Monday, January 30, 2017

I'm Here, I'm Alive and I'm Well!!

Hey family!!

I'm here, alive, and well, and I have time to write! So here it goes! :) 

I have a super emotional story to share, or at least emotional for me...

Last week we found a girl and she was amazingly receptive. After our contact with her, she agreed to read a folleto and she totally did. This girl was keeping commitments and promises left and right, a progressing machine and we were honestly ready for another baptism in a few weeks!!  Then we asked her to come to church, and she totally said yes. And we said we’d pick her up in the morning. Well, we swung by her house, but she was asleep, and nobody came to the door. 

After church, she sent us a message that basically said ‘thanks for the help, I don’t think I can join your church and I don’t think you guys should come and try to teach me anymore.’  Long story short her family is Catholic and don’t want her to talk to us any more.  I prayed so hard for this girl, and I never thought I’d cry for somebody else in the mission like that. But lo and behold, it happened. I don’t think I can explain this feeling... ask Lauren or Jewlz or TJ... literally any RM. I think they know what this feels like.  But it’s heartbreaking to loose her.

And then again, this week, I had one more investigator tell us that we can’t visit her because her family is Catholic... and so that was super sad and pretty hard because that’s two in two weeks.  But after much prayer and love and hope that everything will turn out okay, we are back to work. Working even harder, serving even harder, praying even harder so we will be ready when we find that person ready to hear the gospel message.

Oh!!  Okay, a few funny stories this week!

We had a Zone Meeting and I had to give a closing prayer.  When we gather as a Zone, we always say the prayers in our native language, so for me it’s English.  And Wow!  I never thought it would be so hard to give a prayer in English!!  Haha!!  I literally haven’t spoken English in weeks, so it was seriously kinda hard for me to remember some words, especial gospel English which I haven't really spoken for months! The prayer was super slow and according to the other gringo missionaries, I totally have an accent. Ha!  But, like, no worries because none of the latinos know! Hahaha!

Well Jimenez and I are awesome!  He’s super legit, but he only has 2 weeks until he finishes the mission!  And I’m gonna cry when he leaves, Holy Cow!  He’s honestly the best!  He’s a really cool guy, and a real good missionary! I’ve learned a lot from him and he definitely has helped me magnify my calling.

I have to say Arellano is my best friend in the house though, we have like 3 months together because he was with me from day one, and we always have a good laugh!  

Our ward is cool and I’ve connected with a few families, but not like super tight... they feed us every day, every lunch and they're pretty nice which is good, but other then that they pretty much leave us missionaries on our own.  Jimenez says most of the wards he’s been in throughout the mission have been much more engaging, helpful and supportive of the missionaries.

Oh, speaking of which, us missionaries had a meeting with our ward on that topic!  The four missionaries in our house, Arellano, Rodas, Jimenez, y yo (and me), were able to teach the ward about missionary work and how they can help and it was actually really cool!  I think we did well and I think the ward got the idea.

At this meeting the President of the Elders Quorrum said something that Dad always said and it’s something that hadn’t ever really resonanted with me as much as it has here. He said no matter how smart or how much you know, there is always someone that is smarter and knows more.  And so it is and definitely has been for me here in the mission! Hahaha :) 

Okay, so things I’ve learned this week... Well, to start, the word Pride.  Holy Cow, I have not heard that word more in my life than in these last 3 weeks. It’s a point that we've worked on a lot as a District and it’s something that has helped me a lot, or rather, not having pride has helped me a lot.  Something that I’ve learned is that if we are humble, the Lord can direct us, and if we're humble, we can learn, and if we're humble, we can get along with just about anybody!

Not gonna lie, if there’s something I’ve taken away from the mission so far it’s definitely humility. Never in my life have I had to rely so much on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and never in my life have I needed their help more.  And just like Dad and the Elders Quarrom Pres said, it’s especially humbling when you know that there is always someone who can speak the language better, and understand the gospel more than you! Hahaha! But, it’s because of this, I understand more clearly how and how much the Lord has helped me.  He's helped me in every aspect of life out here.  Honestly, I can’t really explain it completely.  But when I’m humble, obedient and working hard, He delivers!  So, yea, be humble, set goals, ask our Father in Heaven for help daily :) but do so sincerely and you'll receive blessings! :)

I hope all is well and I hope that you guys see the blessings we receive each day!  Oh, and THANK YOU to Auburn 3rd Ward for their cute Christmas letters!!!!  They are awesome!  Also, THANK YOU to Aunt Jean and Uncle Lee who sent me toffee -- it was super bomb!!  Loved it :D

And I love you all!
Til next week,

Elder Ribeiro de Argentina (tomando el selfie) and Pacheco de mexico (behind me) two elders in my zone and they’re really cool :)

Mi papi Jimenez

Photo from was Temps birthday so I bought him a tie (and I got a matching one for when we're comps one day)! :)

I was hoping to send pictures of my housemates too... today we planned on taking a picture together, like all 4 of us!  But, as of right now, I don’t have anything... I had pics, but they got erased :)  Hahaha!  So hopefully next week!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Belated but Awesome Update!!

Hey, sorry for the belated letter!!!

But, Hey, I’m here and alive and well! :)  We have permission to write a little late because our Pday was a little hectic!

But apart from this everything is good!!  Oh, first, Sunday was Elder Templeton’s birthday!!! I didn’t see him, but I’ll see him tomorrow, and I bought him and me matching ties (super cute right?)! Ha!  And yea, you guys should message his mom something cute! :) 

Also, Dad, remember how we had to shower with a bucket that morning in ThunderHill and we said it was mission training?? Well, it totally was!  Our shower head broke, fixed now, but we totally had to shower with a bucket for two days!!  So yea, that was a funny little memory!

This week we had a baptism!!  And I did it!  First try, no mistakes (answered prayer right there)!! Hahaha!  But really, everything was really great and the family was really happy!! (people here hardly smile in photos, I don't know why, haha, but yea, I promise he was happy!)! Hahahahahaah!

His wife is a member and their little girls are so adorable! :) I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I’ve have to be a part of their journey towards Christ! :)

Pictured above is Jiminez and I getting a ride to our comida (dinner appointment) one day.

Ahhh, okay, y que mas (what more)?...  OH man!  I’ve learned a bunch about myself this week, and how much I´ve already changed! Hahaha!  So, to start, I live with three latinos, and these guys are literally my best friends in the mission!  Elder Rodas, from Guatemala, and fact, I’m gonna visit his home after the mission and he’s gonna visit us, because he only has like 1 or 2 transfers more than me in the mission! :)  Elder Jimenez, mi compa (my companion), from Mexico City, un Chilango (a native to Mexico City), and he is a real hard worker and a real happy guy!  I’ve learned a lot from him, and I’ll actually add more on that later.  And finally, Elder Arellano, tambien.  He’s from Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City too) tambien, and he went to Provo and he speaks casi (almost) perfect English (so we can totally gossip with each other Haha!). But yea these guys are literally the best! :) 

So, one day earlier this week, Elder Rodas and I were cooking dinner, and he was looking at photos on my camera and there was a super blurry picture and so I told him he could delete it... after about 15 seconds I hear "oh fetch no manches" que significa que (I knew that meant) something bad happened.  Turns out, since my camera is in English, he accidently deleted all my photos on my camera! (Why is that even an option? Hahahaah!) But yea, that happened!! And let me tell you, if that happened like 4 months ago, I woulda been really upset.  Ask Natalie about that and she’ll tell you she knows that’s easily something that would make me unhappy.

But literally, although I really didn’t want to lose my photos, when it happened, I didn’t even feel the slightest bit of anger or anything of the sort.  It was more of a "oh, that’s okay, don’t worry about it!" and really that night I reflected on that and surprised myself.  Elder Rodas felt super sorry and was pretty heartbroken, but everything is fine!  And the only thing I can credit or thank for this new kind of response is the mission, and Jesus Christ. I’ve been trying so hard to work on the Christlike attributes, Read Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel (Click this link Preach My Gospel Chapter 6 for more details), and it’s been hard to know if I’m progressing, especialmente because truly taking on Christlike attributes is a super long process, right? Well, this happened, and I’m super humbled by it so I hope it doesn’t come cross as arrogant (because that’s something else I’m trying hard to avoid), but yea, this event just really testified to me that people can change with the help of Christ, with His help I can change.  And when we do our best to follow His example and His teachings, we will recieve blessings. I don’t know, I never can quite explain these things exactly right. But it’s cool, and I’d highly recommend trying to be more like Christ, and then look back and reflect on how much we have/can/will change with Him.

There’s another reason this event was important to me... earlier this week, I asked Elder Jimenez what defines a successful missionary, since he’s just about finished with his mission, and is an awesome missionary - and he told me that a successful missionary is one that returns different than when he left... one that is still an active member 20, 30 years down the road... their whole life, actually.  And this just struck me, because I only have 3 or 4 months or something out here in the field... but I’m already starting to see the change in me.  Yes, I’m still Nick and I still have a lot of flaws, and I’m talking a lot of flaws! Hahaha, but little by little, I’m seeing the Lord help me, a bit here and there, as He sees fit for me at the time. :) I don’t know, like I said, I struggle to write exactly what I feel, but I hope you guys can understand without me sounding prideful, because it’s not as much about me as it is about the way turning to Christ can change anyone... you know? :) 

Anyway, Rodas y Arellano have an investigator, and this guy is so golden it’s not even funny... he went tracting (proselyting) with Rodas and Arellano one day and he’s not even a member yet.  He’s 22, and is so supportive, Oh My Gosh!  I was talking with him one day and he said he’d like to be a missionary once he finishes school... And again, he’s not even a member yet!!!  Honestly, he’s an example to me and he always walks in faith and is so stinking supportive of the missionary effort. We should all strive to be a little more like him.

Apart from this I hope everything is good and I hope this week is amazing and that we all can take a moment a look back on our week and look at the blessings that God has given us, no matter how hard it may be to see. He always gives us blessings, even when it’s hard.

Love you all, until next time,

Nick wrote a letter to his sister, Natalie, responding to a question of why life has to be so hard sometimes... With her permission, I’d like to share his thoughts on the topic.

The fact of the matter is experience, even the bad stuff, is a gift you can use to help others.  

Let me share some thoughts with you :)

An example (we will use cars of course, because you're super old and gonna be driving soon)...  So, we're all on a road, right? We're all traveling on our individual little road. But sometimes, roads are pretty stinking steep, like at our old house in Loomis. Other times, it's straight up rocks and dirt, other times maybe there's puddle and we get stuck for a bit. But, after each obstacle in our road we're a little more experienced for the next obstacle, the next challenge, if you will. :)

But also with roads, as you know, there are intersections right?  There are moments when one road touches another, and then keeps going down their own paths (like King and Taylor :)  yea, I still remember a little bit back home)  And in our lives, these intersections are moments with other people.  At these moments we can help others using the information and experience we've received/learned to help them in their journey.  And then, we go on our way.  This is why things happen.

Nat, if there's something I learned out here in Chihuahua Mexico, it’s Spanish. Hahaha!, naw just kidding. Really, it’s that this church, this message, is for everyone. There aren't exclusions, there aren't exceptions, no if’s, and’s, or but’s.  Combine that and the experience you have from your 15 years gives you an awesome opportunity to really help people and become the most important friend that they could ever have.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hola Familia!!

Hey Familia!

Well this week was awesome! New companion, new roommates, and a lot more Spanish living with three latinos now!! Well yea, some cool things happened this week and like always, I'm learning a lot! :)

Sooooo to start, heads up, this part is not awesome...  We totally saw a dog die, it was hit by two cars. That was horrible!  So sad, I wish I could unsee that!!

Okay back to this week. Well, to start this week, Elder Jimenez y yo (and I) worked a lottttttt! Like a lot a lot.  And we saw the fruits of our labors with a baptismal date with one of our investigators!! That was so great and boy, that feeling when they say 'yes' to be baptized... it's so good, really like nothing else!

Elder Jimenez es de el DF, la ciudad de mexico (is from Mexico City), y he has 23 months in the mission, and he is the bomb! 

I forgot my camera today because we played soccer, with Temps (Elder Templeton) again!! Love that guy!  He had 12 assists and I had 12 goals!  Final score 12 Gringos, 8 Latinos!  :)  Jimenez sent me a pic of us so I'll send it later!

So, the week was great, but we also had a lot of rejection - like we'd approach a house, knock, and hear 'shhhhhhh' and they wouldn't answer the door after we heard them. It's like Okayyyy thanks! Haha! But we're doing our part so its all good. :)

I learned a lot this week, honestly, and once again I don't know where to start.  I learned more about the fact that God answers our prayers.

But above all this week I learned a lot about gratitude.

Simply because I have a lot to be thankful for, ya know? I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but my favorite hymn right now is 'tu me has dado muchas bendiciones Dios' (Because I Have Been Given Much) and honestly, it's just a hymn that I like to sing because it's how I feel just about every moment. I don't know, I doubt I'll ever be able to explain exactly how it is to be here.

     Because I Have Been Given Much

     Because I have been given much
     I too must give
     Because of thy great bounty Lord
     Each day I live
     I shall divide my gifts from thee
     With every brother that see
     Who has the need of help from me

     Because I have been sheltered, fed
     By thy good care
     I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
     My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
     my roof's safe shelter overhead
     That he too may be comforted

     Because I have been blessed by
     thy great love dear Lord
     I’ll share thy love again
     According to thy word
     I shall give love to those in need
     I’ll show that love by word and deed
     Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed

Something else I am grateful for this week is the fact that all around the world, our church is the same. It's the reason we can send missionaries anywhere in the world and have them teach exactly the same things wherever they go. This isn't a thing just any church can do.

Another thing I really appreciate is that here in Mexico, people are still people, and everyone, I mean everyone, came from or has a family.  Interesting huh, how despite culture, circumstance, money, power, cars and possessions and all that, all around the world there are a few things that are almost always the same. The Church, and the Family being two that stand out to me, two that are so real and so important.

Yea, I don't know, I'm just grateful this week I guess. And yea, I still have stories, because every day is an adenture, but right now I can't think of any of them!  Haha!  I only feel gratitude.

I'm sure I'll have more to tell another day, maybe next week or something! Hahaha! :)

Well, this one's a little short, but know that all is good in Mexico, and I'm loving it here! :)

Until next week family!! I love you all a bunch and I hope all is well.

Till next time,

Monday, January 2, 2017

Cambios (Changes)!!


Well, where to begin?! This past week we had the new year and Christmas, all were pretty good to say the least! It was real chill, but real good too. I'm starting to understand a lot more Spanish, or at least a little more, but you know, everyone tells me to keep working and give it time, so yea that's the plan!

Mom, that Nacimiento (nativity) you gave me that was made out of paper?  Well, I gave it to one of the families we're teaching, and they loved it. It's the young family with 2 little girls.  We gave it to them, and the next visit, they totally had it up and they colored it in and it was really cute.  No, I'm sorry, I didn't take a picture but they really loved it and helped them have a reminder about Christ during the holiday.

Well, we had changes today, and I got a new companion and he's real cool. He's really excited to do some work; so I have really high hopes about these next 6 weeks. I think we'll be able to get some good work in, and hopefully find some people who are prepared to hear the gospel message. Pero, esta es la rosa (But, this is the thing) people need 5 weeks church attendance to be baptized, and changes are in every 6 weeks... and my comp finishes his mission at the end of this change... sooo... yea, I hope we'll be able to find someone to teach and support early so my comp can finish strong with a baptism!   He really isn't trunky at all and he's an absolute rock of a guy.  So, I'll call that my New Year's resolution! 

So, things I've learned...

Well, that we need to continue to work. And there are two stories I'd like to use to relate to this.  

To start, we need to work with what we have, and do all we can, and pray for help from our Brother and Father to do the rest.  I like to think of it like when Christ fed the 5000 with the loaves and fishes. When the people had been waiting and clearly needed food, His disciples suggested sending the people away to go get their own food, but Christ knew better, right? He simply asked for what they had, and He magnified it until there was excess of 12 baskets.  And I like to think about that as work, effort and energy from each one of us. Like right now, I have work to do. And my best effort, sometimes, a lot of times, amounts to nothing more then a few fishes and some bread, if that makes sense. But the thing I like is that Christ doesn't look at our few 'fishes and bread' and say 'Really?' Nope!  He just asks for what we have, and to give all we have, and He'll help us.  Instead of saying 'Come on, is that it?' He says 'Thank you. Now lets see what we can do.'  And this is honestly something that keeps me going, especially when I get a little discouraged with stuff like the language or whatnot.

The second story that I relate to us is found in John, when Christ resurrects, leaves, and comes back to find His Apostoles fishing. And then when his Disciples return to the shore, he asks Peter three questions.  "Do you love me?" three times.  And each time Peter says "Yes", to which the Lord's response is "Feed my sheep."  And this is yet another source of inspiration for me.  I really do love the Lord, and I'm trying really hard to feed His sheep. So, I'm figuratively coming forth with my bread and fish and ask for His help, and I feel it regularly. I just hope and pray that I do my best to give Him something to work with.

Well, I hope you guys are all feeling the blessings of our God, and I hope all is well. I have an incredible amount of faith in the promised blessings of this work, and you, my family, are the reason I'm here. So thank you all for all that you do. Les amor (love you) :)

Until next week,

And thank you for the cards Abu and the Alstons!!!! I love you guys so much!!!  And following is the view and sunset from the top of Cerro Grande (It's a huge hill with a big cross on it).