Hello Family and Friends!
So...I am sitting here writing you all from Iguala, Guerrero! I know. Last week I was close to Cuernavaca, this week I am in Guerrero, my life as a missionary is crazy sometimes. But we will be heading out to Altamirano tomorrow to begin our assignment in the branch! I am having trouble adjusting to the heat here in Guerrero again. I had forgotten all about it. It has been almost a year since I have been here. But I am very excited!
Impressions of Mexico!
1) This week, while peacefully writing in my journal at the end of the day, I suddenly looked up and saw the biggest scorpion I have ever seen running down the wall in front of my face. 5 minutes, a sandal, a church dress shoe, and lots of courage were what it took to finish him off. Everyone in Mexico has been bitten at least one time by a scorpion.
2) My companion, Elder Millan, is from Argentina. He talks funny. He is really funny (he is Jack Fixa in the form of an Argentinian missionary). And he tells funny jokes. Everyone here in Mexico believes that those from Argentina are super prideful. With that in mind, listen to the joke that my companion told me this week.
Elder Millan: "Hey, Elder Nielsen, do you know which country is closest to the heavens?"
Elder Nielsen: The United States (wanting to make him mad).
Elder Millan: No.
Elder Nielsen: Argentina (thinking that this would be the answer).
Elder Millan: No.
Elder Nielsen: Okay I give up, what is it?
Elder Millan: Paraguay, because it is the country closest to Argentina.
I think the Mexicans hit the nail on the head with their description of the Argentinians.
So, I had a pretty amazing week. Made even more amazing by general conference. I do not know if I have mentioned this before but my view of general conference has changed so dramatically since being in the mission field. I remember being here in Iguala, a year ago, listening to the messages of our Prophet, the Twelve Apostles, and other church leaders and just not wanting it to end. Like I craved it more than anything else. This general conference was so spiritually impactful for me. There were a number of talks that were pure direct revelation for me. They made me cry and feel so peaceful. The spirit was so strong. The spirit testified to me so strongly that those men and women are chosen of God and set apart to lead us in these latter-days. How wonderful it is to know that God has restored his church here on the earth again. That what they just said are words directly from the mouth of our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Like Elder Hales said in his talk, the best part of conference is what comes after, or basically, applying what we have learned. I plan on striving my best to do that.
I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be a missionary. I know that Christ lives. He is the Christ. I have reflected a lot this week on the process of repentance and the importance and vitality of the Atonement in our lives. This culminated in a number of talks given in General Conference. We all make mistakes right? We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Satan, well, his goal is to try to shame us. Make us live in the past. Live and relive everything that we have done and said. Over and over and over again. He uses guilt and shame as a mechanism to make us weak, depressed, without energy, and without hope to improve or become better. His doctrine is a doctrine of complacency, despair, and shame.
Now let me tell you what I have learned. I have listened to that doctrine. I believed that doctrine. But I confused that doctrine with the true doctrine of repentance. Like it was said in general conference by Elder Scott, repentance is not a punishment. It is a beautiful change and transformation. It means that we turn our heart, our desires, our actions, and our will to God. We humbly kneel down and recognize our reliance on the Savior and his Atonement. We recognize that we cannot fully be healed unless we submit oursleves to him and we also recognize and believe that full and complete healing can and will occur. God is not an impartial or a changeable God and neither is the process of repentance. If we repent fully, if we come unto Christ with that sacrifice that he requires of us, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we can be fully healed. I know that it is sometimes hard to believe. I know that sometimes we feel that we do not deserve to be forgiven or that the Atonement only covers us to a certain point. We do not want to forgive ourselves sometimes. I testify, so strongly, that repentance is real. It is liberating. It is freeing. There is so much peace and hope to be found in change. We can have an expèrience like Enos had, our sins and feelings of guilt and shame can be washed away and replaced with peace. I am a witness of these things. I know these things are true. I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of others. It is so wonderful.
I know God lives. Christ is his son. I am about to get to the point in 3 Nephi when he arrives here on the American continent. My favorite part. When I truly think about him, and as my life goes on with all of its experiences, my love and appreciation for him grows deeper. It makes me very emotional most of the time. I know he lives. I have felt it. I know that I am on the errand of the Lord. I will ever be grateful for the power and strength I receive through the Atonement and this gospel. He lives!
I love you all so much.