It is HOT. New Jersey has been reaching the hundreds (I think? Feels like it...) and it's been SUPER humid. And we're still walking. I love it and I hate it. It's nice to be out on the streets but it's the sort of humidity that my dad explained when he was in Hong Kong: you finish taking a nice cool shower and as you're drying off you start sweating again. Any sort of material sticks to your skin and 5 minutes of walking turns your back and armpits into small rivers. It's great. There's an awesome Mexican hermano named Hno Garcia (from Vera Cruz) that comes out with us and as soon as he leaves his house he says "Ay feisimo!" (This is horrendous!") I die of laughter every time. Just picture a middle aged, portly Mexican guy with a goatee complaining about the heat as he teaches and contacts with us. Hahaha. Hhis family has an amazing story about how they joined the church. Here it is, summarized:
They have a 20 year old son. No one in the family has papers. They meet the missionaries, start investigating the church. Their son wants nothing to do with it. Shorty after beginning to investigate, their son gets arrested and thrown in jail for a false charge. He was in jail for about 1 year and a half. Started reading the Book of Mormon while in jail. Read all of the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Started teaching other inmates he was around. Started a group and they would meet and talk and do a church service. Finally, when he finishes his time, he gets deported to Mexico. Gets baptized a few weeks later. Becomes a strong member in the ward with about 5 callings. Turns in his papers to serve a mission. Is now serving in Mexico on a mission. Hasn't seen his family for about 3 years.
Hermana Garcia read us one of the letters he sent them when he was in jail. Just amazing. I almost cried. I love being able to establish friendships with these amazing people. They are the most God-loving people I have ever met. I love being a missionary. ALSO: we see them a couple of times a week and they always make us AMAZING food. And the other day, they were showing us some Ranchera, mexican music that they liked and then Elder Dahl and I were making Mexican whoops and cat calls and singing the words to "El Rey" by Jose Alfredo Jimenez (seriously, check it out!) and the whole family was dying of laughter. Awesome.
Zone 3 had an amazing past 7 days. We beat the rest of the mission in teaching total lessons and one of our companionships found 15 new investigators, including a Dominican family of 8. Super awesome. Interesting fact: before I was a zone leader, I would see numbers from other missionaries and see that they were doing better than MY companionship and I would get angry (my carnal side was pretty dominant). NOW, I see that everyone in the zone does really well and I rejoice! I don't think I've ever felt this much love for other missionaries. Elder Dahl and I represent them and we work hard to help our zone to progress and teach and bring people to Christ. I love it so much. I love our zone and every single member in it. Speaking of, the Paterson elders in our zone have a baptism tonight! Yes! I love the success of other missionaries...
As for us, we are doing a lot of finding this week. It's been a little slow, but we've been going back to the basics: working with members and street contacting. We've seen a little success with it, but we continue onward. We know there are prepared people out there. Just the other day we were teaching an investigator and instead of going to our next appointment afterwards, we saw a Mexican man helping his daughter ride a bike. So we stopped and talked with him, and right as we did, his friend waltzed up to him to chat with him too. The friend, we found out, was actually a really talented Mariachi singer that played in clubs in New York and stuff. He showed us a video of him singing. WE asked if we could visit these guys and they replied yes! Whoo! The father of the bike-riding-girl was super kind and seems really prepared.
Anyway, you're all bored of me droning on like this. I know this is the Lord's work. I'm so grateful for my testimony and faith. It's what drives and motivates me to follow Jesus Christ, even when life is rough. Hermano Bello (an amazing member: from Puebla Mexico, but grew up in Brooklyn) gave an incredible testimony yesterday that hit me hard: He was mentioning how his brother was sending him anti-videos and using scriptures to try and tear down the church and all sort of negative things and Willy Bello just said: "Brother. You attack what I love most in life, what has changed me most for good."
Don't attack the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will defend it until I die.
ps - shout out to Bayley, who is the greatest pre-missionary ever (you too Tanner) who is leaving to Argentina on a mission in a few months.