Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pictures from Sister McArthur

Pictures of the visit from President McArthur to Nuevo Laredo.  Sister McArthur posted these on her blog:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Wash Your Car Week

Buenas tardes, todos! Because last week was extremely super rainy, and because a lot of the streets in this part of Nuevo Laredo are made of dirt, all the cars got super muddy, so National Wash Your Car Week was declared. We helped a lot of people wash their cars.
We also got in on the fun and washed our bikes (Sorry, I don't have pictures of that). The beautiful sunset after a long day of washing cars:
We also had divisions with the district leaders this week. They basically knocked on our door at 8 in the morning during personal study and said, "Hey, let's do divisions!" So I got to go with the district leader, Elder Ochoa in our colonia (I had to decide where we went and remember where everybody lives and what to teach them!) while his companion, Elder Bradley, went with Elder Bonilla to a far part of our area. This is us just before leaving for the day:

Today, the district decided to visit the border crossing. Hey, we're in a border town, what else can we do? We went to one of the bridges that stands on the Rio Bravo and . . . well, didn't get much further. We would be leaving the mission (which is a huge no-no), and we didn't have our passports or anything, which we would need once we arrived on the American side, so we didn't get much further than this little bilingual plaque in the middle, marking the official border.
Needless to say, we used the opportunity well to take lots of pictures.
 Yes, we have bad collar tan lines. That's what happens when you spend all day in the sun in missionary clothes.
We enjoyed going to the authentic Mexican restaurant as a district. I'm going to be one of those annoying people on Facebook who posts pictures of their food:
I'm sorry. We can get back to business now.

A cool building we found in the center: (Look how tan he is!~Camille)
 Contact of the Week:

I have two this week. The first is funny and the other is more serious, but still really cool. So Sunday, the four elders from our ward (us and Elders Aguilar and Perez) were walking from church to a lunch appointment. This was a different lunch appointment from the family that usually feeds us, so we had to take a different route. Our other route led us past a Dodge/Chysler/Jeep/Ram/Fiat/However Many Other Cars They Sell Now dealership. The guy at the front saw a group of two Americans (Elder Perez is actually Mexican but he looks American), walking in suits (because we just got out of church, and we have to wear our suits to church), and so we appear super rich. Because we are at a car dealership, he says, "Hey, do you want to buy a car?" We told him no, we didn't actually have any money, but we have a message about Jesus Christ if he wants to hear it, but he turned us down. I think he was a little mad we weren't actually there to buy a car.

The other was also super cool. We were biking by a highway, and we came across a broken-down Chevy pickup. We stopped to help, and we let the woman we found use our phone to call for help because the battery in her phone was dead. We tried to see what the problem was, but it was something far more complected than what we could have done, so we started talking to her about the Restoration (Hey, we're missionaries. What else do we do?). Turns out, she is a single mother of 2 boys, and she said she really wants more religious education in the lives of her sons. She really liked what we shared and said that this is what can help her family. We made some follow-up appointments, and she actually read and paid attention to the pamphlet we gave her, which is a lot more than what most people do. She is really anxious to learn more, and got really excited when she found out that there were activities during the week for her and her boys. She really wants to progress, and it all wouldn't have happened if we hadn't stopped to help. I'm grateful that she was driving a Chevy, because if she was driving a Ford, it wouldn't have broken down and we wouldn't have met her. :) (Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Forgive me, Chevy people).

Seriously, though, this week was awesome! Keep praying hard!

You guys are awesome!

Lots of love from Almost Texas,
Elder Jakob Schramm

Monday, March 13, 2017

I hate changing clocks

Hey, all!
I just have to take a little bit of time for my traditional Daylight Savings rant. We sprang forward on Sunday, and we're all feeling the lack of an hour of sleep. Turns out, Mexico has a different Daylight Savings schedule than the States (they still spring forward an hour and all that, they just do it at a different day of the year), except for the border towns, which use the US's  schedule. Nuevo Laredo jumped ahead with the States, but the mission offices in Monterrey won't jump forward for another couple of weeks, so things are interesting. I don't see why, if part of Mexico does whatever the US does, that the rest of Mexico doesn't follow suit and save themselves the headache. Well, okay, I don't see why we simply dump Daylight Savings Time in the first place, but I guess I can't be too demanding.

Okay. Now that I'm done with that, I can tell you what else happened this week.

We had stake conference this week, so that was good to meet some of the members in the other wards. Also, the stake president is pretty funny. Basically he roasted everybody for not participating in the missionary work like we should. Also, the entire theme of the priesthood session was how to get less active members to return to church.

Our mission president and his wife also spoke. I think they are the coolest people ever. President speaks pretty good Spanish, but Hermana McArthur  . . . well, let's just say that she's not exactly a Latina just yet, so the talk was in Spanglish, translated into Spanish by the President. It was kinda funny because I could understand her English and her Spanish, but my companion doesn't speak English, so I kinda had to help with with the English parts. All in all, it was a great conference.

We've been working a lot with the less active families in the ward lately. We only got one to attend the stake conference this Sunday, but we're going to keep trying this week.
Contact of the Week:
Basically everyone is Christian or at the very least believes in God. Most people are interested in hearing us for the sake of heaing the word of God, but there are a few people who really don't want to talk to us. One lady basically told us, "I already have the Gospel, share it with those who don't". We kept trying to tell her that we didn't want to take anything from her faith, but simply add to it, but she was relentless. Eventually she just said that she had to go wash dishes but it's great that some guys as young as us were preaching the good word of God and God bless and all that, boodbye. What was funny is that, when we first knocked on her door, she said that one of her favorite things to do was listen to the word of God. That's what we're here for. Oh, well. You meet interesting people in the mission.

I don't have much time left, but I want to thank all of you for your letters, prayers, and support.

Buena suerte!
Elder Jakob Schramm
From Camille: The conference pictures are from Sister McArthur. Whats up with my boys hair? Anyway, Jakob told me this: "Oh, by the way, we've been making Mexican food all wrong. I might have to take a little time to show you how to make and eat Mexican food properly, but for now, I put some pictures of a really great meal we had with a member in the Google Drive folder I shared with you. She makes her own tortillas with what's basically corn flour mixed with water, then the dough is squished with this tortilla press thing. It's pretty cool."

Guess I will have to go to more Mexican Restaurants.... you know, for research.  I wonder if he realizes we aren't Mexican?!

Monday, March 6, 2017

This week was nuts.

It's hard to believe that it's that time of the week again to write home with the rented Mexican computer. This week has gone by really fast!

This week started out with us being really frustrated because it seems like our current investigators don't want to progress much and no one else we contact wants to listen. Elder Bonilla and I have been studying a lot about what we should do, and the theme that seemed to pop up all the time was to talk to literally everyone. We were reminded of D&C 61:3, where the Lord is giving counsel to the early missionaries of the Church:
"But verily say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the  inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief."
Bikes are great and everything, but sometimes it makes it harder for us to be able to stop and talk to everyone. We were reminded that absolutely everyone is a child of God, and that we will never know who is ready for the Gospel until we go out and talk to them. This week, we have been doing that. There was one day in particular (Thursday, I think) when we decided to take it to the next level. We were waiting for a bus to go to a meeting with the ward mission leader, and we decided to talk to literally everybody on the bus. Once we boarded, we went to that back of the bus and talked with everyone, working our way to the front. It made things so much more fun as a missionary. Those who know me know that I'm not exactly a talkative person--especially in a foreign language with complete strangers about a subject that many people find rather sensitive. This week, I've learned to trust in God, and simply open my mouth and proclaim the good news of the Gospel to my brothers and sisters. Things have worked out really well, because we now have a lot more people to teach. We're hoping for some baptisms pretty soon! 
We thought we had things all figured out, until literally the next day (Friday), we woke up to this:
It's kinda hard to tell from the picture, but it was raining like nobody's business. It's rained a couple of times since I came to Mexico, but they were just occasional drizzles. This was a good and proper POURING. Since we are missionaries though, and we proclaim the Gospel in rain or shine, we donned our coats, mounted our bikes, and continued onward. For about an hour.
We got soaked. We couldn't stand it. We had to return home, change our clothes, and reenter the deluge on foot, because we had to carry our umbrellas and we couldn't do that on bikes. It took longer to get soaked through, but luckily, we had enough visits that day to dry out every now and then.
All that was fun. That was my first real Mexican rain!
The only other thing I got this week is Contact of the Week. Since we have been really cracking down on contacting everybody, we got a lot of good juicy ones:

Thursday, we talked to three different people who simply wanted to argue. One of them was a Jehovah's Witness (Let's just say that they're basically all like that, and I'll leave it at that).
One insisted that there was no need for a church because all men lie and all churches are corrupt, but that he meets with a bunch of people in Monterrey every few months to talk about churchy-type stuff (Sigh; that's what we like to call a "church"), and that the Spirit of Some Guy (I couldn't quite make out the name. I'm not sure if it was Fernando or Filemon) testifies to him regularly that God is real. We couldn't get any words with him in edgewise.
The last contact used to be Catholic, but has converted between several different churches, and currently attends some type of Baptist church because she likes the pastor there. She kept insisting that we find the verse in the Bible that said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was the true church. We stronly resisted the urge to ask her where the Bible says that her pastor is a true teacher of God, and we instead tried to teach her about the Apostasy and how we can receive answers from God, but she wouldn't really let us say anything, either.
Friday, we were wrapping up a contact with a guys who seemed really interested when some other guys walked up to us and demanded to know why God lies. We kept trying to ask him why he thinks that and explain that God never lies, but he kept simply repeating, "Why does God lie? Why does He say stuff and not do what He says? I'm really mad at God." We eventually found out that his daughter died despite lots of prayers in her behalf. (At least I think that's what he said. He was really hard to understand. I think he may have been drunk from the way he was acting). We tried to explain to him that God sometimes tests our faith and our commitment to Him, but that if we are faithful, we can live with our families for eternity, but he refused to believe us or listen.

It's heartbreaking to see all these people with their own needs, and that we are here to help them find peace and joy through Christ, but that, for whatever reason, they won't listen. The hardest part of being a missionary is watching people turn away from that which is right in front of them and which can help them in their struggles of their life. Sometimes I just want to walk up to Satan and strangle him for all the damage and heartache and misery he causes here on Earth, but I have to tell myself that not only is that not actually possible, but that the best way to combat Satan is to remain personally converted to Christ and help as many people as will listen to do the same. In the end, this great battle we call our mortal existence is boiled down to how much power over yourself you give to Satan to corrupt you and make you miserable, and how much of yourself you give to Christ to make better and make you truly happy. It's absolutely thrilling to be a part of that work on the front lines of the Great War between God and the devil.

Also, as a random but important side note before I end, I want to emphasize the importance of members in missionary work. We as missionaries are nothing without a good ward and good ward members who assist in this work. I challenge each of you to participate more in the work by being willing to give references to the missionaries, offer to accompany the missionaries in lessons, and bring investigators to church, especially when the church building is far away. If nothing else, reach out to your less-active and nonmember friends (and make more friends!) and share your testimony of how the Gospel has blessed your life. It makes the work go much more effectively when missionaries and members work together.

¡Muchas gracias por su amor, oraciones, y apoyo! ¡Mucho amor desde la tierra prometida de Nuevo Laredo!