This week was amazing. It was home to some of the best experiences of my life, but also some of the most intense stress I have ever delt with.
Let's start with the good news. You will remember the Montoya Leal family, who were baptized December 28 2008 in Juarez. From the moment that Elder Zamudio and I began to teach them, we had the vision of them becoming an eternal family. I think that vision helped us defeat the challenges that came up during their conversion and stick with them.
That same vision helped us write to them from time to time after being transferred to encourage them and to remind them of the feelings that they experienced when they first got to know the gospel.
That vision has become a reality. Edy and Olga and two of their children were sealed for time and all eternity in the Monterrey Mexico Temple last Wednesday. It was incredible.
It felt so great to see them after so long. But it felt as if it had been only yesterday that I was with them in the Ranchito. They have progressed immensely.
As I sat with them in the endowment session, a multitude of thoughts and feelings struck me. Only months ago I was teaching them the basic principles of the gospel, so simple yet so foreign to them, and now they were learning with me, being taught from on high. I remembered how I felt when I went to the temple for the first time—the feelings I had, the questions that came to my mind, how I was so extremely nervous at first, but ended with the greatest peace that I had felt in all my life. . . .
I learned a lot in that session. I learned that I, as a missionary, am a true messenger of Jesus Christ sent to help people prepare to return to the presence of God. I also learned more about the importance of the family in God's eternal plan.
I had the blessing and privilege of being a witness in their sealing. This was the second time that I had seen the sealing ordinance (the first being when I participated in vicarious sealings in the Provo Temple during my stay in the MTC). I said then and I repeat that the sealing ordinance is the most beautiful thing I have seen on this earth. In fact, it is what this earth is all about.
Tears came to my eyes as I they were sealed, first to each other, then to their children, for time and all eternity. Such joy filled my heart as I saw them hug each other with a love that was truly eternal. Nothing can compare.
If every day of my mission was full of rejections and hardships and trials (and many are), it would be worth every minute of it for that moment in the temple.
Another special part of Wednesday’s experience was seeing many of the members from Juarez, with whom I had worked when I was in that area. The Gomez family, who were the Montoyas’ fellowshippers even before they were baptized, were by their side every minute in the temple. What a great day!
As I mentioned, today we had a zone leader council with Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the 70 and the Mexico Area Presidency. It was also a wonderful moment. He spoke mainly of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and its importance and relation to missionary work. He also talked about the importance of good questions as part of our teaching with our investigators, and he talked about our future. He spoke for about three hours, and then gave us time to have our council as we usually do. I was very nervous, but had the opportunity of leading a discussion in front of Elder de Hoyos. It went well. In fact, he complimented us on our council, and taught us about the importance of councils in church organization and government.
Tomorrow we have another meeting with Elder De Hoyos. I’m excited.
Now you are probably wondering why this week was also so stressful. Many of the reasons were for normal duties of an assistant to the President, which I will tell you more about later. But the main reason was all the preparation that we had to do for Elder De Hoyos. We cleaned the offices from floor to ceiling. The truth is, I have never seen the offices so clean as they are now. And several things went wrong. The dryer broke and we didn’t have a way to wash the tablecloths. We brought them to a landromat, but they came out wrinkled, and we spent hours trying to iron them, but never could figure out how. But in all this, there is another lesson to be learnt, one which President Mendoza has taught us several times: don’t let the details take away the Spirit. Or don’t stress so much about the little things that you can’t enjoy the spiritual moment when it comes.
But despite the stress, it was a great experience.
I am well and happy. This work is the Lord's work, and nothing can get in the way.
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[In answer to questions about culture in Mexico:]
There are all sorts of Mexican Music. Mariachi is one, ranchera, grupoer, cumbia, salsa, and much more. There is Mexican rock, Mexican pop, even Mexican country. One of the most common among today's youth is regeton, but it is the equivalent of rap: there is nothing good about it.
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One of the most famous parts of Mexican culture is the food. And not just tacos and burritos. Every region has a traditional dish with a rich taste and a richer history. Probably the best part about Mexican food is how willing the Mexican people are to share it.