Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 3

The Temple in Monterrey.

It's been a crazy week full of wonderful experiences just as each week has been like here at the CCM. Last Tuesday night, we had a Devotional given by a member of the 70 over Mexico named Omar Villalobos. He and his wife both spoke about many things but the message that got through to me was one that has been shining through almost all Devotionals I've experienced so far and that is that I need to "face challenges always with happiness because we know what is to come when it is all over". This is something essential for Missionary work because when people out there who are struggling see us walking down the streets with a big smile, they'll want to know why we are so happy. How can someone who is spending two years away from home in varied conditions and are working hard every day without getting paid be happy? Well it's because they have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all it's fullness and glory; never to be taken off the face of the Earth again. Plus, they are being rewarded with something that is far more valuable than money or anything tangible in this world and that is to see the discovery, growth and happiness that occurs in the hearts of those who we share our messages with.
Something that has been talked about a lot here is how we need to be our first convert as missionaries and that as we grow and come to love the Gospel, our love of sharing the Gospel grows simultaneously and so does our love for the people we are teaching it to. My love of the Gospel is growing every day and I can feel this change occurring within me. Pretty soon I won't be able to rest until I have done everything in my power to find those who have been prepared of the Lord to hear the message of the restored Gospel. I am so blessed to have been born of such wonderful parents who raised me in the Church and to truly know what my purpose is in this life. I'm surprised at how much I've already changed in these short 3 weeks and I'm very excited to see where my mission takes me.
The Christus in the Visitor's Center at the Mexico City Temple.
This week I was also humbled a lot. My companion and I taught our first lesson with our second "investigator" named Miguel. Our teacher Hermano Tinoco is playing the part and I wasn't expecting him to get into it as far as he did. It was extremely hard to teach him because, first of all, I could hardly understand him and also he didn't seem interested at all and looked at his phone most of the time. At the time it seemed really harsh and mean to act that way, but he was only trying to be realistc which will help us in the long run. As this week has progressed, we have been able to open Miguel up a little bit and it seems that he is at least partly interested now and I can understand more of what he is saying. I know this has only been possible with my Heavenly Father's help because there is no way I could accomplish what I am accomplishing here without it. I have had problems with becoming discouraged at times, but through prayer and hard work I have been able to overcome these negative thoughts. Being a missionary is hard and stressful in many ways, but the rewards outweigh it all. I don't know where I would end up in life if I had not decided to serve a mission, but now that I'm here, there is no way I would ever change my mind or want to leave my mission. I love it so much and I'm very excited to continue the work of salvation.
Last Thursday my whole District and some other had to leave the CCM to have something done for our Visas. I really don't understand how Visas work because I swear there are way too many steps involved and it is way overcomplicated. We spent most of the day on this trip which was fun because we were able to see a lot of cool places in the central area of Mexico City. When we got to the immigration building it really didn't take too long and all they needed were our fingerprints and a signature to ensure the fingerprints are real. Afterwards we had a little bit of time to walk around and it was really cool! A bunch of Elders even bought street tacos from a vendor but I didn't want to risk getting sick quite yet eating at a random corner taco stand. It was nice to get out of the CCM and see more of the city. 
In front of the Mexico City Temple (with Elders Clark, Turner, Tuia, Te, Inskeep, Haggard, and Willis.)
The trip was planned last minute and so we got behind in our lessons which meant we all had to make up for it. It was extremly hard since we had almost no time to prepare our lesson before giving it. It ended up being a good experience to teach on the fly the way we did. I've enjoyed spending time with our new afternoon teacher Hermano Cayetano. Our District has a lot of fun joking around with him and also teaching him slang words in English. He is planning on going to BYU later this year and he says he's going to find a wife which I think is hilarious because people always joke that it's the reason members go to BYU. Also our District teases Hermano Tinoco about getting married because he has a girlfiend named Leslie and they were high school sweethearts. We asked him when he's going to marry her and he told us in 3 years because he wants to save up more money. I think he's joking about the 3 years, or at least I hope he is because that would be really hard to wait that long because getting married in the temple is what we are all looking forward to. I know he is going to be an amazing father and he will be very blessed for his serving a mission and striving to do what is right.
This Sunday was AMAZING!!! I love Sundays here sooooo much. The spirit is so strong and we always hear the most amazing messages and also I always receive answers to my prayers. One thing I prayed about on Saturday was that I would be chosen to speak on Sunday because while I was preparing my talk I felt the spirit so strongly I couldn't bear not to share my thoughts. They choose speakers randomly and we have to speak entirely in Español (or at least try to), so it is something most of us are terrified of. I felt that way the last two weeks, but the spirit helped guide me and give me confidence and so I was ready, willing and truly wanted to speak. Sure enough when it came time our Branch Presidente announced me as one of the speakers! I successfully gave my talk entirely in Español and I could feel the spirit working through me. My grammar was probably terrible, but that'll come with time and practice and giving this talk was very good practice. 
The entrance to the "History of the Church in Mexico" part of the Visitors' Center.
Later we had class with the MTC Presidente Tenorio and he explained something that is very important to understand. He spoke on marriage and how there is no such thing as a "soul mate" or "true love" at least in the sense of there only being one person out there that is meant to be with you. I used to stuggle with this as well and it's something I talked to Krystina about and she told me the same things that were explained in this meeting. There is no such thing as a perfect soul mate because there is no such thing as a perfect human being. Of course when you end up finding someone and getting married you'll think of them as your true love, but that doesn't mean that if they had wanted to marry someone else that you wouldn't be able to find someone else and be just as happy with them. This is an important thing to understand and I know that many people struggle with this topic just as I had. In fact, some of the members of my District had discussed this topic and had varied opinions which is probably why Heavenly Father inspired our president to speak on this subject.
After class I stayed for Choir practice with another Elder in our District named Elder Haggard. We practiced singing a hymn blended with a primary song in Español for an hour and it was really fun. I am so thankful for my musical talents, I really enjoy singing and I know that Heavenly Father enjoys hearing his children sing praises unto him as well. We are singing tonight just before our Tuesday night Devotional and I'm really excited. 
Last night we had a devotional broadcast by none other than Elder Holland!! He's my favorite! It was given in January of 2013 to the Provo MTC I believe, but it applies just as strongly to us and to me individually too. He said so many wonderful things and he spoke with firm and caring words. He spoke on how some missionaries want nothing more than to return back to "real life". Holland than spoke firmly "This is real life, there is nothing to return to." This is something I have learned and continues to be taught that a mission is not an end, but an eternal beginning and that applies to me as strongly as anyone because of how much I've changed and am excited to continually grow in this Gospel. So much more has happened and I wish I could share all the wonderful experiences I've had. 
A few other things: It rained a few times this week and even poured one night extremely hard for a little while. The food has been wonderful as always; we've had a huge variety of foods, but all have been good. I have been consistently waking up at 5 with my District leader Elder Tuia to lift weights at the gym which has been a really nice way to wake up each morning. I'm just glad there is someone else in my District crazy enough to get up with me. We have a little gym time during the day but we prefer to play games with other Elders during this time. I actually feel more awake when I get up earlier and plus I'm trying not to get out of shape and gain weight which is really easy to do here with how much amazing food is available here. I should find out next week when I'm leaving the CCM which is a really scary thought, but also super exciting! I just hope I'll be ready to get out and preach the gospel in Español by then. This campus is a little piece of paradise and I'll be really sad to leave it. I'll miss my amazing District of Elders, our teachers Hermano Cayetano and Tinoco, and also the many workers and leaders that work so hard to make our experience as incredible as it is. I miss everyone back home, but I know this is where I'm meant to be and I wouldn't be this happy anywhere else at this point in my life.

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