Week Five: Can't Wait to Have an In-N-Out Burger!

My District with one of our favorite teachers - Hermano Martinez (in the center)

October 22, 2014

Whats up guys?!? I can NOT believe how fast the time here has gone. i feel like i just got here yesterday. Its weird to think that three months ago we were in Europe...that feels like last week to me!!

Holding my check-out documents....
I'll be back in the USA next week!

On monday they gave us our itinerary and check-out documents which is actually too bad cuz now we cant focus in class!! we are all too excited. i leave here at 5 in the morning next tuesday, which is actually like way nice cuz 90% of the other missionaries are leaving at like 2 in the morning...which sounds terrible!!

So when i saw one of the pictures that you guys sent me i coulda sworn that MJ was Aunt Missy....i had to do a double take!!! It was crazy!! It must be the hair. 

The weather here has settled into a consistent pattern, and the rain has become way more common that my first two weeks. Every morning is chilly and cloudy. then by like
A storm rollin in one evening
lunch time the clouds burn off and its beautifully blue and sunny until about 6 when the clouds come back in and it rains from like 7-9 every night. and then it all starts over. i dont mind it, cuz our gym time is always beautiful so we can play kickball or sand volleyball with everyone. Yesterday we found a rugby ball and used it to play a game of football, but we got in trouble so we could only play for like 30 minutes :(.

So Saturday Elder Anderson from the Quorum of the Twelve came!!!! it was awesome. the whole CCM was buzzing with excitement. We were all singing in the auditorium when he came in and we all stood up as he walked in. Then he asked to shake all of our hands so we all went through and shook his hand!! it was so neat!!! i told him thanks for coming and he said that no it was his pleasure!!! we all felt like fan girls hahahaha. but he gave a great talk about the atonement and how we need to apply it to our lives before we can properly go and tech it to others. He brought with him Elder Maynes from the seventy and one of the area presidents from here in Mexico. It was way cool.

On Sunday for our devotional we watched a previous devotional from Elder Holland. It was awesome!! I’ve said this before but all of the apostles are like 10x funnier when its just missionaries. He was talking about how much trust the Lord has in us and he said "Its truly amazing that the Lord has put the future of his church in the hands of a bunch of escapees from the Aaronic priesthood." we all got a kick out of that. At the end of his devotional he gave a dedicatory prayer to some new buildings in the BYU MTC and i could not believe how powerful his prayer was. it blew us all away. it was a good lesson to me that i need to do a better job of saying more meaningful prayers. 

oh and one scary thing happened this week though...our house is right on the edge of campus and just over the wall one night we heard a bunch of gunshots and screams and then we heard a bunch of sirens a little while later...we´re not sure exactly what happened but it sure made us grateful for the 10 foot wall that separates us from the rest of the city!!!!!

The Latinos wanted to take a selfie...haha!
We had a trio of Latino elders move into our house this week, so we have been able to get really tight with them and practice our Spanish. they are hilarious. one thing about all the Latinos is they like to use what little English they know with us. they like to call their fellow Latinos "handsome" and they use it like its a bad thing. like when a group of Latinos is introducing themselves with us they will say "oh he is the most handsome out of all of us" and he gets all embarrassed but then we all crack up with each other. the other thing is they are all like WAY short. so even though i am average height for an American, they call me Alto Todd and stuff. its funny. Everyone also calls me Elder Todo instead of Elder Todd, because at first glance a lot of the Latinos think it says Todo. so that is fun. 

so i would be lying if i said everything was easy here.  At times i have felt overwhelmed but then i remember the little quote in a frame sitting in the family room that says something like "God please help me remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I cant accomplish." i love that quote!!  The Lord is building my patience, slowly but surely. So i can only be grateful for all of my hard times. 

Anyways, i love you guys. You give me so much strength, its incredible. I truly am blessed to have such a great, wonderful, strong support system back home. Some of my peers here don’t get to experience the same support. Always remember to read your scriptures; there is so much to be learned in them. i cherish my one hour of personal study each day like its worth its time in gold.

I should be able to email you guys on Monday, just a heads up. but if not ill talk to you when i get back to the USA!!! i have been dreaming about an In-n-Out burger.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Todd

The Elders in our district
Our classroom
Our messy room before we cleaned it
Garbage truck piled high with garbage
...notice the three hombres hangin off the back!
The streets are flooded!  (the drains here are terrible)

Week Four: Smuggling Coke into the MTC!!!

October 15, 2014

Que tal? the CCM here is still great. I am having a blast. I am getting quite anxious to get the heck out of here though. We do the same thing everyday, and class is starting to get old. I am also ready to teach real investigators. The population here at the CCM is getting smaller now because the summer season is over. There are about 500 of us here now, there use to be like over 1000 earlier this summer, like when Kyle Gardner and Mitch Kirkham were here. But this Saturday we have an apostle coming to give us a devotional, Elder Neil Anderson!! Last night we practiced shaking hands with him cuz he wants to shake all of our hands....very exciting!!!

I used to LOVE wearing my suit coat and slacks cuz it made me feel like a stud, but now i actually dread it because i get SO hot wearing it for all the meetings and devotionals. luckily we only have to wear it on select occasions, but i still dont like wearing it haha.

I am known as the selfie king here in our district, because i guess they think i take the best selfies of the group. so thats kinda funny.

So as Zone leaders we organized a zone kickball game this week, which was way fun. i think we are going to make it a regular occurrence. We got a new district in our zone this week which was fun because now we are the old guys and they look to us for advice and stuff. we like playing pranks on them, too. Its also fun because our district only has three guys, so we dont have many guys to hangout with. but now with the new district we have a fair amount of guys and we are all pretty tight. we like playing basketball together, and we challenged another zone to kickball later today, so that should be fun.

This week in church i gave a talk, which was way cool!! It was only five minutes, but I did it without scripting it all out like everyone else. I just used like 10 bullet points and went off of that. i felt like it helped me better portray my message.

This week was Elder Cook´s birthday, so we celebrated a little by eating some chips and salsa. We also smuggled in some Coke (as in Coca-Cola), which was actually hilarious. It was like a drug deal. We saw one of the landscapers drinking it so we went up to him and told him that we wanted like three cokes, one for each of us. he told us sure, and told us to meet him at the front at 7 am. the thing is though these guys arent supposed to bring us anything from outside the walls, such as coke. We went there, but he wasnt there so we went on with our day.

But then later in the day we found him pulling weeds and he told us to follow him. so we were like sprinting after him in our dress clothes to where he kept his bag. he pulled out his bag and told us to put his bag in our bag before we took the cokes out so nobody could see them. and then i pulled out a little bit of money to pay him and he like FREAKED out and told me to put the money back away. This whole time he was looking around all suspiciously. He told us to then meet him in the bathroom of this building, so we went separate ways but met him there, where we gave him our money. It was the closest thing to a drug deal i will ever be. it was hilarious. we couldnt stop laughing after he left.

So this week a few of the sisters in our zone have been struggling. They are quite homesick and are struggling with the language. This has been a great opportunity to use our priesthood power as zone leaders and give blessings. I love exercising my priesthood power. it means a lot to me. Lately i have started to read Jesus The Christ, and I LOVE it. at first i was like this is dumb its just a huge textbook about Jesus, its probably way boring. but it is fascinating. i find myself enthralled in it like a John Grisham book haha. 

This morning during personal study i read 1 Nephi 8 (in Spanish), which is Lehi´s dream. Lehi finds himself lost in a dark and gloomy world, but then suddenly a man in white appears and tells him to follow him, and Lehi has "Ok" and doesnt really know who he is or what he wants, but he follows him. annnndd as we all know, he takes him to the tree of life and all the good stuff, but it donned on me that as a missionary I will be that stranger in white. and i will be approaching those random people who are lost in this dark and gloomy world, and i will tell them to "follow me" and they will, not because they know me or anything, but because they just feel that what i know and have is right. And i will be able to lead them to the tree of life and let them partake of the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that i will be able to do as that man in white did and lead people to the gospel.

I love you guys, and i miss you like crazy. I cant believe i have been here a whole month, and that in two weeks I’ll be in Reno. It seriously is like mind-boggling haha. Anyways, let me know if there’s anything else i can do for you guys. you guys are the best. I am so blessed to have such an awesome support system back at home.


Elder Todd

My district with our three teachers
Someone drew a picture on the mirror...so i put my face in it.
(Hey - why not??)
With my Branch Presidency
Celebrating Elder Cook's birthday

Week Three: October 8, 2014

With my two MTC companions

October 8, 2014

The weather here is still beautiful, we have gotten a little bit more rain this week but nothing too bad. General Conference was Great!!!! We watched in English, which was probably better but it would have been cool to listen in spanish. My two favorite talks were Elder Holland and Elder Bednars...we need to share Elder Bednars talk with EVERY one...like neighbors/friends anyone. I am going to send it to a lot of my friends too. That was such a powerful talk and a great introduction into our church. I love Elder Bednar. He usually does a lot of our devotionals that we watch live from the Provo MTC. He is a totally different person in those MTC devotionals...he is way funny. 

I have actually come to love the food here in the MTC. I dont look forward to breakfasts cuz usually they are like way weird and i dont even know what they are eating but sometimes they have french toast or pancakes that are good. Every meal is all you can eat which is fun too. Lunches are the best here. In mexico lunch is the big meal, so they usually serve some kind of dessert that is way tasty. Yesterday we had this delicious steak for lunch and me and my comps ate like three steaks each they were so good. My stomach is undoubtedly getting bigger cuz i have begun to eat like soooo much more than i used too...which is weird cuz i dont use as much energy as i did during the summer with my job but oh well.  Dinners are hit and miss....sometimes they are way good and sometimes they are way weird but oh well. One of my new favoirte things is like these for dinner they make is like these tortillas with beans and lettuce and cheese on top...it is way good. I hate the beans here when they serve them as a side but on these tortilla things they are good.

Mom and Dad...thanks for the donuts!!!!! Those were awesome. Anytime anyone in our district gets a package we all get so excited  and we always share with each other...(cuz i cant eat 24 donuts alone) so we were all freakin out when we got the donuts. 

So the sidewalks here are the dumbest things ever...They are like a jagged jigsaw puzzle that doesnt fit together. i look like a fool at least twice a day cuz i trip over them all the time. pictures dont do justice as to how bad they are. 

Class each day is fun, but can be long. it feels a lot like school except we always start and end each class with a prayer and song...you dont do that at Tuscarora High School. But my two teachers are awesome. they are so nice and they are both returned missionaries who are wise wayyy beyond their years. One of them reminds me of my Uncle Chad. He is tallish and thin, and wears similar glasses. his name is Hermano Montes. he is super cool. The other teacher is Hermana Saucedo, she actually went to high school here at the mtc before it was an mtc....so thats cool. You guys can look into Benemerito high school, thats the name of the high school. I thought that would be something that dad would like to look into. 

So this week I had the chance to give another blessing to a sister in our Zone who is feeling quite homesick and down. The district she is in has been having some issues, and the stress of their whole district is really high. they are beginners and a lot of them had never spoken a lick of spanish before. We are getting a new district in our zone today, so it will be fun to meet them. We said goodbye to a district this past weekend, and you can see a picture of my district and theirs before they left. it was actually quite sad to see them go, we have gotten quite close with them. 

So i cant believe that i am half way done here. In three weeks i will be back in the USA....that seems so crazy!!! I feel like i just got here!!! 

Today i got a haircut, and it was actually really fun cuz the barbers are spanish of course so we got to chat it up with them. They gave me a good hair cut too!! I love all the people that work here, like the landscapers and housekeepers and chefs and stuff, they are all so nice and they all want to talk with you, so it is so much fun!! Tuesday is our service day so we go help clean houses for an hour and it is actaully like one of my favorite parts of the week. 

So more about the hermanas in my district: they are all so fun!! Hermana Underly is from Texas, and she is going to Reno with me. Hermana Pearson is from Park City, and she is going to Reno too. Hermana Jarman is from Atlanta, and she is going to nicaragua!!! Her comp, hermana Olsen is from Ohio and is going to New Mexico. They are all great. We are seriously like a family.

One thing that donned on me during conference was that they often refer to the apostles and leaders of our church as "Elder"... like Elder Bednar. and they also refer to me As ELDER Todd...so i am in good company. You dont call anyone else elder, like the bishop or just another brother in the ward. That just struck me as so cool, that i get the same title as the APOSTLES!!!

Anyways, you guys are the best. I miss you guys like crazy. I pray for you often and cant wait until we can be reunited in 23.25 months!!!!!

Elder Todd

We're all going to RENO!!
Saying goodbye to the other district...

Beautiful view from the tallest building at the MTC

Week Two Update - Mexico is Still Awesome!

At the Mexico City Temple
October 1, 2014

Hi all!!
Hows it going?¡? mexico is still awesome. I cant believe i  have already been gone for two whole weeks, it feels like two days. Anyways how is VA? whats everyone up to??? I sure as heck miss you guys. But i love it here in mexico. The weather here is beautiful. Everyday it is like 70-75 and sunny. it has rained like twice in the afternoon, but nothing too bad, though the other night we were in class and we lost power....it was kinda fun actually...and then after like 10 minutes it came back on, and then flickered for like 5 minutes straight...literally like someone was flipping it on and off and on and off for five minutes straight. it made for a funny five minutes. Sometimes we get thunderstorms but no rain. but the weather is seriously beautiful. 

So my house is on the edge of the CCM here, and our back door faces the razor wire fence. And our neighbors on the other side of the fence are CRAZY. they are so loud haha. i think they have like 100 dogs cuz sometimes they all start barking and it is like so crazy that we all just die laughing. and the other night someone over the fence had a whistle and wouldnt stop blowing it in random beats for like a half an hour...right when we are trying to go to bed. The other thing about mexico here is that people just like to light fireworks off at all hours of the day, everyday. so at least once an hour there is like a huge explosion, and at first i thought they were gunshots but then after asking around i was assured that they are just fireworks...and sometimes you can see them. But i mean they set them off at ALL hours of the day....literally the other day at like 6:15 they were lighting them off. And then whenever a firework goes off all of our neighbors dogs start barking....so i think you can see the cycle. And Fridays, saturdays, and sundays are like 10x worse as far as parties. our noisy neighbors over the fence will have like loud marachi bands playing during the weekends, and we always joke that after our missions we are going to come back and attend their big parties. 

But so starting on our second day in the mtc we taught "lucy" who was our first investigator, and we taught her for like a week and were getting into a rhythm, when we went in to teach her one day and she told us her baby had just died....so in other words we had to throw our lesson plans out the window and try and console her and reassure her that everything would be ok. it was way unexpected, and i had to dig deep for words in spanish that i needed to use. But of course, it was not for real and the next day it turns out that she is actually our night-time teacher. But she is a great teacher. so she is no longer our invesitgator, but we have two new ones...both of which are our teachers, one in the morning and one at night. they just pretend to be different people, and we plan lessons according to who they are and stuff. it can be hard trying to feel the spirit out as to what to teach them when you know that they are fake. but its way helpful to have them be our teachers, because when they arent acting as investigators, they can tell us what we did well and what we need to work on. so its very helpful.

Mom - you'll be happy to know that i sang in the choir for one of the devotionals this week...we had two members of the 70 come and speak, and that was really cool. both gave great talks. and honestly, i love singing. singing hymns has become like one of my favorite things to do, i think a large part is because we dont get to listen to any other music here. But one of the most spiritual experiences this past week was when we were just singing hymns as a district in our classroom, and we were all just belting the songs at the top of our lungs, but it actually sounded good. it turns out that i have a very strong voice....but its not always the most on-pitch so i need to work on that haha.

This past sunday we fasted as an entire mtc group. it was hard because it was kinda the first time that i had gone exactly 24 hours without food. But let me tell you that the fast and testimony meeting on sunday was incredible. i have never felt the spirit so strong, and there werent many dry eyes in the room. we got a new district in our branch this week, and most of them had never taken ANY spanish at all before this...so they were really struggling. but a few of them went up and shared their testimony and even though their grammar was terrible, the spirit was just so incredibly strong. 

so my spanish is actually coming along pretty well, and i have surprised myself on my occasions because i know so much. i was able to bare my testimony about my experience with Owen all in spanish, and that was cool. my class is intermediate, and honestly we are already better than a lot of the kids going out after 6 weeks who started in beginner. We no longer have to script our lessons, we can just teach topics and follow the spirit and not have to rely on translating it all, it just comes out when we try and teach. Its cool to see that change happen.

The food has been alright...yesterday we had the BEST steak though for lunch, and then every Tuesday night they order a bunch of Costco pizza for everyone, so its a little taste of home once a week. 

So this week my companions and i were made zone leaders....so we are in charge of three districts, and i am still district leader of my district. its pretty cool. i love having the responsibility and being able to serve more people. I am the only person in the history of the mtc to be both a DL and ZL, so thats pretty cool too haha. 

Earlier today we were able to go to the temple visitors center, and it was SO cool. the temple is beautiful, i wish we could go in it. they are doing major renevations of the foundations, so it looks great from the outside but you cant go in it.

Its wierd here cuz the days go by slow sometimes, but then the weeks FLY by. the saying is that a week feels like a day and a day feels like a week. But gym time is fun way to break it up each day and run around, and everyone looks forward to p-days. 

Well all is well here, and i hope all is well back home. keep me updated on how everyone is doing.

I know that this church is true, and i am more than happy to be able to serve for two whole years. one thing that i have learned is that i used to think that like if you want an answer to something, or you want help with something that you pray about it, and then you will receive an answer, and once you recieve an answer then you can act on it. but that isnt always the lord works, just like it says in ether 12:6, you receive no witness until AFTER the trial of your faith. so you must ask for help, and then get busy in the work, and THEN you will know what to do or then you will know what to teach. This is something that i have learned when we prepare lessons for our investigators. we used to pray to find out what to teach, and then wait for an answer. now we pray, but just get busy planning another lesson or something, and THEN we get an answer. sometimes we dont even get an answer until we are like halfway through our lesson, when i receive an impression that i should teach them about a certain topic, or bare my testimony about something specific. Ive never noticed that before, but it is really cool.

Anyways, you guys are the best. I love and miss you guys so freakin much. James would be happy to know that i sometimes play basketball with a missionary who has a byu football scholarship and will play defensive end for the cougars when we get back. So thats cool.

Anyways, I'll email you guys in a week!


Elder Todd

Week One - Success!! I arrived at the Mexico City MTC!

September 24, 2014
Family and Friends!!

Whats up??? Hows the USA??? Mexico is the BOMB. this past week has probably been the best week of my life. Mexico is as crazy as all the sterotypes make it out to be...and ive seen all the crazy stuff just like we saw in Guatemala. But I dont even know where to begin...The MTC here is amazing. its beautiful. so i got here and they threw me in the fire...i was asked to give a prayer in the opening orientation meeting in spanish!!! as soon as i agreed to it i went home and wrote out the prayer and practiced it like ten times so i wouldnt mess up. But so how it works here is that all the missionaries are divided up into "districts" with like ten or so missionaries, and then there are like 15 branches with like 3 or 4 districts in each branch. our branch just so happens to be the smallest, however, we have 4 elders and 4 sisters...and it just got smaller today, we had one elder go home..ill explain later. But then they have these houses all over campus, like 50 of them, and each house has 5 bedrooms each with their own bathroom and holds 4 missionaries each, so 20 missionaries in each house. My house only has 8 people in it right now, and it is all 4 of our elders in our district, along with some elders from other districts. Each district has their own classroom and teacher, and our teacher is awesome. we spend pretty much all day with our district, so we have gotten very close. everyone here is so nice and friendly, its awesome. the food isnt actually that bad.

So my companion is THE MAN. He is honestly like the coolest guy ever. His name is Elder Cook, or "cocinero" (which is cook/chef in spanish). He is literally like all of the Cannon brothers (my mom's brothers) mixed into one person, with a whole lot of Uncle Curtis. He is hilarious and makes our whole district laugh like all the time. he can do like all sorts of accents and funny laughs like Curt. He is also short like Curtis...as you can see from the pictures. He is also 24 years old....and this is his second mission call, the first one didnt workout, but he is here now and he is just as exicted to be here as i am. he already graduated from college, and so he is a lot wiser than the rest of us. its weird that we are comps and yet we are 6 years apart...and his birthday is in like 2 weeks so he will turn 25. hes going to serve in the New Jersey Morristown mission.

so the first day here I was called as District leader by my Branch president, which has been AWESOME. my district is literally so much fun and we have gotten to know each other really well. About another hour after i was called, a sister in our branch, Sister Underly, came over to our house and asked if I n would give her a blessing. So i was able to find some oil and give her a blessing. That was cool. Then the next day we gave our first lesson to an "investigator" all in spanish!!! it was crazy!! but we actually did relatively well considering it was our second day in the MTC. the spirit was so strong, even though we were probably saying all sorts of nonsense. 

That same day, however, in our morning class, one of the elders in our district, elder Fullmer, had a seizure in class. it was so scary. I immediately jumped up and ran out the door of the classrom with my companion across campus to the nurses office, where we summoned the nurse. He regained consciousness after like a minute, but then decided to take him to the hospital, which is about 20 minutes off campus so his companion, elder Agren went with him, and apparently he had two more seizures once he got to the hospital. he had to stay the night and was told he would be there for at least three more days. So we made a schedule so that all three of us elders could switch off who stays with him. Elder Agren stayed with him the first day and night, and I went to the hospital the next day, Saturday. I rode over there with a Senior missionary and Elder Cook. we went in and there he was, sitting in a hospital bed. The weird thing about all this was that he had never had a seizure or anything like this ever in his life. The doctor said it was an Epilitcal attack or something. But so then i was slated to be with him all day saturday...so I took all my studying materials. When i got there Elder Fullmer asked if i would give him a blessing, and i of course did. Another great experience. but after being there for about three hours, the doctor came in and explained to us in spanish that Elder fullmer is doing better than expected, and would be able to return home in just a few hours, at like 3 pm, instead of being there for three days. tears streamed down my cheeks as the doctor explained all of this, because I knew it was an answer to all of our prayers. It was truly the first miracle i have experienced. He was able to return back to the CCM with me later, and return to life as normal. unfortunately, however the MTC president wanted him to return home to the US where he could stay for three months until deemed completely healthy to return to the field. So we just put him in a van and said goodbye to him...it was very sad, its amazing how close as a district we have gotten in one week. Its also weird cuz like i am one of the youngest in our district, yet i am the leader, so everyone has been looking to me for help and guidance and leadership. i am in charge of leading all of our nightly district meetings, and for teaching our districts sunday school lessons. Church is so cool, we have sacrament and priesthood meeting as a branch, and then sunday school as a district. I have attached a picture of my schedule so you all can see exactly what im up to.

One funny experience that happened this week is while me and Cocinero were teaching our "investigator" i was talking about baptism and how we wear white to represent a life without sin, and the word for sin is "pecado" and the word for fish is "pescado" so i accidently said that the white close represent a life without fish...she gave me a confused look and my companion like fell out of his chair laughing. it kinda killed the spirit, but oh well. 

The Lord has blessed me with complete confidence. Everyone has been talking about how nervous they all were coming here and meeting people and riding on an airplane, and teaching people and everything, and yet honestly i can say that i havent been nervous at ALL. it is an answer to prayers. I think that might be why i was called as district leader, because everyone has been having nervous breakdowns and stressed out and i just havent had any of that.

Anyways, time is up, but I love you guys. I know this church is true, and this has been witnessed unto me on many occasions. Keep me updated on whats going on back home. 

con mucho mucho amor,

Elder Todd