Monday, October 8, 2012

Hello all! As promised I said that I would write an extra long letter this week because I did not really have time to write last week so here it goes.

Letter From Last Week:

So, first of all, this last P-Day was crazy! We went on a trip to Taxco which is this beautiful city built into the mountains about 30 minutes from Iguala. Impressions of Taxco: The weather was cool, breezy, and so nice that I am trying to figure out how to convince President Kusch to transfer me there for the rest of my mission. The streets are SO narrow with little taxis zooming by in every direction. We toured this old, baroque-style church in the center of the city which was pretty ornate and beautiful. We ate at a McDonalds (which was heavenly) and saw the whole view of Taxco from a viewpoint at the top of the city which was pretty beautiful. Taxco is also famous for selling silver or "plata" so there were literally like 100 stores selling silver merchandise which was fun to look at. So, in the end, I loved the city! (Pictures are forth coming).

So, I guess it is time for impressions of Mexico:

1) McDonalds in Mexico is actually like a classy restaurant. Clean, nice music playing, etc. Very different from the United States if you know what I mean.

2) The people feeding you will get offended if you do not eat at least two plates of food.

3) Tortillas. Like a huge monstrous stack of tortillas are served with every meal. You are expected to partake. And partake heartily.

4) The cab drivers will try to charge white people more for cab rides than Mexicans. Too bad I live here and know how much a normal cab ride costs. Sorry, not sorry.

5) When it storms, it storms. Like thunder that shakes the house and makes it sound like World War III has started.

6) Every morning a symphony of roosters sound off. I think I can replicate their calls now.

Anyway, spiritual stuff. I have been reading in Mosiah Chapters 11 through 23 in the Book of Mormon this week and they have really spoken to me. It is funny how real the scriptures are becoming to me. The more I study them and come to truly know them, the more I love them. The advice, the hope, the love, and the warnings raise me up every day. I compare it to plugging my spiritual charger into the wall and receiving spiritual energy each day. Anyway, in Mosiah 16: 8-9 it says, "But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and life of the world; yea, the light that is endless, that can never be darkened, yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death." I love this. Because we have Christ we have light, we have hope that death is not the end of existence, that we continue to live, learn, and grow.
How do you describe a week of growth and learning in the mission field in one email? It is impossible. But I want to tell you that I am working hard, I am being obedient, we are finding people to teach, they are progressing, and that every day God shows his love for me. I have such a strong testimony that his goal is to shape us into something greater than we could have ever imagined for ourselves. Sometimes this process is very hard because we have to let go of and change some very ingrained habits and thoughts. But he is always there, he is always with you. He is walking with you and guiding you through that process.

To end this week, I want to tell you about a sister in my ward named Hermana Gabby. I love Hermana Gabby. I first met her when my companion said on my second day here that we were going to help out a sister in our ward with her English class every week because they wanted to talk with an American. Through stories she has told me, I can tell that she has had a really hard life. A lot of trials. And a lot of tears. But she is an example to me of someone that has allowed the gospel into her life. She is now sealed in the temple with her husband and children. She also decides to be happy even when she is suffering or things are hard. She always tells me to just smile and remember that life is supposed to be enjoyed, not suffered through. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to meet this wonderful woman and learn from her. I am going to include a picture of me and her on this email. I love you all. So very much, and can read my letter from this week!

Well. Here it goes for this week. This week was so challenging. But also had its beautiful moments. So we had interviews with the mission president on Tuesday. This was a great experience. He told me that I was having a really positive influence on my trainer because of my desire to be obedient and work hard. What I found interesting during the interview was that he warned me about 3 times to never lose my desire to be obedient. I thought this was super odd, but I found out why later on that week. He also told me that my Spanish was really good for how long I have been in the country which was nice to hear and other things that lifted my spirits up. I left that interview happy and confident and ready to work. Then, this week happened. Almost all our appointments fell through. People we thought would progress decided not to listen to us anymore. And to top it all off, I had some pretty interesting conversations with my trainer.

Elder Miguel is a good missionary. He is very sociable and loves to talk tons with the members and develop relationships with the members. Which is great. I enjoy that too. But he is not very obedient to the mission rules and likes to drag me down with him. I talked about this with President Kusch and he just said that I needed to lovingly encourage him but that I truly did not have control over the situation because I am the trainee as of now. This week, Elder Miguel started crying and told me that he was totally focused on going home (he has three months left), and that he just wanted to be with his girlfriend, and things, and is not focused on missionary work. He also said he is sad because he has been a bad example for me and feels like he is not helping me at all and teaching me nothing. This was very interesting for me. It was my worst fear that I would have a trainer like this but God wants me to learn from it and grow. He gives us trials for a reason. I just kneeled down and asked my Heavenly Father what I needed to do. And he said that I needed to continue loving the people, but within the bounds the Lord has set (the mission rules). I know that the two must and should work together. That I will find the most success and fulfill my purpose if I learn to mix and blend these two aspects of missionary work together.

So, I will continue to walk. Continue to grow. And continue to try to help and serve others as best as I can. Everyday I pray that I can develop more charity, everyday I pray that I can develop more love for the people and know how to serve them. Everyday, God grants me the strength I need to do it. Sometimes I do not understand why. But, as Henry B. Eyring said in his talk on Sunday Morning, we need to learn to be humble, submissive, and accept the time table of God. I am going to work on this.

Conference was amazing! The Saturday morning session and the Priesthood session were all in Spanish so ask me how much I got out of those, but the other three I was able to see in English! For the first time I did not want Conference to end. I was edified and uplifted by the words of our Prophet, apostles, and church leaders and I am excited to study them later.

One last experience. So after a very trying week, God provided me with a beautiful experience. We have been teaching a young 19 year old named David, as well as his mother and sister. He is golden. He reads, studies, and remembers everything we give him and sometimes even asks for more. He loves the church because he told us that he knows it is going to put him on the right path in life. He told us that he has never felt so much peace and happiness before now. I am so happy that God always provides when we are obedient and we strive to love others. I should end my first transfer with his baptism this Saturday.

So, everyone! Keep pushing, keep trying, and keep walking. Love people, serve people, and be positive! God and the Savior are always there and present. Ready and willing to help and love you. I love you all. You all mean so much to me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Week,

Elder Nielsen

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