¡Muy Buenos Días!
Happy Monday! I hope that you are all doing splendidly well! Everyone. Listen. We have had a miracle here in Tepalcingo. It is actually raining here today! And cold! I never thought it would happen. Now I know that God answers prayers. Anyway, in lieu of many impressions of Mexico this week, I only have two. I am sorry but that is just how the cookie crumbled this week.
(The First Story Will be Told in the 3rd Person for Dramatic Effect)
1) So, Elder Nielsen and Elder Romero are walking down the street and have, more or less, 20 minutes before the ward activity. Elder Romero tells Elder Nielsen that a family that he was teaching with the Elder that was here before lived really close. Therefore, Elder Nielsen and Elder Romero decide to go visit them. They knock on the door and immediately it opens. The Elders enter and automatically feel uncomfortable, for they have just walked into a room FULL of Catholics sitting in front of an altar with a large painting of the Virgin Mary, two crucifixes, two burning candles, an open Bible, and burning incense. Elder Romero says he needs to use the bathroom and leaves Elder Nielsen out there to talk with the people. Well, while Elder Romero was in the bathroom the Catholics begin their worship service (which included a rather elderly woman chanting prayers and singing hymns while the rest of the people repeated it after her). Elder Romero (who was Catholic) comes out and tells me that it is supremely rude to leave during one of these, so, we had to stay. So yes. The new gossip of Tepalcingo will be that the two Mormon missionaries sat in on a 45 minute worship service of the Virgin Mary. Despite feeling uncomfortable at the beginning, Elder Nielsen was interested and listened and observed the entire service. Oh yeah, because of this, the Elders arrived late to the ward activity.
2) We have a cat (yet to be named) that lives right outside of our apartment. Well, he always had a little cat that accompanied him everyday. For the last two days we only saw the big cat and not the little cat. Well, last night while we were planning, we heard a lot of noise outside. Our cat was being attacked by two MASSIVE black cats. Elder Romero chased them away with a broom. Then the lady that owns the house we stay in told us that the same cats had come earlier that week and killed the other little cat. Sad. We are thinking of doing night watches or something to protect our friend. I will let you know how it goes.
So there is some culture/awkward & uncomfortable experiences for you to ponder in your hearts.
This week actually went by super fast. We had a mission conference in Cuernavaca (which is basically like the United States, but in Mexico...very modern) with Claudio Zivac of the 70 which required us to leave Tepalcingo around 3:00 p.m. on Thursday and not return until 8:00 p.m. Friday night. But it was a nice break. And I learned a lot. I actually felt really in tune with the Spirit. Not that anything that was said was particularly profound or new, but I was open to be being taught by the Holy Ghost and received specific impressions on what I needed to do here in Tepalcingo to progress the work. During the prelude music, an Elder was playing the song, "Savior, May I Learn to Love Thee" and I was thinking about the words. Really thinking about them. I thought about the words, "Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own. Savior, may I learn to love thee, Lord, I would follow thee." Also, in the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much" with the words, "That he too may be comforted". These lyrics really hit me. During the week I had been feeling down on myself. I felt like Emma Smith when she said in the Restoration video to Joseph, "Do you ever wonder if the Lord asks too much of us?" I had been asking that question here in Tepalcingo because of the relative lack of success that I have had and the trials of this area. But through these two hymns God, so lovingly, reminded me of my purpose as a missionary. It is not about Elder Nielsen. It is about other people. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has "comforted" me. During my prayers I thought about all the many blessings I have received as a member of the church. The temple, the priesthood, a close family, divine help, etc. My goal is to invite others to partake of the same blessings, "That they too may be comforted." I have started to view the people differently. Now I do not see a dysfunctional family that have problems with alcohol, rather, I see a family dressed in white, being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. I do not see a youth that is struggling to gain a testimony, rather, a strong, proud missionary that proclaims what she knows and brings others into the waters of baptism. My focus is beginning to change. My prayers are becoming more about them, and less about me. Praying my guts out that they will read, pray, come to church, tell us what they need, etc. I felt very close to the Spirit this week as a result. It is totally and absolutely about love, missionary work that is. I intend to love more, and more deeply for the rest of my mission.
Well, I love you all. You mean very much to me. It is my testimony that Jesus Christ lives. Come to him. There is life after death. We will all be with the ones we love again. There is no trial too great, no addiction too strong, no place too dark, that cannot be penetrated by the light of the gospel. I have seen it. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that knows me and tries me everyday. He is not letting up because he knows it will make me stronger and a more profitable servant. I am happy. Stressed to the max and tired...but happy. I hope that you are all happy too.