Monday, September 30, 2013

More Pictures!

 This of my District for the last time before we part ways. If I can remember I think it went like this: Elder Tunion (DL) Elder Ponce, Hermana Chavez, Hermana Maldonado, Elder Castenellos, and me. That's our entire district! Pretty small, but super cool. We all bonded really well together.

This transfer will be taking Elder Tunion and Elder Castenellos to a new District, but same area, Hermana Maldonado is staying in Otay, but Hermana Chavez is leaving to Mexicali (pienso, no seguro) and Elder Ponce and I are staying exactly the same. Elder Ponce is the new District Leader, and I am still going to be training, but we get another North American who's training! I'm so happy! Finally I can feel like I actually KNOW something!

Our new District will consist of: Elder Ponce and I, Elder Hernandez and his North American trainee, Hermana Maldonado and her companion.

This of me and my district standing outside McDonald's for breakfast. Really funny actually. They have NOTHING on the menu here for McDonald's, and they have stuff like a "McBurrito" or "McTaco". It's so funny.

This of some chocolate called Bocadin. It's super good. Kinda like Jet but with a wafer in the middle. ooohhhhh so good.


So it's my first transfer!

I don't go anywhere.

Elder Ponce is our new District Leader, and we're going to be receiving a new North American on Tuesday! I'm so excited!

Okay, so I admit it, I was pretty roughed up last week. I tried my best to kinda just brush it off, but last week was really brutal.

Elder Ponce has been very impatient with my Spanish lately, and he's been kinda helping me in a way that isn't so loving and kind. I feel bad for him. I'm so bad at Spanish, and he's gotta deal with me saying "Yo sabo" everywhere. (Not really yo sabo, but you get the picture.)

I'm starting to understand a LOT more Spanish in the Gospel than ever before. I actually followed an entire conversation about the Temple! Not only that, but I managed to actually REPLY. Talk about Gift of Tongues!
During this past week, I've felt awful. We have 3 people that really show me what it means to be a Latter Day Saint.

1.) Hermana Porfiria. The nicest, sweetest, kindest little old lady you'll ever meet in your entire life. She lives in a small cement box (pretty much) and has very little money. She works as a maid for the family that we live with (we don't let her clean our apartment because we need to do it on P Day.) She has the strongest testimony I've ever heard in my life. We show up and talk to her, and even though she's paid for this 2.5 Liter Soda, she offers us the biggest glasses she can find and gives us as much as she can. Her husband is Less active, and she says she prays that someday he can return to the church. I left her home one day crying. I love her so much, and I literally don't even want her to have to get our cups for us. She's just fantastic, and I cried because I have been so selfish compared to her. She's really changed me.

2.) Hermano Sergio, is a member, and Hermana Sarah Estrada. Sarah is our investigator. Hermana Sarah has a testimony of the church, but that's not why she's impacted me. What really impacted me was how willing she was to just do anything for us. She won't accept us saying no to anything. All she does is feed us and give us fruit while we visit, because she says "Servants of the Lord are too important to withhold from" (something like that.)

Hermano Sergio. is her husband. He's a member, and he is so kind it's crazy. He has a briefcase where he keeps his scriptures, but more importantly, he has every single certificate of everything. Baptism, Aaronic Priesthood, Melchizedek, and High Priest. He also has his line of authority. I hold him in one of my highest respects. He told us something that I can't ever forget:

"Things of the Lord are first, above any other thing. If the Lord calls you to serve, you do not hesitate to stop whatever you are doing and follow him."

Three great people. I really need to work on my testimony.

Okay, that's all for this week. It's been kinda uneventful. We had no investigators progress this week, so we're kinda sad about that. But we're confident we'll have their progression continue this upcoming week.
I'll send some pictures here really soon.

If someone took all the prayers I've said and wrote them down, you'd probably think I was obsessed with my family I pray about you so much.

Love you all.

Elder Carter

First is of my bowling during one of our activities.

Second is of our District and Zone Leaders at our last District Meeting.

Third is of this ENORMOUS pizza that a family bought for us to eat during lunch. It was so delicious, and quite large.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello Family!

Okay, this week, I decided I was going to just think about a whole bunch of stuff that's different about here, write them down, and send you the things. Here they are:

1.) There are these people that get on the buses (cameons) and just perform. Tell jokes, play guitar, sing, sell candy, anything. They do this because everyone HAS to listen to them, and EVERYONE will be there listening. Then, they ask if anyone has money to give them or anything. It's really awkward to stand next to a guy who's singing with all of his gusto "La Bamba" on a bus.

2.) The fruit! OH MY GOODNESS THE FRUIT HERE IS AMAZING. Seriously, I even eat the BANANAS here they're so good. Everything is so rich and juicy! I'm not gonna buy fruit in the US anymore....

3.) SD card plan! I need to send the SD Card to you guys, but I can only take about 1 hour total of video, and about 10 minutes worth of video. I'll take videos once a week or so, and send the 6 videos to you guys. However,  I can't send packages to the US. Dunno why, but I can't. SO I'll send them in a letter to you and you guys take all the videos, COPY THEM. MAKE SURE THEY ARE COPIED, and then delete them. Then send me the SD Card once more and I can make more for you.

4.) General Conference is coming up, and I will have to listen to it in Spanish. I don't know if I'll be able to understand everything, so, is there some way you could send me a Liahona or Ensign in English with the General Conference talks so that I could have EVERYTHING they said, not just what I could grasp with my 3rd grade level Spanish?

5.) I want to put some stuff that people can relate to and find kinda funny, like dad, so here's something. We shake hands so many times a day. It's so ridiculous. We enter a home with 50 people. We will shake everyone's hand twice. 100 hand shakes. Oh my gosh. I hate shaking hands.

6.) When I arrived in Tijuana and I heard these Spanish people speaking Spanish, I thought they were talking about eloquent stuff, about how the world is slowly starting to go into an economic depression, and their theories on how we could try to correct the current situation and recalculate the economic indecency.

Nope. They talk about a kid sticking their finger up their nose or something like that. Just junk! It's like talking to normal people! What the heck?

Okay, so I've given you those things, and I'll just talk briefly about what happened today:

We went to the border to get our fingerprints taken for our Visas, and I got to meet up with Elder Hilton and Elder Kessinger!

It was so COOL! I got to speak with them about missionary work and how they were coming along with their investigators and stuff like that! It was amazing! My Spanish is the best out of the 3 of us, not trying to brag or anything. I didn't understand as much as Elder Kessinger, but I could speak more than he could, and more confidently. He caught my mistakes, but I MADE them. >:D

I managed to talk to Elder Hilton a little bit, and man. He and I have grown so much in the MONTH that we have here. It's ridiculous how much a mission is changing my life.

I know this is the work of the Lord, and that there is no other place I should be.

Family, I have heard many stories of relatives dying while someone is away on a mission, and I could not imagine that happening to me.

I say this too much, but it's because I will never be able to be the same if you aren't:


Please. It's the only thing I require of you (most of the time). I'm constantly praying for you. I cry sometimes because I think about what you guys do while I'm not around.

I will talk to you later.

Elder Carter

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photos of Tijuana

Below are some pictures that Coby took of Tijuana.

The picture after Tijuana view is a picture of a restaurant that has a completely photoshopped picture of Jackie Chan holding some of the food of the restaurant and giving it a thumbs up. It's so funny to me like, Oh yeah, I'm sure Jackie Chan has sponsored that food. It's GOTTA be good if Jackie Chan likes it. I dunno, I just found it hilarious.

Q and A

Do you cook your own dinner?
Yes. We can't eat dinner until after our planning session at 9:00, so really, we just eat whatever we want after. Usually I just eat cereal because it's fast, simple, really filling, and takes a little while to eat. I don't really want to make a 5 course meal with sides or whatever.

Do you ever play soccer in the streets with the kids?
No. We can't do that because we need to be SUPER careful around kids. "Due to increasing legal complexities surrounding children, be extremely careful around them." It's basically just something we shouldn't do.

What kind of service projects do you do for people?
We actually don't do much service, because most people don't want you to do it for them if they can do it. Spanish people are naturally very very kind people, and they really don't want you doing work when it's their job. The first service project we WERE going to do cancelled because he didn't get the truck in with the furniture (we were going to help him move some furniture into his house).

Does your mission president speak English?
Very little.

When are the next transfers and do you think you or your comp will be transferred?
Transfers are every 6 weeks. This is week 5 since I arrived, but we won't actually transfer until after this NEXT 6 weeks. Training is a full 12 weeks total with your trainer, so I won't actually be transferred until 7 weeks from now.

Do you ever go on splits with other Elders?
No. I can't. We aren't allowed to go on splits unless it's authorized by the Zone Leaders or higher. Not only that, but the nearest Elders are around 5 miles away, so a change would cost a few pesos to make.

Is there a McDonalds in your area?  Costco?  Target?
McDonalds is about 3 miles away, Carl's Jr. is about 1 mile away. No Costo, no Target. Mostly there are these stores called "OXXO" which are so popular you can stand at one, look down the street, and see like 3 more about 3 blocks down. It's nuts how popular they are here. They're like gas stations, but with no bathrooms and a little more in terms of food and stuff. You know the Snowville gas station? It's about as big as that.

What do you do if you have extra money on your debit card at the end of a month?
I don't ever have extra money. I withdraw the 800 pesos immediately and use it as cash, because it's much safer that way, and much easier to keep track of.

Does the camera you have take video?
Yes, it does. I'm trying to make videos, but the problem is I can only upload files that are 25 MB or lower, and I don't know if the videos are bigger than that. Also, I can only take 10 minutes of video at a time, so that kinda puts a damper on things as well.

1 Month!

I've officially been IN the Mexico Tijuana mission for 1 month! I've already learned so much it's ridiculous.

This week we've had a lot of ups. More investigators found, people came to church, and LOTS of lessons! Good things happened this week, but it was pretty average.

Like, not so say that any week is super amazing or better than the other, but really, I just felt like I was doing an average job. I felt like I was just going through the motions.

I don't know what it was, but I just kinda felt sub-par. It was kinda depressing.

We found this North American named Keith, and when I heard that he spoke English, and that he was a VERY inactive member (he came to church) I nearly died from joy! I can finally teach the gospel in English! I'll be able to express myself much better now!

Not so. Keith is actually VERY hard to teach because we DON'T TEACH. He seriously talks and talks and talks about the most random stuff I've ever heard. He talked to us for about 20 minutes about a story in jail when he and his cellmate watched two guys get in a fight, and his cellmate "married" them or something. Literally, impossible to teach this guy. His wife isn't a member, and she only speaks Spanish. He doesn't understand a word of what she says, and I have no idea how in the world they communicate. It's just the weirdest thing. We're trying to teach her with the second counsellor, Hermano Quintano. It's so hard. Elder Ponce and I do not like going over there. I don't know what it is, but something just doesn't feel right when we are in their house. I actually feel like the Spirit leaves when we enter there. I don't know what we're going to do, because it's just so hard to teach without the Spirit, and I know we don't have it with us.

This week I also figured out how to beat homesickness a bit. We were talking with an investigator, and in the background of the house, I heard Toy Story 3 playing in the background. I immediately thought back to watching it in the Drive Thru, and watching all the other moves there. I thought about the memories I've made in Twin Falls, and started getting really homesick.

That's when I took a step back.

What in the world are you doing? I thought. Thinking about home does nothing for you right now. You really think that if you remember the stuff from home you're going to feel better? If you want to get rid of these feelings, grow up. Focus on what's happening now. It's great that you made those memories, and it's awesome that you have them for the rest of your life, but right now, you don't need them. Just stop thinking about what you did and think about what you're doing.

I've had very little, if not any, homesickness since then. I dunno. Something just clicked and I got over it. Thanks for your prayers, family. It's because of you.

I'm gonna try and get pictures and hopefully videos sent here, so I'm gonna end this here.

Did you find a reference? Did you find someone to refer? If not, why? What was your drawback? What could you do to try and improve? Do you have faith that the Lord is preparing people right now to receive the gospel?

Good luck in everything guys! I love all of you more than Savanna and Katie love kittens, puppies, and stuffed animals.

Be safe.

Elder Carter

Monday, September 9, 2013


This week has just been utterly exhausting. I've been finding myself going home and just DYING. Ugh.

So, you know how I said that I felt I understood Spanish better? I really do, but I don't understand it still.  There are times where they talk about something, and I'm just completely lost. I'm sitting there trying to comprehend what they're saying as they wave their hands around to indicate where a road is, but the only word I pick out is "calle." Spanish is really annoying sometimes.
Also this week, we had our Zone Conference! That was great. I got to see Elder Warth! He looks like he's just had a blast here! He is fluent in Spanish, and it was so weird to hear him speak it. I was used to his English, but Spanish was just totally new. He and I talked a little bit, and it was great to catch up.

I got my package! All green! Wonderful stuff, but I can't wear bracelets! I'm sad, but I'll keep 'em anyway.

This Sunday we had the entire Stake Presidency AND a Seventy show up. The Seventy was from Mexico City, and he spoke about needing to be truly converted. He said a few things that really hit me:  "We can't just stand up here and say 'I know this church is true'. We need to stand up and MEAN that." He then talked about what it meant to be converted, and then had US stand up.
"These two jovens (don't really know how that translates to English) are the greatest blessing in this ward. It is an HONOR to have them in your home, and you should do everything you can to help them. The more that you help them, the more they help you, and when you all work together, you will receive all the blessings you never thought you would have."
It was really powerful.

All in all, a decent week, but very exhausting. We had a lot to do, and very little time to do it in.

Finally, I want to tell you all right now this:


Do it. Not even joking. You have no clue how much references do for missionaries.

When a missionary gets a reference, that's automatically 1 new investigator (basically). That's also a lesson with a member friend, AND to top it off, that's a whole new person to ask for references! That's a whole family!

Lets look at it like this:
Mom, you refer one of your friends to the missionaries. You go with them and she accepts and is baptized. Because of that, her husband will probably be curious as to what's going on. He accepts and is baptized. The kids are all baptized because they want to follow their parents, who want to give their children this gospel. That's 6 people baptized already.
The husband has a brother who is really spiritual and lives in the area. The missionaries teach him, he and his whole family accept, and they are baptized.

In around a month, because you referred ONE person, 12 were baptized.
Do you see how crazy that is? Referrals are the best thing a missionary can have.
So, I have a committment for you. I'll leave it just like I do in Tijuana. (Spanish AND English)

Orara para encontrar alguien que puede beneficiarse de nuestro mensaje?

Will you pray to find someone that can benefit from our message?

Family, I'm holding you to this. FIND SOMEONE. FIND A REFERENCE.

I will check back in a week, just like I do with the members here, and I expect SOMEONE in the family to have given a reference to the missionaries.

I'm not joking here. You'd better do it. Pray as a family, tonight, during Family Home Evening. Dad, teach everyone how they can share the gospel, and do a roleplay. Do whatever you can to find references. President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "Many people view missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel."

"The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found."

Do not view missionary work as tracting. It's not tracting here. We can't do it. We literally only go from member referralls, and already, I have 4 people baptized, and a 5th on the way!

REFER SOMEONE! Don't be afraid of losing the friend because you're sharing the gospel! Most people respect beliefs, and won't leave you because you're Mormon. If they do, they just aren't worth your time.

The more you share the gospel, the easier it is to share it again, and again.

Don't worry about what to say or whatever, D&C states: "It shall be given you in the very hour what ye shall say."

So, that's my schpeil for this week.

Love you guys. Everyone. Whoever read this, I love you. I don't care if you're some dude in Europe who accidentally searched for "Elder Carter" for no reason, I love you. You're important. God loves you more than you can possibly imagine.

Do not forget who you are. Like Mufasa said, "Remember who you are. You are my son." You are a literal son or daughter of God. You cannot make him not love you.

Be good, be safe, and remember that this is true.

Elder Carter

Answered Questions

Did you have a Zone Conference this week?  Zone Conference was awesome. Met lots of new Elders and finally spoke English without restraint. It was cool.

Did you get to see Tyson?  Yes! I saw Tyson! He's almost 21! It's crazy! The first thing he asked me was: "Why are you so tall? What happened?"

Does it rain a lot in Tijuana?  It doesn't really rain here. When it DOES rain, it's a quick burst, and then it's done. However, after rain it gets HOT. Like, 90 degrees hot.

How much money gets put on your Debit Card each month?  We get 800 pesos every 15 days on our debit card.

Can you drink the water?  They actually gave me a water bottle with a filter that lasts a year, and a replacement for it at the MTC! So I'm able to drink whatever water I want. I don't drink it straight from the tap though. It's really dangerous because the people here just filter out the bad stuff, and not the bacteria/germs or whatever.

Have you been drinking Manzana Lift?  Not really. I can't really drink it a lot because most people just have water. Manzana Lift is kinda pricy here, but I've drank it before! It was great. I also ate Mamuts! Great memories there.

Did you get our "Greeny" package?  Got the package! But I only receive packages at Zone Conferences. Our next one is in like, October around 15th, I think, but I don't know. So if you want to send a package, send it around then if it has perishables.

Have you been receiving printed copies of Dear Elder Letter in the mail?  I haven't been getting any Dear Elders. I don't think I can get them.

Hopefully that's all! Love you

Elder Carter

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mission Letter

Okay, so a lot has happened this week, so I'll try to sum it up the best that I can.

1: I have been EXTREMELY homesick as of late, because I keep thinking about random memories from home. I really can't describe how much I miss my days in High School or whatever. I've been struggling super hard with it. At one point, I even thought: "You know, if I wanted to, I could go get some money with my credit card, get on a Taxi, drive to the border, go to San Diego, get in another taxi, go to the airport, pay for a ticket, and fly back home."

I was so depressed for about a day or two because man! I really missed home! But then I read a scripture in Alma Chapter 29 Verse 6: "Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?" and also Verse 9: "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

After reading that, I realized that I need to not worry about not having stuff. I should just be happy that I'm serving a mission! I should just be happy that the Lord has chosen me to represent him!

2: The water in Tijuana was turned off on Tuesday. Literally all of the city had no water. It was just turned off to conserve or something. We woke up in the morning and had nothing to shower with but water in 6 gallon milk jugs. So, Elder Ponce and I each took 3 and dumped them on us to shower. It was quite the experience.

3: I'm starting to understand a little more Spanish than before. I can pretty much communicate to anyone, I just have to ask them to talk a little slower or simpler. It's taking time, but I'm learning fast.

4: Elder Ponce and I finally had investigators progress! We have 2 investigators that cannot be baptized because they are married, and they need divorces, but they aren't getting them. Finally, these last few days, they got them through! We should be having them baptized in about a month! I'm so stoked!

Missionary work is hard. It's just hard. Not hard in the sense that you're working your body to exhaustion (although that's kinda what you do) but hard in the sense that doing it is just tough. It's a really tough thing to keep hopes up that your next investigator will keep commitments. It's tough to keep talking. It's tough to speak a language that I've never tried to speak before.

This is a small email, because I have a lot of people who are emailing me, and I tried answering them all.

I love everyone. Miss you guys so much, and I'll work hard. I promise.

Elder Carter

Coby's Apartment in Tijuana

Coby's Apartment in Tijuana

Coby's Apartment in Tijuana

Coby's MTC companion Elder Hilton

The dog that we see every day named "Chowbo".

The money that we use.


We are really anxious and excited to hear about the following things:

Q: How is your house?
A: My house is small, but it's enough. I wouldn't have it any other way. The less there is, the better. I want to focus on missionary work, not on whether or not my picture frames are sitting in the right place to increase the amount of fung shuei.

Q: Have you personally baptized anyone yet?
A: I personally baptized Jesyca and Emmanuel Merino Patino.

Q: Have you had to give a blessing in Spanish?
A: I haven't had to give a blessing, but I don't think we're allowed to. I'm not sure. I'll have to talk to Elder Ponce about it.

Q: Have you had to Confirm anyone yet?
Q: Have you had to speak in church yet?
A: Haven't had to speak in church, or confirm.

Q: How is your bed?
A: Bed is normal. Mattress, top bunk. Pretty normal.

Q: What do you eat?
A: I eat all kinds of stuff. In the morning though, I eat cereal, eggs, and sausage. I really like the cereal here because it's slightly behind American cereal. The cereal brand "Trix" is still in the shape of fruit here! It's so cool!

Q: Do you eat with members very often?
A: We eat with members every day at 2:00 for lunch. I've eaten Chicken, stir fry, Mole, and all sorts of stuff. But it's all SO good.

Q: Do you have a maid?  Do you wash your own clothes?
A: No maid. Washing clothes as I type in a laundromat.

Q: What strange or interesting things have you seen or done?
A: Strange or interesting? 1st: There are buses that drive around in routes, but they behave like taxis. You can be just walking along, and then if you wave one down, it stops and gets you. It stops for about 2 seconds though, and as soon as you get on, he hits the gas hard. It's pretty nuts. Mexicans are so good at driving, but crazy. 2nd: Dogs and Cats (of course) 3rd: Tijuana is a really dirty city. There's trash everywhere, but it's because there really isn't any public trash bins. People just steal them for some reason. So gum is just all over the sidewalks, and theres cups and straws and wrappers and whatever else you can think of lining the streets. But it's my home. :D

Q: Where do you go to church?  Is it a Ward or a Branch?
Q: What is Church Building like?
A: Church is at a chapel that's about a half a mile from our house. It's one floor, and it's built with the chapel on one end, and all the offices and classrooms on another, with a small hallway in between to connect them. It's pretty cool. Also, there are no pews. Just a bunch of chairs. Also a ward.

Q: When will the Tijuana Temple be built?  Do they have a date set yet for the Dedication?
A: The Temple is a very interesting topic to discuss.  About a week before I came here, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy visited Tijuana. He took a look around at the people and talked a little and surveyed the temple and stuff like that. Just generally to take a look at the situation.  The people here don't act like they want a Temple. Very little of them pay Tithing, go to church, or even read the scriptures at home. They are really just super lazy about church stuff. The Seventy said they may stop construction on the temple until the people in Tijuana show they really do want a temple here. I don't know if exactly there's a date or anything like that.

Q: Do you ride buses, ride bikes, walk, taxis?  How do you get around?
A: Walk and buses. That's about it. Walk and buses.

Q: How close are you to the boarder?
A: I'm actually about 2 miles from the border. I can see it from where we usually visit people.