Monday, November 11, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!

I cannot remember if I have told you all, but the specific part of Guerrero/Michoácan that I am living in has been given the name "Tierra Caliente" or basically "Hot Land" or "Hot Earth". In keeping with this theme, I will relate the following impressions in...

Impressions of Mexico!

1) Showering here in cold water is not a problem at all. It is actually one of the most joyous parts of the day. The not so fun part is that within about 2 minutes after the shower, you begin to start sweating profusely and feel the need to shower again.

2) Sometimes when we cannot take it anymore, we literally change our walking route just so we can walk in front of the banks or a department store here in Altamirano just so we can enjoy the blast of air conditioning that hits us when the sliding doors open as we walk in front of them.

3) People have made comments that during the summer you would be crazy to leave your house during the middle of the day because you literally feel like you are in the middle of a pressure cooker....and I feel like that now...and it's "Winter".

So yeah. It is hot here. Really, really hot. I have heard that our house in Huetamo is one of the few that has air-conditioning which made me content though. So, Elder Millán and I will be stationed in Huetamo, but also traveling to Altamirano two days every week in order to help out the branch as well. That will be in addition to our weekly trips to Iguala (about four hours away) for the district meeting every Monday. So yes, we will be moving around like ping-pong balls in the greater part of Guerrero and Michoácan but we are up for the challenge!

I have learned a lot, being here in Altamirano, of the importance of music. In Doctrine and Covenants Section 25, in a revelation given to Joseph Smith the prophet but directed towards his wife Emma, the Lord said that the song of the righteous is like a prayer unto him and will be answered with a blessing upon their heads. I love that verse. I love the hymns of the church. It has been a fulfilling experience for me to play the small keyboard in our little house of prayer for the members of the branch. Even though I make mistakes while playing and even though the members sing so loudly and so off-key that it is not even funny, I still feel the spirit very strongly. Yesterday we sang the hymn about Joseph's first prayer. "How how lovely was the morning....” It helped me feel even greater love and appreciation for him, as a prophet, and for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Hymns are prayers for me as well. Sometimes singing a hymn expresses what we wish to say to God better than words can. In my companionships, I have always loved starting off our studies and weekly planning sessions with hymns. Also, at the end of the day, if I have a little time, I like to sing one or two hymns in order to feel the spirit and the peace it brings. So sing. When you go to church, sing loud. Sing reverently. And pay attention to the words. If your heart is in the right place, then you are offering up a prayer to our Heavenly Father.

I have also learned here in Altamirano that there are no excuses to not do the right thing. There is a sister here in the branch named Sister Pérez. She lives in a little ranch about 4 hours away from Altamirano and just does not have the means to come to church on a regular basis. This sister also cannot read or write. We ate with her about two times in the last few weeks and I just felt so much love and admiration for her. Every time she comes to Altamirano, she goes to church. Because she cannot read, she bought all of the scriptures on CD and listens to them over and over again every day. She also listens to and has memorized her favorite hymns. She loves God and has a strong testimony of the church. I love people like that. That keep their covenants despite adversity. That love God and seek to serve him and learn of him always. They are his elect on this Earth.

I cannot express what being a missionary has meant to me. I cannot even begin to describe or write about all the things I have seen, felt, and learned. The most important thing I have learned is this. God lives. He is real. He is active in our lives. He loves us. He is full of both justice and mercy. He desires to save all of his children. Christ lives. His life, the miracles he performed, his teachings, his Gospel, are all very real. He performed the Atonement for us. He was resurrected. He broke the bonds of death and hell. There is strength to be found in recognizing that he is our Master, Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. Then we need to repent fully and completely and change. The Holy Ghost calls us to change. Testifies boldly of the Father and the Son. And is always with us when we need help, comfort, and protection. The Church of Christ is restored and is on Earth once more. Priesthood power is here again. The power to seal families, baptize, heal, and preach the gospel is here again. The Book of Mormon is true. That book carries a special power and a changing influence to those that read it with real intent, having faith in Christ. I am forever grateful for my Savior. For his love and compassion and patience towards me and towards his children. He is inviting us to enjoy eternal life. His love is infinite and we can enjoy it eternally if we will exercise faith in him, repent, be baptized and confirmed, and endure to the end of our lives. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all so very much. I hope you have an amazing week.

Elder Nielsen

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