Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Area, Beautiful but Sorrowful

Note: This is Gabe's first email from his new area.  I've struggled with whether or not to post this email, because as you will see he is in a dangerous area, and I don't want to post anything publicly that could put Gabe, his companion or the members at risk.  I've decided to go ahead and post it but blank out the name of the area.  If you want to know more details you can email me privately.  Chuck

Hey, everybody! I am in an area called ******. Its on the border, like literally I see the BIG fence and the army and the station, where the bridge is. We are like 1 hour away from Juarez on the ***** side. It is very green here, well way more green that it is in Juarez. It's like tons of ranches. We cover 9 towns. We haven't been to all of them yet. The first church in Juarez is actually in my area. We live in a nice house with a yard and trees and plants that we water. We live right next door to the patriarch. He is way nice. There are lots of members but tons are less active.  The church has maybe 60 people that attend. We have to walk in the middle of nowhere sometimes. Also I still have my same companion Elder Brown. There hasn't been missionaries here for at least 4 years if not 5. Tons and tons of people have fled out of the city so the towns are extra extra small. Lots of the less actives and investigadores have gone and left the city. The reason is because of the cartel. It got way bad here.  It looks like this place got bombed in some parts. It is so sad. So many young people are dead. There's no youth in our ward, only kids below 11 and adults. It's really sad. I know the story but I will tell you all when I come home. Also it was hard to have the missionaries come here again because it got really dangerous. It is calm and better like in the city of Juarez, but it's just more crazy out here because there is not police like in Juarez. Only a couple. And they just pass by and don't do anything cause there are too many cartel people. They don't fight or anything, just no one does anything about it.  I like it out here. It's just sad what happened here, too. They have young kids and teenagers but not like there used to be and in the church we don't have any. I can't take pictures of the abandoned houses or the ones blown up or on fire, but I'll show you pictures of the middle of nowhere or us walking by the farms and the greenness. 

 It is really quiet and calm where we are but the other night we heard a fight and some kid got beaten up and he was yelping and we just had to sleep through it. It was for a few minutes, but still. I try and have a positive attitude and keep the members happy and excited but the stories they say and what happened to their kids or their neighbors is just sad. If you could pray for us and the people here. So many are in shock and horror. Tons don't trust us so they don't open. We will have sucess, though. I see potential in these people and a growth. The members just need a little shove to keep going and doing the work. We walk right by the fence kind of. There's a road and the soldiers pass by and look at us funny like we're weird kids. Don't worry, we are safe here. We have been lead by the Spirit and we have more strict rules here, too. Like now we can't talk to drunks or random weird people. We just keep walking and stuff. The soldiers know us and the police, but they wouldn't help us if we needed them. That's what freaks me out.  So we're a little bit alone. We got the Lord on our side and we will keep working. If you can pray for us all down here. Thanks. 

I will also meet our new district today. Also, whats it like in Utah now - nice weather? It is way hot here but in ****** its cooler and we have tons of trees. We have to come here to Juarez to email and get food and have meetings so now I'm in Juarez but tonight I'll take the bus back up to ******. I am excited to work. There is a lot of good here. Just need to get their trust. And love them. I got to go since we actually started late. Love you all. I pray everyday for you. and for dad. wish me luck and pray for us. 

Elder Castleton

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