Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27, 2014- My First Talk in Spanish

Week # 5- August 27, 2014

Hello family and friends,
In exactly seven days from now, I will be traveling to Virginia. I’m really excited to start preaching the gospel but I will also miss Mexico City and the CCM.

Here is what happened this past week:
Last Preparation day I got a haircut from a lady who spoke absolutely no English. Lets just say I don’t think she really understood what I wanted when I tried to explain it in Spanish, so I ended up getting a super short haircut.

I have found a new hobby. Shining shoes is one of the best activities ever. I just felt so accomplished when my shoes were all shiny. To those who have the time, I would definitely suggest shining your shoes. Ha Ha

Rugby got banned here at the CCM. We were only playing two- hand touch but some guy twisted his ankle. The past few weeks there have been a lot of kids who broke their noses during soccer. I guess the president of the CCM realizes that if he were to ban soccer here, it would create a problem with the Latinos.

Our morning teacher´s last day was last Saturday. He got another job in Mexico City so we will have a substitute teacher for the rest of this week.

Since we are in the heart of Mexico City its easy to hear the things that are going on outside the CCM even though you can´t see it because of the high walls. The past few days there has been some really good quality Mariachi Bands playing. We can hear the music while we’re walking to class, and it has been pretty fun to listen to.

Both of our teachers told me and Elder McCall that they thought that we are the best teachers in our district, so they both asked us to go teach one of the new districts how to plan lessons to teach an investigator and how to create a language plan. We are going to teach them tomorrow.

This Sunday I gave a 5 minute talk about the el don del Espirtu Santo, the gift of the Holy Ghost, in Spanish in our sacrament meeting. I think that giving a talk in Spanish is easier than giving a talk in English. It was cool because even though I had to read a lot from my talk, there were definitely some parts in my talk where I was able to look up and just speak in Spanish like when I was bearing my testimony.

Sunday night one of our latino friends got really sick. So he asked us to give him a blessing. His companion gave the blessing but he asked me to anoint the oil, and of course I had to do it in Spanish. I have never done an anointing before so it was really cool to try to do it in Spanish.

Here in the CCM I have been trading one-dollar bills for bills from the other countries that are equal to the dollar bill in the US. So far I have money from Columbia, Honduras, and Peru.

This week has been a really good week but it has definitely gone by fast. I´m really excited to get out into the field and to start preaching the gospel to the people in North Carolina and Virginia. 

Elder Cannon

I am pointing to Virginia on this map.  This is where I'll be sharing the gospel next week.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 20, 2014- Two More Weeks in the MTC

August 20, 2014
Hello family and friends,

I can’t believe that I am going to be in the mission field in Virginia in two weeks. The days here in the CCM go by slow but the weeks just fly by. It’s so strange to think that I have been away from Arizona for almost a full month.

Last P-day, Elder Mann, from New Zealand, and I taught a bunch of Latinos from Mexico and Colombia how to play two hand touch rugby. After we played with them for a little bit, they said that they really liked it and they thought it was as fun as soccer. Now that´s an accomplishment to get a Latino to say that another sport is just as good as soccer, or as it is called here, futbol.

The guys Brazil and the Dominican Republic wanted to arm wrestle me because they thought they could beat me, but I ended up winning both times.

There has been a package being sent around our district that includes a bunch of treats from a mystery friend.  There are also 50 pesos in the package with instructions to buy treats and then send the package to another person in our district. Elder McCall and I were able to figure out that it was Elder Schwartz who started it all, but we haven’t told him that we know it is him. Elder Schwartz is so selfless.

It has been hard to sleep at night in the CCM, lately. It’s always too hot in our dorms because there is no air conditioning, so we have to open our windows at night to at least get some air circulation. The problem is Mexico City is busy like New York City is. It’s a party all night long. You can hear lots of traffic noise because there are over 20 million people here in Mexico City, and the people here really like to honk their car horns and set off fireworks all night long so that you end up trying to sleep with a ton of noise going on around you. Thursday night, Elder McCall and I were sleeping and then we woke up at 1:00 a.m. to this super weird noise coming from a speakerphone. We honestly thought there was some type of alien invasion or something because the voice coming out of the speaker was so distorted and they were saying the same thing over and over again. One of our Latinos friends in our dorm was awake so we had him come listen to the noise. After he listened for a couple of seconds he started laughing and said it was only a tamale truck driving by the CCM and the person on the speakerphone was just saying “'Tamales, get your tamales here,” in Spanish.

On Friday, Elder McCall and I went to purchase something at the tienda, or store, here at the CCM. We get 100 pesos a week to spend at the tienda.  When we got there we found out that they weren’t accepting credit cards or the cash cards that missionaries receive each week. So, Elder McCall went over to get some pesos from the card machine but instead of pulling out a 100 pesos he ended up pulling out 1000 pesos, about 70 US dollars.  The card machine wouldn’t let him deposit the money back in.  I guess he’ll have to spend it all before he leaves.

On Saturday I had a couple of really cool experiences. In the morning our teacher had us do this activity where he paired us up with someone in our district. Then we were instructed to talk about what we each felt like we were struggling with here in the MTC. Then we were supposed to receive revelation for that person to help them become a better missionary. I was partnered up with Elder B. He told me about himself and then explained that he had been struggling with learning Spanish, since I’m district leader I already knew this but, and he felt like it was because of a lack of faith. After he told me all the information, I prayed that I would be able to receive inspiration on how to help him with his problem. Instead of receiving an answer on how to help him with his faith, I felt impressed that faith wasn't a problem for him at all but it was his works [work ethic]. So I showed him a bunch of scriptures that talked about how it was important to have faith but it was also really important to have works. Ever since we did that activity, Elder B. has been working really, really hard to learn the language. I think that what I told him was definitely what the Lord wanted him to hear.

Later in the day on Saturday, our district got the opportunity to teach a person that was pretending to be a less active member. However, our teacher came up to Elder McCall and I and told us he wanted us to teach a REAL less active member. Elder McCall and I were really worried at first because all the other lessons we had taught had either been with a staff member here in the CCM who was pretending to be an investigator or one of our fellow missionaries was pretending to be an investigator, so we prayed before we went in to teach her. Elder McCall and I taught a woman named Taynia who was lives in Mexico City.  After we talked to her for a little bit, we felt like we needed to teach her about the Plan of Salvation. Even though we were teaching in our broken Spanish and we had a hard time understanding her because she was speaking so fast, I feel like the lesson went really well.  We got her to pray at the end of the lesson, which is always a good thing.

Our zone leaders for the past two weeks left for the field two days ago so we got two new zone leaders. Every day we teach three lessons to investigators, two of the lessons are with our two teachers who are pretending to be an investigator and the other lesson is with one of the other missionaries of our district. On
Monday night we were teaching one of the missionaries from our district. Elder McCall and I had a lesson prepared and as we started talking with them we felt like we needed to abandon our previously planned lesson plan and talk only about El Libro de Mormon[the book of Mormon] Elder McCall and I spent twenty minutes teaching him about El Libro de Mormon and then we bore our testimony. The spirit was so strong during the lesson especially when Elder McCall and I were bearing our testimonies. When I was bearing my testimony I felt the spirit so strong and I have never felt the spirit so strong before in my life. It was an amazing experience and I definitely learned from that lesson that it is so important to follow the spirit and teach what the spirit tells you to teach.

On Monday morning we had to say goodbye to our Latino friends, which was really sad because I’ve really grown to like all of those guys. Yesterday night we got a new group of Latino friends.  This is our third group because Latinos stay here only 2 weeks whereas we are here for 6. The new Latinos that share our dorm are so amazing. One of the Latinos knows English really well and he speaks Spanish really fast so its going to be a really good opportunity for us for white guys who are staying with them because it will help us to understand Spanish when people are speaking fast.

Every Tuesday night we have a devotional. Last night Elder Piper from the Area seventy came to talk to us. He talked about the importance of missionaries and members working together. He said, “To have success as a missionary in bringing others to Christ and to hasten God´s work, depends on our ability to be one with the members.” I never realized how important it is, as members, to be close to the missionaries and work together with them to bring souls to Christ. I would like to encourage every one back home and anyone who is reading my letter to work closely with the missionaries in your area so that you can bring souls to Christ.

Elder Cannon

Here is a picture of me and the Latinos who have been in our dorm that past two weeks. They are Elder Alvarez on the left and Elder Santamaria on the right. They left Tuesday morning. 

Picture of me and Elder Nascimiento from Brazil (left) and Elder Alva from Mexico (right).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13, 2014- Improving Every Day

August 13, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
I can´t believe that I am halfway through the CCM. Time is definitely picking up here now that I am used to the rigorous schedule. I am basically either studying the scriptures or studying Spanish from 7:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night. Although it is difficult and I am always tired, it definitely has been worth it. My ability to understand and speak Spanish has been improving a lot. I can understand Spanish better than I can speak it, but, but I am definitely improving my speaking skills. My companion and I have gotten to the point where we teach lessons to our investigators, who are really just our two teachers, completely in Spanish. We can teach a 20-minute lesson without referring to notes at all which is definitely an improvement from our first lessons our first week here where we just read off our notes. In addition, earlier this week, I was asked to act as a practice investigator for some Hermanas who are leaving for the mission field in a week. They are completely fluent in Spanish and they talked so fast. I was actually surprised that even though they were speaking so fast to me for those twenty minutes, I understood 98 percent of what they were saying and I was able to respond back to their questions. 

At the beginning of this week our teacher pulled my companion and I aside. He had us write down two things that we felt like we had accomplished here at the CCM so far. He kept asking refining questions until we were able to identify a strength that was a Christ like attribute. He then asked us to do the same thing with a weaknesses until we discovered a Christ like attribute that we can work on developing. This activity really helped me to realize how I can become a better missionary. 

One of the days this week we played cage soccer with a bunch of Latinos. Cage soccer is soccer in a fenced in outside basketball court.  It was so much fun because there were the four of us white guys and then like 10 Latinos who didn’t speak any English at all so we had to try to communicate with them with our limited Spanish. (Our Spanish is so limited right now because basically the only Spanish we know is gospel related terms and phrases.) 

Every Wednesday, we get a bunch of new missionaries coming into the CCM. One of the guys who came in is Elder Mann who is from New Zealand. I talked with him and found out that he played rugby in New Zealand. So we both decided that during one of our gym times we wanted to get people together to play some touch rugby. We ended up playing a 60 minute game of touch rugby, my district vs. his district. It was actually a ton of fun. I miss rugby so much and I never would have guessed that I would have been able to play rugby in Mexico City. 

A couple nights ago, my companion and I had a rap battle with a bunch of Latinos. We rapped in Spanish and the rap had to be about the Gospel. It was way cool because the Latinos are really good at rapping on the spot and a lot of them are really good at beat boxing. 

A virus has been passing around the CCM again this week. They think this virus might be Salmonella because all of the sick missionary's symptoms are the same. Over 100 kids out of the 1200 kids here got it. I was lucky enough to not get it, but one of the guys in my district ended up getting sick with it. He got so dehydrated from the effects of the illness that he had to go to the hospital. He’s the same guy who had to go to the hospital two weeks ago because he fell and hit his head.  So in the three weeks that he has been here, he has been to the Mexican hospital twice. He’s been super unlucky. 

The guys in our district and I have started to be assimilated into the Latino culture. Anytime any Latino sees us they ask us, ¿Que Pasa? Or ¿Como le va? and then we bump each others elbows.  I’m going to miss seeing these Latino missionaries every day when I leave the CCM. 

Every week, a district in our zone leaves for the mission field. District 9D left on Monday. It was actually kind of sad because I really liked all the people in there. Everyone in the district has been so inspirational. They have shown me that the Gift of Tongues is real, especially Elder Stern. Elder Stern came into the MTC not knowing any Spanish at all, and when he left this Monday he spoke excellent conversational Spanish. In fact his Spanish was so good that for the last week, they put him and his companion in a new district of just Latino Elders so that he could help teach them Predicad Mi Evangelio (Preach My Gospel) and help the new Latinos get used to being in the CCM. 

Every Tuesday, we have a devotional where a general authority comes and speaks with us. Then after the devotional is finished, we are supposed to go back to our district´s room and discuss the devotional and how we felt. All of the devotionals since I have been here have touched on the subject of exact obedience. Our district has been struggling with this especially when it comes to being a little lazy about studying Spanish. Most of the Elders in our district are actually really hard workers, but there is one Elder and two Hermanas who just don’t want to work. Last night while we were back out our district´s room and we were talking about the devotional I felt like I needed to chastise them a little bit about working harder. I got up and talked to them about it, and I felt like I was being directed on exactly what to say. I committed everyone to work harder and we are all fasting together tomorrow as a district that we will all work harder and be able to receive the Gift of Tongues. 

My three weeks here have been so amazing and I am so glad for the opportunity to be out here on a mission. The past week I have realized that I am not giving two years of my life to the Lord but he is giving those two years to me as a blessing. I know being out here on a mission will bless me for the rest of my life, and in fact coming out here on a mission has already blessed me in so many ways. 

Elder Cannon

Here is a picture of a typical Police man in Mexico City. He is carrying a fully automatic and loaded AR 15. So as you can guess, nobody around here messes with the cops.

​Here is a picture of all the guys in our district and our new Latinos. The Latino on the far left is from Salo Paluo Brazil. The other three are from Mexico.

Picture of me and my companion Elder McCall, and Elder Stern. Elder Stern really exemplified how the gift of tongues is real. He came into the CCM knowing nothing and is now completely fluent. He left on Monday for the mission field.

Friday, August 8, 2014

August 6, 2014- Getting Soaked, Revelation and Going to the Temple

Week 3: August 6, 2014
This week went by really quickly. The night after my first Preparation day, which was last Wednesday, it started pouring like crazy. I have never seen it rain so hard in my life. About halfway through the storm, my companion and I, and the other two elders in our district who share the apartment with us, remembered that we left our windows open. So Elder M and I rushed back to our apartment while getting soaked in the process and found that our room was soaking wet and the floor had a couple inches of water on it. It was the same case for our fellow district members as their floor was soaking wet too. Luckily, nothing important got wet so that was a relief. It never fails to rain here in Mexico City every night at around 6 pm. It pours for about an hour or two and then just stops. During the mornings and evenings it is really comfortable. During the middle of the day it varies. Sometimes its really hot but normally it actually feels really nice outside.

Triggered by a thought from Elder S, one of the elders in our district, I had the inspirational idea to have our district study the scriptures every night during the time of personal study. I assigned someone to pick their favorite scripture and just read up about it the night before and then plan to discuss it with the district the following night. These discussions have been the highlight of every day for the past week as the Spirit has been so strong in the room. From discussing a scripture selection for almost an hour or more, I really have learned how to study the scriptures, and I have learned so much about our Savior, faith, the purpose of trials and more. Following our first discussion, I thanked Elder S for sparking my idea. He responded to me by saying,  "It wasn´t my idea, it was your inspired idea."  What he said hit me really hard because I realized that I had received revelation for my whole district and I didn´t even realize it. Our district needed these extremely spiritual discussions and the Lord knew it, he prompted me, and as a result our whole district’s testimonies have definitely grown. So for everyone back home, when you receive either personal revelation or revelation for your calling, immediately act on it because it can really bless the lives of others.

On July 31, my companion Elder M got extremely sick. He caught the same illness that I have had for the past week and a half, but it hit him really hard. So when Elder M woke up feeling really sick, I gave him a Priesthood blessing. He then went to sleep after that and he slept in until 3 p.m. that day. I ended up just staying in our apartment and studying the scriptures and Spanish while he slept. When he woke up, he felt so much better. He was still sick, but he was able to get up and we were able to go back to class. Before I left on my mission, my Stake President told me in my setting apart blessing that if I was worthy I would bless people and heal them.  It was amazing to see that blessing that my Stake President gave me was fulfilled.

The frequency of our classes has started to pick up now. We have classes the whole morning and then we have classes all evening long. After spending so much time in class six days a week, plus trying to study the language during my free time, I have been really tired lately. I have been improving my Spanish speaking this week. I love being able to talk to Latinos around campus. I try to talk to them whether they are missionaries that are sharing our apartment or working here at the CCM. It’s just really cool to talk to the Latinos and see how their life is different and similar to mine.  I am definitely starting to develop a love for the Latino people.  I can still understand the language much better than I can speak it.

About two nights ago, one of the Elders in my district who shares an apartment with me and my companion came into our room. He was struggling with some issues that were troubling him. He came in and talked to me and Elder M for almost two hours (until midnight). Elder M and I tried to answer him the best we could. I could definitely feel the Spirit directing me and Elder M and on what to say and I really feel like we answered his questions. We bore our testimonies and I think that really helped him. Another issue that concerned him is that he has a condition where he has a seizure for about a second or two almost every day. He has to take medicine to try to lessen the seizures. He only has a year’s worth of medication and apparently when he runs out he runs out because his parents can’t afford any more. He is really scared about what is going to happen when he runs out. Elder M and I bore our testimonies that the Lord would provide a way. We then asked him if we could give him a blessing for all the things that were bothering him. Just then, Elder S’s companion, woke up and came into our room. He told us he felt like he had to wake up for something but he wasn’t sure why. Both Elder M and I knew that he was supposed to give the blessing. When he gave the blessing it was amazing because he blessed Elder S exactly with the things Elder S needed to hear, and his companion wasn’t even in the room while we were talking. It was definitely inspiration from the Lord and it was amazing to experience it.

Our Latino Elders who were sharing the apartment with us left on Monday. It was really sad for me and my other 3 roommates because we all had grown so close to them. We exchanged contact information so hopefully we can stay in touch. Today our two new Latino Elders arrived. They are both both from Mexico. The other four guys in our district live next door, and one of their new Latino Elders is from Salo Paulo Brazil. He is a really super cool kid. He knows Portuguese not Spanish but since the two languages are similar, we can understand each other. How many people can say they have talked to someone who speaks Portuguese and is from Brazil? I can!!!

Today we went to the Mexico City temple. On our way there it was really humbling to see the living conditions of the Mexico City citizens. The crazy thing is these people are in the middle class and their standard of living is very meager compared to the middle class in America. It just makes me really grateful for the blessings that I have. We got to walk around the temple grounds, but the temple was closed so we weren´t allowed to go in which was too bad but it was a really neat experience anyway.

Talk to everyone next week!

Elder Cannon