Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Covered in Confetti

Transferrd to "The City by the Sea"

Hello from Brownsville! I got transfered in on Wednesday to northern Brownsville (the southernmost city in Texas on the Mexican Border and Gulf of Mexico) with Elder Gish as my companion!
The last few days in Laredo were crazy. It seemed like all of the sudden everyone wanted to feed us (I don't know where they were the first four months I was in Laredo.) On Monday we tried to go to the Fun Zone, but it turned out to be a casino instead, so we just went to Burger King. Tuesday was the crazy day! Between Monday Night and Tuesday afternoon we had been fed 4 times by our members, and we were having trouble walking, because we were so stuffed full of food!
Tuesday night was when we got the phone call to see who was going to be transfered and who was going to stay. We also have this thing we call "Transferdamus" where we each predict who is going to leave and who is going to stay. I predicted that I was going to leave for Brownsville. At 10:30 p.m., we recieved the phone call that I was indeed being transfered to Brownsville, so I spent the rest of the night packing my stuff. Wednesday, we headed downtown for the last time, and then at about 2 p.m. or so, we went to the church for transfers.
It took us about 4 hours to get to Brownsville. When we got there, I met my companion, Elder Gish, and we went to our "apartment." It's not so much an apartment as it is a huge mansion house. We are staying with a member, Brother Hutchingson, who is the head of the FBI in this area of the U.S., and he's never home, so we have his huge mansion to ourselves almost all of the time. We also have our own private lake thing in the backyard! The only bad thing is we don't have a car, and it's super humid here, so we get really soaked out on the bikes.
Thursday was pretty crazy. One of the other companionships had a recent convert who was thrown in jail. He was driving and got into a car crash and doesn't have papers, so he's in jail as of right now and they don't know if he's going to get deported or what.
On Saturday, we were helping this lady with her lawn, but we didn't have a weed whacker or anything, so we went to a member to borrow one. We then realized that we didn't have anywhere to put it because we are on bikes, so I slung it over my back and biked down the street with a weed whacker! I got tons of really weird looks and stuff.
Sunday was my first day at church. my companion had to give a talk in English Ward. One of the other companionships has these investigators that they found that are from Africa, and speak French. They can speak a little English and a little Spanish, and they said they really enjoy church. The elders said its been interesting trying to teach them, and they have to go really slow and teach a combination of English and Spanish.
On P-day yesterday we went shopping and played soccer at the church. We couldn't email because the library was closed for Memorial Day. I really like Brownsville. It's not as ghetto as downtown Laredo, and most people (91%) speak Spanish. This is going to be a really fun transfer!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Missionaries of South Texas

Tornadoes and "Poachers"

Dear Family,

I haven't recieved any of the packages yet, but transfers are on Wednesday, and they usually hold all the mail the week before transfers and just deliver it to us when they come.
This week was pretty interesting. On Tuesday, we were at an appointment, teaching this really nice younger lady and except for a drunk neighbor who tried to "bash" with us (fight with us scripturally) it went well.
Wednesday was crazy, about an hour out of town is a smaller town named Zapata. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, and there are two elders that live and work in that area. As the day was ending we could see this huge lightning storm with dark clouds in Mexico heading our way, but the wind started to blow it towards Zapata. The next day we found out that a tornado hit Zapata and pretty much destroyed half the town. The missionaries were ok, but a bunch of people lost their homes and stuff.
That night was also my six month mark, and so we burned a tie behind the apartments!
Thursday was a really funny/crazy day, and my companion and I heard rumors that the Zone Leaders were "poaching" our area (meaning going into our area and teaching people, instead of staying in their area), and we received a call from them telling us they had "accidentally gone into our area and taught a lesson and given the lady a baptismal date..". Then about an hour later we decided we were going to visit this less active member that lived in our area, and as we turned the corner to go to his house, lo and behold, we saw the Zone Leaders, who just happened to be going to visit the same person!
Then we saw something crazy later that night. We were working down by the border, and we were going down this one street in our car, and there was a border patrol car right behind us. The officers pulled over and started talking to this one guy, and so my companion decided to circle the block to see what was going on. When we came back around, the guy was gone but the car was still driving, so we parked and got out because we were going to begin working, and we saw the border patrol car pull over next to this couple that was walking maybe 100 yards away. The patrol were talking through their window, and all of the sudden they turned on their lights and got out of the car and handcuffed the people and threw them in the back, and drove off! So we were like, "Wow! We just saw someone get deported!"
A few weeks ago the sisters had a person that wanted to be baptized and so they asked her who she wanted to do it, and she picked my companion Elder Caywood. We couldn't figure out why, and the sisters didn't know either, but they finally asked her, and she said it was because he had pretty eyes. So now we tease him all the time about his pretty eyes!
Today we are going to this Family Fun center with go-karts and mini golf and stuff, so it should be super fun! Thanks for all the support, and have a great week!
Love, Ryan

Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Miracle Family's Baptism

More Miracles in May

Hello Everyone:
This week was a pretty interesting one. On Monday, it poured down rain all morning. There was tons of thunder and lighting and stuff, it was pretty awesome. It cleared up that afternoon, but there was still tons of water everywhere. Elder Caywood and I were driving by this one warehouse, and there was this huge build up of water because the road kind of slopes down. As we were driving by, we saw this van try and drive through the water, but the water was deeper than the hood of the van, so it only got about half way before the water was like over the hood of it. It just died right there in the middle of this huge thing of water!
Wednesday was our "Miracle Day." Every day the whole zone prays for one companionship, and that was our day. We ended up teaching this guy, and about half way through the lesson he pulls out this beat up Book of Mormom and said that some missionaries had been by years earlier, and he had still been reading it. He said that he wanted us to come back and teach him and his family (wife and three kids). It was pretty amazing. Then as we were leaving we started talking to other guy we saw on the street, and he said that he had almost been baptized because his ex-wife was a member and he wanted us to come over and teach him too! So we pretty much had two miracles within 5 minutes of each other!
Thursday was way crazy. In the morning, we were riding by this ambulance and so we decided to stop for a second to see what was going on. We stopped just in time to see the workers cart a body out of a house, and we were like "no way!" Then as we were coming back to the apartment, this guy tried to make a right hand turn, but he was going like 40 mph so he overshot it and smashed into another car head-on. Then, after lunch, this crazy hobo guy started trying to talk to us on the street and we couldn't understand what he was saying to us, so we tried to be nice and give him a card. Then as we started to walk toward our bikes, he was following us still talking gibberish. He came up to my companion and was patting him on the back and stuff and he wouldn't go away untill we had unlocked our bikes and rode away!
On Saturday, I was with one of the Zone Leaders in his area. We went to see this one lady who had a 2-year-old daughter, and while we were teaching, the daughter started to get cranky. My companion tried to get her to calm down, but that pushed her over the edge and she started going nuts and crying and putting her hands over her face and stuff. Then about 5 minutes later, she started to calm down and my companion looked at her and smiled, and she started crying again. We had to try really hard not to laugh. That was pretty much my week! It was nice to be able to talk to everyone.
Love, Ryan
(Editor's Note: Ryan called home on Mother's Day and talked to his mom, five J-boys cousins, Aunt Pam and Uncle Matt, his Dad, Roxanne and brother Cooper. Everyone loved talking to him!)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Elder Carreon Rides "The Enforcer"

Missionary For A Day

Dear Family & Friends:
This week was pretty ok. The definite highlight was the confirmation of the Adams family in church yesterday. Now they are officially members! Last Wednesday was my companion's "sister mark" (18 months out because sister missionaries only serve 18 months), and so to celebrate he decided to burn a pair of his pants. We ended up doing it right on the side of the apartment complex near the train tracks because we thought there wouldn't be as many people to drive by, but it turns out that lots of people drive by late at night.
Saturday morning the branch had a missionary for a day activity, and for an hour we took a bunch of youth around with us. The Adams family showed up and participated too! It was awesome to see their two sons, Joseph and Jonathan, in white shirts and ties! The best part about it was they had only been baptized six days before. They said they really liked it and the whole family had a bunch of questions about what it takes to be a missionary. After the activity, we all went back to the chapel so the youth could share any experiences that they had. One kid was saying how they were talking to this one guy and he asked if they were the same church as the polygamist sect in northern texas and they misunderstood the question, so they said Yes! We all laughed pretty hard about that one. In my area we don't really get any questions about that stuff. I'm not even sure what exactly happened up there anyways, but in the more English speaking areas they do get some questions so they can clear up that we aren't affiiated with that group at all. After the activity was over, we went over to the Adam's for a lesson and to make sure everything was okay for their confirmation. When we had the closing prayer, the husband prayed that someday his sons could be like my companion and me. It was a really humbling experience. That was pretty much my week, can't wait to talk to you guys on Sunday (Mother's Day). If it's possible, I would love to be able to speak to the J-boys too!

Love, Ryan
P.S. Mom, I was wondering if you could send me the book "True to the Faith" in Spanish. I can talk to you about it more when I call.