Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!
I realized just now that I have lived in Mexico for a year. Like I arrived in Mexico a year ago tomorrow. I love these people. As more and more time passes by, I have seen this love grow. And I know that it will continue to grow as I continue serving them.

Impressions of Mexico!
1) Teeth. I would say 5 out of every 10 people have straight-up gold or silver teeth. And not hidden teeth either. Like their two front teeth are completely gold or at least surrounded by gold.

2) Other fun facts about the church in Mexico: Catholic traditions still run deep with a lot of the members. One elderly member got up to give the opening prayer in sacrament meeting and started it off by saying: "Our father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name..." and I thought that we had just entered a session of Mass. The majority of the members say Doctrines and Covenants instead of Doctrine and Covenants. Instead of saying something like, "You cannot take the sacrament today" everyone here says, "You cannot take sacrament today".

3) Little kids often think that we are doctors, lawyers, or, if in a supermarket or store, that we work there.

4) The majority of the people here think that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church of the rich (principally because, well, our chapels and temples do stand out in comparison to the surrounding buildings). And they also pair the church up with the white boy walking around in the street in a dress shirt and tie.
This week for Elder Albizo and I was another solid week. We have been teaching a beautiful family of four and they have gone to church two weeks in a row! I do not think I mentioned this in my last letter, but the rules for baptism have changed in Mexico. Before, an investigator only had to attend church 2 or 3 times before they could be baptized. Now it is the law that they have to attend church 5 times in order to be baptized members of the church. But I am so excited for this family. It is the best when you teach families because the message of the gospel hits them more. That we can be eternal. That we can be sealed here on earth and that the relationships that we develop with our family members do not end with death. That we can be strengthened and fortified as families against the evils of this world through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are praying hard that they continue to progress towards baptism!

I feel like I mention this more and more often, but I just feel very content right now. I am tried daily and have challenges daily, but, I feel that my faith and confidence have grown a lot stronger in my Heavenly Father. I love the people I serve. And I know that I love them because I want them to make the right decisions so badly. I want them to be happy. There are so many people that I have met that are so afflicted. Oftentimes they seem fine, even happy, but when we start to teach them they burst into tears and start to tell us of the hard things that they have gone through in their lives. It is so hard sometimes to listen to them, feel that love and compassion for them, offer them the solution (the gospel, repentance, church attendance, scripture study), and then have them look at you like you are crazy or straight up reject what you just told them. You feel like a doctor offering medicine that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt will cure the patient and the patient refuses to accept it. But I have to accept the agency of others. I have to continue loving them and inviting them because that is what the Savior would do. I cannot imagine him ever giving up on one of us. I think right until the very end, he will continue to give us opportunities to repent and change. If I can feel this compassion and love for these people, I cannot even imagine how he feels for them, having already atoned for them. But missionary work is also filled with joy. When you see less-actives and investigators walk through the door at church for the first time, when your prayers are answered, when people tell you that they know the Book of Mormon and the church are true, when you see your investigators walk down the steps of the baptismal font, when you see them bear their testimonies in church, receive callings, and the priesthood, it fills you up. You feel the pure love of Christ in those moments. He loves each and every one of us so much and wants us to be with him eternally. I know it.
I have a testimony of this church. This is the church of Jesus Christ. It is his and he is the leader of it. How grateful I am for my Savior. To think about what he went through for me and for those I love...I cannot imagine it. But it is what keeps me going day by day. Everytime that I am tired or completely sapped of energy, I remember the Atonement, and then I keep going. I know God lives. We are his sons and daughters. We are eternal. He loves us. Trust in him and you will find the happiness and love that you are looking for.

Elder Nielsen

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