Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 9: "Basically don't mess with the elders"

Buenas Buenas,

So I kept a log this week of all the stuff I wanted to write you guys about, and I made quite a stellar list if I do say so myself. So without hyping it up, here it is

1. An awesome quote I heard that is so true. "You can´t give something away without God giving you more in return." reminded me of another quote that I had heard "No one was ever remembered for what they were given, but for what they gave." Some good stuff ay!

2. We had this elder named Elder Farrow acompany us for three days this week, and he was so chill. Awesome guy, super funny, and full of energy. So this one night, we were walking passed this little sport court. Practically every night we walk past it, and what it is is a basketball sized court with hoops that are basically there for decoration and soccer goals which are why the court is there. Every time we walk passed these kids are always hollering at us like "Oh its the elders come play come play come on!" and every time we are like "Nahh we can't we got work to do!" But this time the kids were like "They scared they don't wanna play" and naturally since we´re guys the three of us looked at each other and were like ok ok ok thats it lets show these boys and gave in. So the three of us tucked in our shirts real good, fastened up our italian silk ties, laced up our leather dress shoes, grabbed two other kids to join our team and played a game of 5 on 5. We played first to two goals. The bad guys scored first, but it was better that way for a more epic victory. We rallied back with a sweet goal, assisted by yours truly. Thank you, thank you, and then it was tied for a while. But of course we had the advantage because I mean let's be honest we´re missionaries so obviously we had God on our side. So naturally he guided the ball directly into our hands and Elder Farrow finished the deal and scored a sweet goal that brought an uproar from the crowd!! They were all bitter cause the missionaries beat them and we just walked away like yea no biggie. It was time well spent because we got a few contacts out of it...basically don't mess with the elders.

3. In one lesson we had, we asked if there were any questions and one of the ladies asked, "Well the one thing I'm wondering is like, when noah built the ark, like, how did the people breathe, because it says like that the flood was so big it like covered mountains and it's like hard to breathe up there you need oxygen so how does that make sense?" At first I was like.... um what... but hey it was an honest question that she really didn't know. We kind just said: God probably figured it out, and also that we didn't think it meant Mt. Everest when it said mountains...gave us a good laugh afterwards.

4. We taught a lesson in English this week because one the of families we taught is from Tucson and English is more comfortable. I gave the opening prayer, and it was SO bad I had to apologize after because I have been praying in Spanish for 2 months now. I like spaced out on how to say it in English. It was really weird at first but I was kind of happy because it meant that my Spanish is coming along :) Cool to teach in English though. Easier to bear my testimony and finally be able to say everything I feel inside, as opposed to having it locked up inside because I dont know how to say it.

5. It was cloudy this week a lot, and it made me miss seattle sooo much. Next time it rains, stand outside and get drenched for me.

Sorry for the long email, but it was a good one this week. Love you all!
Elder Bernal

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 8: "I took my first actual nap since before I left, twas good."


This week we had a special training in the center of Hermosillo for all of the rookie missionaries, which included everyone who has under 12 weeks in Mexico. It was led by the president of our mission and his two assistants, and it was great. We got to listen to some really good advice from experienced missionaries, and we got to ask some questions about things in the mission. They gave us some pretty good tips for our first few months in the mission and I thought it was pretty helpful. My favorite part might have been the long bus ride to and from Hermosillo because it was maybe the nicest Greyline bus I have ever been on, the seats felt like they were clouds from heaven, and I got to take my first actual nap since before I left. So yea twas good.

Another thing that I thought to be particularly interesting this week was something that a member told me that blew my mind. In the legitimate mexican history, that you can probably find on Wiki and also inscribed on many ruins that are in Mexico, such as the ones in Chicken Itza (lol cant remember how to spell it) and Teohawackan (even worse) in Mexico city, it describes of an event where a man descended from the sky, dressed in all white, and visited the people at the pyramids, but there seems to be no explanation to it. Even better, near a waterfall between the border of Guatemala and Mexico, that stil exists today, there is a mural sketched on a wall of a man's dream of a tree with an incredibly white frute, an iron rod, and a tower a little ways off separated by a body of water. Like are you kidding me. Nobody knows where and why this is there, but anyone who knows anything about the Book of Mormon will know exactly why these are there. Of course I dont know the whole story and Im sure there is more to it. But still, this is like common Mexican history knowledge, and its pracically straight out of the Book of Mormon. who knew right?

So that is about it for this week. Talk to you guys soon.
Elder Bernal

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 7: "The Lord loves all his children equally"

Hello all!

Today was transfers day, so we had a few missionaries leave our area and some new ones come. Unfortunately one of my best friends in the mission Elder Mitchell got transferred to Hermosillo, but hopefully I´ll get paired up with him sometime down the road...

Some highlights of the week:

1. We had a special conference this week with Elder Johnson of the seventy who is the president of the Mexico Missions. He was awesome. We spent a large majority of the time talking about how important it is as missionaries to have strong personal testimonies of God. There is power behind a testimony, and everyone needs to continually strengthen there testimony with each day if they want it to have an effect on others. Having faith is not to have a perfect knowledge, but to believe in something that you cant see, but is true. Alma 32, where that scripture is found, was a chapter that really resonated in me this week, and is one that I encourage you all to give a second look at.

2. I started teaching English lessons to Elder Mejia, which consisted of reading the book of Mormon in english and clarifying words he cant pronounce. It took us 2 HOURS to finish two pages! but it was actually pretty fun, and helped him understand a little bit better what I am trying to do with Spanish. 

3. The coolest thing I got to do this week was give a blessing to a family that hasnt been to church in a few years. There were a couple things that made this special. It was the first blessing I was going to give on my mission, and the first blessing I would give in Spanish (for those of you who dont understand, a blessing is essentially a prayer of comfort to someone who needs it). What made this even more special was that I would be giving it to the familys daughter. Her name is Ivon, shes 27, and she has a severe case of down syndrome and other illnesses. Shes been in a wheelchair her entire life, and has the body of an 8 year old. When Elder Mejia told me that I was going to be doing the blessing, in all honesty I started to worry. I didnt know if I was going to say it right, i didnt want to say anything in spanish that would have been uncomfortable for the family, I was just all around nervous. But the second I put my hands on her head and began saying a prayer, I had a feeling of peace overtake me, one that took away all feelings of nerves and worries, and in that moment I know exactly what to say. The words just came right out, without any second thought, almost as if i didnt even realize that it was me saying it. What I took away from the experience was an even greater understanding that the Lord loves all of his children equally. Every single one. Homeless or healthy, poor or rich, disabled or not, God is no respecter of persons. All of us have trials that are unique to us, and we cant understand why they have to happen. I dont know why Ivon has to be one to suffer from these disabilities, or why other people have hardships in their lives that seem unfair, but all we need to know is that God loves all of us the same and has a purpose behind everything. It was an awesome experience, and I hope it gave Ivon and her family a little more peace that they had been needing. They all made it to church that Sunday.

This Wednesday makes 6 weeks, but whos counting? Talk to you all next week!

Elder Bernal

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Week 6: "Every day of our lives is a day to be grateful"

Buenas Amigos!

Another great week here. Nothing very unique to report. but all is well. We are having transfers next monday, so there may be a few missionaries coming and going. The Hermosillo mission is supposed to get 22 new missionaries as well, so that would make 200 total in the state of Sonora, more than ever before!

Finally remembered to bring my address, here it is.

(Elder) Connor Bernal
Av. Garcia Conde 301
Col. Pitic
Hermosillo, Sonora
C.P. 83150

A little tip that someone told me: sometimes the big packages are more likely to be "inspected" meaning that the mailman wants to know if he wants whats inside, so if you want you can like put some religous stickers of Jesus or the virgin mary (seriously) on the package and usually they wont mess with it. An even more ensuring way is to do it through UPS. It will probably be a little more expensive though. I´m sure if you ask the people at the post office they will probably be able to give you some better advice than me.

I would say that the best thing that happened this week was a zone meeting that we had with all the missionaries in our zone, which was about 24. Our zone leaders gave us a little bit of a pep talk that was really good, all about motivating us to work as hard as we can. One of them asked us a question and said,"If you were to have Christ himself come teach with you for a day, how successful do you think it would be, and how hard would you work?" After we all agreed it would be a really good day, our zone Leader then said,"Then tell me why everyday of your mission is any different? Are we not all walking with his spirit every day, and is that not essentially the same thing?" ahh I LOVED that, our zone leaders are real good. Then after that, the three missionaries that were leaving bore their testimonies to us. Through all their tears, the spirit really hit all of us in the room. These elders, who were about to finish their two years of service, now wanted nothing more than to stay in Mexico as missionaries for two more. Each one of them had such a strong testimony and they knew that church is true, and you could really see it in their eyes. I went home that night and wrote in my journal what they said. I wanted to remember the words of the departing missionaries, so I can remember for every day of my mission that there are so many other people who would kill to be in my place. The mission is so short, and an opporunity like this is not one to be taken lightly.

Everyday of our lives is a day to be grateful for where we are and what we have. One day we are all going to look back and realize how fast it all went. If we dont give every day our very best, we are cutting ourselves short of the beauties of life. Because of those missionaries, I know that in two years, I will be able to look back on my mission and say that I gave it my everything, and I did all that the Lord wanted me to do with the time given me. It would be a shame and a waste to live any other way.

Love you all, and I hope that you can see the awesomeness that life has to offer with each new sunrise. Talk to you in a week!

Elder Bernal

ps. some pics from the mission thus far

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Week 5: "One month already!"

Hello all!

This Wednesday it will be a month in the mission already. I've noticed that the days started off to go by pretty slow, but the weeks fly by. As things become a little more comfortable, everything just starts going by faster. Some of the guys here say that once the language is no longer an issue, you no longer realize how fast everything goes by and before you know it you're done, so I know I have to cherish every moment, even the hard ones!

This week was a pretty good one by all means. We had 3 days in a row that were just awesome. It was exciting for me to actually be able to participate a little more in the lessons, being able to bear my testimony and such, and also be able to keep up with what everyone is saying. This week I extended my first baptism invitation to a Mother we had been teaching, and she said yes! Despite the broken spanish, she seemed very happy that we were there and wanted to learn more. We didn´t have that many lessons though because this week is called Carnival, and its basically a city wide celebration where nobody is home and everyone is out and about doing stuff, so we didn't have as much to do as normal.

So in the MTC, I noticed I had like a little rash on my cheek that I would like scratch every morning, and I figured it would go away. But this last week I was getting pretty bad, and it turned into just a big red ring of rash on my cheek. We ended up having to go to the doctors to get it checked out and I had to pay him 30 bucks for a two minute meeting where he told me to just buy the standard rash cream or something in the pharmacy downstairs because I guess its just a really common fungus in Mexico. If I wouldn't have done anything though, it would have just kept expanding until it covered my body so luckily we got it taken care of.

We did our first service project, and it was sweet! We helped a lady build a cement shelf around part of her house, which included making all this cement from scratch and then building this little fence. It was super hot too but really fun. I forgot to bring my camera otherwise I would send you back some sweet pics of us with our shovels. It was right after this that we met a couple that send they had heard all about the church, they´d been to Utah and had read part of the book of Mormon, and they had tried to be baptized before, but for whatever reason it fell through.... Elder Mejia and I were both just like how in the world did we just land such awesome investigators. It just goes to show that the lord will bless us when we serve others. Never forget that service is one of, if not the best ways that we can show our love for others and for God.

Unfortunately I spoke too soon, and since I "thought" I could sing, me and three other elders have been picked to perform a piece in front of our special conference we are having in three weeks. An apostle and a few Elders from the seventy will be there, so we like have to practice to make sure its good, but none of us a very good at singing so it might be awful probably will be but whatta ya gonna do. We are going to sing Armies of Helaman, great song, so hope that it goes well....

Still real real hot here. I think its around 80 or 90ish, and the summer is supposed to be upwards of about 120 before the humidity. I also have a narly tan line from where my dress shirt cuts off at my neck, and I'm going to try and see how bad it can get in two years.

Hope all is well!

Elder Bernal

P.S. This photo is of a couple of us missionaries from our zone having lunch at a really nice member's house in San Carlos. The Elder on the right is Elder Mitchel and guess what, he and I will be teammates at BYU when we both get back! What are the odds right????