Thursday, July 30, 2015

La Gran Epidemia del CCM

"La Gran Epidemia del CCM" translates to "The Grand epidemic of the CCM."

There's been like ebola or something around here. 30 percent of the MTC came down with it. It involves violent diarrhea, vomiting, and a super high fever. All of my district got it except me and Elder Brogdon #immune. On Monday, before 4 pm, my companion went to the bathroom 30 TIMES. Dead serious. And that whole night he was blowing chunks hardcore.

                                  I've seen things.

But anyways, we're all better and we had lots of opportunities for blessings so it was a good experience.

The director of all 15 MTCs came, and he gave a great talk on the change a mission gives you. Like when you lose yourself in helping others change and care more about others. He showed before and after pics from his missionaries when he was a mission president. It was insane. I've been praying for more selfless desires. When we lose our lives in the service of others, we find our own. I already feel a change, I feel happier as I've applied this. Heavenly Father has been answering my prayers to be more concerned about others, and to be selfless. To forget myself. And to turn to Him in gratitude when I'm down, sick, or anything. I've found bliss in this. 

I'm so grateful that the Lord has helped me develop my talent of singing. It's been such a blessing. I'm singing in a quartet now with Elder Ballard, and two other Elders not in our district. Elder Brendon Boren from Lone Peak Chamber choir, and Elder Peterson from Pleasant Grove. We're singing “Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy” in Spanish. I love it. 

In TRC the other day, we taught a lady from "the outside world." Haha. They bring people in for us to teach. She's LDS. Before the lesson we said a prayer for guidance and went for it. The Spirit totally took over. We were guided to testify, that through the Book of Mormon, she can receive answers on how to help her less active or non-member son. That lesson was a Tender Mercy. We're doing missionary work in Mexico too. 

Next week we pack up our stuff to weigh it, find out our flight info on Tuesday, and enjoy our last week here. We leave August 11. Depending on our flight times, I MIGHT, big might, be able to call home at the airport between connecting flights. 

I'll have a better letter for next week. I didn't take notes for what to write about for this week. I love you all. 

2 Nephi 9: 50-52

Until next time,

Elder West.

PS the pics are of my mission, and of all of the guys here from Lone Peak, except Riley Whimpey. He just barely got here.
Missionaries from Lone Peak High School at the CCM
Pointing out home and the Chile Osorno mission on the map at the CCM
Letter to the family (but we are sharing this one also):
I've had more experiences with specific prayers, please use them when you are trying to get answers to your own prayers. The work and I know it. 

One thing I love about my mission is it is so easy to love the Gospel so much more, and especially to love the scriptures. And feel close to the spirit. I'm always bummed when our hour of personal study is over. Spanish is coming along, God helps with that. The elder Holland talk you gave me has helped with that so much. I just have to work, trust, and it comes. There are some low times on the mission, like it's hard, discouraging, and you just want to sit and have a break for a few minutes. But it is an endurance race. Everyone on their missions runs for the same amount of time. I've always had a sprinter mentality. But I'm learning to "run the race set before me with patience." 

I've grown so much. I've learned so much. I've learned things from my companion. For example, I've learned how to get ready in the mornings so much faster, to be more chill, to study more in depth, talk to "talkers" so they don't dominate the conversation, and about how to just be more assertive and openly honest with my feelings about things to others, and not fear how they will take it. I love the Lord. He has helped me learn so much. My patriarchal blessing has also been a massive help to me. I read it when I have low times in my mission, and it splashes perspective all over me. Perspective always brings happiness. And that is why this gospel is a gospel of happiness, because it is a gospel of perspective. 

One thing that has brought me so much joy, is when I meet someone, I think "How can I help change this person’s life?" And then the answers come. Sometimes I feel I need to compliment them, or just be a friend to them, or share something with them. Immersing myself in others is a huge blessing. 

Until next time, this super hard working missionary says goodbye,

Elder West

2 Nephi 32: 3-5

PS I haven't gained weight, and I've never eaten more healthy in my life. #goals

And I snagged some parrot pics. And I'm now district leader. 

Parrot in the trees

Parrots on the grass

Another angle of the wall surrounding the CCM

What the view is outside of that wall

Friday, July 24, 2015

I Love My Mission

Hey my people,

Every night my companion and I have a mosquito hunting ritual. We have two fly swatters that we hang on the wall, like a coat of arms. Let's just say we don't get mosquito bites anymore. #professionals

There was a moth in our classroom the size of my palm. HUGE. 
There was also a cockroach two-thirds the size of my pointer finger, just its body. It had big antennas too. 

While we were walking to our class, two parrots were flying down the road, they must not be used to seeing any 6'4” Mexicans because it almost hit me in the head. I had to duck. All of the parrots here are bright green. 

Funny story. We were watching the old Mormon movie called "Legacy," and in it there is a clip of governor Boggs signing the Mormon extermination order, and he was saying how all Mormons need to be driven out and if necessary, killed. Elder Ballard leans over to Elder Boggs and says "Elder Boggs, when you see him in heaven tell him he's stupid." Then Elder Boggs says with a condescending chuckle "He's not going to Heaven." That was hilarious. 

Another funny moment with Elder Boggs. Here at the CCM they serve grapes the size of ping pong balls. They're huge! Someone said something about puffy bunny, and before I know what has happened, Elder Boggs has a plate full of grapes and he's stuffing them into his mouth. Word spreads around the cafeteria, which is what we didn't want. Pretty quickly, all eyes are on Elder Boggs. He fits 17 into his mouth. My back was turned because I was grossed out, and it was funny to see the expressions other people had. Mostly disgust and horror. Anyway, he hits 17, my back is turned, and then I hear him explode. The grapes poured out of his mouth, along with a waterfall of spit, and I could hear them pounding onto his plate. The moment that happened, everyone in the cafeteria went "OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" in unison. Just like in the movies, it was great. And then another elder tried to match him. He only got 16 before he exploded because the grapes were flirting with his uvula in the back of his throat. Great times.

I've also had some spiritual times this week. I testify that 2 Nephi 25:23 is true. It is by grace we are saved after all we can do. This also applies in our daily lives. When we do all we can to fix problems, overcome bad habits, get a good score on that test, learn Spanish, live on our own for the first time, follow through with promptings from the spirit that scare us, etc. I testify after we do all we can, that is when the grace of God saves us. When we do our best, God makes up the rest.

This week Presidente Tenorio taught us about specific prayers. From Genesis 24. Lay out the terms for God to answer our prayers, be specific when asking for blessings and how you'd like to be answered, and then watch him work miracles. If it's a legitimate need, then Heavenly Father will answer. I've tried it and I know it works.

I love you all. 

Elder West
Another View from the CCM (missionary training center)

Some cool-looking local currency 

Email just to the family, but we will share it:

Hey! Will you please make a cool binder out of my emails, so I can see them all when I get home? Thanks!
I've dreamed about you all twice.
Please tell Sam Nelson I love and miss him. Please thank Matt and Sherry Forsyth for their kind letter.
I've been craving the Oregon coast and scorching orange Utah sunsets. We don't have either here in Mexico. -smiley face.
I love the hymn "Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy." Mom, I remember you singing me to sleep with that one when I was a kid, along with a bunch of other hymns that are tender to me. That was the first beginning to my testimony. Thanks. I also love the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour" in Spanish more than I do in English. The translation is just the best.

I love you all. Choose the right. I pray for you every night, often individually. I pray for what the Spirit gives me to pray for about each one of you. I love you.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Second Week at the CCM

Hey! Some thoughts for you.
I remember a returned missionary saying that a great lure the world gives us is the idea of finding yourself. He said the best way to do that is to serve others, and learn about yourself through serving a mission. It's true. Serving a mission is the most hipster thing I've ever done. I'm living in Mexico City, learning Spanish, and teaching people about Jesus Christ. It's amazing. It's hard. And I'm finding myself. Haha, an analogy for you.
I've been made an usher for the CCM devotionals and meetings because I have a winning smile and great personality. Haha. I actually don't know why, but it's a calling. And it's a coveted one. So I’m blessed.
At our most recent meeting president Tenorio spoke. He told us about his first times getting kidnapped and robbed in Mexico City and how he was protected because he kept the law of tithing.
There is a prison close to the CCM so we hear police sirens 24 hours a day. No joke.
Also, we are consistently woken up at 5am, every morning, with fireworks. Apparently, every day here is a holiday for a different Catholic saint. So they celebrate with fireworks. At 5am. Haha 
I found out my companion, Elder Boggs, is a direct descendent of governor Boggs, the one that gave the Mormon extermination order. Freaky, cool, and it makes me happy to know that "we got em!"
Another thought: so many people here are talkers. The world has enough "talkers" but it needs more listeners. I choose to be a listener.
I blessed the sacrament in my branch on Sunday.
Another thought: I know people say that missions are like a tithing of our life, but they never mention the blessing associated with tithing in that same message. I know I'll be blessed because I'm paying a tithing for my life. Check out the blessings, in Malachi I think.
I testify of the power of examples. Our district has major focus problems, but we are improving. Anyway, I was basically the only one who would diligently study during language, personal, and additional study time. Later, we had a district meeting on focusing, and so many Elders used me as an example of what we should be doing. Be an example. People see you.
In my studies for our "investigators", who are really our teachers, but it's legit role playing. Anyway, in my personal study for their needs, I receive answers to my own prayers and questions. I know when we serve others we will be blessed with help. Here are scriptures that are really good: Doctrine & Covenants 88:63; 112:10; and 90:24. Please check them out. I know they are true.
I remember my first day here, standing in the lobby, and trying not to cry because I felt the Spirit so strong on this campus.
Elder Boggs and I had a great lesson with our investigator named Arletti. I wrote in my journal right after "We just had a lesson with Arletti. I testified that God hears and listens to her prayers. The Spirit was so strong. She was crying and I was too. Elder Boggs committed her to baptism. In only 3 weeks we'll be in Chile helping real people come unto Christ. Even though our Spanish is far from perfect, it doesn't matter. The Spirit is the only teacher in the room. We don't need Spanish to teach, just the Spirit. I know the gift of tongues is real, I feel it every time we teach. This church is real. God works miracles. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
Then last night we taught people they bring in from the city. And it was horrible. I didn't understand anything and the Spirit wasn't there. That was the most discouraged I’ve been on my mission. Then this morning I was prompted to study about Peter and when he tried walking on water. I wrote in my journal "I just read Matthew 14: 22 through 33. I'm sinking. I must take Christ's hand. I need to keep my eyes on Jesus Christ, so my faith fail not. I know I am in the arms of my Savior. He will help me. He loves me. I felt his voice tell me: "you are in my arms." He loves me. He will help me. This has been the strongest spiritual experience of my mission so far. I'm just a boy from Utah, in Mexico City, but He knows me and my struggles. He loves me. He wants me to know that, He will help me. I've been sinking into the waves, I've cried out for fear, and He immediately extends His hand, I just need to take it. I need more faith in Jesus Christ. My testimony needs to be so strong. I love my Savior."
I testify that God loves and knows YOU. Take the Saviors hand, it's extended to you.
With love,

Elder West

Elder West & Elder East (yes, there is an Elder East there also)

Jacob's district leaders, Elders Brogdon & Ballard

View of the surrounding city from the CCM

View of Mexico City from the bus
Jacob's room at the CCM

Very tall security walls surround the CCM, and there are security cameras.  The missionaries are safe there.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Jacob's "First Legit Letter"

Hola familia y amigos! 

We've been learning Spanish so fast! I was worried about it before my mission but not anymore. The gift of tongues is real! We’ve taught four 30 minute lessons in Spanish to an investigator. When we go to teach, we can speak Spanish, and when we leave the room, we can't speak it as well. After the first few days we were praying and bearing testimony in Spanish. Now it's instinctual! 

The first few days here were emotional and mental death. Seriously so hard! But I said a kneeling prayer the first moment I had alone and then tried to serve my companion and it all went well. The air here is so dirty, so it made my cough super bad. I had a fever of 102.6 and was hacking over everyone, but I went to the doctor and got some meds so now I'm good.

My companion's name is Elder Boggs from Merced, CA. Praying to love someone works. Heavenly Father has helped me be patient and love him. He has a great laugh, it sounds like a chipmunk, except a little bit deeper. It gets our district rolling!

My district is made up of 8 elders, all going to Chile, Osorno. They are all way cool extroverted guys! For everyone going to serve a mission, shatter any preconceptions you have. It is not even close to what you think it is. But you'll love it. And it's a blessing. And it's hard at times, but don’t worry because Heavenly Father helps you. 

You know if you're in Mexico if...
You are always hearing police sirens, mosquitoes are seriously everywhere, you have a dope view of the city on the mountain at night and there are lights everywhere, you eat mystery food that somehow grows on you, the mountain city has San Francisco streets, there are parrots on the campus!!!, it rains every afternoon with MASSIVE lightning and thunder, your Spanish teacher says the explosions we hear almost every night are either fireworks or gunshots, when Mexicans say “purpose” like the guy on Walter Mitty says “porpoise" and when the air here makes LA air look clean!

I love you all so much! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Safe Arrival at the Mexico Missionary Training Center

When the missionaries arrive at the Mexico MTC, they let them email their families that first evening to let them know they arrived safely.  Below is Jacob's email home. We were very happy to receive it.

Mom and Dad and family! I'm safe. Today has been the weirdest day of my life! It dumped rain, and our bus driver was so hardcore. He drove a stick shift school bus full of missionaries, with one hand, while on the phone, with the windshield super fogged up so it was hard to see. Absolutely crazy. Motorcycles were playing chicken with our bus, and the trafic was insane. Because of the rain, the roads became rivers. Anyway, I have to go, but I love you guys! I can email next week on Thursday, which is my p-day. This is so hard and crazy!

Off to the Mexico City Missionary Training Center

This morning Jacob went with his family to the Salt Lake City airport.  We took one last family photo together and then said goodbye. He boarded a plane for Mexico City. The rest of the family went back home. Our hearts are heavy, but we are also happy that Jacob is serving as a missionary and following Jesus Christ.
Jacob told us at the airport that he wrote the family a letter which he posted on his other blog early this morning, so we got to read a letter from our missionary as soon as we got back from the airport.  He also left his mom some flowers on the kitchen table, which where there to greet her as a surprise when we got back from the airport.  He is a very thoughtful son. We look forward to his first letter home from Mexico.