Happy New Year!
Wow, I haven’t written since last year!
Sorry I didn’t write yesterday [Friday, January 1]. You probably guessed that my preparation day changed this week. Yesterday we were busy. I’ll tell you more about it below.
This past week, Monday the 28th of December, the Montoya Leal family completed a year as members of the Church. The day that they were baptized was a very special day for me, one of the best memories of my mission and of my life.
As having a year in the Church means that they are now eligble to go to the temple, I asked permission from President Menodoza to call them and ask how they were doing. He told me that instead of calling them, I could go visit the beloved Ranchito and all the Montoya family. I was happily surprised at this opportunity, but decided not to accept for two reasons -- first, because I knew that we were going to have a busy day and a busy week and wouldn’t have time to visit them, and second, because I don’t feel comfortable doing something that other missionaries can’t do, even if I have permission from the President.
So I called them instead. Olga answered. It was great to hear her voice, and she sounded excited to hear from me as well. In regards to her husband and herself, she gave me lots of good news. They are happily active in the Church. A few months ago they went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, and had a great experience. They have gotten the letters that I have sent them, and she thanked me for an Ensign article I sent about a man who has to walk several kilometers to go to church, saying that it inspired them, when they lost their car, to walk from the Ranchito to the bus station so that they could keep attending church. She also said that they are currently attending temple preparation classes and will soon enter the temple, and that they are planning on inviting me when it happens.
Unfortunately, most of their relatives aren’t doing so good. For one reason or another, most are not currently attending church. But I have faith that they will come back. I have been taught that a letter from the missionary who taught and baptized them can work wonders for a convert, and so I am planning on writing to the Montoya family again.
I had a great New Year’s Eve. It was very different from all my past New Years. Upon talking with President Mendoza, we decided that instead of asking a family to host us, this year we would give New Year’s Eve dinner to a poor family. We developed a plan for all the missionaries, asking for help from the bishops to choose needy families, and then carried out the plan. It went well.
My companion and I spent the evening with a poor elderly widow in our ward. Her name is Socorrito. We arrived by surprise at around 7:30 PM and asked her what she was going to do that evening. She said that she and her daughter and granddaughter, who live with her, were going to be together, but that they weren’t going to celebrate much because they weren’t in a financial condition to do so. So my companion and I said that we would be right back.
We ran around the corner where we had parked the van, and took out the bucket of chicken we had bought from KFC. Then we returned and announced that we were going to eat New Year’s eve dinner with them, and that we would provide it. I will never forget the look on her face. She quickly ran to tell her daughter and granddaughter, who also came.
It was a great evening. It was nothing big or expensive, but it was wonderful. As we talked, we found out that Socorrito’s daughter is the ex-wife of Ranulfo, who was baptized last week! Socorrito’s granddaughter is Ranulfo’s daughter! We talked with the granddaughter about her father and about the changes he had made in his life (she only knows about him by what her mom has told her.) She expressed desires to improve her relationship with him.
We also found out that the granddaughter is a member of the Church. She also found this out, because she didn’t know. Socorrito explained that the granddaughter had been baptized at age eight. So not only did we bring dinner and good cheer to a poor and lonely family, but also found two lost sheep. I love service and I love missionary work!
Yesterday, New Year’s day, was the first of two annual mission activities. Yesterday was the activity in the border. All the border zones -- about 100 missionaries -- met in Reynosa for a morning of sports followed by a special meal, an afternoon talent show, and a special zone conference in the evening. It was a great day. We made some changes in the schedule and organization which made things different from the way they were last year, and I think that it went a lot smoother. I loved it.
I loved playing sports with respect and sportsmanship. I enjoyed seeing the talents displayed, and I was edified in the zone conference.
Last night my companion and I drove back from Reynosa with President Mendoza and his wife. It was a great drive. I love seeing President and Sister Mendoza together, they are such a great example of what a marriage should be. They love each other very much, and work hard together. They told us a little about their lives.
I was surprised to learn that they met each other before President Mendoza served his mission, that they wrote each other during his mission, and that they were married a year after he got home. They told us about the jobs they have had and the callings they have held. They also talked about their family.
The more I listened, the more I was amazed at what great people they are and how they have been prepared to be mission presidents during their whole lives. I want to be like President Mendoza when I grow up.