Dearest family and friends,
I love you all a lot and am doing quite well. Some moments incredibly difficult. When people you have come to love exercise their agency in a way that damages them and keeps them from coming unto Christ. If this mission were about me and my learning, my progess, my life, it would be perfect. I am learning a lot, growing and changing. I feel right now much like the ancient people who wrote the Book of Mormon. In one instance they write that they worry the people who will read their writings in the future (that would be us today) will mock them because of their weakness in writings. They talk about how they are gifted and strengthened to speak with power, touching the hearts of men, but that their writings are weak. That is how I feel.
It is vain to try to express here in these words how I feel precisely. How could one express the complexities of human emotion. But I know that I am not alone in this thing. Each of you have had experiences that stir and incite memories, feelings, and desires that you would not know how, or even want to express fully.
I encourage each person to take a few minute now to take a moment to ponder where they are. What dreams they have had in their life, and what things they hope yet to accomplish. Share those feelings with your Father in Heaven in prayer. Just talk to Him. Even if you have not before, or it has been a long time.
Though time is incredibly short today because we went downtown for a few hours, a lot of fun but quite a long time spent in travel, know that here I am. Still working, serving, forgetting myself, and loving.
In conclusion I want to express my love for my family. I am realizing that I am only the product of the love that I was given all my life in my loving home. I would also like to ask all those that are able to look for ways to support my family in small and simple ways. Those good members of the church that live near us, my long time friends, extended family, and all those that read this. I know that the Lord often works through others and know that He will help and bless you as you reach out to others.
With greatest love,
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Another week, and like I imagined it would, it flew by. The mission is implementing a new sort of training that includes divisions for 3 days. What this means is that missionaries in positions of leadership go and exchange companions with those that they lead for a number of days. Since my companion is the district leader (a district consists of 2-4 companionships) the zone leaders (a zone consists of 3-4 districts) came and we did divisions with them. So Tuesday through Thursday I was out of my normal area working with another missionary. I learned a lot and really enjoyed seeing how other Elders work and teach. Then when I returned, Elder Sosa, my companion, went on divisions with a companionship in our district. So I was then back in my area, but with another companion. Once again, I enjoyed the time and learned a lot Friday through Sunday. Starting tomorrow Elder Sosa will leave once more and another missionary will becoming with me again. Certainly makes the time pass by rapidly.
I would like to make a list of things that I feel that I have really learned on my mission.
Ironing- despite my mother´s best efforts and multiple intents, I never really ironed before. I may have known how, more or less, but now, each morning I iron my shirt and this last week received a compliment on how nicely my shirt was ironed. What progress!
Shopping- We can get in and out of the store in less than 15 minutes, and that is shopping for the entire week.
Patience- more than just waiting. Being happy while I am waiting for things to happen. Realizing the things I can control and the things I cannot. Focusing on those things that matter most and letting go feelings of anxiety or inadequacy when things that I cannot control go poorly.
Peace through prayer- Out here sometimes there is not someone to talk to. I guess I always have my companion, but there are some feelings that you just cannot express. I have learned and felt what it is like to go to God in weakness, expressing my imperfect emotions, and knowing that He loves me enough to accept me as I am so that He can help me change and grow. I recognize that I have often had fear to express weakness or doubt or concerns in prayer. I tried to always keep them ideal and say and ask for only those things that I knew that I should. But as I pray openly and express the sentiments of my heart, I have found that the Lord helps me to recognize His will, and I can then work out in myself how to put my will in line with His.
I do not think that I can express how important prayer has become to me; to know that God listens, and to receive his guidance through the Holy Ghost. That is, to have thoughts and feelings that I know do not come from myself. This is the way that I know God communicates through us. Feelings of peace, encouragement, love, acceptance, patience, and thoughts that come suddenly and about things I had long forgotten. This is the power of the Holy Ghost.
Were I to exhaust the list of things I have learned in these few short months I would not have time to do the other things necessary on this brief day of preparation. So I will leave it at that and happily await your letters so as to have meaningful and personal communication with you my good family and friends. I wish you all the best and ask once more for your prayers of support.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
Firstly, a quick note to say that this last week I received mail! So many of the letters that you have sent me over the last weeks (and months) arrived. I spent a good amount of time today responding to them. If it takes a while to get to you, know that I want to take my time to give good and hardy replies to everyone. Thank you so much for your support through your letters. It is a great uplifting experience to get your letters.
This last week has passed rapidly and I suspect the following will as well. We have been working hard and for me, I am really learning what it means to have faith and patience. This work is one of humility and love. We go out and try to talk to anyone that will just listen. Invite them to learn, to put in practice the things that Jesus taught, that is love, obedience, faith, repentance, things that will in reality change lives for the better. But, in the end, the choice is out of our hands. And so we take comfort in that we are not alone in this work; this work of salvation.
This past weekend was General Conference. I had meant to mention it last week so that I could invite you all to view it live. But it is okay. It is all still available online to watch now. General Conference is the opportunity we have every six months to listen to the Prophet and the Apostles. They are men, like we read about in the Bible, called of God to lead and direct the church in these days. They receive revelation about situations, trends, and things we should be aware of. In recent years they have focused especially on the importance of family and doing all we can to strengthen our homes and children from the many sources that are doing all they can to degrade families. This last weekend was a wonderful opportunity to hear men truly inspired of God and know what it is God would have us do in these days to be happy.
I would invite all to go to lds.org and take a few minutes to watch some of conference. If they do the same as they did last year, there will be a short video with clips from several of the different talks. Though all were wonderful, a couple that stick out in my mind right now is a talk by Russell M. Nelson. He talks about missionaries and what it is they do. It was given in the Saturday morning session. The other that sticks out is one by David A. Bednar from the Sunday afternoon session. I hope you can find a few minutes to listen to these inspired messages. Let me know what you thought!
One of the exciting announcements from the Conference is that the required age for missionary service has been lowered. As of now, a young man who has graduated from high school and is 18 years old can leave to begin his mission. Likewise, a young woman can now leave at the age of 19. This is very exciting and truly inspired. As the Prophet noted in his announcement, with things as they are in our times, youth are forced to grow up a little faster. The maturity required to live worthily at the age of 18 ensures that that young man will be prepared to leave and serve a mission. It will be exciting to see over the next months as younger missionaries arrive in the field. I am particularly interested in what it must be like to go from thinking you have a year or two to wait until you are eligible to suddenly being able to leave. How exciting!
I hope you are doing great my friend. I think of you and pray for you frequently. Keep on praying for me, I need it. This time I have to serve is short. Before we know it we will all be together again. Keep striving to make the most of everyday.
With much love,
Monday, October 1, 2012
Dear Friends and Family,
This week I will rely on the fact that a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully my family is able to upload a number of the pictures that I sent them this afternoon.(Look on the photo tab) This morning my companion and I went on a small hike to a nearby gully sort of thing. We greatly enjoyed the scenery and were able to watch as the sun came up over the valley. I hope you are able to enjoy the photos, even if they are not of the greatest quality.
Upon arriving at the sort of waterfall, we had our studies there in the open. We read together of a group of missionaries that likely walked these same sorts of terrain a couple thousand years ago, doing the same work that we are doing today. Their history is recorded in the Book of Mormon. They were the sons of a King, Mosiah, and they left everything behind to take the message of Jesus Christ to a people that they did not know. As the passage describes some of their difficulties and trials, it strengthens me to know that I am not the first to embark in this type of work. And as they eventually found comfort in the Lord and success in the work. I too am comforted and inspired. It was a meaningful morning and I hope that you are able to feel a part of it with me. For anyone interested, the story of those men can be found in Alma, chapter 17. It can be accessed easily from lds.org. Just search in the search bar. Let me know what you think about them, their attitude toward the work, and the results that came of their sacrifice.
I am thinking especially of Alicia today and this week as she begins her mission, entering the training center Wednesday. In the future, once I know what it is, I can post a link to her blog so that anyone interested can read along with her experiences and adventures as well.(Link is on side bar) Although hers will undoubtedly be more exciting and of a higher quality, I ask that you continue to read along with mine as well.