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.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Semana Santa

Hey everyone!
as we all know this week is Easter week or as they call it here "Semana Santa" and that means everyone´s thinking about the atonement!!! woohoo!!!! I gave a big old lesson on the atonement in sunday school yesterday. everyone was in awe because I explained some finer details that I don´t think they had heard before and I think some of them at least gained a greater understanding and appreciation for what it is that Christ really did for us. it was cool. Later on that day (yesterday) me and my companion were ambushed by a group of Drunk mexis who wanted to contend. We did all we could to avoid them but they didn´t give us much choice. So I just kept a big smile on my face and stayed very calm and sure of my position and peacefully destroyed their false Ideas about the deeper points of existence. One of the dudes tried to planch me (planch means to iron in English so you can derive the meaning. "to straighten out" "to correct by means of a viable source leaving the other person corrected with nothing to say) well. one of the dudes tried to planch me and explain to me that there was no God using the theory of "science." well, I just listened to what he had to say calmly and patiently and afterward corrected him on the concepts of science he was attempting to use and showing him how that example actually was pretty good proof that God existed, and then giving him my own example of a theory I derived while studying some science over a two year period in a university that basically explains the relationship between God and "Science" and how the two coexist perfectly and how science is actually a powerful testimony of God. He claimed to know a bit about science so I gave him a couple other more specific examples from the human body and chemistry concepts to back up my case as well as a scripture . my examples obviously went deeper than he could comprehend and the conversation left him dumbfounded. He had nothing to say but "Hmm... tiene razon..." which means basically, "hmm, you´re right..." or "ah... that makes sense..."
Furthermore, due to the fact that I remained completely calm and sure and showing love toward him with my replies I found out that He´s actually a member of the church! Inactive of course, but I was able to establish a friendship with him and he really wanted us to visit him and his family this week so we´re going to! I would really like to be the tool God is able to use to bring this guy back to the church. that would be sweet because at the beginning of the conversation he was way contentious and athiest but at the end he had developed a new "hunger" we can say for faith and was very submissive like a kid almost. very interesting and very cool.
well, things are going well here in Ocotlan with some tips from Dad, the mission and what I´m learning by the spirit out here its starting to finally come together. Thats super exciting for me because it means that these last 11 months are going to rock!
me and my companion are having a good time together. He´s cool and we have a TON more in common than me and my first greenie did. holy cow. my friend elder outsen from the MTC is with my first "Kid" right now and is struggling to establish a friendship with him deeper than just being mission comps. he´s a great person, just kinda hard to figure out. you gotta just learn how to coexist with him and everything goes well. haha.
anyway. like I said, things are good out here in Ocotlan. We´re getting it stirred up out here after a long "sleep." Me and Elder Ortega started the fire and we´re just working on spreading it now. The members seem to really be taking to me now which is a HUGE booyah for me. Something I´ve always wanted but its been tough. still no references but we´re working on that.
This week went really good. We put a baptismal date for the 18th of May and almost put one for the first of may on saturday. sooooo close. I think we just haven´t quite found her true doubt yet but man we´re close. other than that the work continues. finding, teaching, sifting, fasting, praying, studying, you know the drill. I like what one Dad´s notes said in an email he sent me recently. something to the effect of: "its good to get moved to a "Dead Town" because thats easy to turn around." Ocotlan is one of the "Dead Towns" of the mission but reading that pricked my soul like "HEY, YOU´RE RIGHT!!!" so all we have to do is just keep our shoulder to the wheel and we have the unique opportunity to help this little branch grow to eventually become a full on ward, and later a stake in some near future. The thought is exciting. and whats more exciting is that I´m in the position to help get it all rolling.
Thank you all for your love and support! I love and miss all of you and look forward to being able to talk to you on the 10th of May!!!
Elder Spencer Henze

a sick rainbow and my distracted companion

the face of jesus that appeared in the dust on the floor after teaching the restoration
with an investigator

me racing some mexi kids in an epic footrace

me and my kid

Me with my black sheep

Monday, April 18, 2011


Gooooood Afternoon!

Just want to start off by letting you all know that my health is back up to where it should be. Not perfect yet, but considering what I eat on a regular basis and the standard of cleanliness, I`m doing great :) Today is a special day because its changes day again! so heres the update. my companion went to a place called Nochixtlan which is in the mountains and i`m going to stay in Ocotlán for at least another change. For my companion they are sending me another new missionary to train. His name is Elder Torrez and is mexican. I haven`t met him yet because he just got here today and the president has to do his run down with all the noobs first so i`ve been kickin it here in xoxocotlán (like hoho-coat-lan) which is here in the city with the zone leaders waiting for him. its been a pretty interesting p-day haha. I left Ocotlán last night around 7:30pm and arrived at the bus station, which is like the central hub for changes, and kicked it there until about 12:45am helping the Zone Leaders get everyone on and off the buses to their new areas. it was pretty intense. During the which I got to accompany some of the new American arrivals back to the offices from the bus station and talk with them a bit. there were about 10 others at the offices just chillin there and when we got there and walked in it was like when sid started up the claw in the toy machine with the little green dudes on toy story 1. "
OOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo....." they all instantly fixed their attention on us and after a few seconds one by one they all took their turns approaching me and Elder Skaggs and attempting to make conversation with us in Spanish. I could hardly understand anything they were saying... it reminded me of how I was back in the day :) their enthusiasm for the language was impressive, but I was getting really confused about what language to speak to them. so to save time I just answered in pure English. The struggle was that if I answered in Spanish, they probably wouldn´t understand and they might feel bad about themselves and i´d have to repeat myself and say it in English anyways. and if I answered in English then I would be the one to look stupid and the conversation would go a lot smoother. so I chose the latter. It was funny though. they´re so... new! haha. I like to see the new dudes and think about how they are now and then think about how in such a short amount of time they`ll be accomplishing great things out here. The growth rate is insane and seeing the noobs reminds me of that.

anyways, This week we decided to go the extra mile to try to win the confidence of Domingo. (the dad of the family we were going to baptize at the beginning of the change but dropped for awhile due to his hostile reaction when we taught the lesson of the restoration to him and his family) When I received council from the president and about 2 other people in separate occasions of talking to them about this family in particular and having them all tell me that most likely the problem was that the husband (Domingo) felt a lack of confidence with us because we were teaching his wife and kids while he was out of the state working. so we decided to give it another fair shot with them. Him especially. we visited on Tuesday and won an argument with him about going to church and then offered to come on Wednesday to help him dig his well to help him seeing as how he needed the help and was sick with a stomach infection.

well, Wednesday morning at 7:00am sharp we arrived at his house with our work clothes on and ready to work. I was first to be lowered into the already about 25ft deep hole using just a rope (in the which i tied a bowline knot I learned in scouts to make a loop harness which worked perfectly i might add). turns out the bottom of the well was pure rock. no lie. pure, solid, gray, rock. I was down there with a pick and a mini sledge hammer for over an hour and a half straight chizzling away at the rock. after I couldn`t lift the hammer anymore I had them pull me up and i had managed to take out about one bucketload of rock chippings. hardly any help at all but man was I dead afterward. my comp made fun of me for how little i got out and so after a breakfast of boiled pumpkin and beans he was lowered into the well and gave it a shot while I helped Domingo stack a bunch of blocks. (its noteworthy to add that while i was chizzling away down there my companion was chatting away doing nothing) and after about the same amount of time he got out about half of what I did. haha. it was definitely an experience. I don`t think i`ve ever sweated so much in my life.

on saturday we went back and taught him about the sabbath day commandment and invited him as powerfully as I knew how to church. I also gave him a tie of mine as part of the invitation and tied it for him and everything.
well, turns out he didn´t go. but at least I can say I tried my best. we´re gonna keep visiting them every once in a while, but sadly I`m not sure what else I can do for them... their agency is a factor I can`t control.

the rest of the last week of the change was way good. we found a bunch of new people to teach through the new convert family who is quickly becoming the strength of the branch. they´re awesome. So me and my new "kid" have some work waiting for us already and since he`ll be much more willing to work with me than the last comp was we should be able to bust it out this change. Thats the goal anyways. I`m officially teaching the English classes. I have 4 official students already and plan to make fliers and pass them out to the whole pueblo so shortly we should have lots more. the best part is that NONE of the 4 are members :D booyah.

I hope all is well with everyone back home! As always thank you so much for your love and support with your prayers, your letters and your positive thoughts towards me and what i`m doing out here. It helps more than I could ever tell you and the most important part is that through helping me you are personally helping further the work of the Lord in this little corner of the vineyard. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Elder Spencer Henze

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Howdy Y´all! a big fat greetin´ from TEXAS!!!!
alright its true I´m not in Texas, but I am sporting a super awesome cowboy hat and many people have told me I look like a Texano or Texan. [DID YOU KNOW THAT...? (turns out "Texas" are spanish tiles for roofing. the authentic ones though) ...NOW YOU KNOW!!] Don´t worry my friends who might be a little faricyish and say "NOOOO YOU CANT WEAR A COWBOY HAT ON THE MISSION!!!!!" let your souls rest easy. on wednesday the president gave us permission to wear anything from baseball caps to sombreros to help protect us from the hot sun while its super hot like this because lots of people are getting sick. so I cruised on over to the tiangis (each friday they cover the streets in "El Centro" with a roof of tarps suspended from building to building supported with polyester ropes and crude wooden poles and everyone from the surrounding pueblos comes and sets up a station where they sell whatever good it is they sell. its nuts. you can´t even recognize the streets once you enter. you literally have to count the blocks to find your way around through there.) on friday and scored myself a sombrero!!! its so nice to have to block the burning rays of the sun. I look like an idiot, but its fun :)
well, this week was a bit lame to tell the truth. on tuesday I ate a papaya that tasted a little weird, but me being new to the papaya world thought maybe it was just another type of papaya and seeing as how it cost me precious money I ate it anyway :) about an hour later I started feeling really sick. I went to the doc on Wednesday and he hooked me up with some pills that help a lot. I just had a stomach infection and something that felt just like a fever with hot and cold flashes, body aches, and the works. never threw up though! victory. I still went out and worked each afternoon the most I could though except for Thursday. Thursday sucked. but I feel much better today. my energy still doesn´t last very long but at least I don´t feel like a dead person. Seriously there were a couple days where I was walking around delirious. I could not think straight to save my life. for instance one night I tried to send a text message to my DL (about 10 words) and it took me like 10 minutes and it still didn´t end up making much sense. haha :)
along with all that I had a constant headache.
I did have a victory though! I finally got my companion to stop flirting with girls on the phone and in text messages!!!! that's a huge feat considering the fact that he had to have a special change a little while ago from one side of the mission to the other because he couldn´t control himself with a girl... he would like tickle her and all sorts of inappropriate crap aside from super flirting and sharing love notes. so even if we don´t baptize anyone this change thats a sufficient success for me. nobody´s been able to accomplish that with him so far. And whats even better is that he doesn´t hate me! in fact we´re good friends! I secreted it :) along with lots of help from the Lord of course. can´t steal that credit. you might ask, "why didn´t you just not allow him to use the phone?" That was strategy number 1 believe it or not. ha. didn´t work though. he would still just steal the phone whenever I wasn´t looking and sneak off messages or calls and it started causing irritation from both sides in the companionship. his because he wanted to talk to girls and saw me as a rebellious teenager sees a parent who forbids an action. as we all know it just causes irritation on the part of the teenager and causes them to want to do it more just to spite the parent. same thing here, and obviously on my side because i´m responsible for him and he´s doing something stupid, like the parent in the analogy, and I only have his well being in mind but he´s resisting and resisting and the harder I would try the more resistance I would receive. needless to say, frustrating. so i needed a new approach.
I hit my knees and asked for help and the Lord immediately started instructing me. not with words, more with understanding of what I needed to do.
the first thing that came to my mind is to show more love toward him and to be an example. I had a friend who is a girl from my first area that I would talk to every once in a while that he knew about and even though the situation with her was very different from the situations he was involved in, he still saw it as justification. so the first thing I did was I completely cut all communication with her. and I told him about it. without saying anything more to him about his problem, I explained to him that I didn´t feel right talking to that girl while in the mission even though she was just a friend and that I wasn´t going to talk to her again and I asked for his help to not let me (not that I needed that, but just so it wasn´t sooo obvious what I was doing) and he agreed.
Later I succeeded in not talking to her and pointed it out to him every once in a while how long it had been and how much better I felt. subliminal messaging :) I also continued being his buddy and winning his confidence.
I also stopped prohibiting him from using the phone and only mildly monitored his phone usage to make sure there was nothing really inappropriate going on. I did, however, consistently make comments and communicate in every way I could without saying anything he could justifiably be angry about (mostly just giving off the strongest negative spiritual vibes I could) every time he would use the phone to flirt. this part required a TON of patience because I didn´t know when or if he would get it and stop doing it by his own will (which was the goal). I just kept listening to the spirit when I´d get the promptings to just sit tight and keep doing what I was doing. Showing love for him whenever he wouldn´t be doing that, being his friend, and showing my strong disapproval when he would do it. The Lord blessed me with a TON of patience and helped me to have faith to not worry much about the when and just worry about loving him and being consistent.
well, finally just Saturday morning he approached me and volunteered this phrase, "Elder Henze, Ya no voy a musear con las chicas. ni por teléfono ni por mensajear." translation: "Elder Henze, I´m not going to flirt with girls anymore. not on the phone nor by texting." I hardly believed it when I heard it. I told him that was AWESOME and how happy I was that he´d made that decision and all that and the best part is that so far he´s stuck to it!!! :D I´m so happy. Thats probably the biggest success of the change so far. he was literally the most flirty missionary in the mission before being my comp. It´s literally his only reputation and I really think this lesson he´s learned could help him to be less of a creeper when he gets home in 6 months and hopefully the start of a new direction in that aspect that will lead to fidelity in his marriage whenever that happens. could be a long shot, but i like to keep the faith that its not. I have noticed big changes already and the best part is that because I followed the Lord´s council on how to handle the situation, he was able to make these changes internally by his own will. lasting changes instead of just putting up with me until we got changes and then returning right back to the same thing when I was gone. The phrase comes to mind "give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."
Ok everybody I´m out of time for today but here´s some pics from this week! I love and miss you all and as always thank you so much for all your prayers and support!!!!
Elder Spencer Henze

Monday, April 4, 2011


Hey Everybody!
This was a pretty chill week I must say. Kinda like when I used to have ¨half days¨ in school. This was like a half week cuz we left Ocotlan on Saturday morning at about 10 am to make the hour long sojourn to the magnificent city of Oaxaca so that we could watch conference. As always it was sick to be able to see all my missionary buddies and chill with them, along with some of the many members I was able to meet while serving in the city. It was like a mission reunion! haha. see, the thing is that here nobody gets BYU television here (believe it or not...) so they all have to congregate in their respective stake centers to watch. so it was a party. This time I didn´t have the opportunity to watch it in English which is kind of a bummer cuz the translators sound like robots and its not nearly as powerful. luckily though, I can now understand everything they say so it still works. It was kind of interesting because I was having trouble switching between languages to take notes so I just took all my notes in Spanish. I didn´t know I could do that until this week seeing as how even in English they talk so fast sometimes its tough to take good notes. Saturdays sessions were awesome. the two hours between sessions was a party. we went to burger king in El Centro. Booyah. I might have put on the cardboard crown while eating... then that night we slept in the offices that are located about a half mile from the stake center we belong to. when we got there the assistants were on divisions and the assistant that showed up to let us in didn´t have the keys. haha. so we ditched our stuff in a safe place and cruised on into chedraui (Mexico´s walmart) and scored ourselves some fried chicken. after that I started to develop a king size headache. well, that headache later wouldn´t let me sleep so I took me an Excedrin. I hesitated to do that seeing as how each pill has 65 mg of caffeine, but i figured, "well, cant sleep anyways." and took it. well, just like I thought, the caffeine took effect and after talking to a couple of the other guys who were dealing with stomach problems that weren´t allowing them to sleep either for about an hour I decided to try to sleep again. This time I got a magnificent idea. "Doctrine and Covenants!!!" so I whipped out my triple and in less than 3 sections I was sound asleep :) so powerful...
Next Day... (law and order chung chung)
The morning sessions went super well. Then afterwards we partied even more than the day before because each ward or branch separated into a different room and they had food arrangements for each one. we got to eat steamed vegetables with cheese and rice. YUM! haha. it was actually not too bad. and for dessert we had carrot shavings and cream with raisins! I also met a cool sister from Australia that married a dude from here and has been living here off and on for about 7 years. it was kinda cool to hear an Australian accent.
the last session was legit. I don´t really remember which session it was on Sunday but it was the intense one where the dude was talking about being rather than just doing. (which hit me super powerfully as a sort of revelation as another testimony about what the mission really is) and when he was talking about how we need to hate the sin and not the sinner and how we should never assign negative things to our kids as discipline he was giving examples as calling them stupid, bad, rebellious, etc. well, the funny thing is that the word "stupid" in Spanish is "estupido" and its a moderately strong swear word... now normally when the word is said in general conference or anything that is being translated into Spanish from the church, the translator uses the non offensive word "tonto." well, this time I guess this translator forgot and he threw it right out there. Directly following the which everyone who was gathered in the chapel gave an audible gasp. I was silently laughing :)
then at the end I don´t know if you saw, but just before they turned off the cameras while everyone was getting up to leave after the closing prayer a dude who looked kinda like Ali's friend cordin stood up, turned around and gave a big dumb smile taking up most of the screen. I laughed.
also in that session a dude spoke who had a Mexican accent, don't know if you remember but his name is Elder Benjamin De Oyos from the 70. well, he recently visited my mission and gave us a zone conference back in September or so. I got to shake his hand and participate in a training with him. it was sweet. he´s way cool. I saw him up there and was like "hey, there he is!" haha. just an interesting little tidbit for you :)
well, after conference we came home exhausted and today was a nice relaxing P day. we watched the RM in the prayer house :) I also pounded a v8 today. so, naturally it was a good day. AND i´ve officially decided to change my diet seeing as how im getting kinda fat but loosing body mass at the same time (hows that possible? i´ll let you know when I figure it out) but I perused the fruit and vegetable section today and picked myself up some humble little morsels of joy including apples, oranges, papaya, and more to see if I cant eat a little healthier. I´m excited to see what kind of positive effect it has on my mission :)
well my dear friends and family, I finally conclude this message of awesomeness. I wish you all the best this week and hope you are all able to be blessed by putting into practice the "upgrades" (speaking video game language) we scored in conference. and guess what? I´VE ONLY GOT ONE MORE GENERAL CONFERENCE LEFT IN THE MISSION Y´ALL!!! that's a weird thought. alright. PEACE!!!
Elder Spencer Henze
me being the virgin of Guadalupe

me on the roof of the prayer house

the sunset from the roof of our prayer house

Sunday, April 3, 2011


It´s a beautiful Pday in Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca with partly cloudy skies and a current temperature of about 83 degrees...
well guys, this past week went pretty well! not a whole ton to report, just a lot of contacting and looking for new investigators, working with some super pilas new converts, and putting together some programs for the branch! We decided that we´re going to use the Tuesday night FHE´s to train the priesthood on how to do their home teaching and the sisters on how to do their visits.
SIDENOTE: the key to retention in the church is friend-shipping! a ward that does their home and visiting teaching thrives every time. also the bishop plays a large role with his visits. just a little somethin I´ve learned out here.
Furthermore my companion and I made a ballin calender for the branch members to sign up to do a sweet FHE in their house with us and we are going to contact all their neighbors and invite them to the FHE and see what we can rustle up wtih that! also we´re going to invite them to fast as part of it I think. according to their willingness to do it. Dad, you´d be proud of the calender. I did everything by hand and measured the lines all out using math and rulers and everything! haha. not quite a drafting project, but hey I can say I learned by watching you how to do a tiny bit of that kind of thing. It turned out perfectly! I like math :) its always so reliable. wow, I sound like a geek! I am actually pretty pumped to go back to school after the mish. I miss learning about that kind of stuff.
ALSO, we´re gonna start doing English classes out here to try to rummage up some more investigators! Lots of people have asked us if we are going to do it so to me it looks like it should be much more successful here than it was in Antequera where the interest is higher and the opportunity of learning English much lower. so I´m excited to see what comes from that :)
We´ve been focusing more on contacting families as of late as a council from the prez. Its a lot more intimidating for some reason, but more effective i´ve found. I think its more intimidating cuz the dad lots of times is in male turkey prance mode with his family and is very gruff and onry at first with us to try to look like the boss in front of his family. but its just a shell.
so this week we were contacting on tuesday i believe and an old lady answers one of the doors and says "what do you want?" quite rudely. I then proceeded to give the door approach and she, almost yelling this time, shouts, "What do you want?!" so I was like... "uh... I´m trying to tell you..." turning to my comp giving him the "your turn" gesture. well, as he started talking she cut him off after about .5 seconds and said "we´ll see you here on Saturday at 4:00pm!" and terminated the interaction by slamming the metal door. I looked over at my companion and said "well, we got the return appointment." and we both laughed. we looked up at the sign above the door that we´d missed before knocking that said "Centro de Catequismo" basically means catholic school. I then proceeded to note the appointment in the planner with much enthusiasm as my comp asked me "are we really going to go?" and I said "Sí!" well, two days later (on Thursday) we had interviews and my comp mentioned to the prez the experience and the prez said "GO!!! what a marvelous opportunity!" so come Saturday we went :) I was super nervous but marched right over there. they let us in and after about 5 minutes of everyone staring at us like "what the heck are they doing here?" I found someone who looked important and introduced myself and my companion and he asked what we were doing there so I explained to him the situation and he directed us to a small group of niños and a half gay looking dude who was the teacher who looked to be about 23ish. He instantly got very nervous and was talking to us like we were idiots but invited us to participate in the class after telling him who had invited us (that lady never showed up). so at the beginning he gave me the floor to share with them a bit about what we do so I started out with explaining to them that we preach the doctrine of Christ and after about 10 seconds I opened my bible to show them a scripture as part of the overview and the guy stops me and says "we haven´t gotten there yet. we´re just starting the new testament today (because the scripture was in James) and he continued talking cutting me off and proceeding with his lesson. He gave me about 30 whole seconds to talk. so that was pretty funny. the dude´s voice was cracking and everything cuz he was so scared that we were going to make him look like an idiot. I just sat there with a pleasant smile as he jumped around from topic to topic without direction. he went from Elijah to some apostasy books that supposedly were supposed to come in the bible, to Abraham, to job, to a random story about a train, to who knows what else. After 20 minutes or so it was "prayer hour" so all the little niños went over and participated in some apostasy saying the recited sermon on the mount example of prayer that Jesus gave while we chilled in the back reviewing our plans. then we left. it was quite interesting :)
well, thats about all i´ve got for you this week. Keep the faith my dear friends and family!!!! I love you all :)
Elder Spencer Henze

me and my comp riding on a transport truck chuck norris style back to Ocotlan from a little pueblo where we had our district meeting.