As you all know, yesterday was Fast Sunday. Jesus taught that when we fast we shouldn't let the world know, or complain about our hunger. But for the purpose of sharing an experience, I want to tell you about fasting in the mission field.
We begin our fast after the 2:00 meal on Saturday. For the rest of the day, we keep working, although we try to walk less. As you can imagine, working all afternoon in the hot Mexican sun makes you quite thirsty -- so thirsty that sometimes it is hard to sleep.
I have to admit that Sunday in church, I wasn't really focused on the purpose of my fast, but was more focused on the fact that I only had to wait two hours until I could drink water. But something interesting happened when I partook of the sacrament. The little piece of bread and the tiny cup of water seemed to satisfy my hunger and thirst. My throat no longer hurt and I was no longer focused my thirst.
As I marveled about this fact, I begain to think about those who have hunger and thirst, not for bread and water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. Imagine how much their thirst hurts. Imagine the wonderful relief that even the smallest gulp of living water must give them. That's what I do as a missionary—feed the hungry.
You can imagine how it feels to take that first drink of cold water after a fast. That's how good it feels to hear from you. . . .
Since Parley P. Pratt day, President Mendoza has given us the instruction to use our hour of personal study to read only the Book of Mormon until we finish it. I love reading the Book of Mormon and have gained a lot of insights while reading it this time.
Here is one I want to share with you. You are all familiar with the story of Ammon and his brothers who went to teach the Lamanites. You will familiar that they were very successful in their 14-year missions, converting thousands of their Lamanite brethren. These true converts left their homes and all their customs to follow the Lord in peace. But their non-member neighbors weren't too happy about their decision and tried to destroy them.
This is a common story among converts. They have a true, deep conversion, but after their conversion they have to face many obstacles and trials. What helped the Lamanaite converts a lot was the help they received from their Nephite brethren, who "would not suffer that they should be destroyed" (Alma 43:12). Recent converts are precious. We should have the same attitude as the Nephites, helping and protecting our brethren. . . .
Being a zone leader is challenging, for many reasons. But it also has its blessings. One such blessing is interacting with lots of other missionaries and being able to hear their stories. The following are two stories from my zone that didn't happen to me or my companion, but are quite inspiring.
Last week we recived a phone call from a man who works for the Church, cleaning the building. He said that a young woman had entered and asked for the missionaries. She said she lived in Cumbres (our area). She recently arrived in Reynosa from Veracruz, where she had talked with the missionaries and gained a testimony of the gospel. But her family didn’t support her.
Being more than 18 years old, she left Veracruz for the sole purpose of being able to attend church. Here in Reynosa, she is looking for work, with the only requirement being that she doesn't work on Sundays.
The first thing she did when she got here was to look for the LDS Church. The man in charge of maintenance gave us her information and told us her story. When we called her to set up an appointment, however, she gave an address that is not in our area, but in Puerta del Sol, my past area. The first day the missionaries here taught her, she accepted a baptismal date. What a story!
In our zone there is a branch called Miguel Aleman. It is located about two hours from the city of Reynosa. The members there, as in Reynosa, have the opportunity to visit the temple once every two months. About a month ago, the branch president set the goal that everyone in their branch, be it endowed members, recent converts, children, or investigators, would go to the temple.
And they all worked for that goal. Last Saturday, they filled a bus full of people and went to the temple. President Chavez, the branch president, gave a tour of the temple grounds to the investigators and members who couldn't enter. President Tenorio, the temple president, invited them into the waiting room to one side of the front desk of the temple, where he taught them about temple work. Everyone who went wants to come back to the temple in two months, able to enter.
Speaking of the temple, I can't remember if I already sent this or not, but about a year ago after going to the temple in Jordan River, I composed a third verse to the Primary song, "I Love to See the Temple.¨ I love the temple and the work we do there and this verse is an expression of my feelings:
I've now been to the temple,
I've entered many times,
And it is just as special
As it was to my young mind.
For the temple is the Savior's home,
Where we can feel His presence,
Where we can learn about God's plan,
And seal children to parents.
I wouldn't mind receiving [from my family some] Old Spice body wash or more of the shaving cream [they] sent last time. Hygiene products just aren't the same here.
The Book of Mormon teaches that the Lamanites had an "easiness and willingness to believe" in the words of the prophets (Helaman 6:37). That is still true of the Lamanites' descendents today. The people here in Mexico are more prone to believe than other people.
But unfortunately, sometimes this tendency to believe leads them to believe and put too much trust in [worshipping] Saints or Death or whatever thing.
We are currently working with an inactive young man who worships "the holy death," which is actually quite common here. I try to be like Ammon with King Lamoni, helping people to build upon the truths that they have learned by tradition.