This Is Peru!

This Is Peru!

September 15, 2010

2nd Week!!!


Hola familia!!
 
How is everyone doing? I sure hope everyone is well! Wow this week has been crazy and its flown by so very quickly. To start off, Sunday went quite well. However our Devotional was cancelled due to construction in the gym. No good! But it was still a good time. Some elders in our district practiced to sing "Come Thou Fount" in Sacrament meeting, but we weren't able to because another elder wanted to sing and he left today. So, he took precedence apparently. BUT, on our Temple walk we were able to sing up on the Temple grounds which was really cool. No need for a piano because we did it accapella, or however you spell it! So that was really neat. We also have learned the Tongan hymn, Folofola mai au si su'. Or something like that! I have a video of us singing it so maybe I'll figure out how to send that to you eventually. Later on Sunday, we watched the Joseph Smith movie. I. Love. That. Movie. I've watched it before, but just being here at the MTC really touched me, and I felt the Spirit so much stronger than before watching it. It was fantastic.
 
Yesterday we had a Devotional and the speaker was Elder Brian Richards and his wife. They gave us a great message about missionary work! He had us watch a video by Jeffrey R. Holland of the 12 Apostles, titled "Why is it so hard?" Why does missionary work have to be so hard?" he said. It got me thinking. It is the truth, it offers eternal families, and it brings the most pure form of happiness that we as humans can possibly experience... Right? Right... So, then why is it hard? Well, he offers a perfect answer. He says, "I am convinced that missionary work is hard because salvation is not a cheap experience. How can we expect it to be easy, when for Him, it never was? The atonement will carry you when you are discouraged, rejected, spit on, or cast out. Because you are on the journey that never was meant to be easy. But it always will be worth it." Personally, I could not have asked for a better answer. Why would I be out here if I didn't know for myself, without a doubt in my mind, that this work is the truth? The answer is, I wouldn't. But thankfully I have a testimony of this gospel and I am so grateful for that!!! The days can be really long and hard here, but I keep chugging along as I cling to my testimony that is growing stronger every day. Now, just because he talks about missionary work, the same thing can be said about life. Life was never meant to be easy. It was meant to try us and test us. How can we expect to grow without trials? I am grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to put me through trials. I learn so much, and I'm so grateful. Sunday was SUCH a good day. Very needed!!
 
Mom and Dad, thank you for your letters! I always look forward to them. Even though if you, Dad, were falling asleep writing mine at 1 am!! haha. Thank you for the good advice, and I will be reading the booklet you gave me on my flight to Peru. Apparently other books aren't allowed in the MTC. So yeah! No worries! OH YEAH. I got my flight plans. I leave on September 22nd!! I have to be ready to go at 3am. Our flight leaves SLC at around 6. So everyone be awake and ready for me to call you and chat!!! I have two layovers. One in Dallas, and one in Miami. So I will see what I can do to call you then! If you can, send me some extra cash in the next package, I will need it... Haha. Muchas gracias por su paciencia! Mom! Ah! I loved your letter. Thank you so much! I love you so much, and I miss you tons as well! I couldn't have asked for a better mother. Thank you for being so fantastic. Theres no need to be sad! I'm doing the Lords work happily and lovingly! I'm exactly where I need to be. I am trying to be more Christ-like and I can safely say that I already basically know how because of the example you and dad have both set for me. I am so lucky to have such strong parents.
 
Anyway my time is about up! Thank you for everything. Keep me in your prayers. I don't ahve Pattis address, so please tell her thank you for me and that I am so happy that she has kept me in mind! She is amazing. Tell her that I really love her!! Congrats on the Jeep, Bridge. :) Don't be too crazy. Keep telling everyone to write me! I miss you all so much! Ethan, its okay about the game, keep your head high stud. Tanner! Thank you for you letter buddy!!! I love you and you are all in my prayers. I'll be sending you another hand written letter with other details.
 
MUCH LOVE,
Elder Jordan Van Christensen

September 12, 2010

FIRST WEEK!!!


Hola mi familia!!!!
 
Man there is so much to share I don't know where to begin!! Well, first off, you gotta know that I am absolutely loving it here at the MTC! Its such a spiritual place and I can feel the gift of tongues as I do my best and be meticulously obedient. My companion Elder ******** was sent home yesterday due to worthiness issues. :/ NO bueno. I am really sad for him, but I am also grateful that he is getting things fixed! Hopefully in a year or so he will decide to try it again. His mission call stays the same so I might even be able to be his trainer! BUT, this is a perfect example of procrastinating your repentance. Boys, I'm talking to you! Don't wait until you're on your mission. Very bad idea. Anyway! We had a great devotional yesterday from Elder Lowell Powell of the Seventy about choices. A quote that he shared was "Choices reveal your true nature." How true that is! It was such a great devotional. My new companion(s) are Elder Thurman, and Elder Leonard. They are great! It's definitely a little awkward being in a threesome, but oh well! I'll just do my best. Our district is soo great! We have two Elders from American Samoa, and they are way good at singing! They taught us a Samoan hymn and it is so sweet. I have felt myself change in this past week alone! It is amazing to me. I miss all of you so much and being here has made me realize how much I truly love all of you.
 
Unfortunately I only have 30 minutes on the computer! Ah!! Well, what else, OH! I got the care package!! I love it! Really anything is good to have. Maybe some more hard candy, peachie o's, and gummie bears! Also, the ring!! My size is 9.5. I would like to get that before I leave in 2 WEEKS!! I can't believe its already been a week. Time truly flies.. Sunday was so great. We had some good meetings with good lessons taught. Identifying the Spirit and knowing our Heavenly Father loves us just to name a couple.
 
Keep using Dear Elder. Don't email me on here... Reading it drains my time I have to write you! Just FYI, oh and send me my navy blue BYU shirt! I don't have it here. (I think).
 
On Tuesday I think, Elder ******** and I were at the front desk trying to contact someone who he could talk to about his issue, when all of a sudden I saw Tim! Yes, Tim Taylor haha. I was very surprised, but I guess Hunter's ankle is still giving him some issues. So he came home on a medical release. I really hope he gets everything resolved and that he doesn't have to have another surgery. That would be terrible. But it was good to see Tim, I told him to tell you that I love you guys!!
 
I have really been trying to keep the spirit with me, and I've found that you literally have to be obedient 100% of the time! Its hard to do, but I've been doing my best I have to remember to repent daily for the things that I do wrong. For gym, I have been playing a lot of futbol which is a lot of fun! One of the rules is no headers, which I have a hard time obeying... especially when you have a perfect cross right in front of the goal just begging to be headed in! Pero... esta bien. I have learned a lot of spanish! I have learned to pray, bear my testimony, and were learning to conjugate the verbs. Present tense/past/and future. So I will try to do that for you when I close this letter. Only 10 minutes left!
 
Bridger and Ethan, thank you for your letters guys! Bridge, did you really get a double lincoln? Like, for reals? IF so... I'm impressed. Haha and Ethan! Way to go holmes! I'm glad you're loving football! But when you get both hands on the ball, GRAB it!! :) Haha I love you guys so much and I miss you! Keep writing me about whatever is going on in your life okay? I love hearing about it.
 
Mom and Dad! Thank you so much for your letters. I'm glad you were able to get my letter okay! I'm sorry it was short, I didn't have much time to write. But I will be printing off some pictures and I will send them via the mail shortly... Mom, its okay to be sad, but just know that I love you and I truly do feel your prayers, as I do everyone elses. I am so grateful for that. I hope that everyone will keep me in their prayers these next two weeks. Our district is now SYL (speak your language) all the time except in gym and class. It is pretty hard to do, but with the power of the Holy Ghost I know that I will be able to learn a TON. Dad, keep the boys in line for me! Even though I gave bridger the keys to be the man of the house while I'm away. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I love you so much. I couldn't ask for a better example in my life. You are the man. Yo se que la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadera. Yo se que Jose Smith fue llamado a Dios. Yo se que la oracion es muy importante por nuestro Salvacion. Yo se que Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador. Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios. I love this gospel. I love all of you soo much. You are all in my prayers. Choose the right and stay strong boys. I know you can do it.
 
I miss all of you so much! Keep writing me!
 
Love your son and brother,
 
Elder Jordan Van Christensen

August 10, 2010

Companions for a Day


Friday, August 6th 2010:

That day was just like any other day. Woke up around 10, (yes, I know I will have to change that, as well as going to bed at a decent hour preferably before 3am) and had myself a bowl of the favorite cereal, you guessed it, Cap'n Crunch. My dad asked me to go up to Tremonton to run an errand and save him some time. So, I got dressed and was about to head out. I went downstairs to grab my iPod for the drive, when I got a phone call. I saw that I didn't recognize the number, but answered it.
"Hello" ..."Hey, what's up?"..."Oh, nothing really"..."Do you know who this is?"..."Well, I can't say that I do!"..."Well, this is Elder Florence, how's it goin?"..."What?! Dude, what are you doing??"
Okay, so some quick background before continuing with the story. Eric is my really good friend from here in Ogden, who left on his mission on May 19th. He was called to the Mexico, Hermosillo mission. He did his 2 months in the MTC, but whilst there his visa had still not came. So, he received a temporary assignment in the SLC South mission for 4-6 weeks. He has been there for about 3 weeks now and is hoping the visa comes quickly. Anyway... on Tuesday, I got a letter from Eric saying somehow he got it cleared that I can come do splits with him on Friday! I was SO excited I can't even tell you! But, the very next day I got a short letter from him apologizing and saying how sorry he was and that rules are rules and it just couldn't happen. So I was super bummed, but I just shrugged it off. It seemed too good to be true anyway. Now, on with the phone call...
"Well, for our appointments today we are supposed to be teaching with members, and the one that we counted on coming can't come anymore. So I talked with the President and said that I have a member friend up in Ogden that might be able to come and he said 'Well, alright then'. So do you want to still come today?"..."Are you kidding me right now? I really can come?"..."Yeah man! Can you be here by 1?"..."Heck yes I can be there by 1!"..."Alright bro, it's a deal. Just call me back on this number when you get close."..."Alright! Will do! I'll call you in a little while!"
So I rushed back into my room, stripped down, and got dressed in a shirt and tie really quick. Grabbed my scriptures, a camera, and whatever else I needed and I was off to West Jordan! I hustled quickly, but got caught in the blasted I-15 traffic that we all know and hate. So I was late about 15 minutes, but their 1'oclock appointment canceled so it was all good! All three of them (Eric is in a threesome companionship until he leaves) rode up on their bikes and we gave each other the customary bro hug/hand shake. It was so good to see that kid again! I missed him. So we all jumped in my car, and headed out. They had the luxury of air conditioning in the scorching sun for that day, for which they were very grateful. We started out going to the trailer park where they had a few contacts. The first had to go to a parole meeting, because he just got out of prison. So that didn't work. Next we tried an investigator that from what I heard was just gold and was ready to be taught about the restoration, because he believes we are still in the Great Apostasy. Sadly, he wasn't at home. So after that, we tried our luck going around knocking on part member families homes. We walked for quite a while, and no one was interested unfortunately. After that we were all pretty sweaty/thirsty/needing to go pee, haha so we went to the church and got a drink, took advantage of the air conditioning, and used the restroom! We talked about where we wanted to go for dinner, because Erics mom Rachel was kind enough to offer to pay for all 4 of us! However, they did have a dinner appointment set up at 5:30 and I had to just wait it out because they weren't planning on 4 missionaries. But in the meantime, they have a kid named Daniel who has a baptismal date set for next Saturday! So we taught him the rest of the Ten Commandments, and challenged him to keep them. And he will! Daniel is such a cool kid. He is actually a tattoo artist, so he has a lot of tattoos on his arms and stuff, but he has a good heart and we can all see the Spirit working on him. It was such a good lesson and it kind of made up for all of the back luck earlier. After we were done at Daniels, it was time for their dinner appointment. So I dropped them off, and went to the gas station and just waited. They called about an hour later, and we went to their house to grab a few things. Their house was pretty, well, used. It's really old, and the basement is UN-finished. It looks like it could be Mexico down there actually. Needless to say, it was pretty bad.

So we got what we needed from the house and went to dinner. We ended up at Bajio, which turned out to be a A LOT tastier than I had expected. It was very delicious, thanks Rachel!! After talking and having a really good time at dinner, we tried going back to some of the contacts that weren't able to see us/weren't at home. And, you guessed it. No one was available. So we went to the Ward Mission Leaders home and sat down and had their weekly meeting with him. He is a great man! After we had left, we saw that it had rained and the sky was very dark, threatening of a big storm. So we decided we were done, and I took them back to where they locked their bikes up. Me and Eric got one last picture together and we said our final goodbye for the next two years.

I will always remember that day. It was so fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better Friday! Preaching the gospel, being a missionary, and being a companion for a day with a best friend.

August 2, 2010

1 Month.

That's all I've got left.

Seems like yesterday the countdown gadget on the right side of the page read 100, and the one in my head read: "You got time..." But that's just not the case anymore. I am amazed yet again on how fast time flies. It's been all too real today, sharing my last fast and testimony meeting with my family. It has been such a wonderful day filled with the Spirit. My dad, and two of my little brothers bore their testimony before I did. I am going to miss all of my little bro's so much. I love them and I'm proud of them for being who they are and knowing where they stand. It's going to be so different not having my parents at my disposal for advice on this or that, and I'm going to miss them.

I've been reflecting on the past year recently and all of the wonderful memories I have made and the people I have had the blessing to share them with. I've learned so much, and I'm so very grateful for my friends examples to me. A lot has happened in the past year. From meeting a wonderful girl, to vacationing in Mexico, to watching almost every one of my friends leave on their missions... And of course everything in between! With everything however there will always be trials. And I have taken them head-on and have overcame them with help of my family and friends. I am so grateful for each of them.

I have some very fun plans ahead of me this last month! And I'm glad I can spend them with family and new friends. :) I have been slowly checking items off of my "bucket list" before I'm a full time missionary. Haha. This last month will also be very busy. I've been shopping with my mom a lot lately for everything missionary. It's all a lot more than I could have expected, I guess going away for 2 years requires a great deal of necessities. I am so blessed to be called to serve in such a unique place as Peru. I can barely contain my excitement! I think this might be the scripture going on my plaque. I haven't decided yet.

D&C 42:6-7 "And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God. And ye shall go forth baptizing with water saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

All in all, I have become ever more enthralled by life. The very idea of life simply amazes me. I daresay that I have learned more about myself in this last year than any previous. I know who I am and for what seems like the first time, I know what I want. Serving my mission is only the foundation for the rest of my life. Then the real fun begins. I know where I'm going, and I have my goal set in my head. I'm in a never ending fight for that goal, and I will never give up.

I've got 30 days, 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 21 seconds until I leave. Time to get down to business.

May 24, 2010

Not just 12 weeks...

On May 5th, 2010 my future for the next two years was decided.

Still asleep, my dad comes in my room, wakes me up, and says the phone is for me. I look at the time, seeing it was 7 something in the am, I wondered who in the world would want me on the phone at such an awful hour. Come to find out its our mail-woman, calling and informing me that a large envelope with my name on it, preceded by the title "
Elder", had arriv
ed. She gave me the option to come pick it up or wait until the mail came. My heart jumped up in my throat, and any and all sleepiness disappeared in an instant. My mission call was finally here.

I jumped out of bed still in sleepi
ng attire, (or the lack thereof) and went to tell my dad the news. I think he was more expectant that it would come that day, and seeing the post office was calling, he put two and two together. He told me that I should go inform my mother of the news... He didn't realize that I had already made plans to surprise her.

My dad went upstairs nonchalantly, got his keys, and I went out the back door up to the garage. After getting to the post office, I rang the bell and sure enough, she showed up with MY mission call. She also told me that Hunters call had came that day as well, but she couldn't get a hold of him. I thanked her, told her I would tell Hunter, and was on my way. I sat in the quiet car for a couple minutes just holding it in my hands. I don't know what it was, but I got kind of emotional. My call from the Lord was finally in my hands. Its been a long time coming.

I got home, and waited at the garage
door because I could hear mom moving about in the laundry room. After I thought the coast was clear, I walked in very quietly. I didn't see her, and my dad informed me she was in the bathroom. Haha. So I walked over to the bathroom, and proceeded to slip the envelope under the door. There was about 8 seconds of silence, then came the response, "Are you kidding me. Really?" I just laughed and let her take it in. After the initial shock was over, we realized that we had A LOT to do. So I ran to the store and got the things she listed for me while everyone pitched in and cleaned up whatever needed to. We had time though, people weren't supposed to show up until 7:30 or so.

Everyone went to Hunters house beforehand to see him open his mission call. He was called to the Mexico, Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission! I'm way stoked for him! There are so many of us that are serving Spanish spea
king missions, it's almost weird. Only a select few are serving in the States, and a couple in Europe. The rest are in Central and South America.

Afterward, everyone kind of just migrated up to my place. Family from both sides of the family were there, as well as many, many friends, and families from the ward as well. Cars were literally lined up down both sides of the street, pretty far. As soon as 8 o'clock rolled around, it was game time. I thanked everyone for coming, and asked my dad to say a prayer before we began. As soon as he opened his mouth I felt the Spirit so strongly. After the prayer, I took a deep breath and slowly opened the letter. I wanted to read it line by line, so I quickly flipped the letter underneath the mission packet. Slowly I slid the mission packet down, first revealing "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," then, "May 4th 2010," and finally, "Dear Elder Christensen:"

The letter goes as follows:
"Dear Elder Christensen:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Peru Cusco Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president."

It was such an amazing experience, just knowing that I am meant to go to Peru, love the people, and bring them to the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and his restored church on the Earth again today. Words could not describe my excitement! The Peru Cusco Mission is brand new, who knows, maybe thats why it took so long! My mission wasn't open just yet.

So after a few tears were shed, the congratulating began. Come to find out that many people I know have been to Cusco for various reasons. From seeing Machu Picchu, to volunteering at an orphanage for 4 months. I am grateful for the knowledge that they are able to share with me! It makes me that much more excited to serve! With my dad having served his mission in Detroit Michigan, and my mom having served hers in Boston Massachusetts, I thought I was for sure going state-side. And if not state-side, I thought maybe Europe. But I was way wrong. I couldn't have picked a better place. Although it took 12 weeks from the time my papers were submitted for my call to get to me, it was worth the wait.

And hey, I've waited
all my life for this. Not just 12 weeks.

video

April 4, 2010

Mexico: Part One.

It has snowed about 4 inches over the last 24 hours. This storm has been quite unexpected for its magnitude. It’s a chilly 34 degrees on our way to the airport and everyone is dressed in winter apparel, except for us. T-shirts and shorts all around. We step out of the car into the bitter cold and check our luggage in and get our boarding passes. The security process went smoothly and we made our way to our terminal, boarded the plane, and began the 4.5 hour flight to the hot, humid, and of course, lovely Yucatan.

We arrive in Cancun around 2:30 to quite a boring airport. Nothing like SLC Intl. We made our way through Immigration and we talked to what appeared to be a concierge. He gave us some tips, showed us the ratio of pesos to US dollars, and what not to get ripped off on. On our way out, we get our rental car and made our way to Playa Del Carmen. When we got to Playa, we stopped at Sam’s Club. Yes, they have Costco and Sam’s Club here in Mexico. All the little ninos run up and down the aisles chasing each other. All you hear are the blur of the conversations shared by the locals. As were shopping around, we cannot find milk for the life of us. So I mustered up what little I could remember from my 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years of Spanish and asked a lady, “Donde esta la leche?” And then came the response, “Siete por el pasillo.” I heard “siete” so obviously to me that meant aisle seven! Alright, Spanish isn’t that bad, I can make my way around! So we get to aisle seven, and the milk comes in individual 12 oz. packages that are all in a big box. It is not refrigerated, which is odd to me. But, I had my Honey Bunches of Oats this morning, and the milk was perfectly normal. We later found cases of fifteen bottles of Sangria, for the equivalent of 5 U.S. dollars. So we bought two. We have fresh pineapple, mangos, and apples! All of which are absolutely delicious. So we finally pay, put the groceries in the carro, and make our way to our condo.

Finding our condo was and adventure in itself. The directions of our concierge at the airport failed us. So we now had to turn to asking the locals for directions. So we stop and ask a policeman if he knows where our condo complex is. Another local stops by who speaks little English, and talks it over with the policeman for about 5 minutes before finally coming to an agreement. This complex where we are staying is only a year old, so it’s no wonder nobody really knows where it is, including them. So we stop yet again and ask another local who then gives us correct directions, finally! We get to our resort and unload the car along with all the groceries. Finally we make it to the room. We open the door, and walk into a totally legit condo. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry room, balcony with a table overlooking the pool/ocean, flat screen TV, leather couches, king bed in one room, and two twins in the other. I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with this place. The beds are very comfortable, and the AC works great. All in all, so far so good! The fam gets in bed around 11, because today we had to wake up at 6:30 to be ready for our tour of Chichen Itza by 7:30. Now I on the other hand, being the night owl I am, stay up talking to some buddies on Facebook for another couple hours. Go figure.

I’ll give you some necessary background info on how we got our tour guide. My dad knows a guy, Mark Nelson, who was here on vacation last fall and had a tour guide whose name was Lemuel. Yes, like the Lemuel in the Book of Mormon. He is LDS and from what Mark said, he gave them a great tour of the many temples and ruins in Chichen Itza. His family names all of their children after the people of the Book of Mormon. Such as: Nephi, Helaman, Mosiah, Alma, Sarah, and Lemuel, to name a few. Now, Lemuel has a son who is Lemuel Jr. Mark and Lemuel were talking, and Mark all of a sudden had a thought come to his mind: “You need to make sure they are prepared to come to General Conference in April.” He blew it off thinking nothing of it. But as he was conversing with Lemuel Jr. this thought came to his mind twice more. So without thinking, Mark blurted out, “Lemuel, your family needs to be ready to come to General Conference in April.” Lemuel said, “Oh Mister Mark, yes we watch Conference every year.” Mark, seeing that he didn’t understand said again, “No Lemuel, you and your family need to be ready to come to General Conference in April.” Lemuel said, “Oh…” while a surprised look overcame his face. He left for a little while, but came back with tears streaming from his eyes. “Mark, it has been my dream to go to Conference all my life. All my moneys go to my family to help them. And I have prayed that if we were to ever go, it would be because we had been helped. Mister Mark, I want you to know that I received an answer to my prayers in less than 24 hours.” So after Marks family returned home, they had many fundraisers set up. Many people in different wards had helped with donations to bring their humble family to Utah. My family attended Marks ward last Sunday, in which we heard this amazing story from the family members themselves. The Spirit was so strong during that meeting. Lemuel translated for his wife, and even though it was hard to understand her, I knew that she believed what she was saying was true.

Lemuel does tours of Chichen Itza for a living, and so does his nephew, Nephi. We talked to Lemuel and he contacted Nephi and got us set up for a tour. We called him yesterday, and told us to be ready by 7:30 am the next day. So we did just that. We woke up early with me only having about 4 hours of sleep. We got in Nephi’s van, and began the 2 hour drive to Chichen Itza. Needless to say, I caught up on some much needed sleep on the ride up. We purchase our tickets and begin our tour. Nephi, in Spanish it is spelled Nefi, gave us an amazing tour with superb insight as to what the many symbols mean and how it pertains to the Book of Mormon. There are so many instances where no one else can explain it without the knowledge the Book of Mormon gives us. One thing that really stood out to me was the carving of a bearded man, whom the Mayans called “The Great White God”. We know this to be Christ.

Probably one of my favorite ruins was where a game was played. Strangely enough, this game can be found in the movie El Dorado. You know, the game with the high walls that go down each side of a field with a hoop at the top? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly recommend watching El Dorado. This game is played with 6 or 7 players on each team. You cannot touch the ball with your hands or feet. Only your arms and hips, just like in the movie! At the end of the game a sacrifice is made. We are not sure who the sacrifice is however. There are carvings that show a player being decapitated, so that is a pretty good hint to the sacrifice. But can you imagine my excitement when I saw this? I thought El Dorado was just pure myth! Well, I guess the whole golden city is pretty farfetched, but they got the game and the temples right!

After seeing all of the ruins and bargaining with some vendors, it was time for lunch and swimming in the cenote! (Pronounced: sen-OH-tay) Lunch. Was. Amazing. I love Mexican food, hands down. I had black beans, rice, beef, fish, chicken, and corn tortillas to wrap it all up in. Salad with green peppers and onions, chips and the spiciest salsa I’ve probably ever had: habanero salsa. We had fresh pineapple, cantaloupe, and watermelon. And to top it all off, a cold glass of limonada. Mm, mm, mm!! So good.

A cenote is like a huge gaping hole in the earth. It is about 250 feet from the top of the hole to the water, and about 150 feet from side to side. No one knows how deep the water goes. No one has ever made it to the bottom. There is a staircase that takes you to the bottom of the cenote, and there is a platform along the side that goes about 25-30 feet up for jumping. The water is crisp, cool, and refreshing. It’s very blue, with lots of fun fish swimming around. After doing some jumping and relaxing in the water, it was time to head home.

We decided tonight that we wanted some authentic Mexican tacos. So we walked down the street and found a taqueria. We sat down and basically made a fool of ourselves. Everyone was getting dinner, and a show. No one understood any English, so I had to try and be the translator. However, we ended up getting exactly what we wanted. I ordered two beef tacos, and one taco de cabeza. For those of you not familiar with this term, cabeza means head. In this taco, the meat was cow tongue. It was soo good! I was very surprised. Each taco was only 6 pesos. That’s equivalent to 50 cents. Everything really is quite cheap here. We also ordered Coca Colas all around. Mexican Coke tastes much better than American Coke. And that sounds like I’m talking about drugs. Moving on. We came to a Pizzeria on our way home, stopped and bought some pizza, which was quite delicious as well. We came back to the condo, watched Remember the Titans, and that brings me to right now; sitting on the bed writing all of this down, listening to Bridger as he talks in his sleep. That kid has some crazzzy dreams.

Mexico has been so much fun. It’s time for me to get some rest though. Gotta wake up to take my jog on the beach in the morn, and hopefully get a good shot of the sunrise. Till next time, salu pues!

Mexico. Part Two.

Caribbean life is rough. The noisy ocean waves waking me up while I'm trying to nap on the beach, the 80 degree humid weather making my skin all moist, the hot sun burning my shoulders, and the refreshing breeze that messes your hair up. Not to mention all of the delicious food that just keeps coming and coming! This just sucks.

Not. I love it here in Mexico and can't get enough of it! Its already Sunday, time has flown by way too fast, and its already half way gone. Well, lets see what has gone on in the last couple days...

I have yet to take my jog on the beach. Haha. Go figure. I definitely slept in, and enjoyed it. I did however get my workout on in the facility they have here at the condos. So I did do something, which made me feel better! Then we all had some breakfast. We decided to head down to the beach and just relax for a while. Just laying there with the sun bearing down on you, just puts you to sleep. Its so great being here with the family. I'm treasuring it for what its worth, because I know how much I'll miss it when I'm gone.

In the end, after all is said and done, your family will always be there.

How true that is. A lot has happened over just the last couple months. A lot of fun, laughs, and heartbreak. But at the end of the day, just knowing that I have someone to talk to and will listen, that they look up to me, and that they love me just gives me so much comfort. I love my family.

Walking the streets of Mexico has really been a culture shock. People living in metal/wooden shacks, clothes drying on clotheslines through alleyways, and everything is really dirty and broken down. (At least in the parts where people live.) It amazes me to see how the people live. Look at us. Look where we live. We have it SO good. I cannot believe how blessed I am. Every day I wake up in a bed, with a roof over my head, and I don't have to worry about my next meal. We have cars, we have great education oppurtunitites, and we have a Temple right in town. Some of these families save money their whole life just so they can make the trip to the temple. I am on vacation. In Mexico nonetheless! I am so utterly grateful for everything that I have, and for the hard work that my mom and dad put in so that we are able to make such great memories. Thank you guys, I love you.

Later in the evening we walked 5th Avenue, which is a famous street in Playa Del Carmen. You can find anything you want in these shops, and its pretty fun to barter with the locals for merch. My little brothers bought some pretty legit/fake Oakleys. These things look so real, they even have the "Made in the USA" imprint on the inside of the frame. I found a really cool knitted backpack that I bought for like 9 bucks. Totally worth it. On our way home, we stopped at a taco stand just off to the side of the street. Everyone got a couple tacos, which were so delicious. I can't get enough of the food here!! I just love it.

Yesterday morning was a lazy morning to say the least. My mom wanted to do an Easter egg hunt, so we went to the pool for a little while and came back to an Easter egg hunt, and breakfast: eggs, sausage, and pancakes all ready! It was verrry tastful. After we ate, we packed up and got ready for our day at Tulum with the rest of the family.

Tulum is a city about 45 mins south of Playa Del Carmen where we are staying. Playa Del Carmen is about 25 mins south of Cancun, just to give you an idea. Anyway, we get to Tulum and meet up with the family and have some fun on the beach/ocean. Then we showered and got ready for our Salsa lesson! Our instructor was pretty femmy, but boy did he know how to dance. Me and my cousin Montana got it down, and we were salsa-ing like it was nobodys business. So, I can kinda safely say that I know how to salsa! It is however a lot easier when you dance with someone who also knows how to salsa. My other cousin Parker dragged me over to ask some girls to dance, and we ended up having a lot of fun! Except, she didn't really know how to salsa, so we just kind of did our own thing, haha. Dinner was great, the steak fajitas never seem to fail me.
This morning we woke up early and went to a resort called "Xel-Ha" with the whole family. This place is breathtaking. It really is. We got there and found a cabana to keep our stuff at and to basically be the home base for the day. All the food and drinks are included, along with a lot of other things. We snorkeled, cliff jumped, rode bikes, and the highlight of the trip: swimming with dolphins. That is something I will never forget! It was such a fantastic experience. If you ever get the chance to do it, I would fully recommend it.

Apparently there is a huge storm warning over Utah? Ahh... I really did pick a great time to get out of that place.

March 17, 2010

Arizona.

Spring break in Arizona. Its a comfortable 78 degrees and shining every day, what more could you want for spring break? Well, its been quite a fun 4 days here in Phoenix. I ate some real sushi for the first time, slept under a tree in a park, and have just had some real worry-free, quality time here. For the most part.

When we were walking in downtown on our way back to the car, I heard a scream up the road. I couldn't see anyone though. As we get closer, I realize that it was coming from this old Native American lady sitting in a bus stop with her Mexican buddy, who didn't speak a lick of ingles. This is how the situation unfolded:

The lady proceeds to say, "Heeyyyy! W-wait a minute! Could you guys do mee the favor of.. lending me onethousand dollarsss?" (in slurred speech). Eric then says, "Well, we would if we had it!" Then she says, "Okayy well let me tell you a joke while you're at it..." (proceeds to tell dirty, dirty jokes.) Jarom then says, "Well, we gotta go now were late for a meeting!" To that she says, "Waaaaiiit!!!!"........... and we continue on our way. I then burst out in laughter unable to contain myself anymore. Things like this make things like walking aimlessly around town quite enjoyable.

Last night we drove around looking for a place to have dinner. We stopped at the first place that looked somewhat harmless. Padres was the name of the restaurant. It was so delicious! Some of the best Mexican food I have ever had. We sat down at about 7:30 to a traditional patio setting. Lights zig-zagging overhead from building to building, murals lining the walls, people laughing, and some soft authentic mariachi music playing in the background. We had a fantastic time. Afterwards, we all decided to go down to the hot tub and discuss politics, the gospel, and whatever else our discussion would lead to, over a cold bottle of Martinellis.

Yet... all the while, even with these fun times, it is still on my mind. Day after day. Being here just makes it constant, and that doesn't help. I try and just push it aside, but there is always something that I see, hear, or even taste that reminds me. Ahh.. Arizona, it's been bittersweet. Till we meet again.

March 5, 2010

I Am Called of God

This is a message from Elder Bruce R. McConkie that I absolutely love. My parents gave it to me on a card that I can bring with me on my mission. I can always read this and remember my true purpose for serving as a missionary:

"I Am Called of God.
My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place, to say and do what He himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My words are His words and my doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done. To say what He wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous latter-day work."

-Elder Bruce R. McConkie

All of you missionaries and soon-to-be missionaries, this is something to think about.

It's My Birthday.

Blogging. I gotta say that I never thought I would ever start a blog. I mostly created this for my mission. (Letters, pictures, etc.) Kind of as an easy way to keep people up to date on things. However... My call hasn't came just yet. It was expected to come on March 3rd, to no avail. So, I'll just try to be patient and know that it'll come when its supposed to!

....Well would you look at that? Its my birthday. I've made it this far after 19 years. Thats a shocker.