Hello Family and Friends!
Well I want to start out with the impressions of Mexico before I do anything else:
1) In our District Meeting this last week, an English Elder was talking about his area and then suddenly stopped and turned to look at me and told me that he forgot how to say the word "catalyst" in Spanish and asked me if I knew how to say it....Nough Said.
2) I always find it really amusing whenever anyone here tries to pronounce English-Based names, products, etc. in a Spanish accent. Some good examples thus far include Miley Cyrus, Iron Man, and Crayola.
3) Mexican children sometimes stare at me like I am from outer space or something. Whenever I make eye contact with them, they quickly turn away and wait for me to not be looking so they can resume staring.
4) We finally received the ward list (after 7 weeks of asking for one), and realized that if every member that was on the list actually came to church we could have three large wards.
5) This is what I like to call Elder Nielsen’s Guide to Mexican Salsa:
When the Members Say:
1) It is hot = Death
2) It is not that hot = Death
3) It is just a little hot = Just code for Death but they really want you to try it.
4) It is not hot at all = There is a 50/50 chance that I will die or live.
5) It is basically watered down tomato juice = I partake and enjoy.
Well I hope that you all enjoyed that. It is all true. Every word. So I had an experience this week that I learned a lot from. On Wednesday Elder Miguel and I were walking to the chapel for Ward Council through the Centro. I was feeling happy so I decided to sing hymns in English in order to annoy my trainer (By the way, if you want a perfect example of our companionship, pop in "The Best Two Years" and view the interaction between the new missionary and his trainer before the trainer starts to change...yeah). Anyway, back to the experience. So we were walking and we walked past a young man and woman and they sort of gave me a funny look as we walked by (which happens all the time so I did not think anything of it) and we kept walking. About two seconds later the young man called, "Hey Mormons". We turned around and went back to talk to him and that was when it all began. To make a long story short...The young man had been in and out of prison about 12 times in the United States for stealing cars and was finally deported back to Mexico because he was an illegal immigrant. Therefore, he could speak English and kept telling me (using profanity about every other word) how he hated God, that he made it through his experiences by believing in La Santa Muerte, and that he hated me and his life did not mean anything to him. The girl he was walking with was his cousin and she told Elder Miguel how she was raped when she was 10 and that she does not believe in God because of this and because she feels like he is not listening to her. I do not think that I had ever met someone (the young man) that was devoid of light before in my life. Like literally, there was zero light in his eyes and soul. During this conversation (more like him shouting at me and cussing at me) I realized that we were in a very dangerous situation. He started asking me if I wanted to see his gun and saying that I needed to get out of Mexico or he was going to kill me. And all I can remember was just praying in my mind. Praying harder than I ever had before that God would deliver us without injury or harm. I was so scared but I remember just praying. And staying very aware and ready to react as well. I got the impression to just stay put. Eventually he demanded that I give him 20 pesos (which is literally the equivalent of a $1.50 in the United States) and left. I remember making it back to the chapel and wanting to crumble. This week has been so difficult and that was just the cherry on the cake. But then I started to think about these two individuals. And all that they had gone through and seen. And how lost and broken they are. And I started to feel sad for them. Really sad for them. That night, when I knelt down, I prayed for them that they would find some peace. That they would not harm anyone else. And that some way God would be able to get through to them and help them. For the first time in my life I truly understand the scripture in 3 Nephi 12:44-45:
"But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good."
And I also realized something else. God is in control. He will protect me from harm. He is more powerful than anyone and anything and will always deliver his servants. I am so happy that he allowed me to have this experience because it taught me something about myself. There are things that I need to improve (developing more faith), however, it energized me because I truly saw and was reminded how much the world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I guess that is what I wanted to share with you all. I look back at my first seven weeks in the field and much of it has been trial. But there are beautiful moments laced in there that make it all worth it. I want you all to know from the bottom of my heart that I know Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. That men and women can only truly find what they are searching for in this world if they come unto him, surrender to him, and then seek to do his will. There is healing, a sense of belonging, and true happiness and joy to be found if we engage in this process. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have had the pleasure to read in 3 Nephi this week and I cannot tell you how much joy it has brought me. I know that God is there. I know that he answers prayers. It may not be on our own time table but they are always answered. Most of all, he loves us. I hope that we all have the courage to pick ourselves up and change. Something that I have realized is that I cannot change anyone else. Their habbits and desires and their choices are theirs to make and choose. But I can change myself. I can improve myself. And I can always continue on my journey back towards my Savior whenever I desire.
I love you all. You mean very much to me. Pray for me and I will continue praying for you. This gospel is true. And even though things are tough, I am happy.
"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sancitification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."