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, March 19, 2012

The Last Melon

This is crazy...
I can hardly believe this is the last time i'll be writing you guys from Oaxaca. I have gotten so used to it here that, much to my surprise, among my feelings of insane excitement, I am experiencing many similar feelings to those I had when I was leaving home to come out here...
Its kinda like when someone you love dies in the aspect that even though it's just over a day away I still can't completely comprehend it. I've been reflecting a lot this week on my mission and I have to say that all in all I'm pretty darn happy with how it all turned out. Was I perfect? Not even close, but I can honestly say I gave it my best shot. I did what I was able to and I feel satisfied with it. 
Yesterday in stake conference my feelings were confirmed when the mission president gave his talk and specially mentioned Elder Navarro and I as being stellar missionaries. I never in a million years imagined that that would ever happen. It was awesome. Not so much for the selfish aspect of being publicly recognized, but more because my mission president felt that way so strongly that it was made manifest in that way. He, being my priesthood leader, judge in Israel, and someone who knows more intimately about my mission than any other being save it be Jesus Christ himself said those things about me. It was the highest compliment I could have received. So that was way cool for me :) 
It was really surreal to say goodbye to the friends I've made here and some of the people I've baptized. It's funny how attached you can get to people in such a short amount of time when you're brothers and sisters in the gospel. Especially when you've had the opportunity to watch them grow and mature and have been able to be a part of it. 
I'm truly going to miss Oaxaca. This has come as a bit of a surprise to me because there have been many moments that I have hated it. haha. but even the bad times appear to me now as fond memories. The things that I lived here will forever live in my soul. 
For any of you who might read this and are contemplating going on a mission (guys) I strongly urge you to go. I can honestly say that this has been the best experience of my life. One I would not trade for anything. It's hard and it tests you to your limits, but it gives you experience that is simply priceless which truly are several of the secrets to life. It also gives you a deep appreciation for how good we have it in our little corner of the world. There's nothing more rewarding than to be able to serve among a people who truly need you. To be able to provide them with things that are going to help them throughout their entire lives. To truly be an earthly angel of the Lord. ...I can't completely describe it, but employing my very advanced vocabulary, it's awesome.
This week was incredible. I'll have to tell you all the details when I get home because there's lots and I'm pretty sure I have the majority of them recorded in my journal. Or at least while reading what I did write I'll hopefully remember the rest. 
The main things that happened were first, Elder Navarro came to the city from the coast on Friday to be able to go with me to the temple on Saturday morning to accompany a convert family from Ocotlán through the temple to receive their endowment and to be sealed together as an eternal family. I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything more powerful than those couple of hours. There is no experience sweeter than to be able to see a family you taught and helped receive the gospel enduring to the end and making it to the temple to receive the incredible blessings God has prepared for each of us. It was a day full of pure spirit, awesome, more spirit, some magic, and most of all rejoycing! I shed several tears during the sealing ordinance. I had never been part of a live sealing ordinance before. It's soo powerful. Not only did I get to go, but Elder Navarro and I were chosen by the family to be the two witnesses to the ordinance and as such, I, along with Elder Navarro, got to sign their official certificate of their Eternal Marriage. It was just way too cool...
Yesterday was a day full of baptisms! First thing in the morning at 9:00 am was the baptism of our investigator (soccer player) José Luis!!! It went super well. We sang him a special musical number and everything. His girlfriend Raquel came all the way from Veracruz to be a part of it. Everything worked out perfectly. I was once again filled with rejoycing! haha.
Later that same day I had the opportunity to baptize a lady named Olíva  (Olive) who is a convert from the ward  "Fortín." which is the area of El Centro. This happened similarly to how it happened several weeks before with Cecilia in that I had the opportunity to interview her and as always the last question is "who would you like to baptize you? to which she replied, "Can any one of you guys do it?" to which I replied, "Sí" to which she replied, "Could you do it?"
So now you know how that went down.
It was a very cool experience to say the least. Even cooler than planned in fact because I forgot to bring an extra change of underclothes!!! :O So I just wrang out the ones I had as best I could and wore them. ...Like a BOSS!! haha.
They dried surprisingly fast though.
In total we had SEVEN baptisms this week in the zone! That's very above average for this zone so I'm just as thrilled as can be!

I know that none of this apparent good fortune is coincidence. God always blesses us with his tender mercies when we do his will. Even if we don't do it perfectly. He always looks on the heart and takes everything into account. I know that these incredible blessings all came from him and that just gives me one more reason to praise his name on high.
God lives. I know it without a doubt.
Even though I am going to miss this place and these people enormosly, I am extremely excited to come home and be with you all again for the first time in TWO YEARS!!!! I love you all immensely and will see you on Wednesday!!!
Elder Spencer Henze
Misión México Oaxaca
17 Marzo 2010 - 21 Marzo 2012
Misión Cumplida.
1.) Me recording the mission hymn on my iPod Touch using the new mobile garageband app for iPad and iPod touch (oh yeah...)
2.) The Board of missionaries in the offices. If you look you can see me right there at the top ready to go home.
3.) Elder Navarro and I with the Familia Padilla Sánchez after the sealing.
4.) The baptism of José Luis
5.) The baptism of Olíva
Recording: The official recording I made of the Hymn for La Misión México Oaxaca.

Monday, March 12, 2012

8 Days and Counting...

Wow, its kind of crazy to think that this is the second to last time that I will write you all from the mission...
Dang, I've gotta say the weirdness is starting to kick in. I read Dad's email that had almost to the hour when my release date is going to be and a picture of the temple color-in thingy and saw how many days I had left and well... might have cried a little bit.
It hit me really hard that these are the last few days I have left to be a set apart, full-time missionary here in Oaxaca.
I have really wanted to be teaching lots of people this week and just busting it out but turns out this week was kinda slow. José luis had to travel to another state to play in a soccer game so we couldn't teach him at all. And pretty much all of our other appointments fell through... That leaves just contacting, which I pretty much do not like at all. We've already contacted quite a bit with absolutely no success so that doesn't really make me want to do it anymore. But I guess it's a good test of my love for the people seeing as how I won't be able to baptize anyone new if it is that we were to find someone.
However! there is hope!
ok get this,
this week we've been focusing on a 10yr old girl who isn't baptized yet so that belongs to the mission. She hasn't been baptized because she was waiting until her bum dad to came to visit from the united states for the first time in 10 years before she would get baptized. We went over to her house and convinced her mom that that's redic and that she shouldn't deny her daughter blessings anymore by waiting for that fool to find a chance to break away from his second family to be able to buzz down here which I honestly doubt he will do anyway. SO tomorrow we are going over with the bishop to get everything set up for Saturday! booyah.
José Luis was going to get baptized on April 1st because that was when his [not] girlfriend was going to be able to come and he really wanted her to be there. Well we got in contact with the [not] girlfriend and told her "Fool, get down here this weekend yo!" and she was like, "ok." So I'm most likely going to get to baptize José Luis this Saturday!!!! Pray for him if you could so that he will be able to be ready!
well, i'm not going to lie. At this point in the mission I am on a roller coaster of emotions. Everything from being SUPER excited for what is to come with seeing everyone and working and making money again, to wanting to explode this last week and work till i'm blue in the face, to feeling exhausted and battling mission death, to being sad about the i'm going to leave behind here, to being stoked to have modern conveniences again and not have to battle like crazy to do simple stuff, to who knows what!!!
dizzy yet? I am.
Today something cool happened.
we played basketball as a zone this morning because zone basketball is awesome, and afterwards we headed over to the Violetas chappel to have a little cookout with the zone when they sent Elder Medina (who's leaving the same day as me) and I to the store just up the road. I knew what was up because I'm a detective and my comp knows that so he just told me what was up from the beginning, but Medina didn't. What am I talking about? HOLD ON! I'm getting to it.
Turns out that some the members of the ward Violetas were planning a surprize going away party for Elder Medina and I! 
So we go to Soriana (a grocery store) to give them a little time to set up, then we headed over to the church and when we got there, "SURPRIZE!!!!"
I was a little nervous because there was a clown there. Clowns freak me out in the first place but this time I was mostly afraid he was going to do something inappropriate. Turns out he kept it rated PG. Quite a relief because I didn't want to have to crash my own going away party!
I got my face painted too! Not usually a fan of that but they were super hero designs so...
Thanks for all your love, prayers, emails, and support! I love you all!
-Elder Spencer Henze
1. Me and Medina in the Hot Seat
2. ...obvious
3. The Zone and the clown
4. my canadian brotha Elder Bridgeraj (Jacob Henze signed this flag too in the MTC!)
5. The Super Heros

6. Cake faced...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Elder Scott

What's up everybody?! I'm doing just magically here in Oaxaca enjoying my last two weeks before I'm back in the Gem State! (where we don't make piñatas that look like people and then bash in their face like in Juar-éz --Napoleon D.)
So I´ve got some sweet news from this week. First of all let me go ahead and explain the best thing that happened!
Saturday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn. Before actually. 4:30 am to be exact :) why might you ask? well, just for a nice calm everyday conference with Elder Richard G. Scott from the quorum of the 12 apostles!!!!!
Turns out he wasn´t the only GA there either. Accompanying him was a member of the presidency of the first quorum of the seventy who i´m pretty sure spoke in general conference this past October. His name is Elder Clayton. He´s cool and to me what made him even cooler is that he had an iPad. Booyah. He´s the second General Authority that i´ve met that uses one.
The conference was sick. We started off by shaking his hand. When we all had sat down and before the opening prayer Elder Scott goes up to the pulpit very seriously and everyone gets real tense like, "oh crap, he´s gonna planch us!" But then he said the following words. "In the church it is very important to be allegre (happy) and smile. You all are very serious, so i´m going to tell you a joke!" he then told a joke about a dog that I didn´t quite understand but just the fact that he told a joke like that was hilarious! After the opening prayer we sang our song in our little choir. We did decently. I was slightly afraid my voice was going to crack because after having two-and-a-half hour long practices every day that week my voice was pretty much at the edge of being shot. It went alright though. In fact Elder Clayton called us "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of Oaxaca!" and that we sounded almost professional. I took this as a high compliment :)
We did some scenarios (I almost volunteered but chickened out) and turns out they went super easy on the guys that went up there. I was sitting there in my seat like "Dang I could have totally gone up there and been fine!" but oh well. Later on Elder Clayton gave a sweet talk about how The Book of Mormon is a map for our lives and if we´ll just "look at it," figuratively speaking, we´ll be able to avoid a lot of very big and avoidable problems. Towards the end Elder Scott took questions and finished with the most powerful testimony of Christ I have heard in my entire life. It strengthened my testimony so much. There is nothing like hearing an apostle bear his witness using his apostolic keys. I honestly think the only way to have a more powerful witness of Christ is to see him personally...
At the end of the first part we took a picture as a mission (because everyone in the mission was there) and had some food. After the food it was time for me to present the little video I had made for the mission. To my surprise the technical equipment that was there and set up originally was all gone when I got back from eating.
I frantically started busting out the backup equipment I had gathered and prepared from days earlier to be able to present the video without causing an inconvenient delay in the program. It was the most miraculous thing I´ve pulled off in some time. I hadn´t checked the cables or anything but everything turned out working perfectly.
Everybody seemed to love the video and afterwards when Hna. Leyva (pres´s wife) accredited me for being the maker of it I got a long loud applause. I felt so awesome!!!! afterward several people came up to me complimenting me on the video and asking if I could pass it to them. So that was pretty awesome for me :) I was way pumped that I got to put that skill to use in the mission. I never in my life thought i´d have the opportunity. Hna. Leyva said she was going to upload it to the mission Facebook page if you want to see it. just sign into Facebook and search "Tierra de Milagros" and it should be pretty easy to find.
you´ll also find over a hundred pictures from the conference there (supposedly).
Among other news, that division II soccer player we started teaching last week now has a baptismal date for the first of April! I won´t be here for it, but as long as he gets baptized I´m cool with that. We never found the other dude...
Oh, one more cool thing is that Hna. Leyva composed a mission hymn! It is now the official hymn of the Mission Mexico Oaxaca and she asked me to make the official recording of it and be a part of the small group that sings it. This recording will be the standard to teach this hymn to all the missionaries that come to this mission for years. So that´s quite the honor for me and gives me another cool project to work on to help me not think so much about how soon I´ll be home!
I made a rough recording with my iPod the last time I was over at the mission home with Elder Lund which I´ve attached to show you what it sounds like more or less. It´s me and him singing. Its got mistakes but it´ll give you the gist. also attached is a recording of the song we sang for Elder Scott. This recording is from a practice we did earlier on in the week so it sounded better when we actually sang it for Elder Scott but this too will give you the all too famous, gist. ;)
I love you guys and am really looking forward to seeing you all again for the first time in over 2 years in two weeks!!! thanks for stickin´ with me to the end on here. And a huge thanks to Jamie for keeping this sick blog. YOU ROCK JAM!!!!!!
-Elder Spencer Henze
1.) Elder Lund the day that we were in the mission home making the video and the recording
2.) Elder Wittwer and I after the conference. I was so busy with everything after the conference that this is the only picture I took. There´s tons on the Facebook page though.