Monday, April 8, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!

Well General Conference was amazing! I have talked a little about Elder Becerra (his last name translated into English means fatted calf...and he is not the smallest of fellows) before but we have really become good friends here in the mission field. We are both training here in Yautepec (he is in the ward, and I am in the branch). He is basically fluent in I made him sit in the office of the secretary in the chapel and watch all of the sessions of General Conference in English with me...maybe I did not. But I was definitely inspired. I want to do as the General Authorities said and go and be both a hearer and a doer of the word now. Apply what I learned to my life and be a better disciple of my Savior Jesus Christ. But first...

Impressions of Mexico!

1) Well, the sun has gotten so intense here that I have started to lather myself with sunscreen every morning before we leave. Literally, at the height of the heat during the day, my feet feel like they are slow-churning routissere chickens inside of my shoes.
2) One of the delicacies here in Mexico is literally burnt chicken. We walk past a store every now and again that just has full-on chickens being burned and roasted until they are charred. And then people actually buy them and eat them.
3) I have had a few interesting animal experiences this week. First, we had to exterminate an entire army of cockroaches that had invaded our bathroom. Second, when we were taking out the trash I felt something on my leg and as I tried to brush it off I looked down and noticed that it was a straight-up salimander-looking lizard. I did not handle that one as well as I would have hoped.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve the Mexican people. I really have gained, through many different and small experiences, a love for them. They are so sweet, so quirky, so funny, and so willing to give whatever they have in order to help the people that they love. We could all learn a little by getting to know their culture.

Elder Lopez is doing great and is definitely settling into the life of a missionary. He just lacks a lot of confidence in himself and so feels a little shy and nervous when talking to people. I try to be encouraging and supportive and tell him that he can, basically, by making him do it. I give him the opportunity to lead frequently in planning, teaching, and finding people. I want him to feel like he can do it. Like he can do everything that is required of a missionary. I am doing my best to be a good trainer!

We both had a really cool spiritual experience this week. We have been teaching a less-active family named the Bahena Family. They are all baptized and confirmed, and are a family of 6. The mom and the children have been coming back to church again but the dad, Raul, has been dragging his heals. This week we had planned to visit them in the nightime and had another appointment with a family that we are teaching earlier. We had planned to show this family the DVD The Testaments to help their faith grow concerning the Book of Mormon. But surprisingly, their DVD player, which works completely well, would not load the movie. Well, we taught them without the movie and did not really think much of it. Later when we arrived at the home of the Bahena Family, I had the distinct impression to play the movie. So we watched it with them. After the movie finished, and they turned on the lights, both Raul and his wife Ofelia were in tears. He told us that the night before, he had dreamed the exact scenes that are in the movie of the Atonement of Christ. He said that he was ready to start changing his life and live in accordance with the teachings of the Savior.

How grateful I am for the role the Holy Ghost plays in missionary work. We would have never had that experience if we had not listened to him and done as he had said. The more time passes away in my mission the more grateful I have become for the sweet, peaceful, and loving presence of this Spirit in my life. I crave after it. It is so noticeable when he is not with me. I strive to literally always have him to be with me, because with him, I can do all things, and without him, I am nothing.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission. As the weeks and months go by, my labor becomes less and less about me and more and more about helping others grow their faith in Christ and his restored gospel. When I think about others, and their needs, and deny myself of what I feel like I want, then I am truly happier and learn so much more about myself. I love putting everything I know and everything I have learned into action as well. Teaching, edifying, serving, and uplifting when I can. I have felt, very strongly this week the gravity of my imperfections, how far away from the mark I really am. But I have also felt, through very sweet and tender experiences and feeling that my Father in Heaven is so proud of me. And that he loves me. So much. I just know that I am doing the right thing. That I am meant to be here during this time in my life. And that no matter what happens, it is worth it. Every hour, every minute, every experience both good and bad, it is all worth it.

I know that Jesus is the Christ. He lives! He loves me. I testify of him daily. The power of his Atonement and the absolute alleviation of pain and suffering and guilt we can experience if we repent. I know, beyond any doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ here on the earth. I know the Book of Mormon and Bible are the word of God. I have so much love for the Restored Gospel.

I love you all. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your letters, packages, prayers, and thoughts. I hope that you are loving others and that you feel loved in return.

Elder Nielsen

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