Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week #104: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV- Week 18

One last time I write as a missionary. I want to express in this letter some of my thoughts and feelings as I reach the end of this phase of my life. My emotions have been all over the place. I have felt both peace and uncertainty, satisfaction and regret, happiness and sadness. Overall, I am grateful.

I am grateful that the Lord had mercy upon me, to let me serve as a missionary for these two years. I am grateful that despite my flaws, errors, and weaknesses, He let me be here, and serve in His vineyard. I am grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon. I am grateful for my companions, and for what I have been able to learn with them. I am grateful for President Bird, and all that I have been able to learn with him. I am trying to put it into practice. I know that we are blessed by the people we work with, serve with, and learn from.

Some of my letter to President this week reads as follows:

"It`s a bit strange that the mission is ending now. The time passes quickly, yet slowly. These past two years have been SO full, so absolutely full of experiences that have helped me grow, and become who I am becoming. I have not quite become yet. Today I reread a talk that I read before my mission. It`s called "Always in the Middle" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. A few months ago I shared it with you all during one of our office meetings, and my thoughts. At this time I was literally near the middle of my missionary service. Today I am about to finish it. However, the fact remains that I am still in the middle of my life experience. I have learned so much, and I have so much left to learn. I know that my experiences in the field will help me in the future. I know that the Lord directs and inspires the transfers...

When [Elder Pasapera] found out the transfer, he was devastated [because he is also leaving the area]. He had imagined himself serving here in Miguel Alemán still. He has a big heart, and he opened it here to the people. He was sobbing, and I tried to console him, but I was not able to very well. When I told the Sisters the transfers, they helped console Elder Pasapera in a way that I could not, and we both learned from them (our call went a bit late, and around 10:50 they called back, thinking we were playing a joke on them with the news, but we weren`t). They talked about the inspiration in the transfers, that it is the Lord, and not you, who makes them. Something along those lines. Elder Pasapera was most upset with leaving our investigators, but the Sisters talked about how they aren`t OUR investigators, they are the LORD`S investigators. He will take charge and saved His children. Both Hermana Mendoza and Hermana González commented..."

I am grateful to the Lord for the blessing it has been to come closer to Him. I have been able to suffer, and enjoy, laugh, and worry, and grow in these last two years. It will be sweet to return home. It will be wonderful to be with my family again. I am going to work hard and live my life to the fullest, and serve the Lord. Last week I talked a lot about my goals and impressions from General Conference. I will continue to read, reflect, and study the talks, and let the Lord guide me in my life choices.

I am grateful to the Lord for all that He has done for me, and all that He will do for me. My time is very short now, with only some 3 minutes remaining. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me in these past two years. Thank you for the prayers, thoughts, emails, letters, gifts, and love. Thank you for everything that you have done for me. Thank you for being a part of my life and my mission. Thank you.

I have so much to share when I get home. The Sisters played a great prank on me on Sunday. I will tell you in person. I`m almost home. See you on Wednesday!

Week #103: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV- Week 17

This past weekend was Conference Weekend, and it was great. I went to Conference with some personal questions or concerns, and I was able to receive answers that will help me and strengthen me in the days and weeks and months to come. I am going to share some of my insights and impressions. Obviously I am going to finish my mission soon, so life after the mission was a really on my mind, and I found great guidance. Today in the morning before and during our personal study, I wrote something similar to what I am about to share.

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy gave a great talk about serving the Lord, and not lowering our standards to please others. This was a message that I needed to hear. As we say in the mission, he "planched" me a bit, and it was good. I need to make some changes and be more obedient in my life, and serve the Lord better than I have recently. At the same time, I need to be loving and kind to those who do not agree with what know to be true, as Elder Dallin H. Oaks shared in his talk. I need to be firm, but compassionate as I live the Gospel and stand up for the absolute truths that Elder D. Todd Christofferson talked about.

One of my questions was the following: "How do I progress after my mission?" I was able to receive a lot of answers to this question, including the paragraph preceding this one. In order to progress after my mission, I need to stay strong against the tempations and sins of the world. I am going to be "in the world," but I cannot be "of the world." As Elder L. Tom Perry said, the "wheat and the tares" are growing more and more together, so whenever there is temptation, I need to stay strong, and look heavenward as President Thomas S. Monson said during the Priesthood Session. I really liked President Monson`s talk. To stay strong and on the right course, I need to constantly examine myself and make changes, as President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, but I need to be kind to myself as I do this, following the advice of Elder Jörg Klebingat of the Seventy: being honest with myself for my mistakes, and making the correct changes in my life.

To help me along this path, I will need to stay active in the Church, fulfill my duties in whatever callings I may receive, and weekly partaking of and understand the Sacrament. I liked the talks by Sister Cheryl A. Esplin and Elder James J. Hamula about the Sacrament, its importance, and how we can reflect and realize where we can improve, and what we have improved. We are not alone in this, we have the Savior`s promise of help, and we have the Holy Ghost to help us as well. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much, He wants us to be successful. I need to heed the teachings of the Scriptues, Prohpets, and the Holy Ghost as many said.

There are many important decisions that I will have to make in the coming years, such as who should I marry. Elder Quentin L.Cook talked about not waiting to marry, so I won`t be doing that. I need to be living worthily in every aspect for that Covenant, by keeping my priorities straight. Returning home, I will have great tempation to use too much technology, internet, TV, or video games, so I will need to keep my time in check, and do worthwhile things. I liked what Elder Richard G. Scott said about four areas I can focus on, those being: prayer, studying the word of the Lord, weekly Family Home Evenings, and going to the Temple. This related to what Elder Allan F. Packer said about Family History Work. I am going to work on my Family History, both past and present, and I know that as he quoted Elder Bednar saying, it will be a "protection" for me as I return home.

I am going to have to work hard to be "in the world, but not of the world." I will need constant repentance and evaluation, and working towards my next step in my eternal progession.

Those are only some of my feelings as I thought about Conference, obviously it`s not everything, but I feel good about it. I feel that I paid attention, and found some ansewrs from the Lord as to what I need to do to progress after my mission. President Bird and I have talked in the past about how the mission should not be the "Best Two Years of my life," but rather, the "Best Two Years for my life." I need to continue having spiritual experiences, but always staying focused on the basic and important elements of the Gospel. I know that the Lord loves me, and will take care of me. I felt his answers and guidance as I listend to this Conference, and I know that as I study more I will be able to see more and more guidance and instruction.

I encourage all of you to review, study, pray, and apply the talks from this General Conference. I promise you that if you do, you will find answers to your prayers, enlightenment where there is darkness, and happiness. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives; God is our loving Heavenly Father; Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet today, and we are guided by inspired leaders who will take care of us if we will but heed their counsels. I am almost done reading the Book of Mormon again (I´m currently in Moroni 7), and I have grown as I have read it. It has been able to give me comfort as well.

Next week I will send my last letter as a Missionary.

Thank you all so much for your support, love, and kind words. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for everything! Have a great week, review the Conference, and be true. Until next week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week #102: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV- Week 16

I`m going to start off with an excerpt from my letter to President Bird (which I`m currently writing still):

"The past few weeks Elder Pasapera and I have been working, but we have been failing in our lessons with Members. This week we are putting into practice something that the Zone Leaders taught us about setting the daily goals for the week during our Weekly Planning, and working each day specifically towards these goals. It seems very feasible, and they had success putting this method into practice. The whole District is doing this, I believe. I will verify during the week to see how everybody is doing with this method. It should be good. We fell a bit behind in "Las Primeras 12 Semanas," but we`re going to catch up. It has been good to study this manual. I really like it. A lot of people don`t, but I do.

This week we studied the Fundamental "The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion," and it was really great. I liked it a lot. Something that we have been failing at is helping people understand HOW the Spirit works in their conversion, such as what kinds of feelings or answers to expect from Him as a confirmation that the message is true. I liked that we were able to see this lack, and start to fix it in our teaching. One scripture that stood out to me was one where the Savior talks about "working" under the section of requirements to have the Spirit with us. It just really clicked, and I understood it very well. We need to work hard if we want to have the Spirit with us. We`ve started talking more about the Spirit, and the way He talks to us in our lessons, and it`s been good.

One such lesson was on a day where we had 5 new investigators. First we taught a woman named Cristal and her son, and she is searching for the truth. We hope that she can make it, and that her son comes along as well. Next we taught a man named Jonathan for a few minutes only, and we presented the Book of Mormon to him, although we didn`t invite him to be baptized. Next we were able to teach two people who seem like they`re really ready, RED TOMATOES. We hope. Bertha and her son Humberto are their names, and it was a great lesson. She said that she has always been Catholic, but that her daughter-in-law is cristiana, so she is a bit confused. We talked to her about how the Holy Ghost will help her to know the truth, and we shared the First Vision with her. We invited her to read the pamphlet, to pray, and to be baptized. She and her son accepted the invitations. It was great. However, they did not come with us this Sunday. Hopefully this week they can make it to General Conference.

I am excited for Conference. I`m sure that in our interview (which is the Tuesday after Conference) we will talk about what I will have felt and learned. As we both know, I am about to take the next step in life, and move on to something new. I know that this Conference I will hear many things that will help me as I take this step. I am going to pay a lot of attention, and I am going to take notes. I am going to try and focus more on my feelings and impressions, and not so much on word for word notes, as I have taken in the past. I know that it will be more valuable to me. I hope that this Conference will be great, and I am looking forward to it."

I hope that everyone has a great weekend, and learns a lot. I`m sorry that my time is short. I`m still writing a bit with President Bird. I felt that my letters to him have been lackluster, so I wrote to him first, and I`m still in that process. I love you all and wish you the best! Have a great week! Talk to you all next week! Also, today we went out to eat: a Chinese Buffet. I was stuffed. I`ll send the pictures next week, for time. I love you all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Week #101: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV- Week 15

It`s been just a few short days since I last wrote. Right now I`m in my quest to finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish before I wrap up my time as a missionary. I`m pretty close right now: today I was reading in Mormon 2, 3, and 4. Needless to say, these are not happy times for the people in the Book of Mormon. Everything is falling apart, and it`s because of their own wickedness. These moments of destruction are a lesson to each and every one of us: we must repent and do what is right, we must be humble and depend on the Lord always, we must never boast in our own strength, we must be like Christ. I have been learning and seeing personal lessons as I have been reading the Book of Mormon, and I am grateful for that.

What is new that I can share with everybody? Well, I learned today that my Great Grandma Erekson passed away, and now is a time to remember. I did not have a whole lot of time with her really, but I remember the times we shared together. My memories of her include going to her house with Dad and my cousin, eating whole grain (with seeds) buttered toast, and thinking of her makes me think of Family History Work. I know that she was very involved in that work, and that is an inspiration for those of us who remain here. I personally want to work on my own Family History, especially for the Herrera branch of my family. The blessing of serving a mission in Mexico and learning Spanish is not only for my own benefit, but to help others as well. I know that I will be able to help them receive the Gospel as well. I know that some work is being done for my Holt ancestors, and I would like to help there as well.

We all have a lot of work to do in this life. The Lord expects very much from each and every one of us. We are truly blessed to live in the Last Dispensation, the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. When Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came to the MTC with some of his family for Thanksgiving, he talked to us about the blessing and privilege we have to live in these days. Every other dispensation fell into apostasy, but ours will not. Ours is the task to bring the Gospel to everyone, both those who are living now and those who have gone on before. We are truly blessed with Temples, which dot the world, wherein we can help those who have died without the Gospel. I am grateful for this blessing.

Right now things are going alright in the Missionary Work part of the Work of Salvation. Rodrigo is out of town for his chess tournament, and Jorge once again was unable to come to Church, but he seems pretty willing to live the commandments, which is great. We hope that he will be able to start coming to Church, and have good experiences. A less-active family came this Sunday, which was great to see. Elder Pasapera gave a talk about Charity and Love, which was good as well. This weeks is another week of work and learning and growth.

I am 21 years old on Sunday. It will be interesting to say that I am 21, and not that I`m 20 now. It`ll make me seem older. I`ve had some great 21 years, and I`ve been learning a lot. I will continue to learn and grow as time moves on. I am grateful to be alive, and I am grateful for the people in my life who help me and teach me and psuh me to be better. I am grateful to my Father in Heaven that I can serve Him and my Savior as a missionary. I am grateful for my many blessings, and encourage all of you to reflect on life and set goals. I will do so.

Have a great week everyone, and I`ll let you all know what`s new next Monday! I love you all!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week #100: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 14

This past week and half has been good. We had the great blessing of having Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, First Counselor in the México Area Presidency coming to our mission to give us some special conferences. I have had the great blessing during my mission to hear from many General Authorites (forgive the name-dropping, haha), such as Elder Wilford W. Anderson of the Seventy, Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the Seventy, Elder Tad R. Callister then of the Seventy, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (twice - once in the MTC, and once here) and Elder Quentin L. Cook, but personally this conference was really edifying for me, in ways more so than these other visits. It was really great. Perhaps because it was a closer setting (we were a few Zones together instead of almost the whole mission), the way he taught (walking close to where we were at, using the whiteboard, asking for responses and participation), and the fact that I`m older, but whatever it was, the Spirit was good and I loved it.

One of the things he talked to us about was the Priesthood, and its relation to men and women. This is a topic that is very public these days, many people learning more about how the Priesthood works and is organized. Something that he said was cool. He said that receiving the Priesthood was a covenant extra that the Lord requires of men, and not of women. He requires this extra commitment. That was a cool thought / insight.

Another insight that I loved was during the section he gave us of questions. Somebody asked how we could work better with the members as missionaries, and he taught us what we need to do. We need to change our way of thinking. We want them to do things our way, and they want us to do things the way that they expect. What we need to do is found in Doctrine and Covenants 41:2-3, and I applied it to all types of decisions in life. The scripture instructs us to unite, come to an accord on the word (this could be reading the scriptures, teachings, etc), pray with faith, and then receiving the guidance we need. If we have an important decision in our family life, or in anything, we should unite, study and meditate, pray, and recieve. Then, we must act on what we receive. I liked this a lot, and have been able to think about it more these past few days.

We also talked about Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, which has the requirements for baptism. Elder Pieper talked about them being requirements for the Sacrament too, and that was kind of cool. I think. It was good.

Another insight was to have investigators guide their own conversion - instead of just teaching and throwing them all of the answers, we need to give them assignments, so that they can find their own answers. I like this too, and it will be good for the future when I`m older. It`s something that I need to improve as well, finding my own answers. It was a good conference for sure. I was able to say my personal goodbye to Elder Carbajal, and I got a photo with him and Elder Pasapera. It was nice.

I was able to go on intercambios with Elder Aguila to his area, and it was really good. We were able to have some good lessons, and even surpass some of the daily goals for the work. It was a good day, and I also had an interview with an investigator of Elder Aguila`s area. I had a doubt for a moment, but Elder Aguila helped me out. Their investigator is set for baptism on Sunday.

The Temple was pretty good. Today we`re going to eat pizza and some kind of acitivity as a Zone. Hopefully it`s fun. Just in case, I might bring my journal to get a bit caught up, haha. I also had a good experience last night sharing some scriptures with my companion in a moment of trial for him. It was good, and I was glad to be able to be guided by the Spirit in this.

I testify that Jesus Christ lives. I know that He loves us, and has great mercies that He gives us. I know that Heavenly Father also loves us and cares for us. They understand what we go through. Christ suffered so much more than we can ever suffer, but even so, what little we may come to suffer is important to Him because it is important to us. This is something similar to what President Bird told me once in an interview. I know that Christ lives, and that He loves us. Let us read the scripture to know His words. Let us prepare for General Conference in just 2 1/2 weeks. Let us prepare to be taught.

Have a great week! The work keeps moving forward! I love you all!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week #99: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 13

Well, my time is really short this week. I`m sorry about that. I hope that you all are doing well, and I have a few updates to share, and some photos! So, here we go.

On Monday we had the opportunity to have a chill day. I bought some new shoes, a watch, and we worked with a new missionary for his first day in the field. We had a lesson with Rodrigo, who is progressing well. He came to Church again this week, and we have hope for him. We need to finish teaching him everything, but we`re getting there. His baptism is currently set for the 21st, so we`re hoping things work out for him. He is improving and working towards baptism. He`s good.

This morning we cut each other`s hair. Elder Pasapera helped me finish my own haircut, as I was cutting it a bit in the mirror. The haircuts turned out pretty good. I`ve got a photo of us attached in the email as well.

On Sunday I was able to feel the Spirit very strongly and personally during the Sacramental Hymn. As we sang, I felt that the words were very applied to me, and I had words come to my mind as well. I know and testify that Jesus Christ suffered for me, that He knows me and my struggles, and that He is always there for me. He loves me. He loves all of you. Any suffering or worry or pain that we have, He understands and knows what we feel. I am grateful for that, and that I was able to feel that.

It seems we`ll be seeing Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy this week, so that should be good. I`ll let you all know how things are on the 18th, after we go to the Temple. I have got to go. Have a great week, and begin now to prepare for General Conference. I love you all!