptisms. 

Love Elder Blanchard

Week 22 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

Monday before the meeting we played soccer at the church. And also that night we had a little extra time and we couldn’t enter our apartment yet so we played soccer with some people in that pavilion thing I sent you a picture of. We played a bit and got their addresses…it is too bad they don’t live in our area though. They were actually really good.

 (This is a picture of the park across the street from our apartment. In that building is a basketball and soccer field. We go there to work out. and it was really foggy that morning.)

At our meeting they told us that we can’t use our electric heaters anymore because it is wasting too much money. There was a house of elders that spent 2000 pesos on electricity the previous month.  They said that we had to use the gas ones now, but we didn’t have one yet and had to wait a few days until they could bring some out to Anahuac. It got really cold. The houses here are just like freezers with that brick. In the morning it was warmer outside our house than inside and we could see our breath inside. Luckily we had a ton of blankets and jackets and some thermals to keep warm.
On Tuesday we went to Cuauhtémoc because Elder Hansen had to sign some papers for immigration. Elder Garcais and Elder McGavin were also there waiting too and we were able to talk and catch up with them. Elder Garcais was the one from Utah that was in my district when I first got here in Mexico. And Elder McGavin is the one who used to live next door in Anahuac. It was cool to talk with them and tell them all that has been going on here.

They are companions in the Sierra where it is really cold too. There aren’t a lot of members out there or the members don’t like to feed the missionaries or something so they have to buy their own food every day. They took us to this Egyptian burrito place here in Cuauhtémoc where I bought this raja quesadilla that was really good. It was just beans and cheese and some green spicy pepper thing. There was also this thing called a falafel, I think they have them in the US too but I don’t know if they are the same. It is like an eggplant breaded with garlic or something in a burrito, I also tried some of that and it was pretty good. 

 (This is a picture of the parking lot and courts of the church in Cuauhtemoc. it was raining really hard.)

Later that day we got invited to the home of a lady that we had given a blessing to the previous Sunday. She was really sick, and after the blessing she felt a lot better and her husband noticed how she was able to do a lot more after having received the blessing so they invited us back to hear a bit of our message. They are good friends with one of the members and they tell the members when it is ok, or when she is feeling up for us to come visit. We have only been able to go one other time but we have plans to try and go back soon.

On Wednesday not much to write about just lots of rain and wind.
On Thursday we had a zone meeting. During the meeting the zone leaders taught us about what they learned from the meeting that they had with the president earlier that week. We learned about mountains and how our lives are full of trials or tasks to accomplish and how these are like mountains.

We were also taught about a horse. The horse was really famous it was named secretariat. It was a racehorse that was really successful. And they related our lives as missionaries and as members of the church to this horse. It was actually pretty cool, they talked about how this horse was from a lineage of champions and that is like us because we are children of God. And how this horse had to work really hard to break records and to achieve goals and how that is like us on the mission and like us going into the New Year with goals and records to break.   They also talked about the second coming. In Revelations chapter five it talks about seven seals. They talked about how the second coming is at hand and they tied it into our obedience as missionaries and how we need to be worthy and the Lord can’t work with dirty workers.

Afterwards they got permission from president to go out to eat. They took us to a pizza restaurant. Every companionship got a pizza I ordered my half with barbecue chicken.

On Friday some random person saw us and started talking to us in English. She was really excited to see missionaries because her daughter was a convert and she married a missionary. She called her daughter to tell her about us and took a picture of us sent it to her daughter who lives in Sugarhouse Utah. She then bought us an ice cream cone. And we talked about the church and got to know them a bit. They were from Texas just visiting family there in Anahuac.

That is way cool that you got to go the farewell of Jon Thomas. That is way cool that he decided to serve and that he is heading out. It is pretty cool to see how the gospel changes people.

The weather has done the opposite hear in Mexico. It was colder this week, lots of rain and fog. I got a couple of cool pictures of the fog. 
 (This is the church in Anahuac, it looked a lot cooler than it shows in the picture, the picture didn't catch the fog very well.)
The work was still a bit slow this week. No one has been opening their doors. They don’t even look out to see who is at the door the just don’t answer it is weird. But there have been more people in the streets though, more people to contact and that is good.
We just kind of stopped visiting Manuel and Luz. We still eat with them every week on Wednesday but nothing more than that. They are just very stubborn I guess you could say. They always say that they respect what we are doing but they don’t want any of it.
The new elder, Elder Perez is really cool. He actually played soccer before when he was in Ecuador. He is pretty good too. Last week before our meeting at the church we played a little 2-v-2 tournament with some missionaries which was pretty fun. All of the missionaries that just got transferred in said that I was the first gringo that was good at soccer ha-ha. I actually can’t tell a difference between his Spanish and the Mexican Spanish it sounds the same to me. I can actually understand him pretty easily which has been nice. The last missionary was from like central or southern Mexico and I had a hard time understanding his Spanish.
Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 21 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

The holidays were fun here but it was a lot different though. That is just because for holidays we are not able to do a lot. We had to go to the house early because we can’t be on the streets because of all of the people who get drunk and drive around and no one answers their door so we couldn’t do missionary work. Towards the end of the week the work finally picked up and the people were out on the streets again. 

It probably would have been cool if we could have taught families or something like that but it is just hard to find anyone at home. On New Year’s Eve we had to go in our house at seven. My companion and I ate all of the stuff that grandma and grandpa sent me. We ate tons of caramel popcorn, tons of fudge, butterscotch and peanut brittle. We ate so much crap that night ha-ha. I still haven’t even put a dent in all of the candy that I have.

We did get dinner at 4:30pm on New Year’s Eve. We got a soup that had some red liquid, hot dogs slices, beans and chicarron (deep fried pig skin that tastes faintly like bacon or ham but it is not too good especially when soggy). We also got some chips and orange juice. After that we had to go to our house where we downed a bunch of my candy.

In Anahuac the people say that it hasn’t snowed to the point where it sticks on the ground for 8 years. It just gets really cold. These last couple of days the puddles of water in the road have been frozen and there is frost every once and a while. The other day, our clothes that were hanging to dry became frozen because it was so cold. 

My singing still sucks ha-ha but it is all good because most people here are equally as bad. During baptisms they just sing and there is no music to help it sound better and it is pretty bad---and that is coming from me ha-ha. I remember the first time I heard them I laughed. I don’t know if it sounds better in the US just because we have a lot more people or a piano or what. We always sing Mas Cerca Ddios de Ti (Nearer My God to Thee) and it has this really high part that everyone slaughters. I am not saying I am good by any means but it has been kind of funny to see.

We sometimes sing in the lessons which I am still getting used to and with investigators sometimes. Before we start the lessons we sing a hymn to invite the spirit. Luckily when I was with my other companion, Elder Maldonado, he sang loud and drowned out my voice which was good for both me and the investigators. Elder Hansen my new companion took choir so he does well for the both of us ha-ha. 

It is too bad that we aren’t able to go to the temple at all during our mission…that would have been cool. We do feel all the prayers and we have recognized all of the blessings and miracles that come from them. 

That is actually really cool that you are able to help out the sister missionaries with rides and stuff. I know exactly how they feel. It gets dark here at like 5 or 6 and when the sun goes down it gets really cold, and the wind is icy cold and the wind has been so strong this last week. I wear thermals two socks two sweaters my jacket gloves and scarf. It is always nice when we get into a warm car. We rarely do in Anahuac because none of the members have cars. But in Cuauhtémoc there are always members that are more than willing to help. 

The people here are so generous and kind to the missionaries. The same five or six members feed us every week and we always eat really well with them and not only is it great food but it is a lot too (well for me, not my companion, ha-ha, he is used to eating a ton). 

We were able to go to the park and work out almost every day this week which was nice because I eat so much here and I need that time ha-ha. We get a long really well, and he is a cool companion and I am learning a lot. I haven’t had time to play soccer at all, but every morning at the park I juggle with the ball that you guys sent and that has been a great thing to have.

This last Tuesday we had some spaghetti with slices of bananas in it. It actually wasn’t too bad, and tasted pretty good. That day I worked with Elder Babb and we contacted someone on the street who said that their daughter wants to get baptized in our church. It is crazy how people just come out of the blue like that. She was new in the area and didn’t know her address very well and just gave us a general area and some landmarks but we haven’t been able to find her again. 

On Wednesday we had to go the house at 7 and we ate tons of my candy and we got to go to bed early and catch up on some sleep which was really nice. We felt like crap the next day waking up because of all of the candy ha-ha. 

On Thursday there was absolutely nobody. The streets were empty, no cars or people and all of the stores were closed. We went to look for the lady we met on Tuesday and we met a bunch of people who we have been teaching this last week and they have been progressing very well, and it was cool to see that the bad address produced some great investigators.

On Thursday night there were transfers because a bunch of missionaries were going home and gaps needed to be filled. Only Elder Babb’s companion changed. Now there is Elder Perez and he is from Ecuador and he has 20 months in the mission. He seems pretty cool. Elder Hogan (the missionary that talked with you guys a bit on Christmas from Herriman) got transferred too. He is still in Cuauhtémoc but just in the other zone. My companion and I are safe from being transferred, well I might not be for long. I probably will get switched in three weeks because I have been here for a long time.

On Friday we had a little white cat run up to us from out of an empty lot filled with weeds. It was really small and meowing a lot. My comp picked it up and petted it then set it down and we kept walking. But it followed us. We tried to walk faster but it would keep following. We tried running but it still followed. We ended up losing it but it was really cute to see it following us like that.

In that picture I sent I am holding the chocolate that I got from Viviana that I forgot about. It was really good.

Love Elder Blanchard

Friday, January 2, 2015

Week 20 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

It was great to Skype with you guys on Christmas, good to see you guys again. You guys really haven’t changed. Emily is taller and looks a bit older but that is about it, looks like I remember when I left. 
It is crazy how fast you get out of shape. We were almost not able to run at all this last part of the week because we had to leave early for Cuauhtémoc for zone meetings. Hopefully we have more time this next week. We weren’t able to play soccer because it was too dark cold and windy so no one wanted to. We just watched Mormon messages made crepes.

That day for lunch we ate at a member’s house and had some really good food with even better dessert. We got tortus which are just some toasted buns with pulled pork and lettuce and sometimes mayonnaise (which it would be so much better without) we also got roasted potatoes, and for dessert we got pumpkin pie. It was nothing like your homemade pumpkin pie but it was pie. We also got flan cake which is chocolate cake with flan on top. 

It is actually really cold here too, mostly just because of the icy wind. We got a bit of snow here actually on Saturday…nothing stuck to the ground and it just had little snowflakes for like three minutes but it was snow. I heard that in Cuauhtémoc some snow stuck to the ground that night. I like the cold weather and I am not ready for the crazy heat here I have heard lots about it and sounds like it will get hot. I can’t believe how much snow that you guys got. Though, I miss that about Utah.

Um I don’t think that I have any favorite members they are all really nice. I get along really well with all of the members. The ward has actually been growing a lot. It is really cool to be in a small area for that reason, just to see the growth and progress. 

We did get a lot of time off this week. Christmas day really, the other days there is just not anyone. Lots of walking and not a lot of working. On Christmas Eve day we spent like three hours emptying out the water from the baptismal font. We had to do it with buckets because the pump to drain the water is broken. We have had to do that twice this last week and we will have to do it at least once this week, it is a pain but has to get done. As for missionary work hopefully it picks up soon, lots of people are just gone for the holidays.

Thanks for the compliment on my Spanish. I probably should have talked a lot more in Spanish for you guys during skype. I got a bunch of ideas from other elders on things to tell you guys about and things to ask you guys. At least I will have a better idea next time on mother’s day. 

The one from Mexico has a crazy personality and he is really funny. Elder Hogan’s mom did talk with me a bit over skype. I have done divisions with Elder Hogan several times and we have worked together. Ha-ha nope the other moms of the Americans wanted to do the same. I heard of a lot of people crying too, but none of the elders I was with cried. It was really cool to Skype and now I have little experience and ideas for next time.

Love Elder Blanchard