Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17, 2008 -- What a Weekend!

Greetings from Mexico, "the center of the LDS church" last weekend, as Elder [Russell M.] Nelson put it. I am doing wonderfully well, and have just had a weekend that I´ll never forget.

[Picture: Elder Tovanche and me dressed up for the Apostles]

Elder Russell M. Nelson (I was mistaken, Elder Ballard didn´t come) and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, as well as Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Presidency of the 70, came to Monterrey this weekend. Last Friday, we went to a meeting where they spoke to all the adults here in Monterrey. It was incredible. I was in a building of about 1,500 people (there were two different sessions). Saturday, however, was even better. They held a special conference with all the missionaries in Monterrey, from both missions (about 300 missionaries).

Lots of incredible things happened in that meeting, and I learned and felt a lot. Elders Scott and Nelson were kind enough to greet every single one of us missionaries individually. Elder Nelson said my name as he shook my hand, and Elder Scott said "mucho gusto." (Elder Scott and Elder Costa both speak good Spanish (Elder Costa is from Brazil, so Spanish is not his native language.))

The most memorable and powerful of my experiences with the Apostles, however, was not shaking their hand. It was hearing them bear witness of the Savior. As they taught, I felt the Spirit strongly. When they testified, I was overwhelmed. What an incredible privilege we have to live in a time when we have Apostles and prophets on the Earth again!

Saturday night was also wonderful. I was reminded of my love for music and dancing, something I´ve put on hold for two years. My favorite moments of the cultural event were seeing Presidents Monson and Eyering dance as part of the "dance of the old people.¨ I also loved it when 800 or so missionaries marched onto the field singing "Called to Serve." It was a powerful moment.

Sunday, again, was wonderful. The rededication service was beautiful and powerful. I love temples, and grow in my understanding and appreciation for them every time I go. They truly are the house of the Lord, and I could feel his presence during the dedication. (I also felt close to all of you, knowing that you were participating.) The blessings of the Restored Gospel are incredible. I hope that we can all show our gratitude and do our part by participating in temple work, including geneology.

This week, after weeks of fasting, I was able to feast on letters from home. President Mendoza went to Texas and I received two packets of letters and a few others (any big packages are still in the office until my zone leaders pick them up for me.) It was wonderful. I love the work here and I don´t let thoughts of home distract me, but I can´t deny that I look forward to hearing from you. Even if letters don´t say anything important, I am filled with happiness just knowing that someone I love wrote me a letter. And none of you have ever sent me a letter that didn´t say anything important. The Bible Dictionary defines scripture in a broad definition as anything inspired by the Holy Ghost. Using that definition, many letters you have sent me are scripture to me that offer me the support I need.

* * *
Dad asked me how my Spanish is coming along. The Lord has greatly blessed me in this regard. I hardly ever have difficulty understanding people now, unless they have a different accent (like this week when I met a man from Veracruz whom I couldn´t understand at all.) I still find it hard to express myself in Spanish, however. But I often feel the same way about English. Still, it is getting easier every day.

Johanna is doing well. She and Jorge still aren’t married, though. In fact, Jorge was a little cold to us this week. But we have an appointment with them to have a Family Home Evening this Wednesday, and I have faith that his heart is softening.

* * *
I remember one night in Scouts a few years ago when Brother Palmer taught me a lesson I´ve never forgotten. "The more you know," he said, "the more you can know." I´ve thought a lot about that statement and learned that it is true. I´ve also learned that the same principle applies to other things besides knowledge. For example, the more you love, the more you can love. This week, I learned that the more you contact, the more you can contact. As you know, I am naturally a shy and quiet person. But as a missionary, I am supposed to talk to everyone I see. At first, that was really hard for me. But it isn´t so much anymore. When I think about the message I´m sharing, I can talk to anyone. Usually, the first contact of the day is hard, but it´s all downhill from there. The more you share the gospel, the more you easy it is and the more opportunites you see.

I had a long list of things I wanted to write about today, but my time is up. I want you all to know that I love you and that I know that Jesus is my Savior, that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet, and that the Book of Mormon testifies of Him.

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