Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!

Happy New Year! It's weird that 2013 is coming to an end. I have been a missionary for the entire year. It has been an amazing blessing. I am so grateful. So much has happened. So many good and difficult moments. Time really does pass by quickly. That's why we should do everything in our power to help others, love others, and serve them. Serving a mission has really opened me up to this concept. Before, like most people my age, I was pretty much solely focused on myself and what I wanted to be, do, and become. As a missionary, I have gotten to know so many people from all walks of life. I have learned to love them and feel compassion for them. I have learned how to open myself up to them and teach and testify to them of things that are very precious to me and that are very close to my heart. How empty my life would have been if I had not served a mission. I am so grateful.

Impressions of Mexico!

1) Life in Altamirano and Huetamo reminds me a lot of small-town American life. Tons of kids riding around in the back of pick-up trucks. Rodeo rings. No form of normal entertainment. More dirt roads than paved roads. One long "main street" that has all of the biggest stores and where all the "city life" is at. I love it.

2) Mexican street markets are so funny. People sell whatever they can find. But literally anything. And they literally shout at you trying to get you to look at their merchandise instead of the other guy's merchandise. People say that if somebody steals something from you of value that you can go to the street market that week and there is a 99% chance that you will find it there.

This week I was studying 3 Nephi 17. I felt the Spirit very strongly. I think the part that impressed me the most was the desire that the Nephites had to be in the presence of the Savior a little longer. I imagine that the Spirit that they felt was so powerful and wonderful. It gave them energy. They felt his love. His perfect love. They felt healing. They wanted to be with him. They wanted him to tarry with them and be in their presence. I know that people can change. Feeling these feelings of the Spirit soften and change the hearts of those that are seeking after the truth. We have some investigators right now that feel like that they can't change. They are unwilling or too afraid to start keeping the commandments and change their lives. The task seems too great to them or the change too radical and impossible. It is possible. Everything is possible through the power of the Atonement. The Savior knows us perfectly. Our successes and strengths. As well as the most embarrassing, difficult, and horrible that we have within us. The virtues and the vices. The part of us that is destined to become like our Father in Heaven and the weaknesses that would bind us to the misery of sin, regret, and pain. With all of that intimate knowledge about each and every one of us, he still loves us. That is perfect love. That love is the only type of love that has the power to truly change men and women. There is no other power or influence on this earth that has that type of power. Because of the Atonement, we can change.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. Being here in Altamirano and Huetamo has taught me to be more humble and teachable. Sometimes we think we know the way. That we know what we need. When, in fact, it is God that knows what we need. And sometimes we just need to be willing to accept his will. It is so hard sometimes but it is the only way to feel peace during difficult moments. I have also felt a lot of joy. I love Mexico. I love the people here. I love the culture, the food, the different accents and words, and the love that they express. I love it when people make correct choices. I feel happy. I feel joy when they walk into the chapel, when they read the Book of Mormon, when they begin praying, or when they begin to keep the commandments. They literally change. They are happier. They have more light. I love seeing them enter into the waters of baptism. I love seeing them express small and simple acts of faith. It strengthens my own faith. This is Christ's church on earth. His love is everywhere and in everything. How grateful I am to be able to contribute a small part in the building his kingdom in the country of Mexico.

I hope you all have an amazing week. And again, Happy New Year!

Elder Nielsen

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