Monday, February 6, 2017

Coming Home!

Last Week!

Saying goodbye to my district from the MTC, thanks for everything guys!

This week was another amazing one, as all are in the work of the Lord. We continued working hard and found tons of new investigators again, which made me feel both super happy and a little sad. Super happy because that means more people are going to have the opportunity to learn of the restored gospel. A little sad because I won´t be there to teach it to them and see their progress, but that´s just part of the transitioning process back into the normal life.

My favorite lesson this week was with Yamilet, the 16 year-old investigator. We taught her about Joseph Smith´s first vision, the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, which she had read and learned about herself through the pamphlet we left her last visit. She finally started feeling more comfortable and not too embarrassed to talk to us, which was a huge improvement. Also the spirit was really strong as my companion, Elder Sanders, recited the first vision and testified of it´s truthfulness. We also gave a brief explanation of the Book of Mormon and left her the commitment to read the introduction, meditate on what it teaches, and pray to ask God to help her come to know it´s true. She accepted and went to church yesterday for her third time as well. I´m super excited for her baptism here in February even though I won´t be able to attend in person.

Speaking of the Book of Mormon, any of you who are not familiar with it, or maybe are but still haven´t taken the time or don´t continue to take the time to read it, "I would exhort you that ye" start now by either getting out the dusty old book, opening up the gospel library app hardly used, or get yourself a copy through your local missionaries and that you begin to read it little by little every day. Not just that, but that you "ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4) I bear my testimony alongside the prophet Moroni that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and you WILL receive such a knowledge through the Holy Ghost, if you ask with a sincere heart, real intent, and with faith in Christ. And if you have received such an answer before, start again, you won´t regret it!

First generation leaving the Mexico Monterrey East Mission
 to go to the temple their last day. The start of a wonderful tradition!!

An event that stood out to me this week was a worldwide transmission to all the missionaries, just like they did last year in January. The difference was it wasn't live this time and the format was different since they did it as a discussion between 3 apostles (Elder Bednar, Elder Oaks and Elder Anderson) and other missionary general authorities. Oh and Bonnie Oscarson was also there; most importantly because the world would be chaos without a woman's point of view. They reviewed what they had taught last year in the transmission and showed clips from the talks, along with follow-up questions and comments. The purpose was to reinforce the message of teaching repentance and baptizing converts, which was the theme once again. I really liked several of the comments they made, but one that Elder Bednar said stood out to me. He talked about how "success is a gift from God and that we should do the little things that count like hard work and obedience whether or not we receive the success we desire because that's where our conversion really shows true." (paraphrased) His comment is valid and I've seen it in my mission through other missionaries, as well as in my own service. Yeah, our purpose is to baptize converts..but that´s not the only purpose and our efforts are in vain if we aren't doing them for the right´s like Paul explained in his epistle to the Corinthians;

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (Corinthians 13:1-3)

So if we are helping others to baptism, but aren't being obedient ourselves or doing it out of love to our investigators and our God "it profiteth us nothing" (italics added). There was so much more explained at this special event and I am grateful to have been able to participate even if only a few days before my mission ends. The last thing they did was announce some changes in the mission schedule and the key indicators, which I´ll mention briefly. First of all, they emphasized that each mission has different needs and each mission president will decide his own missions schedule. The biggest changes are that instead of having us plan at night, it has us rest up and prepare for bed at night and save the planning for the morning. Also on preparation day, instead of starting at 11 after our studies, we now start at 8 which is supposed to give us more time to clean the house, do decent grocery shopping and all the other normal preparation day activities. It was nice enjoying those extra 3 hours for one day...since this is my only one left. 

The key indicators are now being cut down to 4 which are: Baptisms and Confirmations, Baptismal Dates, Investigators in Sacrament Meeting, and New Investigators. That´s a huge change from before where we reported over 12 key indicators. Elder Oaks explained that this isn't something they are throwing out of nowhere to test or something, it has been prayed, fasted, and talked about by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for over 6 months. Elder Bednar added how we are still evolving the missionary work and will continue doing so, this isn't to say the key indicators in Preach my Gospel are useless, they are all important, but we want to put a special emphasis in the 4 that truly show progression towards the baptism of converts.

Anyways I just want to thank all of those who helped me along the way to get here on the mission and the continued love and support I've felt all along the way. I am eternally grateful and I will NOT let this experience go to waste. I have a completely new outlook on life and am ready to start a new life, as we all can through Christ day by day. I can´t wait to get back in contact with many of you! Don´t hesitate to get in contact with me, even if you think I´ll be too busy, I'll be glad to talk.

Finally, as a representative of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I want to take this last opportunity to bear my testimony. I know without a doubt that God is our Heavenly Father. He knows us and loves us. He loves us so much He sent his only begotten son, even Jesus the Christ, to Earth to suffer and die for us that we may be saved. I know that through that everlasting atonement of Christ we will all be brought back to God´s presence to be judged according to our works and be placed into a kingdom of glory. I know that our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to a little 14 year-old boy in the spring of 1820, an event that has changed my life forever. I know that 14 year-old boy, Joseph Smith, became the prophet of the restoration and an instrument in the Lord´s hands in organizing the true church again. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith translated it by the gift and power of God. I know that we have a purpose and a plan and by following that plan and completing with our purpose we can obtain eternal life "which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). I testify of these things and share this in the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus the Christ, Amen. 

Adios Mision Monterrey Este!
Jack Daniel's Ribs and Shrimp with Mango-Peach Lemonade, delicious!
Layover spent dining in at TGI Friday's thanks DFW Airport!

Last missionary outfit with my attractive passport holder.

Flight from Dallas to Seatle I rode "the spirit of Disneyland II"
(literally it's name, it says it on a plaque inside) sick paint job!