Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Elder Saunooke 1/18115

What a crazy week! We had a zone meeting on Tuesday that was really good to attend and hear the words of our Zone Leaders. They shared some things that I had honestly not thought of before. They bore their testimonies that we as missionaries literally have authority to receive revelation for our areas and that in addition, though it may not seem like it at first, everyone has the desire to be baptized because every one chose to come to earth and follow Gods Plan. This was very good for me because I sometimes have a disconnect with my purpose here like that I am in Tixkokob because I was called by a prophet of God to be here, and that I have the authority to call upon heavenly revelation. Not because I dont believe that its true, simply because I had never considered what that truly means. We placed a book of Mormon with our bus driver friend who teaches us mayan, and had a little mini lesson on the way to our meeting. We had this amazing experience with teaching at this house that is forevveeeerrrr away from us. We had gone there already like 5 times, and we dont even know the house or people, and nobody is ever there and to be perfectly honest, I didnt want to go. We taught a 23 year old girl who lives there and we felt the spirit very strongly. She loves english and is trying to learn, so that also helped my case, and she couldnt believe that my spanish is as good as it is for only having so little time here. I know that any gift of language I have is from God. She was also amazed that we serve every day all day away from our families for two years, and that we dont really have time for ourselves. 
We went to the Castillo family house after, and we had the chance to watch Mormons v. Gangsters and it was so nice to hear so much english! I also had two moments where I thought of my siblings this day... I heard the song How firm a Foundation which made me think of Cole when we were listening to general conference in the house, and also I heard the Hum which reminded me of watching the Scorch Trials with Lins. I sure do love my family.

The next day we walked...and walked... and walked some more. I think we walked about ten miles total. Everyone was inside because it was cold, and I think sleeping because the city was dead. The no sun thing was a blessing though. But Disney has nothing on Tixko for walking.

The next day we taught a lesson in English! It was a reference of newly baptized Don Pich and the guy is 80 years old. He is so humble and so faithful and never worries or complains about anything in life because he Knows God will take care of him. Poor Don Pich didnt understand a word (welcome to my life pal) and slept the whole time hahaha!

Ansley´s Birthday! Today was so weird. We taught Liset again (23 year old) and we helped clarify some of her questions and gave her some trustworthy internet resources. We taught our last lesson of the night and... ate fox. Thats right making my ancestors proud.... It was not exactly my favorite... or the best for the stomach.  We also had a very scary experience in our home. I got up to go find my lotion and as soon as I stepped out of the room, I had the most evil, dark presence, Pandora´s box scary feeling. When I came back and couldnt shake it, I asked Elder Nolasco how he felt. He responded... Well kind of weird... I feel like there is something really dark and scary in our house. We both kinda freaked a bit. We called our ZL and he said to say a prayer... wish I had thought of that lol. We said a prayer and it was one of the most direct prayers I have ever said. We also sang a hymn, and that helped too. I kept picturing the savior in the middle of our room shining brighter than the sun at midday and I dont think I have ever been so grateful for the light that shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. 

The next morning, I had a little mini dance party. Our neighbors blasted american songs, and I was definitley dancing to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.  We also had the sketchiest meal for lunch... We couldnt figure out what it was until we realized we both had half of a head on our plate... Pretty dang sure it was iguana. The sister said it was chicken when I asked her, but she was laughing the whole time.... yeah dont trust you sorry. After my companion was like, no way that thing had a snout!

The next day was so cool! We have a new chapel and it is literally the most beautiful building in Tixko. We had like 45 people in attendance including the stake president. We brought our 80 year old investigator, and I feel so cool to say I am the first missionary to pass the sacrament and offer the closing prayer in the new Tixkokob building. We even have a piano! Not that anyone knows how to sing along with one, or really sing period, but hey they try hard and as loud as they can. I actually understood everything in church too! but as time and time again has shown, every time I think I can understand spanish, God winds up with a humble curve ball... That night when we went to the branch pres house, I understood literally nothing. I was really feeling depressed honestly, and then something strange happened. Hermana Lupe came over to talk to us, and since my companion was doing phone reports, it was just me. I normally dont like talking with her a lot because she talks for everrrr... But I was really trying to forget about myself and listen to her words. As I focused on how she felt, I realized I had no time to focus on how I felt. I also had the chance to dedicate the Castillo home, and although I dont know if I even did it right, It was still a great opportunity, and practice to listen to the words of the spirit.

In addition, we have a conference for the missionaries around the world this week and I am super excited! 

Love you all and hope you have a great week!°
Elder Jordan Saunooke

Elder Saunooke 1/11/15

To start off.. Happy Birthday Ansley!!! I love you tons and I wish that you could read my emails too, and that I could see you! I cant believe you are turning the age of the number of years I will be gone... it blows my mind. What also blows my mind is that this day marks 4 weeks in the field. Marrrrreee... 
I have learned to really love personal study time. My favorite story of all time I think is one I found while reading Our Search for happiness. It is an account of Elder Melvin J Ballard and a dream that he had. He was able to meet the savior in his dream, and he describes the feeling he had in the dream as so great that if he could have it again, he would sacrifice everything to feel that way. If you are not familiar with it, look it up cuz it rocks. Also thanks to seminary with Bro Smith, my all time favorite quote is the Standard of Truth by Joseph Smith. The standard of truth has been errected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage. Mobs may combine, armies may assemble, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent. Til it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear. Til the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehova shall say the work is done. I love to think of what Joseph Smith looked like while giving this quote. I would feel so cool if I was him at that moment. Totally random but I always picture the speech by bane about the government when reading that quote, and it is my goal this week to memorize it in spanish. Which by the way my spanish is improving a lot! I have also developed a love for the Book of Mormon and I think it is so cool that I am serving literally where Christ visted in the Book of Mormon, and when you tell people here that they are filled with such joy and pride. They dont have much but that is so cool to them, and to me as well. I have come to learn that the church exists in a poor chapel with concrete floors and 25 people in attendance with no air conditioning, and is JUST AS TRUE. Also I read a story entitled A summer with Great Aunt Rose and it reminded me of Nana Nancy. It is about this girl who goes to spend the summer with her great aunt who lives all alone, but loves nature and is always smiling. 
This week it has rained almost every day, and the Yucatecos think it is freezing because it is only like 75 degrees...you mean perfect? I have literally had hot chocolate twice this week... and hamburgers!! How awesome is that?I have also discovered that the best thing ever is the Panaderia where there is fresh bread every day for basicallly nothing. There is a huge more expensive one en el centro, but the best one is this little tiny wouldnt even know it exists one in this house that is right next to where many of our investigators live, so it is safe to say we take a few detours. 

We visited Don Pich and told him about these people that hide behind bushes and throw rocks at us at night sometimes, also sometimes firecrackers, and he grabbed this stick from his trizy taxi and started swinging it around imitating what he would do to them! Picture Rafiki from the lion king and you have basically got it. Also when we were at his house he was stroking one of his many cats and while it was sleeping on him, he was taking its hind leg and saying how good it was gonna taste... thats right he eats his cats. I couldnt help but think of Gollum in the Hobbit when he was asking himself if Frodo was tasty...pobre gato.

I also ate cow liver this week. My companion cooked it up and we seasoned it with oranges... mexicans dont believe in letting fruits reach their full potential colors so it was more like greens.We have been talking to a less active who was baptized a year ago Leo Naál and sometimes he just speaks straight mayan but I can actually understand when he speaks spanish! He has a very strong testimony of the BOM and loves loves loves Joseph Smith and the restoration, but has struggles with the word of wisom. He said he wants us to visit him every day so he can feel the spirit and closer to God, and he told us that the people here dont know anything, but we know so much as the lord´s teachers and can help so many here. He also is the only person here who has a handshake like iron. It like breaks your hand haha.

Also after one of the times it rained, we saw this dog marking his territory, and my companion was like do you see this rain? That is God marking his territory hahahaa l love him, he is hilarious. I am not going to lie, I hate mosquitoes so much and would love to be able to sleep the night through just once...it is very difficult to sleep the night through in a hammock and I average maybe 6 hours a night of sleep...but it is a small price to pay.

I hope you all have a great week, and I love you tons!
Elder Jordan Saunooke

Elder Saunooke 1/4/15 - FIRST BAPTISM!

This week was a Little crazy because I had two splits this week, and one time with the Zone Leaders. The first time was with Elder Quintana and we met him and Elder Medina in 7/11 and it felt so nice and air conditioned. We had carne asada at a members house, and we got to sit on a couch! They have a daughter who is leaving on her misión in February and it is weird to think that she will still be home before me hahaha. We then walked like 4 miles to to the very end of this dirt road to teach a contact and it went very well. She has faith in Christ and wants to change but doesnt think she can because she has mental sicknesses. It was a great opportunity to teach what I learned in capacitación about taking upon ourselves the yoke of Christ. We then walked to a members house to use the bathroom and he DROVE us to our next appointment, thats right we had a car trip. We met this guy who was baptized last year Hermano Vicente who looks like and reminds me a lot of Papa. To be even more strange he has two metal knees, and is wife died of cáncer last year. He loves to joke, and he kept asking if cigars and vodka were good for your health, but he has hearing aids so we had to shout at him to be able to talk. He has been praying for his wife who is in heaven right now, and thanks to my dad, I knew just where to turn to in the book of Alma to read about where his wife currently is... in a state of Paradise.  Also while riding in the van to Mèrida earlier that day, I Heard the song play that funky music and couldnt not picture Dad dancing to it.

The next day I went to the doctors office...again. My foot still has not healed and I still have a hole in the bottom of it. We spent most of the day with the Castillo family, which is basically our favorite house, and we spent the day with them and two other Ward members. We then went to cut Don Pich`s hair for the baptism and that guy is such a carácter. He put a fake cucaracha on me and scared the crap out of me. He also told me that he has a cat named Saunooke and kept asking where Saunooke was. My companion made the mistake of giving him his improvised tattoo machine pen, and I made the mistake of not paying attention and my poor left leg paid the Price. That night we had like zero plans, but the weirdest thing happened. That morning we found a farewell postcard for an Elder who left like 2 years ago, and while in the centro that night, we found him! He had just come back for the first time in two years! Elder Christian Price. We walked with him to a members house, and then we went again to the Castillo family, and then with branch president Garcia. President Garcia fed us, and then the Castillo family drove us home, that makes two car rides in one week! next thing you know I will experience air conditioning.

The next day we had splits again and this time with the ZLs. While walking the first part of the day, we ran into this drunk guy (everyone was drunk new years day) and he tried to give the gringo (me) weed and then dropped this fire cracker thing that practically burst my ear drum and I couldnt hear very well for a few hours.  We found a new investigator because her brother was drunk and she hates the way he acts when he is drunk and was very happy to listen to our message of true change. The zone leaders have the worst house ever and Elder Larsen`s hammock left my butt maybe 3 inches off the ground so I opted to sleep on the floor.

We went to the stake center the next morning to fill up the baptismal Font and I got to play the song A River Flows in You because the other Zone Leader Elder Torres whom I was with, has a copy.  I read the special life edition of Richard G. Scott in the Liahona and if you havent read it, you should. He served a misión for three years in uruguay, and is from Idaho. Sound kinda familiar? He was excellent with spanish and id be willing to bet his living circumstances all those years ago in uruguay were not that great, so that is a major example to me. He was also sealed in the temple just two weeks after getting back home. My companion was starving so we went to Lil Caesar`s  and we met a member family who was jamming out to some Mambo Number 5...yes please.
We picked up Don Pich and headed back to Mèrida for his baptism. It was a 3 person combined baptism and Elder Medina and I both had our first baptisms on Saturday! It only took me one time, and Don Pich was practically glowing he was so happy. It was a perfect day and the weather was like 70 degrees.

Sunday was really low key, except for the fact that at our lunch appointment the kid of the member family peed on my companions backpack. He turned to me and said I dont like childs hahahah I laughed so hard.

Love you all,
Elder Saunooke         

Elder Saunooke 12/28/15

So I think I will just start with Christmas Eve. We were in Mérida almost the entire week for training with the 8 fundamentals on how to begin teaching. It was so awesome. We were there for Christmas Eve and one of the elders that was leading one of the fundamental lessons had us all get up and sing Book of Mormn stories! Talk about a throwback. It felt really good to sing that song again. I got the chance to teach with Elder Acosta who is going home in 5 weeks. He said that once you get to his stage, you dont want to go home. I hope to one day feel as confident in the mission field as he does. He didnt speak very loudly but when he taught the spirit was so strong and as we were teaching I was able to speak more spanish because the spirit was present. I met an Elder who was born in my area of Tixkokob but is from Hermiston, Oregon! And thanks to Moises and volleyball tournaments I actually know where that is! His name is Elder Santos and he is fluent in English and Spanish... lucky. I really wanted to be taught by the senior AP Elder Ferreira to see how he teaches in action, and I got my wish granted... the very last practice haha! It is cool to see someone who has mastered the language, and the gospel. These guys are such great examples to me, and for what I want to one day become. President Garcia left his blessing upon us that we can become the most effective and best missionaries that we can become. So here´s to hoping for fluency... 
Best part... huge Christmas package! It was funny to see the pictures of the catholic virgin Mary taped on the side to protect it from the mail service. Good ol Catholics watching out for the Mormons.
Christmas was absolutely awesome! My mommy got me our own little tree to have with decorations! My companion made pancakes for breakfast and we got to eat ham and bread and jalapeños at Jose Vasques house! Jalapeños have actually become sweet to me... We couldnt skype or call in Tixkokob because almost no technology exists where we live, so we got permission to go to Mérida! We had the chance to skype and call at an investigator´s house and she is an angel. She served a mission for 23 years for her church, and has dedicated her life to God. Two years seemed like nothing after that. She is from Brazil but she knows Spanish and English, as well as Portugese! She fed us and even gave us an extra hammock to sleep in. We stayed at Elder Medina and Elder Quintanna´s house because they live like three houses down from their investigators house. Right across the street from them live 5 RMs!!! How cool is that!? At Elder Medina and Quintanna´s house there is a football and it felt so good to throw a football hahah! Even though we had to walk about 8 miles, take a bus standing with about 30 other people for 40 minutes, a taxi, and then walk some more to talk to our families... it was definitely a great Christmas.

The next best thing to talk about is Don Pich. We went to go pick him up in the morning for church, and we even had a shirt and tie to give him, but he was not home. He showed up to church second hour, and we gave him his shirt and tie. He had the biggest grin on his face. My companion told him that if he wore it, nobody would recognize him, and soon after he put them on, President Garcia (of the branch) walked up and called him Hermano. He was tickled pink because he thought he had fooled everyone there and doesn´t realize that we call everyone hermano. He has a baptismal date for this saturday because it is finally the new year! He has this weird mayan superstition that its bad luck to do things on odd number years! He wants me to baptize him, so if all goes well, after saturday I will have my first baptism! We taught him again last night, and while Elder Nolasco was coordinating things on the phone for his baptism, Don Pich kept leaning ovver to me and trying to discreetly ask what he was doing... I love him hahaha.
I also love you all, and I hope you have a great week!
Elder Saunooke

This is my favorite picture so far! Elders Saunooke & Nolasco & Don Pich 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Elder Saunooke 12/22/15

Hello everyone! Sorry for being so depressing last week... one hour of sleep more or less in 48 hours, combined with the climate of Hell was not a good combination. Today is better.

To start off let me just say that the day we first got here I was so excited. I fell in love with Merida the insant I saw it. We had lunch at Presidente Garcias house and his wife made tons of food. I ate so many waffles, and it was wonderful. His house is in a very nice area, and my first impression of Merida was kinda what I pictured Florida and Cuba combined to look like. A cold day here is about 90 degrees with one hundred percent humidity. My companion is from Sinaloa, Mexico and speaks very rapidly. He also knows a lot of english thankfully because otherwise life would really suck. This week has been a very humbling experience as I realize I dont really know much about anything... I have so much to learn about this Gospel and how to teach it, and even more to learn about how to teach in spanish. At first this was very discouraging but I have come to view this as an exciting opportunity. I know that by serving a mission, I will be one million times the person I was when I left in all aspects of life. I keep thinking of the Count of Monte Cristo where Edmund Dantes is in prison being taught by the abbe Faria. I am reminded frequently of the scene where he is being whipped, but while he is being whipped he is repeating mathematical measurements and calculations in italian. Though I do not have it nearly that bad, the living quarters of most places here arent much different. I did find out however that Ryan Gosling has visited here before, so basically I will be Ryan Gosling someday. 

The next day we went to the temple. This was cool because I was really feeling down, and they only do temple trips four times a year, and I just happened to be here on one of those days. The bad news is that in order to make it to the temple on time, we had to leave at 4:30 am. We did not eat until 3:30 that afternoon but we did have Los Trompos pizza! I used the atm for the first time and got my two weeks allowance. We get 750 pesos every two weeks which is around 50 US dollars. That night I met Jose Vasquez who is one of the coolest people ever. He makes hammocks for his job, and he let me try about 20 different hammocks. 

I am not going to lie the living conditions here are hard. Our shower is a barrel of water with an empty cool whip container, and AC is unheard of. We have one frying pan with one burner to cook things, and a fridge as the extent of our kitchen. Toilet seats do not exist in Tixkokob.

The next day sucked. I set a mission record for number of mosquito bites. 97 bites in two days. I had over 70 on my right arm alone. I thought I might have gotten sick from it because I could have sworn I felt a sickness pulsing in my blood. That day we ate mariscos and we had some sort of shrimp pico and lisa fish with tortillas... you can see the eye of the fish but it was actually very good. And of course habeñeros... everything here has habeñeros. I ate jalepeños the other day and they tasted sweet to me after all the spice. I was told by Hermana Garcia that if I ate habeñeros more often that my spanish would improve faster so of course I have been eating them like crazy The best part of this day was teaching an investigator who owns her own coffee shop. She made us piña coladas for free that were ice cold, and if you dont know me, piña coladas are the way to my heart. 

The next day I hit an all time low. I had so many bites that I went to the doctor... and got a shot... in my butt. Terribly painful. We had lunch with the Branch presidents wife who also happens to be Garcia, and it was like eating in the jungle. There was a thatched roof and a panther carved out of coconut. I met the funniest guy ever that night and his name is Don Piche. He drives the trizzy taxis (nacho libre mobile) and he speaks a lot of mayan. He cant read, but he was so amazed when we showed him a picture of the Salt Lake Temple and how big it is. We also met a drunk guy in the centro and he originally stopped us and asked us for money in english. I lied and said I barely spoke english haha which clearly is not true but he was putting his arm around me and trying to bring me towards him so I needed to come up with something quick.Turns out he lived in canada for 8 months and so he can speak a bit.. He is actually kind of one of our investigators now..

Skip forward to meeting the Primary president. She has the cutest little boy ever, the kind of kid I can see Nana falling in love with and his name is Jarrett. He can say my name better than anyone in Tixkokob and he is only four. We ate with her mother Hermana Lupe, and the weird thing is that before I came she had a dream I would come. A tall white kid who couldnt speak spanish.... talk about weird.

Sunday was interesting. There were about 20 people there and it was so different to see such a small church. At first I was thinking about church back home but then I realized that if the churches back home are packed, then why the heck would I be there? What a perfect opportunity to expand the gospel. I gained a lot of strength this last week from thinking of Jarret serving in Brazil and how fast the time seemed to fly. I look at our APs and think they have all this experience and wisdom, but I am willing to bet that they didnt start off like that. I am excited to become like that one day.

Love you all, and have a great week.

Elder Saunooke

Definitely greener than Idaho!

The bathroom

WOW!! Mission Record for # of bites

Elder Saunooke 12/14/15

 So I have finally left the CCM. Those six weeks went by ridiculously fast and I honestly hope the rest of the mission will as well because I feel very overwhelmed right now. On friday I had some sort of plantar wort thing cut out of the arch of my left foot surgically and I was on crutches up until the day I left. I am praying that I dont die from pain from having stiches in the bottom of my foot, and that I will be able to recover quickly. We had the Tijuana temple dedication on sunday and it was an interesting experience to witness the proceedings in spanish. I hated the CCM at first but it really became my home and I really miss my 7A district family so much. 

I got maybe an hour and a half of sleep today before heading off to Merida and I was super excited. We met the APs who seem so ridiculously experienced and much better than I will ever be and the president and his wife. I ate more food at the mission home than I have in I cant remember how long. I met my companion and his name is Elder Nolasco. We are seriously out in the middle of nowhere and we literally took the nacho libre vehicle to our casa. Our casa makes homes in the Projects look like something off of Beverly Hills  and our neighbors across the street already asked us for beer money... not that I could understand a single word. I think I have come to the conclusion that I must be clinically depressed to be out here, because I feel so out of my league right now its not even funny. The spanish here is mixed with tons of Mayan and the area I am in right now is Tixkokob. Have fun figuring out how to pronounce that. 

I am seriously dripping in sweat as I write this and my fingers are slipping of the keyboard. This place makes Florida feel like an ice cold day in the desert, and it is only December. I know this email is depressing but I am not going to fake anything because I am currently in the what the heck am I doing with my life stage.... I have so much respect for those who have served missions and I hope that I will learn to serve because I love this people and not view this mission as the prison sentence I am currently viewing it as. The city of Merida itself is very cool and reminds me of a mix between Sarasota, Miami, and Cuba. But I am in a little pueblo right now. I also heard from every elder how bad the food is and how there is constant diarreah...cant wait.... 

The elders in Merida do not get to skype, we only get to call home from a phone. I love you all and hope you are enjoying your air conditioning, drinkable water, non open wound with stitches feet, and eating ice cream.

Elder Saunooke