Monday, February 27, 2017

Dirt bike


This week was a crazy week. President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve came to Monterrey, so everyone in Nuevo Laredo got packed into a bus Wednesday night and rode for three hours back to Monterrey for the conference Thursday morning. We ended up having President Nelson, Elder Clayton from the Presidency of the Seventy, and two Area Seventies come. Pres. Nelson said that there haven't been that many General Authorities in Monterrey before, and it will likely never happen again, so it was super cool to have that experience. Both Monterrey missions (West and East) were present, with the neighboring Renosa mission joining in via satellite (shoutout to everyone in Renosa!!). Pres. Nelson talked about how the Restoration is the fulfillment of prophecy since the days of Adam, and how the Abrahamic Covenant is just as relevant to our day as it was to the Israelites. It was really super cool!

And yes, yours truly did get to play the piano. I was really horribly scared to play in front of a General Authority, but I haven't been excommunicated or sent home or anything so I must not have messed up too badly.

We took a picture with the General Authorities in front of the GORGEOUS Monterrey Temple, and they said that each missionary would get a copy of the picture, but I haven't gotten it yet, so I can't share it with you all just yet.

This week, two more elders were sent to Nuevo Laredo. Our area has been divided in half, and they have one half. It's nice because I think our area is the largest by area in the whole mission, so it's impossible for Elder Bonilla and I to reach everybody farther away, so it's nice to get some help, but it's also a little bit frusterating because by taking that particular bit of our area (closer to the center of Nuevo Laredo), they also stole about 80% of the ward and Walmart. Now we are the country bumpkins on the very outskirts of town. Oh, well. We'll learn to manage. This is a picture of the day we trained them in the area. I stayed here with Elder Perez while Elder Bonilla took Elder Aguilar to their new area to show them around. They stayed in our house for a couple of days until the zone leaders could officially get them a house and move in.
Also, Elder Bonilla really likes to take the back roads to get to places, and after a really big rainstorm on Monday, the streets (which aren't designed to drain water like they are in the States) get really flooded. This is basically what we looked like the first few days of this week:
I love mudding and everything, but only when I'm inside a Jeep where I can't get muddy and which has a better suspension than the bikes we're using. :) We don't worry, though, because that's what washing machines are for.
Also, as a random side note, the highway that passes between the church and most members' homes (where we eat lunch right after church) passes right next to the border. I thought I should snap a picture of my home--or at least Texas. Texas is pretty cool, too.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot Contact of the Week.
It wasn't really a contact this week, but I thought it was funny so I'll put it here. We have this one particular investigator who we can only teach at night on her porch. There's this one neighbor of hers who has dropped in on our lessons to listen in. Every time, he's completely drunk. I have no idea who he is or where he lives or what he's like when he's sober, but somehow he finds out that we are teaching Ana Luisa and he decided to drop in very suddenly, saying something like, Ï love hearing the word of God! You guys won't keep me from hearing the word of God, won't you? You know, you gueros (white guys) are really cool people." Or something along those lines. I have a hard enough time understanding Spanish, let alone drunk Spanish. Anyway, we're trying to decide if he's a regular investigator now because he's visited with us several times now.

Anyway, I'm about out of time, so unfortunately I can't write much more. Thanks for everything!! Keep being awesome everyone!!

Elder Jakob Schramm

Friday, February 24, 2017

Monterrey Mission Meeting Pics

Jakob was able to play the piano at a mission meeting for Elder Nelson on Thursday. They had a combined meeting with both of the Monterrey Missions. Here are a few of the pictures that Sister McArthur posted for us.  WHERES WALDO JAKOB?

 Does this help?

He isn't super fond of smiling for pictures. Its not his favorite thing to do. But because I don't care, I will include EVERY SINGLE PICTURE she posts of him. I would guess these Elders speak English. I'll bet that was fun for the day!
Jakob at home doing what he loves best. It makes me so happy to see him play the piano!  Wish I could have heard it!  I hope it all went well!


Monday, February 20, 2017

First Tansfer Over!

Today is the first day of my second transfer in the field. (For those who don't know, the mission is divided into six-week periods called transfers. Anytime there is a companion or area change, it happens between transfers).

It's crazy to think that I've been a missionary for three months now. It hasn't really felt that long. I'm slowly getting a hang of the Spanish, meaning that I can usually understand most people and most of the conversation, and I can usually contribute. I'm obviously still working on it all, but things are slowly but surely coming.

This week was a little crazy. We are losing a bunch of our investigators, but we are finding new interested people all over, so I'm not sure what to think. Also, we had a super epic lightning storm last night. It was beautiful, but we had to stay inside because we didn't want to die.

And now, this week on Contact of the Week: This week's contact is basically just a bunch of generic contacts that we've had. There are missionaries from the Jehovah's Witnesses (Testigos de Jehova, or TJs), and a lot of people confuse us with them. Nearly every contact, we hear something like this:

Contact:Wait, are you Jehovah's Witnesses? Because I talked to them a little bit and they were very weird.
Us: No, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It's a different church. If you see a missionary without a nametag like this, they're not from our church.
Contact: So . . . you're not Jehovah's Witnesses . . . because they are really weird, and they don't celebrate birthdays or anything, and I don't want to join a weird church like that.
Us: No, we;re not them. We're completely different. Would you like to hear our message?

The TJs are a big headache for us because they usually harm our reputation, but I usually just have to laugh.

Anyway, I'm out of time today (I swear, the email hour every P-day is the shortest hour of the week!), so I'll have to end.

Thanks for all your prayers, letters, and support!

Lots of love from Nuevo Laredo!

These are the pictures Jakob sent today:


Monday, February 13, 2017

A lot of stuff happened. Also, I've officially got a month!!

Sorry I didn't write a mass email last week. I had a lot of stuff to send to the mission president and referrals to manage from the office, so I didn't have a lot of time to write. Also, I swear that time speeds up when I'm logged in to my email. :)
Anyway, these past two weeks have been intense. I'll try to remember what happened.

Interesting food story: one of the sisters in the ward who was assigned to feed us lunch one day called us the night before we were supposed to go to her house and asked if we liked sushi. Yes, sushi. We said yes (neither of us having had sushi before). She said that she had never made it before, but wanted to experiment. She has made good food for us before, so we trusted her and went to her house for lunch. Sure enough, we ate sushi. I find it funny that the first time I ate sushi was in Mexico. It was really good, don't get me wrong; I just thought it was funny.
Also, we had divisions last week. For those who do not know the missionary life, this is where the leader of our district and his companion basically swap companions with another companionship for 24 hours. This is for training and a kind of inspection in each area and in each companionship. I went with the district leader, Elder Bingham (an American! Someone who speaks perfect English!) in his area, while his companion, Elder Medina, stayed with Elder Bonilla in our area. Here I am with Elder Bingham in his apartment:
We went to visit an investigator who was about to be baptized:
This week, we have been doing a lot of finding new investigators through street contacting and referrals, because all of our investigators seem to be "freezing up". None of our investigators came to church this Sunday (argh!) and an investigator that was going to be baptized on Saturday NEVER SHOWED UP. We called her several times without her answering, but eventually we found out that she had regressed into some old habits she had before meeting the missionaries. She has been fighting to overcome all her addictions, and she is a super amazing investigator, so it shocked us to see her fall back, on the day of her baptism, no less. We've been visiting with her a lot and trying to help her overcome her challenges. We're going to try for baptism again. We're not sure when yet, but we'll try again.

Also, I've decided to do a weekly segment called The Contact of the Week. This is basically the funniest, scariest, most spiritual, (or whatever else) contact or lesson of the week. Yesterday, after being very discouraged after the fallen-through baptism and the fact that none of our investigators came to church, we were contacting in a colonia far from our house. We had little success there, and decided to head back to our colonia. While we were biking along the highway (which is really super duper scary), we found a woman with her two little kids wating at a bus stop. We decided to talk to her, and we found out that her spouse basically just recently kicked her and her kids out of the house. My otherwise absolutely amazing Spanish communication skills were hampered by the noise of the thousands of semi trucks screaming along the highway 4 feet away form us, so it was hard to hear exactly what was going on, but she was walking with what stuff she had and her kids to a friends' house, and she was really needing some help from God. She was never really terribly religious (not much more than the average here, which seems to be "I'm Catholic because all my ancestors were Catholic, and I believe in God, but I haven't been to church in years" kind of a thing), and she has been really questioning what God has in store for her, or if He even exists, when we came. She started crying, and we basically just talked to her for a couple of hours. This is Contact of the Week this week because I realized what the role of missionary is: someone who litereally represents Christ and tries to befriend, help, and genuinely love people just as He would. It was really humbling to realize that that was what I was doing (or at least rying to do, what with my amazing Spanish skills). Anyway, she was really open to meeting with us and learning from us, and we are going to meet with her again at her friend's house this week.

Oh, yes, one last thing before I end: The misison president called me this week. (Cue scary music). The mission president rarely calls specific missionaries who aren't in some kind of leadership position, so it was all rather scary. It got even scarier when, after Elder Bonilla answered the phone and talked to him for a little bit, handed the phone to me and said that President wanted to talk to me. (Cue more scary music). What the Presient wanted to talk to me about was a conference between the two Monterrey missions on the 23rd, and that he wanted me to play the piano for the congregational hymns and for a special musical number a choir would perform. Apparently, a little birdie at the CCM had told him that I played the piano for the CCM choir and that he could use me for piano-related purposes. There would be all 300 missionaries from the two misisons there, and also PRESIDENT NIELSON FROM THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES IN THE FLESH presiding at that meeting and giving an address. Yup. In a week, I'll be playing that piano in front of a real-live apostle. I'm really excited because, hey, I like to play the piano, but I'm also a little bit nervous. I'm mostly excited, though. It will be really cool to see President Nielson. He's cool.

Anyway, I've rambled enough for today, so I'l let you all go. Thanks for your love, letters, and support.

Lots of love from Nuevo Laredo!

Monday, February 6, 2017

No big letter

Jakob said he didn't have time to write a big letter this week. So, I'll share part of the super short one he sent me this afternoon:

It's kinda funny, because the weather here in Nuevo Laredo is kinda like in Utah: one day, it's blazing hot (somewhere around 90) and then the next day it's rainy and cold (about 45 or so) and then it's super humid. Well, okay, I guess UTah isn't that humid. But it changes a lot. Today is one of those super hot, humid days. It's kinda hard to tell how to plan for each day becuase every day is completely unrelated weather-wise with the previous day.
I still can't believe Corrine is old enough to drive. I'm glad I'm on the other end of the border.

(I told Jakob I wanted to move to Mexico because of the emotional teen-age girls.) I guess you could cook or clean, but we don't have any cooking or cleaning supplies. The fanciest thing we got in the kitchen is a non-functional microwave, and a small fridge. We don't have an oven. We just eat at member's houses all the time. It's kinda nice because we don't have to worry about cooking, but at the same time, it's just as stressful because we have to coordinate with the RS and make appointments, and sometimes I just want to learn how to cook something. Sure you still want to come out?

I thought I would share part of the letter he sent last week:
If I'm completely honest, I think I hit my spicy limit that day. Oh, yeah, I think I forgot to mention: the Mexicans like to put chili on their candy like Americans put sugar on theirs. It's hard to find candy that isn't "sabor chile". Also, they put chili powder on their cantaloupe. Apparently it's really popular. It's actually pretty good. Have Dad try it sometime and see what he thinks, then maybe you try it. 
The apartment is actually a house we are renting. All the houses here are really small, identical, and close together, like what you see in Harry Potter on Privet Drive. They are basically concrete boxes painted really bright colors. They are really cool. I'll have to send you a picture of my apartment. Sadly, I kinda forgot to take pictures this week. Don't get too mad at me. :) Also, this computer I'm using in an internet cafe deal won't let me pull pictures off my camera, so I don't think I can send you any, anyway. It's a bit annoying.

The Spanish is slowly coming along. I can speak it pretty well (pues, más o menos), but I can't understand most of what people say. With some people, I can pick out enough words so that I know what they are talking about and I can guess at some of the specifics, but with others, it's like, "gjuireonbut I don't like jkejr;iogjeorhg church a;ej;roigoeihroghoerg Catholic jaeio;rjaoerhg Adios." It's a bit frustrating that my companion only speaks Spanish, but I can communicate with him most of the time. Also, I'm teaching him English. It's kinda funny listening to him try to pronounce all of our extraordinarily weird words, especially "Schramm." We have a goal that, by the end of this transfer (in three more weeks!), he will be able to pronounce my name without stumbling too much. Be grateful we learned English as a native language, because most of these Latinos can't wrap their tounges around words like "Schramm".