Monday, May 27, 2013

Week #32: Laureles (La Oficina) 12

This past week was alright. Yesterday I learned my future destiny as to which mission I´ll be serving in. I will not be the Records Secretary in either mission, as I thought I was going to be...

Instead, I´ll be the Executive Secretary (Secretario Ejecutivo) in the Mexico Monterrey East Mission.

So instead of working with the records as I´ve done for the past three months, I´ll be working with the visas, plane flights, and other things like that. I have some stuff to learn, but I feel good about it. So, no "3 Missions" for me, but that´s okay. I get to stay here in the city where it´s more calm and comfortable.

I feel pretty good about it. New stuff to have to learn, but it´ll be good. Definitely doable, but I´ve prayed for help of course. It happens tomorrow. So I´ll be trained by Elder Capiz and will train my companion and his companion to do what I´ve been doing.

My new companion is Elder Ramirez - I don´t know him that well, but he´s cheery and always pretty smiley. Elder Capiz is going to continue as Secretario Ejecutivo in Reynosa, and I get to train my companion and his companion to be Secretarios de Registros. Tomorrow we get our new companions. Basically, the divisions are now official here. I´m going to be staying here in the Mexico Monterrey East Mission.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Week #31: Laureles (La Oficina) - 11

Well, here I am on another week. The interesting thing here, is that I´m now writing on a Tuesday - we were kind of busy yesterday, so we didn´t have our Preparation Day on Monday. I´ll get back to that later in the email. But, basically it was pretty great.

Last week we had Elder Wilford W. Andersen of the Seventy come and visit us with his wife. As a member of the "office staff" we got a personal meeting with him - the four secretaries, the Asistants, Presidente y Hermana Walker, and the Andresens. It was pretty cool. He shared a lot of cool things. One of which had to do with being "reborn" as it speaks in Mosiah 27 (I think).

He also shared about "the mantle of Elijah" and the fact that the people accepted Elisha - he had the same power and authority as Elijah. We are about to lose the Walkers, and recieve new Mission Presidents, and we need to set the example, praise our leaders to the other missionaries - "How is the President, really?" kind of idea. We are going to be the ones who need to help everyone else accept, love, and serve, and sustain the new Presidents.

During our Zone Conference we spoke on that, and la Hermana Walker spoke about faith, and being the "Lord´s Wind" - she shared an experience by Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, and it exists at least in part on the Church website. It was pretty cool. Basically, we can and should be the answers to the prayers - the "Wind of the Lord" this day. Presidente Walker spoke on "Opening your mouths" and sharing the gospel, and Elder Anderson spoke of being reborn, and how our "Missionary Purpose", which is "The Doctine of Christ" is a lifelong process of being reborn each week.

He shared how partaking of the Sacrament is the "Ordinance of Enduring to the End," and I liked that idea. It was new, and pretty cool. On further reflection, I thought of going to the Temple and the vicarious work - they´re all Ordinances of remembrance - they remind us, and in the Temple we help others too, but they´re the Ordinances of "Enduring to the End" basically. I liked that.

We also watched the video about John Tanner, how he consecrated everything to the Lord. We watched in once in the MTC, but this time it impacted me more. Especially when he was healed through his faith.

Then at the end we sang our mission song, which is Fe en cada paso - Faith in Every Footstep in English, but the translation isn´t 100% equal. I love that hymn. It was good. There is a part where it speaks of sharing the gospel with all basically, and I liked that - got a bit emotional as we sang that. It´s a good song. Really. So, that answers a question from Mom.

Now, the investigators I´ve been speaking of (with the fast we did, our prayer, etc.) are doing pretty well still. The hermano is working, and although his wife was out of town he came and we had a nice lesson with him. He´s got the desires to return 100% to activity, and be an example. Also, he came and attened Sacrament Meeting with us.

So, now the moment of truth... The reason for which our Mission was too busy to have a Preparation Day yesterday... I can say it in a few words:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

It was pretty great. An Area Seventy, Presidente y Hermana Walker, Elder Daniel L. Johnson and his wife (Presidency of the México Area), and of course Elder Holland came and spoke to our mission. Each of them spoke and shared some things, but I´m going to focus on Elder Holland right now. After everyone had spoken, it was time for the choir to sing. We sang well, Himnos N° 98, "Conmigo quédate, Señor" - which is "Abide with Me; ´Tis Eventide." Afterwards, Elder Holland spoke some Spansih, and he told us: "Esto es mi himno favorito. Perfecto." "That is my favorite hmyn... I love that hymn..."

He continued (I may add some things so that the sentences make sense): "...I´ve changed everything I was going to say to you... a theme has emerged..." He spoke on how when - oops - skipped something vital. He invited all of us to come and shake his hand. As things turned out, I got to be the first Elder (not counting Temple Missionaries) to shake his hand. That was cool. Anyway, speaking of this, he more or less said: "When we shake your hands, we interview you." He spoke of us, and said, more or less that "They´re all great. Maybe one or two have some difficulties... That too shall pass."

He then continued to speak on the "Doctrine of Christ" and the "Missionary Purpose" - which purpose is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in the Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentence, baptism, the reception of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End" (Preach My Gospel, 1).

He shared how on his mission, "We did not get deep enough..." "There is something more basic... [and] fundamental than [The Docrtine of Christ]... more basic than teaching is living... the life of Christ... That, I´m not sure can be taught, but THAT MUST BE LIVED... We teach doctrine... more fundamental than what you teach is what you are."

We looked at 2 Nephi 31, and he continued (sorry, I´m just sharing nuggets from Elder Holland): "The great lesson of the Savior´s life... [was] to SET AN EXAMPLE. " ´Follow thou me.´ "Doctrine in action... faith in abstract... won´t help... all of those [doctines] have to be put in action... [He gave us the] simplest missionary message... ´Follow thou ME´... Follow Jesus... Look at His life and follow Him... ´full purpose of heart... no hypocrisy...´ "

Speaking of 2 Nephi 31, he said: " ´Follow thou me´... ´follow the Son´... ´follow´... ´follow´... this is hard work [engraving on plates]... economizing [the plates to only have the most important parts]... Was it really necessary to say it so many times? Well, I guess so... "Forget your investigators! I need to know if you are living this way... "You´re God´s investigators... none of us are home free yet... until we live the life of Christ... "You want your investigators to have more faith? Well He wants you to have more faith... He wants you to study a little bit harder... Pray more urgently.. "[I say this] with all the affection of my heart, to ask you to be there... " what... He did... [the] most fundamental missionary message in this world... "...when we´d rather die than disappoint Him... when we´re there, THEN we can teach..." We read some from Mosiah 27, when he spoke of how the angel "astonished" Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah, and he said, "...I pray that you will astonish the people you teach..."

He continued (sorry, not a lot of commentary, a lot of replay): "The Docrtine of Christ takes its vitality from the life of Christ." and somewhere else he also said: "Undergirding the Doctrine of Christ, is the life of Christ."

He continued to speak on Missionary work, but also on Salvation in general as he said (more or less): "Why is this so hard...? Why isn´t it easier...? I´ve been asking myself that for 50 years... half of a century... and I´ve found at least some peace in the following... [It is] not easy for us, because it was never, never, never easy for Him... "What right do we have... to say, ´We want it... easier than it was for you?´ "Why not so easy...? Not one single thing in the earthly life of Him was easy... The road to salvation has to go through Gethsemane.. When you say that [you will follow Him], you sign on for the whole tour... you speak what He spoke... go where He went... weep when He wept... "It´s not easy for you... It´s never easy for anybody... Salvation is a... wrenching experience... it´s His gift... His Atonement... "He didn´t give us ´Cheap Grace´..."

He continued: "Don´t spend any time... asking yourself why a mission´s hard... They let Him down... He knows everything about injustice... unfairness... unkindness..." Speaking of our living as He lived, he said: "[This mission] is the most exhilirating... most demanding [thing you will ever do]... least on your way there... trying... wanting to be there... [living the life of Christ]..." He spoke a bit more, and the he closed: "...But I love the Lord with ALL MY HEART... the Gospel has given me everything... I grew up in a less-active family... but I got the chance to go on a mission...

I bear witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ... It isn´t just that He lives... He loves us... [the love of a parent like me is] nothing compared to the way... God loves you... [He is willing to] forgive, and forgive, and forgive... if you will repent, and repent, and repent... I just want you to love the Lord... live the life of Jesus Christ... change the world forever..."

We then closed by signing Himno N°138 "Señor, yo te seguiré" - which translates as "Lord, I will follow you" but the hmyn is "Lord, I Would Follow Thee..." And it fit perfectly with what Elder Holland shared with us. It was pre-chosen too. That happens in Church meetings, doesn´t it?

So, the message of his talk was "Live the Life of Jesus Christ" basically.

Later, Presidente Walker was talking about it, and he said basically, "I wasn´t expecting that Elder Holland would give us such a difficult invitation. He gave us the most difficult invitation he could - to be like Christ. But it´s possible, with Him and the Atonement."

So, there are lots of good things in there. I hope it has helped all of you, even if it was a bit scattered. This next week, we´ll be having transfers, and I´ll be getting a new companion, and maybe I´ll know my fate as far as which Mission is my future home.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Week #30: Laureles (La Oficina 10)

Well, would you look at that? I´ve left another set of numbers - no longer in the 20´s as my weeks go, but the 30´s now. So, that´s happening. I´m going to reach my 7-month mark this 17th. Time marches on a bit slowly as the days go by, but the weeks, and months go by fast - when one looks backwards. I remember when I started my missionary journey. In fact, unless I´m mistaken today marks the day I opened my mission call - 11 months ago. So, it´s been a flight of time.

You know, I didn´t address anyone as this letter started. Okay.

This past week has been pretty good. On the last Sunday - Fast Sunday - I started my fast personally, for a family in our area and some family, and then later Elder Capiz and I started our fast together - for this family in our area. He was having economic problems, and was trying to find a job. So, we fasted - and we both were thinking on the same frequency in this, so we did. I think it may have been Tuesday, I´m not sure at the moment, when we saw him and his family. We chatted with them a bit, and learned that he had found work! In only a few short days the Lord answered our Fast in the affirmative. He had been quite worried. I asked how he felt, and he responded, "Bien contento" (very content). I liked being able to hear that from him.

He and his wife are progressing nicely. We had a lesson with them - again in the chapel (I had a moment of not knowing how to spell that word) about the "Plan of Salvation" - or "Lesson 2" and it affected him in a good way it appears. Also, they had told us that they were not going to be able to attend Church this week - they had a "compromiso" (a commitment). Imagine how it was to see them walk into the meeting. They left for their "compromiso" after the first meeting, but it was great to see them, and their desires. They´re our mostly progressing people.

Speaking of Sunday, with almost seven months into the mission it was finally my turn to give a talk in sacrament meeting. Some of you other missionaries might have already done that, but I haven´t. It was pretty good. I wrote a talk, but mostly only used some quotes and used it more as an outline. I was grateful to be able to have that experience - being able to talk more like I would in English, not a written reading, but a talk. And that´s how it was. One member was nice and told me my Spanish is good, so I appreciated that. Elder Capiz told me I did well too, so that´s good. I focused on working all together, how we have a responsibility to help eachother stay firm, that kind of stuff. It´s something we´ve lacked with baptisms here - we teach but they don´t have firm firm friends in the ward. With the aforementioned family, we´re more on track than we have been. Also, there are members who try to support new members too.

We also got to bless the sacrament, and I had a good experience with the opening hymn. We sang "Joseph Smith´s First Prayer" - in Spanish of course - and during parts, especially the first line of the 4th verse, got me a bit emotional. It was a good experience.

Also, yesterday I got to talk to my family, and that was nice. It has already been almost 5 months since we talked for Christmas, all that time ago when I was in Greeley, Colorado. I´ve had quite the adventerous journey - with the MTC, Colorado, MTC, and Mexico. I like to tell my story to new Elders I meet sometimes. I like it. I´ve been blessed in this way. I have also had the blessing to have had good experiences here too, and more are coming.

Random things that happened this week: - I got totally soaked through this last Saturday. It was stormy here, and I looked outside and thought to myself, "Maybe it will go away. I don´t want to be hot if the sun comes out - and it´s not raining too heavily, I´ll go without a coat. Yeah, that sounds good." More or less... Anyway, we left an appointment, and it was "chispiando" - sprinkling, and Elder Capiz had forgotten his coat in the house of the investigators, so we returned. As we were returning, it started to rain heavier and heavier. By the time we got to the house of the investigators we were going to visit I was totally drenched, basically. It was a lot of fun, and I liked having the experience.

Well, time is short. I´m maybe going out to eat now. I´ll wrap up. Take care!

Elder Izak Thomas Erekson

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week #29: Laureles (La Oficina) - 9

Dear everyone,

This past week has been pretty good. Of course there were some tougher moments, but that happens in life, and as a missionary. It was a pretty good week though.

Last week there was a leadership meeting: All of the Zone Leaders, the two Sister Leaders (Coordinating Sisters?), the Asistants to the President, and Presidente y Hermana Walker all met together for trainings, and admonition. We helped prepare for it, and staying at the offices for a while, eating with them. So, that was pretty good.

One good thing here this week was working a bit more here in this part of our ward. Laureles is a pretty big area, and we usually work in a part that is far away from the chapel - it´s been that way for a while I think, the missionaries only working over there and not over here. But, something we´ve been doing is trying to work more here. It´s been pretty good. New territory.

This last week, Elder Capiz and I went and worked in a part of the ward where we have never ever been - and it didn´t appear on our map either, and that was pretty cool. We contacted somebody, visited a part-member family, and received a referral from one of them, here in this untreated part of the area. That was pretty cool. Yesterday we once again worked here, and we found some "past investigators" who were excited to recieve us. It´s been about 2 years since they saw the missionaries last, and they were talking about "peace" and how we came at just the right time, and it was good.

We have a two people with baptismal dates (goals), but only one of them is progressing. She lives here, closer to the chapel (they walk, in fact). Her husband is a less-active member, and has been for most of his life. From day one I think, they talked to us about how only one of them would be able to attend Church at a time, since they need to work, and the schedule conflicts with Church. During one of our companion prayers, where I was the voice, I prayed that somehow they could both come, if it were possible, or so. Come Sunday, and lo and behold - they both came, with their daughters. They only stayed for the first meeting, but it was good to have them there, both especially. It was an answer to my prayer. Also, the day before we had a good lesson with them and their chosen "hermanador" who is about their age, and lives pretty close. It was good, he bore testimony, and found a scripture that really affected him by the Spirit - he didn´t know where to find it, but there it was.

One thing which we haven´t done very well is working with the members, and it´s something I want to do better. Working with them, going to Ward Council, having "hermanadores" and all that good stuff. So, we´re progressing, and hopefully it continues progressing.

We need to help out some of our past converts, and something they need is the aforementioned "hermanamiento" - which is the friendship with the members of the ward.

Something I remembered, is that yesterday was a day full of blesisngs - literally. During sacrament meeting, our three baptisms were confirmed, and the little ones received children´s blessings too, then two more children were blessed likewise. In all, 8 blessings to start of Sacrament Meeting. It was pretty good.

This week I studied a variety of things, but something that kind of made sense to me yesterday - I learned more of it anyway, was a small part of the New Testament, in reference to the Old Testament. There is a part where the Savior speaks of "the sign of Jona[h]" - with the three days in the tomb / fish, but yesterday we spoke of how Jonah was willing to offer himself to save the other people on the boat, since he was guilty. The Savior wasn´t guilty, but He did likewise offer Himself, that the others "might not perish..." And that was a deeper understanding of that passage that came to me.

Earlier in the semana (week) I was also comparing The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7) with the Sermon to the Nephites (3 Nephi 12 - 14) and the differences. Something for the missionaries and teachers out there: He applies the doctrines differently, according to whom He is teaching. It´s pretty cool to see the differences. One difference that caught my attention a while back, is that He even speaks of the money differently, according to whom He talks to. Check out the differences between the two sermons.

Thank you to all who have written me! Last week after the baptism I wrote 6 pages in my journal, and they were about the story of the family we baptized. I don´t think I wrote much, if anything, about them before - so it was good to write the testimony stuff while it was still here, you know? Write before you forget! Write today.

So, I said it last week to the family, but now I´ll share with all. Since the mission is going to be divided, we´re going to be doing some preparation work for that. So, this next "cambio" - May 28th, we´re going to see 8 secretaries. Each of us is going to train our "double" as it were. Then, four of us (and we don´t know for sure who) are going to "La Frontera" to be part of the Mexico Reynosa mission, while four stay here in the Mexico Monterrey East Mission.

Well, that´s the general email this week. Today we´ll be practicing singing again. Take care of yourselves, everyone!

Elder Izak Thomas Erekson