Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 62 - Oh Tapachula, Tapachula!

My dear family,

What´s up?  I´m not sure if I´ve told you this before but my companion and I have a tradition of saying, ´´Tapachula, Tapachula, thou that killest the missionaries, and stonest them which are sent unto thee.´´  Well, this week Tapchula truly stoned us.  But that's OK.  We´re still happy to be here and keep working.  I´ve found that the hardest weeks are the most purifying.  It's truly a pleasure to serve here.  I am convinced that there is no mission better than Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez. 

Here´s something I learned this week that I told my Mission President in my weekly letter.  (Dang it, I just realized that I have to translate it).  OK, anyway I said: ´´I truly don´t know what else to do. The good thing is that I´ve learned to be humble.  President Packer once said, ´I know who I am, I am  a nobody´, then turning to look at Elder Anderson (then a newly called 70) said ´and you, brother Anderson, you are a nobody too.´ then he added, ´If you ever forget it, the Lord will remind you of it instantly, and it won´t be pleasant.´´  Well, just like he promised it hasn´t been pleasant, but now I know who I am and who I depend on.  It's been a lesson worth learning.
I am learning oh so much and trying so hard.  I feel very blessed to be here.  I´m loving life.
On to your emails:
Dad - Its always fun to hear about your projects around the house.  They always bring a smile to my face.  I still remember your talk in which you mentioned the Lord´s tender mercies and referred to one of the sago palms in the backyard.  I love it.
1. Tell us about the Hygiene situation in your apartment? In Tapachula Central?
1. Hygiene situation...umm questionable at best.  As you know now, the toilet doesn´t work.  Neither does the sink.  Nor the other sink where we wash our clothes.  And the trash passes by very rarely, or at least when we aren´t home.  So yeah.  The case is similar in Tapachula in general.

2.  Tell us about the most questionable thing you ate this week
2. Most questionable thing I´ve eaten - umm, nothing too bad.  The meat is always questionable, but I don´t really think about it.

3.  Tell us about the Elders Quorum Lesson this week
3. EQP lesson - My favorite member, brother Ovando, gives the lessons.  He always has some funny one-liners.

4. Tell us about an investigator you taught this week. 
4. An investigator we taught - Alejandra.  She is one of the hardest people to teach that I´ve ever seen.  It's not that she doesn´t understand or believe. It's that she believes everything!!  Without a question (and without reading or praying) she declares that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.  She thinks anyone who is talking about God is telling the truth, and thus ends up as Paul would say, "as a child tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine."

5.  Tell us what you brought with you that you did not need or have not used.
5. what do I not need - most of my p-day clothes. that's probably about it.
Thanks for your email Dad! I love you!
Mom - Sounds like you´ve got a good week coming up :)  This week I was preparing a lesson for a group of missionaries and absolutely nothing came to mind.  I stopped for a second, said a prayer, and immediately after was able to make a decisión and form a lesson.  It turned out really well.  So don´t worry about your talk, am sure it will go very well.  Haha  Elder Walker is awesome!  I wish I got to hang out with President Monson ha.  Well Elder Torres is good too i guess. :)  I love you mom!
Andee Dawn - ra ra rarara ra ra rarara ra ra rarara Goooooooo Cougars!  You have no idea how jealous I am that you get to see KVN play this year.  I´ll miss him ha.  I´m glad to hear that things are going well in the Single´s Ward.  I hope Roy isn´t feeling too stressed.  Thanks for the letter.  Love you AD.
Well I guess that's all for this week.  I love you guys.  Keep it real. (haha I miss saying stuff like that - it just doesn´t exist in Spanish).
Elder Roth
 As promised long ago, pictures of my terrible haircut.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 61 Hey!


Guess what?  I had a good week.  Seems like that never changes.  How can you possibly have a bad week as a missionary? 

Unfortunately nobody got a 100% on my exam.  You did pretty well though. Dad only missed one, and mom two. (and your comments cracked me up). Here´s the answer key:

1. I like Tapachula more than Tuxtla.
- true
2. My companion is from Tamulipas.
- false, he´s from Oaxaca.
3. I have eaten over a kilo of peanut butter in the last 11 days.
- Very very true
4. Elder Torres and I missed our bus to Tuxtla this week. 
 - true (everyone got that one right) 
5. I´m the old man in my zone (the one with the most time in this zone, not total).
- true
6. I finally bought new shoes.
- false haha
7. All of my companions have been Mexicans.
- false
8. My toilet works.
- false. (obviously)
9. I haven´t been seriously ill since I left Tuxtla.
- true. I had a fever for like 12 hours a couple months ago, and diarrhea is a weekly occurrence, but nothing serious.
10. You can receive a remission of sins without baptism.
- false.  
11. A girl kissed my companion this week.
-true. haha. :) poor little guy, he felt so bad. 

11. The organ in the tabernacle is one of the 10 largest in the world.
12. The church publicates materials in more than 175 languages.

- umm, I really don´t know. I thought the organ was the 15th largest but I could be wrong. And last I checked the church publishes (haha publicate - you gotta love Spanglish) in 177 languages. 

The good news is that I wrote you a letter anyway mom and dad so we´ll see if that gets there before the second coming. 

Mom - Your email is hilarious!   Adiós mi querido M5.  I was glad to hear that the new owner came all the way from Toronto to pick her up.  That shows a dedication that I thought only Roths possessed toward their cars ha.  I hope the new owner looks forward to knowing his BMW mechanics on a first name basis like you do haha. 
I like what President Smith said about choosing to make positive assumptions about others.  It's a better way to live.  I´m a real believer in the virtue of choosing to be positive.  It's easy to see the flaws in your companion, but you can choose to forgive them and assume the best.  I also like to extend the idea to life in general.  As Joseph Wirthlin said, "come what may and love it."  There is just no reason not to be happy.  Just do it.  My mission has been very, very difficult but I decided to love it very early on.  And I do indeed love it. 

I´m jealous that you get to work in the temple!  You get to baptize all the people that slip though my fingers ha.  Thanks for your email.  I love you mom. 

Dad - The story of cutting down the loquat tree made me laugh out loud. Classic Richard Roth.  :)  I´m glad to hear my Cougars pulled it out against Houston.  And equally thrilled that the Jaguars are making history in their own special way. ha.
 1. Are there any holidays coming up that the Mexicans observe? 
- Halloween (which they pronounce with an emphasis on the first syllable)/Dia de los Muertos.  December 12th is El Dia de la Guadalupana.  What´s that you ask?  A day for worshiping maybe a bit more than usual and getting drunk a bit more than usual. 
2. You have mentioned the sad state of Church Music in meetings, how has this impacted your feelings on music in meetings?
-Music is essential.  Many defining spiritual moments in my life hae happened thanks to powerful music. 
3. Since your area is so small, do you walk it exclusively?  I have looked at YouTube videos and have seen the narrow streets and am just wondering how you get around
- Yeah we pretty much always walk. 
4. How many Books of Mormon have you given out in the last week?
-we had a tough time finding new investigators this week so not too many.  The average is about 10. 
5. What is your Ward building like?  How does it compare to the Penman building?  Are there multiple Wards meeting there?
- It's smaller.  There is no carpet.  There are no pews, just seats.  Only the chapel has a/c.  It's pretty, though.  2 wards meet there.  Vista Hermosa (the ward I was in 4 transfers ago) and Central. 
6. Is your mission growing?  the FL Jax mission now has 250 missionaries.  It used to be more like 150.
- Yes we went from about 140 to 190 missionaries.  There are a ton of new sister missionaries and now most of the wards in Tuxta Gutiérrez have 2 pairs of missionaries. 
Thanks for your email dad! I love you.

Steph - ha Ty and Ry are so cute!  You´ve got a bit over 9 months before I come home to cook up another haha.  Jokes.  I´m honored to see that my picture hangs in Tyler's room (though a bit out-sized by its frame haha). Also good to see that Tyler is being instructed in all the learning of his father (aka there is a Ferrari poster ha).  I am very very sure that Texas is not the same as Mexico, but if it makes you feel a connection to me keep thinking it.  :)  We had our primary program this week, it was awesome!  Kids are so funny.  Tom´s EQP is awesome!  haha just kidding.  I totally agree that the temple activity wins.  I´ll refrain from expressing my thoughts in this email, but you´ll hear them one day haha.  I don´t really need anything.  Some black socks would be nice.  Body-wash (don´t laugh, it doesn´t exist here. I´ve been using shampoo too long...).  Beef jerky is always welcome. (Wendy: but the customs officials will confiscate it!) and something to give my room a nice Texan accent.  :) Thanks Steph, say hi to T,T,R,C,and C for me. 

RAD - I hope all is well in beautiful Provo.  I love that place.  It's midterm time, right?  Enjoy your final year in the greatest place on earth.  Love you!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 60


Well, it's been an interesting week.  We got transfer calls this week, Elder Torres and I are staying here in Central.  It's a bit of a challenge.  We get along well, the problem is the ward.  Yesterday a sweet spirit of contention filled our testimony meeting.  We are both feeling a bit worn out to be honest.  But I´m still happy.  I challenge anyone to find a happier missionary than me! :)

Oh, BTW my debit card expired. Can you send me a new one by chance? Thanks. 

To shake things up a bit I decided to add a true or false seccion to my email. If anyone gets all the answers right I´ll send them a hand written letter. 

1. I like Tapachula more than Tuxtla.
2. My companion is from Tamulipas.
3. I have eaten over a kilo of peanut butter in the last 11 days.
4. Elder Torres and I missed our bus to Tuxtla this week. 
5. I´m the old man in my zone (the one with the most time in this zone, not total).
6. I finally bought new shoes.
7. All of my companions have been Mexicans.
8. My toilet works.
9. I haven´t been seriously ill since I left Tuxtla.
10. You can recieve a remission of sins without baptism.
11. A girl kissed my companion this week.

ok, all of those are pretty easy. 2 hard ones.

11. The organ in the tabernacle is one of the 10 largest in the world.
12. The church publishes materials in more than 175 languages.

No cheating.

Ok.  I had a good spiritual experience this Saturday.  The sister missionaries in the district had a baptism and the person that was going to be baptized asked me to do it.  I was feeling a bit tired of all the problems in my area.  I´d been praying for weeks and weeks,  seemingly to no avail.  In the baptismal service the sister missionaries sang ´´A Child´s Prayer.´´  The song touched my heart, and I knew that God listened to my prayers.  I had tears in my eyes as I baptized the woman.  It was awesome!

On to your emails.  Dad sent me a ton of questions this week. 

Dad - Have you ever not overdone it clearing out the backyard? ha. 
1.  Tell us something you learned this week. 
1. Something I learned - The only common attribute I have found in every great missionary, leader of the church or member is that they never give up. Most of them struggle greatly, including some who die having seen no fruits of their labors.  But none give up.
2.  Tell us of some service you performed for someone else this week.  
2. Service - The members hardly ever let us do anything.  It's gotten to the point where we just start doing stuff without them knowing.  Like washing their dishes until they catch us and yell at us.  haha
3.  Tell us something about your companion that is unusual. 
3. Something unusual about my companion - umm... my companion.  No, just kidding he is pretty normal.  Something a bit unusual is that he is a convert of 2 years and the only member in his family.  And he eats tuna salad on cookies...
4.  Why did you go to TXG?  You said it was a Mission leadership meeting.  Are you a leader or something?
4. I went to Tuxtla for my immigration stuff.  I didn´t tell you but I´ve been illegal the last month.  ha.  Oh, and the other time we had a conference.  You could say that. :)

5.  How do you communicate with your leaders?  Cell phone?
5. Cell phone and smoke signals.
6.  Have you had the opportunity to eat anything that Andrew Zimmern would consider Bizarre?
6. Not too much.  That said, most of the time I really don´t know what I eat. ha.  But nothing that tastes like ´´pocket change´´ lately.

7.  Tell us of a success you had this week with an investigator?
7. We are teaching a woman named Bersabé.  Her husband is a member and it seems like every time we see her she is happier to see us.  It's always fun to teach her. 
8.  Where do the drunks get the money for their alcohol?
8. They walk around the streets harassing people for money.
9.  What scripture spoke to you this week?
9. Alma 38.  Shiblon gets very little attention, but he was true at all times. His father teaches him a tiny bit and tells him to go and keep serving.  I feel like Shiblon. 
10. How is your progress at rolling your R's?
10. good. I don´t have any problems with it. 

I hope things go well with the merger and with HC. I love you Dad. 

Mom - NOO! the M5! ha.  I don´t remember when the fridge was in your room, but I do remember watching Deadliest Catch with Roy under the plastic tarp in my room.  It was soo hot ha.  That was a long time ago.  I was 13 years old.  Inspired questions are indeed what its all about.  I think they are the most effective teaching skill, given that regardless of a persons knowledge and conversion level, a question can inspire self revision and repentance.  If you have to move, be sure to tell me.  I don´t want to go home to an empty house like in the RM haha.  I love you Mom.

Andee - Thanks for the Cougars update.  KVN is a senior right?  It's a bummer I won´t get to see him play.  He such a beast.  Hopefully Roy gets over the #hashmark phase soon.  haha.  What a dork.  The first lesson is pretty sweet huh?  We teach it to our members so that everyone gets to hear it.  Thanks for the email. and keep on rocking. 

Roy - I hope all is going well.  Have you already started your applications? 

Michael D enters the MTC pretty soon right?  That's awesome.  From what I´ve heard Chihuahua is pretty sweet.  Missionary work is hard.  This is without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done.  But I love it.  It's going by so fast. 

Brethren pray for us. 

Elder Roth

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 59 - 5 for 5


Guess what!  I got to go to all 5 sessions of General Conference!!  Yeah baby!  It seems like a bit is lost in translation but it was still pretty awesome.  I was able to re-translate a couple of things and capture the humor - ex. Deiter: I´ve fallen and I can´t get up.  And I caught The Great Gatsby quote too.  Also Elder Dube has the sweetest accent ever!  ha.  A couple of the speakers made their own translation in Spanish: Elder Scott, Elder Valenzuela and Elder Ochoa.  It's cooler when it's actually them speaking, not a translator, but it's all cool.

I really like Elder Valenzuela´s talk (BTW he came to reorganize our stake a month ago. When he got up to speak there was a general reaction similar to Buddy the elf´s famous "I KNOW him!" ha).  But anyway, he spoke of the power of small and simple things - like one song from a visiting teacher softening the heart of her visiting teachee.  :)  I have a testimony of small and simple things.  The Lord has permitted me to see many mighty miracles worked by simple means.  I also liked Elder Uchtdorf's Saturday morning talk.  Its just what our ward needs to hear (unfortunately pretty much no one showed up...).  But patience is good. 

Dad - Sounds like a good movie.  Jackie Robinson was awesome.  If I´m not mistaken 42 was retired universally in the major leagues right?  haha  It's awesome to hear that Dan Uggla didn´t make the cut ha.  It still bugs me that the Braves traded several players including a batting champion candidate for a sub-Mendoza hitter.  It kills me.  I miss Omar.  ha.  Your notes where cool, thanks for sending them to me.  I still remember when you made the excel spreadsheet for the topics the speakers addressed. Classic Richard Roth.  haha, my arm always kills after battleball as well. But I´m glad to hear you joined in the mayhem.  :)  I miss my Jax Beach ward sometimes. 

Question time (several people have commented on your curious ability to ask tons of questions, BTW. Everyone is jealous):

1.  Tell us about your trip to TXG this week. Bus ride, food, reason for going, what you did, etc.  Whatever.

1. The trip to Tuxtla was good.  We rode on an Aexa bus with a crazy driver that would have made you so sick.  Luckily I´m the kind of guy that likes flying in turbulence and riding with terrible drivers, so its all good.  We went for a mission leaders council.  It was a bit crazy.  7 hour bus ride up, sleep 4 hours on the ground in the mission offices, 6 hour meeting, 7 hour bus ride back.  It was fun though.  I´ll probably go back to Tuxtla this week for my immigration papers. 

2.  Did you get the package we sent you?  Did you get everything that was in it?  There was a letter that said what we packed.  I hope you got it and that you like it.

2.Yes, I got the package, complete with peanut butter, hot tamales, Tinactin, gum, mints and letters.  The mints made me laugh because I used to buy them by the gross.  I sucked on them during sacrament meetings early in my mission because otherwise I would fall asleep ha.  A lot has changed since then.  Thanks for the letters.  They were my favorite part. 

3.  Do you get help from the members in your current ward?

3. A little bit.  Our biggest support is a young woman that we baptized named Itzayana.  She has given us about 485548 referrals.  She just wants everyone to listen to us.  She´s awesome. 

4.  You said your area is 10 x 10 blocks.  How far is that in distance?  How long to walk from one side to another?

4. Its about a 20 minute walk from one corner of my area to the other. Probably about a mile. 

5.  With the area so geographically small, is there definitive different areas?  Or is it all pretty much the same?

5. I´m not sure I understood the question but here´s a possible answer. The small area is different in that we spend very little time traveling.  More time talking to people.  That's a good thing.  The bad thing is that there really aren´t all that many people that live here, and after a while you feel like you´ve talked to everyone. 
Thanks for your email.  Keep on rockin'.

Mom - I thought of Brett when I heard Elder Hollands talk.  Make sure he listens to it.  NOOO!!!  You can´t sell the M5!  Haha.  Just kidding, not my will but thine be done. (is that blasphemous? - sorry if it is. I have a thing for quoting scriptures out of context as often as possible.)  I hope things go well for you at the women´s conference  (ha I know you disdain stuff like that :)).  Is it for church members or everyone?  I´m assuming church members, given that the theme comes from Psalms 46:10 - Be still and know.  An interesting phrase.  I´ve been thinking about it a bit.  Both verbs are commands.  1. calm down, 2. know.  I think those 2 things are very intricately related.  One who is ´´still´´ is calm, faith-filled, patient, reverent, and indeed will, with time, come to ´´know´´.  One who knows is capable of working miracles (Mothers Who Know comes to mind).  And the phrase doesn´t just end at know.  It's: know that I am God.  If we are still, patient, and full of faith we will know God.  BTW that reminds me of something I read that I am going to misquote here.  One of the most surprising things when we abandon this life and return to that God who gave it, will be how well we know God and how familiar his face is to us.  I think that was Ezra Taft Benson, but I´m not sure. (Here's the actual quote, it was by President Benson:  “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974, Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975, p. 313.) Pretty sweet though, eh?  I hope you're doing well.  So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.  Love you!  P.S. thanks for Kel's blog post, it made me LOL out loud hahaha. 

Andee - NO!  I put my heart and soul into carrying that TV!  ha.  Thanks for the greeting from Ingrid. (Ingrid is the name of Roy and Andee-Dawn's car)  Tell her hi for me ha.   Life is going wonderfully for me!  I hope you dominate those remaining midterms, show them who's boss.  (Did I ever tell you that I watched pump up videos on YouTube before I took my tests?...because I did.  :) )  Paul is a beast for sure.  I find new inspiration in his words every week.  Roy and I aren´t exactly what you would call ´´handymen´´ when it comes to watching kids.  I once changed Ryan´s diaper, it was a scaring experience  haha.  I don´t blame him at all.  haha what a delk. Good Spanish, BTW.  Se ve que si sabe!  ha. 

Roy- Life down south is pretty awesome.  Did you find your mission extremely funny or is it just me?  I mean, I take it super seriously but when you talk with dozens of drunks in the street everyday, you can´t help but laugh.  I like the Spanish Bible a lot.  I was surprised by how similar the translation is to what it says in English.  We do indeed use the Reina Valera. The KJV is better in my opinion, but the RV is good too.  I haven´t heard of the NRSV but I´ll give it a look see when I get back.  Tell me your favorite moments from conference!  Mine was looking at Dieter´s hair. 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

 haha. jk. I´ll never stop working don´t you worry.  Love you bro. 

Well, it's been a joy to hear from you this week.  I hope all is well in Zion. ha 2 Nephi 28:21-25.  But seriously, I hope things are well.  I look forward to hearing from you next week.

Elder Roth

Recognize him?  
My second companion, Elder Martinez. 
He´s a zone leader in Tuxtla now.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Week 58

Hello Rents,

This email is heading out a bit early today because in the afternoon I´m heading up to Tuxtla Gutiérrez for a meeting.  Things are going pretty well...kinda.  It's kinda rough being in a ward without a Bishop.  When I get home I´ll be able to explain the details to you, but for now just know that its a serious challenge in this ward. 

I don't have a ton to report, things are pretty much the same as always. Yesterday something really funny happened.  We reactivated a member that lives on our street, and he´s a bit crazy.  About once a week he comes to ask for money despite the fact that we have told him a thousand times to talk to the bishopric if he has financial needs.  Well, yesterday he came.  He invited himself in and started looking through the house.  He found some dumbells that we had and proceeded to show off his strength while we tried to study. Then he started punching the wall and dancing.  I have a video of it all on my camera.  It was soo funny.  He was probably there for 20 minutes lifting weights, punching the wall and dancing.  My companion and I could hardly contain ourselves. ha

Dad - you´re the only one that emailed me on time.  ha.  I´m glad to hear your vacation went well.  You gotta watch out for those Packers from Brigham City, they´ll get you.  To answer your questions:
1.  Are you using your camera much?  Many pictures taken for posterity?
I use my camera very little.  I know I should be a better historian, but I don´t really like it.  Plus we aren´t supposed to use them while we proselyte and since that's pretty much all that we do, there aren´t too many opportunities. 
2.  Where will you be able to view conference?  Will you be able to view most sessions?
We´ll be seeing conference in our stake center.  We can go to any session as long as we bring investigators, the only free one is Sunday Morning. Obviously we´re hoping to see every session, we´ll see how it goes. 
3.  Tell us of a memorable meal you experienced this past week.
The only meal I remember for this week was yesterday´s.  It wasn´t too extraordinary rice in chicken broth.  I don´t know what she gave us to drink but it was super nasty. 
4.  Tell us of a choice experience you had this past week.
One of the highlights of the week was a lesson with Gabriela.  She is a new investigator. On our second visit we asked her how she felt when she prayed. She said she felt something that she had never felt before, and knew that what we taught was true.  The spirit filled the room, and I thanked Heavenly Father for his hand in his work.  I´ve come to realize that anyone who with sincerity seeks, finds.  It was one of the more memorable lessons from my mission. 

Mom- I love you.  ha I just got your email.  I hope the former Elder Wilcox is doing well.  Say hi to him for me.  I wish him luck in his pursuits.  My former companion, Elder Salgado, and I discovered a curious phenomenon -  President Cardenas served in this mission, and his wife is from Chiapas.
hmm. Coincidence...I think not.  I´m sure bishop Maughan is doing a great job.  I was going to send him a postcard but it got soaked and ruined haha. True story.  Anyway tell him I think of him everyday while I iron my shirt and see if he realizes why. ha.  Well time is just about up . I love you!

Elder Roth