Monday, August 15, 2011

Good week

Hello family! 

Already another week has passed! How incredible it is when time flies.  Today is my tenth P-day in the mission.  This was a great week for the missionaries in Monte Carlo.  As usual Elder Cotton and I got along well.  El miércoles 10 de agosto began the second change that Elder Cotton and I are going to spend together.  He was called to be a district leader in our zone.  In our district are Heremanas Escobar y Guidel,   Élderes Cizmas y Gonzalez and of course Élderes Cotton y Clay.  

This change will be much more interesting than the last change for many reasons.  Last change our zone was principally comprised of obedient missionaries but this change a montón of plancheros have entered our zone (planchero - missionary who breaks rules).  One of the plancheros is in our district and I'll have the opportunity to learn lots from Elder Cotton as District Leader, from our Zone Leaders as they deal with the placheros and of course I´m still a nuevo so I still have much to learn otherwise! But my animo is still here and I'm still glad to be a missionary!

So of course - CONGRATS TO DENEKA AND PHEN.  Happy marriage....? I am obligated to comment how weird it is for me that I am of the age when my friends and the cousins with whom I've grown up are getting married.  What the heck?  While to my chagrin I am not there to make obnoxious comments in more depth about this subject I know that it is more important (probably for divinely inspired reasons) that I am here on my mission at this time. 

Funny experience.  We were teaching Javier (quien tiene veinte años) and in the course of the lesson some random two year old neighbor girl walked up and proceeded to shout, "¡Miren, caballo!" Following which she stuck out her tongue.  Quite the exciting announcement.   The children here are so wonderfully exciting.  One day we were walking and I saw something that I absolutely loved.  There was a father and daughter sitting outside in chairs.  They were working on homework together.  Also yesterday I saw a mother, daughter, and granddaughter doing the same thing.  I love to see normal-ish family life taking place.  At times I have great fear that all of the children are growing up without stability in the home but this was of great comfort to me.  I worry for the families here that have very little opportunities for education or oppotunities to better their circumstances.  

So this Sunday church attendance was a little better yet again.  We had 48 in attendance which was great because we heard from the bishop that the stake president was going to come because he didn't actually believe our attendance reports and he wanted to verify that in reality there were more than forty members in attendance.  We prayed hard for that!  So I suppose that I'll now give the update on the rama.  As far as we know things are moving forward with the paperwork for the official organization.  Also sooner rather than later someone should be called specifically to give callings, make specific assignments to add a little structure to the branch.  We're working on getting a dry erase board so that we can better hold activities.  There is however some bad news: we found out only yesterday that the branch was organized by the mission.  This means that until the organization is officially done by the church, the ward will not be able to pay for the house which means that there will be no new, beautiful, small, private house for Elder Cotton y yo.  We're going to have to continue living in the church until further notice.  

Next Sunday I'm a little worried as well.  We don't know what we're going to do with our investigators and less active people who decide to come to church! The templo del Salvador is going to be dedicated on Sunday and we're all going in the morning.  I think that the best solution si going to be to hold a small sacrament meeting in the afternoon.  We'll figure it out I'm sure.  

One of the things that I'm working on in my quest for better knowledge of the Spanish language is talking on the phone.  I am afraid that I'll misunderstand something crucial and lose information.  I'm practicing more and more.  I suppose it's a dumb fear because in conversation I can understand it all...Additionally I'm working on my accent.  Always's hard to change my gringo ways but as Elder Cotton tells me, my accent will come with time.  

So this week we've decided to not go back to eat lunch with the Hermana.  Coincidentally we've noticed a dramatic improvement in how we feel in the afternoons.  We'll be cooking our own lunches from now on.  I look forward to having complete control over what goes into my body.  Although we do look forward to people giving us free food.  When we get free food it's usually always going to be super good because they are giving it to us.  

Saturday we had baptisms at last.  before the service we were literally sprinting all over the colonia gathering people and throwing them onto the bus.  We started in the back of the colonia and our goal was to make it to the front before the bus left.  We did it.  Barely.  But it was pretty funny to imagine what the people were thinking as they saw two strangely dressed people running through the muddy streets.. I laughed.  The reason that we had to run is that we got back late from baptisimal interviews for the Hermanas in the district. 

Although I do have to tell you that I promise that we are not only teaching children.  To this point we've only baptized children but we are really working hard with some families. The children have just been ready to go faster because they live with members.  Two of the member families here participate in some sort of foster care program where some children from sketchy backgrounds come to live in their home for a few months or something.  Johnny and Erika, who we baptized Saturday live with Hermana Blanca Gomez and her hubsand and family.  Their house is about the size of our gameroom and about 12 people live there.  

Johnny and Erika are super hilarious and love to see us!  I really do love working with the children because they are so simple, receptive and teachable. Johnny and Erika are 9 and 12 respectively.  Johnny can't read but is learning and Erika is pretty brilliant.  Funny experience.  We were walking home from the baptisms Saturday because we can't afford to pay the bus for everyone two ways and as we were walking Erika walks up and grabs Elder Cotton's hand!!! It was hilarious.  We started talking in English and he looked at me like...WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!?!?!?!?!?!?  It was the funniest thing.  She tried to grab mine later on in the walk but after she attacked mi compañero I was on the look out.  

Sergio, who I told you about last week is having difficulties and we're still working with him.  He was supposed to be baptized Saturday but got cold feet....


Two records were broken Saturday.  I received SEVEN LETTERS.  Which was amazing and a great surprise.  Letters from: Mommy, Schmutz (2), Nannie, Katie Wheldon, Caitlin Merrell, and Britta + Dannee.  The other record was from Schmutz.  He sent a letter on 3 agosto and it got to me on 13 agosto.  Ten days.  Whoa. 

Where are Cameron Birt and Jordan Dibble going on their missions?

Emails from: Mommy, Dad, Dannee, Katri, Nannie, G-ma, Whitney, Britta, Presidente Hernandez.

3346 - We made pancakes for Mom's birthday and took a video but that was too big to send.  The candies were a heart before they melted and the pancake cooked....
3356 - Good morning! That was in our sink when we woke up!
3358 - Don't know if you can see but that is a snake in our window eating a toad.  We heard from the other room the toad's cries. It was super épico.  I took videos.  
3363 - That would have been our house.....
3371 - At the baptism with Johnny and Erika

Thank you all for the love and the support and the prayers and the letters. 

Update me on Jared.  Any luck with emails of Bryant or Windsor?

Welcome to the family Prae! I wish that I could be there to meet you in person but of course when I get back I'll have to fly out to Thailand to meet you and then bring you back to the U.S. for a trip.  Have fun with my family! They are the best! 

Mom - I´m glad that you took that couple of days of vacation on the beach.  Do that again before school starts. Good luck with piano and the school preparations.  Keep studying your scriptures.  They'll help you get through the day.  Learn your Spanish! I am so excited for you to learn my language.  I will let you know about the Christmas for other missionaries.  Next week I'll write to Presidente to tell him that we can help.  He'll know who needs letters and love from the Clay family.  I live for Mondays too.  Mommy - I often think about things that we've done together as a family and things that you and I have done.  Every single day I think about the family and our adventures together.  The time went by fast but it was packed full with great memories.  Your letters are my favorites.  

Dad - Keep climbing ladders while sticking it to the man at KM. You will find as you continue to use the word and subject of kittens in your gospel doctrine lessons that people will understand the principles better.  And yes.  I do like being the lone cowboy as a missionary but I'm gaining my testimony of the imperfect members

Dannee and Katri - Teach Prae how we do in Texas.  Keep the party going.  Also hahaha for seminary.  You'll be getting up earlier than me...hehehe... Keep owning Schmutz and everyone else at Phase 10.  Do not shame me.  Katri - sing better than the rest.  Do whatever it takes to win and get ahead. Dannee - keep practicing su español.  Prepare for Bearkat football and the updates you'll be sending me. Yes you can text me with your phone.  Put as the recipient orsonc...etc.  Thank you for writing the Hermana.  Letters are important. 

Love you family.  Thanks for all you do.  Keep supporting the missionary work in S.C.O.  Thanks for the letters and the prayers I am succeeding because you support and love and encourage me so much.

I love emails and mail.  It makes my week to get something in the mail.  

I love and miss all of you so much.

Lots of love.  
Elder Clay

I live for Mondays, like Mommy.

10 weeks down. 94 to go.  The time is already flying. 

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