San Antonio

San Antonio

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy New Year!

Our family Christmas call was so sweet. We spoke for about an hour and Madison was exuberant, talkative and full of the missionary spirit. He bore a powerful testimony (in Spanish) which made for the perfect Christmas gift. Here a few more excerpts from recent letters.
"Elder Lindsay is definitely a lot of fun to be around. It was really cool to hear that you got in contact with his parents. This really is a small world. Elder Lindsay is a fiery red-head, stands at about 6 feet tall, and weighs about 175 lbs. He is one strong pup! I tell you what, it has been so nice having companions who are so willing to work out. In fact, I don't think I've had a single companion yet who isn't motivated to work out. Elder Lindsay is great, and what's funny is that his grandma is constantly sending him more protein, so we are downing it like crazy, haha. He loves working hard, and that is something that is definitely required for this area, because we share a car ith the other Elders in the district; so that means that we ride bikes every other day, plus this is a very hilly area, so we are constantly coming back to the apartment pooped after a long day of riding. What's more is that our apartment sits at the bottom of a hill so in order for us to get up into our area everyday, we have to ride our bikes up this nasty steep hill, sometimes twice a day. It does make for a nice ride home after a long day, though, man we fly down that hill!
This past week, we had a training meeting for a few days where all the Zone Leaders and District Leaders came together and received training from President Jones and his Assistants. Btw, one of our new Assistants to the President is Elder Seymour, who is the BYU volleyball player from California! It was great stuff, and instead of coming back to my area for the night, I went and worked with another District Leader in his area. I worked with a missionary named Elder Workman. His name goes well with his attitude. He is currently in the famous Barton Creek Ward outside of West Austin. The Barton Creek Ward is famous because it is the wealthiest ward in the mission. No joke, here are some crazy things about it: two names you might recognize live in the ward - Brother Jeff Kent, Professional Baseball Player from the San Francisco Giants, AND... Brother Ty Detmer!!! "

Since Saturday, we have had a few things happen. We were driving to dinner last night, and we had the other Elders' bikes on the bike rack on the back of our car (we drive a little Mazda3), and we were running a little late so I was going a little fast through a neighborhood and there was a speed bump coming up. Because we were late, I didn't think about slowing down or think about how we had two bikes on the back of our car. So sure enough, I take that bump real fast, and the bike rack actually breaks and the bikes go flying in the air, and I can see in my rear-view mirror the bikes bouncing up and down in the street behind us. I immediately slam on the brakes, we get out and go to inspect the damage. Thankfully, hardly any damage was done to the bikes; only a few scratches on each one. We had to have the bishop load up the bikes in his little pickup truck that he has, and then something really crazy happened. After dinner, Bishop took us to the church, where there was another totally random bike rack sitting in the field next to the church. Bishop told us that he had seen this bike rack a few days earlier and was wondering if it was ours. But sure enough, when the time came, that mysterious bike rack came in handy! So we're good to go! And I will definitely be making sure that I slow down over those bumps when we have bikes on the back of our cars."

Our New Year was great! We went over to the Medina Family's house and ate a super-super spicy meal that got our mouths flaming. And then to top it off, Brother Medina, an energetic, plump, mustached Mexican Man, brought out some full size Jalapeno peppers for us to eat.
It was a challenge, but every missionary got it down... well actually Sister Larsen's companion couldn't do it, but she still took a bite! And Sister Larsen put one down like a champ! Haha she was crying so hard at the end of it though. Man, those peppers are intense, they are so hot that even your ears hurt really bad because of the spice. We were all chugging milk and bread to absorb the heat, but I was still crying. Haha great stuff I'm a whimp.

So, yes, this past week was my first baptismal interview with Victor Mendez. Thankfully, Victor was super ready, so the interview went nice and smooth and quick. He was baptized by Elder Sherwood yesterday! Wahoo!

Elder Lindsay and I had 3 investigators at church yesterday! A cool little family who we've only taught once. The mother's name is Elizeth Sonora. Pronounced like 'elly-seth'. And she brought her two daughters Kelly and Alicia ages 8 and 14! The father was working when we taught them, and he wasn't able to make it to church yesterday, but Elizeth told us that he would be there the next time we went by. Cool stuff!"

Loving Austin

After spending more than 4 months in the same great ward in Buda, just south of Austin, Madison has been transferred to a Spanish ward, the Riverside ward, in Austin where he is currently serving as district leader. Here a few excerpts from recent letters.
"My new companion is Elder Ryan Lindsay, the missionary out of Meridian, Idaho!!! He, as is custom at least for me, is a jock of a sort. He plays college lacrosse for Boise State and played both lacrosse and football for Mountain View High School graduating in 2008, a year before me. "
"My area! I'm still in Austin, but I am now just a little further north than where I was in Buda, currently in the mighty Riverside Ward. Why is it so mighty? Why because it's one of four areas in the mission of PURE SPANISH BABY!!! Yep, pure Spanish, nothin but. If we come across an English person, we can teach them once, but after that, we turn them over to other missionaries who cover the English ward. So awesome!!! This is going to be such a great opportunity for me to improve in my speaking and understanding skills, I've already had a blast in just these past few days going out and speaking nothing but Spanish."
"Here in the Riverside Ward, there are three companionships that make up our district. There are two Elder companionships, and 1 Sister companionship. Who is in that sister companionship? Yep, Sister Emily Larsen!!! So...I am now Sister Larsen's district leader! hahaha it's so funny, and kinda weird at the same time. We eat dinner together just about every night, I make district calls every night to make sure they're home and to see how their day went, and we will be having district meeting every Wednesday, so I'll be seeing plenty of her over these next few weeks.
This is for Curtis and Denise Clifford! There is a missionary in my district here that knows you very well. His name is Elder Tyler Sherwood and he says he grew up knowing Regan and Cameron and the rest of you Clifford bunch. He says 'Hi' and I will let you know as well that he is a very hard working missionary. Crazy!"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beautiful Buda

I'm leaving!! We received our transfer calls last night and I will be transferred out of the St. Cloud Ward :( But... I will be senior companion! And get this... Elder Berntson is training!!! So, while I am very sad that I was only able to have one transfer with Elder Berntson (we were having such a blast), I am very excited to go have another "Young Guns" transfer with another missionary. Basically, I'm just kinda switching places, instead of being the young Young Gun, I will now be the old Young Gun. Haha, but I am so thankful for this past transfer that I was able to have here with Elder Berntson. We grew immensely! We grew not only physically (with our Perfect Pushups and Perfect Pullups, ha), but spiritually and mentally especially. I feel so much more prepared and know a whole lot more about what it takes to be an effective missionary. I do hope to work with Elder Berntson later down the road, but boy I will always remember this transfer that I had with him and the fun that we had together. So... this Thursday I will receive my new companion and will go to my new area.

Greetings from Buda, Texas! Where the heck is that you might say? Well, It's an amazing teeny little place just south of the city of Austin. Right above the city of Kyle and just west of Bastrop. So...'Beautiful Buda' as it is called, is just an awesome area. It is so sweet, we cover a teeny little portion of South Austin so there are very nice neighborhoods and industrial streets there, and then we travel all the way down to the town of Buda (Buda is pronounced like the word in 'Ferris BUELLER's Day off').

Anyway so, Elder Rudy, my new companion! So I liked your guesses on what my companion would look like, and're way off. He is a short, 5'8 guy who has a very sweet sense of humor, he is a really funny guy! He has just finished up his first 2 transfers here in Buda and has now been out a little over 3 months, cuz he is also an English speaking Elder and he only spent 3 weeks in the MTC. He is a stud! He is from West Jordan, Utah, and is the middle child of 3 boys. He actually took a year and did some school at Snow College prior to the mission, so he is already 20 years old. He is a very hard worker and is very obedient.

He and his last companion really got this area on fire, they just recently had 3 baptisms within the past 2 weeks, and so my first Sunday here, we had two Confirmations for two young guys named Adrian and Reuben. Adrian is 17, Reuben is 15, (their mother is a member) and then the other baptism they had was a kid named Nathaniel, who is only 18. So they like baptizing 'em young here!!! I like it! The ward here is so awesome though, even in just these few days that I have been here, I have come to know a few of the members fairly well, and a load of people came up to me at church and introduced themselves to me and welcomed me into the ward. It was so sweet! Buda is an awesome area, like I said it covers a little bit of the city and then it goes down into the country. It is so awesome though that just the other day, Elder Rudy and I were knocking doors in this super nice ritzy apartment complex... and then 10 minutes later, we were out in the middle of nowhere petting a horse! Haha I love it!

Well, it's been an exciting first few days here in Buda. The nice ritzy apartment complexes are tough work to say the least, but out in the country we have come across some interesting people...and a lot of Spanish! And so, seeing that Elder Rudy doesn't know Spanish, I have had to teach these Spanish lessons on my own! And I'm not really sure what to think about it, because on one hand, it is super exciting having the whole lesson rest on my shoulders, but on the other hand, it just isn't as effective without both of us testifying and teaching. And I also feel super bad about leaving Elder Rudy out of the lesson. He just has to sit there and smile and pretend that he knows what's going on. However, he has learned how to testify a little bit. He is able to say "I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God" and "I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God"! So he always testifies at the end and punches them in the face with the spirit. It's so great, so we'll continue working on it together so that he can testify like a champ by the time our we're finished together.

PS Last night, I hit a landmark... I ate a Habanero chili, the world's 2nd hottest food, next to the Ghost chili (which I don't think are found in Texas). It was insane, it was painful, I was crying my eyes out like a little girl, I was sweating, and it was AWESOME!!! I got a great video of it. True Texas experience. It was like having literal fire in your mouth! haha

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Alfonso's Big Day

Alfonso got baptized!!!! woooooo!!!

Alfonso Maldenado Jr. got baptized yesterday by my companion, Elder Berntson, after a really crazy journey. It seems like there are always some kinds of hurdles to jump before getting baptized. On Saturday night, we had a great baptismal interview and everything was looking solid. He then told us that he had to be moved out of his apartment complex by the next day because of some financial reasons, so Alfonso didn't think he was going to be able to get baptized the next day. But we put our foot down, called up about 4 other missionaries to come help us pack everything up and got Alfonso out and moved in a matter of a few hours... and he was baptized the next day! Right after his baptism, our bishop, Bishop Christensen, took him in and interviewed him to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. So next week, Alfonso will receive the Holy Ghost and then hopefully not too much longer after that, he'll get the priesthood!!!

Alfonso is such a stud. He is someone that we talked to on the street, and 4 weeks later... he's baptized! He has a few kids, one of which lives with him, but she was never home when we taught Alfonso, and she was not able to attend the baptism on Sunday either. But Alfonso is so determined to set an example for his kids, and he knows that someday they will be baptized as well.

Well, things are going great over here in San Antonio, the St. Cloud Ward is sweet, the food is amazing, and speaking Spanish is a blast. The heat has been brutal. But apparently it is not nearly as brutal as it was last year. We have had a solid amount of days over 100 degrees, but I guess last year they had something like 60 days in a row with temperatures over 100! I guess I am what you would say 'getting used to it', but boy, the humidity is just killer, and I'm sweating a ton.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Texas-Size Spiders

So first I gotta crazy little story. So I had no idea, but apparently there are a ton of tarantula spiders here in San Antonio. In fact, this past week, Elder Vickery and I saw 3 of them! So the very first one we saw was so dang freaky. We were knockin down a street and we walk in to this porch, Elder Vickery knocks on the door and kinda turns a little bit and notices a giant tarantula sitting right behind my head just chillin on this brick wall!!! At first I totally thought he was kidding, but I slowly turned my head around and there it was, no joke but this thing was as big as my hand!! It was hairy, big, and downright scary... we took a few pictures with our little camera phone that we have (which was scary enough just tryin to get close to it), but I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to send you any pictures of it.

But boy, I have never seen a spider so big in my entire life! I'm used to just the teeny little house spiders that we have back in Boise, haha. And then the other 2 that we saw, one was dead and one was alive - we think they were fighting - but the crazy thing is that we saw all three of these spiders in a matter of 2 days. We talked to our recent convert, Olga Ekcstein, about it and she said that she has a ton that live in her bushes in her front yard and occasionally they come out but not very often. She says that they mostly come out in the summer because of all the humidity, so we'll see if I come across any more this summer.

Bike Adventures

So family, I have some bad news... My bike was stolen. Ya, so here's how it all went down. Elder Vickery and I set our bikes against the fence of our investigator's yard, and went to knock on the door solely to check up on the investigator and see if we could set up a return appointment - so we didn't lock up the bikes. When he answered the door, we talked for a bit and he surprisingly invited us to come inside. Immediately, Elder Vickery and I began thinking of what we were gonna share or teach to this man, and we totally spaced that our bikes were unlocked sitting outside the yard.

After the lesson, we came outside literally 20 minutes later, and Elder Vickery turns to me and was like, "Elder Mangum, where's your bike?" That sick feeling just came over me, cuz we both knew what had just happened.... So I no longer have that nice new Specialized Mountain Bike, but I'll be getting a used one from the mission office tomorrow.

Ya, I feel really stupid but I've been focusing on living by the words of Kirby Heyborne: "In the Eternal Perspective, the nicer things in this life, just don't matter." But Hey! It's all part of the missionary experience! Getting bit by dogs, getting doors slammed in the face, getting your bike stolen. I'm just eating the whole experience up!

Editor's Note: Because of a replacement bike policy purchased before the mission, Madison should receive a new bike, but as of this posting, it has not arrived. :(

I crashed my bike!!! Haha so story time - Elder Berntson and I were riding down the street on the sidewalk actually, and we were flying down this hill. And as you go down this hill you have to make a quick manuever to avoid these wires that hang down diagonally from this telephone pole. We were going extra fast this time because we were late for an appointment, so we quickly approached these wires in the middle of the sidewalk and I went to pull my brakes a little to slow myself and get in control, and my brakes were out! Gosh dang piece of junk bike (I haven't received my new bike yet, I dunno where it is), so I do my best to slide by these wires, but I didn't quite make it.

My pedal on my bike snags on to these wires and makes my bike completely stop and I go flying over the handle bars! My face slams into the ground and it was one of those deals where I blacked out for a split second, and when I came to, there was a ton of blood dripping from my face all over the sidewalk and on my white shirt. It was tight!!! Heck ya it hurt and super embarrassing, but I looked pretty beast nonetheless. So in the end, I had some serious road rash on my cheek and a gaping gash in my left eyebrow. I quickly covered up the gash and put a ton of pressure on it to stop the bleeding, and we proceeded to go into the next apartment complex to find the elect in helping out Elder Mangum.

Haha after about knocking on 7 or 8 doors, the Lord was testing our patience, someone finally opened their door and uncomfortably let us into their house so that I could clean up my wound. We got it all cleaned up and put some neosporin on it and slapped a couple band aids on it, and then before heading out the door of this kind samaritan's house, we gave her a pass along card and told her all about the importance of the message of the Restoration. She'll get baptized someday. haha

Editor's Note: Madison is fine, a slight headache the next day, but no further mention of any residual effects. Thank goodness!

New Companion

His name is Elder Eric Berntson (like - you got 'burnt son'). He is a freakin beast! Get this, he's one transfer ahead of me, so he's been out about 6 1/2 months, and I'm at 5 months, so between the two of us, we've got about 5 transfers of experience - We're the young guns, baby! He is 6'4 and weighs 235 and has a full scholarship to play football at Utah State as a Defensive End when he gets back. Just a pure stud, he's from Logan, UT and here's some crazy stuff... he is the middle child of 5 kids, with 2 other brothers and two other sisters. His birthday is in January, AND we realized that we had talked to each other before, in the cafeteria line in the MTC right before he was about to come out here to San Antonio...sick right?

But gosh, it is such a blast!!! We are definitely relying on the Lord for help bacuse of the lack of experience that we have. But we decided that the Lord, President Cutler, and the AP's have enough trust in us to work together and have success, so we are workin super hard to prove that we can do everything that is asked of us. Even in just these past few days that I've had with Elder Berntson, we have grown immensely and are having just a complete blast doing it!!! Our motto is, "Grab life by the Horns and just do it". Man, I am so stoked to spend these next few weeks with Elder Berntson here in the Saint Cloud area. He spent his first three transfers on the border in a town called Eagle Pass, so his Spanish is solid and we are workin extremely well together.

Good grief, I am a missionary. I still find myself everyday, shocked that I am actually doing this. Sometimes we're ridin down the road and people honk at us, and I look down and realize, "Oh, I have a nametag on and am wearing a white shirt and slacks and a tie!" I'M A MISSIONARY!!! hahaha so sick hahahaha!!! I'm actually doin it!