Week #6 – Welcome to TJ – February 23rd 2015!

Elder HernedezFront Porch

Hey Family & Friends!

This week has definitely been the toughest so far! It started off with some sad goodbyes to all of my good friends in the CCM. Although we were all stoked to get out into the field, it was hard to say goodbye. On the last day at the CCM we had some in-field orientation and a goodbye presentation and that was it! I woke up early Monday morning and flew to Tijuana! We weren’t aloud to call home, so that’s why I didn’t call you guys. There was a group of sixteen missionaries who traveled to TJ. When we arrived we got picked up at the airport by the two AP’s, the Mission President and his wife. When we were in the car driving to a Stake Center to get our companions and assigned to our first area it suddenly got real for me being out on a mission!! Driving thru TJ was pretty fun! TJ is soooooooo hilly!! There are car missions, walking missions and biking missions. TJ is none of those!! It is a hiking mission!!!

We drove to the Stake Center where I met my new best friend. ELDER HERNANDEZ!! He is from Vera Cruz Mexico and he is so awesome!! He speaks English which is good and bad. Good because we can actually communicate, and bad because I use English more than Spanish with him. But I’m getting better and we try to speak in Spanish as much as I can. He has been in the field for a year. After meeting we had a quick orientation on mission rules and then we got our new area, cell phone and were off!! My new home for probably the next four months is an area called Las Huertas!! It is knee deep in the hills of TJ and pretty close to downtown. I can see the border but I can also see the Temple!! I see it almost everyday from up on the hill. Our house is actually pretty nice, although we don’t have a dryer. So right now my white shirts are hanging up on a barbed wire fence!! We’re in a pretty sketchy part of town. This week I have definitely been the most scared I have ever been in my life. It is totally safe during the day but at night, around 7 PM, that’s when stuff starts happening. Hahaha its awesome though! I love it!

Elder Hernandez just came here from Mexicali and so we are both new to the area. We’ve had to start from scratch and so this first week we worked to make a ton of contacts and lessons! We’ve added some new investigators!! It is so awesome!! I teach about 6-10 lessons everyday!!  I should say Elder Hernandez teaches about 6-10 lessons everyday! I have NO CLUE what is going on during the lessons or in general. The Spanish got 100,000 times harder once I got out here, just like everyone says. It has been great though. I learn so much everyday!!

So obviously I can’t tell you about everything that happens because we are so busy and so much happens every day, but cool things that happened this week are:

I had the opportunity to invite someone to be baptized!! I got my contacting down, and ate some amazing food. There are street markets everywhere and taco stands everywhere. We get lunch everyday from a member and it’s always amazing food!! The Bishop, who is a super humble guy, owns and runs a taco stand!! On Fridays we go there and eat all that we want. SOOOOO good!! One  of our investigators is struggling because she doesn’t know how to read, so she can’t read the Book of Mormon. We contacted one family and made an appointment and taught them the first lesson. They are Catholic (like every person here) and I think our lesson was really powerful. Although I can barely understand what is going on in lessons I can still feel the Spirit. I try to look like I know what’s going on! I have gotten pretty good at pretending to take directions, nodding my head, and saying si or no at good times. HAHA. We contact a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses and they always try to give us stuff. Another unique lunch we had was with this lady in the ward who raises and lives with chickens. We went to her house and there were chickens everywhere in the house. On the table, on the ground, everywhere!! The food is always fantastic though. We have a Torta Shack by our house and usually for dinner we stop and get one…they are amazing. 

 Overall this first week has been super tough but so awesome!! I’m so happy to be here and can’t wait for the week to come. I love being here and am so happy to be serving the Lord!!! 

 Love,

Elder Woods

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Week #5 – Mexico City CCM – February 12th, 2015

CHOIRClassroom

I’M ALMOST DONE WITH THE CCM!!! I can’t believe I only have three days left before I leave for Tijuana. This week has been so amazing!! I don’t know if that’s from the spirit and all that I’m learning or how excited I am to get into the field!! It has been a rollercoaster though. I don’t want to leave all my good friends here at the CCM. I received my travel plans Tuesday. I leave Monday morning February 16th at 2:30 am. I don’t know where I’m flying into. They will tell us when we arrive at the airport. I will either fly direct or back thru the states. I met a guy this week from Tijuana and he gave me his address and told me to come over and get fed. Hahah!!

This week I really studied the Book of Mormon really hard. I really wanted to grow my testimony of the Book of Mormon because next week I’m going to have to start testifying of it everyday. I’m almost finished with it and the Lord really has blessed me with a greater testimony. Most importantly I feel a much greater desire to share the gospel. I can’t wait to get out into the field!!! I had a bunch of questions about the Book of Mormon this week so I  have fasted more days than I have eaten. It’s amazing the answers and revelation I have received this week.

Saturday at TRC we taught a lady who had only been a member for a few months. Guess what we taught her? Receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon! Don’t know if it was a coincidence or not but that’s exactly what I was working on so could feel the fire of my testimony about that subject.

I’ve said this before but Sundays are my favorite day of the week in the CCM. definitely the busiest though. It was our Zones turn to hold a Sacrament meeting for the people who work and live at the CCM. It was so great. Only a couple of missionaries were allowed to go and I was one of them! Sacrament meeting was good, I could actually understand the talks. It was nice to not be completely lost in the meeting.

After priesthood and another Sacrament meeting we got to hear a devotional from Elder Richard G. Scott on receiving revelation through prayer. Such an amazing talk!!! I loved everything about it. I actually ripped out the paper from my notebook and put it in my journal so I would never lose it. Some key points for missionaries were how we were called to succeed in our missions, not fail. It gave me a lot of confidence going into the field next week. He also stressed to us the importance of waiting for answers. He said you might not always recognize answers to prayers, or when they come, or how they come, but they always come. We are all her to serve and grow closer to the Lord and he knows better what we need, and when we need it. He knows when to grow our testimony, and when we need to take a step into the dark and learn and gain experience for ourselves. He had a lot more stuff that was amazing. Something that was sweet too is he ended his talk, and then we sang a hymn and a Sister missionary was getting up to give the closing prayer. He jumped up and told her to sit down. He then stood and talked for another five minutes, and it wasn’t Elder Richard G. Scott talking. You could tell he was just completely going by the spirit. It was absolutely amazing. The spirit in the room was so strong.

Monday was great! This week is a lot different from our other ones because it’s our last, but it has been awesome! The week started with an answer to a prayer. So I have been so drained lately. If I blink for too long I would just instantly fall asleep. I fell asleep at lunch the other day mid-meal. I prayed that I wouldn’t fall asleep this week, and have a little more strength. I received my answer and got help, but the thought also came to my mind how I need to take it easier during gym time. I have been playing soccer everyday with these native guys that are super good and we go soooooo hard! We stay extra after everyone leaves so that we can get a few good games in. So this week I have taken it easier, hahaha.

Tuesday was another awesome day. We taught three lessons and did really well. The Spanish lessons were a little harder this week. Tuesday night at the devotional I did choir again, and I had someone take a picture for proof, haha. It was fun. My District and I are obviously not great at singing at all! During the practice, the choir leader actually asked our District to not sing during one part. HA!! so funny. I loved being up there, even if I was just smiling!!

The devotional was super unique. It was a member of the area Seventy from Mexico City and he spoke little to no English. He had a translator with him that would just repeat everything he said. It was great because I could actually understand his talk in Spanish! His talk was on how faith is the key to everything.

Wednesday went by really fast. Nothing too exciting. We taught one of our progressive investigators about the law of Chastity and it was probably our last lesson. It was a good one to end on! Last night I went into my buddies room and we built a sweet fort and slept there, it was pretty fun.

I’m so happy for all the experiences I am having!!! I know it will bless the rest of my life and I’m so thankful for the gospel. I’m so excited to get out into the field!!!!

Checkout my before and after haircut pictures. The Sister wasn’t quit sure what to do with my fro’!!

Pre HaircutPost haircut

MUCH LOVE!!!!!

Elder Woods

Week #4 – Mexico City CCM – February 5th, 2015

sleep overWeek5

HOLA MI FAMILIA!!

Hope everything is well back home!! I miss and think about you guys everyday!!

So this week was probably one of my longest weeks here at the CCM. The Spanish is a little harder and I teach about five times a day to different people. It’s good but it is also tough! Friday was probably the hardest day. Sometimes during our lessons I have gotten a bit discouraged because I feel like I can’t bring the Spirit into the lesson very powerfully yet. I have been working on it, because I know the Spirit is the best teacher, and it will be impossible to bring people to Christ without it. Saturday was better! We had TRC and we taught a man from Mexico City who had been a member of the church for 13 years. Our lesson was 45 minutes long and we almost went over our time! We taught him how we can receive revelation through prayer; it was great!! His family was him, his wife and two kids. He had a super strong testimony and it was a pleasure to teach him. Saturday all the lessons were centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was an answer to a prayer because I had been praying to grow my testimony of Him. One thing that really stuck out to me was how I can keep working when I get tired or discouraged. Our teacher talked about how after all Jesus Christ did, and after all he suffered, even after he died, he didn’t stop. He went to the Spirit world and went back to work!! It’s just amazing.

Sunday was fast Sunday so we had a study block in the morning from 7-11:30. It was great! I read a ton and worked on some lessons for the week. Priesthood was fantastic as usual. During Sacrament meeting I wanted to be the first one to bear my testimony so I ran up after they opened it up for testimonies. It was pretty short and simple because it was in Spanish but I believe still good. Our devotionals that night were GREAT!! One was on specific prayers and a recipe to have your prayers answered and the other was on bringing our brothers and sisters from all over the world into the gospel.

The last few days have gone  by pretty quick. It has been super cold here every morning. Cold meaning like low 60’s….ha! During the day it gets into the 70’s. I play soccer everyday.

Monday morning was pretty unique. We came into class about 7:01, so basically on time. There have been a few times when we get there at 7:10’ish and class starts at 7:00. We came into class and the President was in the room. Once everyone in my District was in class, he proceeded to tell us the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. We talked about his faith, trust, and how he feared God enough to be willing to kill his son. When he was showing us how it might of been when Abraham was close to taking his son’s life, he pulled out a massive knife!!!!! He then talked about the Angel who stopped Abraham and asked “What if that Angel was 15 minutes late in telling Abraham to not kill his Son?” He then put the knife over his head and SLAMMED it down into the desk!!!! Then he walked out… HAHA so dramatic and powerful!

None of us have been late to class since.

Tuesday I woke up and went for a run and hit the gym with some guys at 5:30. It reminded me of all those days I would go workout with my Dad at the YMCA. It started the day off right! We committed our two investigators to be baptized this week which was pretty cool. We are now teaching them about the commandments and the laws and ordinances of the church. I am now giving lessons just with my scriptures and a pamphlet! I also started reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish this week! Its pretty tough but it helps a lot with pronunciation. We had a member of the Seventy come speak that night at our devotional. I actually joined the choir with some guys in my district and we sang. HA!  The devotional was good and I really felt the spirit. Wednesday went by pretty quick because it was P-Day. Last night our whole district had a sleep over. We moved our mattresses into one room and had a ton of fun. We made sure to be in bed by 10:30 of course! We woke up today and went to the gym together and then went to breakfast!!

Another week down!! So crazy I only have a week and a half left until I leave for Tijuana. My time here has flown by.  I love being here! I have loved devoting my life to serving the Lord! I know this gospel is true with all my heart and I can’t wait to share it with the people of Tijuana!!

I love you guys!!

Elder Woods