Spencer Michael Henze served a 2 year, full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among the people of Oaxaca, Mexico (pronounced wa-ha-ka). This is the week-by-week account of his service. Elder Henze returned with honor March 21, 2012.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Great & Abominable

Hey everyone!

As always thank you so much for all your emails! if I didn´t reply I´m way sorry. I simply didn´t have time. I guess thats a good problem to have cuz it means a lot of people wrote me this week so i´m way happy!

so this week has been a TON of work. My new companion is named Elder Tolentino and he´s pretty cool. he´s a hard worker. we worked like crazy this week and i felt kinda like the senior companion cuz i had to plan pretty much everything and lead all week cuz he was new to the area.
i´m glad I started paying attention to where everything was when I was with Elder Black. it definitely helped things go smoother. I still don´t know the area like I probably should but I was way lost most of the time when I was with Castellanos. I just kinda followed him around. but now things are much better.

so ya, we worked up a storm and contacted like crazy but didn´t have a whole lot of success. only 2 people let us in to teach them (which are the first two of the mission so i guess thats success) and we have 2 progressing investigators. we had to drop most of the ones me and castellanos had cuz they stopped progressing about 2 weeks before the change ended. nobody showed up to sacrament meeting either. not even half the members. know why? cuz it was raining. So just in case you were wondering if the mormon culture was only in the US, nope. I don´t wanna see what happens when they change church to 9:00! haha its funny.
so i was pretty depressed during church but through prayer I was able to regain hope and motivation for this next week. so i´m feeling pretty good now. our ward is still a mess without a bishop and everyone´s getting more and more lazy. they´re gonna call a new bishop during ward conference and i´m pretty sure I know who its gonna be cuz there´s only one guy in the ward who is bishop material. i feel kinda bad for the guy cuz he´s already been a mission president and a temple president. it´ll be nice to have order in the ward again.

so i´m way short on time but I jsut want to say thank you mom for the packages and everyone who contributed to them! the poster was super awesome! I about died laughing at it all! all the stuff in the packages were awesome! i´ts awesome to have some quick healthy snacks cuz we´re constantly on the run. and thank you Thane for the power bars! they rock!

we had a sweet experience contacting this week. a lady answered the door of one of the houses and we gave our approach and talking and there was a dude in the house who was helping her try to bash with us and eventually when he saw that we were owning her (with calmness) he himself came out.
he was a tall dude and was saying stuff like i´m sorry bro but your prophet joseph smith is a fake and there are no other books than the bible. the bible is it. blah blah blah. the bible is my life. so we showed him a couple scriptures in Isaiah and Ezekiel where it talks about the Book of Mormon, explained what it was and where it came from and pretty much taught the whole lesson 1 right there.
his attitude went from defensive and almost violent to being filled with the spirit. it was so cool to see. It reminded me of a mini version of the King Lamoni story. at the end he was way interested and said our message had touched his heart.

I think this kind of thing would happen a lot more if the people here were actually looking for truth and not to associate themselves with the church of popularity and convenience. its sad that so many people are so fooled by the Great & Abomin... Church.
Its the biggest joke ever when the people say no I´ll never change my religion my parents were catholic and their parents and so on and that they´ll never change for anything. its a joke because if they knew some history they would know that the only reason the catholic church has anything to do with mexico is because the spanish conquered mexico and forced everyone to be catholic. if they didn´t accept Catholicism they were killed.
now if thats not a characteristic of the true church of Jesus Christ I don´t know what is. cus christ went around killing everyone who rejected him right? oh wait... actually thats kinda the oposite of the nature of Christ. haha.
also here in mexico the spanards changed things about the catholic church to adapt to the pegan customs of idols and stuff of the people they conquered to make it more convenient for them to change. its not even the same catholic church that is centered in rome... straight up apostacy.
its quite funny to see people so faithful to something like that. I can see why they are though. its a very easy religion. you can do whatever you want and if you decide to repent you just tell some dude in a funky booth what you did and he says you´re forgiven. just like that. sounds good to me! haha. so there´s my rant on that.
but ya, that guy was very receptive to the spirit and i really wish he wasn't just visiting that house so that we could teach him. he lives in another part of the city so that was a bummer, but the work is the same. I know someday he´ll get baptized and thats what matters.

alright well i´m way out of time! I love you all and will talk to you later!

Elder Spencer Henze

Monday, September 20, 2010

Endure to the End

hey everyone!

this week has been interesting but the highlight of the week is cambios or changes. they are taking place today and i´m getting a new comp named Elder Torentino or something like that. from what i´ve heard he´s pretty legit and a hard worker. Like me Spanish is his second language, but his first is some dialect of Myan. so maybe he´ll teach me some! booyah. he´s gonna arrive at the bus station around 6 or 7 tonight so i´m kickin it with my zone leader Elder Bingham (who´s also from idaho) for the day. it´s been fun. I was a little sad for the changes because me and elder Castellanos just barely started getting to be buddies but its all good. i´m excited to be with someone who will make it easier to be obedient and work hard. it was a constant struggle with my plump friend master C so this should be nice. i´m anxious to see what we can accomplish together.

as far as the work goes we´ve had a wave of bad luck this week. all of our investigators except 1stopped progressing. the main thing they have a problem with is going to church. its just so hard for them for some reason even after we teach about why its important. its quite frustrating and has had me in a bit of a slump so i´ve been working on getting back my confidence and enthusiasm for the work the last few days.

its been tough. really it has. homesickness has been starting to eat at me a bit, stupid things of the world throw my focus more easily than they should, and my confidence in my abilities as a teacher and with spanish has been suffering a bit, but with prayer, fasting and obedience I know I can overcome these things and that they can become strengths like it says in Ether 12:27. I apologize if I sound like a downer, but hey, this is the mission. its not all peaches and cream all the time. in fact i´m finding that most of the time it´t not. but the good times are many and they far make up for the tough times. its all good though. I am learning and growing like never before and developing new skills and knowledge every day and I wouldn´t trade this experience for anything.

anyways! on a lighter note, we DID put a date for someone yesterday! He is the husband of a sister in the ward who has been faithful for a long time and hopefully he´ll follow through and be faithful so that they can be an eternal family. I had the incredible opportunity and generous permission from the president last week to attend the temple with the Pacheco family and see them and another family get sealed. this was especially exciting because when Castellanos and I first arrived in the area and started visiting them they were still active but struggling and had an inactive daughter named Belen. The first thing we felt to teach them was about the temple. we watched mountain of the lord with them and taught them about the incredible blessings of the temple and invited them to prepare to enter for themselves. Sister Pacheco had a major abiding concern that she was not worthy to go to the temple. just because of who she was and that she´s far from perfect, and that the temple was something reserved for the elite and close to perfect members of the church. she felt incapable of going. thats a better word. so we taught them about the requirements for going to the temple and that they could do it and how much it would bless them to go and they agreed to start preparing. well, a few weeks later they told us they had been preparing and were going to have an interview with the bishop soon so we helped them get the interviews set up and even found a generous family who volunteered to buy them temple clothes!

we all first went through the endowment session and then we passed to the sealing room. the ordinance was so powerful. i´ve never before witnessed a live sealing session so that was way cool. then while they were standing in front of the mirrors glimpsing eternity (symbolically of course) together as an eternal family I had this incredible moment where the spirit communicated and confermed to me that that is why i´m here. to help people get started on the path that leads to eternal happiness by helping them reorient their lives, gain deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and help them pass through the gate to that path which is baptism and confirmation of the gift of the holy spirit. then with that start they then soon can go to the temple and recieve the incredible promises of eternity the Father offers us, and if they remain faithful until the end, be recieved into the celestial kingdom of heaven and enjoy the reality of all these promises being an eternal family in the presence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and eternally progress to eventually become as God now is.

That's kinda long, but holy cow! is there anything more important than that?! is there anything more profound that I could be doing? the answer of course is no. I´m so grateful for this opportunity. it really is life-changing. there was another family from the ward there getting endowed and sealed also and they had three generations of live people there who got sealed. during that I had the same spiritual confirmation. It was nothing less than incredible. well that was very deep and personal but it just kinda came out. hopefully we can all keep our eternal perspective and remain faithful until the end.

alrighty guys, well I hope everything goes well for all of you this week and know that I miss you all and love most of you ;) ...ok, i guess all of you. haha. until next week,

Elder Spencer Henze

Monday, September 13, 2010

¿Que onda cuates?

¿Que onda cuates?
hey! that title translates to whats up dudes? or literally what wave dudes. you now know spanish! haha.

well this week has been amazingly awesome. what happened was (i forgot to mention this in my last email) that a tropical storm hit the itzmo which is a coastal area here in Oaxaca and flooded the crap out of it so just before the storm the area authority evacuated all the missionaries in that area and moved them into the city until the flooding and stuff was under control. so we´ve had 2 elders living with us who were evacuated from out there named Elder Black and Elder Jimenez.

we switched companions and i have been with Elder Black who is an American from San José California who has about 20 months in the mission and is a great missionary. He has been a zone leader for about 9 months and has had a lot of success and its been super awesome to be with him for this week. unfortunately he goes back to the Itzmo today at 5 so its all about to come to an end and i´ll be back with mr. ¨I proclaim myself Mr. Awesome¨, Elder Castellanos who picks and chooses which rules he´s gonna follow and makes it about 10 times harder for me to not fall into the same semi-obenience trap. I just want you to know i haven´t ever fallen into that but its a daily battle with him. Its also hard to love him when he thinks he is the best thing to ever happen to the world and all the other things about him that bother me, but somehow i choke it down and we get along. anyway, thats my rant. i'm obviously not too excited about going back with him.

being with Elder Black has been a lot more of what I imagined the mission would be like. im sad its ending, but changes are next week so maybe i´ll go with someone else... but we´ll see.we found a new investigator while working the area castellanos likes to neglect. she was pretty pilas so we´ll see how she keeps her commitments. oh, this is just another manifestation of Castellanos personality. when we were talking about what to do with the 4 of us he decided that we would divide the area in half and he and the lazy mexican companion of Elder Black would work the top part (with all the investigators and most of the members I know) and me and Black would practically reopen the bottom part. at first we were pissed, but I wanted to get to know the bottom part and see if we could get anything going down there with the more powerful companionship. I wanted the challenge so instead of getting mad at Castellanos I just accepted it and we went to work.

even with reopening half of our area me and Elder Black by far had the highest numbers in our ZONE this week. it was awesome. I learned a ton from him. I would venture to say that I learned more from him in a week than I´ve learned from castellanos in a change and a half. literally. so ya, it was awesome. apparently one of the investigators that we temporarily left up in san louise beltran they got a hold of and she is progressing rapidly so we might be baptizing her in a few weeks if im still here so thats exciting. anyways, so i´m gonna hit this week running and hopefully continue working like me and Elder Black did while babysitting my trainer. we´ll see what happens.

oh also the other day while me and Black were going to the offices there was a protest blockade at the biggest intersection in Oaxaca. what happened was the teachers wanted more money so they found ways to hijack buses and semi trucks (with guns, knives, or whatever they wanted) and parked them long ways across all the lanes of traffic. this intersection is HUGE so it caused some major traffic problems. me and black talked about how something like that would never fly in the US but here the police just direct traffic around it. literally they don´t do anything else about it. so that was somewhat scary and interesting. I took pictures so you can see somewhat what it looked like.

well, that's the update so i guess im gonna take off. I love you all and loved reading your emails! I hope you all have a great week and know that I miss you and love you!

love, Elder Henze

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"a collaboration of efforts"

greetings everyone!

so this week has been pretty slow. good but slow. we´ve been working with marcus a lot but cant get him to come to church. its quite frustrating but oh well. he and tene are ready for baptism and want to be baptized but each have their own little things.

we have officially dropped our golden family of 5 because of some difficult curcumstances they have with getting married and having work only on sundays making church impossible to get to without completely changing jobs which he´s not willing to do. ...can´t imagine why... and nobody in the ward wants the responsibility of hauling the kids to church each week so its pointless to baptize them if they aren´t going to attend church. missionary work is a collaboration of efforts. the missionaries can´t do everything themselves. it takes effort from the bishop (which we still dont have) and the ward. the ward is key and our ward is not helping us out. so we´re trying to figure out what to do about that. so we have been contacting a lot trying to get some new investigators but to no avail quite yet. we just have to keep our faith alive and keep looking for those who have been prepared to receive us.

Elder Castellanos had a cool experience the other day when we did divisions with the area Bosque where he was walking with elder Mendoza and a lady came running up to them in a frantic manner and stopped them and asked them who christ was and then a couple other questions then said the reason she was seeking them was because she was in her house and heard a voice say ¨salte, y busca un hombre vestido en blanco y azul¨ which translates to ¨get yourself out (in command form) and search for a man dressed in white and blue¨ so thats what she did. they were both wearing white shirts (obvious) and blue pants. so that was pretty interesting. too bad she´s not in our area, but ya.

at the same time that happened to him i was with elder Higgenbotham (haha) and a drunk guy pulled up to us in his car and poured out his soul about how he needed to talk to us and get closer to god and change his life. this is actually pretty common. drunk people are pretty emotional and when they see that we´re religious representitives they like to do that. so i taught him about the gospel of jesus christ and repentance and stuff and was pretty direct with him because i knew from past experience with these dudes that most of it is just talk. I basically told him directly but as loving as possible: if you really want to change the first step is to quit drinking. pray for help and repent yourself. then explalined about how christ can help us through anything.i could tell he felt like crap. usually missionaries just say like oh, well have faith, repent, blah blah blah, and are all nice about it but i can tell i cut him to the core by straight up calling him out on his problem. its much more effective if you dont dance around it. hopefully he remembers that and decides to change but i´ll never know. i just need to say, i wasn´t mean, just direct. so ya, it wasn´t super exciting but its a story.

thats about the extent of my stories this week. a bit dry but yesterday in church Adrian, the kid i baptized last week bore his testimony in church! during the listening of which i learned that he has a long way to travel to get to the pachecos house so that he can go to church. by bus about 2 hours and a lot of times he doesn´t have any money so he walks. the entire way. he gets up at about 5 am, gets ready, and walks arriving just in time to leave for church. i was blown away. i felt so guilty for all those times i didnt feel like getting up bright and early at 8:00, getting ready in my fancy house, hopping in my fancy car, and driving a whopping 5 minutes or less to church. (note the sarcasm). so probly for the rest of my life if im ever feeling like its too hard to go to church i´ll just think of Adrian. that should get me motivated.

alright well im out of time but i miss you all and hope everything is great. like always :) have a great week! I love you all!


Elder Henze

P.S.- there´s definitely a drunk dude at the computer next to me singing. i wish you could hear this... haha!

Some examples of transportation options in Oaxaca :)