July 27, 1998

Greetings Earther!

I just had to write in and let you know what is going on down here in South Texas. First off, I wanted to let you know that I got my suit cleaned finally, and guess what? They even fixed a button for me for free, yep, they sure did. I have been missing a button off of my suit coat for the longest time, ever since I first went to Donna, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the thing fixed... and I didn't even have to mention it to the lady at the cleaners... It was marvelous... They must have heard of my greatness... HA!

Also in the news for my life is that it is still HOT! In fact, it is so hot down here that they are rationing water... can you believe it... Anyhow, they are giving only 12,000 gallons of water per household down here, when the average is 24,000 gallons. And on top of the rationing, they are charging 50% more on any water that you use past a certain ammont... increible!

And, in light of the heat, you might enjoy hearing about the latest blunder of the week... The mission president gets his hair cut by a woman named Dalia, and he has referred her to us to teach... which is great, except for two things, she is never home and she lives way the heck out there... Anyhow, Elder Hammond has been trying to get her at home and finally one day he did, and she wanted us at her house at one... so we left in the morning and biked all day to get there and we were right on time, we went up to trailer #14 and knocked and no one was home... we weren't to happy, but we left a note and headed home, dehydrated and exhausted... we got home at about 3:30 and collapsed onto our beds for an extended period of time until we managed to get up and begin to move again... at this time, Elder Hammond picked up the paper with Dalia's phone number and address and then let out an embarrased gasp... We were supposed to go to trailer #12 and he had insisted that it was #14 and! infact, I had even asked him if he had the address with him when we left and he said that he knew where it was... I was soooo mad... after I had the energy to be that is...We have two more baptismal commitments for the 9th of August, their names are Servando and Jorge... they are super guys... everything should be good with them.

And finally, for the last experience of the week, we went tracting on Friday and guess what happened... we knocked a door and Oscar came out... and right off the bat he was bashing and trying to get us confused, and guess what, We WON! He has invited us back so that we can teach him... by the time we were done he had admitted to being misinformed and willing to learn more, he even said that we might have been an answer to his prayers... it was neat.

Well, that is all that I have for now, talk to you later...

Jake

Emperor of Everything

August 3, 1998

Dear Reader,

Yes, once again I write to you from down here in South Texas. It is good, I suppose, well, at least I am alive. It is so HOT down here. You would not believe it! Did I tell you that they have begun to ration water down here? Well they have. We need some rain! Apparently the rainy season has come and gone and left 0" of rain. What a place.

Now, just for your information, (because my mother felt it necessary) I have not received any packages from you in the last little while, so if you did send something, it hasn't gotten here yet! He he he...

As for new news, I don't really have much to say. Life doesn't change too much for missionaries.

One neat experience that I did have was with a man named Oscar... we have visited him three times and every time that we teach him he hints to the fact that we might be an answer to his prayers... for example... the first time, he said that he had felt that he should not shut the door on us but listen to our message... The next time we went to his house he told us that he thought that the Holy Ghost had led us to him... and then last time we went he said that maybe we were an answer to his prayers. Neat huh?

Well, I think that is about it... so I will talk to you again next week...

Love you!

Jake

August 10, 1998

Greetings from Sunny South Texas!

Hey, I have some marvelous news! It rained for a few minutes down here yesterday! Can you believe it? I certainly can not. It has not rained since the first month that I was down here... this place really needs water. It is soooooo hot!

Also in the new news is Jorge. He is a man that we began teaching about a month ago... he is really cool... some sort of mathematician (such spelling!)and can do just about any kind of math in his head. It is pretty neat. But anyhow, we began to teach him after he had ordered a video from the church, and in fact we had been trying to contact him for several months until one night he gave us a call... Drunk as a skunk, and ready for us to share a message with him, so the next morning we went over, and he has just totally changed, it is neat. No more alcohol which means more money, because he used to go drinking nightly with his friends and all and he always ended up paying for their drinks, but now he is not doing that kind of stuff any more, and he is working towards baptism next Sunday... he came to church last Sunday and really liked it a lot... he even knew a lot of the people that are members down here and he had not even known that they were members... and so he is doing well... it is exciting....

Another person that we are teaching is Servando, he is also pretty cool... He has been coming to church for months and has been going to the church institute clases with other members of the church his age, and I think he has fallen in love with a member of the church.. it is pretty neat. He is very active and finally last month he began to let us come over and share our message with him. Hopefully, he will be baptised next week also... if everything goes as planned... that is.

In other news, I think I am coming down with some sort of problem in my hands from riding my bike so much... my wrists and fingers are starting to hurt alot very often, and it usually begins right after I have begun to ride my bike... I hope that things will get better with my hands soon... I can't ride a bike without hands and what will I do at home with my computers without being able to type for a very long period of time. But anyhow, I wrote the President a letter about it and told him that I am hurting in my hands so I will have to write in later and let you know what happens next.

You will not believe the week that I have had... First off, I managed to get my bike fixed and some new spokes put in the place of the broken ones, but I have had the worst luck with espinas in my life this last week, I have had one or two flat tires a day for the entire week... I hate it... and I even put slime in my tires so that those little pricky things wouldn't make my tire go flat... and guess what? The back tire went completely and un-fixably dead before I even rode my bike and the front tire went flat during a teaching appointment. So that slime stuff that I paid $5 for did not even work, at least no at first, but now I have it in my front tire only and I have been saved a couple of times from having flat tires just by having that slime in my tire... so my next bike upgrade with be Mr. Toughy tire liners... which are hard plastic shells that make it near to impossible for espinas to get through and poke the tire tube at all.

But other than my bike flats, and my wrists falling apart and my tired state of being and my companions bad eyes (which acted up every day this past week)(so you must imagine how much we did this past week with my hurting hands and his blindness...) everything is going well... And now we are resting this beautiful and highly humid (due to the light rain yesterday)Monday morning.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching the Gospel Doctrine class ( I think that is what is is called) And it was fun, I think. I really like to teach people and I like to teach large groups of people also... but you should have seen the way that I was asked to teach the class, it was soo funny... Brother Reyna, the Elders Quorum President, brought Elder Hammond and I dinner on Friday and as he handed the meal to me he said, "Elder Naylor, I have a special assignment for you." Then his face lit up with a big grin and he told me that he and Brother Zavala had been talking and they thought that I needed to teach the class for the day on Sunday, so I agreed and off he went.. Well, the class was great and I actually would not mind teaching it every week... I enjoyed it. All of it, except for that silly Brother Recio who was giving my a blank stare the entire time, making me think that he wasn't understanding, yet he was just focused I suppose, because at the end of the lesson he came up and told me that it had been a wonderful lesson and that he loves me... So I suppose that it went well.

Oh, I almost forgot something else... we woke up the other day to the sound of a well being drilled in our front yard... The city is doing test wells all over the place looking for water because if it does not rain in the next four months, there will not be enough water coming down the canals to feed the pipes... so the city is looking for underground sources of water everywhere... and they just show up on your front lawn and dig, no asking needed... I have seen them all over the place and they dig up yards of the rich and the poor the same... So we now have a 5" wide hole in our front yard and a new dirt road that all of the drilling equipment made, and they found water, so they may be taking over our front yard pretty soon with a well and pump and tower and all of that... Who knows, but for now, Elder Hammond and I enjoy dropping rocks down and waiting to hear the little plunk sound that the rock makes when it hits the water... fun fun fun fun fun. ;)

Well, time to sign off, love ya!

Jake,
Emperor of Everything

August 17, 1998

Howdy!

Just like the subject line above says, life goes on down here in South Texas. I will try to remember all of the stuff that I wanted to write about, but if I forget something, then you will just have to forgive me. But anyhow, shall we continue?

First off, I have to tell you about a recent encounter I had with some old "Winter Texans" from Kentucky, but staying in Texas this summer. The name of the man of the house is Jorge and I am not quite sure what his wife's name is, but she is the topic for discussion today. You see, we took a video out to them that Jorge had ordered and he invited Elder Hammond and I into his home, and this is where the funny part enters the story. You see, right as you enter the home there is a huge lazy-boy armchair (big enough for two people I am sure) and it is covered in red blankets so I looks like a throne... and then sitting on the chair is Jorge's wife and the family dog. But get this... the wife is definately an all out cowgirl, (nothin' wrong with that) and she has the poofy bangs with the hair hanging down her sides and back. Which leaves us just fine so far right? Well, sitting at her side is a cocker spaniel with her exact same hair style... the dog had the poofy bangs and everything. It was hilarious! And on top of the hairdo, the dog was also about 30 pounds overweight. So big infact, that you couldn't even tell if the poor thing had legs or not. It looked like a giant dogslug! :)

Then this Sunday we had a baptism. His name is Jorge and he is way cool... He actually talked with missionaries when he was younger, but nothing came out of it but a seed of understanding... Well, five years later Jorge saw a commercial for the Lamb of God video on TV and ordered it... and two months later (after I had been trying to get ahold of him daily) he called us up in the middle of the night, drunk as a skunk, and told us that he wanted us to come over the next day, so we did... and now about a month later, he got baptized... It is neat to have been able to see the change in his life for the better. He used to go out with his so called friends once a week on pay-day to the bars and buy them all drinks all night until he was broke, and then he wouldn't hear from them until the next week... But the really funny thing came from his work... He went in on the first day of school and told his co-workers that he was going to baptized on Sunday. Apparently after he made that comment all of the teachers and aids sitting at the table for lunch decided to throw in their two-bits... and we had to spend an hour with him that evening telling him that the church doesn't make the members live in tree houses after they are baptized and no, we don't have 6 wives, we get 7 (Just kidding). But the funniest thing that I have ever heard about the church is something one of the crazy ladies there at his school told him... "Those mormons baptise you over and over, until you tell them that you see God!" "Infact, I had a friend that almost drowned because he didn't see God until after 60 baptismal dunks!" Well, we told Jorge that was the funniest thing that we had ever heard and that it only takes one dunk and not to worry. Guess what happened at the baptism? He didn't go all of the way under the water, so we had to re-baptize him, and then the prayer was not said correctly by Brother Garcia, who was doing the baptizing, so it took three trys, and then it was done... The first thing out of his mouth after he was changed is "I thought they were going to keep doing it until I saw God, I was scared for a minute." But everything is alright now, we explained to Jorge why he was baptised three times, and that is all we had to do, but we also told him to go back and tell that teacher friend of his that he only had to get baptized three times before he saw God. He he he he he. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you what else he did... The day before his interview for baptism he was really nervous, so at about 11 o'clock at night, he gave us a call to make sure that he knew all of the discussions that we had taught, well he taught us better than we can teach them... but then the next day he still did not feel ready for his interview, so he went research crazy on the internet... and then made a whole big binder about the church... it had everything about everything... from church leaders life stories and birthdates, to church doctrine, to, well, to everything... it was enough to fill up an entire binder with papers... he is cool.

As for me, I am doing okay, my hands don't hurt as much as they used to, at least I don't think that they do, I may just be getting used to the pain. Transfers are this Thursday, so I may be getting a new companion, you never know.

I am tired, but that is the usual Preparation Day feeling, because I generally get up about an hour earlier than usual and get to bed later the night before because I am getting ready for Preparation Day...

Well, I guess that is about it... but, I hate to waste a paper space by not using two whole pages so let me think what else I could possibly write about.... Hummm.....?

Spanish is coming along just fine, in fact, while I have no abilities to speak it whatsoever, Just kidding of course, my understanding is way better, but I still have trouble understanding some of those spanish songs that boom around town in those crazy bato cars (usually a truck lowered on the axles to the point where the poor thing scrapes bottom on flat roads and gets stuck in pot holes 6" deep... and also usually involves artwork all along the back of the truck...)

Okay, well, I think that I am just babbling right now, so I suppose that I shouldn't waste anymore of your time... so adieu, adieu.

Talk to you later...

Jake, Emperor of Everything

August 23, 1998

Hello!

Greetings from South Texas... The hottest place on Earth!

Actually, we have had a fairly nice ammount of clouds and slight showers this last week. Or should I say nice in comparison to what we have been having. The clouds have helped to keep the sun away, although they seem to be insulating the ground and keeping the heat and humidity in. But I can't complain... just being able to be out in the rain has helped me tremendously... except for the fact that I got sick from being wet and then going into people's airconditioned homes... but it felt good at the time.

Now, for the major event of the week. We went to church yesterday to find a parking lot full of dirt, and a church building with flickering lights and no air conditioning. You will never guess what happened. On Saturday night a drunk semi truck driver lost control of his rig and drove his truck into a pylon out in front of the stake center. The truck hit the pylon with so much force that it ripped the 8' deep anchor right out of the ground and shot it across the church's parking lot to it's final resting place just outside of the relief society room. So thus the power was out, and there was an inch of dirt covering the entire parkinglot. This poor stake center has been through just about everything now. When it was first built about 6 years ago, a gang went into it just after it had been dedicated and burned it to the ground. So it was rebuilt and now a semi tries to drive into the chappell. Anyhow, that was our Sunday.

Not much else happened this week, I don't think...

Ahah! I almost forgot to tell you that I got to take a greenie on splits on his second day out in the field. And now I know why I never want to train. There is a curse that accompanies a new missionary out in the field. (And it is a curse of bad luck that lasts a week or two.) Just in the three days that he has been here, he broke our mirror, killed the car, and scared off some investigators. It is okay, it is expected. I remember my first week and how bad it was, flat tires every day and accidents and such... I guess it just helps us to be more tolerant of the new missionaries that we have to deal with as we continue on our missions. Do you know how old that makes me feel to say that? Do you realize how silly that sounds? But, I don't want you to get me wrong about training, because, while they do manage to bring bad luck, they are the most energetic and excited and it is somewhat contageous.

Well, I will talk to you later.

Jake
Emperor of Everything!

August 31, 1998

Dear You!

I just wanted to let you know that I have been enjoying the rain down here. And it has been raining on and off for a while now. Not enough to fill up the resevoir, but enough to make the weeds green. It was also a strong enough storm this last Friday to break our living room window. So life has been wet down here the last few days. Halelujah!
Now we just need to work on the cold part... please...

In other news... Most of the week was spent in missionary meetings of the extra long kind. I spoke with Sister Dyer about my hands and she is going to find out what we can do about them... Soon, I hope. I am really getting annoyed with them.

My bike tire is broken again... goodness gracious, you'd think I was a stunt man or something. So I am working on fixing that.

The rest of the week was spent with a sick companion... so not much new news for you this week. Hopefully I will have more for you next week.

Talk to you next week.

Jake
Emperor of Everything

September 7, 1998

Peek-a-boo!

Okay now, where to start? First off, let me tell you about the extremely hot week I have had. You see, we did a lot of service for Sister Chavez, a single mother-member of the english ward down here. But anyway, she lives out in the middle of nowhere and she has been lugging drinking water from town in garbage cans for the last five years. She has a well, but the water is bad and so she can not drink it and can not use it for her baking (which is here full time job). Anyhow, the woman that has been renting the well to her died and her children wanted more money than Sister Chavez can afford to pay, so the well is getting cut off from her leaving her with the need to haul water for everything. Anyhow, the bishop found out about this and told her that if she could get a water meter put in, he would get the pipes connected... so she went to the city and they put in a water meter (a difficult task during this drought). The only problem is that te water meter was put on the city limits, a quater mile away from her house. So thus began the grand service projext of my mission. No one in the ward would help this lady, they would set up a date for the service project and either people would show up to help her, and no leaders would be there. Or there would be tools etc. and no one there to use them. So, she called us, Elder Hammond and I, and asked if we could please help her out. Of course we said yes, and off we went, we had Brother Garcia help us, one of the few people in the ward who is perfectly willing to help, you just have to tell him... and rented a trencher and then for 24 hours we dug, and we dug, and I split a seam in my pants, and we dug some more. Then, we put in pipe, connected it to the water meter and got it all the way to her home and found out that we had found the cut-off valve to the water supply to the house that had burned down and not to her current one... so we began a search, and just as it was time to leave, we found it, so we will be going back soon. All that we have to do is connect the pipe to her house and she will have water... and yes all of this couldn't be done without the help of the missionaries, and yes we did it in two days instead of trying for three weeks.

But, enough of the battering on the ward, because they are an excellent ward, just don't like to leave their homes after work. But because of all of the work in the sun for the last two days, I have a major sun burn. Even with my super-screen 2000 48hour sun-block.

In other news, my bicycle is once again trying to display its power to me by going on strike. You'd think that I abused it or something. Well, I went out and bought all of the stuff that I think it will take to fix it.

Also, my hands are doing the same old thing... But at least I now on a program to work on them. I have to sleep with hand braces and wear them whenever possible, I have to take 6 motrin a day to keep down the swelling, I have hot and cold water soaks that I have to do for thirty minutes a day, and I have to somehow not use my hands on my handlebars that much... Now on city roads, maybe this would be accomplishable, but down here, the roads are like swiss cheese and the holes go that deep also... and there is no way that I can ride my bike without holding onto my handlebars. And now, if I do all of this for two months and I still have trouble, I am to call back in to Sister Dyer (the Mission President's Wife) and tell her, and she will call the Area doctor again and see where I should go from there.

As for the Missionary work, it goes well. We are teaching a member referral family that is super, when we went back to visit them, they told us that they wanted to be baptised and they asked us what it took to be baptised. All that we have to do is teach them the rest of the discussions. They are never home is tho only problem, so hopefully we will be able to find out some better way to contact them.

I almost forgot to tell you that some of my fingers are dyed purple from the cleaner that we put on the PVC pipes before you can glue them shut. And another thing that I forgot to tell you is a bit of knowledge that I have gained from this whole pipe experience. Never take a breath of air as you have your face down by the end of the 800' of pipe that you have just laid and are witing for the water to come out of the end. The fumes that come out of the pipe (from all of the glue that you used) may just knock you out.

Talk to you later,




Jake
Emperor of Everything

September 14, 1998

Dear Everyone,

How is everything? I am not to bad myself. I went to go see the doctor today... actually a physical therapist. He is a member down here in Mission and has an office in Pharr, so I got one of our investigators to take me over to his office and I was examined. So far no new news. I still have to continue doing what I have been doing, but he is going to try and get me an appointment with another doctor in Edinburg. Hopefully I will get something out of this. As of now he has diagnosed it as carpal tunnel (sort of). You see, he asked me if I knew what it was and then left it at that... but he also told me that sometimes it is other stuff. So he did some sonic therapy treatment on my left arm to see if it makes any difference. Hopefully it will. He kept asking me if I thought that I would become a zone leader soon (to have a car) and I told him no. Anyhow, that is what is going on with my hands as for now.

In other news, this last Sunday was very interesting. It was Stake Conference and I was completely amazed at the courage of the people giving talks. The english stake was fine and went without a hitch. But the Spanish one was very nice. All of the same speakers gave talks in both, so when it came time for the pure-english speaking people to give their talks, instead of using a translator, every single one of them got up and did it on their own. Even Sister Dyer herself, was among those who spent the last month translating their own talks. The vocabulary was simple and the conjugation was a mess... but the spirit was the same. I loved it and I gained a lot of respect for the speakers... as did, I am sure, the rest of the stake.

Elder Hammond is definitely ready to go home. I don't know what else to say besides that. He is driving me crazy... I think that in the future missionaries should be given a false release date and not be notified of their real departure date until the night before. That would completely throw out this time period spent by every returning missionary of mindless wandering. Anyhow, he will be gone in eight days now, and I will be getting a new companion.

Elder Hammond and I spent some more time working at Sister Chavez's, trying to get her trailer in working order. Thus far, we have installed 900' of pvc pipe, a toilet, carpet, washing machine, air conditioner, and helped with a door, roofing, fencing, and yard maintenance. Other than that, we haven't done much for her. But get this, she asked us if we would be able to build a completely new roof for her trailer. I managed to get out of that one for now, but can you imagine? A whole roof? That would take two missionaries the rest of their lives.

The storm is gone from Mission for now. For a while there it looked like we were going to have a hurricane on our hands and the stores went empty; as did our teaching appointments for two entire days. But now everything is returning to normal. The rain has made it humid and hot down here, but everything is also green, so I think that it was a good trade off... for now at least. Tomorrow is zone conference... so lots of indoor time, so it can be as hot as it wants to be.

Well, time to get going...

Jake
Emperor of Everything.