Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009 -- Pictures!

1. Elder Chuc and me in front of the temple.
2. Me and my district in front of the temple. (It's not the best picture of me, but that's OK.) They are: Elder Castillo, Elder Chuc, Elder Rowley, Elder Duran, Elder Kholer, Elder Juarez, Elder Higgins, and Elder Fielding.
3. Elder Clifton Dudley (my BYU friend) in front of the temple.
4. Our baptism yesterday. Maria Luisa is the elderly sister in the middle.
5. Our baptism last week, Santa Teresa de Jesus Torres Flores.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wednesday, June 17 -- Temples, Visions, and Following the Spirit

Dont worry, I'm alive and well. I didn't write on Monday because this week our preparation day was changed to Wednesday. Why? Because today we went to the temple!

Monday was a normal day of work. Tuesday was a normal Tuesday, with our district meeting in the morning. At 6:30 PM we met together as a zone in the bus station. We took a bus to Monterrey and arrived in the mission offices at about 10:00 PM. Today we woke up at 4:30 AM to be able to go to the 6:30 AM session. Now we are back in Reynosa, having our preparation day until 7:30 PM, when my companion and I are holding a missionary workshop in our ward to teach the members how to talk to their friends about the gospel.

Being able to attend the temple today was wonderful. It has been nine months since last I went. I learned a lot and recieved a lot of the strength and peace I have been looking for. It looks as if this is something we will be doing more often. About once every three months now we'll be going to the temple. It is something that I think will help us to work better and also help us to focus on the goal of bringing our converts to the temple.

Speaking of the temple, I have a story to tell you that I probably wouldn't believe if I hadn't experienced it. A week ago my companion and I were knocking doors, looking for families to teach. In one house, an elderly woman answered and expressed her lack of interest. So we kept going. But a minute later her husabnd came out and called to us. We went back. The truth is, at first I thought he was a little crazy. He was talking about a prophecy that the “Virgin Fatima” had given. But we talked with him about how to recognize a true prophet and set an appointment to teach him about one of them.

The next day we returned and taught him the message of the Restoration. As always, we committed him to pray and ask our Heavenly Father if what we taught is true. The next day we asked him if he had prayed. He had. We asked if he thought he had received an answer. He told us that he had dreamed. In his dream he saw a big, beautiful, white church. It had one tall spire in the middle and two smaller spires on either side. He was walking toward the building but couldn't enter. I was shocked, because he had perfectly described the Salt Lake Temple. The next day we brought him a picture of the temple and asked if he recognized the building. He said it was the church in his dream.

This last Sunday, Angel, who is 72 years old, came to church for the first time and liked it. [Angel is the man who had the dream.] He believes the church is true. He will be baptized on the 17th[?] of this month.

This last Sunday my companion and I had a baptism. Her name is Santa Theresa de Jesus Torres Flores. She is 40 years old and is a single mother who lives with her five children and one grandchild. . . . It is a wonderful thing to see the changes and great joy that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings to people.

This week they changed my district again. They took away the sisters and gave me another companionship of Elders. Today at the temple we took a district picture. When I find a computer fast enough, I'll send it along.

* * *
I also like seeing [pictures of] how the plants I planted [at home] have grown. You know, that's a lot like the mission. We often don't see how the seeds we plant grow in one area after we move to other areas. (I found out this week that some of the people I was teaching with Elder Dominguez in Juarez have now been baptized.)

* * *

Last Wednesday we had a zone conference with President Menodoza. We talked about the importance of the Spirit in our missionary work. I learned a lot. One of the many things that President Mendoza taught us is that we should act upon the first impression we recieve fromt he Spirit. I had an experience putting that in practice this week.

My companion and I were walking down the street when we saw a woman turn the corner at full speed, pushing her stroller. She looked like she was in a hurry, but I felt like we should talk to her. I tried to justify it, saying that she obviously didn't have time, but once again I felt like I should say something. So almost when she had passed us, I stuck out my hand and said, “Good afternoon, can we present ourselves?” and began to talk about the gospel. To my surprise, she stopped and showed great interest. So we took her address and set an appointment for Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, on Sunday afternoon the zone leaders called a surprise meeting for the district leaders and we weren't able to go to our appointment. When we tried to find her on Monday, nobody was home. But later that day when we were passing her street on our bikes, I saw her, and didn't recognize her. But once again I felt impressed to talk to her. So we stopped riding and began to talk. She immediately invited us into her house, and I realzed that it was Adelita, whom we had contacted the other day.

As we taught her the first lesson, I realized that she is what President Mendoza calls “one of the Lord's prepared.” The questions that she has asked herself for years are the questions that the Restored Gospel answers. I won't be surprised if she is soon baptized.

Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8, 2009 -- Baptismal Experiences

Greetings from Reynosa! Although I sorely miss Juarez, I love it here. I am, as they say in Mexico, like a fish in the water. My companion is wonderful, my ward is incredible, and I am learning so much and feel like I am helping many people, as a missionary and as a district leader.

In some ways Reynosa is quite different from Monterrey. For example, the buses here are called peseras in stead of camiones. The majority of the peseras here are used school buses from the United States. You pay when you get off instead of when you get on, and to tell the driver you want to stop, you have to tap on the window with a coin.

Mom asked if we walk a lot here. Yes. We also use bikes, for the first time in my mission. Luckily, I don't have to buy one because there was one waiting for me, but I do need some money to buy a helmet and a bike lock.

* * *
I had two experiences this week relating to baptism. As a district leader, one of my responsibilites is to conduct the baptismal interviews of the investigators in my district. This week I conducted my first interview. I was very nervous and prayed hard, and the Lord helped me. It ended up being one of the most spiritual experiences that I have had. The man's name is Julio Sanchez, and he has been taught by Sister Praslin and Sister Osejo. As he bore his testimony and expressed his willingness to keep the commandments, I felt the Spirit tell me that he was ready. The only thing was that he had misunderstood the Word of Wisdom and was still drinking coffee, so we had to postpone his baptism a week, but this week he will be baptized.

My other expereince was a baptism of one of our investigators. His name is Adrian Guadalupe Guzman Guerra. He, like Julio, was well prepared for his baptism. At the end of his baptismal service, he bore his testimony and expressed his desire to endure to the end with the changes that the gospel has brought to his life.

I'm now a year old as a missionary! I can't believe it. I remember like it was yesterday my first day in the MTC. And now my mission is halfway gone. I don't want to waste a minute of what remains. I love missioary work. Right now I'm busier than ever before, but I'm also happier.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009 -- No Time But Lots of Love

Unfortunately I only have ten minutes to write today. Being a district leader includes less computer time for my family and friends, because I have to write to president about my district, among other things.

Being a district leader is busy. My new companion, Elder Chuck, is excellent. He has been a member of the Church for a little over a year. I am the senior companion, but he is teaching me a lot more than I am teaching him. We work well together. This whole week our days have been like this:
  • Wake up at 6:30
  • Work out (I have a new set of excercises the doctor prescribed me to help me lose stress, and it is helping me lose weight as well)
  • Get ready
  • Have two and a half hours of uplifiting study (my personal study time is mostly spent in preparing the district training)
  • Leave the house at 10:30, and
  • Work, work work!

We work until 9:30, when we come home and I talk to my district and the zone leaders for half an hour, then my companion and I plan for 20 minutes, then we have 10 minutes to eat something and get ready for bed, and the next day it starts over again. I love it! I have never worked so hard, nor had so much responsibilty, but I don't feel at all stressed. (I don't know if itis the new exercises or what.)

My district includes a companionship of sisters who are opening a new area, one who is in her final transfer, the other in her first; and two companionships of elders, one of which includes a tutor and a disciple.

I wish I had more time to write you about my district and my duties as a district leader, but know that it is a lot of work, and I don't know how to do a lot of things, but the Lord (and my companion) are helping me a lot.

* * *

I hope to have more time to write next week.