Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Letter from the Mission Home

We express our love and congratulations that your son,  has been called by the Lord to serve in the Mexico Tijuana Mission.   It is our privilege to welcome him; be assured that the Lord will surround him with his love and support (D&C 84:88).  We will also do our part to help in his spiritual and physical well-being.
The purpose of your son is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."
Letters from the family are very important for the missionaries.  We suggest that you write to your child every week and provide him with encouragement and good news; in order to write to you, the missionaries are only allowed to use the email provided by the Church,, and the rule is that they write you every week on Monday.
So that letters and packages can arrive even more quickly to your son, we have a United States P.O. Box.  It is at the following address:
(Name of missionary)
Mexico Tijuana Mission
PMB 157, P.O. Box 439056
San Ysidro, CA 92143-9056
We would also like you to know that the missionaries receive a certain amount of money each month.  These funds are sacred and represent the sacrifices of family and other members.  The missionaries should have a monthly budget, be savings minded, and prudent in how they spend these funds.  We suggest that you do not send money very often.  It is appropriate to send him money only when they have needs such as the replacement of clothing.  This will help your child learn to be self-sufficient and prepare him for his future life.
We appreciate the support you give your son.  In this way, you help support missionary work.  May the Lord bless you in this work of love.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Holy Cow. The Mission is very different.


Okay, so last email, I basically told everyone that I was super optimistic and OH YEAH HERE WE GO. PUMPED FOR MY MISSION. LETS DO THIS.

Yeah, I kinda wanna go back and punch myself in the face.

This is SO INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT. I really had no idea that the mission was this crazy. Already, I've had several experiences on my mission that I won't forget.

I'll quickly describe my arrival, and then get into a little more detail on what happens and stuff.

So, I left the MTC on August 20, 2013, having been there since July 10, 2013. After leaving the MTC, we got on a train and rode it close to Temple Square, where Elder Hilton, Elder Kessinger, and I got on another Train and rode it to the SLC Airport. There, we called our families and boarded a plane to San Diego.

We got to San Diego and as we got off, we ran into an Elder who was leaving the México Tijuana mission. We talked for about 20 seconds and then we went to baggage claim, got our bags, and started looking for the President and AP's.

We walked for probably like, 2 or 3 minutes, and we just couldn't find them. So, we were thinking: Maybe they were back at baggage claim or something. We didn't know. So, since I was the travel leader of the 3 of us, I decided to stop, go inside the building, turn around, and head back.

As it turns out, THEY WERE RIGHT INSIDE THE DOOR WE WENT INTO! Yeah. The Lord takes care of his missionaries. We saw them and they took us to Mexico.

My new companion is Elder Ponce. He's from Honduras, and he speaks VERY little English, so I'm forced to use Spanish all the time. It's so hard. But I'm learning so fast, you can pretty much say I'm learning twice as fast as at the CCM. It's pretty crazy.

Anyway, we went to our puny little house (I DON'T HAVE PICTURES RIGHT NOW! OLVIDÉ MI CAMERA! PERDON!) and I kinda unpacked, and then we left to go do a little bit of teaching.

Our first lesson was with two great people: Juan y Linda. They are pretty poor, and when we first walked into their home, I was humbled to dust to see how they were living. Basically, they have a kitchen, and then they drilled a hole in the cement, and they have a place for bedrooms. They have very little in their home, but they seem to be getting along really well.

I UNDERSTAND SO LITTLE SPANISH. I AM SO FRUSTRATED. I'll be sitting there, concentrating everything I've got on figuring out what they're saying, and all of a sudden, everyone laughs, and I'm sitting there like I'm some sort of weirdo, because I didn't understand what they said. It's honestly the most frustrating feeling I've ever had.

Elder Ponce is doing his best to remain patient with me. Sometimes he says something, and I just don't understand him. I am able to understand something like... 80% of what he says, but sometimes, I just can't do it. I pray literally every single prayer I say in private for the gift of tongues, because I just can't say much right now, and I really want to help these people. I can say, however, that I have received that gift numerous times. There are times where I'm listening to them speak Spanish, and I'm hearing it as English. No joke. They say something like "Queiro encontrar una camisa por mi hijo," and I hear "I want to buy a shirt for my child." I'm not even joking here. The gift of tongues is absolutely and totally real. Do not EVER tell me otherwise, or I will find you and stick a fork in your eye or something.

Anyway, we taught Juan y Linda, and afterwards, taught a lady named Sarah. Now THERE'S an interesting story.

Sarah lives in a place called Buena Vista. In Tijuana, there are things called "colonias" which divides the city. We live in the Colonia Otay. Buena Vista is just off of the hill that we are on. It's a VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY BIG HILL. We have to walk down the entire thing (I would say it's about 500 feet tall) to get to her house. That isn't so bad. But guess what we have to do to get back to our house?


It's so hard, and so long of a climb, that we have to take a break after every group of stairs. There are 3 groups of probably 50 steps each. It's so crazy strenous that I have to run up the last group so that I can't give my legs time to think about how much pain they're in. It's ridiculous, but the Lord wants me to serve with everything I've got, and that includes my climbing skills, bowstaff skills, computer hacking skills, and everything else inbetween.

I really really really miss home. I've been homesick before. I've really been homesick. I've been homesick to the point where I just can't stand it anymore and I start crying a little because I miss my home so much. NONE of that can even compare to how much I miss my home in Twin Falls right now.

I miss my music, my dog, my brother, my sisters, my mother and father, my trampoline, my job, my friends, my bed, my naps, my phone, EVERYTHING. I just.... I miss it more than anyone can possibly comprehend right now.

On the flip side, I am doing the Lord's work, and I know that I can find comfort in him. He is building me up. Riley sent me a really cool quote from his mission president:

"The Lord strengthened you by giving you everything, and now, the Lord will strengthen you even more by taking it all away."

One last thing before I sign off:

I had 4 baptisms! They were 4 children, aged 15, 13, 11, and 8. David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño. I didn't teach them much, only one lesson, and their parents are already baptized and confirmed, but nonetheless! I was so happy for them. I caught a glimpse of what it's like to bring souls unto Christ. I just can't describe the warmth that I felt that day.

I miss you all. I think about you all at home about as much as a stalker. PLEASE be safe. I don't want to return having one less member of the family cheer as I exit the terminal. PLEASE.

Love you more than you will know,

Elder Carter

David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño.

David Merino Patiño, Jesyca Guadalupe Merino Patiño, Emmanuel Merino Patiño, and Alicia Merino Patiño.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm in Tijuana

I´m in Tijuana right now. Just finished a meeting. My new companion is Elder Ponce. I am just letting you guys know that I´m safe and starting soon.
I will not need my debit card, so I don´t think I´ll be using it at all for the rest of my mission, but I´m not sure.
I can´t wait to email you guys more on Monday.
Be safe. I love you all.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Coby sent us a couple of new pictures last week.  He didn't give us any descriptions so I'm just going to post them.  Coby was moved to the MTC West facilities so maybe he is sending us these pictures to show us how nice the new rooms look.

Thursday, August 15, 2013




1.) I GOT MY VISA APPLICATION READY! I was called up to the Travel office on Friday, and I went to Salt Lake City to get my Visa Application signed and get my picture taken/fingerprints for my Visa. I'm headed to Tijuana after all baby!

2.) I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS TO HEAD TO TIJUANA! I'm flying straight from Salt Lake at around 11:00 and arrive in San Diego at around 12:00. It's a sick flight, and I'm just absolutely excited to go on my mission. It's a REALITY!

During the time that I spend in the airport, (we leave campus at around 6:00 AM and drive to the airport, so I'll probably have around 2-2 1/2 hours to do this) I'm allowed to call home! I CAN CALL HOME!

I don't know if you guys will be able to answer my call, or if I'll be able to get a response at all, but if you guys CAN get together during my phone call, what number do I call? When do I call? How long can we talk? Basically, I just want to know the details so I can be ready when I get to the airport to tell you guys about everything that's happened. This will be the first call, and the next one isn't until Christmas, so make it count! ;)


4.) I MOVED TO WEST CAMPUS! Our whole zone was selected to move over to West Campus, and I'm typing from the RainTree apartments as we speak! The mission boundaries cover Wyview (AWESOME apartments. Basically just like college. It's so cool!) and Raintree, and go clear down to Brigham's Landing, so on P Day, we can go down there in church clothes and shop or whatever. It's so cool! I love it here! I really wish we had more than just a week before we left, because there's so much awesome stuff here.

5.) This is my last week in the MTC, and then I'm out in the real world for good. It's just so crazy. Time has just gone by faster than I can possibly remember. It seems just yesterday that I was fighting back tears as I watched my family wave good-bye to me on the front lawn of our house.

However, because this is the last week, I leave on Tuesday, and P-Day in the field is Monday, which means that I won't be able to write you guys until at least the 26th. So, I'll try to fit as much as I can in here right now before I hit the regular schedule. 

6.) There's just so much that's happened! I can't understand all of it sometimes. We have just been flying around everywhere, and there's a lot that I just don't have time to talk in full about due to time restrictions, but I can just tell everyone that I've had MAJOR help this week from the Lord, and I'm just so happy right now.

Couple of things that happened this week that were noteworthy:

1.) Elder Wilkinson and I have become VERY good friends. He and I don't share the same interests, but we have the same sense of humor, entonces, tenemos muchas vezes donde hablamos sobre cosas random. (Sorry, it's just habit sometimes. I'm starting to think in Spanish a little bit) We have one inside joke of what to do when things get awkward. You know how in some countries, there's a noise or something that they make to make things a little less awkward? We decided we were going to start something like that in 'Merica. When things get awkward, just say "oot!" Pretty much golden from there on out.

2.) Richard G. Scott spoke to us about prayer, and I have to say, it was extremely good. I really enjoyed it. But he said this that really touched me: "My beloved wife has been on the other side of the veil for some time, but I have received an impression that she has been permitted to join us tonight."

At that exact moment, I received a sort of impression that Grandpa was there as well. I felt so overwhelmed. The thing that hit me the most was the fact that Elder Hilton and I arrived early to get good seats for the Devotional. We had heard there was a General Authority, but we didn't know who, so we left pretty early to get to the Marriott Center from Raintree. As we sat down, there was an empty seat next to me. I really don't know if Grandpa was sitting there, but he was at the Devotional, and I feel that's where he would have sat, so he could sit next to his Grandson while listening to someone called of our Lord to represent him.

3.) We finally got a new District, and MAN have I been so relieved to know that we aren't the dumbest people here anymore! (Kinda mean, but hey, it's true.) They make me feel like I know everything! It's awesome. They know a little Spanish, but I have to get Elder Hilton to translate for me when I speak to them because they don't know everything that I'm telling them.

I'm just so excited to go to Tijuana I'm pretty much ready to just jump into a box and send myself there. I know it will be hard, but I'm looking forward to teaching the people of Tijuana and teaching others about the gospel. I can't wait to finally be able to bring souls unto Christ, and celebrate and rejoice with them in the Kingdom of God.

Yo se que La Iglesia de JesuCristo es verdadera. Este Iglesia es la unica Iglesia que tiene la autoridad del sacerdocio de Dios, y hay no otra manera donde podemos ser salvados. Yo se que El Libro De Mormon es la palabra de Dios, y que un hombre puede venir cerca a JesuCristo y Dios por sigiendo las principios encontrado en el Libro que por algun (don't know how to say any) otro libro. Yo se que soy serviendo mi mision para pagar Dios por todos mi bendiciones, y que Dios me ayudara cuando lo necessito desde El. Yo se que los misioneros en la tierra son haciendo la obra de Dios, y que lo sere haciendo cuando voy a Tijuana. Yo se que Tomas S. Monson es el profeta de Dios hoy, y que por medio de el, podemos recibir revelacion y tambien mas palabras desde Dios. Yo se que Espanol sera muy deficil entender, pero yo se que Dios me ayudara entender los nativos en Tijuana, y tambien me ayudara saber que necessito decir y hacer.

Digo estes cosas, en el nombre de mi Hermano, mi Salvador, El Hijo de Dios, Amen

Elder Carter

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Almost Out


We get our travel plans this week, and there are a bunch of Elders in our Zone (which now consisted of 2 districts this week, for a total of 14 Elders, and 2 Sisters. 16 people in our Zone in total. Pretty ridiculous huh? Anyway, almost everyone has their Visas. 3 Elders do not, and guess who has theirs?


My companion leaves to Las Vegas to get his, along with a few other elders, and the other person going to Tijuana, Elder Kessinger. I am not, so I'm going to be here, enjoying the fun times of having 3 people in class. Oh joy.

Our Zone Leaders left to go to Las Vegas and got their Visas, but their flight was delayed SUPER long, so they were picked up by an Institute teacher, who talked to them for 4 hours about the ENTIRE Old Testament. Really, it was just a way for him to show them that he knew a ton.

He had them answer absolutely stupid questions. He sounded so funny. He literally drew a green arc on the board. Just one green line in a semi circle, and asked what it represented, and then acted completely amazed and baffled that they didn't know what it meant. (It represented the Firtle Crescent apparently). He was a complete jerk too. The absolute first thing that he told them was "Seatbelts are of the Devil." I kidd you not.
Anyway, he had a bunch of funny stuff that I wish I could say, but I've got no time to relate it all.

This week has been mostly for me. The Lord has blessed me with the lessons to be able to use them for my mission. I have had to be EXTREMELY patient this week with my district. Many of them were pretty lazy, and EVERYONE was tearing each other down. I had to really learn how to be more patient and kind with those people who were literally absolutely rude to each other. The Lord knew I needed it, and man, am I a lot more patient now than I was before.

The next thing that was for me was the devotional. It was about scriptures, and I really needed to know exactly what I need to do for "studying" and this devotional taught me exactly what to do. It was as if the Lord was sitting right next to me and saying, "I notice you're struggling with studying. I will help you, if you would like, by sending a General Authority to speak on it. That way, you can use his methods, and he can help you understand what it means to study." I was just in complete awe.

I next found out what it meant to "Hunger and thirst for righteousness" I recently started reading the BoM as much as I could, and I suddenly found myself STRUGGLING, and I mean literally STRUGGLING to put it down. I just couldn't get enough of the words and promises that jumped out of the pages to embed themselves in my mind. It was just incredible. I also listened to a few recorded talks from the General Authorities, and I found myself desperately wishing to listen to them more. I have never felt this way before, but any free chance I get, I read. Any time I can, I watch a GA talk. Any time I have some way to hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, I take it. I am quite literally "hungering and thirsting" for righteousness.

Finally, the lessons during class this week were absolutely perfect for me. They taught me so much about teaching my investigators. Elder Hilton and I have been praying very fervently for help with Ricarda, our difficult investigator, and we are actually being given that help! It's so incredible. Many things were taught to me that just made absolute sense. My mind tried wrapping around the concept, but I felt like I knew exactly how to do it in my heart. It brought a whole new meaning to "understanding through the Spirit." I wasn't able to understand the meaning of the words with my mind, but I just knew how to do it in my heart.

We have a few things that we do that I haven't mentioned, and they're really funny/awesome, so I'll just state them now.

1.) Elder Sawyer, one of the Elders in our Zone, is EXTREMELY wealthy. His dad is a Doctor who OWNS around 10 Medical Clinics in Gilbert, Arizona. Because of this fact, he is SUPER SUPER SUPER rich. So, Elder Hilton, Elder Madsen, and I all started just yelling "RRRRIIIIIIIIIIICH!!!!" Whenever anything that requires a lot of money happens. (Seeing a nice watch, or looking at new shoes, or if you say you have something that someone else doesn't)

2.) We always say stuff like "Esta SUPER bien (soo pehr)" whenever someone asks how we are, or if it's okay.
It's pretty funny.

3.) Apparently, Elder Smith told our investigator that it was a commandment to pray out loud. As it turns out, he was right. D&C 19:28.

There are a couple more inside jokes that I just can't seem to remember right off the top of my head.
Dad, I have sung "Secreta Oracion" many times. It's just not as fun for us, and I think it's because we have so few people in our district. My favorite song to sing in Spanish is "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It's SO fun. I love it. Or "Put Your Shoulder To the Wheel" or even "Joy to the World". Those are all fun.


We hosted Senior Missionaries, and ONE COUPLE IS GOING TO THE TWIN FALLS MISSION! I asked them exactly where, and they said they were going to be around Arco. I'm not sure you'll see them, but if you see the "Shaffers" or "Chaffers" (don't remember how to spell it) ask them if they remember a boy at the MTC who lived here! They may remember me. I don't know. I don't speak Spanish.

I'm about to leave the MTC. It's nuts. I don't even feel like I've been here for more than 2 weeks. My Spanish is just AWFUL for what I think it needs to be, and I'm just absolutely ecstatic to finally enter the field.



No joke, the more you share the Gospel, the more you know it's true. It's completely and totally insane. I came to the MTC knowing it was true, but I didn't really have a super strong testimony. Just strong enough to share confidently.

I know now that there's no other Gospel on this EARTH as true as this one. It is literally the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Not even the most intelligent person on this Earth could provide the immense promises that are made in the BoM.

This church is true. It is. That's it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It's true.

Do what you should do, say what you should say, and be who you should be.

Love you all more than you will ever know,

Elder Carter

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Week 3 Pictures

Elders Morrin, Womack, and Conrad. Elder Morrin sounds EXACTLY like Shia LeBouf.

Elder Tanner - the nicest man you will ever meet!

Week 3

So, a lot of stuff has happened since I last wrote! My parents got my large written letter, and (hopefully) they posted it on the blog.
I know this sounds weird, but I'm really struggling with Preach My Gospel. I just don't get how to use it. For instance, it says something like: "Some people will be struggling to join the church because of social reasons, not so much personal. When these cases arise, get a member, as they may be able to help you."
2.) I have become one of the most popular guys in the Zone. Due to my ability to do Magic Tricks, people have now decided they want to hang out just to see me do some more. It's really cool. I enjoy doing quick tricks. It makes me feel very knowledgeable, and because most of the people in our zone know more Spanish than I do, it makes me feel like I actually know something they don't.
3.) I SAW DALLAS HUNT! He's so awesome! He speaks very good Spanish for what he knew when he left, and I'm SO happy he's here still! So awesome to talk with him for a few minutes.
4.) I met President Nalle, and he was actually a Bishop after Bishop Dodds! He and I talked for about 2 minutes, and turns out that he was just in Twin Falls a few weeks ago for a farewell (or something. I don't quite remember.) He said he really loved Twin Falls, and he was glad I talked to him. He didn't know the Stallings or Grandma and Grandpa, but he knew a few other people. It was good to meet him, and I was super glad I just stopped him.
5.) MY INVESTIGATORS DRIVE ME INSANE! Dad, maybe you can help me with this one:
I have an investigator that just won't help us at all. We ask her profound questions like: "What is the most important thing in your life?" She says this: "My family." That's her entire answer. What the CRAP do I do with her? I'm so frustrated! She doesn't trust us, and we can't get her to trust us unless she opens up a little bit to us! But she keeps shrugging her shoulders or saying "Esta Bien" or just, UGHGHHGGHGHGHGHGH. I'm so terrible at teaching it's stupid. I feel so inadequate.
6.) We haven't had a new District come in for 3 weeks now! My District is STILL the newest one. It's so annoying! I have so much to tell people that are new! For instance, we got a new District on our floor where our classroom is, and they are Beginners. I said "A Donde van? (Where are you going?") And they were clueless. Their teacher and I talked a little bit, and they just looked so lost. It made me feel like I actually know Spanish and that I can help them. I told them a little bit about what to expect. They're my favorite District.
7.) There were some Elders in another Zone that got locked out of their room.... Right after shower time. They all stood in front of their door in towels and just were like, "What do we do now?" Some guy got a hangar and broke it off trying to pick the lock, and then we eventually sent two Elders to pick up another key. It was hilarious.
8.) Elder Madsen has gotten into the habit of calling Elder Wilkinson "Elder Swag". He was a jock in High School and so he walks like one. Hence, he walks with a lost of "swag." He doesn't see it, but everyone else in our District does.
9.) I've been struggling a lot with staying calm under pressure. I'm finding myself with a short fuse lately, and it's not good. I have been praying for help, but dang. It's hard to maintain calm when your investigator cannot remember what you discussed literally 16 hours ago.
10.) Apparently, I'm a really good writer. Elders Madsen and Townsend found a writing piece that I did on a P-Day, and they said it was really good. I'm now going to have to write more for them, because they keep asking if I have more. I wish I could give them my book so they could look at it.
11.) THIS EMAIL IS REALLY LONG. SORRY. I KNOW HOW MUCH STUFF YOU GUYS HAVE TO DO IN YOUR LIFE. I'D DIE IF I HAD TO READ THIS MUCH. We have a secret Zone handshake! I haven't mentioned it because I forgot, but we do! It's really cool. I'll take step by step instruction pictures, and then send them to you guys so you know how it works.
I love this. I'm homesick a lot, but I really do love what I'm doing. I'm glad I get to do it for 2 whole years! It's just fantastic. I'm so happy to serve the Lord, and I can't wait until I get to where I can just serve as much as possible.
I love you guys so much. Like, if you guys had any idea how much I think about you and the good memories that we have, you'd think I was a stalker/creeper or something.
Mom, Dad, can you find the lyrics to "Geek in the Pink" for me? I would like to learn them in Spanish, and also have it to recite for fun. I realized how much fun that song is to sing, and so I started singing it today and realized that I forgot the second verse!
I love you. All of you. Family, friends, and even random Internet bypassers who may read this on the blog. Yeah, Mr. J. G. Snodgrass, I love you too.
Okay okay. Pictures after this. Love you all!

Elder Carter

Quick Email

Thanks for the email Dad!
It's funny that you mention burning shins in the shower, because I'm actually dealing with that myself! We played some soccer, and I was like, going hardcore. I'm actually not half bad, because the Tennis drills I had trained me to have precision with my feet, so I'm not the best out there, but I'm not the worst either.
Anyway, we played soccer..... without shinguards. Yeah. I have a gash on my leg that burned really bad today in the shower. It's not like bad, but It's a visible cut that's going to scab. It hurt.
Speaking of showers, I hate our showers. The stupid curtain is literally JUST big enough to fit over the entrance, so if you move to fast you pretty much open the door to the shower. SO stupid.... hahahahaha
I'll email later today during my laundry time my weekly letter. I wrote some stuff down so i wouldn't forget like last week.
Thanks for the email! I really enjoy it.
Gracias, otra vez, por su carta electronico. Yo quiero esos mucho.
Amor y feliz,

Elder Carter