Sunday, April 27, 2014

And all of this in one week?

Hola familia. Cómo están?

This week has been absolutely nuts. In fact, I would say it was probably the craziest week I´ve experienced my entire mission. Lets go with a quick rundown of what has happened, and I will explain each one in detail:

  • An Elder fell, and split his head open.
  • An Elder 2 days later got hit by a car and his now headed home for recovery
  • I was told I was going into the field instead of receiving the new president
  • Miracle after miracle happened.

Alright, now. Let´s get this show on the road.

First, there was an Elder who fell and split his head open.

Apparently, he and his companion were walking up a small pathway to go to a house for a service project. As they were walking, there was a bit of very loose dirt. He stepped on it, slipped, and fell around 5 feet, head first. He landed on a rock, which split the skin.

Now, when I say it was a miracle that this happened, let me just say that he received literally no other injuries to his head other than the skin split.

No concussion. No fracturing of the skull. No broken neck, strained neck, or anything. Everything was completely normal minus his skin. An absolute miracle.

He had to get 32 stitches, and for that reason, I could not write on Monday, as I went to stay with him to make sure he was okay.

He is doing fantastic now. In fact, he really has nothing to worry about. The scar will be EXACTLY where his hair is, so you can´t even see it after his hair grows in.

It´s really cool to see that he was protected like that.

Next, 2 days later, an Elder got hit by a car.

This was just nuts. I couldn´t believe what I heard.

Apparently, he was crossing a street, and a car going around 40 miles an hour hit him. His companion told me that he bounced off of the car, and went about 6 feet into the air before landing on the ground. The windshield (he went up into the windshield even) was damaged pretty bad, and because of that, they were sueing the Elder (or the church; not sure) for damage to the windshield.

That Elder received so much damage that he is going to head home after they operate on him and fix his... everything.

Remarkably, he received injuries MUCH less severe than he should have received. In fact, he only has problems with his arms and hands, and basically nothing else. His head is fine, his back and legs are practically unscratched. It was another miracle. The car didn´t even stop. It collided head-on, full speed. So the fact that he is just dealing with arm fractures is an honest miracle.

This next piece of news is going to just change everything again:

The President is going to send me to the field again.

Originally, I was going to be in the offices until the new president showed up, and then I was going to be the secretary to train him and basically show him what he has to do in terms of finances.

However, the President called me into his office around 2 days ago for an interview, and this is what he told me:

Elder Carter, I have made a decision that I´m going to send you out into the field again.

I was absolutely stunned. This announcement punched me harder than the one where I was going to be the secretary.

He continued:

I don´t want you to think this is because you haven´t been a good secretary. I am sending you out into the field because of what I see. You look like you´re weighed down. I don´t see you as happy as you were before. You look really tired as well.

I was honestly surprised. I didn´t think it showed at all. I tried to mask it the whole time so that the President didn´t worry about me.

Next he told me:

How long have you not baptized?

Almost 8 months, President.

That worries me. It means you haven´t enjoyed the precence of the Holy Ghost as much as those who do baptize every week. I´m returning you to the field so that you can feel the joy that it brings. You´re in a very hard ward, and you haven´t had any success at all. You look very discouraged.

I was honestly unable to think about what was going on.

Elder Carter, I don´t want you to feel like that. I don´t care how good you are with computers. I don´t care how intelligent you are. You have been very good here in the offices, and have done very great things, but I don´t want you to be here if you are like this.

This whole conversation was just absolutely nuts. The President has secretaries so that he can focus on his own work, and it´s just absolutely insane that, in spite of all of the stuff he has to do, all of his meetings, interviews, zone conferences, and trainings, he cares enough about 1 missionary to send him to the field again just so he feels happy.

He finished with this:

When the new President comes, you are going to be worrying about baptizing every week, and you will be doing it. You will not be worrying about the money. You won´t be worring about facturas (I honestly don´t know what this is in English.) You won´t be worrying about anything here. I want you worrying about how you can teach better, how you can baptize more, and more than anything, I want you to focus on enjoying your mission.

So there you have it, folks. I´m going to be leaving as the Financial Secretary in 1 transfer. I am going to train the new Secretary for a transfer, and do all that I can to make things even better here, and then I leave to go be a regular, teaching, studying missionary.

To be honest, it´s exactly what I want.

Don´t get me wrong, I really have enjoyed being a secretary, but I just don´t know if I would have enjoyed it much longer.

There´s a lot of hard things about it. 1 is that you and your companion just have no communication. You don´t have the study time in the morning to work on your lessons. You don't have extra time to contact or have more lessons. You aren´t able to focus completely on the people that you´re working with, and how to make them feel the Spirit, and their needs. You get a little less sleep because you´re constantly tossing and turning in the night, worried about what lays ahead the following morning in the offices.

Above all of that, the entire ward is just super hard. There has been little progress, if any at all. Elder Diaz and I have worked very hard to try to improve the situation, but many times it results in a nil.

All of those stresses just keep building. There´s no respite until you leave. You get no time to rest and recharge, because during that time, you´re working in the offices. (Mondays) Not only that, but you get very little time to teach as well, and little time to work in the offices. Basically, you just get a little bit of time for everything, and it just never seems like it´s enough.

It was very hard to be a secretary. It was probably harder than the actual mission. Heck, the actual mission seems EASY compared to working with the thousands of pesos that I was daily managing here.

However, many good things have resulted from my efforts in the offices, namely:

1.) I have a lot more patience now. I have learned that people do not think as fast or as simply as I do, and sometimes, when something seems very simple, very quick and easy to do, to another person, it is something impossible.

2.) I have learned how to manage my time a little better. I have learned that sometimes, you just need to buckle down and do what you have to do. Sometimes, you gotta bite the bullet and do the things you just don´t want to do because you have no choice.

3.) I have learned that as a higher-up, sometimes you have to take the hit of looking like "The Bad Guy." As a the Financial Secretary, I am in charge of making sure that the Lord´s money; the money that represents the sacrifices of my very own family, is used correctly, and not wasted. In order to do that, I must be firm. If I am overly kind, I will not get the results I need.

For example, there was an Elder that didn´t pay attention when he was withdrawing his money, and withdrew around 300 pesos, thinking it was a reimbursement. Around a week later, he called, asking why he had not received his transport money (the 300 he withdrew). He wanted another 300 pesos deposited to his account. I had to basically just be completely mean and tell him he had to pay attention to his withdrawals. Even though I look like I´m super mean and that I just don´t want to help him, it´s not like that at all. It´s that I cannot deposit another 300 just whenever he wants it. This is money that God is giving us, and I´m not going to treat it like Christmas candy.

That kind of treatment is necessary, and unless we tell them like that, nothing will happen, and I will receive the same calls day after day.

I learned that sometimes, you just have to give up being a friend.

Now, I understand a little better, Mom and Dad, why you kept telling us that your job as my parents was not to be my friend, but to be my parents. I get it now. You told us no to so much stuff not because you were trying to be mean, not because you were trying to ruin our lives, not even because you just weren´t in a good mood that day. No, you said no because you knew better than us, and even if we didn´t see it in that time, that "no" was going to make us better.

I have said "no" to many Elders. Many missionaries now think I´m just a super angry secretary, and that I hate it when people call me and things like that. But the reality is, I´m trying to do my job. I cannot loosen the reins just to be your friend. I must be "The Bad Guy" sometimes because you cannot continue doing what you just did.

Wow, that one was really long.

4.) I have learned how to have a little more common sense.

5.) I´ve learned that the Lord is still smarter than I am. And, in that same aspect, I have also learned that my parents are incredible sources of boundless and endless wisdom that I cannot even begin to match. Time after time I have seen things that I tell myself:

"I´m the dumbest, most stupid kid in all of the entire existence of everything. My parents tried to teach me this before I even got here, and now, I´m here, and I don´t know how to do it just because I didn´t think they knew anything. They probably didn´t even know if I was going to have to do this, but they still did it anyway. I have no idea how they knew this."

I know, Mom and Dad. I know. You told me so. Finally, I´m seeing the light of your infinite seership of parenthood. Just try not to make me feel too bad about being so hard-headed as a teen ;).

But in all seriousness, I haven´t ever been able to understand how you guys understood so much about life and adulthood. How did you guys know the answer to almost every question I´ve had in the offices? I swear, it´s like you´re omniscient!

I don´t really know if anyone but Mom and Dad and other parents are going to believe me, but I honestly understand much better my early life at home, and why you acted the way you did all those years. I don´t even know how you managed to keep going after years of constant apparent failure.

But, with all of that said, I still can´t say you´re cooler than I am. Sorry. I still dominate in that category. Super smart, but just not cool. >:D

Now, having said all of this stuff, that doesn´t mean that I´m perfect in them, or that I´m super amazing and awesome now. I´ve just learned a lot more about stuff like that, and I´ve improved in these things. I´m still impatient sometimes, and I´m still struggling to manage my time well, but I´ve learned how to do it a little better.

Finally, I said miracle after miracle happened. Well, those Elders surviving their injuries are miracles, but even more, there were miracles in our sector as well. 1 was that some guy gave us free food in 7/11. He was a member of the church and we had no money (basically blew it on the water/light bills again) and he just let us take the food free. It was only worth around 100 pesos (like, 8 or 9 bucks total), but still, MIRACLE.

There were a couple more, but this email is just a bit too long, and we wanted to go get some shopping done and go eat, so I´m going to head out.


I was a little sad because there weren´t any notes or anything like that. I enjoy those a lot.

But seriously, bunny ears? Really? Man...

I didn´t take a picture because I forgot my camera at home that day, and then just kinda spaced it afterwards, so the candy is half way gone because I´ve been sharing it with everyone (I hate not sharing. Sharing is great. Yet another thing Mom and Dad taught me....)


1.) I really like Tijuana. Especially the parts with all of the garbage. Those are the best. Because then I get to pet all the puppies!

2.) This Xbox Live offer was great! We forgot how fun it was to play Xbox! Too bad it was just for this week though... We had fun while it lasted I guess.

3.) I drank the water. It made one of my eyes an over-achiever. (HA! Dad, you had better remember that joke.)

I´m just terrible at taking pictures! I hate asking people for it because I feel like I´m a tourist, and I hate asking members if I could pose for a photo with them because I´m just scared they´ll think I´m just here for pictures and not to teach. Just super weird.... But I´ll do what I can to get the pictures you all want.

Hmmm.... I really can´t think of anything else super fun to write about. Other than the fact that I really miss my music.

I actually remember that the last normal song I listened to was new when I left, and so I heard it only one time, and now I don´t remember the song anymore! (Is it bad that I´m talking about how much I miss my music? I´d say that´s border-line apostasy right?)

Okay, well, I´m out. Thanks for reading my essay. Overall, I think that the book "Where the Red Lord of the Night" was really great, and should be kept for future generations.

AP English joke. I´m such a nerd.


Elder Carter

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sorry! Got kinda slammed.

Sorry this took so long to send to everyone! I got kind of jammed up with work in the offices and couldn´t write until around right now.

This week was really tough. In fact, I´d even say it´s been one of the toughest while I´ve been in the offices.

We had a bunch of appointments with a whole bunch of new people, and everything just fell through. I think we had a total of around 20 cancelled appointments. Somewhere around there. It was really discouraging, but we powered through it and just said "Ni modo" all day long.

This week was filled with little miracles though. For instance:

We really don´t have any money right now. We´re kinda broke. It costs a boatload for our house. We pay around 800 pesos on Gas (Just absolutely insane), 600 on light (again, insane), and around 300 for water (not too bad, but still high). When the quincena arrives, or in other words, when the money gets there, we´ve got to blow it all on the house, and then the reimbursements take a while to get here.

That´s not to say I don´t put them in on time. It´s just that I can´t reimburse my own account. If I do, I look like I´m just giving myself free money, so I have to deposit to my companion´s account in order to receive my reimbursement.

Well, as it turns out, my companion gets really angry with me when I do that because he doesn´t like seeing money that he can´t have (usually it´s like 1000 pesos or so) and then tells me that I shouldn´t ever do it again, so I just go without money for the next two weeks and pray that my companion will finally understand that when he doesn´t let me deposit money into his account, he has to pay for everything.

The point of this whole explanation is that my companion finally ran out of money, and we were running on empty for a solid week and a half. It was pretty awesome what happened then.

We usually have to pay for taxis to arrive in our sector because it´s BIEN LEJOS (very far) from the offices. So basically we´re spending anywhere from 40-60 pesos daily on taxis.

We showed up to the offices one day and we just had no money. Elder Diaz didn´t have any left, and I had long since lost mine paying the light bill. We were at the offices, working, and all of a sudden, the President´s wife shows up and offers us a ride as we are about to leave! WHAT A BOSS LADY!

She took us to our sector and dropped us off, even though it was super far away from where she was going to pick up her kids.

But it happened AGAIN the following couple of days. We just showed up to the offices without money, and she took us every time. It was really cool that miracles like that took place.

Now, I don´t want anyone thinking that I´m sucking on rocks for water because I´m so dirt poor here in Tijuana. I´m actually doing just fine on money. So don´t freak out and start trying to start up a donation squad to earn money to send to Elder Carter. I really am doing just fine. They send us enough money to last us for a month, and I finally convinced my companion that I´ve got to deposit money into his account so that I can withdraw it, or he´s going to end up paying for literally everything, and we´ll BOTH be bankrupt.

So yeah, that was quite the miracle that happened a few times over. We´re pretty blessed here in the mission.

We also had a pretty funny experience with a guy that we contacted around 2 months ago. He contacted us on a Tuesday when we were leaving to go to the Sector. He started just quoting random verses in the Bible, saying references that didn´t exist. For example:


First off, Romans 8:23 probably doesn´t exist, and if it does exist, I´m positive it does not talk about anything remotely close to what you just told me, but you know, I´ll roll with it. I´m sure I can just show him a couple verses like Amos 3:7, Ephesians (that how you spell it?) 2:20, and maybe even Amos 8:11-12. And then I can just explain the whole lesson to him in around 5 minutes, and get a nice strong investigator.

That day, I noted his direction and then his telephone number so we could talk to him at home. Well, we never did contact him until yesterday!

This time, he was much more insulting, crude, and to be honest, utterly hilarious. He goes up to us and starts quoting the same Bible verse:

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8

So, according to him, the Angel Moroni preached a different gospel than what Paul, Peter, Jesus, and all the others taught.

This verse is a classic here, and it´s honestly the funniest argument I´ve ever seen. There´s a million ways to show that this scripture shouldn´t be used to argue that "Mormonism" isn´t correct, but here´s my 3 favorites that I tried to use on him:

1.) How many churches have the Bible with this exact verse? Almost all of them! Therefore, how many churches can apply this scripture to their specific church? All of them! Exactly! So the question of which church is correct STILL applies here.

2.) So, according to this scripture, we cannot change the word of God at all. That means you must still sacrifice animals to God, because the word of God back in the Old Testament was to sacrifice the "firstlings" of every flock. Do you do that? No? Well then, looks like the Gospel Jesus Christ taught is false doesn´t it?

3.) What is the gospel that this verse describes? (Many don´t have any clue at all. They just say "the church") Well, let´s go to the New Testament. Specifically, the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If we look around in these books, we see that Jesus Christ himself taught Faith, Repentance, Baptism (with the three requirements of course), the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. We teach that exact Gospel as he taught it. So, we don´t teach anything different than what Paul taught! How great is that?

There´s still around 3 more that are just super great, but I´m not gonna put all of them here.

Anyway, this man just got super angry with us and told us to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations and THEN read the Book of Mormon and other books, because the Bible is all there is. He told us specifically:

Joseph Smith is burning in hell.

That was a great statement. Especially since he´s not affilated with any religion at all. Basically, the guy just wanted to show how much he knew about the Bible, and that he was right, and we were wrong.

It´s just so funny that he would try to do something like that. Honestly, apart from the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve themselves, we are THE VERY LAST PEOPLE you want to try to convince that your church, idealogy, or theocracy is correct. It´s like trying to tell an archeologist that dinosaurs don´t exist. It´s pointless. They KNOW they exist. There´s evidence.


And then we throw our nametags on the ground and begin asking this man how to receive forgiveness from God, according to him.

Just utterly hilarious.

Finally, the photos. These photos are of a drink called "Chia." The little rock things are supposedly seeds. I honestly thought this drink was super gross. I managed to chug it though. All but those rockletts. Ain´t nobody got taim fo´dohs.

The worst part about that drink was that it wasn´t actually liquid. It was like some weird form of gel. Like, I felt the little rock babies in my mouth, but they were surrounded by some sort of gel stuff. It was super gross, but it didn´t honestly taste too bad. Just the overall texture and experience was bad. But hey, that´s Mexico.

Okay, that´s this week. Pretty boring, but overall great stuff.



But seriously though, take care.

If I loved you anymore I´d have to punch something.

Elder Carter

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conference Weekend

This week was General Conference! Cool experience actually. I really enjoyed it. It´s crazy to think that this was the second of 4. I´ve seen half of the General Conferences I will see on my mission. It´s just nuts.

Anyway, I actually have a pretty funny story about that:

So, we wanted to show General Conference in our chapel. We don´t have Satellite, so we were going to hook up a computer to a projector, and then we were going to hook it up to an Ethernet connection that was in the sacrament room.

We hook up everything and wouldn´t you know it, the Internet doesn´t work.

Great, so at least I know how to fix it. I head back to the secretaries office to look at the router and stuff. I end up running back and forth in the chapel for around an hour trying to fix this stupid router. (Missed the first 2 talks of the morning in fact)

Didn´t fix it, and so we left to go watch it somewhere else. However, as we go with our bishop, he tells us that the Internet worked for him that same day. So we went back the next morning.

I first checked to see if the internet was working in other rooms; and it was. So then I go to put a connection that worked into a connection to the sacrament room, but it still doesn´t work. So that means that the cable that goes to the Sacrament room was broken. Great stuff. That meant we had to switch EVERYTHING over to the baptismal font.

We get it all switched, and I plug in the computer to the Ethernet, and STILL nothing happens. It´s around8:45 when I´m starting all of this again.

So now I´m running around in a suit trying to fix this Mexican router again, and I find out that there´s only 2 cables connected to the router that are working. I get rid of those cables that aren´t working and start running around the chapel again just to see if I can find where the internet is so detestingly hiding itself. I unplugged and replugged the two working cables into all the connections possible and I just kept running around the chapel refreshing the two computers we had set up.

At 9:00, after around 30 minutes of just sprinting in the chapel all over to switch cables, I come to a solid conclusion:

Of the 7 cables that they had connecting to the internet, only 2 actually worked on the inside.

After plugging into the internet router, the cables to connect to the computer connected to a port that was built into the wall. These ports had other cables that went up into the ceiling of the building and through the walls to arrive at the other ends of the building. Well, these cables, which are inaccesible by all means, were broken. That meant it was impossible to fix the internet and get it working.

Great. So now I just wasted an hour and a half sprinting around and trying everything possible just to end up not needing to do it.

We put conference on a laptop through wi-fi, and then we leave to go to appointments.

When we return for the final session, a man had come in and changed the cables on the inside. He fixed it and the internet was in all of the rooms now.

It made me so mad that he fixed in 10 minutes what had taken me an hour and a half to figure out.

Great day that day. Just fantastic.

Anyway, yeah. That´s my mission story for general conference.

Today Elder D, my companion, took his people to the line this week, and so I got to talk to Elder C, the other North American secretary that was in before I was.

When he showed up, I started talking to him about my work here in El Barrio Central. This is what he told me:

What you guys do is something that no one else does. No one understands what exactly happens in the offices. No one understands that when there´s a call from the offices, it takes precedence over everything. No one gets the idea that there are people that just frustrate you because they don´t do as they´re told. No one understands that you can´t focus on your work in your sector because you can´t stop thinking about how you´re going to solve the problems in the offices.

Basically, no one gets that you can´t just "do better" in your sector. You can´t just "have more faith" and then have a bunch of mirales happen. Not as a secretary anyway.

Secretaries do not have good numbers, and don´t baptize a lot because they just straight up cannot do what is required to get it done. It´s not possible for you guys to make lesson plans, and because of that, your teaching tanks. You can´t really get anything done in the sector sometimes because of how little planning you have to get it done.

He went on to explain that as a secretary, he really didn´t worry about his numbers or baptisms or anything. He knew that his focus was not on the sector. He told me it was important to focus on the sector, but the offices was really our major assignment, and therefore, the requirements that are binding on other missionaries are not as binding on us, because we cannot do everything in our power to accomplish them.

After talking with him, I just instantly felt much better. Now I get it. I´m not actually a bad missionary. Heck, I´m not even doing bad at all. It´s just that we can´t expect to have a ton of success when we´re working in the offices.

Now don´t get me wrong, this doesn´t mean I´m just gonna be like OH HECK YEAH! NO MORE HELPING PEOPLE! Of course I still want to help them out. However, this does mean that I´m not going to just be digging my own grave all day. I´m just gonna work and do what I can, and then realize that right now I´m not supposed to have a ton of success in my sector. I´m just supposed to focus on the offices.

It was a great piece of advice. I am now much happier because of that.

The picture I´m sending is one of me when I was sleeping during personal study. (Not really. But it´s pretty darn funny. It´s like those little kids that fall asleep in hilarious positions just because they´re so tired.)

That day, we had walked all day, and had around like, 2 appointments total. It was a really hard day, and I was just so tired that I took a shower, grabbed the BoM and started reading in Pearl of Great Price, and before I knew it, I was waking up from Lehi´s Dream.

That´s where your moneys going everybody! It pays for my naps! Turns out, the mission is just a bunch of really spiritual naps! How great is that?

Alright, well, I think that´s about it this week. See you all later. Have a good week.

I miss you all as big as a tree. And I love you as big as a big rock.

Elder Carter

Tijuana Temple Update

Below is a picture of Coby's Mission President in front of the un-finished temple.  It is really coming along and we hope that Coby will still be in the mission field when it is completed.

We decided to see if there were any updated pictures of the Tijuana Temple.  We found some great pictures and you can see that the temple is really starting to take shape.  It appears that all of the outside walls are completed and the roof is finished.