Thursday, December 10, 2015

Elder Saunooke's 12/8/15

Last pday we got to finally get out of the CCM and we took care of our visa stuff. It was the best thing in the world because we got to drink Coke which they do not sell at the CCM. We also dont get to drink coke in our mission so it was a celebrated experience. We also had the largest tie trade that I have seen since arriving here. There were a good 40 elders there, and I have realized that I have a deep appreciation and love for skinnier ties because wider ties look terrible with short sleeve shirts.

The next day (Friday) marked one month being in the CCM. We met our new investigator who also doubles as another teacher and she served in our mission!!! She said she loved it and cried when she was forced to sleep in a bed again. She said I will be a giant there. I talked to her for a good half hour completely in spanish, and found out that in our mission everyone shares water from a well and sometimes you can literally see parasites swimming in the water. oh joy. I was chosen as the demonstration investigator for the coaching lesson and I had both of my teachers playing the role of missionaries. I always am chosen to play the role of the investigator, but I really like that because the reason I am always chosen is because my teacher thinks my spanish is pretty decent... at least that´s what I tell myself.

The only thing that got really exciting the next day was that I learned how to tie the Eldredge knot. It would have been a feeling of great accomplishment, except some teacher who isnt even our teacher walked in and saw us practicing, and blew up on us, and proceeded to tell us that if we tied that knot and violated dress standards we would not be blessed with the gift of tongues.... wow talk about a spiritual lady hahaha. I was still proud of myself though and I will definitely be adding that knot to my list of skills picked up on the mission.

Sunday was great, and it was our first fast sunday. In mexico they fast the dinner before and breakfast, and then break it for lunch. It was definitely easier than I thought it was going to be though. We had a devotional by Jeffrey R. Holland and of course it was straight fuego. He spoke about the role of the Holy Ghost in teaching, and shared the scripture about if ye have not the spirit ye shall not teach. Until his talk, I had never looked at that as a commandment, merely as a promise... The christmas devotional was great and I loved hearing Carol of the Bells. It has always been a favorite of mine. Elder Bednar´s talk about Christ´s birth literally saving thousands in the America´s who believed in him was so inspirational.

Yesterday was very cold and I definitely brought a blanket to our evening language study. We got our flight plans and we leave at 2:30 am on monday morning. I will deeply miss the friends I have made here, but I am so excited to finally serve my mission. 

Today we had the opportunity to attend the Mexico City temple and it is absolutely gorgeous. I loved having the chance to hear a session in spanish, and to see so many missionaries around me. I felt the help of the savior during the session because I didnt even struggle with even though I havent been through many times and it was in another language. This week I have been thinking a lot about Papa and how he loved the Mexican people and culture. I will always remember dinner at Mi Pueblo and how he loved mexican food. I firmly believe that he will be coming with me to Mérida.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Saunooke

Monday, December 7, 2015

Elder Saunooke's 12/3/15 - New PDay This week!

The days here are honestly really starting to fly and to blend together. I definitely have trouble remembering what we do during the day and I feel like my journal entries are getting progessively shorter and shorter because its more of the same thing every day. On Wednesday last week we had another TRC and we taught this guy who was a member and he had his 12 year old son with him who happened to be wearing a star wars shirt in anticipation of the new movie. Needless to say, many an elder expressed their wishes to see that movie haha. After TRC it straight poured and of course our classroom was the absolute farthest away. We met the new district who replaced 7B who just left our zone, and I convinced them I was from Australia and kept it up for three days. The poor kids even wrote home to their families that they met some kid from Sydney. Shout out to you Nana for being the reason I went there and for being the reason I can pull off the best australian accent known to man and back it up with details. I even went as far as making up a fake boarding school and street address. The look on their faces was priceless when I finally dropped the bomb on them that I am actually from Idaho. We sang to them Divina Luz which in english is Lead Kindly Light, and it was so good. I think it definitely helps that our hermanas sing like angels so they make us look good.

Thanksgiving was a pretty good day. To be honest one of the things I was grateful for was not having to clean up tons of dishes this year... I know I am a real winner huh?;) We got to watch a devotional by Elder Oaks and his wife which was good but not my favorite honestly... picture an hour long musical number by his grandchildren and maybe five minutes of speaking. At dinner the new district was curious how my "Australian accent" affected my spanish and it took every fiber of my being not to bust up when saying the missionary objective in spanish in an australian accent.

The next few days were very uneventful so I am going to skip to Sunday. We heard from the coolest guy ever who is the Director here at the MTC. He is super white and looks like he is maybe 25 but he is probably early thirties. He served his mission in Chile and is now a bishop here in mexico city. He focused his talk on not having our attachment to the past out weigh our confidence in God´s plan for us in the future. He talked about Lot´s wife and how she was reluctant to let go of the past. He then jokingly talked about wondering if she turned into a pillar of salt that cows like, or like more of a sandy sea salt kinda thing. He shared a Jeffrey R. Holland quote, "give me your heart, and I´ll give you my power, and we´ll change the world." He also talked about how the Pharisees and the Herodians were only united in their hatred of Christ. They devised a way to trick him, by asking if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, knowing that either way he answered would condemn him. Christ in his infinite wisdom answered by asking whose image was on the coin, and then said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar´s". Not going to lie, I especially liked this lesson because RDJ uses that quote in the first Iron Man. He then said that this was especially a magnificently worded question because the word image was used to denote the image of man, and also reference to the ten commandments. He then asked us what we need to render unto God in order to be successful missionaries.
He finished by sharing a poem that goes kinda like this...
Come to the edge he said
No we´ll fall
Come to the edge he said
No we´ll fall
Come to the edge he said
We came to the edge, and he pushed us

My whole district with the exception of three of us have been deathly ill this week. My companion was sick and so we missed one of the devotionals the other night and stayed home. Being the freak I am, I proceeded to disinfect every surface in the casa. For anyone who has seen the movie the Aviator, I honestly dont think It would be much of a stretch for me to end up like howard hughes sometimes...

For my companions birthday we had a sick service project. We decorated a Christmas tree! Elder Griffin in 7C tried to teach my the eldredge knot, but without any success.... I think that is how you know you have made it as a missionary... when you can tie that knot. 

Love you all,
Elder Saunooke

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What a Difference a Week Makes!!

Wow has this week been so much better. I think that since we started having gym time every day, time has started to fly by and it is so much better. Not that I like to be the bragging type, but I definitely feel cool that I have been nicknamed volleyball and am the best player in the entire gym. I wonder if its how LeBron James feels in the NBA. Not that I am amazing by any means, but not many people know how to play hahaha!
On Sunday I blessed the sacrament for the first time in months! And on top of that, it was in Spanish! And on top of THAT... I only had to do it once! I definitely feel that my spanish is improving, and I can´t wait to see where I will be in two years. My District met this guy from Merida yesterday and he said everyone speaks Mayan. He taught us some Mayan phrases...#trilingual
I actually love the weather here in Mexico City. The CCM is actually a beautiful place especially considering how I occasionally view it as a giant prison for the church. It is a good place don´t get me wrong, but the barb wire fences, and the whole never getting outside the walls things sells my metaphor. Oh and if you have the hook up with the chef Esteban in the kitchen, he gives you some treats... metaphor continued.
One thing that has really switched my attitude from the first week is learning to view my mission as a once in a lifetime learning experience. It is a bit like what I picture it what be like going to college at Harvard or Yale. The days are long and jam packed with constant gospel and language study. I have grown to have an attitude of excitement for how much of this gospel I am learning and how much I will be able to learn over the next two years. There is so much to learn and I like the challenge. I read the book of Moses the other day in class and I really enjoyed studying an area of scripture that I did not know very well. I absolutely love this scripture I found in Moses 7:13. Änd so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of lions was heard out of the wilderness, and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. I hope that as I progress in my knowledge of this Gospel and knowledge of the Spanish language that I will be able to speak the word of God with great power.
We had a stress management class the other day that was literally a joke. We ran a mini relay for a total of 2 mins and went inside and looked at cartoon missionaries with worried looks on their face...umm  ok? Really the problem with the CCM is not stress, but rather being tired all of the time. Everyday is full of work and so when every hour is maximized to the fullest, you literally crave bed time.
Sunday was absolutely awesome! Elder Andersen in our zone is an opera singer and he did a musical number in our devotional meeting. We also got to meet with Lane Steinagel who oversees 8 MTCs and is over the language department. He was straight fire with his talk. He was one of the original writers of the PMG manual and wrote the original Learn the Language chapter in PMG. He served his mission in the islands speaking Maori, and he was a mission president in Ukraine. He is completely fluent in 4 languages, and speaks many others very well. Hermana Giles in our district had the courage to ask him to come eat at our table, and we talked with him for a good hour. He was very inspirational, and it was a wonderful experience. 
Yesterday was actually a very good day as well. It started off kind of bad because my companion and I did not realize we had a class and may or may not have been 30 mins late... But on a good note we have the casa closest to all the noise and music of the city. It literally never sleeps and mexico traffic makes NYC seem like a kid´s playground with constant fireworks and sirens. This close proximity is a good thing why you ask? Because after gym time, what song should we hear? Wildest dreams by none other than the beautiful Taylor Swift. It was a wonderful moment.
Our service project was folding sheets in the back of the giant laundry mat in the CCM. While walking I ended up talking a ton to our zone leader Elder Sturdevant who I absolutely love, about guitar because he plays too! We talked about john mayer and playing patterns and all kinds of cool stuff. His district 7B leaves next week and I will miss them a ton. Oh and also I had David Archuleta´s sister pick out a journal for me from the tienda so it´s whatever.
We started our new investigator teaching yesterday and it is pretty fun actually. It is amazing how much spanish I actually know and it is cool to be able to use the how to begin teaching points found in Predicad mi Evangelio. 
I have decided the role I would like to work on fulfilling in our district is the role of the peacemaker. I have been blessed it seems like with an extra heightened sense of calm and love for the members of my district, and I am trying to help us have better unity and to not get upset with each other. We are here to learn to love all of God´s children and I kept having the scripture "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of god" run through my head. 
On a separate note, if Jesus the Christ isn´t exactly your cup of green tea, try reading it in James Spader´s Ultron voice... It makes it way more fun.
Asi mi concluyo mi epístola. 
Btw that phrase is found at the end of Alma 60 and reads and thus I close mine epistle. Basically the Captain Moroni way of *drops mic
Love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week:)
Elder Saunooke

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First Week - Mexico MTC

Hey Mom and Everyone who will get this email!! I must first apologize for how this email will look because the mexican keyboards are not the most user friendly!

Where to begin... The first day here was so unbelievably hard. I honestly can say that the moment I stepped off of the plane in Mexico city I thought about getting on a plane right back. I had originally flown from boise with Elder Lake to LA where we walked a mile and a half to our terminal. It was a short time later that we realized that I wouldnt be on the same flight. I was the only one on my plane who was going to the CCM Centro de Capacitacion. When I was in line for an hour and a half for customs I ran into another Elder named Elder Langhi and he is Tongan. I could have sworn it was Wuki but he is about a foot taller haha! He is a very cool kid and we were instant friends. I keep running into people that remind me of my friends. While waiting for the bus to the Mtc I met Elder Graves who shares his birthday with me!! He is a stud! He reminds me of Jayson Wild hahhaa and he is going to Juarez. I also met a girl who I swear on first glance was Erin Todd. Hermana Schroeder is her name and It honestly took me a sec to realize it was not Erin. I think that the Lord has been blessing me in this way by allowing me to meet people that remind me of the good influences I have had in my life.

The first week in the CCM is hell week. The Elders say there are three phases to your mission. The first three days, the 6 weeks in the ccm, and finally the remainder of the two years. I definitely did not have Dads experience with the mtc where I was instantly in love. For the first few days i felt moments of despair and hopelessness honestly mingled occasionally with the spirit. I kept asking myself why I made this decision and i kept coming back to the fact that no matter what it is a commandment and I will obey commandments. I also realized the kind of person i will become after this mission. Every day has about 12 hours of studying spanish or the gospel. I have never felt so humbled in my life. Everyone always says oh my gosh you know so much, you will be great. When in reality you can never truly appreciate the difficulty of serving a mission and leaving home until you go. This last week I have felt that God has let me sink beneath the water and just before i drown i am pulled up for air by his hand.

God has blessed me with the greatest companion I could have ever asked for!!! His name is Elder Lambert and he is a Hawaiian kid from Flagstaff Arizona! He looks like and reminds me of Tristan Strickland and his personality is a combination of me and Adam Petersen. So needless to say I love the guy! We taught our first lesson for a half hour two days after arriving here and it was so so so terrible. It is very frustrating to try and learn a new language and with the exception of Elder Medina our district leader who has his first language be spanish, I speak it the best and it is still very diffficult. I used to always think I wanted nothing but a foreign mission and I got exactly what I prayed for but i have definitely thought of the idea of being an english speaking elder in salt lake sounds pretty dang exciting! I have envy for those returning to the States.But I am also excited to make it to my area which I report to on December 14. My district is made up of 6 elders and 2 hermanas. All of us Elders are going to Merida!!!! We have the largest group of kids going to the same mission.

I have realized i did not pack nearly as much as i need. Some things that would have been nice to have are in the following list...hangars, floss, antipersperant deoderant what the heck why do i just have regular kind, gel body wash instead of bars, an alarm clock, a laundry bag, more underarmour socks, consecrated oil vial, a journal for notes instead of just journal keeping, and many other things haha. Also I have no clue how dad didnt keep a journal because i write in mine every night to keep me sane. The food here is not so great, and there are times it feels like a prison haha. The days feel like weeks but the weeks feel like days. I already know this is the hardest thing I have ever done and its not even been a week.

The days do continue to get better though. My spanish is improving and in our second investigator lesson Elder Lambert and I rocked it and the spirit was so strong! Our third lesson we taught we didnt even prepare a lesson and we still did great and committed her to baptism! We get along great and are very much alike.Our zone is awesome!!! We have one elder named elder matthews who claims to spit game at all the hermanas including our own celebrity hermana David Archuletas sister who happens to be here. She is quite popular. One of the guys in my district Elder fuller has actually made pretty good friends with her and he has never kissed a girl and is a bigger guy with glasses who doesnt seem necessarily the ladies man type. He is awesome just not what you would think she would go for. My conclusion to this Analysis is that Elder Fuller is Albert Brenneman from Hitch,

I miss my family so much!!! I read those letters you guys wrote all the time. The other day I was especially thinking about ansley... Please send as many pictures to me as you can.

Sunday was absolutely fantastic. We met with our branch president Presidente Alvaro who is one of my favorite people ever. he radiates the spirit and light of Christ. He always shakes with his left hand and then gives a hug to the left so that we are heart to heart. He is ridiculously stylish too I swear he could be a Martinez. He is a stud and he helps me feel the spirit. On sunday I had the realization that the reason this is so hard is because I am literally in the Refiners Fire. If this was a book I would title this chapter, Out of Meridian and into the Refiners Fire... hobbit pun intended. We also got to watch a movie sunday night boo ya!!

I feel happier each day and have less moments of darkness. I know the adversary work very hard on missionaries. He makes them feel more homesick than you can imagine. I also know the lord loves the missionaries and helps them to feel this love. We watched a devotional by Elder Bednar in which he repeated over 20 times the words, You Can Do This.

I have been thinking of how much respect I have for my missionary friends. It is hard. So hard. But I believe it will be so worth it.

I love you all, and think of you all the time. I want to hug my mom desperately and have no shame in saying I miss my mommy. Dads letter to me helped me so much the first night and i have so much respect for him serving a two year mission. 

Love, Elder Saunooke