I can't remember if I've already said this in the blog, but I baptized someone my last saturday (3 days before I left). Her name is Bethany. She's awesome and so prepared by the Lord. Her dad is Sergio ... a miracle story that I had a few weeks back.
I'm going to be doing 3 different sections of this email. I'm going to go in order of events.
1st: El Paso __________________________________________
It's been a week since I've left El Paso and I miss it so much. I received the call on Saturday evening and was told I was getting transferred. I had mixed emotions with everything; I wanted to start somewhere new and to have change, but I love these people so much and feel so a part of El Paso. On Sunday I bore my last testimony in the ward. I felt the Spirit so strong and as I looked down on the congregation I felt this immense love for each and every person. Later that afternoon and evening I went around giving people blessings. I felt inspired that it was what I needed to do to give back to all the love and support I've received from everyone. I gave a total of 20 priesthood blessings! I was so tired, both physically and emotionally, but I bear testimony that every time I placed my hands on each person's head I wasn't tired at all and I received revelation on what to say.
The next day I went early in the morning to the Sumac church building and played football with some people in our ward. After that we went and played basketball in the church. I promised the young men in the ward that before I go I'd play with them. It was awesome! I was super tired but we still killed it! There were like 40 people in the gym waiting to play. Afterwards we went to the bowling alley to meet all of the missionaries in our zone. Everyone was talking about how crazy it is that everyone is getting transferred out from down south, and that all of the leadership is going up north. It was really fun bowling with everyone. Afterwards the sisters in my ward gave me presents and a card... they got me a skinny tie and superman socks and mac and cheese! haha They know me so well.
Then I had to get ready and go to the Butterfields for my going-away party. It was SO cool! They made aloha tie cookies for me and a ton of people showed up. There were more who said they would come and didn't make it but it totally worked out perfect. I got to say my goodbyes to everyone and I gave kind of like a "speech" at the end. I'll never forget that evening and that Sunday... I was so humbled by everything that was said to me. Afterwards I gave 11 more blessings, including my companion, and went to bed at around 12:30am. So, in two days I gave a total of 31 blessings!!!
I woke up the next morning and had to start packing all the way until our ride came to get us. Ray actually came over to say goodbye again... which was amazing and made me happy to see how much he's changed in just a short time. El Paso is FOREVER in my heart !
2nd : Alamo Navajo Reservation _________________________________
On the way up I was with my missionary buddies: Elder Krebs ( who's still my zone leader up here), Elder Magalei, and Elder Jensen. We are called the "Four El Paso legends." haha When I was in Los Cruses at the first transfer site the zone leader there came up to me. I've only met him once and he said to me, "I feel you are going to Alamo. I think you are needed and are perfect to serve there." From that moment on I COULDN'T get it out of my mind... I felt so strongly that I was. I was the last in Albuquerque to be called to their area... and, yup, I got called to the "res." I was freaking out. The AP's and everyone were saying how jealous they are of me and how lucky I am. My companion's name is Elder Gibson. He just finished being trained by Elder Barrus... who was my MTC comp!! I replaced my MTC companion's spot here! haha ... and now he is with MY trainer. We basically switched.
Well, I had a two and a half hour drive back down south to Alamo. Socorro is the first "main" town off of the freeway of Los Lunas. I met the sisters in my district and saw the little building there and baptismal font. Then we headed west to the reservation. I was SHOKED at where it is. I go from the city to like the middle of nowhere in the mountains.
I did 5 hours of service last Saturday by chopping wood and throwing the piles in the trailer and other crazy things. On the 15th of this month is when it's legal again to hunt and eat Prarie dog!! I guess everyone loves it here? I'm freaking scared for when I have to eat weird food! The nastiest thing I've had here was a tamale but it was a blue corn one ... homemade from the corn they grow but it had no flavor and was all slimey and gooey so it didn't taste too good.
This is a foreign mission. We feel like we are in a different country. ha But I LOVE THE PEOPLE! I know exactly why the Lord has me here. It was evident this last Sunday to me when I spoke to the branch in sacrament telling them who I am and stuff. Being around the people, and this different lifestyle is changing me. I'm going to learn from a blacksmith how to make a belt buckle and from a Navajo how to sew and bead native things. There's tons and tons of things I'm learning new everyday.
Teaching the Gospel here is different ... it's more of a challenge. The schools aren't very good, so not many people are very sophisticated when it comes to big words and elegant-speaking... so everything needs to be simplified, which I already did before but now even more. Navajos here are tough to work with because of their attitudes; they spend money on big TV's and stuff but have no water and little electricity. I'm really going to try to help them see the true purpose in life. But we as missionaries have to be careful; if we start giving to them then everyone will be at our door asking for something... they always ask for rides or money. There was a drought a few months back, so we help fill up jugs of water for people in our bath tub and drop it off. I can talk for hours about things here, but I'll tell more next week about the culture and things. We have family home evening and scripture study on Mondays and Thursdays and it's a blast. I was playing on the piano and now I guess I'm going to be giving piano lessons to a ton of Navajos now? All of these people want to learn so I guess I'll be teaching piano too. Also, there was an accident like 3 days before I got here. A truck full of 9 people crashed off the side of the windy road and 6 or 7 of the people died (including a woman who was pregnant)... so please keep the Apachito family in your prayers. EVERYONE here is somehow related to the family and are effected by it.
Just know there is a lot of work to be done here but it's SO worth it and the people are special to the Lord and need the Gospel.
3rd: one year mark ___________________________________
As I'm sure you all know Monday was the one-year mark of my mom's passing. I wanted to write a few words. I stayed busy on Monday. I had to help the sisters in my district so we drove 60 miles to the town to help them move, and I finally got to shop. My service in my mom's honor was helping move and unloading/organizing some things in their house. I knew she'd be proud of that! ha
To be honest I tried not to think about it; I know the adversary is working harder on me now than before because he sees the great things that are to come here on the res and with me personally. So, I took it safe and tried not to dwell. This is how it is when you lose a loved one: IF I have the Spirit then I'm okay because I know it's part of God's plan and I'm happy; once I am not as spiritual and I let the natural man take over then Satan uses my anger towards the situation and I get upset about it and hurt. So, it's KEY that we always have the Spirit with us throughout our trials so that we see the light at the end of the tunnel. :)
I love my mom Claudine Taylor with all my heart. I feel that I love her more and more each and everyday. I've never missed something more than I do her which has taught me what true love really is. Yes, most days are great but somedays are hard. Knowing that I will be with my mom and family for eternity, if I don't give up or mess up, is MY motivation... it's what keeps me going everyday. I'll forever be a momma's boy. Growing up she would always call me her best friend and she is ... she's my #1 girl and forever will be... she threatened me if she wasn't! haha But, for real, I'm grateful for all she's taught me, and the example she is to everyone.
There's a scripture I found that pierced my heart. It is in the Book Of Mormon in Alma 27:28:
"They never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by victory of Christ over it".
Don't fear death or those who have passed on because Christ has broke the bonds of death so that we all shall live again ... fear nothing for the Lord is on our side.
Thank you to everyone for their huge support to my family this last year and especially to me being out here on my mission. I know this is exactly where I need to be and where God has planned me to be.
I'm going to write a miracle story for next week!
True Love and Happiness, Elder J. Taylor
The Butterfields wanted me to sign them! haha
My first day in Alamo ....
Our service project on saturday! Way more fun than pulling weeds :)