Monday, July 31, 2017

Packages, U Libroil Mormon, Calle Morelos, and Yet Another New Companion!

Buenísimas tardes, todos!

This week was full of a bunch of little crazy things. First, President went to Nuevo Laredo this week and brought back packages for all the American missionaries. We ended up getting 48 packages, and he went up there only 3 weeks ago! All the packages go through me to get to their areas, so we had a bit of work to do. There's almost no space in our mail room for all the packages we got. It was crazy.
The three empty shelves are for Nuevo Laredo (President had just taken everything up there, so they were left with nothing) and the Roma and Linares zones, which were having their interviews with the President, so I left those packages out in the main room so that President could take them. They wouldn't have fit, anyway.
Sorry, I normally don't start letters like that. I get overly excited about little random things lately.

I got a shipment of Book of Mormons this week, but they kinda messed up:
We got a BoM in Maya (left) and another in Portuguese (right).

Just kidding, they didn't mess up. A companionship here asked for these Books because they say that they have an investigator who speaks Maya and another who speaks Portuguese, so I got them. It was cool to be able to handle them for a moment, though. Especially with the Maya book, I felt a special spirit with it. The Mayans are probably a huge part of the remnants of the Lamanites, and it's really awesome to see the Gospel being preached to them in their own tongue. I imagine that Maya is related to the languages that were spoken by the Lehites in the Book of Mormon. It's what is super awesome about Mexico, that the Book of Mormon took place here, and that when we preach to the people here, we can say that their ancestors wrote this book and it is directed primarily to them because they are of the House of Israel. It's awesome seeing prophecies being fulfilled. It's also a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church and that God is really behind it, because who strives to translate a work into so many obscure languages like Maya? The fact that the Book of Mormon has been translated into so many languages is a small evidence to me that God is behind this work and that He truly loves all of His children, no matter where they are or what language they speak, and that the message this book contains is really meant for everyone.

So I found out a few days ago that Elder Lopez would be moving this transfer, so his replacement (and my new companion) arrived Saturday to start training. His name is Elder Figueroa, and he's from Cuautla, Morelos, Mexico. We went on divisions with a member (Elder Lopez went with a young elder who just got his mission call to the Puebla South mission, and Elder Figueroa and I went to follow up on some contacts we made over the last couple of days). I have only been here for a few weeks, and I have spent most of that time in the office, so I didn't really get the chance to learn the area very well, so we may have gotten lost a couple of times. We gave out pass along cards to the people who gave us directions, so it wasn't completely lost time. :) Here we are resting at the top of hill we suddenly found ourselves on:
Things got pretty interesting there for a minute. Luckily, we didn't get terribly lost.

The only other interesting thing that happened this week is that the district went to Calle Morelos today as a district activity. Calle Morelos is basically the Monterrey equivalent of City Creek, or basically a great big outdoor mall. The Mexicans ended up buying American shoes and the Americans bought various Mexican things, so it was a productive day.
(L-R, District Leader Elder Hernández, Elder Agla, Elder López, and Elder Figueroa). The sisters showed up late, so they didn't get to be in the picture. ;)

My email is freaking out with all the pictures I'm attaching, so I'll end them now and include them in another email. (FROM CAMILLE: I'LL ADD THEM HERE)
Hermana Baker and I sorting packages.
Only in Mexico will one find little packets of salsa in the bag of apples.
 The Maya book of Mormon speaks Spanish, too!
 Calle Morelos

 I'll end by saying that today was a miraculous week. We found a lot of super interested people, including Norma. She was a reference from the sisters, who met with her a couple of times. She is super awesome! She got cancer a few years ago, and started to feel the need to get baptized. She was going to be baptized in the Catholic Church, but they wouldn't let her because she was only married by the state and not by the church, or something like that, so she kinda became a little cold towards the Catholic Church. A few years later, she felt the need to get baptized again, and she started looking for another church to baptize her, including a Pentecostal church and the Jehovah's Witnesses, and she eventually found the Mormon missionaries. She said that she felt completely different when she was around them, to the point that she told all the other pastors and ministers that she had found the true church and stopped meeting with them. We got about five minutes into our first visit with her, we very briefly mentioned baptism, and she told us about how much she wanted to get baptized. We asked her if she wanted to get baptized on the 26th of August, and she said, "Can I get baptized that soon? Yes!" and she basically invited herself and her entire family to church. She couldn't end up coming because everyone got sick Saturday, but we'll keep visiting her and try again next week. We also got another investigator in church, for the first time in months--the first investigator in the ward that they have seen for months, from what they have told me. Her name is Rosi, and she and her family have been meeting with the missionaries for some time, but have kinda been avoiding progressing. The past few days have given her and her family more incentive to go to church, and I think she finally summoned up enough courage and determination to make it. It was a great meeting!

Also, one last random note. Sunday before yesterday, the ward pianist was out of town, and she was the only person in the ward who plays the piano well enough to play in Sacrament meeting, and so the chapel felt kinda empty and sad without prelude music. I finally asked the bishop if I could play a little bit of prelude (because I didn't know the regular pianist was completely gone from Monterrey), and he said yes, and if I could play the normal hymns, too, they would appreciate it. So I did. After Sacrament meeting, the Primary president came up to me and asked if I could play for the Primary because they haven't had a pianist in a long time. So I did, and it was really awesome getting to sit behind a piano for an hour and play while a bunch of cute Latino kids sang Primary songs at the top of their lungs in the way only a Primary can do.

I guess I didn't mess up badly, because Saturday night, the bishop called and asked if I could play the piano in Sacrament meeting and in Primary again, because the normal pianist was still out of town. That was fun. By the time I stop, I will have relearned all of those Primary songs in Spanish and I will have forgotten all of them in English. Oh, well.

Anyway, this week was crazy, but awesome!

Have fun, wherever you all are! Love you all!

Monday, July 24, 2017

I Kind Of Lost Track of This Week

Buenas tardes, todos!

So I'm not entirely sure what happened last week. I swear I sent an email last week. I think that the Internet demons ate it, because it's not in my drafts folder. Ugh. So I guess I'll just have to remember what happened last week, too, and sum up.

Things in the offices are getting crazy. All the days and all the weeks are blending together, and we never know what day it is. It's just busy. We are getting ready for new missionaries to come in a couple of weeks. We are receiving 6 new missionaries, but 13 are going home at the same time, so we will have to close three areas. That means that once the missionaries leave the house, I have to go there and get all the furniture and things owed by the mission, so that will be fun.

We also received a temporary missionary today. Sister Espinosa lives in Monterrey and her mission is in Barcelona, Spain, but she hasn't gotten her visa yet, so she'll be here until it arrives. It's kinda funny because she was in the MTC in Mexico for three weeks and she just got back to her home city. Also, it's kinda complicated because the transfers in Spain are happening right now, but we are still in the middle of one here, so she came by herself to the mission. It was kind of weird welcoming a new missionary in Week 5 of the transfer. Basically, she is going to hang out with the sisters here in a trio until she gets her visa.

The only other thing I can remember this week was that we had an activity with half of the mission on Friday. The assistants put together a series of activities designed to elevate the spirits of the missionaries and also teach them team-building exercises. It turned out to be a really great activity, and it was really memorable, but for the wrong reasons. You see, as the activity was wrapping up, we all heard a great big crash. We went running towards where the brand-new fountain was installed and arrived at a pile of rubble and a missionary lying in the fountain.
We're still not entirely sure what happened, but the missionary had knocked over the fountain. Miraculously, he wasn't hurt, but it all still scared us. President was naturally not very happy, but the people who installed the fountain said not to worry about it, and that they could install another one.

Other than that, things have just been kinda crazy here. I don't remember much of what happened this week, but it was busy.

Watch this. I'm going to suddenly remember everything that happened this week as soon as I send this email.

Anyway, I love you all. Keep up the good work in the Homeland!

Elder Jakob Schramm
FROM CAMILLE: These are some pictures posted by Sister McArthur from the activity Jakob referred to so I'll share them here. 

I included this one because I think its cute:


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Zone Conferences, BBQ Mexicana, and the Room Formerly Known as the Liddle Bunker

First off, I'd like to wish everyone a Muy Feliz Día de la Independencia Americana. We had to celebrate the Fourth of July, mostly because 2/3 of the office and the mission president and his family are all American. I told you last week about the early Fourth of July BBQ. On Tuesday, we didn't do anything particularly interesting (apparently Mexico doesn't celebrate a US national holiday), but when we were finishing up our work in the office Tuesday night, Elder Harmon and I (the two young American missionaries in the office; the Bakers had already gone home that night) put on the Mormon Channel, which was broadcasting all of the Tabernacle Choir's patriotic music, and we sang the national anthem at the top of our lungs with our good friends in MoTab while we waved around the little American flags we have in the office next to the Mexican ones. Poor Elders Lopez and Enciso kinda had to suffer through our patriotism. Do I feel bad? Nope, (cue music) 'cause I'm Proud to Be an American . . .

The major development of the week is that, as I said in my last email, we had zone conferences all week. Basically I have been trying to get all the pamphlets, books, and other things that each zone needs, get it all packed in boxes, and make sure that each of the 8 zones that had conferences gets their stuff and that I don't mix anything up. It's kinda been taking over this whole week. Luckily, the chaos is over and we'll have a few weeks of peace until we have to start worrying about preparing for the missionaries that are going to come in about 4 weeks.

Today we had a zone activity for P-day. We ended up getting permission from President to watch Moana. It was cool because I and the majority of the missionaries there left for the mission field before it was released so we never had a chance to see it until now. I liked it, especially because it was in Spanish. When I return home and watch it again, it will be like watching it for the first time because it will be in English. Anyway, here is Roma zone in El Cine de las Oficinas (the Office Theater):
We also had a BBQ, because it's BBQ season. A Mexican thing to do with hamburgers is to grill pineapple and add it to the burger. Piña burgers are really good. I dare you all to try it sometime.

The only other thing is that we have been having the What to Name the Room Formerly Known as the Liddle Bunker Naming Contest. I have received numerous suggestions, and they actually all were the same. So, without further ado, I'd like to present the Room Now Known as the Schramm Cram. It is tradition to place a sign on the door with its official name. It's also really fun having people say, "Hey, can you run to the Cram and get this thing for me?"

Anyway, I think that that's about all for this week. Here's to a great (and hopefully less crazy) next week!
P.S. I included this picture because Cerro de la Silla is super awesome. It reminds me of Lone Peak back at home. There's even a temple at the foot of this iconic mountain! It's just like Draper. I'm so glad I have mountains again.

Elder Jakob Schramm

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Office

So we finally finished all the stuff for transfers. That was crazy.

We got our five new missionaries their trainers. We knew that Elder Garcia would be training but we didn't find out who until Tuesday morning. Once we found out who he was, we were all excited. I feel like an uncle now or something. :) I'd like you all to meet Elder Mondragón, who will be taking my place in Nuevo Laredo. We're all excited for everyone!

 The rest of the week was filled with updating things and getting ready for zone conferences next week, so I've been busy tracking down all the zone leaders and asking them what their zones need in materials. I also attended my first leadership meeting on Friday. All of the zone leaders got together in the chapel by the offices and we discussed mission things. It was a little intimidating because I've never been a leader before-- not even senior companion or anything. And now all of a sudden all of the zone leaders are looking to me for direction. I didn't really know what to expect! It was a little scary, but I don't think I messed up too badly.

We also closed two houses. This generation, 8 people went home, but only 5 new missionaries came in to replace them, so we had more houses than companionships. Elder Lopez and I went with the Bakers in a mission van and gathered up all of the materials that the missionaries had left behind. The fridge and the washing machine were particularly fun to carry. We basically just loaded as much stuff in this Honda minivan, collected the deposit, dropped off the keys, then dumped everything in the warehouse where we store all of the big mission furniture. It was a fun day. It reminded me of all the days I helped the elders' quorum move people in and out of houses. The assistants went with a member to close another house.

We ended up with three boxes of loose materials (pamphlets, pass-along cards, and other little things outside of their packages). We will probably just give them out to random missionaries that pass by the office, or we may use them in our own area. All I know is that we aren't going to run out of cards for a little while.

The big stuff like the furniture and the bulk of the materials that we order are kept in a warehouse on the side of the offices. We call it the Bodega (because "bodega" is Spanish for "warehouse". Clever, I know). There is a door behind my desk that leads to a little room where we keep some of the materials. In Elder Liddle's days, it was called the Liddle Bunker. In the days of Elder Lyon, the secretary before him, it was called the Lyon's Den. Since I have to continue the tradition, and because my name doesn't easily play into any clever puns, I'm kinda in a pickle. If any of you have any super clever names for a storage room that ties into "Schramm", I am anxious to hear them.

Anyway, the purpose of all that ranting was to show a picture of the Room Formerly Known As the Liddle Bunker. Please note the three boxes of loose materials that are cluttering the otherwise nicely organized space.  There's also a rather large package for a missionary that can't fit on our little mail shelf. When I have a little time (ha!) I'll organize things a little.

Right now I'm busy getting all the materials ready for zone conferences this week. Eight of the ten zones in the mission are going to have conferences over the next four days, and I have to get them all their materials ready for when President goes there. We're also going to return to Nuevo Laredo on Friday to help one of the companionships move into a different house, so this next week is going to be chaotic--I mean fun.

The only other thing that happened this week was that we had an early Forth of July celebration with the office staff and President and Sister McArthur. We made American food (ribs, potato salad, and deviled eggs), which was very well received by everyone, including the Mexicans, Elders Enciso and Lopez. We should eat American food more often. We also celebrated Elder Enciso's and Sister Baker's birthdays, which will be tomorrow. Sadly, it's against mission rules to shoot fireworks, so this may be a rather dull Forth of July. I'll still find a way to celebrate it, even all the way down here in México.

Anyway, that's all for this week. Thanks for everything: the love, prayers, letters, and support in many other ways. I truly feel your love all the way out here.

Love you all!

Elder Jakob Schramm