Monday, April 24, 2017

Ths week was full of Crazy, I promise

As the subject of this email says, this week was crazy, just like all weeks. I just can't remember much of it, so if the email seems a little short, please forgive me.

We had a zone conference with the President, so that was always fun. We talked about how to work well with the ward and stake leaders. Which reminds me: the missionary work can't succeed without the support of the members. Speaking as a full-time missionary, this is very, very, true. I challenge each one of you to find some way to help out the missionaries where you live, whether it's through giving them names of people they could visit, feeding them dinner a night of two, or accompanying them to lessons. The work is so much more effective when we receive support from the ward!

For example, meet Logan. He's almost 13, and he's been helping us lately in contacting and accompanying us in lessons.

 Today, we went to the center of Nuevo Laredo with the district. We ate Domino's, because the majority of the missionaries were American. As it happens, none of the missionaries in our district are Mexican. My companion and the district leader are Dominican (and apparently, when Dominicans get together, excitement ensues), and everyone else is American. We don't know how we managed that.
Anyway, here is Elder Garcia and I with the disrtict leader, Elder Estevez.

We had a great week this week. We met Daniel, a reference from a member. He lost his legs to a disease a few years ago, so he is confined to a wheelchair. He came to church this week, which is pretty rare for an investigator to come to church the first Sunday after meeting them. He's super awesome, because he has a very firm faith in Christ and the Resurrection. He is very excited for the day when his legs will be restored, and he's very interested in our message. We're actually going to meet with him in a couple of hours, so we will see how thigns go with him.

Thanks for all the letters and love! Happy Spring!

Elder Jakob Schramm

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nuevo Larado zone conference

Some pictures from Sister McArthur at zone conference this week.
Happy Birthday to these Elders!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Zika, Tornados, and Broken Bikes, Oh My (aka Some Weeks Are Harder Than Others)

EDITOR'S NOTE: As I was looking through my camera trying to decide which photos to put in this email, I realized that I actually didn't take any photos this week, so there won't be any in this email. Sorry.

Hey everyone!

This week has been nuts. On Tuesday, I was feeling absolutely horrible, so we went home in the middle of the day and called the mission president's wife. She diagnosed me with Zika. (Yay!) Basically I had to spend all day Tuesday and a good part of the day Wednesday resting. There isn't really anything anyone can do with Zika more than simply resting and weathering it for a couple of days. Basically you just feel extremely tired and hot and you sweat a lot and you feel like you want to throw up. Ugh. Needless to say, I've become a little more diligent with the mosquito repellant.

When I finally got feeling better, we stepped outside Wednesday evening to get back to work, and about 10 seconds after going outside, it began to storm and hail like nobody's business, so we decided to go back inside. We lost power for about and hour, and we found out the next morning that there was a super huge tornado in Texas not far from where we were (big enough to have killed some people, from what I heard), and we were on the edge of it. Luckily, we were far enough away that all we got was a bad lightning/hail/wind storm. I don't think anything got damaged here. Crazy.

So when the week officially began Thursday, we set out again, but about 2 hours into the day, the cable for the transmission on my bike broke, so I've been stuck in the absolute lowest gear all week. It was rather slow and tiring. Imagine if your car wouldn't shift out of first gear into second. The engine is screaming it's head off, but you're only doing 20 MPH. That was basically me all this week. Between the fact that the only bike part shops are in the center (VERY far from our area) and that everybody's been closed for Easter, we weren't able to fix it until today. So that was fun. :)

But we didn't lose faith. We kept hoping, praying, and fasting for miracles.

And the Lord provided.

This week, despite all our opposition, we were blessed with a lot of miracles to make up for our lost time. We managed to get a record number of new investigators this week who committed to come to church, including a large group of youth who want to come to Mutual this week. Unfortunately, because of Easter, everybody except one person had to cancel coming to church. But hey, Easter was hard because everybody is out of town. Everybody seemed to feel bad for missing out on church, and the majority still want to keep meeting with us. We're looking forward to this next week with lots of ánimo!

It was really cool working as a missionary through Easter. A lot of people liked the Easter video the Church put out (it's called the Prince of Peace, and if you haven't seen it, I invite you all to repent, go to, and watch it. It's really super awesome).

It was also really refreshing to forget the Easter bunny and focus completely on why we have Easter in the first place: because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, commited the most selfless, difficult, heroic, and history-changing event in all of human history. The Atonement and Resurrection mean that all of us can have hope and peace, and that Christ will change us to overcome the challenges and sadnesses of this life, if only we let Him do so by striving to live the Gospel He taught.

Sometimes, as this crazy week of mine has shown, life gets a little frusterating at times. We face more and more opposition. The Great News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He is on our side, so we literally have nothing to fear. He can help us, no matter our struggles. I love being a missionary because of the opportunity to share this awesome message!

Thanks for all the love and prayers! I love and miss you all!

Happy Spring!

Elder Jakob Schramm

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Companion!

Buenas tardes, todos!

Basically, the highlight of this week has been transfers. I'm staying here, while Elder Bonilla went back to Monterrey to finish his last 6 weeks in the field before he goes home. In his place, is Elder Garcia, from the Dominican Republic. Because he's Dominican, his Spanish is really different. (He's constantly saying something along the lines of "So in my country, we call this thing by this name, but I'm not sure if that's the same thing here". And it usually isn't. That's okay. The more Spanish I learn, the better. Also, he speaks a good deal of English, so when we talk, it's mostly Spanglish. Whenever we want to say something in a group of people and we don't neccessarirly want anyone else to hear, we speak in English. As another missionary I met in the CCM said, it's kinda fun having a semi-secret language. :)

Anyway, Elder Garcia is super awesome. He has 7 months in the mission, so he's fairly new, but he's a great missionary. He has a lot of enthusiasm, and he's a hard worker. I've only been with him for less than a week, but I've already learned a lot from him. He's also fairly new in the Church; he was baptized less than 3 years ago, and he's still the only member in his family, but he knows a lot about the Church and the doctrine and everything. Anyway, here he is:
I'm not sure why, but I look really tired in this picture. I don't think I've gotten the whole selfie thing down yet. Or smiling nice for pictures. I'll keep working on that.

Contact of the Week:
So we were contacting in this one colonia where we didn't know a lot of the people. We were having a lot of trouble finding people in this particular colonia, because people are almost never outside. We found some people in a park, and we naturally decided to talk to them. These people were a couple of teenagers and a bunch of little kids. Turns out, they are all cousins, and most of them are visiting from Texas, so they knew a lot of English. One of the teenagers we talked to, as it turns out, was baptized in Monterrey when she was 11 because a friend invited her to church, and she even went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, but went inactive and lost contact with the Church not long after that, mostly because her parents are super Catholic, and won't let her have anything to do with the Church. We're not sure how she got permission to be baptized, but she was baptized. We invited her to go to church with us, but since she's still technically a minor (she just turned 17), we can't really do much with her until either she turns 18 or her parents change their minds and let us talk to her more. We did set a followup appointment in the park tomorrow, because she really wants to come back to church, but we'll just have to see how everything goes with her parents. At the very least, I thought this was interesting because we found someone who was already baptized, and we just kinda ran into her.

Anyway, I'm out of time for this week, so thanks for the letters and prayers!

Elder Jakob Schramm

From Camille:   Here are a couple of other pictures Jakob added to the drive:


Monday, April 3, 2017

Regresar al CCM, #LDSConf, and CAMBIOS

Sorry I didn't write last week. We didn't get around to writing emails until later than normal, and the shop was closing (because people seem to close important places like Internet cafes really early around here for some reason), so we had to leave.
Anyway, this week has been nuts. We started out with a conference in Monterrey called Regresar al CCM, or Return to the MTC. Basically, all the people who were in their training with their companions would go to the chapel next to the mission offices and do some final training and testing with their companion. We left Thursday night, spent the night in Monterrey, and had a whole bunch of training and reviewing of the MTC training with the President all day Friday. We then hurried back as fast as we could to make appointments for Friday evening, but our bus ended up leaving super late for some reason, so we didn't arrive in Nuevo Laredo until about 10 at night . . . almost our bedtime, and WAY past curfew. Ugh. Oh, well. It was a great conference, and we managed to catch up on some sleep.

Also, we had General Conference, which, for those who don't know, is where all the leaders of the Church (including a living prophet who literally can speak to God face to face) get together and give talks on various topics. It's always super awesome and enlightening, and this conference was no exception.
Originally, we would have had to watch the conference in Spanish with the rest of the stake in the stake center. I was a little worried about this, because my Spanish skills aren't quite up to snuff yet to be able to understand the words and understand the meaning of them and think about them with any level of profoundness. That's okay, though, because 5 of the 10 companionships here in Nuevo Laredo are training American elders, and so we were all kinda stumbling. The stake executive secretary must have noticed our faces contorted in concentration and took pity on us. He walked up to us about 5 minutes into the conference and said, "Hey, I set up the conference in English in my office. All the American elders can come in and watch it here if you want." With the district leaders' approval, we all happily and gratefully took him up on his offer. It turns out the the executive secretary speaks really good English, and he wanted to watch the conference in English anyway, so he stayed with us as we watched the conference in his office. I have to say, the it just wouldn't have been the same hearing a translator's voice instead of Elder Holland or President Uchtdorf.
I particularly enjoyed the Saturday evening and priesthood sessions, which basically talked about how to teach with love, and how to keep pressing forward when life seems tough. I really learned a lot and I'm grateful I got to watch it all in English. :)

Also, there's going to be a temple built in Saratoga Springs, which is almost my backyard. I'm super excited! No new temples in Mexico, yet. We'll just have to wait until October.

The other big thing of this week is the end of the transfer. The entire mission is divided into 6-week transfers, or cambios as they are known in Mexico. Sunday night, we found out that Elder Bonilla would be going back to Monterrey for his last cambio before going home. I will be staying here, and an elder named Elder Garcia will be moving here. I'm a little scared because I'll have to remember where everybody lives and everything, and I'm not exactly known for a good memory. I suppose I'll just ahve to apply what I learned in the conference and do my best and rely on God. If faith can move mountains, it can probably help me remember who Hermano So-and-so-who-we-met-on-the- street-5-days-ago is and where he lives.

There are also going to be major changes in the leadership of the zone here in Nuevo Laredo, so we took the time during our last zone meeting to take a lot of pictures. Zona Nuevo Laredo trying to use the timers on 20 cameras at once
My district, with Zone Leaders Elders Andriese and Bartholomew
(From left to right, Elders Bradley, Schramm, Wilcox, and Kirkman). The 4 Gueros that arrived from the MTC on the same day . . . and we all got assigned here. We've been pretty close. After all, clueless gringos have to rely on each other.
Thanks for all the love, prayers, and support. I know that we are all loved by God because we are His children. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true church on the earth, and that we can all become better people through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lots of love from Nuevo Laredo!
Elder Jakob Schramm
Note from Camille: Here are a couple of pictures he included on the google drive:
Good-bye Elder Bonilla