Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Helping People Change Religious Traditions

Hello!! Family, how's it goin!? It is really good here. This area is sooo loaded with money, so I think I'm good, haha. It is getting hotter and I have some allergies. I loved how in conference they talked about how members should use Preach My Gospel. It's so true cause we're all missionaries. 

Mom, to your question - well for us we need to be kinda strait up forward or they won't listen, so for us what we say works. This is how it goes and it might sound weird but I'm translating it so..." We don't wear the cross or hang up the cross in memory of Jesus because we don't want to remember him like that. We know he rose from the dead and has a body of flesh and bones, perfect and glorified and it's like this - if you got into a car crash and had blood spill all over you would you want people to take a picture of you like that to remember you?" Obviously they would say no, so you say "it's the same with Jesus". Then they will be like "Oh, OK, well, I won't do that or wear that." So that's how we do that. We don't pray to Mary because in the scriptures it says there is one God we worship. He is above all others.There are a lot of scriptures in the Bible that we use that says basically not to. We respect her because through her Jesus came into the world but the Father is our God. He created us and we worship him. Something like that. It's hard in English

I miss Utah. It's just so different here. I am learning many things and love it here! We have to move houses cause the sister missionaries are moving to our appartment. We get fed the nicest food. I am trying to get the recipes from the ward sisters, haha. They laugh and say sure. I've noticed in this area like 50 maybe more percent of the people speak English. Also, they look American. It's just weird to think of white Mexicans. You always think of Mexico and see brown but it's not true. They're white too. It's just weird

Oh, also, in conference was that Brynn Hallstead!? In the choir? Also the man that said the closing prayer,  Hoyos (Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the Seventy, who gave the closing prayer in the Sunday afternoon session), I know him. He comes to our mission a lot.  He's awesome. I speak to Dane (Gabe's friend who is a missionary in Equador) in Spanish when I type him. Well, not always, but a lot. He sounds like he's doing good. The people here have the best dessert. I need to make it when I come home. I make it a lot in our apartment. Mexico is cool. I miss the United States. Seriously, Alpine is the shire of the world. Literally. Alpine is the Shire. I miss it. Sometimes it's just gross down here.  I won't say why or anything until I get home. I like Juarez - lets just say I'll never live here after my mission. I love serving here, though. The people are just so nice and loving. They are embarrassed and ashamed how everyone knows Juarez as all the bad things and not the good things. I am careful and I obey with exactness because if not, oh, it's like fresh meat on the street.  It's freaky but we're safe. We have God so we don't fear. 

I hope everyone is good over there. Elder Brown reminds me of Andrew and Jake. He has the voice of Jake but not his personality. Some expressions are exactly like Andrew! Anyways, it's fun with him. We're tight friends and we laugh, work hard and have fun! And eat well! I miss you all. Lots of people here that remind me of everyone over there - it's weird. If you have questions just feel free to ask! :) 

Love you all. Hope you have a great week! It's vacation here for two weeks and its hard cause we don't have like any investigators right this second. But anyways, its all good. Have a good week!

Elder Castleton

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


WHOOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!! This conference was incredible!!!!! AAHHHH HELLO! So conference here is like the Super Bowl for missionaries, haha. It was amazing. I felt the spirit each talk. I watched it in English with other of the American elders at the church. 

This week has been soo awesome! I love this area! This area is sooo rich! It's the 2nd richest area here and it's soo beautiful. It's like a nice rich area in Cali with grass and beautiful houses. It's a big area, though. The churches here are more big and advanced, haha. 

So we had lots of spiritual experiences this week. I made a women cry a lot, haha, by sharing this one scripture and testifying. She's like "Stop, stop, your gonna make me cry even more" hahaha. It is very safe here, too. It's one of the most safest areas, so I feel great. I don't need to worry about having to look behind me walking and seeing if someone is following us. Baseball is also big here in Juarez, I wanted to tell you guys that but I forgot to say. haha 

My companion and I are getting along great! My Montana friend. He's like Andrew a little in his funny ways and he's like Joe and idk, he reminds me of a lot of people. He's cool. He has been out one year. We have been speaking a bit of English. It's kinda nice to speak it again and then we instantly switch to Spanish. It's pretty cool. So my English is the same now. I can speak the two pretty good - it's like even. So one bad thing here is it's one of the lowest baptizing areas and it's so hard I can see why. One thing I've noticed in Juarez, not just one ward, but it's so hard to have the people like welcome and greet and go visit less actives or our investigators.  Also the church starts late, like 9:30 instead of 9. That's a big problem.  We're talking to the bishop about this. People left the church because we didn't start on time. It's over-reacting but ugh, idk, some people these days. 

Lots more people here speak English, too. So English and Spanish, its crazy. Also what I like is we're by Walmart and these two other stores that are big. They don't exist in the United States, though, but they're nice. I've noticed lots of shirts are American and its all in English and well, lots of things in general. It's funny, we have Costco and Applebees and this Peter Piper Pizza that's a buffet. Lots of goodness.  The thing is there is lots of traditional Mexican food and such good Mexican food here that doesn't exist at home, or even in Texas or El Paso, but we have lots of American food like hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff. This family took us to this sushi place, it was sooo yummy!! 

Sometimes the kids make fun of our accent cause speaking Spanish and then English is hard and the transition - in English it's using your throat more and Spanish is all in the mouth and the kids think its funny. Especially when we talk English. I sound, well, it's just different because my accent in Spanish isn't quite finished.  I need to speak more and roll my R's better, hahah. Well I got to go but I'll send fotos! Have a good week!

Elder Castleton

New Companion - Elder Brown

Previous Companion - Elder Santiago

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Hello, everybody! I am feeling a lot better. We had transfers! I am not in my same area again. I am in a new area called Nogales (the Nogales neighborhood of Juarez, not the city of Nogales.)  My companion's name is Elder Brown and he is from Montana, Bozeman. He is cool. It's only been a couple hours with him so far, but yea. Elder Santiago was a great companion, though. I am in a bigger area. It is with lots of rich people, so I think it'll be good. I am more close to the border. It's actually safer here. The south of Juarez is the most dangerous. 

For those of you who want to know what it's like here in Juarez since it's so scary (haha, not).  The cartel war is over. Well, here. What happened was two cartel groups came here and they started to fight each other and, well, one now won, so it's over. The police couldn't do anything.  The cartel out number the police by a lot. Plus, they have deals with them and the government. One cartel remains here but there are gangs that wanna take over and they fight, so it's still dangerous. Lots and lots of police, basically like SWAT and the army, are here. Pretty cool, but sketchy sometimes. Like every street has a cartel member. Just found out the other week, well, my companion was district leader and we went to Villa Humada so my companion can do a baptism interview.   Villa Humada is like cartel land.  They've basically taken it. There are police but they don't do anything. They live in peace but they control lots of places and one big house. We went to the parents of this house to interview the son. It was one of the main cartel drug selling people. The son wanted to change and get out. That's why we were giving him a baptism interview. He's a really good guy, just that his parents are cartel members. They are so loaded. They are very nice people and respect us and said if any one tries to hurt us, like gangs, then the cartel has our back!!! Not all of them, but lots of them respect us. The others actually don't like Americans so no American elders can go to Villa Humada.  Other than that, life is pretty good livin with the drug sellers. They're not like the people I thought they were.  They were soooooo inteligent!! 

These cartel bosses have contacts with police and the government. They're so so loaded and its crazy. There's lots of blown up places or abandoned houses from the war. I got here like a few months after it stopped, kinda like an after shock. Also, it's illegal to take fotos of the houses and the people.  I just found that out. I need to be careful because if there's people goin around taking fotos, the cartel will think we're after someone and doin something, idk how to say, like we're looking for someone. They will kill me if I do that. So no more fotos, sorry, only of my companions and inside our house. I will send fotos later when I have more time. 

I am starting all over in this area.  My companion knows a little bit of the area, and he's American, so we will see how this goes, haha. Sorry, I know i don't type well. It's hard to be typing English. I don't know my area or the members or the investigators yet, so hope it's all good. I wish everybody good luck and to keep up the good work. The food is amazing here, lots of food that doesn't exist over there, so HA! Take that, hahaha, jk.  It's bad that I can't eat fruit because there sure are some really good drinks of fruit. YUMMY!  I don't like soda anymore also, so, yea....Well, I gots to go. Also, my president, his visa expired to go to El Paso to get the mail so I haven't recieved anything yet. Maybe in like two weeks I'll get it. Huhh, it's ok. Well, love you all!  Take care! 

Elder Castleton