Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Week #10 - Interchange

Pues, to start off the week, I had my first interchange! Our district leader needed to spend 24 hours with each Elder in the district. This time, he was with my compañero in our área, and I went with his compañero to his área. The interesting thing was that his compañero and I are both new, of the same "generation", so he (Elder Pineda) was a bit nervous taking on the área himself..

But all went well. We taught 3 lessons to 3 investigators. The thing that I discovered though, is that their área is SO much bigger than ours! It is ridiculous! And it was a bit weird to sleep in a different bed, drink all of my district leader's milk, and not be with my compañero. But a fun and very good experience para me.

As for experiences with mi compañero, this week we had a string of first lessons with hardcore Catholic's.. Those are always interesting.. I do my best to understand, but when it gets a Little heated going back and forth between them and mi compañero, they talk a lot faster.. So that is always fun for me.

Also this week, we had our first lesson with Jorge. Jorge is 15 years old, lives with his uncle and aunt, and attends a Catholic church. So we finally got together with him and taught him the first lesson. I felt that it went pretty well! He actually seems interested to learn.

That is the most of it for this week.. ¡Hasta luego!

Me and my distrito líder and his compañero eating camisas!

*** Between Brothers ***

Dear Landon, I honestly had a really fun week! When we were at school, the classroom right by us invited us to their classroom for a surprise. It was homemade donuts! They were so good. Plus I won the Pine Wood Derby! I won with my car called, "MrFancyTie." (My car was a tie.) The playoffs has been going the way I like it. Just because the playoffs I have a new favorite NBA player. Stephen Curry. The warriors went 4-0 against the Pelicans and game three was the best. The reason game three was the best because, at the start of the fourth quarter the warriors were down by 20! Later with about only 7 seconds left the warriors were down by three 105-108. It was the warriors ball... and they passed to Stephen Curry. He took a three pointer... and missed it. But warriors got an offensive rebound! They passed it to Stephen and he took a three and swished it! It was also and AND1 but the reffs never called it. Still, in OT the warriors were hitting threes and they won the game. All of this talking about basket ball... let's talk some more about basket ball but it is my game. We played against a kid that was once on Cooper's team. He was a beast at stealing. But I crossed him over a few times. But he made a three pointer. I made three baskets (6 points if you remember) and Luke made 2 baskets (4 points.) We're playing a game that we played a long time ago, "Sonic Adventure 2." It's the game with the chaos. (Ch-ow-s) I don't know if it's spelled , chao or choa. Plus went to get ice cream again! (This is almost like a weekly thing now) But we didn't go with Amare and Aidan this time. We went with, Keaton, Callahan, Will, Clay, Mom, Addie, Courtney, and Maga. We really weren't planning to get ice cream though. Everyone went to the cemetery, and looked for Dad's dad. Then we went to Crown Burger and had some dinner. So afterwards we went to an ice cream place. That is it for this entire week. You're going to be the best missionary in the history! Love, Colton

Dear Landon, boy, this was a heck of a week. Lots and lots of things have happened this week. But first, I'll talk about our Pinewood Derby. It would have been like a normal derby that I go to occasionally, but the only big difference was the stage. Since I was up there helping for the derby, everybody was getting up saying, "Can I pull the lever?" a bunch of times, that I did not like about the derby. And the good part of the derby is that Colton won with his Tie car. And after that was also fun, because we got the loops out and there was a lot of racing. Also a cool thing about this week is the Playoffs right now. There has also been two sweeps: Golden State over New Orleans, and Washington over Toronto. I'm happy about both of those sweeps because I like the team that beat them. But game 3 of Golden State was unforgettable for two reasons. First, the Warriors were losing by at least 24 points, but they ended up coming back in the game in the 4th quarter. Second, when they were down by 3 points, Stephen Curry shot a 3 but missed it, then they got the offensive rebound and got it to Curry again shot the 33 and made it with a shocking 2.6 seconds left, forcing it into OT. Oh yeah, I cannot wait for this to happen. We got an incubator and but seven duck eggs in there, and from a month from now, we'll get to see the cute birdies! We all also went to the cemetery to see our grandpa's grave, but after that, we got Crown Burger and got way full from the chicken I had. Then, we went to Neilson's Frozen Custard. The ice cream was amazing, but after that I felt like throwing up billions of times. Well this is basically all I could remember this week. Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, I can't quite remember many things from this week, but I taught the lesson today. It was pretty easy and fast. The 8th graders at West Hills had job shadow on Thursday. I just followed Dad to Symphony. It was easy and I got home about two hours before school ended for the sevies and 9th graders. On Friday, the Apple Watch came out and I saw this guy do the drop test of it on YouTube and it was horrible. He only did the Sport (aluminum) Watch. Anyway, he got kind of angry at the results of the face drop, so he started throwing it around and shattering it into lots of pieces. It was kind of funny, yet sad and heartbreaking to see a perfectly fine watch go to waste. The same guy also did a best-way-to-destroy-an-iPhone-6 video. I was thinking of you when I watched it only because the way he destroyed... was with a gun! He totally obliterated it. It was so cool. Wuv, Keaton

Dear Landon, as you can probably tell by the length of my letters, I don't do much all week. But this upcoming week I have a game everyday this week besides Monday. So I'm super excited for that. I'm preparing to do this dance with all my friends in front of the whole sophomore class on Tuesday for my friend's skit for SBO. So that will interesting for sure. Cause that is out of my comfort zone. We had a game on Tuesday and Thursday last week. We won both but on Thursday we went into double overtime and won, which was really exciting. Oh, I got some Steph Curry shoes which have been the best thing of my life. They are Under Armor shoes which I have never wore before so I took a risk, but Under Armor delivered. I've been working out a lot and I can tell that I'm getting stronger already. I just got to make sure I keep it up. I really miss you though. I've been into this basketball show, that is actually kinda old but it;s about basketball and drama (One Tree Hill). And I love it and it's destroying my life. I've been watching it at night like we always would do, watch movies or shows at nights. I miss that, and I'm looking forward to doing it again when you come back, which will be awhile but oh well, it'll get there. Hope you're having fun down in Mexico. How's the food? You getting used to it? Cause I know that would be tough for me. Hopefully the weather is treating you well too. Love you brother, Love, yo best bro Callahan

  • Dear Colton: Sounds like you did have one heck of a week! Playoffs, basketball, pinewood derby, and ice cream! Pretty awesome. The talk of basketball makes me want to play, but it seems that everyone only plays futbol.. Or "soccer" in English. Not that I don't like futbol. I'm just not good at it.. Well keep having fun! I sure will! Le amo mi hermano. Ama su hermano
  • Dear Cooper: As I said to Colton, sounds like you guys had a heak of a week! Colton didn't mention the incubator! That is awesome! Here, we see a lot of chickens, but.. they are not pets.. They are only food.. Today, we went to this marketplace, that reminded me a lot of Pike's Place in Seattle (do you remember that?) There were so many dead chickens... It stunk so bad! Keep telling me all about what's going on with you at home! Le amo, mi hermano.
  • Dear Keaton: Job shadowing.. Not sure I really ever did that.. I just actually worked when I went to Dad's work. Haha did you guys drive around in the Tundra a lot? I remember it being a Little joke on the jobsite when I worked with Nate Ator, that Dad gets paid to drive the Tundra around.. Haha don't tell him though. Yes, that is very sad to destroy such a precious toy. But so cool to watch. Le amo, mi hermano.
  • Dear Callahan: Dang.. That is a lot of basketball games! Haha oh my.. SBO's skits.. Those are something else. It is funny the words "comfort zone" while on your misión mean nothing! I'm sure it will be a fun time for you. Double overtime? Shoot! Did you make the winning shot otra vez (again)? Steph Curry's by Under Armor... wow. That is a big risk, but I am glad for your new love. Haha well it is okay for you to get stronger, as long as I can beat you in an armwrestle! I think I actually lost quite a bit of weight since the CCM. In the CCM I weighed in at 81.2 kg, but earlier this week I weighed in at 75 kg, which is about 15 lbs I believe! I've been working on my abs a lot, trying to get a more defined six pack.. I'm getting there! One Tree Hill? Hmm.. Never Heard of it. Don't worry, I know how you feel.. Every now and then, I'll hear a song that I know, and it's reminds me of those nights we try to guess the song.. I miss it a lot too. Food is good, I've only had one problema so far.. It is like this Little taco thing, just bought it off the Street, but the next morning.. so bad. Diarrea to the max. A color that it shouldn't be. And this week, holy cow. Somebody turned up the heat! But I am out of time.. So I better sign off.. Le amo mi hermano.

*** Step Stats ***

Monday, April 20 - 17232
Tuesday, April 21 - 27316
Wednesday, April 22 - 10417
Thursday, April 23 - 22329
Friday, April 24 - 18715
Saturday, April 25 - 14401
Sunday, April 26 - 14712

Tuesday is a new high!
Lots of walking!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Week #9 - Bakery Bliss

It seems every week I think of a new significant detail to describe my life in Puebla. This week, it is the o' so wonderful panadería. La panadería (bakery) is only a minute away from our house, and contains, what I like to call "manna from heaven". They have everything from donuts (don't worry mi tío, not as good as yours..), crescent rolls, jelly and cream filled pastries, and cinnamon rolls (don't worry mi madre, not as good as yours..). Mi compañero y yo have a really bad habit of walking by it as we return to our casa for the night.. And buying a good amount of pan (bread).

Pues (well), some interesting things that have happened this week was with a less active member. We have been trying to meet with her since we first got here, but she always told us to come back later. But on Saturday, we had planned to meet with her around 4, but during our language study (about 11-ish) she called, pleading that we meet with her then. Mi compañero felt that we should go, so we did. She had said that she hadn't seen her daughter (of 21 years old) since Tuesday, and that was very concerning to her. So, we shared a little message with her, about why we have challenges and afflictions during our time on the earth. Then we invited her to fast. Fast that she might know what happened and for the well being of her daughter. She accepted, but only a few hours later, as we were walking by her place, she said that she had found her! I do not know how.. But hey, it is a happy ending!

The other thing is that I had to give my first discurso (talk) in church.. At least they let me know about it on Friday.. My topic was service. Preparing el discurso, I actually felt really good about it, but as soon as I got up there.. Ay que feo.. Everyone said I did a really good job, and that they could understand me.. But when I listened to the recording... I couldn't understand me.. Pues.. I guess it was good for some gringo who has only been in the country for two months.

Pues, I guess that is about it for this week. 
Thanks for all the support! And have a great week!

Me gusta leche...

Art of mi companero.

Like my watch?

***Between Brothers ***
Dear Landon, what a week! We did a bit this week. We got ice cream again! But not with Aidan and Amare. We went with the bishop's son, and a few of his kids. We went to Maceys and I got a mama cone. (It was awesome!) I had another basketball game.. Ugh... These are never good. But this one is good! We won 10-7. They had a kid who always ball hogged. I made one basket though. We got plenty of crazy bread this week. Cooper and I went out for some haircuts and it was like a 25 minute wait. So we went and got some crazy bread before the haircut. Cooper and I ate the two packages. So when the haircuts were done we got even more crazy bread! And when Keaton's friends came dad got some crazy bread! The friends were, Charles, Dillan, Conner, and Adrian. Oreo time! We had this leftover Cheese Cake Factory bag (because Dad brought home some cheesecake), and Oreo would sometime get in it. So when we saw him in it, we would hold it up and say "Who ordered Oreo cheesecake!" This morning Oreo was on Cooper's bed and Cooper played with him and it was really funny! The Playoffs started! (Even though I'm not such a big fan of the NBA.) OKC didn't make it in! We just barely watched a game and it was Boston against Cleveland. I wanted Boston to win but they didn't. Cooper can dunk on the real hoop with a mini ball! I don't know if I already told you this, but we went to a Jazz game! We went into one of the suites in the middle! It was the BEST Jazz game I ever went to. That's about it for this week my brother. You're going to be an awesome missionary just believe in yourself and be confident. Love, Colton

Dear Landon, this week was a long yet fun week. So on the big hoop in the front, I have been getting better and better at dunking. I have been doing more one hand dunks, two handed, and even some reverse dunks. It is really fun to dunk on the hoop without a trampoline helping out getting big dunks. Oh yeah, there has been a lot of Little Caeser's visits this week. First, we went to get a haircut (Me and Colton) and there was a 30 minute wait, so we went to stop for crazy bread first. Then after we got our haircuts, we got some more crazy bread, along with pepperoni pizza and bacon wrapped pizza (which was amazing)! And a day or two after, dad got some more with Keaton and his friends around. And at school, I had to do my SRI test like twenty times trying to get a new high score... and I did not. But my teacher gave me an exception to go out to Free Time Friday, and if I did not get the exception, I would be in study hall spending 45 minutes on the test, and luckily I didn't. And Colton and I got ice cream again... but not with Amare and Aiden. We went to Macey's to get some Ice cream cones with the bishop's son and his children. It ended up being a really fun trip going there. And the last thing I wont to tell you is that the Playoffs have started! There were 4 games yesterday. and the first one went into OT :). Sadly, the Jazz didn't make it, and surprisingly, OKC did not make it either. So this is all that happened this week, love you dude. Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, on Thursday, dad took just me to Fashion Place to go and check out the Apple Watch! It was so cool! I got to wear two different types, and dad wore just one. The ones that you got to wear were in demo mode, so you couldn't control anything, but there were like 10 that you can mess around with. I was stuck on one for about 15 minutes just customizing the watch faces. After we left the apple store, he took me to Vans and got me a pair of white shoes. Vans are the best. We also got some cheesecake slices that day from The Cheesecake Factory. They're pretty much gone. Nothing beats original. The NBA playoffs have started and OKC didn't even make it in. I guess it could be because Thabo Sefolosha got traded, but still. KD isn't even injured, and Russell Westbrook has scored over 35 points in his last games. It's hard to believe that Dallas can beat Oklahoma yet again. We've started making a lot of Margaritas again since Amanda suggested it two weeks ago (I know, Kinda weird). It was a fun week. Wuv, Keaton

Dear Landon, so I had my first basketball game for the spring season on Thursday and it was so fun. Ball is life. We won Viewmont by 20. It was the first time I've played with Sam since like 7th grade. That was way fun. I need new basketball shoes though, so I asked mom if she could get me some Steph Curry's. She actually said yes! So they are on their way. They are Under Armor which kinda concerns me, but my friend said they were better than the Kobe 10's. So I guess I'll take a chance. We went to the Jazz game in a suite which was really fun. This 6 foot rookie got this crazy alley oop for the Jazz. It was nuts! It also snowed... I hate snow. Right before I was going to school there was tons of ice on my windshield, and it took forever to scrape it off. But the snow melted in like a day. I'm just ready for summer. I went to Olive Garden with Amanda a couple times. It's so good. I love their breadsticks. So how is it going in the actual mission field? You lovin the weather and food? I know you're doing great. Have fun. Love Callahan
  • Dear Colton: Boy, that does sure sound like an awesome week! I don't think I've seen a Little Casaers here in Mexico.. I've seen (and ate at) Domino's and Pizza Hut! But they don't have crazy bread.. So sad.. Oreo cheesecake! Ha! That is awesome. You told me about the Jazz game, but not that it was in the suites! Lucky! Sounds awesome back home, and it is awesome here, so that is AWESOME. Le amo.
  • Dear Cooper: Haha I can't remember when I was first able to dunk.. It's funny, I'm surprising tall in Mexico. All the latinos are pretty short, especially girls. One time, in the house of an investigator, if I jumped, I would hit my head on the ceiling! I miss crazy bread.. But as you can read in my other letter, we buy this awesome bread or "pan" en español, all the time! Yikes.. That wouldn't be fun spending that much time on a test.. But in high school, you have to take a test that is four hours long! Just letting you know.. :p Le amo
  • Dear Keaton,Ah, Fashion Place Mall.. That is an awesome place.. Here, we have the Cruz de Sur or "South Cross" in English. No Apple store.. But it is still awesome! Are the Apple Watches out yet? Seems like those are taking forever to be released. I just got a pretty simple watch.. And a good tan line from it too. Ah suckers OKC.. Margaritas? Yumm.. One of our favorite treats to make is "postre". It is these cookies in condensed milk, with lime.. Oh my goodness.. It is so wonderful.. Have a good week! Le amo
  • Dear Callahan,"Ball is life". Haha it has been a while since I have heard you say that. WHAT. You are getting Under Armor shoes?! Dude, that's like converting to Islam.. Haha just kidding. It snowed!? In abril!? That's nuts! Haha I sure do miss the Avalanche.. There's a car dealership near our house, and there's this awesome 2013 Avalanche! I wanted to take a picture with it so bad today, but it wasn't there! Bummed me out... Olive Garden con su novia? ¿Con que dinero? jajaja (hahaha) How long have you two been dating now? The weather? Well it gets pretty hot in the late afternoon, and then pretty cool at night. Me gusta mucho. Food has been pretty good too. Surprising not a lot hot stuff. But apparently on Friday, we ate cat meat... I was not happy about that. I still don't know if my compañero was joking or not.. Stay in school, and don't do drugs! :p le amo

*** Step Stats ***

Monday, March 13 - 14646
Tuesday, March 14 - 14148
Wednesday, March 15 - 11322
Thursday, March 16 - 11686
Friday, March 17 - 20610
Saturday, March 18 - 16129
Sunday, March 19 - 14161

Missionary work seems to keep the step count up!
Elder Landon is beating everyone, 
but Mommy ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week #8 - Struggling Spanish, Good Eats, Dogs and Volcanoes!

 Us inside a combi. Our usual way of transportation.

With it being the second week, my compañero and I have got our feet better placed on the ground than the first week. We know our way around better.. Know a lot more of the members in the ward, who help us out a lot! Although mi español is still struggling, it was a good week in Puebla!

Looking back at the letter I sent last week, I realized were quite a few details that I left out in describing my life in Puebla. When we first got here, we had the orientation from the president and his wife, right? Well, the way the president's wife described our conditions in Puebla, it set my expectations really low. She said you will often teach from beds, the houses feel like garages, and the food is... interesting. I cannot say that is the case! Or at least not with my area. The president said Puebla has a very small, developing middle class population. 1% of the population is super duper rich, and the other 99% is super duper poor. All the members we have visited have nice homes, incredibly kind, and fed us like kings. Literally. 

Just this last Thursday, we were at a member's home (we are fed by members everyday for lunch) and first she brings out a bowl of pasta. I thought "Okay, this is good." Then a big ol' omlet, with a bunch of ham and cheese stuffed in it. I then thought "Okay, that'll be enough." . Not for the hermana. Within the next 15 minutes, she brought out a salad, tomatoes, avocados, beans, jalapenos,and some mangoes. Boy I was struggling.. And they always ask you "¿quiere más? (want more?)" My compañero actually has gotten upset with me, saying that I don't eat enough.. I honestly try! But you do have to eat quite a bit, because you need to last until you head back to the casa to eat again (9 pm).

At the mall. Eating Dominos pizza.

Some other significant details about my life in Puebla are the dogs. Perros, perros, perros everywhere! 90% of the perros are strays, and the only thing you have to worry about is petting them. The thing is, the strays are so desperate for attention, they try to be all cute for you, then you just want to pet them. But they're filthy.. Mi compañero warned me immensely about that. Then there are the perros who have owners, and are owned for a reason. Protection. We will walk to someone's house and we start to hear vicious barking. Most of the time, those dogs are fenced in, so we don't have to worry about them. But there was this one dog..We wanted to visited the home of this less active member we hadn't met yet. So we were almost in front of their house, then we see this big big dog.. The biggest dog I had seen yet here. It stood up, came toward us, barking viciously. We then quickly turned around, and started walking back from which we came.

Another really cool thing is the volcano! ¡Volcán Popocatépetl! We just call it Volcán Popo for short though. The first week, we were able to see a few "eruptions" which is really cool. I would send pictures, but for whole week, there have been clouds in the way! It actually has made me quite mad. They say "eruptions" but really, it is just puffs of ash. The president said that they have found ash in their yard once! But they say we got nothing to worry about.

Probably the most significant thing for me this week was Sunday. It was my first sacrament meeting en el campo. We gathered at the stake center around 12:30 and started. It was surprisingly hard for me. Up until then, if I found myself homesick, I was missing my family, but this time, I found myself imagining where all the families sat during the sacrament meeting at home. But it was a really good experience. It was a testimony meeting. Although I could only understand bits and pieces, It was a great experience. 

I think that will be all for this week folks.Thanks for tuning in!

Here are some additional pictures shared on the 

... and of course, step counts 
(for the pedometer people ... aka "mommy")
Monday, April 6 - 11729
Tuesday, April 7 - 22165
Wednesday, April 8 - 16963
Thursday, April 9 - 15555
Friday, April 10 - 19088
Saturday, April 11 - 25716
Sunday, April 12 - 6235

*** Between Brothers ***

Dear Landon, it has been a really hot week! How is weather being with you? Guess what? We got ice cream with Aidan and Amare again! This time we went to Iceburg. I got a foot long hot dog and a small vanilla shake. I had the most intense game of Junior Jazz of my life! There was 30 seconds left, and it was 9-11 they were winning. So they came down with the ball, I stole it! I did a fast break down the court… And made it! The score was now 11-11 with 18 seconds left! I had no idea what could happen in 18 seconds… So they were dribbling down with the ball. They took a shot and missed. There were about 8 seconds left. Someone took a shot at 4 seconds and the timer rang and no one had any idea it would ring at 4 seconds. So the coaches and reffs just said “play the 4 seconds.” So as it happened the kid took a shot at 2 seconds and got blocked! But the reffs said it was a foul! The kid sank both of the foul shots. There were still 2 seconds left… I let my teammate, Collin take a BIG shot. We tried to hit a halfcourt but he airballed it… Oreo has been sleeping in his bed more often. Oreo has been sitting on the drinking fountain a LOT! He likes it when it vibrates. I don’t know why. Plus we actually went to church today! I’m going to top it off right there. I know you’re going to be an AWESOME missionary. Love, your youngest brother, Colton

Dear Landon, well I did not like going to school this week because of our Spring Break, it was hard to get up early and pack up to go there. Also, on Thursday, there was a field trip to somewhere called JA Biz Town, but I started to wimp out a couple of days before because I really did not want to go, so I ended up having homeschool that day. And Colton and I went to go get some ice cream with Amare and Aiden again to Iceberg. It was fun, but Amare was being so crazy. He was punching me as usual, and he was climbing from table to table until he got his ice cream! There was also the derby workshop yesterday, I forgot how much I hate them. I really do not like when there is that much people at our house playing with our stuff, and leaving it in places they are not supposed to go. And Keaton and I have been playing 21 a few times, and I won him the second time and third, but not first. We also played with dad once, and he that there were so many bogus rules, and he ended up loosing with about 2 points, while I won the game. I can also now dunk it on the hoop on 7 foot with a small ball, it is so much fun to do! And Oreo has been doing the usual. He has been sleeping on the computer chair, but he actually loves the drinking fountain now because when it vibrates. Anyway, I hope you are going to be a cool missionary,(which I know you are) and teach about Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father to the people of Puebla. Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, last week was the longest week ever! I don’t know why, but it was taking forever. It was a hot week too. I played almost 10 games of 21 yesterday with Cooper, Colton, and dad. I played Cooper and Colton just one on one most games, but then dad said that he’ll play me, and then Cooper wanted to play. It was the first one on one on one game that week. I crossed over dad once so bad, that he almost fell! Cooper were both on the side going, “oooooooohhhhhhh”, then dad started laughing. I also played Cal on Friday, and I beat him 21-0! And I beat him 21-0 again today, but he’s probably going to say that I didn’t. Cooper refused to play me the first time. Then, I told him how I beat Callahan. This time he played me. The derby workshop was yesterday too. All the little kids came and we played basketball, tetherball, and soccer. The cutest part was when this little kid, (probably five years old) came up to me and asked, “where’s your brother from last year?” Oh my gosh! It was so adorable! Still, I’m not that surprised that he remembered you. (wink wink) Wuv, Keaton

Dear Landon, so this Sunday I finally blessed the sacrament. It took me 2 times because I threw in an extra “and.” Keaton sucks at 21. I’ve been slamming on him like nothing. And me Ben, Mason and Daxtonn have been coming over to our house to workout everyday. I quit UBC because my old Sophomore coach told me that my coach right now is dumb so I wouldn’t get a lot of playing time. But it doesn’t really matter because I have a game with Copper Hills on Thursday. I still want to go to tournaments outside of Utah though. Sam’s UBC team won a tournament in California this weekend, so I was pretty jealous. But oh well. Anyway, hope everything is going well. Love you brother. Love, Callahan

Dear Landon, this is Travis. ¿Como estas? Es importante que hables en español. sabo este dificil leer porque no estoy bueno hablo en español. Estas bueno. Mucho amor, Travis

  • Dear Colton, The weather has been pretty normal for Puebla. It feels absolutely wonderful in the morning, then we end up sweating a bunch in the afternoon because we have been walking around for so long.. Dang! So close! Kinda a bummer, I'm sorry. But I bet you had fun right? Just wait. In your future games, it'll get a whole lot more intense! Haha silly Oreo.. I see a lot of cats here in Puebla, but none that look like Oreo! They're all tan or black, and really dirty.. Anyway, hope you are doing well! Have a great week. Le amo, mi hermano. (I love you, my brother)
  • Dear Cooper, Ah spring break.. One of the best times of the year.. Amare is sure a crazy child, but that is why I love him! You hate the derby workshops? I loved those! You are right about all the kids playing with all our stuff and leaving it everywhere.. But it is so much fun! 21.. That's a fun game.. I remember playing it with Tyler, Hayden, and Marcus the night of the Super Bowl! Estoy agracio por todo su apoyo. Le amo. (I am grateful for all your support. I love you.) 
  • Dear Keaton, 21 is such an awesome game. I love it! That's pretty funny that you were able to cross Dad over! Those derby workshops are a blast! Even though our yard is left a mess afterwards.. Haha really? Some kid asked about me? I'm glad that I was worth remembering! Anyway, tiene una semana buena! le amo. (Have a good week! I love you.)
  • Dear Callahan, Hahahaha.. Don't worry about it.. I remember that I messed up the first time I blessed the sacrament as well.. Try blessing it en español.. Yikes.. I only did it once, en el CCM. And this last Sunday I gave a blessing (only the annointing of the oil) to a member in the ward! Haha what has Mom been saying about you being at the house so often, and in HER gym, with friends?! Oh boy. Haha jota ka. Well keep working hard! I have discovered that there isn't much to do to work out as a missionary.. I basically will do a lot of push ups one day, then do abs the next. We do have an ab wheel, which is awesome! Pues, guarda haciendo buenas cosas, mi hermano. Le amo. (Well, keep doing good things, my brother. I love you.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Letter #7 - It's All New for Easter

April 5, 2015 (Letter #7)

Starting with the last days en el CCM, most of those days were spent writing in each others journals, sharing messages, wishing luck to one another, and lots of pictures! Come Monday morning, our casa was up all night. Saying our goodbyes to one another. I tried to get some sleep before our departure at 5 in the morning, but since my bed is right by the window, which is right by the front door, I never really got to sleep because of the elders who had to leave before us. I would get out of bed, say goodbye, hug, then go back to bed. Honestly it was pretty hard, but we all have our own work to do for the Lord, and now was the time to start.

Around 4:30 I got ready to go to the bus. With all my luggage and in my suit. In my group were all the elders from my district, then we met up with the hermanas at the bus. We took the CCM bus to the airport, where there was also the bus terminal, got off, got our tickets, and waited. It was finally time for us to part from the three in our district (dos elders y una hermana) who were off to Pachuca. I was glad that I got to at least stay with the other five in my district for a little longer. I was a little worried the bus was going to be some tin can on wheels, and that we would end up standing the whole time, but I am glad I was wrong! It turned out to be a really nice bus, it reminded me of the plane ride! It was good, comfortable two hours ride to Puebla. Passing by much beautiful scenery. 

Once we arrived in the bus terminal, we were greeted by the President, his wife, and his assistants. They drove us to the home of the President, which was so beautiful. There we had much orientation of what our usual day and week would be in Puebla. After some orientation, we actually got to have some nap time! Oh it was fabulous.. The president knew that we have been up for a long time and knew that we would need it.

President and Sister Christensen

The second day in the president's home, we had a little more orientation, then it was off to "el reunión de cambios"! There, we had a few musical numbers, a slideshow of the baptisms for the month, and then everyone goes to the sides of the room (of the chapel) and then zone by zone, the missionaries are called out to meet their new compañero. So I just stood there with the rest of my district, as one by one we got called out. I finally hear my name, and the name of my new compañero, Elder Gutierrez. He is from Chihuahua, Mexico and has only been out for 3 months! He keeps on telling me how nervous he is to already be training, because he just finished with training! His English is "muy mal" and combined with my "muy mal" Español can make communication between the two of us difficult. But we manage.


Our zone is Libertad Norte, and we are in the Forjadores 1 area. My compeñero is new to the area as well, so the first days were interesting in figuring out what to do. For the first days we went around the area, introducing ourselves to the members in the ward. We visited maybe a dozen or so members the first couple days, which was very enjoyable. They are very understanding of my struggle with Español, so that definitely makes it easier and takes the pressure off of me. After visiting members, we get to our real job. Contacting in Mexico, you don't go proselyting door to door. We do contacting in the streets. Basically we go up to someone in the street, share a little message, and ask if they would like to hear more. In English, it really wouldn't bother me that much, but en Español, it is quite hard for me. Majority of the time, it is just my compañero sharing the message. He tells me not to worry, because he was the same way with his trainer, and he knows Español!

So the investigators we have right now are few.. There is Ana, Hermana Bautista.. And that's about it. My compeñero was not satisfied when we saw the area book. The missionaries before us didn't do a very good job of keeping record of everything. So now we are trying to put the pieces together and find more investigators! Ana is awesome, she is the sole owner of this little shop called BodyLogic. One of those shops that is very organic and nutrious and healthy. Although some of the products don't fit into the Word of Wisdom (coffee), it is a really nice shop. She has already attended four weeks worth of church (in Mexico, you need to attend five weeks before baptism) and now we are inviting her to consider a specific date for baptism! Hermana Bautista's situation is interesting. She is married to a man who has been active in the church all his life, and they have a son of 14 years old, who has also been baptized and loves the church. She goes to church with them, but just doesn't desire to be baptized.. I don't know. But we still have hope for her!

So that has been most of my week, but this weekend was awesome, because of General Conference! All the missionaries of the area gathered to the stake center to watch. They did end up having a viewing in English por los americanos.. Which I was very grateful! Watching the Saturday session, I found quite amusing, that for some odd reason, when I get home, I'm supposed to get married as soon as possible? Yeah.. I think that was the message ha! But really, I loved the immense focus on the importance of families. Families truly are ordained of God, and cental to His plan.

Then came Sunday.. And there was a pretty interesting start to it.. I was laying in my bed, then I hear what sounded like gunshots.. They got closer and closer.. Then stopped.. Then right outside our casa, it was nuts! In Mexico, majority of the people are Catholic, right? And here I discovered how Catholics celebrate Easter.. With fireworks. But apparently, in Mexico, a good firework isn't one that lights the sky with pretty colors.. It is all about the BANG and the BOOM! They are so loud, it is ridiculous! Throughout the day, I had a few scares from the "expletivos". But you eventually get used to it.

There you have it, my first (almost week) en el campo! There has been much welcome, enjoyment, and discovery. But there is much much more to discover! And especially for me to learn! Until next week ...

Here are my steps ( for Mother. P.S. We went to the mall today, and there was a RadioShack that sold Fitbits.. Only Zips, but Fitbits nonetheless! I told my compeñero all about them! In Español they are "marca pasos" thought you'd like to know. ;)
26 - 20016
27 - 11607
28 - 10502
29 - 11702
30 - 5227
31 - 8970
1 - 22849
2 - 15816
3 - 24394 (a new record, I believe?)
4 - 10689
5 - 17180

(As Mom enters the steps manually into Fitbit, we can see where Elder Landon Blackham stands in steps compared to the rest of the family and friends. Callahan hasn't been as active since basketball season ended, and Keaton just stopped wearing his!)

Here at home, we also received a picture and email from the mission president's wife, telling us that Elder Blackham had arrived safely. They also told us a little about themselves and about the area...

You may have had questions about the safety of the Puebla area, as we had similar questions when we received our call.  We were told by many before we came that it is perhaps the safest area in the country of Mexico.  Our experience to date has born this out.  We would comfortably describe Puebla the way most residence do as “muy tranquilo.”  People are friendly and helpful.  The wards and stakes are strong and very active. 

*** Between Brothers ***
Dear Landon, how’s it going in Mexico? It’s been pretty good weather here! Yesterday we had a big Easter egg hunt at grandma’s house. I didn’t find that many eggs… Today we had a little Easter egg hunt at Maga’s house! The big kids (Addie and I) were only to get ten eggs. The Easter egg hunt was only in Maga’s back yard. I found a copper coin! There was only one of the really big ones. Addie found it in a tree. Plus Addie broke her wrist! I don’t know exactly how, I pretty sure that a kid pushed her at school. Anyway after coming home from grandma’s house we lost Oreo again! (We found him). He was stuck in the computer room again! The temptations… Are working great! If we need to find Oreo, we just grab those temptations and walk around the house shaking it. On Crossy Road there are 3 new mystery characters. And there was like seven-teen new original characters, I just don’t want to count. I got them and taught Addie and Will how to get them. The characters (mystery) are Leprechaun, Nessy and Phone box. I have no idea why. How to get Leprechaun is, find a four leaf clover and collect it. Nessy is the exact same way as getting Hipster Whale. And Phone Box is, the exact same way of getting Gifty. We went to the Dollar store and got toys for Oreo. We got a toy that we saw from the Humane Society. Oreo loves it! And today when we went to Maga’s house, Venelope, shed all over Cooper! Will and I played some foosball and I won 40-13. He kept on making me go more than ten! So that is all for this week! I know you will be really, really awesome missionary! Love, your awesome little brother, Colton

Dear Landon, I heard that you are in Puebla right now, great job for making it so far! There has also been a lot of stuff happening this week. One of the best things right now is Spring Break. It has been awesome not having school all of these days so far, I hope it will get better and better. And Oreo is still just laying everywhere. On the desk, in the hallway, in our bathroom, and in beds around the house. I am also thinking of having an Easter “treat” Hunt for Oreo with about a reasonable amount of temptations. And Easter has been an awesome experience here, grandma’s house, and Maga’s house. Even though I’m not hunting the eggs from now on, it is still fun to hide all of the eggs. There has also been some cool things in a couple of eggs that we hid extremely well, the eggs included an Ike dollar, and a solid copper coin. Only one was found at grandma’s house, and both of them were found at Maga’s (because we did “Hot and Cold”.) And Venelope at their house, she so well behaved and so cute, she loves just sitting on my lap while purring and shedding a whole lot on my pants. And this was the first holiday where we put the stuff on our new couch, and I did get some cool things for Easter too. And we all have been getting back into some old games that we played in the past. The two games are Crossy Road and NBA Jam. We got back into NBA Jam again because there was finally an update to the game with some brand new features, and players on teams they are supposed to be on. Another reason why a lot of us got back into it was that we got it on the Xbox as well, which has WAY better quality than the one on IOS. So I am hoping to hear from you soon, and see cool pictures and how you are doing in Puebla. And I know you will be a great missionary down there. Love, Cooper

Dear Landon, for Easter I got this new wiffle ball bat that Cal and I have been playing with. We start on Jacob’s yard and see if we can hit it over the house. I’ve already got the ball stuck in the gutter once, so I found this really tiny tennis ball. I hit it when I was playing with Colton, and I easily got it over the house. Luckily not over the wall…yet. I moved over to Jacob’s basketball hoop and hit it a lot harder. This time it went over the wall. We got the wiffle ball out of the gutter and started playing with that again. Not the same. I also got a new 4x4x4 rubik’s cube. Solved it in 30 minutes! We went to Maga’s today and guess what she served as my request for dessert? Trifle! Oh, heaven in a bowl. I know you like it better than me, and apparently Maga forgot that. She thought that I loved Trifle the most when you were the one that had me try it in the first place. We got NBA Jam on the Xbox after getting it on the phone when a new update came out. There wasn't an update for the Xbox version, but it’s still way better. My favorite team is Seattle. I’m really disappointed that they don’t have KD on it, but they still have Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp who are boss. Anyway, hope you’re having a BOOMSHAKALAKIN time in Puebla. I hate that commentator on NBA Jam. Wuv, Keaton

Dear Landon, so how has the first week in Mexico been? Must’ve been scary! But I bet the first week is the most exciting and curious week. I bet that you've learned more this week than you have in your whole MTC experience. I remember Dad saying something like that. I bet you’re doing great. Oh and Happy Easter! Feels missing down here without you, especially when we were hiding the eggs at grandma’s house. Usually I do that with you and Keaton. And this year it was mainly just with Keaton. Then we had brisket for breakfast at Maga’s which was delicious! And we also had a trifle which was just so good. I remember multiple years ago when we helped her make it. It was way good. You've almost been gone for two months. It’s been surprisingly fast. So with me at school, I’ve started scheduling for classes. I think next year I’m going to take AP Psychology and AP Statistics like you said. I’m taking AP Physics and Chemistry this year. I’m only taking AP Physics because the teacher is good, not because I’m crazy. That’s all that I've been doing really, so I hope you are doing well in Mexico, Love, Callahan

  • Dear Colton, The experiences I have here in Mexico are sure awesome and crazy! But it sounds like that you guys are having some of your own crazy experiences! I have to say that this week was hard realizing that you guys were doing all those family events for Easter. Enjoy them! You will really miss them when you are my age.. Keep on being an awesome little brother! I love you. Elder Blackham
  • Dear Cooper, Sounds like some awesome Easter times you had with the family! Families are really important here in Mexico. Seeing all the close families makes me miss you guys a lot. So make sure to enjoy all the little family events, you will cherish them when you are my age. I hope you are doing well with the spring storms coming. Remember, there is no reason to be afraid. I love you.Elder Blackham
  • Dear Keaton, Haha you would be surprised what missionaries do to have fun. From dinner (en el CCM) we collected of bunch of tin foil, made a ball, then passed it around.. In Pringle's cans! It was surprisingly entertaining.. Awesome accomplishment with the Rubik's cube! Very impressive! Ohh trifle.. It is indeed heaven in a bowl.. We've been fed surprisingly well here.. A lot of chicken, which is no reason to complain. Keep up the hard work in school and do your best everyday! I wuv you too. Elder Blackham
  • Dear Callahan, The first week has sure been an interesting one, as you can read in my other letter. Honestly.. Its been quite difficult to learn, because the new environment is just so overwhelming, but I am doing my best. Yeah.. while watching the priesthood session was pretty hard for me, thinking what you guys were doing afterwards.. Going to get something to eat.. Enjoy those moments while you can. You are the next one to "leave the nest" it will come so fast. Those are some awesome choices for classes next year! I can't promise that AP Psychology will be as awesome as mine class without Co-J (my teacher). The AP tests you have now are coming pretty quick right? Next month? That's when mine were. Good luck! Study all the time! I love you. Elder Blackham