Using Pesos and a Baby Snake in the Apartment

I’ll post the e-mails Grant’s dad and I both got again. Dads first, where Grant talks about our anniversary and a quick cruise we are about to take; one of the stops is Ensenada Mexico. There is a blowhole (La Bufadora) there that we visited with the kids when we took them on this cruise just before Grant’s mission. To get to the blowhole though you have to run the half mile long gauntlet of very pushy vendors. Grant refers to this and to the restaurants he’s been visiting. Including one that accepts Pesos. I’m amazed that even though he is in the US he is so immersed in the Mexican Culture.

“Well Happy Anniversary to you and to Mom! I hope you enjoy the cruise, are you planning to go to that rock that shoots water up again? Past all of the people with Spanglish? I have discovered how blunt the Hispanic people are, it is something Spanish missionaries in Texas are discovering and using in return.

When we went to Fuddruckers it was because of several different reasons, we were on an exchange, it was me and the zone leader Elder Haney, two, we had just dropped off the American Sign Language elders at a car dealership to pick up their new Chevy Malibu, third, we were hungry and it was nearby. I just realized that you found out about Fuddruckers by looking at my bank account, hahaha, maybe if i keep spending from there you can keep track of my entire mission. I may use it again this week, we are given 135 dollars for a month for groceries, and everything else. I am at 17 dollars this week, I try to spend only 20 a week on groceries and then usually go over with maybe too many fast food stops…

I haven’t been to Which Wich yet, there isn’t one in Denton, but being a college city there are some interesting places, there is one called Pizza Patron, it is cheap, large pizza and they accept pesos, so I can spend what I have left from Mexico. Man I regret spending so much there, I felt like a millionaire down in the CCM due to the money conversion, so 2000 US became 26000 Mexico! When we were in bus rides to the Temple there, I could look out and see a car for 10000 pesos and tell myself, I could buy that!

There is a restaurant called J&J’s it is a pizza place, and another called Double Daves, which is the same as CC’s which is the same as any other pizza buffet. There is the Mellow Mushroom which is high end pizza as well

On Saturday we had an awesome lunch! we had puerco with an investigator family, they invited us over earlier in the week, so we stopped by at around 1 and as soon as we walked into the backyard it was crazy! They had two pit barbeques, with gigantic bowls sitting in them, one was full of pieces of pork boiling in oil. the other was a gigantic red liquid that one shirtless guy was mixing with a giant wooden spoon. It was bubbling, it was intimidating. They were making food for a quincinera that was to happen that night. Elder Kremer had chincharon for the first time and couldn’t finish it, they fried the meat really well and had enough tortillas that we had a couple of tacos. The liquid was red chilies ground with water, so it was just a sauce for the tacos, but they made everything in huge quantities. It is a family of several large men and their families, all brothers or cousins living together. My companion may have been scared from Hispanic food for the rest of his mission.

We also had a tiny snake in our apartment too! it was about a eighth of an inch thick and maybe three long, looked like it just hatched, so that was worrisome.

Snake hatchling!

Snake hatchling!

I did get the cook books! And the Lego figures! I use that putty stuff every day, that is really entertaining! I haven’t gotten the pants though.

At Legoland Dad and brothers created 3 minifigure Legos; 2 missionaries and an investigator.

At Legoland Dad and brothers created 3 minifigure Legos; 2 missionaries and an investigator.

Thank you for writing! I love you!

Elder Grant Hagen”

Now the e-mail to mom

“Howdy to my favorite mother!

Ohh there were things that happened this week! Including Zone Conference! I will start there even though that was Wednesday!

On Sister Ames blog apparently she posts pictures of the missionaries, and she posted one on Sign language, that was my zone conference!

Zone Conference was a wonderful time where we got to have some great teachings by some of the zone leaders, we got to learn from President Ames as well, had a Texas sloppy joe brisket lunch, and the departing Elders and sisters for the next transfer and this bore their testimonies for one last time (I will admit that was the saddest part). At the end of Zone Conference we sang Army of Helaman to president and Sister Ames and gave them a thank you card for all that the do. It brought tears to their eyes and it as a touching moment for all of us.

So on Monday we made a cheesecake! A member in our ward gave us a cheesecake pan to use so my companion, being the chef that he is, made a wonderfully delicious cake that didn’t last more than a few days… almost a few hours only…

Mmmm... cheesecake!

Mmmm… cheesecake!

I did get the package that Grandma and Grandpa Morrill sent! I was so happy to read that letter! Every week I am so grateful to read from Grandma Hagen as well, sadly last week I wasnt able to send a letter, so I will spend more time sending it today! I have gotten a letter from Grandma Hagen almost every week, I didnt get one this week if she sent it, but I did the week before, I save each one, and I need to put them all in a book!

Thank-You Grandma and Grandpa Morrill for the package.

Thank-You Grandma and Grandpa Morrill for the package.

Also, I have been here in Denton for six months! I have spent a quarter of my time on the mission in this city! I may be getting transfered then in the upcoming weeks. we are on week 4 of 6 then on august 13th we will be doing transfers!

I hope you have a wonderful week!
Love you!
Elder Grant Hagen”

Guitar in the back of the car?

Guitar in the back of the car?


Riding with Elder Hagen

Riding with Elder Hagen

“Oh and we hosted a family home evening at the church on monday! we had an awesome waterballon toss that spiraled out of control at the end using the volleyball nets and towels! There was also lots of cake and the sister missionaries taught a lesson on finding truth, we had investigators show up and a good number of members!”

Water balloon fight

Water balloon fight

A little English, A little Spanish

This week Grant’s dad and I got very different e-mails. Mine is in English dad’s is in Spanish. I’ve included both. First though is a letter we got from his mission president a couple a weeks ago. It makes our hearts very proud.

Letter from President Ames informing us Grant was made District Leader

Letter from President Ames informing us Grant was made District Leader

Now for emails, English first.

“Hello!

I had to go through my pictures for the week to remember what has happened, things seem meshed together now, and I struggle distinguishing this week from the last.

Any who, this week was fantastic and we had an investigator at church! She is super cool and is gaining a testimony of the Gospel!

Lets see, things that happened this week, for starters on Tuesday I conducted an exchange with the other Elders in our district, I went to their area for a day and Elder Brown came to our area. I had a good time going about and we taught two lessons in that day, one early in the morning whom we invited to be baptized. We had just finished teaching the plan of salvation and we invited her to be baptized on that cause, she hesitated looked at us, then at the ground for a while. Sadly she decided that she was too attached to her church and felt like leaving would be breaking a promise that she had made. She then asked us if we would still come back and teach her though, and we told her we would, that seemed to be a relief to her, I think she knows that this message is true and will come to that truth.

The breaded chicken and potatoes are from the exchange as well, I was trying to be resourceful with what they had.

Resourceful chicken and potato dinner

Resourceful chicken and potato dinner

On Thursday we had another exchange and this time I got to go with the Zone Leaders to their area! They are in charge of the Young Single Adult ward, and I can honestly say I don’t know English anymore. That was a different experience as they have a car to travel instead of bikes. We taught a young man who was investigating the church, and he came to the institute building to be taught! We shared the restoration with him and he accepted to be baptized! That was exciting, and even moreso to see him at church on Sunday as well! While we were there, Elder Kremer and the other Zone Leader, Elder Haufano were in our area, Elder Kremer, who is almost at this 3 month mark, had to translate in their lessons and he did a fantastic job! We teach some people in English but they have connections to Spanish or do better in the Spanish ward. One such English person they taught was the girlfriend of a member. She has started to read the Book of Mormon and when the Elders sat down to teach she asked about the brass plates because the book of Mormon was said to be gold plates, and other amazing and wonderful questions! It is a really good feeling to know that people keep commitments that we invite them to do to help their testimony. She came to church and I feel we can invite her to be baptized!

We didn’t have a baptism this week and the couple whom had accepted to be baptized didn’t come to church so we had to cancel their date 😦

On Saturday we had a service project at the institute building at the University of North Texas as a Spanish District. Our ward mission leader is a local professor at the college and he was having a class on dining etiquette at the institute building. His wife did the cooking so our district came to help setup and serve the people taking the class. There were about thirty people who weren’t members of the church all there, with six missionaries, in the institute building! At the end of the lunch most came by the kitchen to thank us and a couple had questions about the paintings, such as the first vision picture! That was successful and though not a lesson, was a definite way to open people to the church!

Service Project

Service Project

Thankfully on Thursday it poured rain and stayed about in the seventies up until Sunday. Sadly now it will be hot and humid for a while with a predicted 100 degree weekend this week!

I love you and am glad you have your teeth! I am thankful Izzy is alright, and yall are okay!

Love,
Elder Grant Hagen”

Comps: Elder Hagen and Elder Kremer

Comps: Elder Hagen and Elder Kremer

Now for the Spanish,

“A mi Papi,

Estoy muy bien y agradecido que puedo escuchar a ti. Esta semana tuvimos una investigadora a la iglesia y creo que ella aceptara una fecha de bautizarse este semana. Estoy muy animado y todo esta bien!

No he recibido ninguna caja de ustedes Has the cook book been sent out? or maybe I will get it this week?

This week we had dos intercambios con los otros Elderes, los de los lideres de zona y otros que son en mi distrito. Los dos eran exitoso!

Que interesante que vamos a tener un nuevo obispo tambien, creo que va a ser Hermano LaRoche jajaja vamos a ver!

Hemos teneido mucho comidia de los miembros, casi cada cena es con ellos. Y tambien el Sabado tuvimos un proyecto de servicio y en el fin como a las dos tuvimos almuerzo con ellos tambien! Era muy rico, era una ensalda, una sopa de fruta, y carne de puerco con stuffing!

Este Martes tuve mi primer reunion de distrito, y era muy exitoso! nosotros tuvimos un entrenamiento de yo sobre la importancia de tener en veces, lecciones cortos. Despues tuvimos desempenos de nosotros y los elderes de ingles, we had the companionships try to focus on unity by blindfolding the companionships that were teaching and they had to rely on each other to teach in unity. Era divertido y creo que nunca van a olvidarlo!

So that was most of my week I kinda have divided it up entre usted, mama, y tayler de differentes cosas que yo he hecho!

Te amo! No perde sus dedos!

Elder Grant Hagen!”

Nice Long Letter AND Pictures…Hurray!

Finally got him to right a long letter. When I emailed him the night before I asked for more stories with details. I also told him that I broke a corner off of a tooth with a very very old filling and was heading to the dentist today. It didn’t hurt at all. It was just information. He used it to describe the people he’s around though, which I appreciate. I also told him that Matt Hyer (who is also the son of the dentist I saw today, for those of you who don’t know) is entering the MTC this week (heading to Boston, Massachusetts), so he responds to that too. All and all, I’m liking the length of this one.

PS… check out the last picture. We knew it would happen eventually.

“Dear Mom,

I am happy to say that I go the e-mail from spencer! It was wonderful and I tried to reply as best I can, I wish I had some fantastic stories for this week, wait! I will do what you suggested and just talk in detail!

Also what happened? how did you break a tooth? which one? lots of hispanic people have gold and silver teeth, especially their front ones, there is a man we are teaching (by the way we can use first names now!) who has one gold tooth in the front and the enamel that is left is in the shape of Texas, it is pretty cool.

That is crazy that Matt is leaving on his mission this Wednesday! I always have thought of Matt being the perfect missionary and such with is Christ-like attitude towards life. The son of the bishop of our ward is also going into the Provo MTC this Wednesday to go to Arizona for his mission, Scottsdale, and it covers Queen Creek!

Okay Okay, I need to practice describing things in detail, that is something that will help my memory, and to retain what English I have left….

I Love the insight that you mentioned on the Bible, and that is why it is called bible, also related to the Spanish world Biblioteca which means library, sadly most dont see that connection though. That is how the bible is divided, by those four categories, it is also for the most part chronological with the first five books of Moses being followed by Joshua then following into the life of the Jews until they end up captive in Babylon at the end of Second Kings, Isiah is covered in that time. Jeremiah is near the end of second kings as he is carried into Babylon as well before being killed but being able to write both the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Ezra and Nehemiah cover many similar instances of the Jews returning to Jerusalem and their dealings there in. The book of Ester follow the Jews who didn’t leave Babylon. I am in Psalms currently and have hit a bit of a wall as they are repetitive, very baptist in nature, most baptists know their psalms quite well and have a favorite one about God’s love or protection. I recommend a good read from the records of Josephus who was a historian who very thoroughly covers the Old Testament history (and to the time of Christ since the Old Testament ends about 400 years before Christ as it falls into the Maccabean period which gained power after the family successfuly restored the temple and ended the pagan beliefs the Greeks tried to implement in Israel. They did so at the cost of losing the authority of the High Priest of the temple (side note: the Jewish Temple acted under the Aaronic priesthood as the temple was only used for atoning sacrifices and other sacrifices how the sacrament applies to us) as the authority of high priest became an elective or bought position with political leaders disposing and assigning new priests at their whim), he was a scribe of the Jews (I believe) and is quoted in the Bible Dictionary and in many ensigns.

On Tuesday we got up and at 8 a member picked us up with the other Elders in the ward and drove all of us out to his home about 30 minutes away so we could help him make cement, he is sifting sand of all the rocks and will use it for cement in his foundation of his home. Then he made us a drink out of water, honey, and apple vinegar. It was an interesting concoction and definitely woke me up.

Wednesday was transfers, Elder Hepworth who was the District leader left to go to Arlington, so at seven in the morning (it was about 80-85 degrees) Elder Kremer and I biked to their apartment about ten minutes away just as the member who was taking him was loading up the car with his baggage then we figured out how to attach the bike rack and finished his preparations. Elder Kremer and I then did studies with Elder Tanner until his new companion Elder Brown arrived with the same member a few hours later. We then rode home, finished our studies, and went to a District leader meeting with the Zone leaders. There we learned new methods of teaching and other ideas our mission plans on implementing. Also we have been told that the mission will be getting Ipads by the end of the year, that the trials are over and they are starting to ship them out. That will be interesting and I am looking forward to it as the Spanish people are very visual learners.

Thursday we got through our whole weekly planning. That is a planning session where we sit down for three hours and plan out who and how we are going to visit and teach the next week. We set our goals higher than the previous week by a significant number this week to hit a stretch goal.

Friday we had Zone Training where we reviewd the things we went over in District Leadership Council and implemented them with role playing practices (something missionaries do a ton and actually help us improve our teaching through evaluation). That night a member picked us up and took us to Chipotle! That was a first since being in Glendora! This week wasnt an accurate representation of the mission for food since we were in our apartment for most of the dinners. (one night we made steak burritos, another was quesadillas, pigs in a blanket, biscuits and gravy, I made a couple sandwiches some were ham, others peanut butter and Jelly. Every morning I try to drink a glass of apple juice before exercising then a protein shake afterwards with some toast or oatmeal. Once this week we went to Subway, we also went today as well…)

Saturday felt like the first free day of the week, as though a burden was lifted and we could actually focus on our area! Due to having to study for a language and another hour of new missionary studies we are in the apartment for a long time, which helps us learn and prepare. To be able to get out right after and ride around in the hot sun was actually a joy and relief. It was probably about 90 degrees with the humidity as well.
We were able to teach some English people a few short 5 minute lessons, which is really hard to do since 5 minutes is not a lot of time for questions, scriptures, and testimony all in one. It worked though and we shared the gospel with new people! We also got to visit an investigator named Jose, we knocked on his door even though his cars werent there, and he answered! We read 1Nephi Chapter 8 about Lehi’s dream, he told us how wonderful it is, how it brings us peace, and told us he wanted to go to church the following day!

Sunday, We had ward council and a missionary coordination meeting with the Ward Mission Leader in the morning, then church started at ll, sadly none of our investigators came, that is a struggle, but is easily removed when the investigators have friends in the ward or we teach friends of the members. We had dinner at the bishops home, we had hamburgers and dodger dog sized hotdogs, with a nice potatoe and egg salad and a jello for desert. As part of being a district leader, now at night I have to be home at about 8:45 on sundays and call the Elders in my district and the Sisters to get reports on how their week went and also to report those to the Zone leaders who follow the chain until it gets to the mission president.

Now I am here on monday, we didnt have a car for today so to get groceries the other elders biked to our apartment and a member came and picked us up to take us to a store called ALDIs which is a really low cost, off-brand supermarket.

As a District leader, I have to encourage my district, plan district meetings on tuesdays for weeks that we dont have any conferences with the zone or the mission president. I also conduct exchanges with the other elders.

Story about my companion, he loves cats and reptiles of all kinds! Texas has quite a few frogs and turtles in our area and a couple snakes. This week we had just biked up the largest hill in our area and at the top we knocked a familes door, as we waited for them to answer we saw a turtle in the neighbors driveway to the right. My companion got excited. As soon as we finished talking with them and setting up an appointment, he rushed over and wanted to pick it up (it had run to the edge of a couple of bushes by then) He tried to pick it up and it hissed at him! then tried to bite him. That was an interesting experience.

Well I have to go, I got to write a decent bit this time, can you send more protein powder? I also never received the cook book. I love you!
Love,
Elder Grant Hagen”

The hissing turtle

The hissing turtle

Dallas temple with companion

Dallas temple with companion

July 2014 4th parade float 1

All the missionaries in the 4th of July float (see previous post)

All the missionaries in the 4th of July float (see previous post)

He's a true Texan now... Got his first hat!

He’s a true Texan now… Got his first hat!

Fun Fourth

“Well my week was fantastic, apart from the fact I wasnt able to buy food due to complications with transportation to the store, good thing I have parents who taught me to plan ahead! Thankfully I have had more than plenty food for the week, just ran out of milk on Friday 😦 but other than that it worked out really well!

The 4th was wonderful! we were on an exchange and lots of hispanics call them cuetes which means mortar literally, and the correct word is apparently juegos de pirotecnico, according to a member in our ward. There is a huge university in our area that has a large show that the whole city apparently goes to or watches from near. So sadly our teaching efforts were quite foiled due to the show that day but I did enjoy the time, On friday we were in the city parade! I will send pictures! Our ward mission leader has the spanish ward represent every year in the parade, kind of funny because it is the only ward int he stake that participates representing the church. We had a banner with the churches name and we rode in a float we built on Tuesday of two rowboats crossing the river Delaware. We had elder tanner who is 6’6″ be George Washington and he stood in the front of one of the boats while we all rowed. It was a fun experience, we won best float award and lots of people cheered applauded and told their kids the story of George Washington, may people said thank you to George. One person noted, look a boat full of missionaries! Even though we were in a bit of costume A few members from other wards came by afterward to thank us for what we had done and in all it was a great time!

On Wednesday I went through the Dallas Temple, it was a great experience and even though it is outside of our mission we have to get permission of our mission president to go but we can and did! The only thing is it has to be within an hour of the current area or ward that you are serving in.

I love you and hope you have a fantastic week!

Love
Elder Grant Hagen”

“Spanish” Dreams

Anyone who has slept in the same house with Grant knows that he is a sleep talker. We have heard many interesting things over the years. Apparently that hasn’t changed, except now it’s in Spanish according to his companion. It amazes me that this “gringo” kid, that couldn’t seem to learn the language after 3 years of high school Spanish, now thinks in Spanish. Truly this must be the gift of tongues.

“Well I am writing on wednesday which is a bit different but that is because we went to the temple today! That was a wonderful experience and I have been up since 4:45 now, I may be exhausted tomorrow haha. We got up at that time so that we could make it to the 7 o’clock session, which thankfully did with a member of the ward who drove us there since we dont have cars and it is out of our mission so we had to get permission to go. We got to take pictures in front of the Temple at the end It was so nice to be in a temple again, since the last three times I was it was in Mexico and in spanish! which was really funny because now I hear things in english and think them in spanish.

Speaking of and in spanish apparently I still sleep talk, but only in spanish! My companion is a light sleeper and I guess I wake him up when I start talking.

As far as the temperature here, it hasnt been over a hundred yet so I am staying cool! we do have some days that are so hot and humid though, so I just try to ride fast enough on my bike to keep cool by the wind jajajaja.

I do have the cloth from the b-day package and I use it quite often! it feels so good to use it and just keep cool.

The pictures I am sending are of my zone both the english and spanish, the temple, me and the temple.

I wish I had more to write about, I know that you and Dad share e-mails so all the stories that I want to share I have written, there are more but I have to give back the SD card reader I am using, so I have to send this e-mail and my time is nearly up 😦 But I am still here, loving every day! I love you so much and hope that you have the best week! Time is flying!

Love siempre
Elder Grant Hagen”

E-mail to Dad:

“Well my week was amazing, and I was able to send out a few thank you notes to some of the members of the ward, I have a few more to do, hopefully I will get them done today.

On Sunday night we went on exchanges so I went to the district leader’s apartment and his companion came to my area, the exchange lasted until Monday evening. However, my companion was able to set some baptismal dates with a family we had met a week before who has fallen in love with the Book of Mormon. Which sometimes feels like that is the hardest part, if they dont read, normally they wont come to church and then they aren’t praying to know if the book of mormon is true. I am excited to see what happens with this family and I would love to baptise them and more with my trainee!

As far as being a trainer it is awesome but apparently I may become a District leader next transfer which is next week! that is really crazy because after that transfer it is really just two more and I am at a year! I do know that I will not be leaving my area for the next transfer so I dont have an address change as well. We try to speak purely spanish outside of the apartment except when a lesson is in english. I am enjoying being a trainer so much, and it is kind of funny how a few missionaries have commented on the unity that we have working together. My companion is willing to try almost anything, I can suggest talking to someone on the street and he is over there talking to them!

As far as service, on Monday we cut an older lady’s yard and came back on Tuesday to teach her and her family, and also on tuesday we built a float for the Fourth of July parade that will be on Friday, we will be in it as a zone with the Spanish ward. One of the Elders will be George Washington due to his height, (6’6″).

Today we got up at 4:45 and had to be ready to leave by 5:30 and we went to the Dallas Temple, that was an amazing experience! I hope you have gotten the chance to go recently, on the mission we can go once every three months as long as we are in an area that is less than an hour away from it. It is a bummer there isn’t a temple actually in our mission and is surprising for the large space that the mission covers, but we are teaching, and the missionary work is moving forward in the whole mission at an accelerated rate, we have a goal to greatly increase the amount of people baptized this year and we are on our way to do it!

We went to the temple with a member of our ward, he drove us in his car which is a Toyota Echo, about the size of a smart car and snugly fits four Elders and the driver. We went down, had the session, got some pictures out front, and drove back at about 11. While there I read in 2 Nephi chapter 5 and one of my favorite verses is verse 27, it states how they lived in a manner of happiness. Well how do we get that happiness? In Mosiah chapter 2 verse 41 we can read how happy are those who keep the commandments of the Lord. That is the purpose of the Gospel, as 2 Nephi 2:25 states as well, how men are that they might have joy. That is why this work is so important, that is why we endure to the end, that is why this is the true church, there is no message of fear, it is rather of hope, peace, and joy. That is why as a missionary and a member, I have to share this message with everyone!

Love
Elder Grant Hagen”

Elder Hagen with his current district

Elder Hagen with his current district

Elder Hagen with his zone, English and Spanish

Elder Hagen with his zone, English and Spanish

July 2014 Dallas Temple moroni

The Dallas Temple

The Dallas Temple

He said he got hungry, so he decided to eat this poor turtle that was walking down the road, minding it's own business!

He said he got hungry, so he decided to eat this poor turtle that was walking down the road, minding it’s own business!