Monday, June 30, 2014

Setting Goals

Okay, so we're still having problems where we literally can't find anyone new to teach. It's frustrating... but at the same time I know I haven't done everything to find new people... 

So this week I decided to set some goals for myself. (setting goals? yeah I know, weird right) But, I've been meaning to do it for some time. I feel like as missionaries we get off the plane with our bright white shirts, still smelling like pizza and cheeseburgers and we just give it everything we've got, even though we don't understand anything anyone is saying, or even what were supposed to teach.... 

But after eating about 300 plates of rice and frijoles, the smell wears off, the newness fades, and the shirts start turning more and more yellow. 

And so I was thinking a lot this week about how to become more like how I was before. I feel like I've lost a lot of that initial excitement. My shirts are starting to get that yellow tinge too. Gross, I know. 

Something came to my mind from back when I was in the MTC, from my teacher Savio. This guy, I feel like he had everything figured out. But I remember that one day we were sitting in class and he gave us six tips of advice that he felt were the most important for the mission. 

They are... 

1. Be internally and upwardly motivated
2. Avoid falling into the monotony of teaching
3. Base everything you do, say, and become, on Christ
4. Avoid the "i" pronoun 
5. Have yourself together before you try and put others together
6, Do and say what needs to be said and done when it needs to be said and done. 

Honestly,reading these things now that I have 11 months here, they mean a lot more than they did while I was still a scrub sitting in the MTC. 

And for that reason they're my goals for the last year of my mission :) I'll keep you posted. 

As far as other stuff, it's rainy season here. You know what that means? That about every single day we walk down the road and everything's all happy with bright fluffy white clouds. 
Then, at 6 o clock,  they all get mad and start turning black and just dump an entire years worth of stored water on our heads in the matter of 20 minutes. 

every.. single... day. 

It's fun and all till you step in a puddle and get wet socks. 

Also! birthdays in Mexico. You sing a song about little mornings then you get your faced smashed into a cake. So that was my week :p (Nick said they had about six cakes this week because it was his companions birthday too.  He got his face smashed about 3 times.  He says healthy eating starts, NOW!)

Love you all, thank you so much.

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, June 23, 2014

Speaking in Church

So this week. 

Sorry in advance for this short letter. I really don't have a lot of time. 

It's still another week with almost no new investigadors. But it's going. Eventually. 

So I ended up giving a talk this Sunday. They told me 10 minutes before the meeting started. So yeah, we were just sitting there all peacefully and this guy runs up to us and was like "Hey I need you guys to give like a 8-10 min talk!" 

Only he said it in Spanish... 

Mexico's a little more unorganized than the states... 

But me and my comp were like eh, why not. 

So I just start writing down all my thoughts with this crappy little pen (I've managed to lose all my good AMERICAN pens... not too happy about that) and when I looked up again the meeting had started and the music lady was looking straight at me motioning for me to come, cause no one was playing the piano....

I've never played a song more terribly in all of my life... if any Mexicans are reading this I'm sorry for making you sit through that and try and sing along. 

Pero hay va. 

First people give their talks, another song and they call my name. 

I go up there and just murder the Spanish language.. but I managed to get my message out. I talked about faith hope and charity (love). I shared some storyies from my mission, some quotes that just came to my mind, scriptures. It was way cool actually. 

At the end I said something like this. 

"Pues ya que ahora tengo 6 meses, casi me voy de aquí. y la verdad estoy un poco triste por eso. pero quiero que ustedes sepan cuanto que les amo. Cuanto que les agradezco por estos 6 meces que podría estar aquí. Yo se que esta evangelio es verdadero, que dios existe. que el amor que el tiene por nosotros no depende de nada. es algo que siempre está allí por nosotros, aun cuando sentimos que no lo merecemos. 
     Yo sé que los relaciones son las cosas mas importantes en esta mundo. 
     Yo sé que un día todos nosotros vamos a morir, y cuando morimos, quiero ver todos ustedes allá en el cielo, porque sé que no seria lo mismo sin alguna de ustedes allá." 

Then as now I have been here six months, I'm almost out of here and honestly I'm a little sad about that. But I want you to know how much I love you. As I thank you for these 6 months, I could be here. I know that this gospel is true, that God exists. His love for us does not depend on anything.  It is something that is always there for us, even when we feel we do not deserve it. 
      I know that relationships are the most important things in this world. 
      I know one day we will all die and when we die, I want to see you all in heaven, because I would not be the same without some of you there. "

I just started bawling. They all started bawling. It was a really special moment, something I'll never forget. Everyday out here is amazing. I don't regret a second of it. I love these people so much. All of them. (it's kinda crazy I know).  

I'm sorry I can't be with all of you for these 2 years, and it's hard for me too, trust me :p   But it's so important that I'm here for this time to help these people and change their lives one by one. And I'll be home before you all know it. 

P.S. thank you all for the birthday messages, sorry I cant respond to each one of you 

Elder Arvanitas

Members made them Carne Asada.  Mmmmmm......


The Lomas Ward Elders
Elder R, Nick, Elder L...who were in the MTC with Nick.

World Cup display

Lucha Libre Wrestling

Monday, June 16, 2014

This one's in Spanish!

Nick sent his letter all in Spanish.  Don't panic!  Thanks to Ryan Henrie, the translation is below.  Google translate just doesn't cut it.  


Primero, feliz día de los padres! 

Sobre mi semana... 

Por el tercer semana no hemos encontrado a nadie (de hecho hemos logrado el opuesto y dejado más personas). Es bien difícil la verdad... pero creo que poco a poco estoy aprendiendo realmente que significa para contactar a todos. 

Muchos veces es en el camión. Es algo muy diferente para sentar al lado de alguien y preguntarles sobre su vida y sus hijos. Una mama me dijo esta semana que muchos veces pensamos que toda esta bien, pero no lo es. Me platicó de su hijo que esta perdido. y como sentía que no hizo su parte, y que falló. Vamos a hablar con ella mas mañana. 

También una otra contacto, me sentí al lado de esta abuela. 
 *awkward silence for 5 mins*
"entonces tiene mucho tiempo viviendo aquí?"
Y ya, nada mas. 

Maria de Jesus. Uno de nuestros investigadores. He pensado mucho en como algunas personas que encontramos son cien por ciento preparados para nosotros. y solamente falta la enseñanza y ya! Pero con algunas personas... creo que es nosotros que necesitamos llegar a ser cien por ciento preparados por ellos. Ella, es uno de estas personas.

Encontramos ella hace como 2 meces. y ha sido bien difícil a enseñarla, y aunque nuestros reglas dicen a dejarla, hemos sentido que debemos regresar. Y por fin, después de 2 meces se fue a la iglesia. fue un milagro. 

Ya no tengo nada. Espero que la próxima semana algo pase. Vamos a trabajar por eso. 

Solamente quiero terminar con que yo sé. Yo sé que a veces tenemos estos desafíos en vida, donde nuestros pilas son muy bajos. Pero estaba leyendo el discurso por Uchtdorf, sobre la gratitud. y nosotros debemos desarrollar una actitud de gratitud. que solamente porque no nos gusta nuestro circunstancias no significa que no podemos ser agradecido por ellas. Que siempre debemos tener la mira puesto adelante, por los días mejores. 

Es algo que he aprendido muy fuerte en estas semanas. Nuestros números son muy malos la verdad, pero se que es importante que recuerda que un día va a ser mejor. Es importante que nunca pierda esta esperanza. y se que si hago todo con mi compañero, que nuestro área va a mejorar... un día. 

Muchos gracias por todo la apoya. Con mucho amor, 

Elder Arvanitas


First, Happy Fathers Day!

Review of my week ... 

For the third week in a row now, we have not found anyone (in fact we have achieved the opposite and dropped more people). The truth is that it is very difficult ... but I think that little by little, I'm learning what it really means to contact all people.

Many times it is on the bus. It's something entirely different to sit next to someone and ask them about their life and their children. A mom told me this week that many times we think that all is well, but it is not. She told me that her son is lost. and she felt she did not do her part, and that she failed. We are going to talk to her more tomorrow.

Also, another time, an old lady sat next to me. 
Awkward silence for 5 minutes, then, 
"Have you lived here long?"
And then nothing more.

Maria de Jesus is one of our investigators. I've thought a lot about how some people that we find are a hundred percent ready for us, and only lack the discussions and then yep! But with some people ... I think it is us who need to get to the point that we are a hundred percent ready for them. She is one of those people.

We found her about 2 months ago, and it has been very difficult to teach her, and even though our rules say to drop her, we felt that we should keep going back. Then finally, after 2 months, she went to church. It was a miracle.

I don't have anything else. I hope something happens next week. We are going to work for that. 

I just want to finish with what I know. I know that sometimes we have these challenges in life, where we feel down (our batteries are low). But I was reading the talk by President Uchtdorf about gratitude, that we should develop an attitude of gratitude, that just because we do not like our circumstances, that does not mean we can not be grateful for them. We should always be looking forward to better days.

It's something I have learned a lot these past few weeks. Our numbers are really bad, to tell the truth, but it is important to remember that some day, they will get better. It is important to never lose this hope, and I know that if I do everything with my companion, that our area will get better...some day.

Many thanks for all the support. With lots of love,

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, June 9, 2014

Water & Neighbors

I'm sorry but I'm afraid this week was no more exciting than last week. Maybe a little bit though... 

To start off... we haven't had water for 5 days... the worst experience of my life... What happened is we just started to rent the house where we've been at. And for the past 3 months, we haven't received anything about our water bill. ( They just put all your bills and important mail hanging out of your gate for everyone to see. Mailboxes probably wont exist for another 30 years here...) 
Anyway, so we call our house owner and are like "hey whats up with our water? "
"oh.. just keep waiting I'm sure it will come" ...optimistic house lady... 
     Until one day I go to shower and there's no water.. and they didn't fix it until today. It was a week full of traveling to shower, and stealing water from our neighbor's faucet to flush the toilet :) 

Speaking of neighbors though, we decided to contact ours. (the ones on the other side :p) This one day we just arrived at our house and this one lady came to my mind that cut down our tree. (We used to have this nice tree outside our house, until one day we came home and it was just gone. This lady walking by was like oh yeah I chopped it down because it was dry... by the way I'm your neighbor.... thanks.....)  But anyway, she came to my mind. So we went and talked to our neighbor, and this guy named Andres came out. He was sweet, invited us to come in and just talk. He ended up talking about how he was divorced before so now every time he goes to his church, the people just look at him like an outcast and the leaders forbid him from taking of their sacrament. 
So we talked with him, told him about how after Jesus died, all these churches popped up and how over time the things that these churches taught changed.   We talked about how being divorced, he shouldn't receive that kind of punishment. etc etc. He's a good guy. 

Had this guy get on our bus with a saxophone and start playing the most soothing sax music in the world. I thought that was noteworthy... 

We had an orientation with our President, Tuesday. He just got up and bore his testimony and talked about how much our parents loved us and are proud of us. In the 2 minutes he talked, you could feel the spirit so strong that everyone started to cry. I dont know how he does it. 

But that's about it. 

Solamente quiero expresar mi amor por cada uno de ustedes. No puedo decir que tan agradecido soy por todo la apoya y amor he recibido mientras he estado aqui en Mexico por estos 3 meces. Es algo que nunca voy a olvidar. Yo sé que voy a verles otra vez, y aunque se parece como mucho tiempo a veces. No lo es. Yo sé que estoy aquí por un razón. Siempre permanecen fieles en que saben es verdadero. Les amo, con todo mi corazon. 

This is from google translate, so forgive me if it's wrong.  I don't speak Spanish. 

I just want to express my love for each of you. I can not tell you how grateful I am for all the love and support I received while I've been here in(San Juan del Rio) Mexico for these 3 months,   It's something I'll never forget. I know I'll see them again, and although it seems like a long time sometimes. It's not. I know I'm here for a reason. Always stay true to what you know is true. I love you with all my heart.

Elder Arvanitas

Monday, June 2, 2014

I want to be a fish

We've been having trouble teaching this one lady lately. She's really nice, it's just that she lives in straight poverty, and her comprehension level is pretty low. 
 So we asked her one day if she believed she lived with God before she came here and she said happier than ever 
"YES! and I'll tell you why. Because sometimes I go to these places and I feel like I just recognize them. So I think before I was a bird and I just flew over the entire earth, and when I die! I really wanna be a fish and explore the ocean!"
"Okay... yeah that's awesome!"
So then we go on to explain how before this life,  we lived with God as spirits and how when we die it's just when our spirit leaves our body until we're resurrected... but really really in depth, so we wouldn't completely crush her dreams of being a bird and a fish, but just so she'd understand... 

Next day... "Hey do you remember anything you liked that we talked about yesterday?" 
Just that I really want to be a fish!"...

We'll work on that... 

She also brought her neighbor who is this 70 year old grandma that's completely crazy and obsessed with her dog. 

I started collecting World Cup stamps with players on them!  It's fun and all till I realize I don't have money for carnitas cause I spent it all on cards... 

Speaking of food though..... This member told our investigator that they help the Elders with their food and stuff. But she misunderstood and one day when we showed up, she gave us 6 Liters of Milk, 6 of water, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, yogurt etc... oh well :) 

That's all I have got. I was thinking a lot this week about why I'm all the way out here.  I know this stuff is true though and I'm so thankful for it. 

Elder Arvanitas