Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Birthday

Well, one week left in the CCM!

Everyone in our district is starting to get a little antsy to leave.  We don't know when we leave yet but we know that it is soon!  This week is just a lot of review, In Field orientation, and waiting!  It is weird to be counting days rather than to be counting weeks!  I am excited to leave the wall (what we affectionately call the 15 ft+ beast that keeps us safe), and start the real adventure!

First of all, some other things to talk about...

My Birthday
I felt like my birthday actually started on last Tuesday, because that was the day that my sister delivered a package from my mom that she had in her luggage.  Because we don't see each other much, she demanded that I open it there.  It had inside some scrumptious cakes.  They were a little out of date, so I fed them to one my my roommates first, and after he didn't die, or get ill, I dug in!  I still have some kicking around, but I am saving those for a special occasion!  I kept the wrapping in my journal, and didn't think much about my birthday again until the night before.

After we finished with our Daily Planning at 9:30, we started walking back to the apartment and we noticed that right behind our house there was a MASSIVE party.  I mean MASSIVE!  It seemed like everyone from the surrounding area was there, except for the Missionaries!  They kept up the music up until pretty late (1 or 2 in the morning), but I was able to sleep through it, which I know was a blessing of the Lord.  I joked that they had done it for my birthday, and that I had been invited, but that I wasn't allowed outside the wall.

That night, we also did a temporary tie trade.  To explain it more, every day in our district, we rate ourselves to see how well we did speaking Spanish all the time.  The highest is a 10 out of 10, and that is pretty hard!  Every day we add up the numbers from our district and make a running total.  Our goal is 120, which is every person in our district getting a 10.  We made a goal the night before to try to get 120 on my birthday.  To help us remember, Elder Wilcox, Elder Jones, and I picked one of our favorite ties and interchanged them for the next day.  The rules were that if the person wearing your tie heard you speak English without doing your best in Spanish, they got to keep your tie.  It wasn't very traumatizing for me, but Elder Jones and Elder Wilcox put in some very special ties.  It made the next day interesting.

The next day started pretty normal, except for we were all stressed about our ties.  We went and studied for a couple hours and then went to breakfast, which wasn't that elaborate.  Then, we had church, which was pretty good.  We had priesthood (which is always good), Sunday school, and finally Church.  First of all, if I haven't yet, let me describe church at the MTC.  You meet with your branch and everyone is given the same topic to prepare a talk on, then during the course of the meeting, the Branch President chooses those that will give talks, so you have no idea beforehand.  There isn't even a guarantee that you won't speak 2 weeks in a row!  I hadn't spoken my entire time at the MTC, and I could feel my number coming up, so I made sure to prepare a talk. 
Everyone is supposed to speak all in Spanish, but it usually ends up being a mixture, and depending on the person, all in English.  Because of our goal to speak Spanish the entire day, we decided that if you had to speak, you had to speak all in Spanish.  I was of course called, and made sure to make that joke that it was my birthday present from the Branch Presidency.  What followed was a talk that I don't remember much of because of stress.  But I was assured that it was good.  What I mostly remember was I know I spoke all in Spanish, and that some of the missionaries were looking pretty intimidated (which made me feel pretty good).  I was pretty proud of myself, and I think I can honestly say that it was the first talk in our branch (that I know of), that was totally in Spanish, without any English, which was pretty cool.  Everyone said it was a good talk, and one of the Elders came up to me and told me how proud he was that he understood all the Spanish I spoke.
After that we had lunch, which was by far the best lunch we have ever had at the CCM.  It was ham, with some teriaki beef stuff, and genuine curly fries.  It is pretty easy to guess which is the most popular item.  I didn't get as many as I wanted, but it still made my day much better.

Then we had class with the president, which, I have to admit that I slept most of the way through.  I blame the fact that they don't usually remember to turn on the Air conditioning in the auditorium, and when I am in a comfy seat, and I'm warm, it pretty much puts me out completely.  I was kind of disappointed, because it was the first devotional I have slept through since the first week (no joke!), but I did feel very refreshed afterward.

We then had some study time and then a recorded devotional by Elder Holland.  It was a lot longer than a normal devotional but it was pretty good.  He talked a lot about the power of the Book of Mormon, and about how even in the first chapter, there are eternal truths that affect us today.  He also talked a lot about how important it is that we make sure to have a testimony before we teach others.  He talked about that part of the reason that the Missionary lessons were revised into Preach My Gospel, was to better convert the missionary.

We then had dinner, which wasn't extravagant, but there were ACTUAL POTATO CHIPS, which I took two bags of, because it was my birthday (they were REALLY small bags, so don't anybody think I was being too greedy). 

Then we studied a little, and went to the video. 

Before the video, I got together with all the people from my BYU ward that are here and got a group picture.  Because there are 3 guys and 1 girl, we got some funny awkward photos.  For those of you interested, we have here Elders Henrie, Herring, and Potter, and Hermana Deem.

The video was the testaments, which is definitely a favorite of our family.  It was another great present from the CCM.

One of the sweetest parts of the days was the end.  When Elder Jones, Wilcox, and I all wrote ten out of ten on the board.  Unfortunately the other people in our district didn't do nearly as well, but we did get our first 100 on the running total!  It felt good to switch our ties back, and the feeling of accomplishment was a great birthday present to myself.  Our heads all hurt afterward.

All in all it was a great birthday!

Everything else seems kind of dry in comparison, but it was all fun!  Spanish is definitely coming, and I am loving it!  We make sure to have fun as a district and it is pretty cool.  Always remember that when you are with the lord, everything is sweeter and the time flies!

I get to go to the temple again today!

Elder Graigry Henrie

Q&A with Mom

1. Are you still staying really healthy?  Some of the other missionary blogs I read of missionaries at the CCM say they have a lot of tummy trouble.
I have been pretty OK, those probiotics are literally SAVING MY LIFE.  I had tummy trouble for about a day, but that was at the beginning, before I got I on a regular schedule with my pills, and after that I have been great the entire time.  I am really glad you made me bring those!
2. Did you get more of your birthday cards?
I think I now have all of them.  I got like 7 letters yesterday and I got a lot of glares from my fellow district members.  I love the talking card, it brings back a lot of great memories.
3. Have they given you any travel plans yet?
Nope, from what I've heard, we don't hear until the weekend before.  When I get them though I will try to tell you.  I know that I am leaving September 3 from the MTC. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

My district

Q. Who is in your district and what is one or two things about them?  For example, where are they from? where are they going on their mission?  

A. In order of the way we sit...
Elder Wright
Big, but friendly, has been in the Cumorah pageant many times.  From Utah, going to Georgia.
Elder Potter
From my BYU ward.  He really does look like Harry Potter, but he has never been Harry Potter because (He didn't want to curse himself with that).  Also going to Georgia.  From California
Elder Prach
From Colorado.  Wrestled in High school, and is short, but ripped.  He has a goal to Bench Press 300, before he leaves the MTC, and no one is doubting him.  Going to Cincinnati, Ohio. 
Elder Shiffler
From Portland, Oregon.  Afraid of everything that even looks like an insect and is a big believer in Hygiene, and brushes his teeth after every meal.  He is fun to make fun of, but is a pretty cool guy.  Also going to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hermana Merril
From Rexburg, Idaho.  20 years old, and has attended BYU Idaho for 2 years.  Nice.  Going to El Salvador, San Salvador East.
Hermana Poulter
From Provo, UT.  Has attended BYU for the last 2 years, but I had never met her before coming to the CCM.  Also nice.  She enjoys sharing food and is fun to talk to.  Going to El Salvador, San Salvador East.
Elder Henrie
Kind of boring, going to Honduras, Tegucigalpa.
Elder Jones
My companion, from Heber, UT, also going to Honduras.  He has some fun stories from High school and is a cool person to know.  He knows how to laugh and likes to do it often.
Elder Wilcox
From Layton, UT, but he doesn't know any Henries.  Going to Federal Way, Washington.  Likes to smile and poke fun.
Elder Loveland
From Rexburg, Idaho, nice and kind of reserved.  He wants to go into accounting.  He knows a lot of Spanish, but is still learning.
Elder Shipman
From Draper, UT.  Knows the Atkissons.  Kind of quiet, but fun to talk to.  Going to El Salvador, San Salvador East.
Elder Hazelgrin
From Arizona.  Played soccer in High school and is very athletic.  Think Aaron Caprio, but shorter and with glasses.  He thinks himself funny and he is (most of the time).  Going to El Salvador, San Salvador East.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Big Bugs

after he got his new haircut

Another week down at the Mexico MTC!  Not much really happened this week.  It has been just chock full of stuff to do and people to see.  I really do feel like my Spanish is improving at an incredible rate.  I am excited to go to the field.

I am now officially ´´OLD´´ in the MTC.  In two weeks, I´m out of here and into HONDURAS.  Its pretty exciting, and really frightening.

I do feel like I´ve learned more Spanish in these 4 weeks than I ever learned in High School or even my one semester of College Spanish.  It helps that you are using it all the time.
This week was essentially a pretty normal week, we taught several investigators, and had some good, and some bad lessons.

I also got a haircut today:

Before the new haircut
All missionaries are supposed to get a haircut and dry clean their suits before they leave.  I decided to get the haircut today, and next week (My last P-Day in the CCM), I am doing my suit.

Some guys in our district, also found this giant moth, which is so big they thought it was a bat at first.  One of the Elders in our district is really afraid of bugs, and he really freaked out.  Later we went and found it again and took pictures.  It is pretty darn huge.

There are also a lot of cockroaches, but they don´t really bother us so long as we don´t bother them, which we don´t.

I´m honestly just getting used to the fact that I only have 2 weeks left in the CCM, and then I´m expected to teach in the field.  Its pretty exciting, and slightly scary.

We watched a fantastic devotional by Elder Bednar talking about conference.  He emphasized the importance of studying the words of Modern prophets.  He said that ´´if you don´t know it, you don´t believe it´´.  It was a call to repentance for me.  It is important to tell people that we have modern Prophets and Apostles, but it is more important to be able to tell what they have said.  It is more than the advice of old wise men, it is the word of God to his children on this earth today.  That is powerful, and it can change investigators lives.

My advice for this week is some that my Teacher Hermano Cameron told Elder Jones and I after a lesson that didn´t go very well.  He gave us three things that if we do, our lessons will be focused, and the spirit will be there.  I also like how they can be applied to Life:

1. Focus on your commitments
In every lesson, and in life, you have things that you need to get done.  The commitment should not be a surprise at the end of the lesson, the lesson should naturally explain the commitment, and explain its importance.  He even suggested that we tell the investigator at the beginning what we want them to do, and then spend the lesson telling them why.  He also emphasized how this is a lesson for life, you have things that you need or want to do, but you can´t expect them to happen unless you are working towards them.  That is why it is important to have specific goals, and work towards them.  It gives you purpose and direction.

2. Ask ´´thinking´´ questions
In every lesson, and with any investigator, you need to know what to teach.  You cannot know what to teach unless they tell you, and they won´t just come out and say it.  So you have to ask them questions.  Questions that make them think, and share about themselves.  After you know about them, you need to ask questions to check understanding, and questions that make them ponder and seek truth.  When a person looks inside themselves and ponders, the spirit is there.  If you ask good questions, you can help the investigator teach themselves as they realize why they need the doctrines and principles you offer.  In life, if you don´t ask questions, you will never learn.  When you don´t understand or have doubts, you can ask.  As you ponder and meditate, you can feel the spirit and receive the revelation you need.

3. Show your enthusiasm
Your investigators are like you, if they see enthusiasm, they become enthusiastic, and if they see boredom, they lose track.  You are a missionary!  You have one of the best jobs in the world!  Every day, you wake up and your purpose is to ´´Invitar a las personas a venir a Christo´´ (to invite people to come unto Christ), as they do this they will receive more happiness than they have ever felt!  You have a good reason to be happy, so let it show on your face!  When you teach you need to show genuine love for the person, but also excitement for them.  When they keep a commitment, let them know by your body language and face that you think that is awesome.  If you show enthusiasm, they will want your same happiness.  The same goes for life, if you are enthusiastic for everything you do, you will be happier, and those around you will be too!  Happiness is contagious, spread it everywhere!

That's pretty much it for right now, next week I´ll have more to talk about, as it´s my last week!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mexico City Temple Visit

This week was really fun.  It went really fast and it seems strange that it is already Tuesday again!

First of all, my funny story of the week:
Sundays here at the CCM are as busy as any other day.  If you aren't studying, you are going to church, eating, or attending meetings.  This last Sunday we had a Devotional with Elder Ballard (On video), the devotional was fantastic.  Elder Ballard didn't really talk about any doctrine, but instead gave a great inspirational talk to missionaries.  Because this week the first American's left the CCM, it was especially appropriate.  The funny part starts at the end of the Devotional.  Seeing as there are now more than 800 missionaries at the CCM (Or MORE), it takes a little bit to get out of the devotional.  While Elder Jones and I were leaving, we passed Sister Pratt (The president´s wife), and deeming it appropriate, we shook her hand, thanking her for her work.

Apparently while we were doing this, I wasn't paying very good attention to my tag.  It apparently came loose, and at the next jostle by a passing missionary it came loose.  Imagine my surprise when later in study time I noticed my suit tag was missing!  I searched my stuff, and correctly assumed it had come off at devotional.
Luckily, later that night we watched a church video (we watch one every Sunday), and I used the opportunity to look for my tag. I couldn't find it before, but I assured myself it had to be there, and that it would turn up.  Just before the movie, PRESIDENT Pratt got up and announced that several items had been found.  One of them was a missionary tag...this is about what he said (NO JOKE):

Apparently a missionary left their tag in the auditorium after the devotional, it belongs to an Elder Henrie, but not with a ´´y´´, he spells it H, E, N, R, I, E.

Well, I was sitting in the audience and thinking, (well, there can be really only one of those here), so I raised my hand, expecting him to pass it along to me or ask me to come up.  It turned out that he had already turned in the tag and the other items to reception where he wanted us to pick them up, but I had already raised my hand, and not really sure what to do, kept my hand up.

It was COMPLETELY obvious to everyone around me, and the entire audience which klutzy missionary had lost his tag.  Elder Jones was really embarrassed, he went more red than me and said something along the lines of:

Get your hand down Elder!
I put my hand down and I did get my tag back later, so it ended up alright.

Leaving the Wall! This was exciting because it was driving us kind of crazy.
In other news:
As I said at the beginning, things were pretty good this week.  Once you have kind of a solid schedule the days blend together and things go much faster.  We are teaching two investigators now, Juan and Antonio, who are both actually our American teachers.  Even if they are just practice investigators, they are probably the biggest source of stress in my life, all the missionaries agree that it is really annoying to understand what they are saying, to know what you want to say in English, but have no idea how to say it in Spanish.  The best advice I can give in this area is some that I got yesterday from a missionary that was leaving:

"If you come to a point that you don{t know what to say, let it be silent for a moment.  The Holy Ghost speaks best when its silent, and he will help you and tell you what to say."

This of course doesn't mean that you shouldn't prepare.  I know that the Holy Ghost has helped me more when Elder Jones and I have a lesson planned, and he helps bring the words to our remembrance and helps us answer questions.

Other than those things life at the CCM has begun to settle into a comfortable boring.  The days are pretty much the same, and I continue to learn and comprehend more Spanish every day.

Mexico City Temple, very pretty from any angle
 Fountains out front
 Our District at the Temple, they are Elders Shiffler, Wilcox, Jones, Henrie, Shipman, Hazelgrin, Prach, 
Wright, Potter, Sister Poulter, Sister Merrill, and Elder Loveland 
 Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord

We got to go to the temple for the first time today, as it has been closed for cleaning the last two weeks.
It is interesting to do a session in Spanish.  You don't understand much, but as long as you follow those around, you do OK.  The workers are just as nice here as they are anywhere and they will help you.
The temple is very beautiful, inside and out.  One of the most interesting parts is noticing the difference between the outside and the inside.

Mexico City is huge! As you drive to the temple there is so much going on, so many noises.  It really opens up your eyes as to the blessings of living where you used to live.  Everything is busy and crazy, a two lane road may have 5 cars across on it.

But as soon as you enter the temple, that all melts away.  I don't think I've ever appreciated the peace of the temple more than today.  To go from outside, with the insanity, and to enter a place where you can't here or see anything outside is amazing.  Sitting inside the Temple doing a session, remembering where I just was, really helped me realize what Jesus offers.

Come ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

Going into the temple, and leaving all my stress, my worries, my fears, and just conversing with the Lord was amazing.  This is what Jesus offers, more than just rest from sins and trials, but even just a break from Real Life.  A reminder of the peace that comes from knowing you are where you belong.

Otherwise, I´m excited to go another week in the MTC!  For those of you who are coming in the next weeks, YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT.

Goodbye for now,
Elder Henrie

Question and Answer with Mom:

1. Is there a choir at the MTC? Have you joined?
We have had musical numbers from different branches, but there is no MTC choir.  Our branch does not have a choir.  Though we may have to start one!  We sound pretty good as a district.

2. Any other musical opportunities?
We sing many times a day, that's what I mostly do.  I enjoy singing in Spanish and it helps your mind learn.

3. Can you explain how the mail system works there?  I know the Dear Elders just come once a week but to you get regular mail letters everyday?
We get regular mail letters every day.  You just check the post office for them, but because of all the people, they ask that your District Leader check every day and just bring them to his district.  You can also send letters here.

THE ADDRESS IN THE MISSION PACKET IS WRONG!  Letters and packages still make it, but it causes confusion, the real address is:
Carr. Tenuyuca-Chalmita No. 828
Col. Zona Escolar, Deleg, G. A. Madero
C.P. 07230, Mexico, D. F.; Mexico 

4. Are there really no packages allowed like it said in your book?
You can send packages, but even the Mission President suggests that you use a couriered service like UPS or FedEx.  You might end up spending a little more, but they arrive faster and you have a guarantee that the package will arrive.  So far no one I have heard of has had a package disappear through USPS, but there was some worry with Elder Jones´Package.  (IT did make it).

It seems like they should properly arrive through the Post Office, but there is a worry.

It takes almost 3 weeks to get here, so PLEASE no perishables. (Should be obvious, but it has to be said). If it is time sensitive information, just email it.  Its faster and more secure.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More information and advice for life at the Mexico CCM

So, week two down!

First of all, things go much faster the second week than they do the first.  You know what is going on and you are actually understanding a lot more Spanish.

P-Day Clothes
You don't need to bring a lot of ´´P Day Clothes´´.  As stated in the mission Handbook (the white bible), when you go out in public, you always wear missionary attire.  The only time you wear something else is during gym time or if you are doing a service project.  My companion even wore his church clothes for his haircut.  So don't worry cluttering up your suitcase with the nice polo shirts and jeans.  Bring clothes that you can play hard or work hard in.

La Tienda (Store)
The tienda is the on campus store.  They only take pesos, so if you are planning on buying a lot of stuff, change your money at the airport.  (Note from Mom:  They give the Elders 100 pesos a week so you only need to exchange dollars for pesos if you plan on spending more than that.  Graigry did not exchange dollars at the airport but has been able to get some with his ATM card at a machine on the CCM campus.)

They sell everything from missionary shirts and shoes, to the huge variety of Mexican sweets and candy.  This is also where you buy stamps, and your garden variety church books. !!Warning!! so far as I have seen, all the books are in Spanish.  If you lose or forget scriptures or other books, you will be reading them in Spanish.  You might be able to request another language, but I don't think so. 

They also sell large bottles of COLD water, which all the missionaries usually buy at least once.

They also carry a variety of bags and other accessories you might need.  Even bumper stickers (I'm not sure why) and ´´I'm a Mormon´´ stickers.

Several guys in my district also suggested bringing a Spanish hymnbook.  I brought one and was glad I did, you use it multiple times a day.  If you don't bring one, you can buy one at the tienda.
Classroom Building
Spiritual thought
You need to be willing to work.  There are going to be things they ask you to do that makes the MTC just seem like school.  Don't be deceived!  It IS school, and they are giving you homework for a reason.  If you do it, you will be blessed and learn so much faster.
CCM Classroom

Along those lines, this also means you need to be willing to concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing. You will be given a schedule and rules, FOLLOW THEM!  I know that I have felt the blessings of obedience.

In other news...
This has been a great week.  Elder Jones and I got to teach the Sunday school lesson on the Apostasy.  It turned out really great!  We had a fun time.  We also committed one of our other investigators to baptism, and met another one.  Our district meets up every day during gym and does a pretty intense and fun Basketball game.  It keeps us sane and lets us relieve stress.

We have been talking about how going on a mission and reminded us what is most important.  I'm glad I got to spend some time with my Family before I left, 'cause I know that they are what are guaranteed to last until Post-Mission time!  We are all really excited to get out and teach people, even if we are scared at the amount of Spanish we know.

It really has been a great week.  We have got a lot of stuff done and I can really feel the gifts of the spirit in my life.  I know that I've never learned Spanish so fast and so well in my life.  It has to do some with the teachers and the program, but I know that the spirit has been really helping me out.

Out last lesson with Juan, the guy we committed to baptism, we decided to not take notes and just try to follow our lesson.  We had planned on talking about the Plan of Salvation, but instead, we ended up talking the entire lesson about the word of wisdom.  Elder Jones was particularly inspired, he helped him with his problems, and took out some great scriptures.  The part I really felt the spirit was when we were talking about why he needed to obey.
Somehow I was able to tell him in understandable Spanish that our bodies are temples, and are holy.  I told him how our spirit is in our body, but is connected with it, and if we are defiling our bodies, we are defiling our spirit.  I told him that I knew that when I kept the word of wisdom, I could feel the spirit better, and I felt closer to God.  He was originally worried about what his friends would say, but he decided that if the church was true, it didn't matter.

I really like how golden Juan was, even if he was really our teacher with a different accent.

Home Sweet Home

There has been a mild prank war going on in our casa.  Nothing too serious, mostly hiding in empty closets and scaring different elders (mostly me).  We retaliated in different ways, but most of all I think it just links us together.  I am really lucky with the other elders in my casa, they are all really nice and strong in the spirit.  Even when we are doing a prank war, there is a spirit of love and safety there.  It reminds me a lot of when I had Xane and Andy as BYU roommates.

There are apparently over 250 new missionaries arriving today and tomorrow, so our casa will probably get some new people.

Q. and A. (with Mom)
Q. How are you doing keeping track of all your stuff?
A. I am doing a great job keeping track of all my stuff.  My shoulder bag is just the right size for what I need.  Most of my books I leave in class.  I carry around my scriptures and stuff with me.  I am popular because of my expansive medical kit, and candy.

Q. What do you do to exercise?
A.  Usually every day for exercise we play basketball or futbol (soccer).  Recently though we have really gotten into basketball.  Our district has some great games every night.

Q. Did you end up using the sheets you brought or the ones they provided? 
A. I am using the sheets they provided.  They wash them for free, and you have to take the time to wash yours.

Say hello to all those people who ask about me!
Elder Graigry Henrie

More Pictures:
 Sports Fields
 Fence around the CCM