Tuesday, March 26, 2013

25 March Letter from Tijuana

Also to respond to some of Mom's questions... On a everyday basis we just walk. There are a couple of areas in the mission that have bikes because they are way out in the middle of nowhere but there aren't any areas within the cities that use bikes. We use buses or taxis that follow the same bus routes to go to district meetings once a week and other random stuff that we have like zone activities. For example, once I finish writing this email we are going to get on a bus to go to Miramar to watch "Valiente" better known as "Brave" in english for a zone activity. I guess if our mission president authorizes movies we can watch them for zone activities. So I'm not sure how much I will understand of it. I'm guessing not much unless they start using churchy vocab cause thats about all that I have mastered right now haha.

This past saturday we had exchanges and our district leader Elder Barrett came over to my area for the day. It was really really fun to be able to actually have a conversation with someone. Elder Barrett is from SLC and went to BYU before his mission too so we had a lot in common to talk about. It was really good to be able to talk about some of the things that I had questions about, such as things that I thought were rules but didn't really know how to ask in spanish to clarify, so it was really good to be able to ask about things in english and be able to be 100% sure that I was understanding what was going on. I had been frustrated with a few things regarding obedience and just following all the rules so it was really good to be able to ask some questions and get feedback from someone who was also really trying to follow all the rules. Here within the mission and I guess within all of mexico at least, if you try to follow all of the rules and such, you are labeled a "fari" - short for pharisee or something. So it was just good to be able to talk with another missionary who is doesn't really care about all the stupid titles and is trying to be obedient. 

This week has been a little bit harder because alot of our appointments have been falling through and some of our investigators haven't been keeping their commitments but its also easier because I feel like I can understand alot more of what people are saying around me and I feel I can speak alot more than I could before. The people that I couldn't even tell that they were speaking spanish before because they speak so fast are now seeming like they are actually speaking spanish and I can understand the words even if I don't know what they mean. So thats always a good thing. :) Also in church yesterday I surprised myself when in one of the elders quorum lessons, the teacher called on me with a question and I just answered it without hesitating and was able to talk for a good 2 minutes of what my thoughts were on a passage of scripture. Its always fun to be able to see my progress and recognize the difference. 

Because of mom's email last week, I also starting reading Jesus the Christ as part of my personal study and holy smokes, why hadn't I started reading it before?? I'm a couple hundred pages in already because during all the little free times I have had I have just been reading it and I can't put it down. Its really cool to see the insights on different events and little details of the scriptures surrounding the life of Jesus Christ and in regards to who He is. Its really amazing to me how much I can learn about the atonement and about how much Christ loves us by serving others and teaching others about Him. There are days when I am super tired and just can't wait to be done walking around in the broken roads dodging dog poop every step, but as soon as we are in a lesson and teaching with the Spirit, I regain that energy, excitement, and appreciation about the atonement and don't worry so much about myself and my little issues anymore but instead focus on how we can better share the message and hope of Christ. 

The biggest issue we have here with investigators in that people aren't married. Some simply out of a lack of desire to go spend the around $80 to get it done and others just can't without huge amounts of money because they don't have paperwork that they need or other reasons. It makes me so grateful that I have a family that is sealed in the temple and that I have been raised by parents who are trying their best to follow Jesus Christ. I am constantly reminded of how blessed that I am and how grateful I need to be as I meet lots of different people in really tough family situations. 

As we teach different people all of the different lessons, I am often surprised at how often I find myself saying that a certain principle of something is simply because God loves us more than we can even begin to understand. Its really neat to me that sometimes we struggle to see the reason behind a commandment or struggle to understand why something has happened, that it all boils down to the fact that our Heavenly Father loves us and thats that. I love the scripture in 1st Nephi when he is speaking with the Angel about the vision of his father and the Angel asks him a question that he doesn't know, and Nephi simply responds, I don't know but I know God loves all of His children. I love this example because if everyday we remember that we are literal children of our Heavenly Father and that He loves us, than all of the little issues of understanding seem to fade in importance and we are able to trust in the fact that because He loves us, everything that happens is for our good in the long run.

I'm so grateful for all of you and am so grateful for the example you are to me!

Con amor,

Elder Crockett

Thursday, March 21, 2013


First off, the address!
Elder Jacob Ford Crockett
Mision Mexico Tijuana
PO BOX 439056
PMB 157
SAN YSIDRO, CA 92143-9056
Hola Familia!
First off I am going to explain what the pictures attached are. This past Saturday we had the baptism for Valeria (9 years old) and it went well thankfully. She is super full of energy and it was just a really challenging experience full of seemingly pointless lessons. We would spend 30 minutes trying to teach her about a certain concept, like prophets, and at the same time her two younger brothers are running around throwing stuff and one of them, Frankie (2), is constantly pointing at everything on my person that he can see saying "Que es eso"? ("what is that?"), and after all the lesson we would ask her a question to see what she learned and she didn't learn anything. So it was a fun experience teaching her, especially because in the middle of some of our lessons, it would come to light that her mom (convert of 2 years), wasn't exactly living some of the commandments, so Valeria didn't see any reason why she couldn't drink coffee when she is cold and on and on and on. But, she was baptized on Saturday and I performed the baptism so that was really cool. Also our chapel ran out of gas for the water heater, and we ended up last minute driving over with the families that came to join her baptism with another at a close chapel. So, the picture with another older man in white getting baptized is Hermano Carlos and he was baptized Saturday night also. Hermano Carlos was a professional soccer player for El Salvador and last monday we had a zone activity where he taught us a bunch of soccer stuff and it was really fun.
Then yesterday we were talking with the Bishop of the ward before Sacrament Meeting about Valeria's confirmation and if we were all set to go, and he said that he wanted me to do it, which really took me off guard because my companion said that the Bishop always did it and we didn't need to worry about it. So I quickly memorized what I needed to say in spanish and prayed that it would go well and it did. It was a good experience of really having to rely on the Lord, not only to say in the blessing what He wants said, but better yet in a language that I'm not fluent in. Overall, a good experience :)
Mom asked about food, so here is a little bit about the food. We get fed everyday at 2pm-ish and the food is good but it is always SOO much. I guess this is an area where the missionaries get the most food and its awesome but I just look super whimpy when I can barely finish the food that they give me on one plate and my companion goes on to finish 3rds. Everyone jokes about you can tell how "green" a missionary is by how much they eat, but I don't think my stomach will grow very much because other than a light breakfast in the morning and a snack at night and the meal with a member, we don't eat that much. But the food here is good, I haven't been served anything super super spicy yet but we will see. Our very first meal we ate when I got here was some Chili relano (sp?) and I guess was pretty spicy so my companion kept looking over at me to see if I was struggling to eat it or not so I think he was pretty surprised when I ate it all. The hardest thing about eating the food here is that EVERY person that we stop at their house has something they want us to eat or drink. I'm grateful for it, but it is so so much food and I don't really like it. The second or third day here, we had just eaten a huge meal at a members and then had an appointment with an investigator, afterwhich she insisted on serving us "manitas de puerco". Now I really had no idea what it was other than something to do with pork because of puerco, but in the end I ended up barely being able to choke down a huge bowl of some rice soup dealeo with pig legs or hooves or I don't even know what. Whenever members or other missionaries hear that I got served it one of my first days here they always laugh so I'm guessing its not a super common thing. :)
So before I went out on my mission everyone would always say "oh its the greatest thing ever but its going to be the hardest thing you've ever done". I guess I didn't really think about it very much just because I honestly had no idea what to expect. But now I think I have a better idea what what everyone was talking about. Its really hard. Not so much that I feel discouraged or isolated because of the language barrier, but more that sometimes I really feel like there is a lot of good that I could do and really could be helping lots of people come to Christ, but I just don't know how to do so spanish. So at times I feel somewhat frustrated that I can't be doing the things I know I could do if I was able to communicate in spanish with the same ease that I can in english. Its been a real comfort to think back on the blessing I recieved from Pres. Cowley when I was set apart, about how I can share the light of Christ through my countenance and smile before I will be able to with my words. Also, its just frustrating because half of my thoughts are in english and a third are in spanish and the rest I just don't know how to form thoughts anymore. So really my whole problem is just all in my head :) Its frustrating at times, but I know that as I rely on the Lord and am patient, that eventually I will get it and that I will be able to do the things that the Lord has in store for me here.
We had a zone conference last week and we get the Liahona, in spanish of course, and there was a quote on the back that I just absolutely love that I want to share. There is a painting of a lighthouse and next to it says "No obedecemos porque somos ciegos, obedecemos porque podemos ver." - Boyd K. Packer. You can use google translate or Dad to figure out what it means in english :) We had to go buy some paint to fix up some stuff around our apartment and as we were at Comex buying paint the lady helping us was asking us why we were doing what we were doing, and pretty much was asking why are we wasting our time in Tijuana when we really gain nothing from it. It really made me rethink why I am here doing what I am doing and this quote has really made me realize that I'm not here because somebody standing in front at church told me to and I'm just sucking it up and pushing through things for no reason, but that I really know that this is what Jesus Christ wants me to be doing right now and that through pushing through the current strugglings I am having that I can help to bring others to the same happiness that I feel from the restored Gospel.
I hope all of you are doing well!
Con amor,
Elder Crockett

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


The first week here has been a crazy but really fun experience. My companion is Elder Vargas and is from somewhere in central mexico and doesn't speak any english other than the english swear words he has heard. He took 12 years of english throughout school, but I guess he didn't really want to learn any of it so he hardly can remember anything. Its a very common occurance during our planning sessions for neither of us to know a word and we both have to turn to a dictionary to be able to understand each other.
When I first got here, I could only understand people who were speaking slowly and with good pronunciation. It was difficult to participate in lessons or simply in conversations because I had NO idea what anyone was saying about 80% of the time. I quickly realized that when church members first talked to me, even if I couldn't understand what they were saying, it was safe to assume that they were asking where I was from. When I respond Indiana, 90% of the people here say "Indiana Jones"! Also, I guess there are some cookies, or galletas, here that sound like Crockett, so I've gotten everything from that I have a galletas for a last name to its a good thing that I am not "crooked". But my language skills have gotten so much better even just in less than a week. I've taught my parts of the lessons and I've been able to carry on simple conversations with people. Its surprising how many people here speak english. There are lots of members who can speak english either because they lived in the US for a while or because they took classes and can now speak english. So its always fun to be able to just speak spanish and throw in english words that I don't know and have somebody understand me. 

Me and my companion currently are serving in two different wards, "los altos" and "palmeras". We are RIGHT next to the border. Like the border is a huge brown fence, and we can see it whenever we are up on a hill. Its really funny to learn how the culture of the US has made its way into Tijuana because it is so close. For example, a pick up truck or a carwash here is simply just the english words said like a mexican. We have eaten lunch at a members house that is probably 70 yards from the border, so its weird to be able to look over and see San Diego.

The wards that we have are really good but I'm not sure if they should be wards. Palmeras had about 20 people yesterday attending and Los Altos had about 60. Mom can use me as proof that everyone should be practicing piano, because I have already played piano for several meetings here. My companion can play piano, but he can only play about half of them. Plus he wanted me to play so he didn't have to so I did and it was really fun. 

Currently we have 4 investigators with baptismal dates and several other less active/part member families that we are working with but I am only going to talk about a few because I don't have all the time in the world. One investigator, Armando, is seriously super super awesome. He has tattoos alll over but inspires me everytime we go over and teach. His situation is really confusing. He is currently living with a women who is a member and was less active but I guess now is considered active cause she has been coming to church with Armando for the last while. She was married to some other guy, had 3 kids, but then they were seperated but not divorced. So Armando lives with her and her 3 kids, who are all members. The most common problem here that stops people from being baptized is that people either don't want to get married simply because they don't want that big of a commitment and the relationship they are in is unhealthy, or because they don't have the money to do so. So Armando's novia needs to get divorced and they need to get married before his baptismal date the first week of April. And neither the parents have jobs so its going to be really hard for them to be able to get it done, let alone afford it but we are praying and fasting for them so I have faith that it can happen. But so the second day I was here we went and taught Armando about the word of wisdom and he agreed that he would not smoke or drink coffee for the next 3 days. He had been smoking ever since he was a teenager and he is 40 now, and he said that coffee was less of a problem but that he had a really hard time feeling awake on days he didn't drink any. So we called him everyday to check up and such and went back three days later, and when we challenged him to refrain from those both for three more days, he said that he never wanted to do either again because he could already feel the difference in his breathing and his focus from just those three days. He said he didn't even have a desire to smoke or anything during those three days. Miracles do happen.

There is another family that is what we call an eternal investigator. I'm pretty sure the missionaries have been going over there for 2 some years. The son who is 12 was baptized and reminds me so much of Daniel. His name is Tircio and is just a stud. We didn't know where the family lived but we knew what street they lived on so we walked there and as we were walking there a boy on the other side of the street came over and started talking to us and it turns on that Tircio was on his way home from school and we just walked in his house with him. His parents also need to get married and stop drinking and such but we have a baptismal date for his mom Esperanza the first week of April. Last time we taught them we taught the story of Alma the younger in Alma 36 in regards to the atonement and the power that we can access to repent and be relieved of our burdens. The lesson went so well and the spirit so strong that Esperanza started crying as she said the closing prayer and prayed for help to be able to turn her life around so that she can be a better parent and help out here kids. Yesterday she couldn't come to church with us but Tircio and his younger brother Gregorio (7) did.

 I just love talking with the kids here, frankly because sometimes I feel frustrated that I can't impact adults in a Christ-like way other than sitting there and smiling due to the language barrier that is slowly but surely decreasing. But as we teach and have visited other families in such it is really energizing to me to be able to show that Christ-like love to kids just by playing with them or by speaking simple spanish. 

Tijuana is really really really different than anywhere I have ever been in the US, but I really love it. Some families here live in a one room little hut with wood boards for floors and others live in trailers and others have super "rico" or rich looking houses. Our apartment is about in the middle. Its definitely nice, but lets just say it wouldn't pass building code or anything. 

I can't think of anything else to say other than I'm loving being out here more and more everyday. Its hard work and sometimes frustrating to not be able to express the ideas and things that I want to right now, but I often find myself smiling as I walk through these streets and am just truly happy. 

I'm so very grateful for all of you and the examples that you are to me! 

Con Amor,

Elder Crockett

I have to address that you can send stuff to me at:

Elder Jacob Ford Crockett
Misión México TIjuana
PO BOX 439056
PMB 157
SAN YSIDRO, CA 92143-9056

If you could post that address also that would be great! Thanks Jacqueline :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Note from the Little Sister:

There are two things that I think we can do to help Jacob the most right now:
1. PRAY FOR HIM! always!  It's incredible how the Lord answers each and every one of our prayers.  He knows us, and Jacob, and will do what He knows is right.
2. WRITE LETTERS!  I don't think any of us can know how much they mean to him.  Even if they are really short, they mean the world.  Can't think of anything to write?  I've found a couple of great ideas:
your testimony
a scripture or quote that you've read recently and fallen in love with


The Last Letter From the MTC:

Thanks everyone for all of the letters that I got yesterday, it really made me smile to be able to read something from all of you! Since I don't have a ton of time on the computer to respond to everyone individually, I am going to write letters back to everyone and just send them in one envelope later today so you should get the responses in a couple of days.
Well today starts what is our last week here at the MTC. We don't have our visas yet for mexico, but I'm convinced that we will get them before we would get our reassignment this thursday if we don't receive them. We fasted for them last week and I've really been praying that they will come in time so I'm sure if they don't, that God has a really good reason for me to go somewhere else for 6 weeks.
I think I'm starting to see a pattern throughout my time here at the MTC. We learn something in class, I reflect and think over it, and come to the realization that my parents had been teaching me that principle all along and I just never realized why/what for. Last friday one of our teachers, Hermana Coleman, was telling us about the importance of needing to work really hard and having the ability to actually work hard. I then realized how grateful I was not only to have been taught how to work by doing yard work at home so that I could "build character", but also was grateful that I have been taught how to work so that I can work hard out here on my mission. The more that we teach lessons or have discussions in class, the more grateful I am to my family for how they have raised me in a home that not simply just attends church, but also really loves the gospel and understands why we would what we do. So thanks. :)
So we have devotionals both sunday and tuesday nights and at first I thought there were going to be just another lesson to sit through but they have easily become one of my favorite parts of the week. On sundays we have a speaker from the missionary department speak and it is always really cool to hear about the process by which missionaries are assigned to their missions. It really is a testament to me that there is a special reason why I am going to Tijuana. Then on tuesdays there is usually a general authority that speaks. Elder Holland spoke the week before we got here to the MTC, so I was super bummed by the fact that if I hadn't been pushed back 2 weeks that I would've seen him. But they say that most missionaries get to see an apostle speak so I'm hoping for tonight. The crowd of missionaries waiting for the doors to the auditorium to open is always huge. A few other elders in our district and I always have a fun time but talking about how we heard it was Pres Monson coming to speak and then seeing the crowd turn and whisper to everyone else about it. Its sure funny but is a good display of why we shouldn't gossip.
Spanish is coming along better and better everyday. The other day I ran into Ben (Elder Ehlert) by the mail room and I started talking to him but I guess his district had made a goal to only speak Tagalog that day so he said I was making him break his goal. So in trying to go along with the spirit of the goal, I just responded to his last comment in spanish without having to think to much and he didn't understand what I had said. I guess I hadn't realized how much progress I have been making and how much I have been learning. Its really quite amazing how much the Lord can help us expand our ability to learn when we are learning with the Spirit and when we are trying to learn something to assist in His work. As we have been learning different grammar concepts and such in our classes, I am amazed at how I just remember it all. Of course, as soon as I think that I'm getting all good at spanish, one of our teachers will say something and I don't understand a single word. Its been almost fun to see the difference in my ability to speak spanish when I am relying on the Lord vs when I am thinking I can do it all myself. We started learning our last concept in spanish yesterday, and its crazy to think that we are able to cover all the material from Spanish 1 through AP spanish in just 5 weeks. It truly is a testament that the Lord blesses and expands our talents and abilities to accomplish the things that He needs us to do.
I'm running out of time but I love you all and hope that you are doing well! One thing that has really helped this week has been focusing on the enabling power of the atonement. Look up the talk "Atonement and Journey of Mortality" by Elder Bednar if you get a chance.
Con amor,
Elder Crockett