Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them;
and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain,
and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. Jeremiah 16:16

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All About the Food

Alex's pictures this week had a general theme for the most part: food!  When I talk to people who have been to this area they all say it is known for two things, the scenery and the food.  Luckily, I have raised a very adventurous eater who is always willing to try new things.  With Alex everything is always muy bien!

Last week a member forgot to feed us so we went to a awesome taco place. They were muy bien y horchata muy bien.
Hola family y friends,

It was a great week here in Ocozocoautla. One thing that was great was having more members present in lessons. Our area is weak at that. But this week we doubled even tripled what we had last week.

 I tried a lot of different foods this week, like Granada, only found in the mountains of Chiapas, the cacti fruit, a melon drink (it is just cantaloupe with sugar), y rice pozol, y a hot fruit drink called ponche. It was all very good.

This is Granada, only found in the mountains of Chiapas. It is very gooey and lots of seeds. You just suck all the gooey stuff.  It is muy bien.

This is the cacti fruit. it is muy bien.

The melon drink 

This is ponche. It is a hot fruit drink.

A meal from this week

Every time I read a scripture or a passage the kids will laugh y ask their mom “was he speaking Spanish?” From your question last week, I am the only white person. Every time I go on a bus someone will say “hola Gringo”. Every time we introduce ourselves they will ask Elder Garcia “he is not from here, is he?” Then Elder Garcia will say “ask him”.  Then they do. I say “I’m from California.” Then they will say “Baja or California”.  Then I will say “California.”  Then they say “OH.”

 But the people we teach love that I speak English because their kids are learning it at school. So I help them on homework because their parents don’t know how y they practice their English with me. I think that is pretty cool. In lessons I will say a prayer, bear my testimony, y invite them to do something y read a scripture or a passage.

The branch president’s wife’s next door neighbor is a less active. So we visit her. She has a six month old girl y a 9 year old boy. We committed him to baptism. He said yes. Now we have seven people committed to baptism: Ricardo, Lupita, Guadalupe y her sons Andre y Tono, y Roberto, y Dalia, y Espinoza. Her 20 year old son got baptized two weeks ago. Then there is Angel. 

All of our future baptisms

Well yesterday Me y Elder Garcia was so happy. We had 19 of our investigators at church. This weekend the hermanas had two baptisms. The first one was good except it took about 10 or more times for him to be baptized because he kept putting his legs up y saying the prayer wrong. The second one the president of the mission baptized him because he asked him to. That was pretty cool. Than afterwards he took us y the sister missionaries out for some tacos. It was great time with the president y here in Ocozocoautla.

The baptism of Jermias that took 10 times 

Love you all y miss you too. Thanks for the prayers.‬

Love Elder VanBuskirk

P.S.: My birthday is next week i cant wait!!!!!!!!!!

 (Then he continued to email back and forth with me as the pictures uploaded.  I think he was feeling it by all the exclamation marks!  Probably too much sugar in the horchata or something.)

I can't belive I’ve been here a month! When you work hard for the Lord it goes by fast. My mission president is very funny. He dosen’t know any Spanish. Every time I talk to him he speaks English. Everybody loves him. He is from Wyoming. He tries his best speaking to the Spanish speaking elders but they all love it. He been out on his mission for 4 months and he has 3 years to go.

The weather is always changing. It can be raining one day then hot or cold, but I’m used to it.

Tell Dylan good job with the braces y tell Nathan y Dylan good job with the performance. Tell Caleb good job on football y tell Luke I love him so much. Tell Nathan, Derek,  Dylan, Caleb,  Luke y Sparky I love them all y miss them a ton.‬
Adios again. I’m really leaving. Talk to you next week.  Love you all y miss you.  Give everybody my love for me.

Thanks mom, you too. I can’t wait to get my package y my letters next Tuesday at zone conference.

I’ve got to go. Tell everyone I love them y miss them a ton and thanks for the prayers. I hope all goes good with the move. I’m praying for all of you. Thanks mom y dad for everything. Adios!!!!!

‪ I love you more than anything ADIOS!!!!!!‬
LoVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



A church here 

A horse

The motor taxis. They are everywhere and they are so loud 

My MTC water bottle y my missionary host sticker in my scriptures

The news letter here of me and all the new missionaries y a dinner tag

Me holding a baby chick at a member’s home

Monday, November 17, 2014

Worth it to be a Servant of the Lord.

Alex latest email:  (I love how every "and" has now been officially replaced with "y".  Why not?  "Y" is much easier and way cooler.)

Hola family y friends,

 This week started off with a interview with the mission president. Usually on Tuesday we go to Tuxtla for a district meeting because Elder Garcia is the district leader. But the night before we got a phone call from the zone leaders saying we have an interview with the president at 8:20am. We said okay. The interview was more like a talk.  He asked about my family y told me about how some missionaries come and think they will just learn the language.  But they learn 3 months later that you need to work hard y by God’s timing you will know the language. He looked at me y said, “you know that already.”  I said, “yes sir, I do.” He said “good.” It was a great interview.

I love it here, how everybody y us says good morning, good evening, good night to everyone. I love it!  I love how everybody gives us in their homes traditional food, like milk with oatmeal, or homemade lemonade, or OJ, even homemade pan.  It is all so good. Everyday you will hear fireworks go off any time of the day. Its a tradition to do it for everything.

This week we committed 4 to baptism.  A mother with three kids. She and two of her sons want to be baptized, the other son is too young. Then I committed someone named Roberto. His family are members, besides him y his brother who is a less active. It took me two tries to commit him because he didn’t understand my Spanish. Yesterday was awesome. We had 5 of our investigators come to church.  We were so happy! This week was good.  A lot of walking, but it is all worth it to be a servant of the Lord. Love you all y miss you a ton.

‪You know in my patriarchal blessing it says God will help me overcome any obstacle in my path, so right now it is the language.  But it also says He will help me overcome it. I know that is true.  If I work hard y go by his timing, I will learn it.‬

Well last night we visited a member and she told me “in the little time you’ve been here your Spanish has gotten a lot better because of God y your companion.”  I said “thank you very much.” That made me feel good.

‪In our town it is just us and two sister missionaries on the other side.  They are really nice.‬

Garcia is 18. His birthday is June 25. He has a brother and sister. He is the oldest.  His mom is a teacher y a seminary teacher. He been on his mission for 4 months. He will get transfer in Jan.  We get along.  He was really shy y his last comp was too, but I made him be more welcome, not so shy.

I've got to go. Thanks for buying the cases.  Love you all.  I will send couple of more pics. Miss you a ton. I pray for you all the time. I’ve got to do a service project for the member we are living with. Adios family! Miss you all a ton. Thanks for everything mom y family. Tell Sparkey “hi”.  Love you all!

just me y the city

 me in a taxi van

this is the welcome sign of our town

these are the cases I got from the MTC.  I get my new leather ones tomorrow.

me y elder Garcia after we ran to lunch because we got out of an appointment late

a cool view

another cool view

a view of the city
a nice sunset here

from the orange dot down is our area

from the bottom orange dot to the dark orange dot is how far the church is from our home - a 20 min walk 

Monday, November 10, 2014

In a Ditch

Me and a cattle rancher


So my week started bad.  I lost all my pictures since I got my camera.  I turned it on and it says “all pictures erased.”  So I was mad. But on Wednesday I had a zone conference about members helping the missionary work and at the end I got your package and dear elders from you of course, and Aunt Shirley and Alysa Whitlock. That made my whole week better! Reading them made me feel good! After the conference we were stuck in Tuxtla because there was a right (riot?) and they won't let anybody leave or come in for 3 hours.  It was fun just sitting around. On Friday I did exchanges with the zone leader so I went to Tuxtla for a day we taught a lot of people but it was a good day. There are 100 members and 100 menos activos  (less actives) here so we try to visit as many less actives as we can. Our church is only two years old, so the church has grown a ton here.

My address is the same as the one you sent my first package. They don’t want you to send it to the member’s home.  It takes two weeks or so to get here, but I only get mail once a month at zone conference. Just snacks for tracting all day will be nice,  like the swedish fish were great for snacking on all day or money will be nice, either or. But I bought my self an awesome birthday present already –  handmade scripture cases. They will be done next week. I will send a pic of them when I get them.

‪We have a few baptisms coming up in a few months.  First is Ricardo. His wife is a member but he is an investigator. And there is Lupita. She wants to get baptized, but her mom won’t let her. Then there is Francisco who wants to, but is busy working.‬
Everyday day we go to a lot of less active recent converts to see how they are doing, and investigators and contacts, so always a busy day and a lot of walking.

Did dad get my phone message before I went on the plane to Tuxtla?

Love you a lot.  I’ve got to email the president and I will send a few more pics.  Tell everyone I love them and miss them.

Me in a ditch yesterday after lunch

Monday, November 3, 2014

Todas en Español

Alex' long-awaited first weekly email from his mission was in Spanish! He really knows how to mess with his mom, but I think it is really great anyway. Here is the original.  Maybe you can translate it better than I can. 

Hola mi familia y amigos y amigas. Yo de Ocozoautla arriba de su montaña. Ocozoautla es muy hermoso. Mi compañero es Elder Garcia donde mexico. Nosotros vivir en a miembro primero suelo. Nosotros tengo a cocina y baño con a ducha es muy frioy dormitorio y oficina para estudio y sala en su casa. Yo nunca tener enfermo pero yo tener ampolla sobre mi pie. El tiempo aqui is muy frio. yo caminar diez millas a diao mas. nosotros comer desayuno en su casa y comida en miembros casa todo dia. nosotros tener dos bautismos ultimo semana. Elder Garcia bautismo Leyber y kenia aochoaños. yo estanciapara siesmes para trasladar. El personas aqui no entender  mi español pero el personas es muy feliz yo intentar. Nosotros caminaro taxi depender en tiempo. Los miembros dar de comer a nosotros pollo y limonada y alubia y tortillas. Los missioneros decir empezar para area por que y los miembros dar de comer y nosotros tener correr agua. Yo muy bien en Ocozocautla. No mas hablar en English todas los en español.

My attempt at translation using Dennis and an online translator: Hello my family and friends. I am in Ocozocoautla up in the mountains.  Ocozocoautla is very beautiful.  My companion is Elder Garcia from Mexico.  We live in a member’s first floor.  We have a kitchen and a bathroom with a shower. It is very cold in the bedroom and an office for studying and room in the house. I never get sick but I have a blister on my foot. The weather here is very cold. I walk ten miles a day or more. We eat breakfast at home and food at members’ homes all day. We have two baptisms last week. Elder Garcia baptized Leyber and Kenia (?). (No idea what that next sentence says.) The people here do not understand my Spanish but the people are very happy I try.  We use (?) a taxi depending on time. The members feed us chicken, lemonade, beans, and tortillas.  The missionaries say they like to start in this area because the members feed them and they have running water. I am very well in Ocozocoautla. No more talking in English, all in Spanish.

Luckily, a few more of his emails were in English:

My P-day is Monday. Can you give a copy of the email to joy? Thanks.

I am muy bien. We are staying by ourselves its a small ward. After someone says “amen” everybody says “amen” outloud. It’s pretty funny but I love it. We have a couple more baptisms coming.

I wont be getting your package until next week at zone conference.

Happy Halloween! We took a taxi that night on Halloween and the driver was drunk. He was driving on both sides of the street. No idea what he is saying but he was talking about how stupid gringos are.

Thanks for the prayers!

 I got a fungus on my feet from not having enough dry socks. Now my shoes and feet smell.  I have athlete’s foot medication.  They won’t let me take tylenol or any medicine before I call the president. My companion is the district leader.

My release date is august 29, 2016.

Hey did dad connect my card to pasos so I can use it?

Say hi to everyone for me and tell tem I love them and miss them I only have a couple more minutes so I am sending more pics. But I’m doing fine I am glad I am not getting homesick. The people here are awesome! They don’t understand me but I understand them.  I just can’t speak the language. But I’m great. Nice weather. A lot of walking means I’ll loose weight.

Adios!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you all! Say hi to everyone. Tell everyone I’m fine and thanks for the prayers. I’m praying for all of you. Can’t wait to email next week.

Adios! love you all! Adios! 

My companion

Chickens and people playing soccer

Me by the church

This is pozol es cacao y maiz. es muy bien. 
(Pozol is cocoa and corn.  It is very good.) We get it a lot here.