Monday, March 25, 2013

Week #23: Laureles (La Oficina) - 3

Dear family and friends,

Hmm... Where to begin?

Well, this week was pretty hot. Like, every single day of the week was pretty sunny and hot except for Wednesday (which was rainy and wet). Today it seems pretty normal, but the computer and people both have said that we will be receiving rain. So, that´ll be a nice change from the sun (although we´ll get wet). I got to wear Dad´s trenchcoat for the first time in a few weeks, so that´s good.

This week we had another good experience of being led by the Spirit, and that there are no consequences. The experience goes as follows:

A few weeks back Elder Capiz and I went to visit a woman who is caring for her son. He had some kind of accident, and lost a lot of the strength and ability to move which he once had, but he´s recovering bit by bit. Anyway, we visited them a while back, and one night I had the feeling that we should visit them, and I noted them a few times in my "agenda" - I forgot the word in English... It´s "planner." Anyway, I felt to write them down, and suggested that we go visit them to Elder Capiz. We put them as a back-up plan for an investigator, and went about our day. That day we were searching for some former investigators, and we stopped by one home and talked to a woman who was not very intersted. Her husband was not there, and I think we were maybe going to visit some time later. We carried on with our day, and went from plan to plan until it was closer to night time. When it came time to visit that investigator we planned, for some reason we were not able to. So, we went with the backup plan. On our way there, we contact a man and began talking to him. As we continued talking, it turned out that he was the husband we had tried to go see. We spoke with him a bit, but he was not very interested. Even with that, I left pretty content - we had been able to see the workings of the Lord in our work (like the third time for me, overtly in such a manner). We ended up seeing them later too (the next day or so). Even if we just planted some seeds, or even if they never ever come to the gospel, it serves as a testimony to us, to me, of this work. The Lord really does inspire and guide us, He puts the means there to help His children return to Him. If nothing else happens with them, I had a good experience with it.

We had a few people come to Church for the first time this week, that was good. One is a young man who has never been able to come, but this week he did. Another was a man whom we have visited, and we went with an hermano to pick him up for Church. He only stayed for the first hour, but he enjoyed it. Talked about peace, calm, or whatever. So, that was good. We have three baptisms lined up this coming weekend also.

A few weeks ago I shared with you about Elder Bednar´s talk, and the passage of scripture he quoted from the Book of Mormon, about how we can receive strength from the Grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to help us be stronger in our trials, and overcome them, even if he doesn´t take them away right away. The text is as follows:

"And it came to pass that the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." (Mosiah 24:13-15)

This week I was in this part of the Book of Mormon in my personal study, and I read the account of Alma and his people, including these verses. However, the thing that stood out to me came just one verse after what I had shared before, and I would like the share that with you now (Mosiah 24:16):

"And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage."

That stood out to me, and I hadn´t noticed it before, nor thought of it. With our patience, the Lord can bless us, reward us, and He wants to. They were being proven, and they passed the test, they were faithful in the midst of their problems.

We don´t tract in the mission. But we do get to leave and work (and I do like working here in the offices). From 11:00 - 2:00 I´m here working on registros, or forms, or whatever. I also put together "La Brújula" which is a sort of mini-magazine in the mission.

Sí, mi computador es mexicano, entonces es un poco distinto de un teclado de español internacional, pero más o menos me he acostumbrado. Y tu tienes que usar ALT, ¿no?

[Advice for someone headed to Mexico on a mission:] ¿qué es lo que peudo decir? No sé. Que él no se preocupe demasiado del idioma. Lo más importante is su propio testimonio y amar a la gente. Hmm. Unos consejos, al mejor: "ahorita" significa "ahora misimo" ... Y A VECES "luego." Entonces, eso puede ser un problema.... Eso por ahorita.

So, I have some good news, and some meh news - I recieved the SECOND package a few minutes ago, but the first still has not come. Don´t worry though, it could still be traveling (don´t send any copies or whatever just yet). [Actually, he received the 3rd package. The 1st and 2nd have yet to arrive there.]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week #22 Laureles (La Oficina) 2

Dear family and friends,

That is correct. You all read my email correctly. I can now write to family and friends. Presidente Walker gave us permission to use TWO HOURS of email time, and to write to our friends as well (there are only a few restrictions which for me have to do with writing women in my mission), but besides that - I can write to my friends. Plus, I have more time to write things. So, those are some good things, aren´t they? Well, in order to maintain everything together, I´ll respond as normal with sections for my people (at least in this letter). Let´s be honest, I was negligent in writing last week - I should have done better. Well, this week I´m less distracted, have more time, and am ready to do more writing.

This week hasn´t been very eventful really, so I don´t have a lot of things to write about here. So, as I said last week I will write to people more in-depth, but this time I mean it and am committed to do it.

DAD: Thank you for sharing about your experience with General Conference of 1991. That´s pretty cool that that conference gave you an answer directly and really did influence your life (and mine). I am glad that you chose to be a teacher, and that you have been part of the home life, in the mornings and returning around 3:30, weekends with us, breaks, summers, etc. Really, thank you for that example. You have helped me with my own desires for a career with your example.

The benefits I just mentioned are great, and thank you for deciding this. I too had an experience like that one Sunday back at home. I was kind of thinking about being a teacher too (this was while I had my primary class), and I was reflecting a bit, or remembering, or whatever, the joy some of my students had in seeing me, wanting to give me little gifts, or whatever. The joy that comes from teaching them, even though they were a bit wild at times (most of them). Anyway, around this time in my life, I was watching a night-time rebroadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, and lo and behold! They were speaking about a funeral of a woman which was attended by many, many people. She was a teacher. Lloyd Newel said something about teaching, and it struck me a bit (enough to be remembering it now, right?), and I liked that.

So, I´m not sure how great or easy it will be to become a teacher, be a teacher, or whatever, but life is hard sometimes, and the blessing from teaching are great. Now, I´ll have to think about exactly what I do want to teach, and to what age. As I´ve said before, I think to teach Spanish and Math, in High School... Although, maybe in Junior High. But, on the same note, teaching in Elementary School the students are more like the Primary Kids, and love you more. Hmm... Well, I still have time to think about that.

Thank you for your example Dad! Also, thank you for sharing this experience. I have not failed yet to write in my own journal each and every day. I am filling it up, and am able to fit my first six months exactly in there (but I need to write a bit longer a few times). I like the sound of that, being able to fill it squarely with 6 months. You know how I am. Also, thank you for your testimony on prayer, and for being proud of me.

As a matter of fact Dad, I have had Jamaica - and I too like it. In fact, two days ago we had home-made "Agua de Jamaica." It is pretty good, isn´t it? Also, the past few days I´ve had cola flavored sodas... and I have to say that I like the flavor. It could become a problem if I let it. Anyway, I too have enjoyed the aguas aquí en México. I myself have not had agua de pepino, nor agua de sandía. But, some aguas which I have had and really enjoyed are Agua de Mango, and Agua de Guayaba. Seriously. Agua de Guayaba is good. Do we have access to Guayaba in the States? In the Mexican food stores or whatever? Anyway.

I also enjoyed some "espagueti" which was made with milk, american cheese squares, and cubo de pollo. You could try it out, I liked it. I also ate some hace algunas semanas así, pero con un poquito de pico. Anyway, Here I am speaking Spanglish.

The story of you and your "pues" is happening with me, but it´s the word "como." Well, I´ve used it a lot in the past - but maybe I´m breaking out of it. But, in a few conversations in English, the word "como" creeps its way in there. I say it when I would say "like." So, that´s good stuff.

Speaking of "good stuff," I saw that in your entry, and I too have written that a few times I believe. So, we have that in common.

MOM: Hey Mom! Hope that you are doing well and happy. Thank you for taking the time to write me and take care of me. Well, as far as the whole question about mail goes, you can just forward me the letters (or maybe even find out if they too can email friends, and give me their addresses?). Anyway, I´m doing well here in the offices.

This week here I am and able to write better. I think that I already have written more this week that I did last week. A lot more? Anyway, as I said above, not a lot has happened.

Thank you for letting me know about Savanna´s mission call! Congratulations to her. Also, thank you for letting me know about more people´s calls as well. That´s good that she´s excited. I´ll try to put a little something in here for her later. Now it´s time to talk to you.

Thank you for letting me know about the lesson Brother Hill taught, and that was nice of him to mention me. I have seen that video a few times, and it is pretty great, huh? Sounds like he used some good stuff in his lesson, I also like that parable. Anyway, thank you for those insights. I have a few to share.

Last week I spoke about a scripture from Mosiah. I did not end up writing to anyone on paper later that day (we went to a mall, and I ate some tasty food, PS), so here I can expound on the scripture.

So, with some emphasis added in order to try and convey what I´m trying to... Here is Mosiah 14:3-5 (with some changes):

"He [was] despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we [hide] as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we [esteem] him not.
Surely he has borne our briefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we... esteem him [not]...
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

The idea which I would like to convey with this is that we are not to "esteem him not," nor to "hide as it were our faces." The idea is that we reject, ignore, forget, or hide from Him, BUT He did SO MUCH for us. We should not hide our faces from Him. We should remember Him, His sacrifice, all that He did for us.

Do we hide "as it were our faces" from the Lord? (I can imagine Elder Cook saying something like this). We. Should. Not. We should always remember Him, and have His name "written upon our hearts" (Mosiah 1 and other places). We should not be ashamed, or hide, or anything of the sort. We should always remember and be proud.

I´ve been listening to some lectures by Truman G. Madsen... and I like the way he passionately talks sometimes. Who is he anyway? A Seventy? Or a Professor at BYU? I don´t know exactly, but he says and teaches interesting things.

Well, I think I´ll close for now Mom, with one added insight from Alma.

In Alma 36:27, Alma bears testimony to his son Helaman. Yeah, Helaman, I checked... Anyway, with emphasis, he says, speaking of the Lord:

"...and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."

I liked this idea, the idea of he cares for us, and will still care for us. Take care of us, and be there. He will still deliver us. I liked that, and thought to share it. I have another insight...

Mark 4:38-40 "...Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose... and said... Peace, be still...
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"

Sometimes we are fearful, feel like He doesn´t care for us, but He is always in control. We need to have faith. We need to be faithful to Him, and remember, and have faith always. Although he said, "Peace, be still" to the sea, but we can apply it to the Apostles, and to us. A paraphrase of the event: We say, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" and He responds calmly but rebukingly, "Peace, be still. Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?"

I liked that idea. Imagine Him rising to the side of the boat, saying "Peace," then He turns and looks at the Apostles with disappointment but regality, calm, and he says, " still." The winds cease, and He comes away from the sides of the boat. He looks in the faces of the Apostles and says, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" Anyway, I liked that.

I love you Mom!

GRANDMA SANDY: Hey Grandma! I hope that you are doing well, and thank you for sending me letters and emails. It´s good that they solved the problem with the leak at your house.

Speaking of water, as I was talking with Mom she said that I have "Arizona weather" since it´s been pretty hot here (my computer says it´s about 34°C, or 81°F as a reference for us Americans). Anyway, that made me think of water:

Here in the city, it is more or less totally fine to drink water from the tap "la llave" we say in Spanish. Well, for me I actually like the flavor of the tap water. It has a sort of earthy flavor - like the water in Arizona, in your very own house Grandma, and I remember before I didn´t like the water much in Mesa, but now I fondly enjoy the water from the tap. Elder Capiz, on the other hand, does NOT like the flavor at all, it is gross to him.

Also a reminder of times spent with you, Grandma, is something I said to Dad in this email, is the cola. It reminds me of you, with your soda, lemon, and ice, every night. Good memories, thank you for reading with me Grandma. I love you, and hope we can do more stuff together when I return!

I hope that your trip(s) go well, and that you can enjoy the sights (like the chapels you talked about before with me, thank you for sharing that).

Well, my time draws to a close. I love you Grandma Sandy!

GRANDMA TERRY AND GRANDPA TOM: I love you! Hope to be able to hear from you more frequently too! I got a nice letter from Aunt Beqi, if you could thank her for me, that´d be awesome! I love you Grandma! I love you Grandpa!

GRANDMA VAL: I love you Grandma! Thank you for the card, that´s cool you´re reading The History of the Church books. I love you!

GRANDMA EREKSON: How are you doing? (Pass the message please) I love you!

--------------------------- FRIENDS: Sorry, no time, but I hope you all are doing well!


CARLY: Congratulations on your engagement!

MICHAEL: I want to change my guess to Brazil, Portuguese. Thanks! Talk to you later! Email me (since you can now!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week #21 Laureles (La Oficina) 1

I hope that things are all going well for you, things for me are going pretty well. I am enjoying my time here in the offices, and I don´t really have a lot of information or specific story to share this week.

My companion´s name is Elder Capiz. He is from México as well, he has about 13 months in the mission field, and is the Executive Secretary.

So, life as a secretary is pretty good. I work on registering the cedulas (or records) of baptisms, create a report for President Walker of the baptisms from the past week, according to the areas which had baptisms, and things like that. I also have to call and correct if there is a lack of reporting of "Key Indicators" from a companionship from the letters to the President. I also work on something called "La Brújula" which is a monthly sort of mini-magazine of the mission. So, that is what I get to do as the Secretary of Records. Also, if anyone has a question about whether or not somebody is a member, I get to call Salt Lake and find out.

We live in two places as secretaries. Sometimes we sleep here, and other times at our house. There are four of us secretaries, but we live separately (when we´re not sleeping here). So, it´s been pretty good so far, yeah. Kind of spoiled in ways, being able to listen to music and lectures here on the computer.

The photo has, (starting at the top from the left) the following Elders: Elder Vargas (secretario de materiales), Elder Capiz (secretario ejecutivo), me (secretario de registros); row two: Elder Love (asistente al Presidente), Elder Mills (secretario financiero ), Elder Vazquez (asistente al Presidente).

I´m also including a photo of Elder López and I from the end of our time together. And, one of us near the beginning, so be able to see how we (I) have changed in about two months.

Elder Lopez & Elder Erekson in January 2013

Elder Lopez & Elder Erekson in March 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week #20- Leaving Nuevo Aurora

Another week has come and gone in the mission field. And, I´m doing pretty well. Changes are on the way. Tomorrow I´m going to leave my area and work in the Mission Offices as the Secretary of Records (secretario de registros). I´ll be working in the offices in the mornings and early afternoon until about 2:00, when I´ll eat and then we´ll go proselyting for about 6 hours or so. So, that´ll be good. My companion will be Elder Capiz (not sure on the spelling, next week I´ll let you all know). I´ll get to "convivir" with the other secretaries, and the Assitants to the President, and the President (and the new Presidents too).

This week I had some good experiences with recognizing the hand of the Lord working in the mission field, in the efforts to save His children, and help them. Even though this week our numbers suffered (we had MANY of our appointments fall through) we had some good experiences.

Remember the contact I wrote about last week? Well, we dropped by to visit with him, and he was asleep. However, we spoke briefly with his son, and then with his wife. Lo and behold, she and her husband (our contact) are inactive members of the Church. She thought that we had come for her, or something like that. She did not know we spoke with her husband. Her son had also expressed desires in the past to go to church at our chapel. So, our contact became even better. Just think about it: We contacted a man because of our decisions and feelings, and we later come to find that his family already are members (albeit inactive). She said something about wanting to return, but not knowing what she needed to do, it had been so long. It was good to be a part of the Lord´s efforts to recover his lost sheep.

Another experience along this lines: During intercambios with Elder Soto, we passed by the house of an inspired contact which Elder López had about a month ago. We were in a street, and a couple was leaving their house, and we spoke briefly with them. Elder Soto and I decided to drop by and visit them, see if we couldn´t make an appointment or teach them or whatever. When we talked with him, we made an appointment and we also received a referral. He gave us the name and address of his mother. So, the next day with Elder López, we went to go looking for her. As we arrived at the house, we recognized it from an earlier effort to find less-active members to visit. We left a brief note for her, and pulled out a paper which has names of referrals, contacts, and past investigators, and there she was again as a past investigator! So, three times; three ways to encounter her. The Lord is trying to save his children, His lambs. It was a cool experience to have, to recognize that. It was good.

Yesterday I was sick. Saturday we ate carne asada, and salchicas, papas asadas, and more. I ate a lot, and felt pretty full near the end of the meal. Well, that night I did not feel well, my stomach was not being kind to me. I had to find a comfortable position and maintain it. When the morning came, and went into the bathroom, and... I threw up. It was kind of gross - it tastes of salchicha and grapefruit juice kind of. A bit graphic, I know. So, I was ill with that, and felt better afterwards, but still not totally fine. Let´s just say that I don´t want to eat carne asada for a while... That sort of nauseous feeling when thinking about the food, ish. I also had a fever, and my legs were really tired and sore. But, there was work to be done.

Elder López and I have joked about me having a gift. I joked to him that I was going to leave the area, and explained that when I was in the MTC (the second time) I slept with a sick stomach, and threw up - later to leave and come to Mexico. Well, the same thing happened here, and we joked about it. And, here I am changing. If it happens another time, it´ll be painful but funny - ironic.

We had our Stake Conference, and it was alright. I couldn´t hear or understand well, but the focus was on the Temple.

I´m short on time. I´ve had good experiences here in Nueva Aurora, and my testimony has grown stronger. I hope to continue to grow, and I feel pretty good right now.

Oh, also, someone told me that the Mission is going to change its name, so if I stay here I´ll still get my 3 missions. I don´t know if it´s totally true, but I heard it´ll change to the México Monterrey Apodaca Mission. I hope so. 3 Missions!

Yeah, it does mean that I´ll get mail sooner - every day it arrives for me (except Sundays?). I feel pretty good. Calm. I´ll have to learn how to do it, but it´ll be good. Elder López told me that they can use my way of thinking, my "don" (gift). It was nice of him to say it that way. I still have not received the package - hoping to find it waiting for me tomorrow.