Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Week 5 Done...Now the Countdown

Hey all,

Not as much to say this week.

So, last Tuesday night, our District Leader decided to make a District Law prohibiting the singing of anything but church music, the telling of personal stories, or the discussing of anything worldly.

Now, I get the need to "forget yourself" in the work, but the "no music" thing seriously blows. Music is how I psyche myself up in the mornings and how I stay focused and motivated during the day. Taking this away is like seriously taking away a part of who I am. And it also has the potential to be a great teaching aid.

But, whatever. I won't have this same missionary as my D.L. in a week. I can sing how I want after that.

I'm actually starting to feel a bit alone in my District. Literally everybody has a different/near-opposite opinion than me of many things, including the mindset needed on a mission, the importance of music, and even certain doctrines. I'm trying really hard to keep an open mind, but the fact that I'm the youngest of most people here produces some doubt in myself.

And since my compañero doesn't say much, I've spent a few nights staying up late talking with a couple other Elders in my Casa. We discuss a lot, and sometimes it gets really deep, but we keep coming back to why we chose to serve missions (circumstances, mindsets, etc.). I'm beginning to think I need to re-think why I'm here and find a solid reason for myself.

One thing's for sure, these few weeks here in Mexico have made me question myself more than almost anything else I've ever done.

So, moving on. On Saturday, somebody right behind our Casa (and over the huge fence) had a huge fiesta. I mean HUGE. Literally from like 8 in the morning to midnight, music was blaring and lights were flashing. It was entertaining during classes, but annoying at night.

People in Mexico party hard.

Not much else to say. Got a haircut today. Looks a little better than the one I got before I left. I'll send a picture.
CCM Haircut

Mom, could you send me the lyrics to "Scarborough Fair," "Suo Gan," and "Carry On Wayward Son?"

Alex, I have a special request. When you start school again, can you find that red book I showed you? You know which one I'm talking about. There were a couple really good quotes in there, including one by Lou Holtz. Can you send me that quote if you find it. And feel free to write in the book as well. You can explain the background of this book to Mom and Dad if they want to know.

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, Bree, and Bodhi.

-Elder Campbell
New ties that I traded for. More durable.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Week 4- a month already done

Temple Trip!

Mexico City Temple

Outside the visitors' center.

Close up of elaborate stone work.
Hey all!

So, less this week than last week.

So, Elder Wilson (you've read about him in past emails) has had the roughest week thus far. He blacked out on his way from a class to the Enfermería. They took him to a hospital, where he spent the night. When he got back, he said it had something to do with his metabolism or something. Poor guy. I hope he doesn't get sent home for this kind of stuff.

On Sunday, the water stopped working for the whole CCM for about 4 hours. I shower at night, so I was fine, but a bunch of the newer Elderes were freaking out. Apparently a water pump broke near a main somewhere.

They fixed it, though, so it's all good. Although, somebody misheard the Main Office's explanation of the accident. "Bomba" in Spanish means "Water Pump" in English. So for a whole day people were going around saying a bomb had gone off at the CCM's water main. Exciting, but false. And I'm relieved it was just a rumor. "Lost in translation."

I've been trading a few ties since I've been here. I'l send a picture of them next email. I've traded away all my silk ties (good-looking, but fragile) for polyester (slightly more durable) ones. They look good, too.

Every Sunday, we have like 3 devotionals after Priesthood, Sacrament, and District Meetings. So it's like 8-ish hours of nonstop sitting.

This Sunday, the CCM Director of Training and Operations, Shawn Cates, spoke with us. I thought it was gonna be SUPER boring, but he was actually quite entertaining. One of the things he said stuck with me.

While here, we need to leave behind a lot of things in our life, many of them forever. We needed to "learn from the past, but not live in it. You can look back and take the embers from past experiences, but not the ashes."

I think that's a good idea to live by.

Also, I brought this up in one of our District's devotionals, but the lyrics to Hymn 85 "How Firm A Foundation" keep coming to mind. Specifically, verses 2 and 3.

"In every condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the lad or the sea,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be."

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."

These keep replaying in my head over and over, especially when days are rough. Fortunately, they've been less rough as of recently.

Still working with Elder Shawcroft on getting him to snap out of "Elsa Mode." I've been encouraging him to take larger and larger speaking roles in our investigator discussions. When we started out, it was primarily me speaking due to my ability to speak rudimentary Spanish. We're doing better now.
Me and my companion, Elder Shawcroft


I'll see if I can send you guys a video of my Casa's impromptu quintet. We'll see.

I love you all. Alex, you're doing great. Remember to take it slow on turns while driving and listen to what Dad says.

Bree, I hope Lake Powell is/was fun. I don't know if you'll read this 'till after you're back. Jump some cliffs for me.

I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, Bree, and Bodhi. Thanks for the package and the emails.

-Zach


We could only go to the visitors' center as the temple is closed for renovations.

My district and our teacher Hermana Arnaud (in the polka dot dress).

The Elderes

A little fun.
QUESTIONS

1. Did you get your debit card & credit card? It should have been delivered through the pouch mail. If yes, we will activate them here. If no, I need to track down where they are.
-YES, I got the cards the DAY AFTER last P-Day, but my District Leader wouldn't let me send a small confirmation email. Seriously. Anyway, I have both cards. They are with me.

2. Did you get the chocolate candy care package?
-Yes, I got the candy care package. Thanks so much! I haven't had real chocolate in a month.

3. Did you get the package with your hymn book in it yet?
-No, I have not gotten the hymn book package. Still waiting on it.

4. I have NOT shipped your package that you asked for- the one with mucinex. Is there anything else you want to add to that before I send it?
-I can't think of anything else I need right now. That's about it. You may want to send the package directly to the mission home in Nicaragua. It takes forever for packages to get here
   
5. Have you given any more on the spot talks?
-I probably won't have to give any more talks while I'm here due to the increasing numbers of missionaries, but I'm prepared just in case.

6. How is the language coming along?
-Language is coming along fine. To be honest, I'm remembering more than I'm learning. Knew all that knowledge was buried in my head somewhere. I need to work on the speed at which I speak, though.

7. Did you know that your mission has its own facebook page? It was started in 2013--I think under the direction of the current mission president. Which tells me he is a pretty cool dude! https://www.facebook.com/MisionNorteNicaragua/info
-That is pretty cool! Except, I probably won't be able to check Facebook ever while I'm here, but cool nonetheless!

Love,
Zach

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Week 3 at the CCM

Zach and Dillon at the CCM. Dillon is from our home ward and is going to serve in the Chile Santiago Mission.


There's nothing like having friends when you are far from home.
Hey all!

So, lots to talk about.

So, Elder Wilson form my Casa (he came with me on the flight from Dallas) had a rough start to last week. I don't know if I told you guys this, but there's an outbreak of an intestinal virus at the CCM. This means we can't shake hands for the time being. I haven't gotten sick, but three of the Elders in my Casa have (Elder Walker, Elder Campbell (the other one) and Elder Wilson).

Power nap- Elder Baldwin and Elder Reece- The Best Two Years!


We've heard rumors that our Distrito (7-C) may head to the temple on P-Day. Since it's closed, we'd just be seeing the visitor center. Sadly, all these rumors were false, and we're not scheduled for a trip either today or next week. Bummer, dude.

I met a "Hermana Golden" at volleyball last Thursday. She told me to look for a "Hermana Lee" in Nicaragua. I don't know the likelihood of me ever seeing that Hermana, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Everybody is supposed to prepare a 5-minute talk for each Sunday in case they are randomly called upon to speak. This week's subject was "Repentance."
I wrote out a pretty crappy talk, chucked it, and started again Sunday morning. I wrote it first in English, then translated it to Spanish. I was still editing it into Sacrament meeting (We have sacrament only with our Branch, so 7-A,7-B, 7-C, 7-D, and 7-E were there). Not 5 minutes after I finished writing, they announced who'd be speaking.
I was second out of 6.
It was like a sign or something.
Nailed it.

With 7-A leaving next week, Elder Boice was called as the new Zone Leader, and Elder Crane was called as the new District Leader. Works out fine.

I joined with Elders Baldwin, Reese, Faldmo, and Branham in an impromptu quintet. We sang "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." I'll see if I can email the video to you guys.

The CCM has a different power gird than the rest of the city. It's kinda faulty. Every now and then, it'll shut down randomly. Yesterday it shut down four times, once in the morning and thrice at night.
Dude. It gets dark when all the power's off. I couldn't see a gol-darn thing. It reminded me of pretty much every single horror movie I've ever seen.
I may start taking my headlamp with me wherever I go.

Still waiting on the cards and the package. I'll let you know if I get them.

I love you all. I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, Bree and Bodhi. I miss you guys a lot.

-Elder Campbell

QUESTIONS
•    How bad/cool is the rainy season? Is it like Hawaii? Are you able to stay fairly dry? How often does it rain? Any thunder/lightning?
1) It rains almost every afternoon/evening here, but it gets pretty hot and sunny before then. It feels less humid than Hawaii. The REI umbrella's pretty finicky, so every now and then I have to unscrew the handle and reset the button. I'ts this little dinky plastic piece that disengages from the springing mechanism if I'm not careful with the umbrella. Thunder and lightning happen every other rainstorm or so. We got hills all around this part of the city so I'm not particularly worried about getting struck.

•    How bad are the bugs? Are you using bug spray?
2) Bugs aren't bad at all. Sure, there's tons of mosquitoes, but I haven't been bit and I swat any that come close. There's a few other kinds of bugs, but it appears that mosquitoes take up the vast majority. If I start getting bit, I'll use bug spray.

•    Any more stomach/intestinal issues?
3) No more intestinal stuff. It looks like it was caused by the spicy foods. Actually, several Elderes in my Casa have gotten some intestinal bug, but I haven't.

•    Do you have to sleep with your mosquito net?
4) I haven't had to break out the mosquito net. The windows have glass and screens, so we can keep 'em open without worrying about bugs. And, each room in the Casa has two flyswatters. They are used often.

•    Have you gotten a haircut yet?
5) No haircut yet. My hair's pretty short as it is. It's not even long enough to style yet.

•    How's your companion doing?
6) My compañero and I have been sick with some sort of cold for the past week. I got lucky, and ended up with a stuffy nose and a really awesome voice. He coughs all the time and lost his voice. So I've been the one taking the lead while teaching investigators. Then I get flak for "not letting my compañero talk enough." Well, he really can't talk right now. He's been getting better, though. I'll see about adding a picture of him.
Me and my companion, Elder Shawcroft







•    Do you hear gun shots outside the MTC as some people have said?
7) I'm not sure whether some of the loud bangs I've heard have been gunshots, cannon blasts, or cars backfiring. I can't distinguish between them.

•    What is your favorite experience at the MTC so far? What is your least favorite?
8) My favorite experience at the CCM thus far would have to be either the P-Days or singing Himnos with the other Elderes in my Casa at night. My least favorite thing would have to be the "TALL" program on the computers. We use it to help us learn Spanish, but it's SUPER tedious.

•    Are the bathrooms normal? Or do you poop on the floor?
9) The bathrooms are pretty normal. No floor-pooping here.

•    Did you like your sticky notes in your bags? :)
10) I loved the sticky notes. They make me smile every time I look at them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 2 In The Bag

Hola! (it feels kinda weird saying that on email.)

Week 2 actually went a bit faster than Week 1. I hope this trend continues. One of the Elders told me something at Lunch the other day that actually kinda made sense: Every Day feels like a Week, and every Week feels like a Day. That holds true, at least for me. I try not to think about the Mountain of time left. It makes it easier to focus on the task at hand.
Mountain behind the CCM


We got to see the new group of misionaros come in on Wednesday the 2nd. They looked exactly like we did a week ago. Confused, Scared, Excited, Exhausted, and Completely Lost. Actually tomorrow marks the start of the third week here for us. Each week. the group of misionaros coming in has been getting larger and larger. We came in with a group of 140-ish. Last week 180 arrived, and tomorrow another 200 are expected. We're just getting to the peak of attendance here at the CCM. It won't begin shrinking until late August/early September.
The Elders


So the food here can be pretty weird or pretty normal, depending on what the cooks want to make. I eat whichever, but I avoid the spicy stuff now. I learned my lesson. Luckily, the diarrhea was a one-time thing, at least for me. For now.

Oh, last Tuesday (one week ago) I burned a hole in one of my pants. Apparently, whoever used it last turned the heat up way past it's highest setting, as if to spite whoever used it next. Some of the blame falls to me, however, because I really should've checked the settings before I used the iron. As soon as I pressed it to the fabric, it sizzled and smoked like it was on the grill. The hole came pretty much instantaneously. Anyway, one less pair of pants in my inventory. It was one of the Nike pairs.

Spanish has been going pretty well. I'm remembering a lot of what I learned in High School. Many of the missionaries in my district have either never spoken Spanish before or haven't used it in years, so I help them out sometimes. We are all of us struggling together to learn Spanish.

Teaching investigators has been rough, especially since we have to say everything in Spanish. Most of the time I'm able to get my message across, though not without difficulty. My compañero has it even worse. He has many important things he'd like to say, but can't since he doesn't know enough Spanish. We work hard at improving every day.

I feel like I have a ton more to say, but I can't really remember it at the moment.
I love you all. I miss you guys a lot. Your emails make waiting for next P-Day worth it.

I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, Bree, and Bodhi.

-Zach

P.S. my compañero gave me a quote a couple days ago that I though was pretty funny.
"Even when you're feeling like Shiz, don't forget to push yourself back up."

If you don't know who Shiz is, he's in the last part of the Book of Ether.
Add caption

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Week 1 Down!

Hey guys!
Our P-Days are on Tuesday, so you can expect emails from me then.

So.

It's WAY different here, to say the least. It's warm every morning and rains like crazy every night. It reminds me of Oregon, but hotter. Also, there's a ton of mosquitoes here, but none have bit me yet. We try to kill them before we enter a classroom or bedroom.


The CCM


Anyway, I live in Casa 1 (House #1) with 19 other Elderes. I'll list them here.

Room 1: Elder Gray, Elder White, Elder Aiono, and Elder Moore (No relation to FL Moore's).

Room 2: Elder Baldwin, Elder Funckes, Elder Reese, and Elder Campbell (Not me).

Room 3: Elder Faldmo, Elder Bunch, Elder Jensen, and Elder Jensen's compañero (can't remember his name).

Room 4: Elder Taylor, Elder Branham, Elder Wilson, and Elder Chambers (he's the cousin of Spencer Chambers in Northgate Ward).

Room 5: And finally there's Elder Buzan, Elder Walker, Elder Shawcroft (my compañero), and Me.

That's my Casa.
Mi Casa


My Distrito (District) has 11 members, 3 Hermanas and 8 Elderes. They are:
Elder Hellewell (L-O-L), Elder Maughan (Mon), Elder Crane, Elder Boice, Elder Le Sueur, Elder Perkes, Hermana Wilkins, Hermana Muller, Hermana Gubler, Elder Shawcroft, and Me. I'm listing them because by pure chance, we are all heading to the SAME mission at the SAME TIME. I'll be seeing these guys for the next 1.5 to 2 years. According to our teacher, Hermana Arnaud, this has never happened before. I wonder sometimes if it's more than just coincidence.

You already know this, but yeah, I saw Dillon on Day 1 and gave him his package on Day 3. We see each other an average of once a day, but I still need to get a picture with him. The Presidenté of the CCM (MTC en Español) has prohibited pictures at any time except on P-Days. Kinda stupid, but whatever. He also prohibited all electronic music during our stay here. Now that's rough. Sometimes MOTAB is the fastest way for me to feel the Spirit here. I try not to break the rules.

Mi compañero, Elder Shawcroft, is a pretty athletic dude, but he's also an ardent introvert. I'd thought he was angry at me on Days 3 and 4 because he was so quiet all the time, but he was really just keeping to himself. I only found this out because I confronted him about it in an empty classroom.

I told him I was sorry if I'd angered him, but being silent wasn't the way to go about things. Above all, Missionary companions need communication, which is impossible of one of the pair is silent all the time.

He choked up. We spent the next half hour talking about how hard it already was (this was only Day 4), and how he didn't think he could handle two years of being away. The pressure of wanting to be successful for his family was crushing him emotionally. I was amazed how he'd bottled it up for this long.

I told him I was here for him, just as all the missionaries here supported each other, and I told him to take it one day at a time. Don't focus on the mountain of Two Years as a whole, but rather Days, which are much easier to handle. I also compared him to Elsa from Frozen. I told him it wasn't good to just bottle this all up (conceal, don't feel) and not tell anyone. That only creates an emotional explosion down the road. He seemed to agree with this, and since then we've been much more discussive with each other. I hope that was the right thing to do.

Speaking of explosions, I finally got the runs for the first time last night. Mom, your rule was spot on. "Spicy In, Spicy Out." Holy Moly. It honestly felt like Satan propelled himself from my butt. It burned like the flames of the Underworld. I was surprised the toilet didn't catch fire. Fortunately, I lived.

Oh, and the other Elder Campbell pooped himself two nights ago. That sounds funny, but he immediately threw all his garments in the washer. Dude. You gotta rinse the stuff off before you wash it. I'm not using that washer for a few days.

I've gotten all the Elderes in Casa 1 to sing a Hymn in Español every night before bed. It's awesome. I also made a list in that tan notebook Dad gave me of hyms with their spanish number and their english name. All the hymns in spanish are in different part of the hymnbook, so they're harder to find.

We also get a Peso Card while we're here to buy stuff at the Tienda. I bought a laundry bag yesterday because I couldn't find mine. And, my umbrella broke. I have no idea why, but the joints are all rusted even though it's brand new. I dried it after every time I used it, which was every day.

I love you all. I'll be posting pictures to Dropbox a little later today.

I love you Mom, Dad, Alex, and Bree. And Bodhi. I miss all of you. Happy Birthday Dad. I'm sorry I missed your birthday.

Mom, please use your discretion in posting this email to the blog. You may or may not want to cut some things out before you do. {Mom note: I did edit out lots of info but left the funny and important stuff in.}

-Elder Campbell

{Mom note: Since we are in the same time zone as him, we quickly sent him a couple of messages and he replied fairly quickly.}

Hey,
I sent my email at 12:18. My P-Day is every Tuesday from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I do all my week's laundry today. The food is ok, for the most part. I need to avoid the spicy stuff if I don't want flaming bowels.

Also, I just uploaded some pictures to dropbox. Apparently only half of the pictures actually exist, because the memory card was loose when I took the pcitures. So that's all I got right now. I will send more next P-Day.

I love you guys.

-Elder Campbell

The bunk room

Outside the bunk room


One more thing: Elder Chambers (He's in the list I sent) is Spencer Chamber's Cousin. If you guys see Spencer at church, tell him his cousin Austin Chambers is in the same house as me at the MTC.

-Zach