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

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