Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve in Mexico


 Hello All!

I get to write a day early because tomorrow is Christmas!  What a wonderful thing this is! I have pretty much 2 P-days in a row!  Best week Ever!

All is well here at the CCM!  I have continued to eat lots of food and make friends and learn the Spanish language and oh man who knows what else! 

Every day I am exhausted, completely exhausted but then once I am finally able to lay down for the night my mind won’t shut off so I just lay there and can’t sleep.   It’s no bueno.

Another problem with sleeping is Mexicans like fireworks and they aren’t very considerate so they shoot fireworks off all night!   A few weeks ago there was the holiday here of the Virgin of Guadalupe or something like that and so 7 million people traveled to the hill that’s real close to the CCM and shot fireworks off 24/7.  It was miserable and I didn’t get much sleep but it was still kinda cool.

Our zone is singing some Christmas songs for Christmas tomorrow and we’ve been practicing a lot for it and I’m really exciting!  I’ve really come to love singing hymns in Spanish.  It helps me feel at home.  We committed our investigator to baptism only to find out the next day that he is our new night time teacher.  He’s an RM (returned missionary) and supposedly a really good liar!  I feel like my whole life is a lie!  We teach both our morning and night time teachers daily now and it’s really hard but good practice and I’m slowly seeing improvement in my Spanish!

Thank you for all the prayers in my behalf!  I have felt them and they have blessed me so much!

During this Christmas time I thought for sure that I’d be down because I’m away and in a sense it is kinda hard, but my district is amazing and we are having a party today and a gift exchange tomorrow!   Everyone in my district are getting these big packages through the Dear Elder site or something so they are getting like pies and Krispy Cream donuts and all this stuff and its great cuz they are going to share it all at our party tonight!

The hill right next to the CCM caught on fire a few days ago because of fireworks but then it went out so it was only exciting for an hour or so.  We’ve had lots of devotionals including a live one from the Provo MTC where the Presiding Bishop and his wife spoke and it was really good! He talked about how we have a gift to share and that gift is the light of Christ.

I’ve seen Elder Etter everyday during meals and he is doing super super good.  He leaves next week so that’s going to be hard to see him go but he’s ready and I’m excited for him!

In Ether chapter 2, it talks about the Brother of Jared and his people and how they tarried on the beach for 4 years and how the Lord chastened the Brother of Jared for not asking God what they should do next in order to get to the promised land.  I read this chapter and realized that my teenage years were kinda like me chilling on a beach not getting much done.   I realized that I need to step on it and that it’s my time now to build a boat and work hard in the Spanish language so that when I get to the promised land (Mexico City South Mission), that I’ll be able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord and do all he asks me to do.  After reading that chapter it was kind of a wake-up call for me so I’m really determined to do this thang!

We are constantly quoting lines from the “Best Two Years”.  My comp practically has the whole movie memorized and he says the funniest things at the worst times possible!  He’s very much like me but maybe a little less mature, which is awesome and exactly what I need!  We get along great and haven’t had any problems! As zone leader I get to go to a lot of leadership meetings and lead zone devotionals which are pretty much the most spiritual meetings I’ve ever attended!  My testimony has grown incredibly and I love the work! 

President Pratt the Mission President here is really scary but he looks a lot like Uncle Kelly, except older, so it’s like an old and scary version of Uncle Kelly!  I spend my days here learning tons and laughing constantly!   I am incredibly happy and blessed and I feel so grateful to be a part of this Work!

Sorry for all the random thoughts mixed in together!   I didn’t have time to collect my thoughts before I came in here to write and I have pretty much no time to write so I’m letting it all out!

Every morning as my roommates and I check the mirror right before we leave I say, "Look Good!  Feel Good!   Let’s Do this Thang!!"   It’s kinda my new quote. 

I want to do a shout out to my mother.   Thank you mom for being such an example to me in saying your prayers morning and night!  So many times I would pass by your bedroom and see you kneeling and praying!  Lots of times here we just have no time and are always in a rush.  Sometimes I forget to say my prayers as we are rushing out the door or rushing to bed to beat the curfew, but then an image of my mother praying pops into my little head and it reminds me that there’s something very important I need to do before anything else!

I love the CCM!  I love being a missionary!  I love learning and teaching the gospel!  I love Christmas time and the joy that comes as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!  I love the work and I love serving!  I pray all is well back home and I hope you have a white Christmas!

With all the love I can give,

Elder McClure

Riley sent the following to the family, but said on Christmas day that it could be added to his blog:

Hey Fam!

I’m doing so good.  It’s great!  I’m growing a lot mentally and spiritually and socially, and a little bit around my waist, too!  I was really worried about having anxiety or depression being out here but I’ve been truly blessed because really I’m doing great!

I had a dream the other night that I thought I’d share.  I don’t know if it really meant anything specific or important but I kinda feel like it did, so I want to share.  We were all home--the whole fam.   There was a big storm...big black clouds and strong wind and tornados and it wasn’t just a storm it was some being--some huge dark thing--the black clouds and wind and it was destroying everything in its path.   I wanted the whole fam to run to the school where there were stronger walls that could protect us, but Dad said that the home was where we would be safest. So we stayed home and stayed together.  The storm hit all around our house--took out everything in its path, but we were fine.  Our home was fine. 

That was pretty much a terrible description of the dream, but it’s hard to put in words.  All I know is that it really built my faith on family.  The only thing that matters to me are you guys and I pray for all of you so much!  I hope all is well and please have a good Christmas!  Love you guys so much and I can’t wait to talk to you tomorrow!


Elder McClure


Thursday, December 18, 2014

My First Week at the CCM (MTC)

December 18, 2014

Hello All!

Mexico is everything I didn’t think it would be--If that makes sense! haha  Where to start is the big question!  Since it’s the first week I have tons to talk about and I promise next week’s email won’t be so long!

On my flight from Denver to Atlanta I flew with a cute little African American sister who was more nervous than me.  haha   So we kept each company and that was a blessing to have her there for sure! From Atlanta I flew with like 25 other missionaries. haha and I got a meal on the plane and it was delicious.  I thought dad said no free snack!  haha   Once I got to the Mexico airport some lady took all the food you packed me mom!!!  It was so rude of her but I did eat a little before she and her training dog took it away!  I guess maybe that sandwich smelled like a bomb or something!  I led the whole group through customs because I knew what to do thanks to the Japan trip and it made me feel really cool!

Once at the CCM (Language Training Mission) we had to check in, eat and email home saying we were safe.  Some kids had to get shots but I was all squared away so man I was doing good! Then I went to my casa and met my companion! His name is Elder Billman and he is from Saratoga Springs, Utah!  He is shorter than me which makes me feel really good and what an awesome elder he is! At first he was kind of reserved and I thought, “Uh oh, this is gonna be a long 6 weeks”, but now we are like best friends and he doesn’t even mind when I say, “Hey elder I need to use el baƱo again (which happens like every hour because I drink a lot).   My other two roommates are Elder Bird and Elder Bishop!  Both are shorter than me also so I’m feeling like a king now!!

We try to keep our room and bathroom clean but you know how 18 and 19 year old boys are! But really we are pretty good. 

Sunday we had interviews and devotionals and I had to write my first talk in Spanish but I didn’t end up giving it so I feel really blessed!  That night we met the rest of our district and everyone was really reserved so I jumped in and taught the whole district how to play “signs” which is a game I learned at the Hill Cumorah Pageant while President T. interviewed us one at a time!

President T. is a counselor in our branch/zone and he is the only one we’ve met yet but I really like him.  He is young and American.  Once he interviewed all of us he pulled me and my comp out of the room and asked us to be district leaders.  That was very humbling and I didn’t feel like I was the guy for the job but we said yes and were made district leaders-- me for the first 3 weeks and then my companion for the last 3 weeks here at the CCM.  As a district leader I got to lead a devotional, set an example and go to leadership meetings to help better our district.

Thursday was orientation day so no P-day which stunk but we learned a lot and met our teacher Hermano Hernandez!   He is 25 and Mexican and really, really funny and spiritual.  He is actually leaving us in 2 weeks because he is moving to Salt Lake for LDS Business College.

Friday was our first real day and we taught an investigator that night in Spanish.  Since then we’ve taught him every night and man I say pretty much nothing. I just read out of Preach My Gospel.  haha   His name is Isaac Hernandez.  He is very interested in the gospel but lives with his girlfriend and has 2 kids so we’ll see where it goes.

Correction—in case I made this all confusing... Thursday night we were called as district leaders, not Sunday.

On Sunday night President T. met with all of us for more interviews on worthiness and stuff like that which is protocol and after that he pulled me and my companion out again and asked us to be zone leaders!  This was even more humbling and it’s practically unheard of for such young elders to be zone leaders!  But I’m trying real hard to be a good leader and watch over the zone! So the new district leaders are Elder Richardson and Elder Pratt.  They are both cool and I like them as my leaders.  Pretty much our district is the tightest district here and we have so much fun together and laugh constantly.  They have helped me so much.  My Spanish is non-existent and I’m the worst in my district.   I ask all to please pray for me that I may learn the language quickly and permanently.  I’m not quite discouraged yet but I know prayers will help.  Everyone here said that the first 4 days would be the worst days of your life... that hasn’t been true for me. The past four days and all the rest leading up to right now have been some of the best days of my life and I am so so so so so happy to be a missionary. This is my calling and I know this is where I am supposed to be.  I have no more time to write but so much more to say.  I learned cool lessons from the Book of Mormon that I want to share but just can’t!   Maybe next week!  Thank you all for the emails!  Sorry my responses were short but I did read them and they remind me of your love! 

One last thing, I’ve been eating a ton of food here-- like a ton!  I’m kind of getting chubby so yeah that’s that.  I got food poisoning or something on Monday and it was not a good experience.  I am better now.  I hope all is well and I send my love to all!  Pictures coming soon!

With love,
Elder McClure

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Riley's 1st Email in Mexico (red text below)

Your Missionary's mailing address is:
Elder Riley McClure
[Depart from MTC Jan 19, 2015] [Branch 4 - District A]
Carretera Tenayuca-Chalmita #828
Colonia Zona Escolar, Gustavo A. Madero
07230 Mexico, Distrito Federal

The use of the above address on all correspondence will greatly facilitate delivery to your missionary
at the MTC. Please don't send packages to the MTC.

Hey Parents! im here and safe and its crazy here! the journey was not too too fun and i have a terrible head ache but ive already met  a ton of cool dudes and i meet my comp real soon! Hope all is well bck home! dont worry about me im gonna destroy this thang! lots of love!

Elder McClure

ps the key board is super sticky and gross and its also in mexican so thats why it looks like i cant type!

Mexico, Here I Come

Well, the time has finally come!  I am honored and thrilled to be called to the Mexico City South Mission where I will declare glad tidings of great joy to the Mexican people!  If there's one thing I would like everyone reading this to know, it's that God loves you and has a plan for you. He wants to hear from you so please talk to Him.  See you in 2 years!  Elder Riley McClure . . . OUT!