Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Month Down

Yesterday marked one month down on my mission, which is crazy to think about. If the other 23 months go by as fast as this one, I won't even have time to think about home. Our weeks are exactly the same, so the only things that change are what we learn in class. I have two experiences I want to share this week. I think the best part of the week is when we teach real people, in an activity called TRC. We have had some interesting experiences, but yesterday's was the most powerful. It is pretty intimidating when we sit in a room with a Latino/Latina and they start talking really fast in Spanish. I understand them, but my mind is racing to keep up. This week we taught a lady named Carlota, and she was a real investigator. We had an assignment to teach people how they can receive revelation through the Book of Mormon, but once we started talking to Carlota, we found out that she knew nothing about the gospel. Most of the time we are teaching members, or less active families, but today it was a real investigator. Before we could teach Carlota that she could receive revelation through the Book of Mormon, she had to understand what the Book of Mormon was. Considering we only have 20 minuets, its difficult to give a detailed enough explanation where someone understands, but at the same time it has to be simple enough so its not overwhelming. Lead by the spirit our tongues were loosened and we were by some miracle able to teach her about the Book of Mormon. What made this lesson so significant was that it was real. She was real, the lesson plan was made on the spot, the spirit was real, and the Spanish that came out of my mouth affected every aspect of what she thought about the church. In the MTC we just practice teaching our instructors, so it's just a little bit fake, but Carlota was real. At the end of the lesson, after she prayed, probably for the first time, she gave me her bead bracelet which had been woven by an artist in Mexico City. 

The second experience I had this week was when I decided to start Jesus the Christ, and if you know anything about this book, its a brick. It's definitely intimidating, but I figured that if the Lord can help me learn a new language, it wouldn't be very hard to read a book in my native language. When talking about the role Christ, James E Talmage, the author, stated that, "The mortal probation is provided as an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity, no soul would find its way back from where it came." It is this simple truth that I have come to understand over the last year. That the idea of creationism is just as crazy as evolution. That the idea of a preexistence is just as crazy as life magically starting. That the idea of exhalation is just as crazy as life ending after death. And that the difficulties, trials, and struggles are for the purpose of the advancement of knowledge. That man is the most tempted of all of God's creations, and that there needed to be someone sent to show us the means whereby salvation may come. That through His perfect example, that man can return to our origins and dwell with the supreme being that created us, this world, and our purpose. I add my testimony to that of James E Talmage, that I know that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Holy One of Israel, the Foreordained, the Chosen, the Redeemer of this world, and that through him we have received the fullness of the gospel compiled into 531 pages, called the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.


This our evening instructor, Sadami Diaz, this guy is such an amazing teacher. He connects with all of us so well. He was also challenged to an arm wrestling match by Elder Collins. 

The MTC is really beautiful


This week we had to say goodbye to the rest of our zone. 8 of them left for California, and now our district is the only one left in the zone. I wish them the best of luck and I'm really going to miss those guys, especially Elder Collins 

With love,
Elder Haddad

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Flacito: The MTC Vegetable


Another successful week at the MTC. Between our many hours of learning and teaching, we get the opportunity to teach real people. It's an activity called TRC where we have volunteers come in from Mexico City. We don't know anything about these people, whether they are members or just random people they pulled off the streets. So because these are real people, we get a good diversity of nice and crazy people. 

Last week, my companion and I taught over a skype call (don't teach over skype). It was a guy who lived in Salt Lake, probably 25 or so, and his name was Victor. Because of the difficulty in understanding each other over Skype, Victor never caught my name. After each lesson, the volunteer gives us some commentary on how we did. He awarded me the nickname Flacito, which means small skinny one. Due to the angle of the camera in the really tiny room that we were teaching in, my companion took up the entire screen, and you could barely see me. We had a great laugh and the nickname stuck. 

The MTC is a fantastic place to learn, but it's a lot like a boot camp. The strictness and exactness allows for a better learning environment, but it really drains your energy. The longer you are here, the more sluggish and lethargic you get. Weeks ago I could actually remember what music sounded like, but now the MTC amnesia has taken over. Like zombies we march to class each morning, silently as the only thing we have to talk about is what we ate for breakfast. Food is our favorite topic of conversation, and dreaming about food that we left behind. The most common response to when someone asks you "How's it going?" or "What's up?" is a groan. The food gets to you here. Kids drink Pepto Bismol like its Pepsi cola. My Immodium sells like drugs on the black market. But thankfully I have kept my sanity, thanks to the help of my fantastic district. This week I have a little profile for each person. These are the people I spend 14 hours a day with, 10 of which are in class. 

Elder Crockett 

Elder Crockett:

Crockpott is by far the most dedicated and studious 
person in our district. Elder Crockett and I have really similar personalities and we are able to get along and agree on just about anything. He's from Lake Tapps, Washington and is called to serve in Flagstaff, Arizona. Elder Crockett is a great example for us all and is secretly hilarious, he is a really faithful guy. 

Elder Jensen
Elder Jensen: 

Loud and proud from Rupard, Idaho, Elder Jensen is called to serve in the Farmington, New Mexico Mission, meaning he gets the privilege of learning Navajo because a majority of his mission is also on the reservations. He is a fantastic leader and has unshakable faith, he is selfless and always seeks the needs of others. He has some crazy stories from football, and has been awarded the nickname of Papi Grande. 

Hermana Judy

Hermana Judy: 

A sweet spirit nonetheless, shes pretty quiet, but is super sarcastic with her jokes. She constantly testifies that if she does all she can, the language will come to her. Hermana Judy is a diligent and hard worker, and she has grown tremendously in the last month. There's no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone. I really like Hermana Judy, shes from Ashton, Idaho and is so nice, she always has a smile on her face. 

Hermana Erickson
Hermana Erickson: 

Serving in Flagstaff, Arizona mission, she has all the qualities of a mom. Elder Nielsen even calls her mom because she always scolds him and takes away his toys. Hermana Erickson has such a burning desire to be here, she has a tremendous amount of faith and never doubts her ability. She's from Boise, Idaho, goes to BYU-Idaho, and guess what, her Dad is in the 70's. No big deal. She has such a great attitude and loves and strengthens her companion in ever way she can.  

Hermana Gould

Hermana Gould: 

Hermana Gould is from Fresno, California! Even though she is the sass master, we still get along really well. She is fantastic at Spanish and really works hard. She goes to BYU-Idaho, and we both love to roll our eyes whenever Elder Nielsen goes on a rant about something. I feel like we were friends before we met. She is also attentive, polite, courteous, and caring. 

Hermana Hudson

  Hermana Hudson:

A smart, humble, sweet girl. She knows a lot of Spanish, and she even keeps a quote book of hilarious stuff that happens in class. She reminds me a lot of my sister, except we don't fight, it's great. She is leaving for Little Rock, Arkansas. Hermana Hudson will undoubtedly love the people where she is serving. She is faithful, humble, and you can really see the Lord through her eyes. 

Elder Nielsen: 

Last but not least, my companion. From Clinton, Utah and serving in Osorno with me. Elder Nielsen's skills include voice impersonations, story telling, snowboarding, and catching skittles in his mouth. I asked him to take a serious photo and this is what I got. 

Love to you all,

Elder Haddad

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Fall of Elder Haddad and Elder Haddad's Arc

A very interesting week here at the MTC. We got to do some de-stressing activities this week, and one of them was getting all of our energy out. We headed over to the cafeteria, where there's a nice courtyard and some grass. Our whole district lined up, 4 Elders and 4 Hermanas, to do some sprints. The Hermanas were all in skirts and the elders were all in dress shoes. I booked it right from the start, cruising past my larger companion and the other elders. The Hermanas didn't run because they were in skirts. I was close behind Elder Crocket (who was a high school track athlete), as we sprinted toward the finish, I stepped in a large ditch and before I knew it was was tumbling on the ground. There had been a hidden sprinkler head covered by grass that I accidentally stepped on. All I remember is my tie flapping in the air, running my heart out, desperately trying to beat Elder Crockett and then I take one wrong step, my legs give out on me, and I'm down running into the ground. After a couple rolls on the ground and many laughs by my district I picked myself up to finish the race. Everyone was dying of laughter.  To keep running, my companion jumped over me and just pointed at me. I walked away with only a minor grass stain and a new nickname.  For the rest of the evening my district laughed about not the Fall of Adam, but the Fall of Elder Haddad.

Though my running skills have not improved, my luck did turn around. On Monday I got a package in the mail, it was such a fantastic surprise. When I was walking out of the postal office, I read the return address on the package. It wasn't from my parents, or my ward, or my friends, it was from a Mr. Matthew Schaffer.  As I read the return address, I looked up to see Hermana Schaffer walking by. It's kind of a crazy story, but I randomly met Hermana Schaffer the day before she left on her mission. I ran into her at the Oakland temple and we made some small talk, and she told me she was going to the Mexico MTC before she serves her mission in California. I didn't think much of our conversation, and I didn't think I would ever see her again. It wasn't until I arrived at the MTC that I saw her again and she was in my zone. A zone is compromised of 3 districts, each district is on a different week, that way the older kids can help the new kids on their first couple weeks. We spend a lot of time with our zone, it's who we go to church with. There is only 26 of us, so we all have gotten pretty close. Hermana Schaffer had told her parents that I was in her zone, and her parents sent me a welcoming package to the MTC. The Schaffers also sent their daughter 7 letters and 2 packages, they love her so much, they sent me a package too. It was a box of oreos and a note. That evening we all grabbed some milk from the cafeteria and had a delicious taste of America for dessert. 

As the week continued, we got better and better at teaching. It's not the same as in English, but we have fantastic teachers. The classes are super small, there is only 8 of us to one teacher and most of the time we have a couple of teachers helping us out. On Tuesday, we got to use the computers for some language software. We always use the weather widget on the computer and it forecasted some rain for Mexico city. But it was really God's wrath. It started off with a wind storm and then came the rain, pouring down like a blanket. I had never seen larger quanites of water leave the sky. The rain then combined to form half inch hail, so much hail that it looked like snow. It was so loud we couldn't hear. Everyone ran from their seats to look out the hallways, the rain had been coming down sideways and had blown all through the hallways. Our zone gathered in amazement and watched the storm, a few brave souls ventured out into the rain. In under 10 seconds, my entire suit and pants were soaked. We decided to call it a night, because the power kept going out, we figured it would be best to go back to our homes. All the streets had flooded and there wasn't any way of getting home without getting at least ankle deep in the water. The water was even knee deep at some points and it was FREEZING!  After getting home, we threw on some different clothes and headed out for some swimming in our cul de sac lagoon. What a day, what a week!
I love it here at the MTC, we work hard, but we also have a lot of fun. I survived the Fall of Man and Noah's Arc, and I'm sure tomorrow will be another great week.

This is my district. These are the people I spend 10 hours a day with in class. 
We are super close, I love them all to death.

Photo of our houses. I'm the one of the right, casa 47, 

The pictures of the night is when our entire cul de sac flooded.  
We were up to knee deep at some points, and everyone's suits got soaked. rain, hail, everything.

Another elder from my zone, Elder Collins

Love you all! 
Elder Haddad

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The adventure has begun

Starting with the longest plane flight of my life, this has seriously been a wild ride. I showed up at the airport only to find out that my original flight had been canceled and rerouted. Instead of flying up to SLC to meet all the other missionaries, I was rerouted to LAX and then from LAX to MEX. On the flight to Mexico my body decided it was a good time to take revenge on me for eating Chinese food the night before. I felt the nausea coming so I bought some Dramamine at the airport, but I didn't have any water so I just chewed the tablet. I don't know if I have ever tasted something more disgusting than the rancid taste to Dramamine. Satan had taken hold of my stomach and my taste. After finally arriving in Mexico 5 hours late, they transported the missionaries to the MTC. That was the second time I thought I was going to die. Our driver didn't speak any English and kept yelling "Nacchhhoooo'' he also stopped in the middle of the freeway to show us where the Mexico City Temple is.

I've been at the MTC now for over a week and I have really enjoyed it. Our days as packed with classes, instruction, and laughs. Its amazing how fast you learn Spanish here. There were about 30 missionaries that came in the same wave as me, they split us up into smaller groups called districts. Our district is 4 Hermanas and 4 Elders. My companion's name is Elder Nielsen and will be my companion for the entire time I am here,. Elder Nielsen and I are also going to the same mission, and what's weird is that we are the only two missionaries going to a foreign mission out of all the 30 missionaries that came in at the same time as us. Everyone else is going back to the US. Elder Nielsen and I have so much fun, but he knows no Spanish. Last week a Latino asked him "Cual es su mission?" Which means what is your mission. And my companion responded with "mi nombre es tienda", which means my name is tent.

I am so thankful that I took Spanish before. I had really prepared myself a lot more than I had thought. I have great study habits from school and I'm used to working long days. Some people hate the MTC, or complain that it's a jail, but I actually really like it. The language is coming to me really easily, and we have already began teaching lessons to investigators. On our third day, we had to teach a lesson to someone investigating the church, and some of these kids had never spoken a word of Spanish until day 1. Its scary to think that our investigators impression on the church is completely based on our lessons. Our investigators don't speak a word of English, so we use a lot of hand gestures and sign language to talk with them. But our Spanish has improved so much that on our third lesson, we invited our investigator to get baptized and he accepted. It feels like everything is clicking, and all my Spanish is coming back to me. 

These are some Mexico MTC fun facts :
  • At 8:00 pm, everything smells like sewage, I don't know why, but the air just reeks.
  • They like to feed us hot dogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • There are free hair cuts at the MTC.
  • Elders do these things called "tie trades" where everyone goes and brings their ties and trades them. Paisley ties are a hot commodity here at the MTC. 
  • Every day at 6 am a nearby church shoots some cannons, and throughout the day, they continue to shoot cannons. 
  • Mariachi music and sirens from ambulance and police cars go all night long.

We are already on week 2 and the time is flying by. Have a great week guys.
Love, Elder Haddad. 

Enjoy the pictures

                       The big guy is my companion, his name is Elder Nielsen. 
                 The two guys on the right are Elder Jensen and then Elder Crockett
Elder Nielsen having fun!