Hello Family and Friends!Well. To put it shortly. This week has been just a little wild and crazy. Including: Planning and executing a marriage by going to Chilpancingo, Guerrero to be witnesses in the wedding of two of our investigators (Jaime and Gemma) and filling the baptismal font manually. And when I say manually, I mean, with a bucket that had wire wrapped around the handle. We dipped said bucket into the underground reserve of water at the chapel and pulled up the water (sort of like a well) and then filled up empty trash cans that were inside the chapel with the water that we pulled up. We then had to carry the trash cans of water to the chapel (which was not close) and dump the water into the baptismal font. All because we found out that the pump that helps to fill the baptismal font was not working. But that is all secondary to the fact that we had three baptisms this week in Lomas del Real! Jaime and (now his wife) Gemma. And an 18 year old named Alexis!
Impressions of Mexico!
1) So, the churches here in Mexico do not have the legal power to marry like they do in the United States. To be married by the government is extremely expensive and requires a lot of tests and other regulations that many cannot afford to do. So many live in open relationships as a result. But when they meet the missionaries and have the desire to be baptized, they find out that in order to be baptized, they need to be married. So (and yes...I know how this is going to sound), the mission has designated "areas" where couples can go to be married with less government regulation and where it costs a lot less. For that reason, I spent a day in Chilpancingo, Guerrero (about 3 hours away from my area).
2) The owner of the laundry mat that we go to is a Jehovah's Witness. Every week she prods us to take one of the Atalaya's (basically like the Ensign but for the J.W.s). And so this week I started to ask her about her beliefs. Poor thing. She had a bunch of papers in her hand and her hand was literally shaking she was so nervous. But she invited us to come and talk with her family!
3) I found a store here in Yautepec that sells...Dr. Pepper! Not just Dr. Pepper. But Cherry and Diet Dr. Pepper as well! This truly is a rare find in a country were if a store does not sell Coke there are mini-revolutions among the people.
4) I forgot to mention this. But a few weeks ago I washed my clothes. On concrete. With a bucket of soapy water. I basically just dipped the clothing in the bucket and began scrubbing.
5) So, a lot of times the members offer to buy us food or snacks as people pass by in the streets selling. A lot of times I do not know the name of what they want to buy me, I just always say yes. This week Hna. Margarita offered to buy us something from a lady passing by and I said yes. She pulled out a beautiful, long piece of corn-on-the-cob and I was literally so excited. She then proceeded to brush warm cream all over it, then sprinkle cheese all over the warm cream, and finished it off by sprinkling chili-powder. Bienvenidos a M閤ico.This week has been so busy. My companion and I were about to pass out due to stress in many instances. But we did it! Jaime and Gemma got married on Friday. Had their baptismal interview Friday night. Baptized Saturday night. And Confirmed on Sunday! Alexis as well was interviewed, baptized, and confirmed!
As we were leaving their marriage ceremony in Chilpancingo, Jaime was talking to me and said that he just felt so good. Like he had done something right. He then said, I cannot imagine how it will be when I am sealed in the temple with my family. Their family is very special to me. They have literally experienced so much trial but they are examples of people that the Lord prepares to receive the restored gospel. They will forever be my sassy friends here in Yautepec and I want to see them when they are sealed in the temple.Teaching Alexis has truly taught me patience. From the beginning he had a desire to know and prayed and received an answer that the church is true...but...he had been smoking from an early age. So we worked with him. Building his faith and helping him to let go. Little by little he was able to do and is now a member of the church as well!
I love my Savior so much. Just the way he tutors me and the experiences he gives me. It is just perfect when I look back at what has happened. During the two baptismal services I was just so happy. Just thinking about that moment when they leave the water. Clean. Pure. Ready to start anew again. I really feel love for these three new members of the church.
I know God lives. Everyday I want to feel closer to him. I want to be more like my Savior. I want so badly to be the best missionary that I can be. Teaching, loving, and serving others. Becoming what our Heavenly Father wants us to become is very difficult. It requires consecration. Sacrifice. Pure love and charity. And a lot of faith. I was reading a talk that said that knees bow long before minds bend. When the Lord tells us to give everything, we literally have to give everything. Real humility. Real submissiveness. And then we truly begin to grow.I want to close with a story about someone that I have truly begun to love because of his progression. I have talked about him before but his name is Raul Bahena. Right now we are teaching him and preparing him to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. Yesterday he told us that he wants to change his life. He is giving up smoking. He is building his faith in Christ. And he now goes to church every Sunday with his family. The gospel changes the lives of everyone. And through the service of others, it is changing mine.
I love you all.Elder Nielsen