Monday, July 13, 2015

The last letter......maybe

Nick didn't write last week so you haven't missed anything.  He's checked out of the whole writing letters.  So, this may or may not be his last letter.  He comes home in 9 days.  He's ready to come home, I think.  Thanks to everyone for your love and support and for reading these crazy letters for the last 2 years.  Nick is a man of few words, so they're an easy read.  

Hey I'm just signing on to send my letter to you... like last time. 

1. I'll look at shoes when I get back, forgot I still had the striped ones, 
2. Already made chicken piccata. As Chef Gusteau once said "Anyone can cook"
3. That means I want 5 guys coming home. 
4. The pastor meat in the centro doesn't look fantastic, but if you've already bought it, oh well. (we didn't buy it.  Steve just sent a picture)
5. To buy a mariachi sombrero or to not buy? you guys decide

So this will probably be my last letter in the mission. Next week I'm heading out to my first area in Fresnos to say goodbye to people. That's what i did last week too.

It's been a good two years though. What can I say.. 

Literally everything changed for me. Everything. 

Today my President just pulled me aside and said, 

"Were going to miss you. We love you. You served with your heart."

As far as the whole missionary aspect, I wouldn't consider myself all that great. Investigadors never really had a lot of confidence in me, my teaching wasn't all that great. I would get frustrated a lot too. 

But I want you guys to know, what I did do, I did it out of my heart.

I wanted to make you guys proud.  

I've realized that the most important thing in this life are relationships. The relationship we have with ourselves, with the ones we love, and with our God. 

I think all that's left to say is that I love you guys. so much. 

I would've never gotten to this point if it wasn't for you. 

I'll see you in 9 days. 


Nick was the cover shot for the Mission Newsletter this week!  ha ha

Monday, June 29, 2015

Trying not to daydream

No, I didn't not send Nick's letter last week.  He didn't write.  He said he's been trying to cram everything in, in these last few weeks.  He wrote really late today.  

It's been a good ending to my mission. I've been trying to go down "swinging". Not killing myself at the end of the mission and stressing myself out, but at the same time not passing the entire day daydreaming about the future. 

I do do a lot of daydreaming these days though. 

Fun fact. Every American that I've met here, (or even the ones I sneak behind and listen to) sound like hicks. They all have like... ugly American accents. I don't want to talk like them when I go back. 

I've been thinking a lot lately though. These past few weeks more than anything I've just been trying to not be frustrated with people. I feel like that's something that happens to a lot of missionaries that end their missions. 

I think what happens is they get so caught up trying to achieve perfection in every aspect that they lose focus on what's really important.

 It's not the aspiration of perfection that's wrong, but the moment when that goal goes from being something helpful and motivational, to something that only brings desperation, and frustration. 

To put things more simply. we may be asked to try to be perfect in this life, but the purpose of the invitation is not so that we follow behind focusing on all our imperfections and mistakes. 

Why we are asked to try to be perfect, has nothing to do with repayment, or a debt we have, but it is to help us to change. 

As my MTC teacher once said "We are not captives to our own decisiones, rather we have to chance to choose who we want to become every day"

....or something like that... it was a while ago. 

So that's the plan these days. To focus on being a good person. To love the people. Help my companion be better as he helps me. 

Life is good really. 

As far as the work.... We started teaching this old grandma and when she speaks English, she speaks it with a British accent. She spends her entire day making apple pies and Guava cheesecakes. 

She gave me some for my birthday, and I met her a week ago! 

I'll send pictures... sometime. Keep your hopes up. Love you guys, Bye! 

P.S. Happy Father's Day Dad!

Nick's companion (L) and one of the AP's(R)  Nice aprons!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Learning through Understanding

Nick couldn't send pictures again and said to just wait the 5 weeks.   We got his itinerary today and he'll be home around 5:30 on July 22nd.  5 more weeks and Elder Arvanitas will be stateside again.  

5 weeks. I'm gonna miss this place to be honest. 

Thursday,we went to my last leader´s meeting. (Consejo de lideres?)

We talked a lot about being self reliant, and how to become more eficaz. (I don't remember English anymore...) Our President also talked about how we learn when we are taught and we ponder the things... 

To make it more simple 

Teaching + Meditation = Learning

For example... I've spent a whole lot of time writing these letters every week for the past 97 weeks but what have you learned? Is there any certain letter that sticks out? 

All teaching is, is the transmission of information. The big problem with teachers these days is that most of the time they teach to remember the things, and not to understand them. They just try to skip past the whole meditation process and move through the lessons.

Lots of time this happens with missionaries too. 

So the big question... how can we help people think about what we tell them? How can we make them think about what we say? 

Through questions. 

If we don't ask the right questions, we'll never get the right answers though. 

And also, you have to avoid the whole manipulatism thing (there's no spell check okay... give me a break)

It's like if we go up to someone and ask them "if God has ever answered their prayers" it doesn't work! What happens to the people that see God as a big ball of gas, or as a tree, or that he's in everyone of us? 

And by asking that type of question were already assuming a bunch of things. That God has ears, that he understands our language, that he can speak. etc. etc. 

It makes a lot more sense in my head. It's the whole thinking it in Spanish, and then translating it part that makes everything confusing. 

Think about it though. Honestly. 

I gotta go though, love you guys,


Monday, June 8, 2015

Sitting at the bus station....

Okay, sorry my letter is gonna get there so late... (Nick wrote rather late again today)

To explain more of this, what happens is the last Saturday before the changes, everyone in Querétaro has the option to change their preparation day.

So we played soccer Saturday instead of today. Then yesterday we got the transfers for the zone (turns out I'm ending my mission here with  Elder Galdamez) but at 10:30, last night, they decided to tell us that instead of people traveling on Tuesday, they were going to travel TODAY. 

Long story short, we were up till 11:30 yesterday figuring out who's going with who, and figuring out all that stuff. 

That brings us to today... Where we sat in the bus station from 11:30 in the morning till 5:30.. It took forever. Ate some tortas, won some stuffed animals from the claw game and just messed around with my companion and a Guatamalan Elder. 

That's my life. 

Also we played a fun game where you make a lot of 1 syllable sounds and make your voice go up and down and it sounds like your speaking Japanese and everyone stares at you. I'm guessing for 2 reasons. 

They're either thinking "NO WAY an American and a Mexican speaking some kind of dialect"


"Look at these imbeciles... who do they think they're fooling?"

Most of the time it's the first one though (I'm guessing it's the 2nd)

We had a baptism on Friday, of Juan Sanchez. He's this 63 year old guy that runs marathons.. and wins them. He's been listening to the missionaries since I got to the mission, and it wasn't till now that he could do it. 

He was so excited, it was cool to see. 

As far as lessons, ehh... we're getting there. I'm hoping to be able to pick the area up before I go. I feel like an old man though. Everything hurts. Everything. But I'll pull through.

Love you guys, 

See you soon

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, June 1, 2015

What I've learned

Hey, yes you get a letter today...
Sorry I'm writing so late, my plans... really didn't work out. I was gonna write on the phone of the assistants but then there were problems with the internet and there was the fact that everything was Auto corrected to Spanish, and I just ended up getting frustrated. 

Other than that, how is everyone?
Lately I've been reading a lot of the New Testament. I'm trying to finish it in Spanish before I get back.
I got to this part, though, the other day where Pablo (Paul) decides to write about things that we should do and not do. He mentions how we should have "amor sin que sea fingido". Our love should not be pretended.
And so I was left with the thought "how does that happen" or "what is it like" and ultimately "have I been that way?"
I've come to that realization it's very, very easy to be selective with the love we have for people.
That a lot of the time, I've expressed the love I have, to the people, here in Mexico, whether it be members or random people in the street or whomever.

While on the inside I'm still holding something back.
It's one of the grand weaknesses I've discovered on my mission. It's not easy for me to trust in someone else.
As Elder Holland put it (paraphrasing of course) that love isn't the kinda "dip one foot in the pool" to test the water type of thing. It's more of the "run and jump in together all at once" type of thing.
I hate that. But what I hate more is that I notice it every time I do it. It's so easy to put limits. It's like being a kid and separating your friends into 2 groups. The friends that I would invite to my house and play with, and the friends at school that are kinda cool, but I don't have that much confidence to let them come to my house.
I feel like I've lived a long life of hypocrisy and mediocrity in a lot of different ways. And after all this time.. I just want to be a good person, you know? Good missionary eh, ya my time has passed, but I can be a good person.
I had the opportunity to read about when I first started the mission this week, and reflect back. You wanna know something? Some of the companions I had at the beginning of my mission were the most ridiculous people I've ever met. I was frustrated all the time.
But I learned a valuable lesson. Not about patience, or obedience, or any of that. It was about having love not pretended. About becoming a true friend. About not judging people, or trying to be a perfectionist, or any of that, but about enjoying the time I have here. Being grateful for what I have.
Learning also to care about the well being of someone, more than the friendship I have with them.
Lots of good stuff.
That's my plan for this week. Thank you guys for everything you've taught me. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that.
Love you guys,

Also fun bonus fact for this week.
So in Mexico, Star Wars is not that popular. But if you ever ask a Hispanic what the robot's name is instead of R2D2.... everyone here thinks it's Arturito. (like Arturo... but little Arturo. Artur-ito)

It's to the point where if you look up R2D2 and Arturito, the same thing comes up.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Short and Sick

Nick wrote late tonight and I don't think he had any time at all.  I don't think he's feeling well still.  

Hey so this week... A whole lot of nothing. I got sick on Thursday. But like with everything, I woke up after sleeping like 3 hours and my eye was all red. My lungs and throat hurt, and I had a fever. (not to mention all the mouth sores I had from eating jellybeans... It's been awhile)(I guess it means he got his packages) I think it's the worst I have been in all my mission. But after talking with two doctors and having eye drops, an inhaler, throat spray, and ibuprofen, I'm getting better. I figured I had to get sick at least one more time before I go home. But while I was walking to buy medicine, with my eyes closed for the sun, we passed like four old ladies sitting on the side of the road, with their cups begging for money, and I felt, well lucky. Blessed. Because they have to get sick, being outside all day, but they'll never be able to afford medicine or anything like that.

Other than that we're going to have a baptism this week of a guy that has been going to church for almost a year. He was just waiting for a an interview with our Presidente. 

Sorry my letters way short. I'll write a better one next time. 

Love you guys see you soon. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Theory of Broken Windows


Not much to write about this week. We didn't have a lot of work, but we managed to find more people to teach. (We started with 1, now we have 5) 

Not going to lie, I'm gettin' pretty tired of writing these letters every single week. It starts to become monotonous.. 

What else, 

This week we started to change completely the way we teach people. Instead of solving people's questions, and talking with them using examples and everything, we started using more questions. 

To explain this simpler.. before, people would come to us with questions and doubts and we would  just answer everything. But now, when that happens, we just ask them deeper more personal questions, that require answers from inward thinking and meditation.

The only problem is that... no one thinks... 

Nah, I'm just kidding. They always start talking right after though, and then the lesson gets lost. We're working on it.

I stepped in mud. No fun. (He just got new shoes too.  Boo.)

It rained some. 

We talked about the theory of the broken windows with our President. Basically,it's a study that they did with two cars (1 in the Bronx, the other in Palo Alto, California) 

Needless to say the one in the Bronx was destroyed and robbed in hours, while nothing happened to the one in California. 

HOWEVER, when the psychologists broke 1 window of the car in California, in a matter of hours, it was robbed and destroyed. 

The point was that when someone sees a broken window, it makes the object look abandoned, not taken care of, useless- 

He invited us to take a look at our own lives, and own houses. To ask ourselves if we have broken windows. 

We cleaned our apartment that day. I was clean and organized before, at least in the mission eh, but I decided to be better and make a change.

No pictures, I'll get it fixed soon enough. 

Bye love you guys!'