Ok so first off, so so so sorry that I wasn't able to write you all this last Saturday, I promise that I will explain. I really missed communicating with you guys but I really trust that all is well which makes it not the worst thing in the world. My life has been really super crazy and really super sweet these last two weeks, not gonna lie. Since my last letter I have visited 3 different states, every zone in the mission, given the same training 9 different times (Let me tell you, by the 9th time it was a pretty good training, haha) ate, as always, some crazy good food, met lots of incredible people and missionaries, found and started to teach a new family that is PURE GOLD, had some great progress in our area. And I loved every minute of it, not gonna lie. Let me start to explain.
So, I'm pretty sure my last letter was pretty scatterbrained and didn't answer too much. Sorry, it was really rushed and not very well-written. I'm not sure if I started it off by telling you about some of the crazy huge changes that have taken pass in the mission starting this last transfer. For starters, tracting and contacting doors and in the streets is now PROHIBITED (and thank goodness, that was the worst) and all finding of new investigators will come from other methods of finding, namely, working with the members. All this in an effort to really strengthen the base of the church here in Mexico. Interesting stat, in our mission we baptize about 1000 people a year on average. One year after baptism, only 12% of those new converts are still attending church consistently every week. That is a really unacceptable number. The effort and plan to change all of that is the Obra de Salvacion, which is all about using the two sets of priesthood keys, which I think that I pretty well explained. Well, as you can imagine, it has been a huge challenge for a lot of Elders here in the mission to adjust to 0 contacting after doing so much of it in their mission. In an effort to help these Elders adjust, President brought Elder Mesa and I with him to do interviews in every zone. We obviously weren't doing the interviewing, but while he interviewed each Elder one at a time, we had the rest of the zone with us doing a training on how to work with the members of the ward, how to work with the ward mission leader, the ward counsel, and most importantly, how to plan more effectively. We have seen that if Elders aren't contacting, their planning has to improve 100% because now they really have to think about who they will visit. So last week Elder Mesa, President Jordan, and I hopped in the Mission minivan (no joke there) and headed up to Ciudad Victoria. There are nine zones in our mission. Each stake is a zone. Five of those zones are in the Metropolitan Tampico area. They are Tampico, Madero, Bosque, Ampiacion, and Chairel. The other four zones are cities or groups of cites outside of Tampico: Zona Victoria, Zona Mante, Zona Valles, and Zona Huasteca (probably the prettiest place I've ever been in my life). So we went to each one of these outside the city and gave this training to the Elders in each one. It was a really good week and I was SOOOOOOO tired at the end of it all. We were with President until Valles when he had to go back to Tampico for something, so the next morning Elder Mesa and I hopped on a bus and headed to Huejutla, Hidalgo which is like stepping back into ancient Mayan times, haha. Dad, the bus we were on had chickens and all kinds of stuff and was legitimately like being on Indiana Jones, traveling through the jungle on a bus that bucked more than a horse haha. We were outside the city last Saturday and I didn't get to write, my apologies once again for that. It was a really fun week though, every afternoon after the training, Elder Mesa and I would each go with a different companionship and work with them for the night which was really fun.
All that week I really missed working in our area but this last week we have really seen some miracles working in our area. We are usually doing some sort of mission related task outside of our proselyting area until about 2:00, so our time in our area is somewhat limited, so we have to be very effective. Also, our ward is awesome, it's not that big, but they have been working like crazy with us, teaching with us, and everything. We have 6 investigators that are progressing really well right now. One is a granddaughter of a less active lady, another is named Lorenzo, he is the husband of a recent convert named Marylou. Lorenzo is awesome not gonna lie. He is cool to talk to, loves reading the scriptures, loves going to church, understands the doctrines. The only problem is that Lorenzo struggles with alcohol. It is a HUGE weakness for him. When I arrived, he had been drinking for a long time straight, and he looked like it. But all of the sudden, he stopped. Since then, we have started teaching him again and he looks and feels sooooo much better. Right now we are looking for some way to really help him to not fall into his old habits once again. It is for that very reason that you NEVER take the first sip of alcohol or the first puff of a cigarette because you don't know if it will hook you. Vices are the hardest habits to kick. Also in this week, some other Elders passed us a reference of a family that lives in our area that has turned out to be GOLD!!!!! The family is la familia Cruz de Santiago. The Dad, Pascaul and the mom, Ricarda are both in their 50s and their two sons who are living with them are Ivan 28 and Jose 17. They are been really super accepting and have been reading, praying and last night they came with us to an activity at the church celebrating the Mexican Revolution. Something that is always cool and always convenient is having your church be about ten steps away from the temple, haha. After the activity, we went with them and some members of the ward that had been fellow shipping them all night at the activity, and we did a tour of the temple grounds and had a sweet lesson in the temple waiting room!!!! It was off the hook and the whole family felt the spirit that is so tangible in the House of the Lord.
I love having the temple so close, it seriously just radiates peace. Everyday I am becoming more and more converted to the idea of the two sets of priesthood keys within missionary work. As we have worked so closely with the members in these last 3 weeks we have seen MIRACLES!!!!!!!!! More than anything I am 100% converted to the idea of whatever instructions your priesthood leader(s) (in this case Pres. Jordan and Pres. Johnson) give to you, is exactly what God wants you to do and He will give you success when you do it. It is so true. It really doesn't matter whether I love contacting or not, if God, through his servants, says that we won't do it, you don't do it. It's very simple and proven to work, just ask the Nephites... O wait they ended up disobeying LOLZZ #BofMJokes.
It's been a super fun last few weeks. I really like being able to impact a large group of Elders for good. I can't even believe how often I use what I learned from How To Win Friends and Influence People. When you combine those elements with the spirit, you can influence a lot of Elders who really need help for good. That's another thing I'm learning more and more everyday here. It would be easy to see an Elder who disobeys and say that he's good for nothing and lazy, but every single one of these Elders has a back story and a reason for why they are the way they are. In the same reason that I have been successful in my mission, thanks to the family and friends and advantages I had, a lot of these Elders are struggling and the most important thing is that we love each and every one of them, no matter what they are doing. If you love them, you can lead them, because they will love you back and they will listen. I'm learning so much about how to love everyone from President Jordan. That man, and his wife are incredibly loving and forgiving people. They are great examples and I want to try and live my life much in the same way they do.
Haha, funny note to end. Pres and Sister Jordan's son made a song and a video persuading Jabari Parker to go to BYU and it's really funny. YouTube it. I think it's called Parker Style, but it's really funny.
I love you all so much. Thank you so much for all of your love and support, you are incredible examples to me. I didn't even realize it was Thankgiving this week, but I have so much to be grateful for, starting with my friends and family. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps