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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Week 32 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

On Monday I lucked out and didn’t have to give a lesson to the district because the assistance of the president came and gave a lesson to our zone. They talked about a scripture in Matthew 14. This is where Jesus commands his apostles to go in a boat to the other side of a body of water. When they got half way they stopped because of the waves and the wind and because it was stormy. They only got half way across and stopped. They then applied this to us about how we have been commanded like them to do the missionary work and we can’t be like those in the story who only go half way and stop when the going gets tough. 

This last week there were a lot of baptismal interviews to be done within the zone. The zone leaders wanted me to help so they called president to ask for permission on my behalf to do baptismal interviews. They called President on Tuesday morning as we were leaving the house and I had no idea that I would be doing baptismal interviews. Once they got an OK from president they started going over the basics of the baptismal interview with me while we walked over to the house of a guy who was to be interviewed. The guy’s name is Guadalupe he is in a wheel chair. We found him at a park. I interviewed him on a bench. It was a cool experience and luckily there were only a few distractions. The sister missionaries in the district that I am helping out thought that I had more time in the mission than I do, it was pretty cool to hear that my Spanish doesn’t sound like I just got here.

While on the busses here in Mexico there are performers. Usually when we go from Anahuac to Cuauhtémoc there is a guy who sings and plays guitar. It is pretty cool to watch them balance on the bus and perform. On Tuesday this guys came on with a keyboard tied around his neck, his key board was missing a bunch of keys and it was a really Mexicanized set up. He actually turned out to be pretty good. There are also a bunch of guys who wait by intersections and run out in the street when the light is red and start juggling or doing weird tricks for money.

On Tuesday I also worked a bit with Elder McGavin and Elder St. Pierre. Elder McGavin was the elder from Anahuac when I first arrived. He is serving in Cuauhtémoc now. Elder St. Piere was with me in the MTC, and we were able to catch up on old times. 

This week I have been staying with the zone leaders and this other elder, Elder Newman. Their house is really nice. One of the zone leaders Elder Gallup knows how to cook so we have been eating really well. We made granola one day and ate that with chopped up fruit and yogurt. We ate some really good egg sandwiches with ham and chipotle sauce. We also made orchata one day that was really good. On Sunday morning we made French toast. It made me remember the French toast that dad used to make it wasn’t as good as dad’s but it was pretty good. It has been fun to hang out with these guys this last week. I have learned a lot and I am staying with them this next week too. 

On Thursday we were told that we all had to be at the church at 5 and we had to come really clean. We had to cut our hair, nails, come in our suits, and shine our shoes. Everyone thought that we were going to have lesson from a seventy or something. But it was just a doctor over the missions of Mexico and he just told us things that were common sense. Like bathe, or wash hands, wash fruit and vegetables before eating, be careful where you buy things to eat off of the street, wash dishes. 

On Saturday I did another interview for a girl named Gretel. She was a lot easier to interview than the first guy and was actually really prepared and will be baptized this next week. I have done two other interviews this week, I can’t remember which days, but I have been learning a lot mostly from experience and just by doing it. But is has been cool to learn from the zone leaders and my comp for this week. 

Also we went for some clean clothes for me to Anahuac and we played soccer at the church with some kids who are getting baptized this next week. 

This week I have eaten a lot of American food. On Thursday we ate at KFC because a member owns the restaurant. And on Friday we ate hamburgers at some member’s house, it wasn’t bad it just was coated with mayonnaise and guacamole. They thought I was fifteen years old. And on Saturday the member who owns pizza hut sent us a pizza with cheese filled crust.

The weather here has been pretty good. It has been raining quite a bit, and it has been warming up. It is getting hot. And I have heard lots of bad stuff about how hot it gets here. I am not too worried about the heat it will just be really hard to fast. 

I actually haven’t had to give any talks or lessons since the last time I talked to you guys about it. I am still not looking forward to having to speak. I am not worried about giving lessons though. It is just preparing something to give a talk about that I need to practice.

I do miss the temple; it is crazy how long it has been since I have gone. Juan Manuel is doing good from what I know but I haven’t been over there with him for a week. Last I heard he smoked one time this last week, but is back to good.

Ya our mission president is a great teacher. He was an institute teacher for a lot of his life and is really smart. Someone pointed out that we were called here under such a great teacher because expected to become teachers later in life or we are to become teachers whether it is a calling, a job, or just as a parent. The closer we look the more we see how he is always teaching us some kind of lesson about something.

I did luck out that they are giving me some training first. The zone leaders said that pretty soon all of the leaders in the mission are going to finish their missions and there aren’t going to be any leaders because they haven’t been training well. So both elder Newman and I are getting trained and refined.

Sorry don’t have any pictures this week but I will try and take some more this next week for you guys. 

Love Elder Blanchard

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week 31 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

In our district meeting Monday night we learned about how we need to help people understand the doctrine if we want to change hearts. The comment was also made that we have all of the mission rules to put us in the shoes of our investigators.

We have all of the strange extra rules to help give us a testimony. For example with the word of wisdom we don’t have problems with drugs coffee or any of that stuff but as we live our higher law here in the mission (no pancakes, no soda, candy at night stuff like that).  We are understanding more the position of our investigator and our words have more power because we have a little better understanding. It is our way of living the same doctrine as them but in a higher plane; "doctrine without experience is just literature". 

Tuesday not much happened, it was rainy and there was thunder. We left the house and it was nice outside and looked as if it would be a sunny nice day. But we had to go back and grab umbrellas and warm clothes.

On Wednesday, we biked to Fabella, it is a little ranch like 3 or 4 miles outside of Anahuac. There was a recent convert out there and we had to go get a signature on a baptismal register because the old one was lost. The lady has a farm out in the back of her house and she showed us around and had us take pictures. She had this mint plant and we were able to eat the leaves and they tasted like mint gum it was really good. That day we had a lesson with Juan and he asked us how long the "team" was going to be in Anahuac. He said that he doesn’t want other missionaries to come because he is accustomed to us. He said he wants to come with us and help us preach.

On Thursday we had another lesson about finding and addressing people’s doubts, and the doubts were compared to icebergs. We also were given some hamburgers by a member. Thursday we had to buy some other food because this last week we weren’t able to buy vegetables for our stir fry and our zone leader said we should eat some better food. We bought some stuff to make fried egg ham sandwiches with toasted bread. And we were going to make peanut butter and fry that with some bananas in a sandwich. When we got out of the store we got on our bikes with our groceries and it started hailing and pelting us as we biked back to the house.

On Friday we all went to Cuauhtémoc and watched meet the Mormons. The movie was actually pretty cool. It had some cool stories. After the movie my companion and I stayed in Cuauhtémoc because some people in the old zone of Elder Hansen wanted him to go visit an old investigator to see if he could convince them to be baptized.

We ended up eating at a buffalo wings place called red sauce. we got a whole bunch of different flavors: mango habenero, bbq, hawaii, buffalo, and chipotle. They were not too bad either. After that Elder Hansen went with another missionary to find this lady and I went with my zone leader Elder Gallup (he is from Park City). We had to go tell someone that their baptism was invalid.

The previous missionaries just had too much confidence in them that they would do the things they said they would. The people had been lying in their interviews about smoking and drinking coffee. And, above all, they were living together and not married because they still needed to get a divorce from other spouses. They were told if they separated until they were divorced then married they could get baptized, but they only did that for a week. And the president of the mission decided it was better for them to not be baptized because it lessens the condemnation for them and he gave them a chance to progress towards a baptism correctly.

It was a crazy experience because there baptisms were valid up until this companion, who had received direction from president who held the keys said something. So I decided to pay close attention when we got in there to see if I could see a difference. It was a real subtle difference, but when he told them their outward appearance or their countenance became darker, like a light left or went out within them. 

On Saturday we got a call at 1 pm saying that Elder Babbs companion or Elder Perez my district leader had changes. He had to pack up and leave at like 5. It sucked to see him go because he was a great teacher. Our zone leaders say that he was probably the best teacher in the mission, I learned a lot from him. So my comp became the new district leader.

That night after we had gone to bed we got a phone call at 10:50ish, it was our zone leader Elder Campusano. He said that he had just got off of the phone with President Chavez and that he wants me to be a district leader this next cycle. So I was going to go to Cuauhtémoc for a week with the zone leaders and another district leader so they could train me. 

Yesterday after church I went back to the house and packed for the next week that I would be spending in Cuauhtémoc. I will be working with Elder Newman(from Utah has same amount of time as Elder Hansen) and helping him with his district. That night I had to prepare a lesson for the district (which is just a companionship of sisters) and I will have to give that lesson later today. 

Love Elder Blanchard

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 30 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

This last Monday my companion and I went to the church and baked the cake that you sent me, it was really good. Also, later that night when we were out working, we found this guy named Miguel that is really cool and smart and we are going to meet with him again this week. 

On Tuesday Juan Manuel was helping the sisters do a lesson while waiting for the English class to start and he shared his experience on the church and quitting smoking. He said that after he prayed and after listening to us every time he smelled the cigarettes he was disgusted and didn’t have the desire to smoke anymore. He also said that he loves the way he feels at church and never wants to leave.

On Friday we and I were cleaning and emptying out the baptismal font and Juan Manuel came walking in the church with two buddies. He said they were hanging out and they saw that the church was open and they went to check it out. His buddies are both really cool; we gave them a tour of the church and let them know about the sacrament. One of them came to church on Sunday and the other wanted to but he had to work. 

On Saturday there was a baptism for a little kid named Brandon (ten years old) from the area of the other elders. The little kid was really funny and cool to talk to. It was funny after the baptism he started swimming in the font. It was funny because they closed the font doors, and continued with the service and you could hear a bunch of splashing on the other side.

On Sunday Juan got the Aaronic Priesthood and that night we had a lesson with one of the buddies (Sergio) of Juan with Juan and it went really well. I have never seen Juan so happy. But right now he is an even worse situation than when we found him. He has no job and is getting kicked out of his house in a week, but he is so happy because of the gospel and it has been really cool to see him. This week he is working with the president of the ward to find a job and house. 

This week we have been making stir fry, I actually sent you a picture of the stuff we made. My comp is actually good at cooking. He knows how to make sour bread dough pizza and we are going to try and make that sometime soon.

We have taught Juan about the temple and how he can do work for his family and seems pretty excited and wants to get ready to go. 

We have dinner on Sundays with a member. One Sunday it is with the president of the ward who lives in Cuauhtémoc and the other week is with one of the counselors of the president.

Love elder Blanchard

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 29 (Anáhuac, Mexico)

No transfers for me and my companion or anyone in my district, nor in my zone. Well, two people…one guy finished his mission and one got transferred.

This last Monday we went to the church and made the brownies that you sent me a long time ago. We took too long to make them and we had to eat them the next day because they didn’t finish until it had passed the time in which we could eat sweets. 

The picture I sent you of the brownies has my district. Those are all of the missionaries in Anahuac. It used to be us and the other elders in the district but they added the sisters because they were already in Anahuac too.  The sisters names are Hermana Dudley from Texas and Hermana aramburo from Guanajuato, Mexico.

I am excited to stay and happy to be with my companion still. I am the longest companion that he has had. It’s actually his birthday on Tuesday and we are planning on making a cake today. 

Also on Monday night, we had an appointment that was pretty far from our house and we talked with the people for too long and had to bike like crazy to get home on time. As we were leaving they started talking to us about our Spanish where we learned and how. They said that my Spanish was really good for the time that I have had.  They said that my reading was really good too. I am still working on my grammar but I have improved a ton all around in Spanish.

On Tuesday we walked a ton and didn’t have luck getting into houses. Juan Manuel still hadn’t smoked for since the last time we had the interview.  It was crazy windy that day, someone said that it was around 70kmph or something.  It was crazy the dust got moving so fast that it hurts when it hit, our eyes were on fire. Also we went to find a reference that we got from the other elders from someone they had contacted. These are some pictures of the reference’s house.

On Wednesday we had a zone conference and we had a bunch of cool lessons. One of our leaders talked about a Greek myth it was about some guy who was in a maze and had to fight a mythical creature and the princess had given him a spool of thread to help him find his way through the maze and the spool of thread was compared to the spirit for us. How following it is our key to success.

Another talked about the difference between hearing and listening, and how we need to actually listen and not just hear our investigators. We also got a lesson about the scripture from Matthew 6:21 that says where your treasure is that is where you heart is, and they talked about the importance of having our hearts in the right place.

After the meeting we went with Juan Manuel and he had read 29 chapters in the book of Mormon. Still hadn’t smoked. We taught him about fasting and he actually fasted for a job this last Sunday.

On Wednesday I also got my package. Thanks for all of the treats and goodies, they have been great. 

Also that night I did divisions with elder Babb but we couldn’t do much because the wind had knocked the power out and it was pitch black.

Thursday not much happened but at night the power was lost again. And we almost got attacked by a dog in the dark. We were walking as normal and the dog came running out of the bushes growling and barking and charged a couple times and got really close to us. But it didn’t do anything.

On Friday we went and verified with Juan Manuel that he hadn’t been smoking. He hasn’t had a job for a week because the one that he did have was only temporary. He was telling the district leader elder Perez about his situation and how he had no money. The lesson went really well, the spirit was really strong. At the end of the lesson he gave us both a cookie. It was really cool because this guy has nothing but yet he gives us cookies despite all of his problems. He has a ton of charity. In the end he was cleared for a baptism on Saturday.

Saturday morning my comp and I had to hurry and go to the church so we could start the boiler, clean and fill up the baptismal font. We had to empty out about a foot of water and we had to empty it out with buckets because the pump to drain it doesn’t work. Juan got to the church at 11:50  and the baptism wasn’t until 1:00. The son of the bishop of the ward baptized him. Also that night I packed a bunch of my stuff because I thought I was going to have transfers.

Sunday we went to find Juan Manuel before church and we couldn’t find him. He wasn’t in his house, at the church or at the plaza at the place where he usually hangs out. We were frantically running around trying to find him but at 10:45 we gave up and went to church and found him there in the congregation. He had gone to somewhere where they hand out free food and had gotten a ride or something like that. But he did end up getting confirmed.

Also that night the other elders and us made some rice with hotdog slices and soy sauce. We burned the rice ha-ha. 

The woman version of Manuel, her name is actually Manuela ha-ha ironically the girl form of his name, is doing well. She went to church the other week and found work during the next week. She didn’t go to this last week but she still is pretty open. She and her husband have a baptismal date for April 15. We have to get them married and we have to help the husband stop drinking but that is about it. 

Ya it is crazy before it took people a lot longer to get baptized for example your sister. But the lord is also hastening his work and the people like Juan have been prepared. 

Juan Manuel was baptized by the bishop’s son so he has a friend in the church for when we leave. But he does have food now. He got a giant bag the other day as a handout. Maybe we can talk to the relief society and work something out.

Love Elder Blanchard