Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas Family and Friends! know the drill: Experiences and Impressions of Mexico!

1) This week we went to the temple in Mexico City! It is about a 3 hour car ride from my area and we went with our entire district. So to begin...Mexico City...or D.F. Is the dirtiest most polluted city I think I have ever seen. It is literally in a valley and surrounded by mountains but you cannot see them because there is so much pollution in the air. And there are people EVERYWHERE. Cars zooming by in every direction, skyscrapers, stores, etc. Reminded me more of Los Angeles or other big cities in the United States. But the temple was amazing. As missionaries we are always told that we are some of the biggest targets of the adversary. And boy have I felt it. Almost six months of constant pounding in every area of my life. The difference was palpable when I entered the temple (the only place where he is not allowed). I just felt so much peace. So much love. And for it all being in Spanish I did surprisingly well! I remember when we were getting ready to leave I started to get a little sad because I knew I was reentering the battlefield. But God has been strengthening me everyday and for that I am so grateful.

2) So, I have actually started to work out a half hour more everyday. I get up at 5:55 a.m., say my prayers and then work out for an hour. We actually have this weight that has two concrete blocks attached to both sides of the bar. Literally every part of my body is in pain but I need to do it. I do not sweat as much here and the tortillas are thicker.

3) So, this week has been a little slow for one reason. Elder Ramos has been having problems with his stomach. Like we have to return to our house every 1:30 to 2 hours so he can do his business. Just so you know.

4) So...the drunks. For the most part they are actually just super funny. I thought I would share some experiences. A) Yesterday one asked me if he could have my tie. B) One kept saying he was King Solomon. C) Most of them just shout at us to preach to them something from the Bible. D) This one is my favorite. There is this one that sits in the same corner every day and every time we walk by he just starts shouting and babbling. Literally he his not speaking a language. Just starts babbling. 

5) Good experience this week. We went to visit a less-active sister named Alicia Ortiz. She was not home the first two times we tried and the third time we found her. We taught her a lesson of the Gospel or Doctrine of Jesus Christ and invited her to church. She seemed attentive and told us that she needed to return. We left not really thinking much of it, because, well, my four months in the mission field have taught me that when less-active members say that they are going to come to church there is like a 5% chance that they are telling the truth. Anyway, about 40 minutes into the Sacrament Meeting I turn to look at the door and she came to church with all of her grandchildren. At the end of the services we went to talk to her and she was just so appreciative and starting saying that she was at church because of us. Because we spoke plainly with her but with love. That was nice to hear.

Anyway, those are some of my experiences this week! This week has been a little slow, but good. We continue working hard and the Lord is blessing us little by little.

During this time I have been thinking a lot about the Savior. His teachings. His love. What he really means to me. Especially the Atonement. I think of that night when he was born. My favorite story is in Luke:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I think about how glorious that night was for the people that really knew the significance of the life of the Savior. Their King, their Savior, the Redeemer of their souls was finally born. He would go on to teach, to heal, to love, and ultimately atone of the sins of the world. He would be rejected, spit upon, slapped, and mocked. He would be crucified and buried. But that was not the end. He would raise from the dead three days later. And with triumphant words angels would declare, "He is not here, for he is risen". 

We also have another record of the coming of the Savior. But to a different people. On a different continent. This is possibly my favorite passage of scripture. Read it slowly. Think about the words and phrases you are reading. Think about what the Savior means to you. Apply this to yourself:

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not. And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them. And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying: Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come. And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.

I have so much love for my Savior. The more I preach his name the more I feel love for him and what he did for me. He atoned for our sins. He died for us. He conquered both physical and spiritual death for us. But most importantly, he loves us with a love that I cannot imagine or comprehend. I want everyone in this world to feel his love. Feel his power to forgive, to heal, to cleanse, and strengthen. He can make us feel whole at any time. We only need to begin the process.

I love you all. I hope that you are all doing very well and that you are happy and content. And once again, Merry Christmas!

Elder Nielsen

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