Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy day after Christmas! Mazatlan Mexico

Christmas buffet with group from Utah

Christmas meal with other missionaries
Apartment, December 2011
Hola Familia!

I don´t have a lot of time to write right now because we have to go pick up some new missionaries who are moving into Villa Verde. After that we also are going to move into a different apartment too. It´ll be nice not having 2 areas anymore but we have to learn a lot more about Flores Magon because we haven´t spent much time in that area. We´re going to have a lot of work finding more investigators to teach but it will be good!

Besides that I had a pretty good week and a good Christmas. Things have been going good here and it was pretty fun because we got to eat with these american families for Christmas who are from Utah. I guess they just stay in Mazatlan for Christmas vacation every year. We had a district meeting this morning and things have been pretty hecktic packing and what not. We also ate lunch with our converts Marcos and Terry who were sad to hear that we will be leaving there ward.

Thanks for all the love and support, hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and has a great week. Remembering Christ´s birth and life is a good thing to do anytime of year so why not keep it up a little longer ya? : ) Hasta Lluego!.. I´ll attach some pictures real fast.

Elder Carlson

Friday, December 23, 2011

Feliz Navidad! Mazatlan (December 19, 2011)

Hola Familia,

Things are going pretty good here! We had divisions again in the beginning of the week. E. Lopez and I had a good time too. We placed 3 Book of Mormons that day and had 8 contacts! E. Ward and Rosales were pretty surprised how much success we had.. The main thing we need to work on still is finding new people to teach but things are starting to go a little better.. We saw Oscar (one I taught restoration to last week) and his family also during the week and gave him his Book of Mormon and explained some more about it. Things went really good with and I really love his family. We were supposed to see him yesterday but didn´t end up having time. So it will be good to see him again and see how things are going.

Yesterday was pretty cool because we had some thing were we sang hymns and christmas songs near the ocean. It´s at some pretty touristy part of Mazatlan and was my first time near the ocean here so it was really cool. It was pretty funny too because some americans were there listening to us sing, and it turned out they all were members of the Church. We did get some contacts though so it was pretty successful. Was fun to be there with all the missionaries from Mazatlan too.

Today for Pday we also went to downtown Mazatlan with E Lopez and Rosales. It was pretty cool looking around all the little shops they have there and stuff. I bought I tie at one of the stores and we have had a pretty good day. We need to clean our apartment this week and we found out some other information.. We´re going to get new missionaries in Flores Magon next transfer. So we wont be over 2 areas anymore. Who knows where they will end up putting me and E. Ward though but it was interesting to hear about that stuff. All I know right now is a trainer and a newbie are going to be in Flores Magon... Besides that not too much is new! I feel more comfortable with my spanish now but everyday I´m still having to figure out what certain things mean and learn more.

I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas. Things are going pretty good here and I like the weather right now. Thanks again for all the support, love, and prayers.

Elder Carlson

P.S. Attatched 2 pictures from last week (Navidena and Baptism). And 2 pictures from the place we sang at yesterday! Really pretty.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, Mazatlan Mexico

Hola Familia!

Well it´s feels a little bit more like Christmas now. Mainly because we had a Navidena get together this week in Culiacan! It was awesome because all the missionaries in Sinaloa gathered together there for some activities on Thursday. We drove up there Wednesday afternoon and got ther Wed. night. We ate some food, played dodgeball for awhile, ate cake, and had some testimony meeting thing that night. It was fun to talk with all the missionaries and get together. I met some pretty cool missionaries while I was there and then we headed back Friday morning and got back at like 12pm.

We have been having really cold water in the mornings for our showers for awhile but we went and bought something today to fix it. So it was nice to have water that wasn´t super cold today haha. Things are going good a little better with lessons and everything too... Saturday I baptized an 8 year old boy in the ward also. He asked if I would do it so it was really nice to see him and his family there. Afterwards we confirmed him too and I did my first confirmation. I think I did pretty good for my first confirmation. It was awesome to see how happy him and his family were and made me feel really happy too :).

We got some new investigators and Yesterday I taught Lesson 1 about the restoration by myself to them for the first time. What happened is we went on divisions, me with Elder´s Quorum Prez and E. Ward with the Bishop. We visited some inactive families and it went really well. And then at the end of the night we saw the Elder´s Quorum Prez´s brother and his family. They aren´t members and so I just taught him about the restoration.. I explained a little bit about the Book of Mormon near the end of the lesson but unfortunately forgot to bring one! Haha but it´s not to big of a deal because we are going to visit him next Wednesday and bring one. It´s exciting to see people who are really prepared by the Lord though. He even said to me that with the things that have been going on his life he feels like he had been prepared to hear this message.

Besides that I´m excited to visit with our other investigators this week. We are feeling a little more positive about things this week and it is awesome. Thanks for all the love and support as always!

Elder Carlson

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, Mazatlan Mexico

Hola Familia!
Cant believe it is already December! The weather is finally pretty nice here so that is good. Definitely doesnt feel like winter to me though. We had a pretty good week. I hit my first transfer mark but Elder Ward and I are going to stay here for another 6 weeks. I think he will leave here halfway through January but you never know. That kind of stuff is pretty random in the mission.
We had a pretty slow week as far as lessons go. Its hard because we need more people to teach. We visited with Marcos and Terre this week and they were having a little party for their family for their wedding. It was nice meeting Marcos family and having some food there. We have one investigator named Isabel who is doing really good. We are going to visit her tonight. She has been going to Church and everything and we have a baptismal date for her. So we are trying to teach her all that we can! Besides that our other investigators arent really going to Church or progressing much. We are going to visit Maria Guadalupe tonight and check up on how she is doing.. Our main thing we need to work on this week is contacting more and getting more references. We need more people to teach!
Next week we are going to have some Christmas get together with all the missionaries in our mission. That should be pretty fun! I dont know what they are going to do with 150 missionaries in Culiacan but I guess I will just figure out later haha... Our district is changing a little bit because of transfers too. We are only going to have one other companionship besides us in our district now. 4 people versus the 6 we had beforehand. My spanish is getting better and I finally got a couple compliments on my Spanish haha. Its still really hard to say things sometimes though.
Anyways thanks for all the support! Glad to hear things are going well at home. Love you and you are in my prayers.
Elder Carlson

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hola! Nov 28, Mazatlan, Mexico

Hola Familia!

Well it´s been another week here in Mexico! Thanksgiving/Dia de Gracias definitely wasn´t the same but we ended up eating a lot of food still. In the morning our investigators Marcos and Terre got married! We were witnesses at their wedding and everything. It was pretty fun and I was really happy for them. Later on they gave us some food before lunch. Then we had lunch and somebody ended up giving us some dinner that night too! So that was 3 meals when normally we just get feed once a day haha... Besides that this week has been pretty busy though with other randomness. Presidente Cantu came down here to Mazatlan to give everyone here some interviews. It was pretty short and he mainly just asked me how things are going. I told him I feel much more adjusted to Mexico now then I did at first, and our interview was kind of in Spanglish since he knows English too. Kind of funny.

In the beginning of the week we had divisions again. So I was with Elder Lopez for the day again. We ended up teaching a lot of lessons that day too so I felt a little more confident with my missionary life. At the end of the week we had Stake Conference! That was awesome too. President Cantu and his wife spoke at that too. All the talks were pretty good. Although at some points it was a little harder for me to pay attention then others. When I have a hard time paying attention it starts being harder to understand spanish too, haha. But for the most part I´m doing a pretty good job listening I think : ). And the Spanish is starting to get a little easier... Then on Sunday we baptized Marcos and Terre! Elder Ward baptized Marcos and I baptized Terre! It was pretty awesome seeing them make that step and how happy they were afterwards. I was definitely happy for them and it´s nice having had my first baptism now.

Besides that we are pretty busy today! I have to go get my haircut pretty soon so got to get going. We don´t have a ton of people we are teaching right now so our main goal is going to be finding more people. Sounds like everybody had a good thanksgiving and that´s good to hear! Thanks as always for all the support, love, and prayers.

Hasta Diciembre,
Elder Carlson

p.s. attatched some pictures of the wedding and baptism! have fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 21, Mazatlan Mexico

Hola Familia,

Hope everybody is doing well and excited for Thanksgiving! We have dinner with some family for "dia de gracias" but nothing special I think. They don´t really celebrate that here. Things are going pretty well. We didn´t end up baptizing the people we thought we were going to but E. Ward baptized an 8 year old girl in the ward.. Luckily the birth certificate for Marcos and Terre finally came so they are going to get married this week though! And then shortly afterwards we are going to baptize them. They are excited but I don´t know all the details yet. Also, with our other investigator Maria Guadalupe we still working with and teaching the lessons but we don´t know when she wants to be baptized either. We have stake conference this next weekend so we won´t be able to have anybody confirmed on sunday if they get baptized. Baptism is important because it is one of the first steps we can make in the gospel and it´s important to have the covenant between us and God. But it´s also important for our investigators to know that it´s not our only purpose to be there. We want to help them with whatever they are going through and help them come closer to Christ.

We went to a little party at one of Fernando´s brothers, just stopped by and said hi. We ate some cake and "pizza" and that was pretty good. Definitely not like the pizza at home though. We are working with some other investigators right now and that is going well but we want to find more. We are looking for more people to teach all the time. We did end up finding 2 new people to teach though in the street one day. There were these kids calling us over and we didn´t go over right away. We ended up walking back over by that street though where the kids had been and talked to the people there. There were 2 guys who had lived in Utah for 15 years or so and then got deported back over to mexico! They were telling us a lot of crazy stories but also how they want to change their lives. So we´re hoping to see some progress with them. We taught them a little bit about prayer and have just gotten to know them a little bit so far.. Besides that things are pretty much the same. It only rained that one day last week! So that was good. It´s still pretty hot but cooled down a little bit again. Hoping to have a good week of teaching : ).

Thanks again for all the support. Appreciate all the letters and prayers.

Elder Carlson

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, Mazatlan Mexico

Hola Familia,

Hey! Things are going pretty good here right now in Mazatlan. I had another pretty good week. Today it was raining off and on and when it rains here it rains pretty hard! This has been my first experience with that though and ended up being kind of fun.. We have had a lot going on this week but are still trying to find more people. On Saturday though we had our first baptism! Elder Ward baptized this 9 year old boy named Fernando. We had been teaching him the lessons because his grandma had asked E. Ward and his previous companion if the missionaries could when they have time. His grandma and some of his other family are members in the Church but they hadn´t gone to church for awhile. So he and some of his brothers had been going with their grandma to church each sunday. We also had some Zone meetings this week. We had a Zone meeting in the beginning of the week where we worked together on how we can set some more goals. Then on saturday we had a Zone conference where President Cantu came down. He gave us a lot of good information too. We learned more about how we can plan effectively for the week and the things we need to be doing to have the spirit. We always talk a lot about how important it is to have the spirit during our lessons. We need to be thinking about our investigators during personal study time too so that we can share scriptures with them and find out what exactly they need to hear.

This week we have a baptism scheduled for Maria Guadalupe. She excited for her baptism and we saw her at Church on Sunday so that was good. We had one of the members in our ward go with her too so that she doesn´t feel awkward going alone. It´s really important for the people we teach to have friends in the ward too. That´s one of the things we didn´t talk about as much in the MTC that  I have learned more now. We´re working with Marcos and Terri right now and they are still waiting for the birth certificate needed for Terri so that they can get married before we baptize them. It is supposed to arrive very soon so we are hoping to baptize them this week too. Besides that we really want to find more people to teach so we are hoping that we will be able to find some new investigators this week. I´m trying to talk more during the lessons but Spanish is still hard. Every week it is getting a little easier, but mainly understanding it is getting easier still. The talking part still has it´s difficulties. I´m enjoying it here and it has cooled down a little bit so that is good!

Elder Carlson

Monday, November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011 Mazatlan

This is David's Mission President and his wife - President and Sister Cantu.

This is David and the guys he traveled to Mexico with. The guy on the right - Elder Morrise - was his companion in the MTC.

This is Elder Lopez with David. He's a Mexican native. He and David went out and worked together in November 2011.

This is David's first Mexico companion. His name is Elder Ward. He's been out 4 months longer than David.

Hola Familia!

Well I´ve survived another week in Mexico. Things have been going a little better with the language. I´m able to understand a lot more of what people are saying now but still having a lot of difficulties with the speaking part. Poco a poco, people say, which is little by little. So I´m adjusting to that still but will be for awhile. Elder Ward said that one of the best things that I can do is just to read in the spanish book of mormon. So I´m going to try and do that more when we have our little personal study time for an hour in the morning. We eat each day with someone from the ward at 2pm and that is our meal for the day. At first when I heard that I was like wow I´m going to be starving, but I´m definitely not. We eat breakfast before we go and have a pretty good size me at 2 every day by someone who signs up to make us food. Then sometimes I eat random food at the apartment at night too.. But things are going good! I´m feeling a little more adjusted to Mexico now. But there are definitely weird things I see everyday that I didn´t realize haha.

In the beginning of the week we had divisions. Where I got to switch companionships for the day. I had Elder Lopez for the day who is from Mexico so I got to use my spanish a lot more. E. Ward talks in spanish pretty much all the time but since he can understand english it´s easy for me to get lazy and say things to him in english. So this was defintitely a good experience for the spanish and ended up being a good day for teaching too. We taught some of there investigators in that area of Mazatlan and I helped answer there questions. E. Lopez has been in Mexico longer than me but has less time on the mission than me. So that was kind of funny. We both are definitely learning a lot of stuff still but we did pretty well... Then later in the week we had some good lessons and some strange ones. One of them was with a pastor from a different church. He was very nice at first but then at the end wasn´t intrested at all. The hardest thing in our area right now has just been finding new investigators. But we did teach someone who had been having the missionaries over before. She already had all the lessons but hadn´t been taught since like June so we decided to stop by and see her. We were just starting back at lesson 1 talking about the restoration of the gospel and spent some time getting to know her. She ended up opening up a lot and told us about how her husband had died several years ago and how that was hard for her. E. Ward asked if she knew that she could see her husband again after this life. And she didn´t know that! So we taught her a little bit about how she will be able to see him again and then asked her if she wanted to pray to know that these things are true and to feel the spirit. So we had a prayer and then were just silent for a little while. I could feel the spirit pretty strongly and then we asked if she could feel it. She said she could and said that she felt really good and at peace. We talked to her a little bit more and then asked her if she wanted to be baptized and she said yes! It was pretty cool to see someone taking that step in the gospel.

Besides that we have been working with our other investigators that we have. Two of them want to get baptized but need to get married first. We are waiting on her birth certificate to get sent to her because she needs her original one for the marriage license apparantly. So hopefully it comes soon! They come to Church every week and things have been going good with them. We also have a 9 year old boy we were teaching some of the lessons too. A lot of his family are members and he is going to be baptized this week! So that is great too.. We are trying to find more people to teach. We didn´t do as much tracting this week but got some references of people to visit so we are going to check up on them.

I attatched some photos with me and the mission president when we got here. Elder Morrise and Hill, the ones I traveled to Culiacan with. Me and my companion Elder Ward.. Me and Elder Lopez too!.. Things are going good though here and it has cooled down a little bit. It just is a different cool here. Never really gets cold haha, but right now it is pretty bareable. Thanks for all the support, prayers, and letters again!

Hasta Lluego,
Con Amor,
Elder Carlson

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm in Mexico!

Hola Familia!

Well I am finally in Mexico and it is my Pday. Things have been going pretty good here but definitely has been taking some adjustment. We spent 7 hours in the Mexico City airport on the way here, which was definitely weird. Lots of people talking to us and me not understanding what they were saying.. We took this little plane to Culiacan afterwards too and didn´t end up getting there until 11 40 at night! When I got off the plane the it was so hot and humid too! But I was very excited to be there of course. Our Mission President, Presidente CantĂș, picked us up from the airport in culiacan and took us directly to one of the mission apartments in Culiacan to stay the night. There was a lot of missionaries in there that night too so it was pretty crowded.. Presdente Cantu gave us some good advice on the way to drop us off but I was kind of distracted by the crazy driving in Mexico too haha. The next day we had some interviews with him and then he assigned us our trainers and areas. I´m in a part of Mazatlan right now with Elder Ward. He´s from Utah and has been in Mexico for 4 months, so it´s just us 2 gringos ha. Some people like that and other people don´t. But he is good at Spanish so we are getting by. I definitely am struggling on the other hand. Everyday I´m learning some more but it is a lot harder than I thought.

We have been teaching some lessons to a couple of our investigators and to some less active members. Those have been going good but Elder Ward has been doing most of the talking right now because I have been a little afraid to talk. I´m slowly getting over that, but it is hard sometimes because I don´t know how to say something. Sometimes I understand what they are saying and other times I have no idea. So I have to ask Elder Ward what they are saying sometimes.. It seems like it is starting to get easier though. We do a LOT of walking also. We have two areas that we are covering so that is part of the reason. The other reason is because we only have 3 investigators right now so we are trying to find more people to teach. We did get some more people we´re going to try and teach this week though. So hopefully that goes well.. Church was good on Sunday. Everyone is friendly and most people assume you are from Utah but ask where you are from. So I tell them I´m from San Diego and talk a little bit more. Then I get pretty quiet because I don´t know what to say ha. But Elder Ward is really good at talking to them and everything.. I´ll get there eventually. I´m starting to talk more.

It´s definitely and adjustment being in Mexico though. Lots of people ride motorcyles and scooters since it is cheaper. I have seen some pretty interesting things like a family of 5 on one scooter ha. There are a lot of very poor people here, but they all seem to be very nice and friendly. A lot of them when we have been knocking on doors will tell us they are busy if they don´t feel like talking to the missionaries though.. Lots of people will invite us and in and give us water (purified water, so no worries) even if they aren´t really interested in the Church. It is awesome to see how the Gospel has changed some of the investigators lives that my companion has taught. Because he was here with a different companion for 3 months before this. I´m excited to help some more people learn about the gospel and see them change their lives too. I´m doing good and learning a lot everyday though. Definitely is different now being in the real world and in Mexico but I am enjoying myself.. It is very hot though! So we carry around these little towels to wipe are faces. It´s starting to cool down a little bit but it doesnt get to cold here.

I´ll have to attatch some pictures at some point. I´m doing well and I hope everyone is fine at home. Thank you for your letters, prayers, and support as always. I´ll try and tell some good stories soon!

Elder Carlson

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Traveling to Mexico!

David found out Friday that he will actually be departing on his 'estimated departure date' of 10/24/11. He leaves Salt Lake City airport at 9am, arrives in Mexico City at about 3pm. He's there for a 6 hour lay-over and then arrives in Culiacan at 10:40pm. It will be a long travel day but he's excited. He will call home during the lay-over. The family is VERY excited about this!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Almost out of the MTC!

Hola Familia!

Well it looks like I have made it to my last week here at the MTC. It's seems like I have been here a lot longer than 2 months in some ways because it just sounds really weird going back out into the real world. It has been better than I thought it would be but I'm definitely ready to get out of here and go to Mexico!!, Unfortunately I haven't gotten my travel plans yet, but they always make sure to get you out of here with in a day or 2 of your original departure date (which is the 24th).. This is what happened to one of the other districts above us who went to Mexico too, they ended up not getting their travel plans till just a couple days before they left but everything worked out fine. There usually isn't a problem getting visa's to Mexico either, like some of the other hispanic countries so I'm not really worried. Just really hope I get them soon! It still could be today,so I'll try and send a short e-mail out if I get it today still.

Anyways this week has been pretty hecktic but still good. We had to move our buildings like I talked about. It was crazy because Elder Morrise and I had to take apart our bunkbed and then move it to another building near us! It ended up working out fine but was crazy having everyone in that building moving beds and what not out of the building at the same time. You think they would of planned that out a little better but it still worked out fine.. The room we are in now though has 6 Elders, including myself, so it is really packed! 3 bunkbeds in one room, and Elder Morrise and I are splitting a closet. Luckily we wont be here for much longer so that's good. And we got 2 Elders from our district in our room with us (Elder Preece and Later). The other 2 random missionaries are going to Germany. So it is kind of funny how we just have a big variety of missionaries. They have been really nice though and it's nice to have some company, just crowded. I'm showering at night before I go to bed now because it's pretty crazy in the morning having so many missionaries on each floor. 

Besides that Elder Morrise and I taught a lesson on Sunday to our district on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It went well and we were prepared so that was good! Luckily I didn't get called on to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting, but I still have one more chance for that to happen next week. We got a new branch president on Sunday also which was kind of fun. The new branch president seems nice and he served a mission in Argentina like 35 years ago or something. He speaks some spanish then, but he acts like he knows hardly anything. Only got a few more days with him but he seems nice. We also get a new district tomorrow and I'm pretty sure we are hosting new missionaries again? Not completely positive though!.. Hosting missionaries last wednesday was really fun. It was nice being able to show them where their room and class is and what not. They had a lot of questions too and it reminded of me when I first got to the MTC and had no idea what was going on either. The only part that was interesting was carrying one of the missionaries suitcases up a ton of stairs! I managed alright though haha. 

I can't wait to get to Mexico! I have learned so much while I have been here. Spanish and about the Gospel. I enjoy reading the scriptures now more than I ever have. Elder Morrise and I get to do this little thing where we teach a lesson to another "investigator person" but in front of like 50 of the new missionaries on Wednesday. It's a little practice thing the day you arrive at the MTC to show you kind of what it will be like and what you need to know to start teaching people. We had a training meeting yesterday too where we met with the other missionaries who got selected to do this... I can't wait to teach some lessons in Spanish to the people in Culiacan! Hopefully everything works out well, but I'm sure it will. I'm not worried. I hope everything is going good with people at home. Thank you always for your support and prayers.

Adios MTC!

Hasta Lluego Familia,
Elder Carlson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Semana Siete

Hola Familia!
  Well this week has been pretty good so far! I enjoyed Sunday again and I was surprised that in Church nobody in our district got called on to give a talk. The district above us left this morning, including my roommates at like 5am! So I was woken up while they were finishing packing a couple things and told them goodbye. One person from their district and someone from the district under us got called to give talks though. So I'm sure we will get called on next. It's weird being the oldest district in the Zone now because I don't feel like we have been here that long, however it seems like a really long time when I think about that first week I got here. As I had mentioned before the people who get called on to give talks are called randomly that day in sacrament, so you are supposed to have a little talk prepared in Spanish beforehand on whatever the weekly subject is. Maybe I'll get lucky and not get called on however, if I do a lot of the Elders just talk a little bit about the subject in, share a few scriptures, and then bear their testimony about it.
  There are a few things different things going on this week! Which is great because anytime there is something different here it is exciting :).. The building that our zone moves in is going to begin getting renovated this week so we are going to get moved into a new building on Thursday. I haven't mentioned it very much but there has been a lot of construction going on at the MTC the entire time I have been here. It seems like kind of a funny time to do it, but the buildings definitely needed some updates so that is good! The bummer is that we are going to probably be stuck into a room with 4 other Elders, so there will be 6 Elders to a room possibly! And I don't know if we will stay with our District, and if we do, it's even more unlikely that we will stay with our Zone. So that kind of isn't fun because I don't want to have to pack twice, but I'm just going to leave one of my suitcases packed this time. It might be nice to have some new roommates too as long as they are nice and not super messy (specially with 6 of us!!).. Now that it is finally getting colder here too they told us on Sunday we have to always wear our Suit jackets around the MTC now. You can take them off in class, but everywhere else we are pretty much wearing them now. It was pretty weird because there was one day where it all of the sudden dropped like 20 degrees and was raining quite a bit. Ever since then the weather has been a little colder, but today is a really nice day outside. I like the rain too! It only rained in the morning and a little bit in the afternoon for about 2 days... The best thing happening this week though is I'm supposed to be getting my travel plans!! We usually get them on Thursdays so I'm really excited for that to happen! I should be leaving in less than 2 weeks now, crazy! I'm getting ancy to leave but still learning a lot.
 We have finished our grammar activity book in Spanish now, so I know most of the common spanish verb forms now (including present and past subjunctive, for those who know any spanish). The hard thing is remember how to conjucate each individual verb because there are so many irregular verbs, and then remembering to speak it is another task too. I feel like I'm getting better at it each day. Our district each week resets the goal to speak Spanish from 8am- 9pm, and we aren't always sucessful but we have been doing a better job about it. Yesterday we spoke Spanish pretty much all day except for gym time. Besides that things are about the same. Our roleplay investigators are doing pretty well. We were talking to Luis about baptism however and he said that his Esposa (which means wife in Spanish, but she is his girlfriend) who he has a little daughter with want to get married to eachother, but she is having a hard time getting the divorice papers processed from her previous husband. I guess in a lot of other countries getting legally divoriced can take years sometimes too. So we haven't figured out exactly what to do about that, but we encouraged them to pray and fast. We have been encouraging him however we can and teaching him more about the Gospel. Eva is doing well too and we have taught her a lot more of the lessons about the Gospel. She reads her scriptures and prays with her family every night so that is great. Her husband might be interested in learning from us also.... We're doing some more practice teaching in our classes now too, because we aren't going over the grammar book as much in Spanish. Each day we still learn something new in Spanish, but a lot more time is being spent just practicing. I hope that my Spanish is good enough for people to understand what I'm trying to say when I need to by the time I get to Mexico! I'm sure it will come a lot faster once I'm living there too.
Look forward to writing everyone again, hopefully with my travel plans here when I do too! Thanks again for all your letters, support, prayers, and love. Hasta lluego!
Elder David Carlson

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tres Semanas Mas - MTC 10/4/11

Hola Familia!
Como estan Ustedes? Things are going good here! Time feels like it is starting to go by faster again. It's crazy to think that I only have a few more weeks until I will finally be heading to Mexico. This weekend was good because we got to switch up our schedules and watch General Conference. We watch it in the gym where we watch our devotionals each Tuesday. Also we had a lot more time for studying and didn't have class on Saturday like we usually do. It was awesome to hear all the talks about Christ and missionary work. I thought there was a lot of powerful testimonies and some good information. Boyd K Packer's talk about following the Holy Ghost was really awesome and I always like Uchtdorf's talks. I think it is good information for everyone to know that the worth of souls is great in the eyes of the Lord and that we shouldn't ever feel discouraged and think we are worthless. We all have a very important purpose here.
My Spanish seems to be coming along good still but it's not as good as I want it to be. It's a little frustrating sometimes to know exactly what is being said to you in Spanish but not knowing how to reply back. I'm getting a lot better at it though and it is coming with time and practice. Hermano Carter and Hermana Scott help us learn a lot more about the language each week too and how to be more effective missionaries.. Besides Conference being different there are some new things going on my district. Elder Patrick (Elder in my district) finally got his Visa and travel plans. So they are transfering him to the Peru MTC for his last 3 weeks before he goes to Bolivia. It's a little sad to see people go but I'm always way always way excited for them and a little jealous at the same time. He leaves tomorrow though. Also a week from today Elder Chadwick and Elder Perry (my roommates) are leaving to the Arcadia, California (spanish speaking) mission. So it will be weird having them gone! I'll have to take some pictures with them before they go. The one other new thing I can think of that is going on is that tomorrow we are getting a new district in our zone. Which will make us older than 2 other districts now. Then next week we will be the oldest district in our Zone! So weird, but good at the same time. It's an interesting phenomenon how you always look at the people who have been here longer than you as older though, because a lot of times that's not the case.
We are making more progress with our "investigators" in our lessons. We have been teaching Luis (Hermano Carter) about the Plan of Salvation and answering some of his questions for what our purpose here is. We taught him how to pray, so it was good to see him be able to make a stronger connection with God. Eva (Hermana Scott) also is doing well and we are trying to get her "husband" to come to one of our lessons. We think that it would be really helpful to bring him a long and teach them both about things... One of the things we learned this week is how to listen to our investigators better. They always tell us to "teach people, not lessons". Everything flows a lot better that way and it allows the Spirit to guide the lesson more. We try and answer the questions they have as best as we can and are learning that there needs to be silence in the our lessons sometimes to give them time to think about what is being said. I look forward to going to TRC each week and teaching random people lessons too. Next week we are going to teach our first 40 min lesson there. Most lessons are around 10-20 minutes, which actualy goes by really fast especially when you are trying to explain everything as best as you can in Spanish.
Thank you for you prayers and all the support you guys are to me. I hope your week is going well and I hear from you again soon.
Elder Carlson

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Email of September 27, 2011

Hola Familia!,
Well another week has gone by at the MTC and things are going pretty good still. I'm glad I am past the halfway point in the MTC and it seems like I have been here forever but that I just left also. Each day is pretty long and each week is fast. Today is a pretty normal P-day and I'm just getting my laundry done and don't know exactly what our devotional will be tonight. Sunday was good because it was testimony meeting again this week! Whether the testimony was in Espanglish or English they were all pretty good and I felt pretty inspired by them! Later that night we had a devotional and our speaker talked a lot about the different things missionaries have to go through. We all make different sacrafices to be there but it is for the Lord's work and to help teach people about him and how they can feel closer to him. He had different missionaries get up on the stage and tell something they sacraficed in order to go on their mission. He kept making jokes about different things though and had people stand up during different parts whether we have felt discouraged since we have been here and whether we have felt comforted since we have been there. Pretty much everyone in the building stood up for both.
We also got to go to a Mission Conference instead of our normal priesthood meeting during that time which was cool. One of the interesting things one of our speakers talked about was how Pride is pretty much Satan's biggest tool in people. Pride is often the root of people having contention with one another, using hostile words, spreading gossip, and so on. Pride is something we all pretty much have to deal with, their is a tendency for people to be self-centered and not to think about others. The cure to Pride is Humility. We must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit in order to feel the light of Christ in our lives and to feel that joy that comes with helping other people. I'm glad I have the opportunity to help out other people for this time I am a missionary even though it is hard it will bring joy to my life and to theirs. The President of the MTC, President Brown, spoke too and one of his investigators happened to stop by that he had taught some 50 years ago beforehand that week. They talked about how the gospel had changed their life and how having that peace of knowing that God loves us has helped their family out. President brown hadn't seen them in over 40 years before that week so he was really excited that they had come and stopped by to see him. It is really cool to know that you can have an effect on someone for their whole life and in turn it will effect their family's lives too.
I'm learning Spanish a lot more and things are going well with our fake investigators still. We got Eva to commit to a baptismal date and she is reading the scriptures a lot. We also got a new teacher named Hermano Carter. It was sad because he replaced Hermano Diaz but we still see him a lot. Hermano Carter also serves as our new investigator "Luis". He is someone who doesn't really know much about God or Christ so we are just teaching him about Christ's ministry right now and going to go from there. I can't wait to teach some real people in Spanish and each week I look forward to our thing we do called TRC, where we teach a random person at this building. They are usually members of the Church, but it is cool just meeting someone new and teaching them something right away. I hope everything is going well for everyone at home. Thanks for your support and your prayers. Love you all! Hasta lluego.
Elder Carlson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Letter & photos

Today's letter along with some photos of the MTC
Hola Familia!!
This week has been very good! Our district is no longer the youngest district in our Branch. We got the new district on Wednesday and that was very exciting for some reason! Haha, you start looking forward to all kinds of stuff like that here. We haven't gotten to talk to them very much yet so hopefully they will open up. It is interesting though seeing them go through the same adjustment phase I went through about a month ago now. I can't believe I have already been in the MTC for 4 weeks now. We are going to be here about 9 weeks techinically so this week will be my half-way point, I don't know which day exactly though. We get our travel plans with the specific date that we leave 1 to 2 weeks before we head out of the MTC.
My Spanish is still coming along. I think I am improving each week because it seems like it is getting easier however there is so much I still don't know how to say. Our teacher Hermano Diaz started a new thing a couple days ago where 8am to 9pm we are supposed to speak only in Spanish throughout the day (except for P-days, on Tuesday). Our district has done pretty well with that but there are times outside of class where we forget and start speaking English. However in class he only allows us to say 15 words in English and marks one down each time we say one. We have to be pretty creative with how we say things sometimes because of our very limited Spanish vocabulary still. However, I'm glad we are doing this because it definitely makes learning Spanish a lot faster.
We study out of Preach My Gospel and in the scriptures everyday! I'm learning a lot about how to be an effective teacher and understanding a lot more in the scriptures too. During personal study time we read out of English scriptures and at other points of the day we prepare lessons to teach to our "investigators". We taught Eva about how families can be together forever through the Plan of Salvation and she really enjoyed that. She has been very open to praying with us now and seems interested in what we are teaching. David is doing pretty well too (pronounce it as Dah-ved haha). However it is a lot harder to teach him about things because he hasn't been praying with us. I know that prayer is very important in teaching people about how to be able to communicate with our Heavenly Father.
This week we were also given the Ensign magazine for October and told to read it before our devotional tonight! I'm excited and it sounds like we have gotten really lucky being able to hear from 2 apostles already! Usually there is one general authority a month, but not always an apostle. But tonight some people think it might actually be President Monson which would be really awesome because he hasn't spoken here in at least 3 years! Quite possibly longer (he has never spoken since our Branch President has been here). The Ensign talks a lot about the Book of Mormon this month and how it is similar to the Bible. I think there is going to be a special message for the missionaries about it tonight too so we will see. Either way it will be good.
Each week is getting closer to the date I head to Mexico so that is exciting. I still have a lot to learn but I'm itching to get out there! It's crazy how fast these first 4 weeks have gone by but at the same time it also seems like I have been at the MTC a lot longer. Almost like I am forgetting what is like to be out in the real world, but that isn't quite a bad thing because there is so many good things we get to learn here. Time just doesn't make sense while you are here and what day of the week it is doesn't really matter unless it is today (P-day) or Sunday haha.
It's great to hear from everyone and I love your Dear Elders and notes I am getting! I'm glad the family is doing well and I pray for you guys also. Thank you for your prayers and I look forward to talking to you all again soon!
Con Amor,
Elder David Carlson
With his MTC Companion

His MTC district at the Provo temple

The missionary purpose.

Trying to look prophetic.

That's where he's going!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

David's first photo from the MTC

I don't know the exact date of this photo but it's the first one we have received from David as he's been on his mission. Studying hard! Looking good!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Semana Tres

David's email received today:
Hola Mi Familia!
This week has gone very well! We are making more progress with our fake investigators and have had a lot of cool experiences. On Sunday there was a devotional in memory of the 9/11 attacks. We got to watch the broadcast of the Mromon Tabernacle choir and hear a special musical number beforehand. Sundays are one of my favorite days before P-days because of how relaxing they are. Sacrament was really good this week. We listened to a spanish talk by one of the Hermanas (sister missionaries) in the branch on baptism and then Brother McLay and his wife spoke about freedom and liberty. I didn't realize we were going to talk about the 9/11 stuff so much but it was very good to remember how important freedom and our country is. I love having our meetings in spanish. We sing the hymns in Spanish, the prayers are in Spanish, and missionaries are called upon that day to give talks in Spanish (so you have to have the prepared beforehand). However, they generally leave the people alone who have only been in the MTC for about 2 weeks since we know hardly any spanish. My spanish is coming along a lot though. I just wish I was learning even faster.
The mail room is being moved this week so I wont get any Dear Elders from the weekend and days this week until Thursday. Which is lame but oh well. It is also sad because 3 guys in my district are leaving tomorrow for the Peru MTC. I am going to miss having them in our district. It is strange how well I have already gotten to know them in 3 weeks just because we are with eachother practically all the time. I am a little jealous that they get to leave the country already but at the same time would be scared to go somewhere where they are speaking spanish all the time already! I can understand people speaking Spanish pretty good but it is hard to figure out how to respond in Spanish sometimes. Much easier to comprehend what they are saying and just respond in English haha. We got new Zone Leaders this week too because the oldest district left to Mexico and some states (2 of the guys were going to Culiacan Mexico so that was kind of neat to meet them while I was here too). Tomorrow I guess we are getting a new distirict in our branch too. Which is good because we wont be the youngest district in the branch anymore! Each week on Wednesday there are new Elders who enter the MTC but these are going to be the first ones I get to really see much of.
Thanks again for all the letters and Dear Elders you guys are sending me. I'm learning a lot about the gospel and I love my teachers. Hermano Diaz is probably my favorite because he just has a way of teaching things that makes everyhing make more sense than I have ever understood. This is with him only speaking in Spanish too, so he must be a really good teacher for me to understand it better in Spanish than I did in English haha. I hope everything is going well at home. The weeks are going by faster but there are still moments in the day that seem long. I love the spirit I feel here and have a lot of work to do still.
Hasta Lluego,
Elder David Carlson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 2 post from September 6, 2011

Hola Famila!
Gracias for your e-mails and letters. This week has been pretty good! Last P-day for our devotional we had a talk by Jeffery R Holland. It was very inspirational and you could feel the spirit a lot! I know that he is an apostle of the Lord. He taught us about our importance as missionaries and told us about how we are the most prayed for individuals in the Church next to the Prophet. It is a pretty comforting statment to think about and helps me out when things are feeling a little hard.
Learning Spanish is going well and I feel like I am making a lot of good improvements. I can bear my testimony and pray in spanish and each day my vocabulary is getting better. I understand spanish (listening) to it pretty good but speaking it is a bit hard. I love the guys in my district! They are all going through the same stuff as I am so it is nice to be able to talk to them and they are pretty funny too. My companion Elder M is really nice and helps me remember to do things to be a good missionary. The only problem with him is how slow he is sometimes! I wish he would just be faster, but I guess it's good to have someone to be able to tell what to do :). Just kidding. I'm getting along with everyone and love my teachers. We are teaching some new fake investigators. Our investigator "Juan" is now our teacher "Hermano Diaz". Hermano Diaz and Hermana Scott are both great teachers. We have a few hours of instruction from them in class each day. They mainly practice teaching us different skills we can use to teach people in spanish. They are our new investigators. David and Eva and we just started teaching them yesterday.
It was kind of weird for me at first to be doing the whole role-playing scenario but it really does help you practice being a missionary. People say that the MTC is the place where you are allowed to make mistakes, but nobody expects you to have anything perfect either. Haha. Thank you guys for the Dear Elders and for your thoughts and prayers.
I can't wait til I can go to Mexico! But being at the MTC is definitely needed and I am enjoying my time here. I have a lot to learn but I know I can do this and am very grateful for all the support I have from you guys and the people here.
I'm looking forward to going to the Temple later today and having devotional again. I know it wont be a general authority this time but they are always fun.
Hasta Lluego,
Elder David Carlson

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another update

David sent a 'real' letter on his P-day as well as the email post. Here's an excerpt from the letter:
"Hola familia!  Como esta mi familia?
This week has been crazy! Right away you are busy at the MTC when you get here. The first few days seem like weeks. I seriously can't believe I have only been here a week. But time is already starting to fly by faster and that is what the Elders who have been here longer told me. Like I mentioned they said if you can survive till Sunday everything starts going faster and getting easier. Besides adjusting though things have been great.  The Elders in my district are all fun and nice. We get along well and it is fun learning Spanish with them!  Two other Elders besides my companion are going to Mexico but different parts (Tijuana and Chihuahua), everyone else is going to Peru (4 Elders), Bolivia (1 Elder), and the United States (2 or 3 Elders).

We are teaching a 'fake' investigator named Juan in Spanglish.  Elder M is pretty smart but more awkward with how he says things. Our 'investigator' isn't willing to pray right now though because he is uncomfortable with it and doesn't feel close to God right now. His 'mother' was catholic and died not long ago. Tomorrow is our last lesson with him though and we are going to try to explain the plan of salvation better.

I am learning so much here but it is hard to get a grasp on the Spanish sometimes. Our leaders and teachers are all very helpful and have taught us a lot about our purpose and how to be effective missionaries. I'm trying to grow and set goals to be a better missionary. Today is P-day but we still have quite a bit going on. I'm about to go to the temple. That should be pretty fun! And tonight we have a devotional.

I love you all! . . don't forget about Dear Elder. It is free and I get it that day!   "

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

David's first email from the MTC

This is the email that David sent to his email group on 8/30/11:
Hey Everyone!!
I hope you all are doing well. I am using my e-mail time right now in a laundry room and it is my P-day :). Things have been going good. When I got dropped off a guy took my suitcase and I got an MTC card. He took me to my room which is on the fourth floor of this building (the top floor) so that was kind of funny haha, but I don't mind. The first few days felt really long! I am studying Spanish, Preach My Gospel, and the Scriptures all of the time. It is kind of frustrating learning Spanish sometimes but I feel like I am doing pretty well. I went to my class right after getting my card and getting checked in and I met some of the Elders in my district and my companion. He is kind of nerdy but has a good testimony and has helped me focus on doing the work.
Sunday was probably my favorite day besides today. On sunday we had Priesthood meeting and sacrament which were both awesome! Later on that night we also had a fireside and it taught me a lot about how I can be a more effective missionary. We sang Called to Serve in this really cool way where we progressively got louder and standed up at the last few verses. I was on these stands and when we stood up together the entire thing shook around so it was pretty crazy haha. You could feel the spirit a lot though and I loved it. Later that night we watched the Joseph Smith movie too! Definitely was a good day.
I love all the guys in my district. They are all pretty fun and know how to have a good time but definitely are focused on being good missionaries too. We all are going to Spanish speaking missions and my compainion Elder M is going to Mexico Cuciacan also. We are all on different levels of spanish knowledge but learning very fast. We go study spanish and the scriptures almost all day so it was hard to adjust to at first but I feel like I am getting a better grasp on things now. I definitely feel like I'm one of the ones better off with knowing spanish too.
The first couple days here we got to meach the Branch Presidency too and they interviewed each of us. It was a more of a get to know you interview so it wasn't bad and they just asked about us and what we want to do as missionaries. I'm learning about my purpose as a missionary and know that my main purpose is to bring others unto Christ. Through Christ the investigators are able to do just about everything else! We have memorized that and I am trying to memorize it in Spanish also.
I go to the gym each day and I try to run at least a mile and then do situps also. I'm determined to not gain weight while I am here and so far have been successful. I feel like I'm actually getting in better shape because I am watching what I am eating and avoiding the sweets. I can see how it is hard though because there is so much food and it is ridiculous.
I hope everyone is doing well! I love you guys and I appreciate your prayers. I'll try and tell you all more about what is going on but things on soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ready to go

On August 21, 2011 David gave his 'farewell' talk. He spoke about accountability and how our choices affect our lives. It was a great talk and he did a great job. His siblings and several friends were there to see him speak. After he spoke we all went in the Bishop's office where the Stake President, Richard Larson, set David apart as a Missionary.

The Carlson family (minus Derek).

David with 5 of his nieces and nephews. They adore him. He's a great uncle. We're going to take a similar picture when he returns so we can see how everyone has grown!

The entire Carlson group with spouses. David has a lot of family members that love him!

Tyler, David and I left right after church on 8/21/11. We drove to St George and spent the night. The next day we drove up to Provo where we spent most of the day shopping for final items that David needed for his mission.  On Tuesday we went to the Salt Lake Temple. We did more shopping and had a nice dinner. It was great having a few days together before David left. He was very excited, and ready to go. Tyler and I were happy to be able to have some individual time with him. And, him spending 3 days with his mom and dad made him REALLY ready to leave!  The above picture is of David and mom at the Provo Temple just before dropping him off at the MTC.

Tyler and David at the Provo Temple.

When we dropped him off we pulled up to the curb. There were many missionaries there cheering for him and welcoming him. We pulled his luggage out of the car, he gave Tyler a hug and me a hug and a kiss. His 'host' missionary introduced himself and helped with one of David's suitcases. And, off they went! David didn't look back. And, I didn't cry till he was walking away. He was very excited and ready to begin his mission!

And so it begins . . .

David's mission papers were submitted the beginning of May, 2011. He was hoping to receive the call 2 weeks after the papers went in. The calls usually come on a Thursday. So, when the Thursday 2 weeks after the papers were submitted arrived and David checked the mail he was disappointed to find nothing for him. We figured it would be another week until his call arrived. However, the next day (Friday, May 20th, 2011) when his dad checked the mail the call was there! We contacted family members and friends and arranged a 'big reveal'. People were on the phone and on skype and David opened the call. Imagine our surprise when he read "Mexico, Culiacan Mission". Nobody had guessed Mexico as the place he would be called. David was thrilled because he wanted to go to a foreign country and wanted to go someplace where they spoke Spanish.  I was a little nervous at first because Mexico can be scary. But, when I thought about how the Lord protects his missionaries I knew he would be ok. And, it's a wonderful place to serve. So many people are interested in the gospel.  David was to report to the MTC on August 24, 2011. So, he had about 3 months to prepare.