Hello Family and Friends!I cannot believe that I will complete a year as a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this Friday! Literally time has gone by so fast. I am grateful for every moment because every moment has taught me something. I am learning how to become more and more like my Savior every single day. And I would not trade that for anything.
Impressions of Mexico!1) Due to the absolute love the people have here for soccer, a common thing that missionaries do as they walk through the street is practice their "fancy" soccer moves with small rocks and pebbles. Well...this week...when I tried to kick a small rock it ended up hitting the front fender of a parked car. There was no damage...but what made it embarrassing was that it was the car of the guy walking right behind us. Also, my companion was trying some "fancy" soccer moves later in the week, kicked a rock, that hit a little kid walking by in the leg. He gave us a nasty look. We have decided to cease all fancy soccer tricks.
2) There is a famous bottled salsa here in Mexico called Valentina that they put on everything (it is like Ketchup in the U.S.A). I can proudly say, that after much struggle, I finished my first bottle!
3) My companion complains about the stereotypes that people in the United States have about Mexico (by the way, everyone here thinks that Americans are pure white, blonde, with blue eyes, sitting on their couches, fat, eating hamburgers, pizza, and hot dogs). Literally we were walking down the street and he was saying that the sombreros, gun slinging men riding horses with large moustaches, etc. are just stereotypes. In that exact moment...A man, with a large sombrero, huge moustache, riding a horse, herding cattle, passed by us. Enough said.
4) I cannot remember if I have said this before (it has been a year after all). But small, little stores are so common here. If you want to start a business, you start a store. They are basically just full of junk food and Coke (I am not complaining) and there about 3 in every single street.
5) Businesses are almost always connected to homes. Like, everyone has their business in the front room and either upstairs or in the rooms behind is their home.We had another baptism this week! Her named is Sindi (I know. She reprimanded me when she found out that I was writing her named like the normal "Cindy" in my planner). And she is 16 years old. She was really just one of those investigators that was a pleasure to teach because she was prepared to receive the gospel long before we arrived. Her faith is so strong. She accepted to live every commandment in the first lesson and has such a strong testimony of the Restoration. During her baptism I felt the spirit so strongly. I felt the sacredness and the importance of what was happening. Really, baptismal services for missionaries are moments of pure joy. I have really come to love the people I teach. I love this little branch I am in. My mission is teaching me how to love complete strangers in the way the Savior loves each and every one of us.
My companion calls me Latin now and I take that as a compliment. I mean, I eat chili jalapeño without problems now and I think banda music is catchy. I truly love the culture here. The people are so humble. There are so many people here that live in circumstances that I had never seen before my mission but they are so happy. The Lord has humbled them and they are so prepared to receive the gospel. I want to be more like them, and I think that is why I love them so much. Humble, content, reliant on God, and so grateful for everything that I receive from him. I am so excited to be here for another year!I have a testimony that God lives. The more I have dedicated myself to becoming more like my Savior and serving him with everything I have, the happier I feel. God has taught me a lot of patience this week. I am learning how to be strong and immovable during trials and challenges. Christ lives. He gave his life for me. And for each and every one of us. I have felt his love so strongly. When I feel weak, when I feel inadequate, I picture him with me. Guiding me and putting me with specific people and specific situations that will help me grow and become the man that I am supposed to be. It is through his Atonement that I can return to live with my Heavenly Father again, sealed in an eternal family. I just feel very grateful. Very happy. And very content.
I love you all so very much.Elder Nielsen