Monday, March 31, 2014

A house, an old man, and a funeral

Let me just tell you how much I love it here in Mexico. In these past 7 (almost 8!) months, I've felt like I've met so many different people and lifestyles. I've met people from California, Utah, Arizona, Virginia and Wyoming. From Columbia, Argentina, Dominican Republic, and Uruguay. And well of course, Mexico. Honestly, a lot of people when they look at us and go "2 years! Dang!" I'm starting to realize it's not that long. It really is the Best thing I could of done with my life at this point.. 

I don't regret a thing. 

Some stuff that happened this week... 

Building a house 

We've started to go out with this guy to help this one lady construct her house. The only problem is the lady is about as ancient as the Mayan Pyramids, so she can't do anything. For the past 3 years though, she's been living in this house that is literally like if you take the lids off of all the industrial garbage cans in the city, and nailed them all to wooden beams, that are supported by buckets of who knows what, with a dirt floor and a bed... 

I think it's time she has a real house. 

But for some reason the bishop didn't send anyone to help with building her house as a service project, because it's too far away... 

which that doesn't make a lot of sense... 

so we're helping a less active member of the church do it. 

And in the process, learning how to build a house from cement :) 


We went to go see this lady named Veronica who is a less active member we talked to like 2 weeks ago. 
So we go to her house and knock... nothing... nothing... 
Then all of a sudden, this old man walks out in tighty whities with just a mad expression on his face. 

"Hey is Veronica here?" 
"oh no jovenes, she hasn't lived here for a long, long time, and who knows where she went.." 
" well actually we talked to her, here about a week ago, so do you know when we can find her?" 

·short pause·

"you can find her here tomorrow at 8" 

old man... lying in his whitie tighties... didn't stand a chance. 


It's a family here that consists of  40 different people, and none of them go to church. 

But what happened is that one of the oldest members, died this week. So even though we didnt know her, we ended up going to her funeral this week. 

I just sat there, lost in my thoughts the entire time. Honestly, at some point in the ceremony she went from being a nobody, to someone I felt like I knew. My eyes got watery, and I guess I'd be a liar if I said I didn't cry a little. 

but that's okay :) 

because in that moment I realized something. 

I feel like pain is the most common thing that brings us together. More than often, I feel like it's the pain of death. The pain of losing someone that means so much to us, someone so important, that has brought us so much happiness in our lives. 

And it's in this moment of despair we cry out "why would this happen", "why did this have to happen right now.." 

Its hard, and it hurts. I know it does. 

But I also know that this is not faith.. because one day were going to see these people again. 

Of course its hard to imagine seeing someone return to life again, because well, no one has ever seen it since Jesus came down to earth. 

And the people didn't believe that he was going to resurrect either! His apostles were even suprised when they saw him after those 3 days! 

I guess in this I can only share my favorite scripture, which is in Romanos 8:38-39 which says.. 

 Por lo cual estoy seguro de que ni la muerte, ni la vida, ni ángeles, ni principados, ni potestades, ni lo presente, ni lo por venir,
ni lo alto, ni lo profundo, ni ninguna otra cosa creada nos podrá separar del amor de Dios, que es en Cristo Jesús Señor nuestro.
(38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able toaseparate us from the blove of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.)

More than anything, I can just only share my thoughts. I know that this life is not the end. I know the reason Christ came to earth and died, and then was resurrected was for this reason. I ask you guys to remember that too. 
Even if you dont believe in God, at least believe in my words, and I know one day when we both die, you'll believe in him. 

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, March 24, 2014

Magic Milk

So after two weeks of living like poor people, with only our mattresses and suitcases... Our stuff arrived... 

Now we have tables and chairs and an ironing board. Everything you would ever need as a missionary, except for a refrigerator... that's gonna take another 2 weeks I think. 

But that's okay because we have magical boxed milk, that you can leave unrefrigerated for 5 weeks and it will still be good.. some say it's chemicals, some say it's minerals, but I say it's magic.  

Speaking of magic, everyone is superstitious here. We've gone to like 4 houses where they tell us about the brujas (witches) that walk around in the hills and mountains at night. They see big colored balls of light walking up the mountain, and when they get to the top they just shoot off like comets. 

I must admit, I'm pretty interested in seeing these magic light balls... 

 So according to what Syd said, she's been teaching a lot of people that have been taught for a long time. 
It's different here... 

We're actually having a different problem with trying to teach too many people.  We end up losing a bunch of time in focusing on people who really are not interested in progressing, and just like that, we visit them. So this week we dropped more people, which is always a little sad, but at the same time it's for the better, most of the time. 

I don't know if I ever told you how the mission president read us this scripture in Jacob 1:19, where it talks about if we stink at teaching people that are a potential, that their sins will stain our shirts in the last day. So that's no fun.

But, if we do it by the spirit, and with faith that we'll find more, well,  God is going to bless us.

I guess the last story of the week though. Last week we dropped like 5 people and we were a little nervous about who we were going to teach this week.  In the end, we found 6 new people (a mom and her daughter, a free mason (still have to check for the ring), a 19 year old girl, and a dad with a son with anger management problems, I think). And end of the first lesson with the mom, she asked us at what time she could be baptized. That was really unexpected. 

I love you guys.  Thank you for your thoughts and your prayers. I can feel them. 

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, March 17, 2014

Discouraging week

This week...... 

Honestly it was one of the most discouraging weeks of my mission.  I have no idea why either. But sometimes you just get stuck in this rut... 

Less success --->  Less motivation 
Less motivation ---> less desires to work/ worse quality of work 
worse quality of work ----> Less blessings/guidance 
Less blessings/guidance ----> Less success 

and it's just a never ending cycle that just sucks... 

The only way out is to re-motivate yourself to work.

I don't know, I think the most important thing is that we be honest with ourselves.  

But to not get carried away and be "too hard" on ourselves, but at the same time to not be guilty of levity. 

And this is what I did Saturday night.... 

I was like "Elder Arvanitas, you sucked this week. You let a lot of people down, and just got lazy, and you didn't work that hard. Why are you here?... etc." 

Then I realized I'm really grateful for the opurtunidad to be here. It's really a blessing, and I love getting to know the people here and helping them with their problems. 

Sometimes repentance is not a huge event, but just a promise to yourself to be better.. 

So I was better Sunday and it was one of the best days here in San Juan. 

Also! I learned something today though. Everyone is so worried about being equal in the world.  I was talking with Elder M.....  about this. He tells me, don't let other people take advantage of you! Then he told me this story about one of his other comps who used all the dishes, while he washed the same dish every night and by the end of the week his comp was like hey it's my turn to clean the dishes.. so he did all of them... 
Then the next week the same thing happened only his comp said hey! it's your turn to clean the dishes and he's like no, you got them all dirty... and then they got in an argument about that.

To me that's stupid.. I'm not here to be equal  or argue about doing dishes. I like my house clean, and can't focus when it's not. So,  if I need to do something simple like that, I'll do it. 

Well that's about all. Love you guys, take care. 

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Companion and House

Well to answer your questions... 

My Companion  

Elder M...... he has been out a year and a half in the mission. From Phoenix Arizona, and!!! hes an American! (my Spanish is kinda suffering, but at the same time he's teaching me a lot...) Turns out I'm a lot funnier in English too than I am in Spanish. 

The House 

Well after literally 20 hours of walking around searching for a house, we found one... But I'll just tell you a little about my search. 
For one thing, you don't need a Realtor or anything to rent a house here in Mexico. You don't even need to clean it either.(Nick said they spent 4 1/2 hours cleaning it today) If you have a house, just put up a little paper that says (renta) in front with a number. 
It was our job, to walk around on every single street and colony (they have colonies here) looking for all of those houses, and hoping that one was less than 2000 pesos per month. 

It was the most frustrating thing in the world. 

Also, all their houses here just look like big hallways. 

So yeah we looked and we looked, a guy bribed us with milk and cookies to buy his house that was 2800 a month. This other member took us to what I thought was the end of the world, to look at his house that smelled like a dead dog. (dead dogs smell terrible, we pass them lying in the street sometimes) Every time we'd find a half decent house they'd be like, "Yeah, I rented that one a while ago". 

But we got one. So its all good. 

At the end of the week, we still had 12 lessons,  but its only because we found this awesome lady. 

Rayo (lightning) 

We went with her almost every day this week and talked with her. Shes been going with the JW but she told us she's bored when she's there because all they do is read the bible for 2 hours, and then give her homework to do every week. 
She also never stops talking. 
 I guess the only story I have is that we left her with a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon, and when we went back she had read 7 chapters. Even though it doesn't seem that big, it was huge. 

And then I kind of realized something, that we talk to a lot of people that just think we're crazy. 
"you guys don't drink coffee?!" or 
"you guys don't believe in the Virgin?" (that's actually only here in Mexico) 

And to be honest, I understand them. Some of the things we do or don't do are strange but, the only way we can know if it's all true or not is if we read that book, and we pray about it. 

And for me, well, I've read it and I know it's true.  I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to be here in Mexico, telling people what I know. 

Love you all, 
Elder Arvanitas 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Transfers Again!

Well after reading Sydney's letter... I really don't know what she does with her time as a missionary. Maybe one day she'll figure it out :p (Thousands of miles away and he still teases his sister)

This week we had a baptism, of Jaqueline. She's a little girl, so there were not any life changing experiences from teaching her. 

But I guess the big news is, I'm getting transferred. Well kind of, they're putting 4 missionaries in my ward, so I have to go find a new house with my new companion (an american) and then I guess we just see what happens. (Nick doesn't get his new companion until tomorrow and he couldn't remember his name) Out of the 45 people we were teaching, I get 5..

For people who don't know what transfers are like, in one day I want you to pack up your entire room in 2 suitcases and leave the next. Its no fun. I just finished unpacking too... 

Also Elder L......... coming to Tequis,(Elder L.....was in Nick's district in the MTC and Tequis is the next town over) so I'll start to see him every week. I am actually way excited for that. I haven't seen that kid for like 5 months. 

Also I ate cow intestine the other day so, that was the most terrible thing ever. 

But just thinking about  my mission so far. In 12 days I'll have 6 months in Mexico. 6 months of everyday waking up and doing the same routine to get ready, studying, walking around all day, talking with everyone, then returning to my house, planning, and then I lay down on my bed and die. 

And you know what. I love it. 

I don't know,  I feel like I was such a bum in the house. I'm not going to lie that was pretty enjoyable too. 

But, I never got anywhere. 

I was thinking about this quote my mission president wrote in a letter. "That for a sailing ship without a goal, any wind is good." 

And that's how I was, 

If we never have plans to go anywhere, well, we´ll just stay the same. And that's the truth. 

Elder Arvanitas

A tree that Nick passes that he likes.  

Elder Arvanitas and Jacqueline

And then it started to hail