Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Off to Culiacan, and a couple of updates from the MTC!

We had a chance to talk to Jake when he had a layover in L.A. on Memorial Day.  He sounds great.  He was traveling to Culiacan alone (which is unusual for a missionary), but he sounded upbeat and happy.  We assume he arrived safely Monday night and is now testing out his new-found Spanish skills somewhere in Mexico!
May 17, 2014
Dear All:

That’s awesome your [Mom’s] foot is doing better! Josh has been telling me funny stories about making his companion eat a pound of Reeses's and 28 slices of bread and a whole ice cream sandwich in one bite!

Things are pretty normal here, we have an investigator named Javier. He’s a an actual non-member, and he says he was impressed by our Spanish. My companion, Elder Kester and I have been getting that a lot so it’s nice to know were progressing. He has a lot of questions and is a professor at USU so he always has a lot to contribute to the conversation, but he can ramble on. Sometimes our lessons with him are usually an hour and a half when they should be 45 min.

But yeah, I leave for Mexico in 9 days! Kinda bittersweet. I’m gonna miss all my friends here, but I’m excited to leave the MTC. I got my travel plans. I leave here at 4:30 in the morning and I fly from SLC to LA to Culiacan. I travel all alone because I’m the only missionary in the entire MTC going to Culiacan! I’m gonna die over there. It’s been over 100 degrees for the past 6 weeks, and it’s only gonna get hotter! But I’m pretty excited. We did get new missionaries in our zone this week they’re all pretty cool. Not a lot of interesting stuff this week. Our teachers bought us krispy kreme doughnuts because were special.

If you could send my Husky shorts that would be amazing, also my glasses before I leave would be great too. Um…the shirts you gave me the arrowhead ones (dress shirts) fit perfect around the neck and chest but they’re like a foot too long so I don’t know if I can get them hemmed or anything or just have to deal with really long shirts.

Sounds like everything is great at home. Any news for the NFL draft? New pickups for the Seahawks?

Pretty typical week though. Sorry for the short letter. I’m gonna miss the elders in my district were all really close, which sucks. I just hope I don’t get a square for a companion.

I didn’t know you were recording me when I spoke Spanish! I dont want people to make fun of my poor grammar, but I’ll come back speaking like a gangster I think. Any who, hope everyone is doing well! 

-Elder Latimer 

P.S.  Also, L. Tom Perry and his wife came and spoke to us! We’ve had 5 apostles now, crazy! I hope president Monson comes this week, but I doubt it. He’s a busy guy! Anywho, that’s all! 

May 24, 2014
Dear All:

That’s so sad about Jace [little brother had a problem at school with a bully]! Make him take wrestling and teach him to punch kids in the face! He's too nice to do stuff like that though.

I did get the package. It’s in my classroom right now. I didn’t have time to go through it right now but I will in a little bit! I forgot my stupid adapter at home again! So I don’t know if I’ll send pictures this week. I have a lot of good ones for all you to put on my blog and everything.

But yeah I leave the MTC at 4:30 a.m. and my flight is around 8:45 a.m. to LAX and then I have like a 5 hour layover until I go to Mexico. So I’ll call for a while during the day and stuff. Maybe you could give me Ryan’s phone number too and I’ll call him. I think that would be a cool surprise since I have 5 hours to kill.  I am traveling alone. It says on my itinerary I’m the only missionary on the flight. That will be weird not having a companion.

It’s so crazy I’m almost done at the MTC already. It flew by for me. My Spanish is getting better and I’m so excited to serve people down there. By the way, if you send packages use the U.S postal service and not Fed Ex or private companies because they get searched more heavily at the border. So if you send things use the U.S postal service. It still takes a while to get there. Also, put a picture of Jesus right over the seal of the box, and maybe like cheesy Christian stickers on it. Our Mexican teacher says that discourages 95% of people from stealing your package, and it actually makes it get there faster in a lot of cases.

I’m gonna miss my district and zone everyone is so awesome in it. We all get along great. I’m gonna right most of them. But yeah our Mexican teacher Hermano Arce says that the people in Mexico LOVE missionaries and they treat you like general authorities and apostles. He says that the Elders don’t gain much weight it Mexico, but the sisters do because the members feed them like they're grown men.

I get to Culiacan about 7:00 pm on Monday, I’m so excited! I’ve been walking around the city via Google maps and I love it! It’s pretty ghetto, but I have a really good feeling about it. Our teachers have told us lots of cartel and gang stories, like people dropping grenades in the streets and having 50 cal turrets in the back of pick up trucks and just spraying at other cartels. But they love the missionaries! They protect them and stuff because they’re very God fearing and go to mass and everything so that’s good for me! Apparently, they're really big into the Angel of Death, which they kind of use to justify their killings, but our teacher said it’s basically Satan.

But anywho! I won’t tell you about stories like that once I’m there so I don’t make you worried. Unless you want to hear about them! In that case I’d love to share any and all things! But I’ll try to keep it as spiritual as I can! What I’m most concerned about is the heat, but I’ll survive! Sounds like everything is great at home! Love and miss you all!

-Elder Latimer 

P.S.  Elder Bednar came and did a surprise devotional! It was insane. He did a Q&A it was awesome. I’ve got to see an apostle every week since I’ve been here! It was so funny. One sister asked about specific scriptures saying that women couldn’t hold the priesthood, and he was like, “There are 15 living scriptures (the apostles) and you’ve got one right here.” Me and my comp were like "OOOOOOHHH PLANCHAR!" which in Spanish is like the equivalent to a “burn” ahha. But it was pretty funny. He then went into an awesome explanation why. It was basically that the priesthood is an umbrella and everyone under it gets the blessings. The men just have the job to hold the umbrella. There was more detail than that but I don’t feel like explaining it all. Very cool week here though. People say that me and my companion are really great at teaching together and were very unified and have a strong spirit about our lessons, which is really cool to here. Anywho, that’s the little bit I forgot to write about.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spanish is Improving; New Jersey in the MTC; and Elder Holland Speaks!

Eds - We talked to Jake on Mother's day.  He was allowed to call home, but given the call volumes at the Missionary Training Center on that day, he only had 30 minutes.  He sounded great and is having a great time.  He is now serving as a Zone Leader in the MTC (kind of a leader among a group of 30 - 45 missionaries).  He leaves on May 26 to Mexico.  Pics are coming, he assures us!

May 2, 2014

Dear All:

That’s awesome that Jonathan is really competitive, and I’m glad Jace is feeling better and it sounds like Joe and Tyler have a lot of fun at school from what I’m told.

That is really hot [the temperature in Seattle]! I checked the weather in my mission this week and it’s over 100 degrees all week. I’m not really excited for that, but I’m excited to get out of Provo. I love the MTC and my district, but it’s pretty strict here sometimes. I wonder why they'll let me wander around the most dangerous city in Mexico for 2 years, but won’t let us walk around Provo on p-days. They must know something I don’t.

Nothing really new has happened here, just more Spanish. I did go to the Consulate this week they took my picture and finger prints. Our mission president says they haven’t had any trouble with visas to Mexico in the past year or so. So that’s good news for me. I’ll send all the pictures I’ve taken next week. I forgot to bring my cord to the computer lab. I wish I had more to share!

We did get a devotional from Dallin H. Oaks, which was awesome. 3 apostles in 2 weeks isn’t bad at all! The days fly by here, and I’m sure they'll go faster in the mission field. As long as you stay busy it passes really fast. There are not a whole lot of missionaries in west campus - probably like 200. But that’s fine because we all know each other. We started talking in east coast accents or really heavy New Jersey accents ALL THE TIME. It’s becoming a problem actually. We say things like "you dooooog" or "hey gerald!" or "wow man thats 100% Versace." It doesn’t sound funny when I type it but when we skype or call at some point ill make sure to them for you.

Elder Latimer

Additional e-mail:

Yeah, I did get everything! Thanks so much for that. It was disappointing mom didn’t sent my UW shorts and my NC shorts, she says they’re "disgusting." But yeah, we’ve had 3 apostles speak to us so far President Uctdorf, Dallin H. Oaks, and D. Todd Christofferson. ( I probably spelled that wrong, but I don’t care). I need to get you and mom on the same email conversation because I send my 'blog' posts to her. I’m learning the language pretty well, our teachers vary. There is one who has not said a single word to us in English, and others will break down every now and then and speak English to us. My companion and I are teaching 3 investigators right now. We picked up a new one from our zone leaders and we expected to just teach the restoration, but she threw us a huge curveball and started asking about prophet’s salaries and temples and what’s inside and how to go in one. We weren’t really prepared, but I was surprised how much we could explain to her in Spanish. We are also teaching a guy who is agnostic which is much more difficult in Spanish because most of our investigators so far have had catholic backgrounds. The investigators are just people who work at the MTC. Not all are members though so that’s kind of interesting. 

May 10, 2014
Dear All:

Tell Jace I say “happy birthday!” and I’ll sent him something cool once I get to Mexico!
And I GET TO CALL HOME ON MOTHERS DAY!  It will be from 1:45 to 2:15 (utah time) so plan accordingly! I told Tyler to have Joe write me but he hasn’t yet.

This week was pretty good! We’re getting a lot better at Spanish! My companion and I are teaching 6 lessons a day on average now when it should be more like 3, because we picked up an extra investigator from the previous Elders in our zone. Then we were supposed to stop meeting with one named Daniel (because they have schedules to meet with different missionaries), but he invited us back on his own time for us to teach him more! Our teacher observed our lesson with him and he said he felt the spirit really strongly when we taught, which is rare with practice investigators, apparently most of them are relatively new converts that let us practice, but some are non-members, but I have no idea which ones. So that was exciting!

I’m actually getting pretty good at Spanish. I don’t have to sit and think and translate what I want to say in my head before, I can kinda just say it without much thought, which is a cool new level to be at.
I forgot to tell you but ELDER HOLLAND CAME AND SPOKE! It was awesome. He’s such a stud. He talked about how much his mission meant to him, and how it influenced every major decision in his life. He also talked about how the gift of the Holy Ghost is the most underrated gift in the whole world, because when Christ came and ministered to the Nephites, the second day they prayed for the Holy Ghost to come. It put it into perspective that every member of the Church has the blessing to have a member of the Godhead with them at any given moment as long as their worthy.

But this week has been great. I realized why missionaries in SLC and Provo get so fat. Last week we had a guy pay for our burgers, and today a girl that goes to BYU bought us all sandwiches at great harvest bakery. Then after we were done eating some guy came over and gave us all gift cards to that bakery, saying he wanted to pay for our next meal. There is a lot of love for missionaries here. We also got to go the museum today with all the religious paintings from Karl Bloch, and two other famous Danish painters Mormons love. It was a really cool experience. I’ll send pictures of my companions and stuff too!

REMEMBER TO ANSWER ON MOTHERS DAY! I’ll call your cell phone and the home phone. Actually the computers here are all locked down so my chord won’t let me send any! Urgh! I have to get some adapter or something one of the Elders says I can use his next week. But I’ll send them soon! Or just mail the card. 

Love, Elder Latimer

Additional Note:

That’s awesome [told him about the Seahawks draft]! They picked later rounds before and won the Superbowl, so I hope the strategy works again. It seems like it’s more up to the coaches of how well the team does. The Titans are lucky to get Sankey. I’ll remember to send the letter to both you and mom next week!

It has been a pretty good week all the details are in the letter to Mom. But I forgot if I told mom this but I’ll say it again. We were teaching an investigator (they say some aren’t Mormon) and it was supposed to be our last lesson with him, then we get a new investigator, but he invited us back to teach him again on his own time, which was really cool for us! I explained it more to Josh. Ask him to forward you that email. My Spanish is getting a lot better. I feel comfortable talking with native speakers now. I can’t understand every specific word but I can get the main idea of almost everything they’re saying. I understand some topics better than others, but the real Spanish will come in Mexico!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

First Letter from MTC!

Here's Elder Latimer's first letter from the Missionary training center in Provo, Utah.  He would love for you to write him at  His preparation day when he can write back is on Saturdays!

April 27, 2014

Dear Everyone:

My first week at the MTC has been so awesome! I'm the district leader, and our district and whole zone is really a tight knit group of missionaries. I'm the only one in the entire zone going to the Culiacan mission though, but its okay because I'll be able to write everyone here. 

The MTC is so much fun and I am learning more Spanish than I could have ever dreamed. The language is coming really fast to me and we've taught one 'investigator' already, and she accepted to be baptized after 4 lessons (all in Spanish). I'm surprised about how many thoughts and ideas I'm able to communicate in Spanish now. 

I love my companion. His name is Elder Kester. He's from Springville, Utah and we get along great. We both love sports and the same music, and we have a really good give and take when we teach lessons. The two other elders in our apartment/district are Elder Moore and Elder Asaasa. Elder Moore is from Phoenix and Elder Asaasa is from Samoa. They're both hilarious and we always crack jokes with all the missionaries in our zone. Although we've only been here a week we're like a big family. 

I had an interesting experience. We were talking to one of the Elders who already speaks Spanish, and he told us that the best way to learn Spanish was to sing hymns and read the scriptures in Spanish. Immediately after he told us that we walked over to a park bench to continue on our language study and opened with "Called to Serve" (in Spanish, of course).  A RM (returned missionary) heard us from his window in the apartments and came down and taught us Spanish for like 3 hours! It was amazing.Our teachers are kinda rough on us -- mainly just one. But it helps us learn a lot faster. They have only spoken a couple of words to us in English before. 

President Uchtdorf came to talk to us on Easter Sunday, and we all sang in the choir, which was an awesome experience. He talked about a very bold missionary who 'feared no man' and invited everyone to learn of the gospel. I feel like the story gave me a lot of courage especially since I'll be serving in such a crime-ridden part of Mexico, I need to remember to fear no man, because everyone should get a chance to hear the gospel. Obviously I'm not going to harass cartel members but . . . who knows!?! I need a SD card for my camera, its a micro sd card I believe, because I tried to buy one on campus but it was way to big for the camera. 

And I did get the Easter package! Thanks it was awesome! The food here is not very good because all the Spanish-speaking missionaries are on West campus, and we have a dinky little cafeteria, but it's okay. We play volleyball -- A LOT. Almost every time we have free time we play as a zone and it gets pretty competitive. Could you send me some more shirts and shorts?? I think ill be needing more, because I only have a few shirts and two pairs of shorts and we workout for like an hour every day. But thats all!

-Elder Latimer