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Sun, 27 Apr 2014

The rest of the photos


Most of these didn't have captions, so I guess they're self-explanatory.





La Venta, Tabasco





posted at: 21:31 |

Still more photos




The breakwater




A frigatebird








posted at: 21:22 |

More photos

Our bishop's birthday.


 My companion's birthday.


New Year's Day.



  Pemex at night.

thumb.P1020076.JPG posted at: 21:10 |

Photos christmas 2013

 Bryan didn't put labels on all of the pictures, but this appears to be Christmas obviously.



The second largest petroleum processing plant in the world as seen from my area (the largest and the as-yet-unfinished new largest are also in my area, but  further out)




posted at: 21:00 |

Photos end of 2013


This is my house in Allende. It's big because four missionaries live here.


My Thanksgiving dinner.


Elder García, my companion, in the bus station right before going home.


This is actually a better picture of my Thanksgiving dinner together with Elder Nisbet (resident of Elko).


 Me, Elder Smiley, Elder Soler (my companion), and Elder Hernández (our district leader). This is right after the transfers.


posted at: 20:50 |

April 21, 2014

 Que bueno que aprovechaste tus vacaciones. Supongo que le cayó un rayo a la computadora y por ésto no me volviste a escribir. Espero que la compongan pronto. Siete horas es aproximadamente el tiempo que se requiere para atravesar esta misión. ¿Cuanto tiempo es de Las Vegas a San Diego? ¿a El Paso? Pues no pasaron muchas cosas en la semana aunque tuvimos un bautismo y estuvo muy bien tenerlo. Os voy a mandar algunas fotos dado que no he mandado nada recientemente. Espero que os guste verme en lo que me ha pasado estos últimos meses.


Jan's note: Bryan told us awhile back that he couldn't send pictures from his other area for some reason so he finally sent several pictures now that he's been transferred. He says above that "I hope that you enjoy seeing me and what has happened to me these last months."

So next I'll post the pictures he's sent.

posted at: 20:03 |

April 14, 2014

This week was really not very good. My companion got sick, then I got sick, then none of our investigators came to church…Friday was a high point because we had another zone conference. The zone leaders gave me a new card (which surprised me, because these things usually take longer than that), and the missionary who had stuck my Preach my Gospel in his bag at the last zone conference returned it; that gave a certain upturn to the week. Next week we're going to baptize at the beach, so that'll be a mission highlight.

I'm sorry that you won't have company for vacations. Mexican children get two weeks off school for Easter. Which is interesting when we consider that there isn't even a word in Spanish for Easter (they call it Passover. Isn't that interesting? ) Actually a lot of the people here don't even celebrate it. The Catholics have a whole week of drinking and partying, and we always do something for Easter Sunday, but the Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Seventh Day Adventists (the other major religions here) for one reason or another, don't celebrate Easter.

 About needing anything. My shirts are wearing out, but they'll last until November. Same goes for everything else. Extra spending money is pointless; there's nothing to spend it on (and actually they just increased our missionary allowance from 1400 pesos a month to 2200 pesos a month):there is absolutely nothing in my area. I suppose I could buy more food, but I already eat enough. But getting real letters and things in the mail is really special.



posted at: 19:57 |

March 31, 2014
I love you. This week was transfers. I'm going to a place called La Venta. It has pyramids and other ruins. Also, according to the divisions of things, it is still part of the city of Coatzacoalcos. So I won't be going far. And it's the last of the three zones in the city that I haven't been yet. I think it's probable that I will spend the majority of my mission here in this city. But it's nice here, so that's okay. And I'm not here for sight-seeing anyway. 

We haven't started daylight savings time yet. I think it's the weekend of general conference. 

Truthfully, it's been a little difficult here. We haven't seen baptisms for a variety of reasons. Mainly because parents of our investigators aren't willing to give permission to their children to get baptized. And one emergency surgery. But a new area has new challenges and opportunities. We'll see what happens. 

I hope you enjoy your last few weeks of school. I'll be getting back about ten weeks into the next school year. It really is amazing how fast the time goes. I feel like I'm so close to the end of my mission, it's hard to believe. Where does the time go? I read a book once about that. All I remember is that at the end someone stuck a flute in some sort of inter-wordly portal and all our time was being sucked away. I don't think that's really what's happening, but it makes a good story. Actually, I don't even remember if I liked the story or not. Anyway, hope you have a good week. I love you lots, too.
posted at: 19:37 |

April 7, 2014

I'm glad your party turned out a success. And the show, too. Also that Dad has a job. What will he be doing: dealing blackjack? Or managing machines that electronically steal your money (a Mexican ATM ate my mission debit card last week; it made me think of Las Vegas). 

Here in Mexico, a major method of construction is filling PVC pipe with concrete. I'm glad Dad is keeping up with the times. I didn't even know the hot tub was broken. But that makes me glad, too. 

I haven't had any desire to sit in a hot tub as we've been at forty degrees (celsius) these last couple weeks with the promise of higher temperatures in the near future.

Conference here was a disaster. Nobody from the branch presidency showed up on Saturday to open the building; as a result, we, the missionaries, ran around a whole bunch under the burning sun looking for keys only to, in the end, not find anything and not be able to see the morning session. The afternoon session was slightly better, but nobody showed up to see it except us. The priesthood session was excellent. Sunday, again, nobody came to see conference. I'm looking forward to reading it in the Liahona (if it ever gets here; we still haven't got our Liahona from the last conference). 

Also, I seem to have lost my Preach my Gospel at our zone conference last week. I've already asked the zone leaders to check in the building for it, but, seeing as our zone hardly ever gets together, even if they find it, I won't see it for another month. It wasn't really a very good week. I hope that next week is better. 

Te amo y espero que Dios te bendiga.
posted at: 19:34 |

March 24, 2014
My new area is a lot like my first area, just a lot smaller. There aren't that many members, but they fill the house of worship (probably because it's pretty small too). We need to be careful not to baptize too many because there's just not space for them. My new companion is a Poblano named Elder Rivera. He's been on his mission the same time as I have. He's not that into working, but we'll get things done anyway. I've only had enchiladas once on my mission. The food they call enchiladas here is actually called 'enmoladas' (and we eat those from time to time), but actual enchiladas are pretty rare. We do eat quite a bit of rice, but it's just plain white rice. The most common dish they give us is chicken in broth with white rice on the side. And tortillas. In any given week we'll eat that three or four times. Tacos we don't eat very often. These people generally don't make tacos at home, and we don't eat out much. 

I'm glad spring has been treating you well. Spring doesn't exist here. We're well into the hot season here. In fact, in this new area we don't have fans. The last few nights have been unbearable. The mission secretaries finally sent us money to buy fans, so we'll buy them today, and sleep better in this next week. I don't remember complaining that our observation of brassica arapa was boring, just that the format was poorly done and pointless. I hope you and your class enjoy your gardening experience and that there are no sudden plagues to spoil your fun (like there has been here; a plague struck the Mexican lime crop and limes, which they serve with everything here, have become extremely expensive).

We put in very few service hours here. People generally tell us no when we ask if we can help them, and often get offended. We still offer, but it's really difficult to find things to do.
posted at: 19:32 |

March 10, 2014
I never said that I wouldn't write this week: just that I wasn't sure if I would have time or not so that you wouldn't worry if you didn't hear from me. But here I am. We did travel in bus to the mission office, and from there to immigration. It's about a three and a half hour bus ride. The buses are pretty comfortable, even if it gets a bit boring traveling for so long. On the trip out, it stretched out a bit because the bus arrived to pick us up an hour and a half late, and returning it did the same because the bus driver got lost. Which isn't something you generally expect from a major bus line, but that's what happened. And it's just fingerprints and a signature. Nothing too fancy.

We've been hearing a lot about improving our teaching skills here, too. They say that if we want to see different results, we need to do things differently. This is the mission with the greatest number of missionaries in all of Mexico, and also the lowest baptizing. So . . . hope you can change things up at your school. 

Haven't seen any hummingbirds in Mexico. Or much of anything alive. It's mostly concrete and sand. And coconut trees. And stray dogs. And more sand. 

We don't change our clocks until April (if it's a nasty habit in the U.S., imagine what it's like in the tropics).
posted at: 19:29 |

March 3, 2014
I did sprain my ankle, and last Monday it hurt plenty; the doctoor told me I would be out of things for two days. But, I woke up on Tuesday and it didn't hurt anymore, and it never did swell or change colors or anything, so I just lost a couple hours Monday evening. We hardly ever play soccer because there's really not time to do it. Mondays are our busiest days. In fact, it's possible that I won't be able to write you next week because I'm going to travel to renew my visa (they've never done it on Monday before, but there was a new announcement that that's how it's going to be from here on) and I have no idea if I'll get back in time to write (and while I will probably be able to write the next week, it's the week of transfers and there exists a remote chance that I won't be able to then either).


 I'm looking forward to getting back to first world problems. Second and third world problems are depressing and worse when you're in the middle of them.

Pretty much the only birds here are pigeons, pelicans and seagulls. I've seen a few terns and once I saw a frigate bird. That's it. They don't sing, though. And the pelicans have the nasty habit of dropping fish bombs that stink to high heaven. 

This week we received a visit from Elder Valenzuela of the first quorum of the seventy, and he gave us some instructions and corrections about things. It's been really hot. That's about it. 

posted at: 19:26 |

February 24, 2014

I didn't write much because I felt a little pressed for time, and I wasn't feeling too great. I did read your blog, though. Thank you for writing me. Everything was pretty good until I sprained my ankle playing soccer this morning. The doctor says to stay off it for two days, and then it should be fine. But those are two days of work lost this week. Oh, well. 

We had lots of investigators at church yesterday, and that's always a good thing. You know that two-thirds of my mission have already passed? The time really flies. I love you lots.
posted at: 19:22 |

February 17, 2014
Estoy muy excelente, si con un poco (mucho) de calor. Estamos a 35 grados. Y a penas se está empezando la temporada de calor. Te quiero muchísimo. He pasado una semana sin mucho de acontecimientos. Pero me siento bien.
posted at: 19:19 |

February 10, 2014
I had a good week with a few minor setbacks. One of our investigators disappeared and another ended up in the hospital, but in the whole, everything went well. We had seven investigators at sacrament meeting, which made me happy.
posted at: 19:17 |

Mon, 03 Feb 2014

February 3, 2014

I don't get any of the news, so I know nothing about the drought, but there's always a drought there. We've got water here. It's so contaminated as to be practically unusable, but we've got it. We also have a well. With a bucket and a pulley and everything.

Everything's good here. The weather has been between really hot and really windy. They announced the transfers today, and I'll be staying right here.

An investigator with whom we've been working on and off for six months surprised us this week when she told us that she was going to get baptized. At first we didn't believe her, but then she explained to us how she had had an experience the night before that showed her the Book of Mormon was true. And yesterday she went to church for the first time. It definitely made my week. 

We also had stake conference this week. Our mission president was there. I really enjoyed the stake presidencies messages. On Sunday we were able to watch from our own chapel because they webcast the conference. Aside from a few technical difficulties, it was a good experience. 

posted at: 21:22 |

Tue, 14 Jan 2014

January 13, 2014

Hi, Mom. Don't worry about Christmas. I'll be home for the next one, and we'll do a super-awesome extra-special one. And that you gave Thomas a phone clarifies Dad's commentaries about Thomas' cell phone going through the wash. When you say your old phone, are you talking about the blue one that's fifteen years old? Or have you gotten a new new phone to replace your Android? See, these are the little things that nobody ever gets around to tell me.

Anyway, I hope the week wasn't too stressful for you. A short observation is that taking a little time to read the scriptures every day will help you maintain your sanity and balance the rest of your time better. Also: the employers here in Mexico are so much worse than the employers in the U.S. for work/home balance. The average Mexican works ten hours a day, seven days a week with an occasional rotating day off (which is never Sunday which is especially frustrating for us as missionaries). And they work that schedule not because they're desperately poor but because that's what the employers demand. 
As far as the mission schedule goes, it's not as simple as you paint it. Sometimes there are meetings and things in the morning when we ought to be studying. And sometimes our companions aren't interested in studying. And sometimes we have church at eight in the morning. Sometimes we get back to the house late and we have to decide if we're going to plan or go to bed on time. Sometimes lots of things happen. But if we decide that studying is important to us, we get it done. 

To stay warm I've been going out to work with my fleece on and my raincoat on top (the cold comes with rain and high winds). And today it's in the high eighties and really sunny. The locals say that another storm is supposed to come in tomorrow, but the weather report that we get from the mission says it'll stay sunny and hot all week. We'll see. 
Today we went to the escolleras (breakwater) in my area and saw some pretty cool stuff. I took pictures that someday I will send to you. I saw a frigate bird and a puffer fish (there were people fishing and they'd just caught it) and terns and gulls and oil tankers and giant concrete tetrahedrons that had to have served some kind of purpose but were pretty incomprehensible and a skin diver spear fishing. I also got kind of sunburned, but It was a good trip.
This week we were looking for this one inactive member who we didn't know in this one part of the city where we'd never been, and, after looking for her for an hour, crossing the colony from one side to another, we gave up and headed back; right then we saw a couple women struggling with corrugated metal roofings, and stopped to help them put them on top of their house. So we're up on the roof and the neighbour comes out of her house to ask us to put a pause on the roofwork because she was going to shower (her bathroom doesn't have a roof and we were up high to see inside). And it turned out that she was the person we were looking for! And then after some more talking, we found out that the woman we were helping was the ex-wife of one of our members whose daughters we were also looking for. So it was interesting how that happened.
posted at: 21:47 |

Sun, 05 Jan 2014

December 9, 2013
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting. I spoke about missionary work. It was a bit different. I've spoken a lot here; my memory is that the missionaries hardly ever spoke at home, but that doesn't really matter. And then we got to watch the Christmas devotional. That was nice. It's been a pretty good week. The weather won't make up its mind about whether to be cold or hot. If it's not careful, I'll spew it forth from my mouth. But, it really has been pleasant. It's my companion's last week in the mission, so we'll try to make it special by working extra hard (and we have a baptism planned for Saturday). That's really about everything. 
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 21:10 |

December 23, 2013
Merry Christmas. It's been a good week, but a little stressful. I got my new companion on Tuesday, and I've spent the week teaching him the area. He's Elder Soler from Honduras. On Friday we had a Christmas dinner with President Morales in Minatitlan (which is about an hour away from Coatzacoalcos and two hours from our area). Then, on Sunday, we had a stake devotional where we sang "Oh Holy Night" to the members. It was a good experience. Be excellent to each other, and have a very merry Christmas.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 20:58 |

December 2, 2013
Happy Monday. We're still in the rainy season, but we've had a few days of clear weather, so the storm water is receding (and there are fewer puddles in the streets). Thanksgiving is a non-existent holiday in Mexico, so there were really no celebrations. I did go out and bought a little pie thing which tasted almost, but not quite, completely unlike pie. And the other American who lives with us joined me in singing the Thanksgiving hymns from the hymnal. 
We did a lot of walking this week, but didn't see many people. But we're going to continue working. I hope you all have a great week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 20:56 |

Sun, 01 Dec 2013

Nevember 25, 2013
It's been rainy here, too. The locals say that there are fifty-five "nortes" that make up the rainy season, and that we just passed number thirteen. We're right on the beach, so the storms get pretty strong. 

The upside to the rain is that the weather actually stays below ninety degrees (for the next two and a half months, or so).

Thanksgiving is a holiday that the Mexican people have yet to hijack from the U.S., so there really won't be any festivities, but I bought a new camera, so I should be able to send you some pictures of the various ways we don't celebrate on Thursday. Or maybe the other American elder who lives with us will join with me in putting something together. We shall see.
It was a fine week that culminated in a baptism, so no complaints there. Also, the weather has cooled down to be actually fairly comfortable. We're going to be well this week, too. As long as we keep our feet dry (it's the rainy season). I'm past the year and still going strong. My companion and I are going to finish out the year on a high note. I love you and hope the best. 

Elder Bryan Hall

P.S. The letter is short for time constraints.
posted at: 10:28 |

Nevember 18, 2013
Normally they notify us of transfers on Sunday night, we get specific instructions via email on Monday, and leave for our new areas Tuesday morning. This transfer, they notified us on Monday morning of the transfers, never sent us specific instructions, and told us to be at the bus station Tuesday before eight (which we actually were unable to do because heavy rains for two days before flooded the great city of Coatzacoalcos, and there were no ways to get across the city). It wasn't so bad for me because my new area is so close. There's usually not enough time to say good-bye to many people (which is probably one of the reasons they do the transfers as they do), but we did talk to a few people before we left. They didn't close my area; they just took my companion and me out and put our zone leaders in. And I already know my new companion (Elder Bryan García) because he was my zone leader for three transfers. He's going home in a month. And he scheduled three teaching appointments during the day today (I guess he doesn't care so much about writing home since he's going home soon), so I don't have any more time right now. I'll see if I can't write something else later in the day.
(Guess there was no time, because we didn't get another letter)

posted at: 10:25 |

Tue, 12 Nov 2013

November 12, 2013
I'm being transferred. The area is called Allende and it's supposed to be the industrial center of this same city of Coatzacoalcos. It's in the same stake I'm in now, but a different zone. And, even though they still haven't published the transfer details and we don't know for sure, it looks like my zone leader will be the former companion of my current companion with my future companion being my past zone leader. Kind of odd, no? But maybe they're just missionaries with the same last names. We're kind of waiting for them to send us the transfer schedule which has all of that information on it. It was a good week, though. It hasn't been too hot, and we had lots of success with investigators this week. In fact, we've got baptisms planned for every week of the next month. Too bad I won't be able to see any of them. Oh, well. I hope you all have a great week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 22:04 |

Mon, 04 Nov 2013

November 4, 2013
It's been a crazy week. My companion is a physical wreck (the results of many avoidable sports injuries) and on Wednesday he destroyed his ankle stepping off a sidewalk. So we spent a lot of this week in our house on doctor's orders. Now he's somewhat better, but still has an ankle that looks like an orange. A Mexican orange, because the oranges in Mexico are green, but an orange all the same. We had lots of investigators at church this Sunday (most of them were old people visiting their children who live here, but they're still investigators), so we're feeling pretty happy about everything, but it is frustrating to be stuck inside. Halloween was a failure. We actually got one group of trick-or-treaters, but we didn't have candy for them. The woman escorting the kids tried to give us jobs as English teachers at the high school where she works, but we resisted. It was hard because she asked us in English. There were more trick-or-treaters out on the first and second of November than on Halloween, which I thought was interesting. The first of November was the Day of the Dead, so our mission president told us to go to the cemetaries to contact people. It actually didn't work out that way because nobody wanted us, but it was pretty cool to see the people and everything. Yes, we had another week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 19:47 |

Mon, 28 Oct 2013

October 28, 2013
Happy Halloween. It's been a good week (or at least we taught a lot of lessons). Also had plenty of people at church (it was supposed to be ward conference, but they told us on Sunday that they were pushing it back to December. So . . . ). Today is a major Catholic holiday. We also had a zone activity. If you think that's suspicious, you're not alone. It actually got down into the eighties a couple times this week, so it was a little more comfortable. And then I got a nasty cold. But I'm mostly better now. We're happy. Also there are general authorities coming in the next month and a half, and we may get the chance to listen to them (or maybe not; they don't let us participate in a lot of these member events). Que todos tengáis buena semana y estáis mejores en todas las cosas. 
Élder Bryan Hall
posted at: 20:59 |

Sun, 27 Oct 2013

October 21, 2013
Due to negative client feedback, all sentences will be non-fragmentary even for artistic reasons. This week in church, we had unprecedented attendence by members (probably because of the Primary program), but zero investigators. That was sad. But we are still happy and excited to keep working. Next week we will have investigators with us at our ward conference. The weather has been unpredictable and changeable, but we're all okay. It's a good thing my raincoat folds up and fits inside my bag. Actually, I haven't worn my raincoat at all this week, but it's still nice to have. Everything's peaceful. I will write again next week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 21:19 |

October 14, 2013
Good week. Hot. Sunny. Not many investigators at church. But we had some good lessons. Made some progress with some investigators. Looking for new opportunities to teach and working on finding new investigators. Unfortunately the baptism we had planned for this week couldn't go through, but we'll see other baptisms in future weeks. Todo está tranquilo. I love you all, and I'll write you again next week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 21:18 |

October 7, 2013
It was a good week for us; we were able to teach a lot of lessons and find some promising new investigators. Conference was also an excellent opportunity for us (even if conference in Spanish leaves something to be desired). We have more investigators progressing towards baptism than at any other time in my mission. This last week has been really hot, but we woke up today to cloudy and cool with a stiff wind. One of my pairs of shoes has been falling to pieces for the last couple weeks (it has multiple holes in the soles), so I sent it to be resoled today (I've heard stories about soles made from airplane tires that they use here, but the cobbler says he can't put those soles on these shoes. But he has a pair of "industrial soles" that are for PeMex boots that he assures me will last forever too, so I'll wait to put airplane tires on my other shoes if they need it). I realized just now that I forgot to take a picture of the holes, so I won't be able to show you what it looked like, but it definitely needed something. My other shoes are looking fine, though. Hope that all of you have a good week.
Elder Bryan Hall
posted at: 21:17 |

Sun, 06 Oct 2013

September 30, 2013
Transfers this week. This big news is . . . nothing. The only change is my district is our district leader and that's because he's been a missionary for two years and one month (at this moment he's probably already at home). They still haven't told us who our new district leader will be, but it's not that important for right now. We're getting ready for a baptismal service on October twelfth which has got us pretty excited. There are always a few problems with getting someone ready for baptism, but that's part of the mission. The weather has changed from occasionally tolerable to unbearably hot with temperatures well over a hundred degrees and a scorching sun. We're still working hard, though. Also drinking lots of water. I've been drinking about four liters a day. General conference is going to be a big deal next week, we're right now wroking to get as many people as possible to attend. My companion's birthday is this month which means that almost all of my companions have had birthdays with me. If I had had as many birthdays as my companions, I'd be thirty by now. It's been a good week, we had lots of people at church and lots of people progressing. Hope you're all doing well and driving carefully (that means you, Melody). I love you all, y que Dios os bendiga.
Élder Bryan Hall
posted at: 18:45 |

September 23, 2013
Buenas tardes, todos. I'm here in Mexico for another week. They were predicting hurricane, but the weather continues the same as always: sunny and hot. We've had some disappointments this week, but also some good experiences. We were going to have a baptism, but that fell through. We did find some promising new investigators including an American named Mike who we're teaching in English. This Monday the washing Machine we normally use to do laundry broke down, so we weren't able to wash on Monday. Or on Tuesday. Or any day until Friday when we ran out of clean clothes and it became imperative that we do it immediately. So we found a member who was willing to help us out. The thing was that on Thursday we were taking a shortcut and we both fell in a river and got our clothes scummy and black. I don't know what exactly was in the river, but it wasn't water, and it smelled foul. But we were already out of clean clothes and there was nothing we could do except finish out the day in what we had on. But it was alright. And all our clothes are clean now. That's about it. Transfers are next week, so anything could happen. Que Dios os bendiga,
Élder Bryan Hall
posted at: 18:43 |

Bryan Elliot Hall St. Peters, Missouri 

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