Monday, January 31, 2011


(Oliver with President and Sister Walker of the Mexico Monterrey East Mission - they look the same age!)

HELLO FAMILY! How are you all? I'm doing pretty well, missing you all but good. Right now I'm in an Internet Cafe (I expect Sam that you did something similar in Chuuk), and it's quite a nice day.
Where to start? My area is Colonia Moderna, just a bit north of the Founder's Park (or something like that; it's called Parque Fundadora in Spanish), though we live just outside of our area, in Colonia Fabriles. We live in a four-elder HOUSE (actually the largest living quarters in the mission!), me, E. Muñoz, and two other elders, E. Thomas (who only has 2 weeks left!!!) and E. Elizabarraz. It's a pretty nice house, if dirty (no bare feet and some mold; winter is really humid here); we're planning on doing some cleaning today. It has pretty much everything though, from the kitchen and fridge to beds and showers. Pretty different from what I'm used to. I'll get used to it though; I just need some time (remember the mantra One Day at a Time : D).
I appreciate the compliment from President Walker! I still feel not quite there with Spanish yet, but same with everything, I just need time. President Walker also told me the things you could do for letters:
You could mail directly through the US Mail to the mission office,
You can mail through the pouch,
You can use (which I believe also goes through pouch)
or just email.
I'm going to try and send at least a small letter today, so we can figure out how long it takes to get here. I don't know if we'll be able to get to the office for mail every week like before, but we'll see.
Yeah! Elder Muñoz is actually quite cool. He's from Mexico City and has 11 months on his mission so far. He's really been helping me a lot with Spanish and getting accustomed to here, and I really appreciate him. He also works really hard, and I look forward to working with him! One thing that was tough for me at first was how he teaches differently than Elder Jardine. We've talked about it, though, and we plan on working on both my style and his style and combining it over the next while.
Today I'm planning on getting a few things, like food and shampoo and maybe a pillow (I still don't have my own!), as well as laundry and cleaning up the house. I also need to exchange my cash for pesos; I guess I should have deposited some while I was in California, but I think it'll work out.
: D There´s a lot of roosters that I hear here! There's also a lot of dogs that either are hanging out on the streets (no problems, though) or up on the roofs! That was surprising the first time : D.
Whew! I'm not sure what else to write about! The first few days have been pretty tough, as I'm sure it was for Sam and every missionary. I felt like I did when I first entered the MTC, a little! I pray that as I get to know the people here, start to serve them and really focus on the work, that I'll feel better and not worry so much. I love you all so much, and it gives me a lot of comfort to know that you feel peace that I'm here and that you all are doing well (an 80?? Sweet!). Elder Muñoz has been great, too. After every prayer together, we do a Mexican hug (handshake, hug with head to the right, then shake again : D), which is kinda fun.
Yep! I love you all, and I pray for you and hope your week will be SUPER! I miss you a lot, and I hope things will get easier. I know they will, especially with the Lord's help. I just need to give myself time! Which is honestly kind of hard to do : ). Talk to you soon!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Estoy aqui en Monterrey!

Hello Familia! I'm writing this from another country: MEXICO (from a Mexican laptop, actually! Kind of wild, with different keys, like ñÑñÑñ and characters in different places)!!! I'm right now in the mission home with Hermana Walker, the APs, and it{s a really nice home. I just wanted to write you and say that I arrived fine, I am full and happy, and I'm feeling well. I was unfortunately not able to call in Houston; our flight was pretty late, so we only had 15 minutes to go to the other terminal!! It was cutting it pretty close (by like 5 minutes. Whew!), but we got here. I did try to take a few photos of the city from the plane, it was fun to be so close and yet so far : D. It's pretty wild being surrounded by Spanish, but I'm really glad that I have 6 months experience with it; I'm actually doing better than I expected in that respect. And guess what! There's H-E-Bs here!!! How awesome is that!! : D
So right now we're having interviews with President Walker (who's actually really nice, and speaks really good English, which helps a lot if I get caught up on something). Afterwards we'll head back to the mission office to spend the night, tomorrow we'll do official stuff with money and IDs and such, and we're off to our areas after that.
I'm excited, nervous, a lot of different emotions. I miss San Diego still, but Monterrey is looking to be a really nice place (with EPIC mountains!). I'm happy to finally have a mission to call my own, but now I start thinking of that song, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" with San Diego : ). And I'm a little tired : D. Apparently the mission covers 6 zones here in Monterrey and 6 zones on the frontier, especially Nuevo Laredo (next to Laredo), Reynosa (across from McAllen), and Matamoros (across from Brownsville). I´m a little disappointed that we can't visit the temple regularly (it's in the other mission), but what can you do. Like you said, Mom, I just need to know that it will take some time, and I need to have an open mind. I'll just go with the flow and do my best!
About what you asked, Mom: President Walker said he would call you and Dad and let you know I got here OK, or introduce himself or whatever (he told me in Spanish, so I only remember the gist : /). He also said that packages sent through the US mail aren't really a problem, as long as they're sent to the mission office. I don't remember all of that details with mail either unfortunately, so I'll ask President and figure out for sure. He said something about how most Mexicans use this shipping service similar to FedEx instead of the national mail, but I think that's mostly on my end.
So yeah!
I trust in the Lord, and I know that He has had His reasons for everything that's happened in my mission. I'm grateful for the experiences I've had, and I hope and pray that I can use them and build upon them here. I'm so so so grateful for the support that you give me, and for your love. I love you all so much, and I feel close to you tonight (spiritually, though also closer geographically : D)! Keep up all the great stuff you're doing in Texas, and I'll talk to you soon.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 2011 - VISA'S IN!!

HOWDY Family! Guess what: I got my travel plans today! I'm off to MEXICO!!!
Here's the plans. I leave tomorrow from the San Diego airport at 417PM and fly to Los Angeles, where I have a layover for about an hour and a half until I fly to Las Vegas. The mission there is picking me up (Elder Frame's old stomping grounds! : D) and taking me to the consulate there on Thursday, and I should be off to Monterrey on Friday the 28th is all goes well. I don't have any info past that for now. [I haven't asked President yet if I can talk to you all in the airport, but I'll ask him, and I should be able to. There's the times, just in case.]
SO HOW ABOUT THAT!! : O I'm doing well : D. I'm excited, though honestly not ready to leave yet. I was expecting to be leaving sometime last week (a few other Mexican elders, including my friend Elder Wright, left yesterday and today), and now I find myself leaving tomorrow! I joked about having just one day's notice before, and here I am : D.
So I guess today and tomorrow I'll be packin'. Conveniently, there's not a whole lot for me to collect, since our apartment is getting new carpet today. We had to move all our furniture off into the dining area and kitchen, and all my stuff is crammed in the corner. Shouldn't be too difficult! As for other plans today, there isn't much. Elder Jardine is Skyping his family today, because his sister's having a baby (he got permission from President Donaldson)! I probably will just go with whoever, perhaps to the mall or something. I'm not sure if I'll have much time to write a letter today, so I'll try to get most of it in the email. Sorry about that! We also have a few appointments tonight that I want to go to, but that's about it. The sad news is that there's a General Authority coming to visit San Diego on Thursday (an Elder Evans, I think; a member of the MissionaryBoard or something?), and I have to miss his tour! The good news is that I was able to be here for Mission President Interviews yesterday, my first ever! I'm really glad that I was able to do that before I left San Diego. I asked President Donaldson a few questions about my mission, like my patriarchal blessing and such. It was a really nice meeting, and one thing that really stuck out was that he said he appreciated the contribution I made to the San Diego mission, and that he wanted me to stay! That meant a lot to me, and I'm grateful for it. [Oh! The letters I RECEIVED today: Mom's from the 19th and Dad's from the 14th, plus one from Elder Snyder, one of my MTC companions!]
So what's else has been happening this past week? We had transfers on Wednesday; like I might have mentioned, no changes in my companionship, but new English companions and a few changes in the district. They seem like cool elders, though I didn't get to know them really well. Apparently there's also a new pilot program starting with some of the new missionaries, some kind of training where they don't teach any of the lessons in the MTC, instead just focusing on 8 Foundational Principles, like the missionary purpose and making commitments. It sounds exciting; the missionary office/organization/thing from Salt Lake is also coming down to FILM the training (I don't know if Sam remembers, but they filmed here before, demonstrating principles of Preach My Gospel and Teaching by the Spirit)! I don't have much to do with that, though.
I got to visit the mission home for the first time last week; it's really nice (built in the 70s, so lots of beautiful dark hardwood and stuff)! Several bedrooms for all the new missionaries : D. Elder Krasovec had to sign a few things to get permission to drive, so it was just a short visit. We also stopped by Chik-fil-a last week; very delicious! There's close to NONE here in SD, which is a surprise. Good stuff. I also had an interesting member meal too: barbacoa de chivo (barbacoa made of goat meat)! Actually quite tasty, though different from Chipotle barbacoa (it had red sauce).
We've been focusing a lot as a district on building up the ward, from helping the leaders fulfill their purpose, the ward mission plan, to meeting with a lot of less-actives and young adults. We hope to get more people to the Institute in Chula Vista! We also hope by building up the members, we can help them come closer to Christ, and have a greater desire to share the gospel with their friends. Member work is slow, but satisfying.
Whew! That's a lot. I guess I'll wrap up this super email. I've really started to build a great relationship with my companions, and it's sad that I have to leave. Elder Krasovec is a cool elder, who likes to joke around a lot and is a good balance for me. I've really liked Elder Jardine too! I really appreciate all he's done, though if I told him that he'd probably just wave it off : D. He's like that. I don't know if he'll want to keep in touch after the mission, but we'll see. He's a really cool guy! He keeps crackin' trunky jokes about his leaving on March 1st, but I guess I beat him to the chase : D! I'll miss San Diego for sure, and especially the people I've met here: Leticia, the Aguirres, the Guzmans, Abinadi (loves to go to raves; ever since I told him I DJed as a hobby, he keeps calling me "the DJ" or "dj haka" or whatever : D)... there's a lot. It's just a new stage, I guess! I wonder if I'll ever come back to visit! I'd kind of like to; I hope people would remember me. Oh well, that's a bit down the line.
SHEESH this email is super long! I have little to no idea what awaits me in Monterrey, but I'm super excited! I love you tons and tons, and I hope you all are doing SUPER back in the luverly homeland of Texas. Thanks again for your letters and everything, and I hope to talk to you soon!

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 18, 2011

Back by popular demand, the latest couple of emails from Elder Hatfield.  He's doing well, working hard in San Diego, still waiting for a visa (we heard that there are at least 200 missionaries like him waiting to get in to Mexico right now...)


Buenos Dias, Familia! Sorry my email is a little late today; we've been pretty busy! I'll give you the down-low below.
Lunch at Schlotzsky's, then more whiffleball at Petco Park, then here! We don't have a whole lot more time this P-Day (sorry about that : ( ), since we still have to get groceries, but I'll try to get as much in the letter as I can. ALSO, I plan on sending my memory card home!! I hope you enjoy and it makes up for the short letter this week (maybe I need to cut down on the pics; I haven't been out for 6 months and I'm already done with 2!), I'll tell you my goings-on in this email, at least.
So transfers were today, and Elder Krasovec, Jardine, and I are still hanging strong in National City. Still no visa news, but we did have a couple changes in the district, with Elder Guenette and Harper leaving, plus Elder Custer and Madarang leaving from the apartment! I'm going to miss Elder Custer; he's a really cool missionary, and I've grown to like him a lot over the last 3 months. This is actually Elder Jardine's FINAL TRANSFER, which is super exciting! We hope to make the most of it. He says he gets "trunky" (thinking about home and non-missionary life) sometimes, but I know he's not looking forward to leaving. It'll be a great next few weeks.
Sheesh not much time left! Yesterday I got to try something wild: balut! We went to the going-away party for Elder Adams (an English elder who left for home today) at a Laotian member's home (she goes to the English ward), and we had egg-rolls and a kind of stew-curry stuff, then the balut. It's unhatched, cooked, duck, still in the shell. Crazy! I took some pictures so you can see (it actually tastes like chicken : P).
I've had some really good companionship studies the past week, about staying focused on the people, about the importance of good personal study, and true hope and what God thinks of you. They really helped me a lot! I wish I could go into more detail : (, but I don't have much time left.
Hey Sam, are you still doing Chuukese translating work? How's everyone been doing? School OK for Julia? When does Sam go back?
I love you all so so much, and I'm grateful for the chance to email you this week! Sorry again about the small correspondence; today has been quite busy. I still haven't heard about the visas yet; while I hope mine comes soon, I want to focus my needs here. Elder Custer told me something that really stuck out to me yesterday, that I came here for a reason, not just to learn, but that I've been an example too. That really meant a lot to me, and I'm very grateful that I came here.
I love you tons, and I've gotta wrap this up! Talk to you soon, and good luck with this next week! 
<3, Oliver!

January 11, 2011

Hello, Family! Today marks 5 months that I've been out on my mission, and also 3 months that I've been in National City/San Diego!! Pretty crazy, huh? Missionary life is still trucking along, and I'm doing pretty well. It sounds like another couple Mexican missionaries received their visas this week, so I guess they're starting to roll out! Still no word on mine though. I just need to stay patient, I guess (which can be kind of tough, but I can do it : D).
So what's been up? It's sunny and a little warmer today, though it's been chilly the past few nights. We've been on BIKE this past week, which is wild! I'll tell you more in my letter. Plans for today....not many right now; we'll see what we'll end up doing. I'm feeling a little hungry, but I've got a Chipotle salad in the fridge back home; score!
Whew! I'm not sure what else to mention. I know; I'll tell you about el Dia de los Reyes Magos! It's a Mexican tradition that a lot of members celebrate here in San Diego. It's held on January 6, which I guess is the traditional day when the 3 wise men came and visited the baby Jesus. Traditionally, Mexican kids don't receive gifts on Christmas, but on this day, which come from the 3 wise men : D. I think it's kind of cool, because you get to focus all of Christmas on the Savior and save all the Christmas shopping and craziness for a little later (when, fortunately, all of the prices have gone down ; D). I'd kind of like to try it when I come back from the mission! Apparently it's a big holiday in Mexico, with parades and parties and stuff on TV. The other cool part of el Dia de los Reyes Magos is the Rosca de Rey, which is almost exactly like a Mexican king cake! Have you all ever had king cake for Mardi Gras? It's just like that; a loop of cake (in this case, Mexican pan dulce studded with candied friut instead of frosted pastry) that has 2-3 plastic baby Jesuses hidden inside. For Mardi Gras king cake, if your piece has the baby Jesus in it, you get good luck, but for the Rosca de Rey, whoever gets Jesus has to make tamales for everyone on February 2 (which I assume is another special holiday)! Tough luck : D. Elder Jardine actually got the baby Jesus in his piece, except he doesn't know how to make tamales : D. Neat, huh?
I'd like to save the rest for my letter, so I'm going to sign off for now. I love you all very much, and I so love and appreciate all you do for me! Your support has been something I can always depend on, and I've needed that, so thank you. I hope you have a MARVELOUS week, and I'll talk to you soon!