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!

Week #98: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 12

Time flies really quickly when you`re writing and reading emails, and other things. The point is, this week my time is short to write, so I`ll try to make the most of it and write the best I can in these few minutes (I haven`t even written President yet...) that I have left.

This week was the last week of the transfer, and it was a pretty good week. Elder Pasapera and I continue working hard, and learning together. We were able to reach our minimum of 101 contacts, even though our goal was a bit higher. It was crazy. We had to do 40 on Sunday to make it, but we worked really hard and talked with a lot of people, and we were able to make it. We set at least one appointment as well, and we actually had a lesson that was a bit crazy.

We didn`t have a single change in the District, all eight of us are staying the same, with the same area and companions and everything. Sometimes change is hard, and sometimes staying the same is hard. However, I know that the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us, and that there is a reason that we are all staying the same for six more weeks. There is something that we need to learn that we have not learned yet. There are blessings we need to receive, struggle we need to have, and He will be with us every step of the way. These next six weeks will be weeks of growth and learning.

With my current planner I`m going to be a lot cleaner, and organized. When I started off my mission, I was very organized. Lately, I`ve gotten rather sloppy with my planner and planning, so today is the perfect day to change. Whenever we`ve got something out of order, or that needs to be better, today is the perfect day to change. The Lord has given us each day so that we can learn and grow and become better. We are with the people we are with so that we can become better. I`d like to share something that my Grandma Sandy shared with me this week in her letter to me:

"...I'm sure you are enjoying your missionary work. It seems like you and your companion get along really well. You have been blessed with good companions. You have been able to teach them things and I know they have taught you as well. Heavenly Father knows the people we need in our lives and places them near us at just the right time. Sometimes we don't know or understand why, but in looking back at my life I can see the lessons I have learned or the things I have been taught by knowing them."

I testify that these words are true. We are with the people we are with, where we are, for a reason. The Lord has a special plan for each of us, and He will help us to achieve it. I read a talk this morning from the July 2014 Ensign by Bishop Dean M. Davies that I liked a lot. He talked about how the Lord will not send us trials to impede us, but rather He will send them to help us grow, and that the Savior is always there to help us.

I testify that the Lord loves us and sustains us. I know that I will have trials in the next few weeks, and I know that the Lord will help me overcome them and learn what I need to learn. This week I have felt the love of my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know that He knows everything that I go through. I am grateful to Him for everytrhing that He does for me, as well as my loving Father in Heaven, and the Holy Ghost, who helps me feel this love.

Week #97: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 11

Here´s an excerpt from my letter to President Bird this week:

"This week I´ve felt pretty good overall, especially last night with the weekly phone calls. I wrapped up late, but I felt that they were efficient and powerful. Elder Pasapera has told me that I need to be tougher as a Leader, and I´ve tried to apply it a bit, be more assertive and direct, and it´s been good. The capacitation for District Leaders has helped me to improve my daily and weekly reports as well, as I´m trying to talk to them more about their day and people, along with the numbers. It´s been good, and last night especially I had a lot of ánimo to work, and we´ve been watching the District 1 this past week for the First 12 Weeks, and it´s helped me as well. I am glad that I get to end my mission training, re-learning the basics. Thank you for this opportunity."

I am still learning a lot, and growing. I am ready to work and continue being better and better, I am grateful for the blessing of being a missionary, and for the blessing to be able to repent when I make a mistake.

This week I have been trying to improve my personal prayers (again), following some advice that I receieved from my Mom, and it´s helped me feel better a bit. It´s still a work in progress, but I´m trying to make my prayers more meaningful. I am trying to open myself more to My Father, and express my feelings better. It´s been good, and I´m going to keep working on it, and little by little becoming who I need to become.

I hope you all have a great week, and my time is almost up. Sorry that the letter is short this week. Have a great week, and I love you all!

Week #96: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 10

This week was a pretty good one overall. It was actually a week and half, so it has been a while since we´ve had a real break, so it´s been pretty good. In these past 10 days I´ve been able to go on two different intercambios, and they were both pretty good overall. The first was with my Zone Leader Elder Fry, and it was fun. We only had one lessons (which was quite the visit), but we were able to have 30 contacts in the street, which was good. It was fun talking with Elder Fry. The other intercambio was with Elder Gómez, and it was pretty good too overall. We talked and got to know each other a bit better, which was pretty good.

We had a baptism this last Sunday. I already sent all of you some photos. Aneth´s baptism was an experience for sure. We didn´t prepare very well, so it was a bit chaotic to start with, but in the end everything worked out for Aneth and she was baptized by her uncle. She was confirmed that same day in Sacrament Meeting (we had the baptism in the morning before Church). Now we have to help her continue growing in the Church and learning more. We´re going to be reviewing the lessons with her to help her deepen her understanding of them.

What else has happened these past days? We´re going to have Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy come and train us, or so in September, which should be good. He is in the Mexico Area Presidency, and is either in the First or the Second Quorum of the Seventy. It should be something good that will help us. We all had to take a survey this week about how well we apply Preach My Gospel, so that he can know what we need to learn more about. Something like that. It was good. We took it on Monday, since today is our P-day, but they needed the surveys by Wednesday at the latest I think.

We went to the Temple today, and then we went to Citadel to do some shopping. The plan was to find some new shoes (didn´t end up buying any), we went to Krispie Kreme Doughnuts and I got a Mexico World Cup Jersey. It was on sale too, which was a great suprise. Should be cool to have in the future. Of course I´ll bring other things home with me (like the lessons learned, memories, friendships, etc.), but it´ll be cool to have this too.

Still no more news as far as the itinerary, but it shouldn´t take much longer now to arrive, and then I´ll forward it home. It´s crazy to think about the fact that I only have 8 more letters home to write, and then I´m there. Time sure does fly sometimes. Life has treated me good. These days I stress myself out to make sure I wrap my mission up the right way. I expect so much from myself. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. He is perfectly just and perfectly merciful, as is our Savior Jesus Christ. They will not make a mistake in how they treat us. We need to trust in Them, do our best, and trust in Their love and justice.

I will be writing again soon (on Monday). I hope to have good things to report. I love you all, and wish you a great week! Bye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Week #95: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 9

This week I got a phone call during our weekly planning session on Thursday. It was about 1:45 or so, and it was a call from the Executive Secretary. He had a very important question for me: "¿A cuál aeropuerto quiere llegar a su casa?" (Which airport to you want to arrive at?) or so. I used to make the call, and on Thursday it was my turn. According to the phone it was about 1:51 when the called me back (it seems), and I helped to request my flight home. Time is running out.

This was a pretty good week overall. We had Zone Conference on Tuesday, which was great. We talked about finding Red Tomatoes (the elect who will listen), contacting, planning, and learning English. It was a good meeting for sure.

I´ve been doing pretty alright this week. It´s been good working with Aneth. We have her baptism coming up. This Sunday, and it should be great. She´s really prepared.

Here´s an excerpt from the letter I´m still writing to President Bird: "This week we were able to have a good experience with the Book of Mormon. One was with an investigator named Jorge Aguilar. We talked with him on Monday about reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and he said he would. On Wednesday, he had read up to 1 Nefi 12, and he enjoyed what he read, and took notes, and shared stuff that he learned and applied to himself (such as 1 Nefi 3:7) and it was cool. We have hope that he will progress."

Time is short.I love you all, and will talk to you again on Thursday the 21st. Have a great week!

Week #94: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 8

I´ve got quite a few letters now, don´t I? Things have been going pretty good overall this week, with lessons and contacts, and progress, etc. I´ve only got a few things to write about, so I´ll get right on to it.

To start off, this week we were able to reach 102 contacts! It was pretty great, we put forth a lot of effort during the week to reach the goal, and we were able to surpass the 101 contacts goal that the Zone has. It was pretty great. Three of the four areas in the District reached the goal, which was cool. It was nice to see some success in that aspect of the work. We were also able to work with some members of the work and have lessons, which was nice.

In a couple of weeks we should be having a baptism. Aneth is getting really close now, and her date is set for the 17th of this month (the day that I complete 22 months in the field!) and she´s right on track for it. We only have a few more things left to talk about with her, the interview, and voila! It´ll be great to have a baptism again. The Lord truly blessed us with being able to find and start teaching Aneth. We found her weeks ago after being pretty consistent with contacting in the street. The Lord rewarded our efforts and desires with the opportunity to find and teach her. It´s been good.

One of the best experiences this week was when an Hermana in the ward chewed us and the Sister Missionaries out after the food. We´ve gotten into this bad habit of spending the food time mostly to chat amongst ourselves, not really involving the sisters who give us the food, etc. It was a great eye-opener, because she was right. She told us how she felt with love, and that she still loved and respected us, but she pointed out our fault in this aspect, and she was so right. Since that day we´ve been doing better at involving the Sisters / families in the meal, and it´s been better, more spiritual overall, and it´s just felt better, really. I´m very glad that she had the courage to tell us where we were wrong, and to correct us. Sometimes we just need a call to repentance in our lives. I testify that because of Jesus Christ, we can repent, and we can have hope that everything will be good again. I am grateful for this gift, and the effects and hope it brings into my life.

Well, tomorrow we have our Zone Conference with President and Sister Bird, so that should be good and edifying. I hope to have good experiences there. He´ll probably say something about how old I am in the field, haha. We´ll see. I love you all and wish you all the best! Have a great week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week #93: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XVI - Week 7

This week has been pretty good. On Tuesday Elder Smith and I were able to go to the offices to find out the transfers. Elder Quevedo is going to finish the last 6 weeks of an Elder`s training before he goes home, Elder Smith is off to China, Nuevo León (the farthest area in the mission), and I am training one last time. I am pretty happy about that - I like to train, and I like the program that we have here in the field of "The First Twelve Weeks." It`s a good program that helps me a lot when I review it too. That`s one reason why I like training, because I get to go back to the beginning and relearn and remind myself of the important basics of successful missionary work. It`s great.

My companion is Elder Pasapera, who comes from Acapulco, Guerrero, México. He is originally from el D.F. (Mexico City area), but moved to Acapuclo years ago and comes from there to the mission. He is a great missionary with a lot of excitement for the work. He is already a good teacher, and we`re going to do a lot of good and learn a lot together. I am grateful for the blessing to be ending my mission with him as my companion. It`s nice to have a native Spanish speaker again. Don´t get me wrong - it was great to have American companions. However, it is great to be speaking more Spanish again, and I like that a lot. We get along really well, and it`s been good.

Aneth is getting closer and closer to her baptism. We`re getting close to having finished teaching her all of the necessary lessons and topics, and her baptism is now set for August 17th. Her uncle is going to come and baptize her. It should be pretty great, and it will feel nice to have another baptism. The Lord really has prepared her, and it was a "tender mercy" that we were able to find her. We found her dropping by for a different appointment with the friend of her Grandma. While there, we were told that she hasn`t been baptized yet, and we got all excited (at least I did). More updates as things unfold.

Santiago and Ceci have been harder to find, which has been difficulty. Hopefully things work out for them and they still get baptized. Pablo wrote me back this week, and he seems like he`s doing better now, which is great. We`re going to keep in touch, so that they can be hapyp and live the gospel to the fullest.

This week we want to work harder at finding new investigators (at least I do), and we`re going to contact a lot more. It`s something that we`ve been slacking at, and we`ve got to repent and move forward improving constantly. We can do it, and that is our goal this week.

It`s crazy to think about the time I have left in the mission field. I want to make the most of it, and do my best. I want to fix my mistakes and weaknesses, and become the best I can be, do the best that I can do. I need to be my best. I know that with the help of the Lord and His Atonement, I can do it. I`ve been reading in the "War Chapters" in Alma, specifically where Helaman is writing his epistle to Moroni, and it`s been good. I can see from their lives and examples that I need to trust in the Lord, be diligent and obedient, and He will take care of me. I testify that this is true. I bear my testimony that God lives, and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. The Holy Ghost has helped me know these things. I testify of them.

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

Week #92: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 6

Well, only a few days have gone by since the last time I wrote, but there is of course news to be shared.

Another transfer has come and gone, and this transfer flew by pretty quickly. It doens`t really seem that long ago that I arrived here to the area. So far we`ve been able to find a lot of new investigators, and talk to a lot of people in the streets, but there is still so much left to be done. It`s a good ward and a good area though.

Elder Smith is leaving this transfer, and I am staying. Tomorrow we find out who my new companion will be. I feel like I might probably train again, but we`ll see. Elder Smith could also handle it I feel, but I`m not sure what`s going to happen. Elder Anderson is staying in Tamaulipas, Elder Carbajal is staying in Apodaca, and Elder Quevedo is going somewhere new for his last transfer. So, that`s what`s going on with my companions here in the mission. I wonder what`s going on with Elder Harrop and Elder Medrano. I just sent them quick messages, so we`ll see.

I`ve enjoyed working with Elder Smith. He`s a great missionary, and a hard worker. He and I have gotten along realyl well, and he has had plenty of patience with my quirks. I look forward to meeting my new, and possible last, companion tomorrow.

I took some photos today. I realized that my shoe is falling apart even more than I thought, haha. They`re lasting really well though - I`ve still got the same two pairs I started off with. I recommend them to all future missionaries. Don`t wear a pair out then switch - rather, use both pairs constantly and they`ll last great, and wear mostly equally. It`s advice I was given, and it`s true!

Here`s my study wall / desk area. I decorated it about a week or so ago, and I like it. I switched the framed picture today during my phot shoot to include more people on my wall. I love you all and wish you a great week! I am grateful for all that I have learned in the mission so far, and I am grateful for the time that I have left to continue growing, and that growth will not end when the mission does. Have a great week, and I`ll let you know the transfers next Monday!

P.S. About six letters ago I mentioned that a dog had attacked me and sent photos home. Well, I finally got to sewing up the pants this week. Here`s how they turned out. Good enough.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week #91: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 5

It`s been a pretty good week and a half since I last wrote. Things are going well in the area as far as investigators are concerned. We need a lot more of them, but we`ve got three pretty solid baptismal dates as of right now. Their names are Aneth, Ceci, and Santiago. We`re pretty confident they`ll make it. Their current goal is to be baptized in August, and we`re working towards that.

Some more good news! Lucía from my last area is getting baptized this weekend! Elder Anderson called me last night to let me know the good news. She just needs to have her real interview, and voila! It`ll be awesome. I`m glad to see some more results (even if they`re after I leave the area). So, I`m looking forward to that.

Today we went to the Temple, and I enjoyed that. I was able to learn and feel pretty good and calm. The past few weeks I`ve been stressing myself out, but I feel better overall now than I did a few weeks ago, so that`s great. I`m still working on being more relaxed and letting myself feel the Lord`s love, but I`m getting there, a bit more now than earlier this transfer.

The transfers are this next week. Crazy how 6 weeks fly by really quickly. Anything could happen. I could stay, leave, change companions, change positions, whatever. Sunday night we find out what`s going to happen, so that will be exciting. I could totally stay another transfer with Elder Smith if the Lord wants us to. We`ll see how the cookie crumbles. Oh yeah.

Last week we did an activity where the Zone Leaders had us put ourselves in the mind-set of being Returned Missionaries, and thinking of whom we could share the Gospel with. I had a lot of different people and relatives come to mind. I have a lot of work to do when I get home. Lots of people to help enjoy the gospel, and live the happiness it can bring us. But for now, it`s a bit more here focused on my mission.

So, these are the two photos I have for this week. The first is of a bowl of some sweet cereal I bought a few weeks ago. Elder Smith pointed it out to me, and I was ecstatic. I love this cereal, and I haven`t been able to eat it since I left the MTC in January 2013. So, I went like a year and a half almost without them. I love this cereal. Truly a blessing of the Lord. Seemingly insignificant, but a blessing for me.

I bear my testimony that the Lord loves us, and is constantly working towards our happiness and salvation. When we mess us, we can repent. When we go astray, we can return. He has His arms open wide to receive us. We should not let more time go by. We should pray and come unto Him. He will happily receive us. I have learned a lot about repentance out here in the field, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I love you all and wish you the best!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week #90: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 4

This week was pretty good overall. Let´s see what´s happened so far?

Well, I´ve been doing some cleaning and preparing with my luggage and the stuff that I´ve been carrying around with me. The thing is, when I came to this area, I had two super-stuffed suitcases, a backpack, a side bag, and my scriptures bag all stuffed. Any I had some stuff in a plastic bag too. That is, way too much stuff, way too much bulk. So, I´m thinking ahead and getting things organized and consolidated, leaving things that I don´t need to take with me. I hope to finish that soon... We´ll see. But, in the meantime, the house is a bit of a mess at my fault. We cleaned the Kitchen up though, which is really nice.

We were able to teach quite a few people this week, finding some new investigators of varying potential. Hopefully we can get some of them to progress. We tried to get a lot of people to Church on Sunday, but we ended up with a bunch of them not being there or coming. However, the Lord blessed us and we had a bunch of people there. A less-active family we´ve visited came, and we counted 5 people as investigators for our numbers. It was pretty good.

On Tuesday we had intercambios with Victoria 1.2, and I had Elder Minch here with me. He´s from Arizona. It was a pretty good and fun intercambio, and we talked about lots of different things. We talked about a lot of old shows that we both watched too, and it was fun. Intercambios are pretty good usually.

Next week we´re going to go to the Temple, which should be good. I might buy some stuff from the store too. I´m very grateful that we have to opportunity to go to the Temple in my mission. My testimony and love for the Temple has grown while serving out here, and I plan to continue learning and growing. I´m constantly learning and growing, and needing to be better. We can all grow. I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has given me to be a missionary.

I bear my testimony of the Lord´s love for each and every one of us, and I invite all to take this week to improve their personal prayers. It´s an area where I need to improve, so I´m going to work on that. I love you all and wish you well!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Week #89: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 3

This week was pretty good overall. We were able to have intercambios with the Zone Leaders, teach some new investigators, and learn some things too. There were a lot of moments where we could have done better, and I have been praying a lot to improve, but we´re doing pretty good. I´m doing better than last week in some things.

On Sunday there was a great moment when the Bishop was talking. We worked with him a bit on Friday and Saturday, and he was talking to the parents of the ward about teaching their youth by example to be good, to be ready to go on missions. He mentioned that he had spent some hours with us, and he expressed his respect and appreciation for us, which was a really nice moment. It made me feel good about the work we´re doing here, and he is a great Bishop. He´s still relatively new, and he´s doing a good job at it. I like this ward.

Also, this last week marked the year mark of President and Sister Bird arriving here. Pretty awesome. Time flies.

This week I hope to improve a lot, learn a lot, and do what I need to do to be the missionary and person the Lord wants me to be. I haven´t heard anything about the Temple this next week, but it could be... So, sorry if I don´t write until next Thursday. That would be why. I hope everyone has a great week! I love you all!

P.S. Here´s what I wrote today because my friend Lisa asked for some insight on covenants for her Sunday School class, and I came up with this huge sermon... Oops. But, I liked writing it, and I think it can help everyone. Just me sharing some ideas I´ve heard and learned about making the Sacrament more meaningful. So, here is some of what I said:

"First, let´s talk about the Sacrament:

President Joseph Fielding Smith has some great things to say about partaking of the sacrament, and making it special. We need to think of the sacrament as the important ordinance that it is. There are certain ordinances in the gospel. In fact, the "Missionary Purpose" talks about these covenants and ordinances. Covenants are usually entered into through ordinances. So, the ordinances are very important.

The missionary purpose is very similar to the Fourth Article of Faith and is to "Invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End" (Preach My Gospel, page 1.)

Faith and Repentance are principles of the Gospel, and not ordinances. Faith leads us to act, and that faith motivates us to repent and change where we are wrong. Faith and repentance help prepare us for the covenants we are going to make, and the ordinances through the which we make these covenants. Once we (or an investigator) has repented, we are ready to make our first Covenant, which we do through the Ordinance of Baptism.

We covenant to 1) Take upon ourselves the name of Christ (which is what Mosiah 18 talks about basically - "mourn with those that mourn..." etc.), 2) Always remember Him (also in Mosiah 18 - " all times, and in all things, and in all places..."), and 3) Keep His commandments. Actually, what I just wrote comes from the Sacrament prayer for the bread.

Once we are baptized, we need to be confirmed to finish that process. One is not complete without the other. So, that takes us to the step of "Enduring to the End." How can we do that? We need to constantly renew our covenants. When we partake of the Sacrament, it is as if we were being rebaptized, and we receive a renewal of our Confirmation as well, (The Lord´s promise with the Sacrament is "...that they may always have His Spirit to be with them") as it says in the sacrament prayers. When we do this worthily, we repeat the process which is "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" (Lesson 3 in the missionary lessons) and we receive a forgiveness of our sins. We are enduring to the end.

I had a thought along these lines during a conference: Partaking of the Sacrament is the Ordinance that goes with "Endure to the End." We need to constantly renew our Spirits and our forgiveness, in order to slowly progress towards perfection. The Sacrament Meeting was described by President Joseph Fielding Smith along the lines of the "most sacred of all of the meetings that we have." To make it more meaningful, we should contemplate the words that we hear as the prayers are said. Not many prayers are set. Baptism is a set prayer. So are the Sacrament Prayers, and each one is different. Each can bring us different insight and hope.

The Prayer for the Bread reads as follows:

"O God, the Eternal Father. We ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).

I used these words to describe baptism and our covenants. This is what we covenant to do with the Lord. The prayer for the water is a bit different. Paying attention to this difference can be good for you and your youth.

The Prayer for the Water reads:

"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this [water] to the souls of all those ofdrink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:79).

This covenant helps us to grow and progress. Another idea is to imagine that the Savior Himself was blessing, breaking, and passing the Sacrament. President Smith talked about that too.

Once my companion and I explained the Sacrament to an investigator, who was worried about baptism, because he feared messing up afterwards, and being condemned. When we explained the sacrament to him, how it repeats the process of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and renews us each week, he said something along the lines of, "Now I understand why it´s important to go every week."

We need the Sacrament. I read a talk in the June Liahona (kind of like the Ensign) that had a question that I liked a lot. It said, "Do I feel forgiveness as I partake of the Sacrament?" I liked that a lot..."

Have a great week! I love you all! Happy Birthday Jake! Happy Independance Day! We´re going to celebrate a bit! Pray often. Make the Sacrament what it should be. I testify of the Lord´s love, and of the reality of His forgiveness. We just have to do our part, and He will be there for us.

Week #88: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 2

Sorry that this email is going to be pretty short. I spent a lot of time doing other things and writing President Bird. But, things are going alright. I feel pretty alright, and the work is moving forward. We were able to have some new investigators this week, and we`re going to keep working at it.

We had our interviews with President and Sister Bird this Wednesday, and it was a good experience. I`ve learned a lot since then too about myself, and I am striving to improve and be the person that I know that I need to be. I have been able to recognize some of my mistakes, and I am grateful to the Lord for making them known unto me. I invite all of your to examine your lives, and to work towards perfection and sanctification. We all have things we need to work on. Sometimes the Lord opens our eyes and we see something we have failed to do. I know that He does this because He loves us. We can all learn and grow every day and every week.

The Lord truly blessed us and takes care of us. We`re low on money, and the Lord provided a family to give us food today. Just as it says in the Sermon on the Mount. He takes care of us - we need not worry about what we shall eat, or anything. We are blessed by Him. I also lost my memory card last week, but got it back today. I testify of His love for each of us. I pray for you. Please pray for me.

I love you all!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week #87: Miguel Alemán 1.2 - XV - Week 1

Well, I`m in my new area, and it`s going pretty well. My new companion is Elder Joshua William Smith, and he`s from Macon, Georgia. So, he`s a Southerner. But, he doesn`t sound like a Southerner. He just finished his training, so he`s got the same ammount of time as Elder Anderson. Who would have thought that I would get another American companion? Elder Anderson was from the West Coast, and now my companion is from the East Coast. Ish.

We`re in the ward Miguel Alemán, in the Libertad Stake. We share the ward with two Sister Missionaries, and we almost always eat together. It`s been good so far here in the ward, trying to get as much work done as possible. We`ve been contacting a ton of people in the street, so that we can find more people to teach. We had 127 contacts this week, with 12 lessons. We`re hoping to reach a lot more soon though, lesson-wise. We`re also trying to work better with the members too, and it`ll be good.

Here are some photos of me and Elder Smith, and of me on Sunday. I totally wore a different tie the whole day, then realized that I needed to have my Dad`s tie on - so I put it on and wore it in the night. Here`s a photo for that. I am very grateful for my father and the love he has for me, all that he has done for me. I am also grateful for my Heavenly Father, and His love for me. He has let me feel His love so many times in my life, and on my mission. I just need to remember it.

Take care everyone, and work hard. Do your best. Never give up!

Sincerely, Elder Izak T. Erekson

P.S. If you could pray for Pablo and Paty, that`d be great. Thank you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week #86: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 30

Well, this is my last letter from Tamaulipas 1.1 - the Zone Leaders told us about the transfers last week, and I´m on the way out. So is half of our District, so the ward will be really different as of Tuesday. It will be interesting for me, for sure. I´ve been here for almost seven months, and it´s been a pretty good chunk and part of my mission. I´ve enjoyed being here in the area, and working with the members, investigators, and people here. It´s been good to work with Elder Anderson too. He´s a good missionary, and we´re pretty good friends. I´m grateful for his work ethic and his friendship.

As for the week, we worked hard, and we were able to reach out 100 contacts for the week, which was great. We had a day of almost no lessons, pure contacting almost, and it was pretty tough. We were pretty tired by the end of it for sure. It felt good to be tired like that, it meant that we worked.

What else can I talk about? I should be back to visit in the ward in a couple of weeks for a baptism or two, so that will be nice. I´ll enjoy coming back, but I´m also looking forward to something new. We´ll just have to wait and see what the future holds. Next week I´ll let you know. 3 Transfers left. It´s going to disappear really quickly. I´ve been stressing a lot this transfer, and it´s been a purifying experience for me. I´m working on, or have worked on, things that I´ve needed to improve. I just want to finish right, and strong.

Thank you to everyone who prays for me and my investigators. I invite each and every one of you to thank the Lord for your blessings, and to pray for personal missionary experiences and opportunities. Elder M. Russell Ballard told all members to have a copy, and study Preach My Gospel as I remember it. I invite each of you to get a copy of the book, and to study it prayerfully along with your personal scripture study. I promise you that as you do, you will feel the power and importance of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your life, and the importanc in the lives of others as well.

I bear my testimony that the Lord loves each and every one of us, and is aware of us. I am grateful for the mercy, and the chance to be a missionary at this time in my life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Week #85: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 29

Things were a bit hard this week for us. We failed in the street contacts department, but we´re going to work on it and do better this week. We were able to have some pretty good lessons though, and we´ve got some people who are progressing. The bad news is that some of our investigators who were progressing didn´t this week, and we may have to drop somebody we´ve been working with for a long time! We´ll have to pray and see what happens. We´ll keep on trying. One investigator who is progressing pretty well is a young girl named Paula. She is in a part-member family, and her mom is starting to come back to Church. We´ve got a pretty good baptismal goal with them for her, and she seems to understand stuff pretty well. Good stuff.

We were able to do some service this week, which was nice too. On Wednesday we went to help paint the house of some recent converts, and it was a pretty fun activity. We ended up painting for quite a long while, and then we went back again on Saturday to continue the painting - we basically painted (or were in the process of painting) the entire house, inside and out basically. Lots of painting. It was good though, to be able to lend some service.

On Friday we had our Zone Conference, and that was pretty good. President Bird talked about Elder Bednar´s talk on "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary" and he had some good stuff to say about it. I liked when he talked about the need to forgive ourselves. I´m often hard on myself when I make a mistake, and I´m working on that. The Conference was good though, so that was nice.

Today we´re going to play some "Minute To Win It" games with most of the Zone, and hopefully that works out well. It´s been pretty hot lately, but it´s nothing compared to what´s coming soon. Lots of heat. I´ll be fine though.

I thank all of you who write me and think of me, and pray for me. I love you all very much! I hope that you have a great week and are happy. Enjoy summer vacation all those who are "free!" Take care!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Week #84: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 28

Well, this was a good week overall. We were able to go ice skating on Monday, which was pretty fun. We also had two lessons that day, which was nice. We have an investigator named Juan Manuel, who seems to be progressing well. He has come to Church four times, and we have covered the first three lessons with him, meaning now we just need to cover the Commandments (Lesson 4). We are hopeful with him, and he seems to like a lot what we share. In fact, yesterday we had a lesson with him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and when we talked about the Sacrament he really liked it. He was really impacted. He said, "Wow!" about how the Sacrament renews us each week, renews our baptism. That was a cool lesson for sure.

We worked hard to reach our goal of 100 contacts per week, Elder Anderson and I having 37 contacts yesterday. However, we could focus more on the quality and feeling of our contacts for sure. I talked with President Bird about that today.

I had my interview with President Bird today to renew my Temple Recommend. It was a nice interview. I was able to address some questions and concerns with him, and really just be open. I know that this is best with our Priesthood Leaders, and our friends and family. We need to do our best to be good, and when we need help there are people we can trust, who can help us. I enjoyed the interview - maybe one of if not the best I`ve had with a leader. I appreciate President Bird and how he helps me.

On Saturday we had a baptism. Well, the Sisters had a baptism, but Elder Carbajal and I had taught him while we were together, and he was able to make it to baptism. I felt pretty good having somebody finally make it after so long. Here are some photos of us, and of him and his family.

Well, time is short. I love you all and wish you well! Have a great week! Keep me in your prayers!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week #83: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 27

This past week was pretty good. I felt more focused that the week before, and it was nice to be able to work better, and feel the Spirit work through us more. Elder Anderson and I (and the Zone) learned about making commitment invitations, and verifying these, and we were able to put it in practice. It was good, and we felt good applying it. It helped us be more direct and powerful in our lessons and commitments.

We worked really hard and were able to once again reach 100 contacts in the street. It was a "slow and steady" effort more this week, and we´re going to keep it up. We were able to have more success this week as well. It was nice.

Overall, life is pretty good, and I felt pretty good. This weekend should be Narciso´s baptism, so that should be great too. Finally some more success after so many months. I am grateful to the Lord now for each day that I have to serve Him as a missionary, and continually pray to be able to do what is right and finish well, and make the best of the time I have.

Well, I´m off. Sorry that the email was short this week. Next week I hope to have a longer email home. I love you all and wish you well. I appreciate your love and prayers! Have a great week!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week #82: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 26

Today marks six months in this area for me - that´s a pretty good, long time if I do say so myself. I´m still enjoying it here, in spite of the difficulties and stresses that come along with that. There hasn´t been a lot of visible success so far, but there is time to keep working and make some progress here in this part of the ward. I sure have learned a lot here in Tamaulipas, and I will always remember what I learn and experience here (and there´s more to come).

This was a tough week in the area, with lots of days without a whole lot of lessons - we had the lowest lesson count in many weeks - months I think - but we were able to contact over 100 people again this week, so that was at least something to be happy about. However, we had no investigators in Church this week. We should have tried a bit harder to get them to come, but that´s for next week.

Sunday was really nice, because I was able to chat vocally with my family one last time as a missionary. It was really nice to be able to just visit and chat. We spoke from a member´s home, on his cell phone, and it was a good chat that we had. We talked about life at home, life here in the field, I told some of the Spanish jokes / puns I´ve learned (Dad got a kick out of those), and most special of all: we got to say a prayer as a family. Before ending our call, they asked me to say a prayer in Spanish, and it was a great moment for me. I loved being able to pray for my loved ones, with them present. It was the first time in almost 19 months that we have prayed together, all six of us, and it was really cool. I appreciate that they thought of this idea, and I hope to remember it and put it in practice in future missionary moments in my life. I love my family very much.

Once again, I wish a happy Mother´s Day to all of the great moms in the world, especially to my Grandmas who I wasn´t able to talk with on Sunday.

I love you all very much and wish you all a great week!

Sincerely, Elder Izak T. Erekson

Oh yeah! I forgot. I got bit by a dog this week. That was a first in my mission. Don´t worry, it wasn´t anything serious. We were walking to our house and this little dog jumped out and bit me. It didn´t make me bleed, but I could see the bite mark and it seemed bruised in that area. It did tear my pants though. Here´s a photo of my "battle wound."

Also, I finally bought milk that expires after I do. I finished it off today. But, I should be home before the milk was supposed to go bad.

The last photo is of me skyping home. If you can zoom in you can see all of us. I love you!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week #81: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIV - Week 25

This has been a pretty good week, and a bit stressful too. There was going to be a baptism this weekend, but it didn´t work out. Hopefully it will happen soon. I´ll keep you informed as to the progress of this investigator. Besides that, the week was pretty good and chill overall.

Our District did change - Elder Bautista headed out to Tres Caminos as a District Leader, and we got Elder Harper as a new member of our District. I already know him from before, and he´s a really cool Elder. I´m glad to have him in the District, and I look forward to getting to know him better as his District Leader on intercambios and other things like that.

This coming week is Mother´s Day! I´m looking forward to calling home. We´re going to Skype from a member´s house here in our area. It should be really good to talk to my family and see them and hear them. This will be my last missionary phone call home - the next time I see them and hear them I´ll be home. That just means that I´ve got to enjoy this call, and work my hardest for the rest of my mission, so that I can feel good about it when I go home.

Last week´s water balloon fight was really fun actually. The Sisters bought normal, blow-up balloons, so the balloons were really tough. Some of them could be thrown, hit the ground (asphalt) and still not pop. It was a really fun activity, and I liked it a lot. It was a good way to end the transfer as a Zone, even if not everybody was there. It was fun though.

Here´s a paragraph from my email to President Bird:

"This week Elder Anderson and I worked really hard to meet the mission goal of 100 contacts, and we were able to reach 101! After talking with you about the goal of reaching 100 contacts, and how you mentioned that we are sometimes too complacent about our goals, we tried harder the last few days of the week and we were able to make it to the goal. It felt good to do that, and we were able to teach 21 lessons in this week too. It felt good to reach the goal. However, the rest of the District was a bit lower than the 100, so it´s something that we´re all going to keep working on. Elder Anderson and I are going to try and make it to the goal in a more steady pace, not having to repent and do so many contacts towards the end of the week."

I am very grateful for my Mom and her love for me. She is always such a good support to me in all of the things that I need to do. Every week she writes me and sends me support, testimony, and love. I am very grateful for her, and that she is my mom. I am also very grateful for my Grandmas, who also love me. I appreciate when they write me and send me their love. I am grateful for the wonderful moms in my life and wish you all and all moms a Happy Mother´s Day!

Everyone keep on working and progressing towards where you need to be! Trust in the Lord, and do what is right, even when it´s hard. I love you all and wish you a great week!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Week #80: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 24

I`ve got some good news to share with you all: I`m staying in Tamaulipas for at least one more transfer. I really do love this ward, and the area is good too. Sure, the work is hard sometimes and it`s been hard to see results for the efforts here, but I`ve learned a lot and I feel good here. I love the members in the ward, and life is good. Last night we got the transfers, and Elder Anderson and I are staying together for another transfer. I will have at least 30 weeks in this ward by the time I leave, if not more. So, basically, Tamaulipas will be the biggest one chunk of my whole mission (in the offices I was in two different wards). I feel good about that.

This has been a good transfer for me as well. Elder Anderson and I are getting along well, and we`re both learning together. He is a good missionary, and we`ve been doing well at practicing in our studies and learning how to work well together in lessons and contacting people in the street. This week we had a pretty average amount of street contacts for us, but we had some good moments as far as progressing investigators is concerned.

Lucía is progressing pretty well still. She came to Sacrament Meeting for the fourth time now, so she`s really close to having her five minimum visits. However, I do not feel that she is ready to be baptized just yet - I want to help her make friends in the ward and have a strong testimony of the gospel. Obviously she feels something, because she is coming to Church and came to a baptism too, but I want to help her be ready to endure to the end. We started this process a bit on Sunday after Sacrament Meeting: we introduced her to some members, but she hasn`t ever stayed past the first meeting, so she hasn`t made a lot of friends yet. We`re going to see what we can do to help her make friends and be ready for baptism this coming May!

Narciso is doing well too - this Sunday they announced his baptism, inviting everyone to attend. I get to conduct his interview this Wednesday, and I`m not too worried about it. I hope he`s good to go and ready for baptism. I`m looking forward to it. Me and Elder Carbajal were teaching him until we split the area, so the Sisters took over the teaching. Now he`s feeling ready for his baptism, and his family supports his decision too. The Sisters asked him whom he would like to baptize him, saying it could be a missionary or a member - preferrably a membre - and he said he wanted me to do it! That`s pretty great. I hope everything works out well. It`ll feel good to have a baptism after so long.

We had a training meeting for trainers and valientes on Friday, and it was good. We did a ton of practicing - teaching basically like 6 lessons in the practice time, and evaluating that. It was good stuff, and we`ve tried to put that more into our actual teaching - more balance and team work, and it`s been good.

So, basically, things are good here. I love you all and hope that you have a great week! Take care everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week #79: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 23

This was a pretty good week. Last week I felt pretty satisfied for writing an epistle home. This week I`m going to keep it a bit shorter, but this week was another good week full of good moments. I`ll start with Tuesday.

Earlier in the week I was thinking about what to train in my capacitación, and an idea came to me of something cool that we could do during the "practice time." Each District Meeting we start up with a hymn, prayer, thought, then we talk about our areas and some needs we have. After that comes the training. It´s usually training, then practices, then evaluation, then more practices, then a wrap up. I had the idea to train on sharing testimony often (as found in Preach My Gospel, chapter 11). The idea came to me to have each of us bear our testimony during the meeting as a sort of "practice." It was a really cool and spiritual experience. I loved the cool feeling that was there - the Spirit was pretty strong. Bearing our testimony really makes a difference. I´ve been trying to remember than and bear testimony often in contacts, lessons, etc. I know that it´s something special.

On Thursday I got to have my second baptismal interview, and this time I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience. Once again, Elder Bautista and Elder Redford had an investigator ready for baptism. His name is Victorino, and he´s an older gentleman who lives in their area. I had the pleasure of conducting his interview, and he was very ready and very excited. I just felt great after his interview - it was cool to see somebody so excited to know about the gospel. It was great.

Friday we had intercambios with Elder Bautista and Elder Redford. I went with Elder Bautista to his area, and we had a pretty great day and good time. I´m going to miss him when he leaves the ward (he´s been here since August, so it´s very very likely that he leaves). He´s a great missionary, and he´s been very successful here in Tamaulipas.

Saturday was the baptism of Victorino, and it was good. Lucía was able to come with us, and before the baptism we taught her about baptism and confirmation as commandments, and she seemed to understand pretty well. Narciso was with us actually, accompanying us to this and another visit. It was pretty cool. His baptismal date is currently for May 3rd, so we´re hoping it stays good and strong.

On Sunday we were able to find six new investigators in two lessons, which was pretty nice. Two were some sisters who may be able to progress, and the other four was a family that accepted a baptismal date as a goal. I see the father of the family as the most excited about the idea. We´re going to keep working with them and helping them to make it to that final goal (which is really only the first step). Overall, a pretty good week.

I bear my testimony that God the Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that daily scripture study and prayer are essential to our spiritual health, and our faith. I know that what I´m doing is good, and that it has helped and will help me while I remain here in the field. I love being in this ward, Tamaulipas, and hope to stay here for a while longer. I know that God hears our prayers and that the Holy Ghost is our friend, and that He will help us know the truth and guide, strengthen, and bless us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week #78: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 22

This week a lot of things happened that were pretty cool, and worked out well.

To start off from the start of the week: Tuesday we had our Zone Meeting, and it was a pretty good meeting. They talked about a lot of various items, and then trained us on the street contacts that we do.

About a year ago, we received the challenge from Presidente Walker to invite people to be baptized from the first contact - in the street, as a spiritual preparation for the visit we had from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was pretty cool, but then we stopped doing that. Well, the new training that they gave to us, coming from Presidente Bird, was that we are to do that again, with every contact. So, now we invite a lot of people to be baptized the very first time we meet them, and some even accept baptismal dates. This has been an effective method in improving the quality of our contacts, even if they do last a bit longer than they used to. I like it.

On Sunday we saw some results from this new focus on street contacts. We contacted some investigators earlier in the week, and tried to find them on Friday, but we didn´t. So yesterday (Sunday) we went back with a young man who was accompanying us named Carlos, and we found them. We shared part of "the Restoration" and this time they did accept a baptismal date. It was pretty cool. Hopefully they can progress towards baptism.

The Zone Leaders also decided to train us on helping get our investigators to Church, that being one of the greatest difficulties which we have. It was a good training, and I need to put it in practice. They came up with a lot of good ideas to help people make it to Church, and a good indicator of when they aren´t going to progress, and when it´s time to drop them. Sometimes it´s hard to drop investigators, but sometimes it´s just the best thing to do.

On Friday we had interviews with Presidente and Hermana Bird, and it was nice to see them and be able to chat with them about how things are going. It´s always great to see the Birds. They´re awesome, and I´m so grateful for the chance I had to be with them when they first arrived to our mission, and to have been in the offices with them for as long as I was. It has been a real blessing to have them here with us, and in my life. President Bird and I spoke a little bit more about "becoming" and he told me a bit about something he´s going to teach in a future Zone Conference (at least he´s thinking about it). It sounds good. I enjoyed seeing them.

The next big even was on Friday. I had my first baptismal interview with a youth from Elder Bautista and Elder Redford´s part of the ward. It was something new, and it was interesting. I ended up telling her that she was ready to be baptized, and we carried on with that decision. Afterwards, I felt a bit unsure about that decision, about if I had said the right thing or the wrong thing, but as I´ve thought more about it, I´ve felt a bit better and more comfortable with saying it was alright. The only real thing that made me unsure wasn´t really a big obstacle at all. She was baptized on Saturday, and it was pretty good service. She and her brother were baptized (and we had an investigator come with us, so we were able to attend). We almost didn´t go to the baptism.

The original plan was to go with Lucía, and maybe some other investigators to the baptism. So, we show up to Lucía´s house, and she´s still getting ready, so we came back after receiving some missed calls from her (I miss a lot of phone calls, when I have the phone set to just vibrate - and my parents can testify to this from my pre-mission days too) and it turns out that at the last minute she was going to her brother´s birthday party, so she couldn´t come with us! NO!! We moved on to another investigator, and we arrived just in time to go with him in his car to the baptism, and he seemed to like it, and it was a good experience for him. His name is Jesús.

Jesús is a pretty cool investigator. We can tell that there will be a few obstacles to his progress, but he can overcome them. He told us that he believes that the Book of Mormon is true, but is unsure about accepting a baptismal date just yet, since he´s between his old beliefs and the new ones. But, we´re going to keep visiting and helping him to understand and feel the Spirit. He actually told us something really cool. He had a dream before we showed up to teach him (we found him through contacting in the street, and he lives on our street actually), which he described with the following words, "Un ángel me dijo que iban a venir dos personajes a mi casa... Después escuché una voz que me dijo: Haz lo que hace Mi Hijo Amado" (Which translates to "An angel told me that two personages were going to come ot my house... Afterwards I heard a voice that told me: Do what my Beloved Son doeth"). So, that´s pretty cool. My first investigator like that - with a dream of that type. I thought of us and baptism when he told us that.

In other news, Nora (an investigator that I helped start teaching in my first area over a year ago) and her son Emilio were baptized on Saturday. I asked one of the Elders in her area about her a few times, and he said that she remembered that it was "Elder Erekson y Elder López" that started teaching her, or something. That´s pretty sweet. She was one of my favorite investigators, and I´m really glad that she did end up getting baptized.

Today we hiked up "El Cerro de la Silla" and it was pretty fun. It was a steep and tough hike, but it was really cool. We also go to go in "civilian clothes," and that was cool. I got some good pictures that I hope I can send home (we´ll see if switching to a different memory card worked). Today we were going to watch a movie, but it didn´t work out. Next week then.

I bear my testimony that the Lord loves each and every one of us. Jesus Christ and God the Father live. Christ did die for our sins, and He gave us the blessings of Repentance, which are available to all of Heavenly Father´s children. I bear my testimony of the Resurrection - that we all shall live again after death, with perfect and glorified bodies, free of disease, disability, and free of all frailties. I testify of Their love, and I hope that we can all remember and feel this love this Easter Sunday. These things I share in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I wish you all well, and love you very much! Have a great week!

Week #77: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 21

This week was pretty good overall. I really enjoyed Conference.

We ended up doing some of the "super intercambio" that I talked about last week. On Saturday we ended up doing what I had said, but at night we returned to our normal companions. It was refreshing and nice to be with Spanish speakers again. I think I´m going to miss it when I go home. Being with an American companion has helped me see how much I like Spanish, and see how the Lord has blessed me to be able to understand it pretty well.

As I said, Conference was really good. I am going to need these messages in the next 6 months, and afterwards of course. In the words of Conference I will find the help and guidance that I need to be a better missionary, friend, and servant of the Lord.

Starting Sunday, and a bit today, I´ve felt a bit frustrated. I feel like I need to improve in my efforts, work harder, and be a better missionary. I´ve talked a bit more about this with my family this week, but it´s what I´m feeling right now so I´ll go ahead and share it in my letter to everyone anyway. It´s kind of frustrating when people don´t fulfil their commitments, even when we´ve tried and tried to help them do it. Sometimes I´m not sure if I´ve failed somehow, or if it´s just their use of agency. I know that there is a lot that I need to improve as a missionary, leader, companion, and friend.

With these feelings and thoughts in mind, I am drawn to think of Elder David A. Bednar´s talk about our burdens, and "spiritual traction," and of course the enabling power of the Atonement. I enjoyed his talk. I feel like when I first read his talk about the "Enabling Power of the Atonement" which he gave at BYU before he was an Apostle, it changed my understanding and perspective a bit. It´s been a great help for me to be sure. He touched on the same theme this weekend, and I liked it. The burdens which we have are there to help us progress. It´s true.

I also liked President Uchtdorf´s talk about gratitude. So many different talks were really good. I can´t begin to list of the good stuff, it´d take too long. I´m very grateful that my family has begun the great tradition of studying General Conference for Family Home Evening every week. I have gotten more out of this Conference of October 2013 than I did out of April 2013 for sure, which has been good. I hope to get a lot out of the latest Conference, and I hope my Ensign doesn´t take too long to get here. I´ve got March´s edition now, so I´m not that behind.

I really liked Conference. I bear my testimony that the words which were spoken are to guide us for the next six weeks. I really enjoyed testifying of President Thomas S. Monson in preparation for the Conference Weekend with the people we visited, and I am grateful for the Gospel and it´s blessings in my life. My wonderful family has always been active and strong, and that has helped me carry on in this life. I am very grateful for the life which I have been given. I am grateful for the example that surround me. I am grateful to the Lord. I invite all of you to listen to, read, and study the latest General Conference as soon as possible, and keep it up until the next Conference. I love you all! Have a great week!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Week #76: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 20

This past week and a half has been pretty good. Things are still going well with Elder Anderson and I, but we should be speaking more Spanish. We have gotten a bit better, and I´ve tried to talk more Spanish with him, but we´re still lacking in that department, and I feel / fear it may be affecting my abilities a bit. We´re going to work on it though, this next week we´ll speak a lot more Spanish.

Let´s see, what happened this week and a half? We went on intercambios with the Zone Leaders, and it was really cool and really fun to work with Elder Quevedo again. We got along great, had some good lessons, and remembered old times together. I´ve mentioned here multiple times of my plans to try and come back to the mission in May or June of 2016, and Elder Quevedo liked that idea too. So, we´re going to be in touch to coordinate that. We had some great lessons trying to help people attend Church. Overall, it was really good, and it was nice to speak Spanish with him.

What else? Lucía came to Church for a little while on Sunday! That´s her second of the five times! Hopefully she makes it this Sunday to stay well on track for her baptism. I hope to see her baptized soon! She´s awesome, and I want another baptism. It´ll be good stuff.

We had intercambios with Elder Bautista and Elder Redford on Tuesday, and that was pretty good. We had some good lessons. One of them was when we went with a Sister to visit her friend, to start teaching her. We were there teaching Mari, and she wasn´t really understanding a ton. Lo and behold: Hermana Mancha (another hermana in the ward) shows up and is her friend too! She bears her testimony, and it was better. It´s pretty cool how the Lord works sometimes.

So, this weekend is going to be really good. We´re going to watch Conference. We get to watch all of the sessions, which is really nice. Conference is available in Spanish and in English. In Spanish we can watch it here at our chapel, but the English is only at the Stake Center. So, guess what we´re going to do? A "super intercambio" for General Conference. Elder Bautista and I are going to stay here in the ward and watch Conference in Spanish, receiving all of the investigators, etc., while Elder Redford and Elder Anderson go to the Stake Center to watch Spanish. It´s going to be pretty awesome. I look forward to spending a lot of time with my friend Elder Bautista, and speaking Spanish, and watching Conference. It´s going to be awesome.

We´ve found some new investigators, we´ve got people we´re visiting, and life is pretty good. I love you all and wish you well. Enjoy General Conference this weekend! Be sure to pay lots of attention to what is said. These past few days we´ve spent a lot of time focusing on "Follow the Prophet" and helping people "get to know" President Thomas S. Monson. I invite all of you to do the same: get to know him, pay attention to his words, and then act on what he shares with us.

One cool little fact: this year´s statistics of "convert baptisms" include the people I helped teach and baptize! Here´s hoping for people in 2014 too! I love you all and wish you well! Oh, if you could all pray for Lucía, our investigator who seems closeset to baptism. Please pray that she will continue progressing, make it to Church, and feel conversion. Thank you!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Week #75: Tamaulipas 1.1 - XIII - Week 19

This week was a pretty good, and pretty full week. On Monday I wrote home, and as I said last week, I stayed in my area and my companion Elder Carbajal went to a different area. He ended up going to Apodaca 1.1, which is a HUGE ward, with 6 missionaries, but his area is still bigger than our whole ward. He says he´s going to spend a ton in travel costs.

In the transfer meeting they announced that I would continue as the District Leader in Tamaulipas, that my new district would just include our ward, and that I would be training again. I was pretty excited. I also had pretty high hopes to have an American companion for the first time. I was hopeful. My Distirct is the following: Tamaulipas 1.1 (me and my companion), Tamaulipas 1.2 (Elder Bautista and Elder Redford), and Tamaulipas 1.3 (Hermana Perez and Hermana Bazan). It´s been pretty good. I feel good about having sisters in this part of the ward - they should be able to do a lot of good, and a lot of work.

So, the moment came to find out who my new companion would be... and I guessed it right. We were looking at the new Elders, and I thought "Maybe it´ll be that one," and it was! My new companion is Elder Bradley Anderson from the Los Angeles area in California. We´ve been getting along pretty well so far actually, with some of the same interests and chatting. One thing I miss though it speaking more Spanish. I hope that my Spanish doesn´t get worse from not speaking it enough. We actually should speak a lot more Spanish than we are. We´re going to be improving that. But, it´s been good.

We´ve had a pretty good week. We´re going to have to work a whole lot better, and a whole lot harder, and have a whole lot more faith, but we will see miracles, and baptisms. This week we got 7 new investigators, and 5 of them accepted baptismal dates (the other 2 we didn´t invite...), and it´s been good. We hope to help them make it all the way to the waters of baptism, and ultimately to the Temple.

One thing that has helped us a lot is contacting more people in the street, or as we ask for somebody at doorways of addresses we´ve been given, we contact them too. We ended the week with a total of 80 contacts, with 7 new investigators (from contacts or referrals from contacts), and 5 new baptismal dates. We´re going to be working really hard this week to get moving forward, and Elder Anderson is helping push my forward. He has some great ideas and excitement to contact and work hard, which is something I wanted in my new companion. It´s going to be a good transfer. His Spanish is already improving too.

On Saturday we had the Special Conference with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and it was really good. Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the Seventy also spoke. It was a really good meeting.

Elder Cook spoke about having faith, loving all people, having a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and moving forward with strength and faith, invoking a special blessing upon us: " will be able to help the Lord establish His Church here... have a positive spirit... some of you may have been discouraged... I invoke a special blessing upon you... understanding from this day in your heart... what you are doing is more important than anything else... Some worry... [that they are] not capable enough... none of us [General Authorities] feel capable enough... don´t let that impede your progress... you are every bit capable enough to be the servant of the Savior..." He said other words too, but that´s what I´ll share here. He mentioned about success in the field in what we are becoming, and I liked that.

Elder Callister spoke before Elder Cook, and he talked about the Atonement and how we can access its power. It was a good talk too.

Elder Johnson is the Area President here, and he talked about working with the members. A promise he made to us came true that very night. He said that we should trust in the fact that the Holy Ghost will bring names to the minds of the members, and it totally happened that night, and it was really cool.

I think I´ll wrap up the email for now. We´re going to leave in about 20 minutes to go eat, and I´ve still got to write President Bird. I love you all and wish you well! Have a great week!