Monday, December 23, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas! We had our annual Christmas Conference with President and Sister Kusch this week, in the which, every single district had to present a funny sketch. There are a whole heck of a ton of sister missionaries arriving in the mission field (there are actually some districts now that have 6-8 sisters and 2 Elders), so the name of our sketch was, "What is President Kusch going to do with all the sister missionaries?" Just to let you know, we are one of the few all-Elder districts left in the mission. There were skirts, high voices, Katy Perry-like wigs, crying, and much, much more. It was a hit! We also played White Elephant. I won a ceramic baby Jesus from a nativity set that's worth $95 pesos. It was a success!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) We had our branch Christmas Party this week. Oh my heck. A ginormous sound system. Live banda music (the singer was Cuban?). Piñata. Members salsa dancing. 30 people. It was insane.

2) The bells on top of the Catholic Cathedral in Altamirano were playing Jingle Bells this week. I thought that was festive.

3) In México the people actually gather together as families more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day. They basically don't do anything on Christmas Day because the big day for kids to receive presents is called the Day of the Three Wise Men which happens during the first week of January. So instead of asking Santa Clause to bring them presents, little kids here ask for the Three Wise Men to bring them presents. Weird right?

4) Common Christmas things from the United States that don't exist here: Candy Canes, Real Christmas Trees, Ornaments, etc. 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve and be among the Mexican people. I really love them a lot. I'm sad that this is the last Christmas that I get to spend here. My love for them continues to grow each and every day. When you get to know them they are so funny, quirky, and sincere. They would give anything for family and friends. They are a people that have gone through a lot of trials and hardships and find the strength to keep going and remain strong. I've learned so much from being among them. I wish to be more like them in a lot of ways. I don't know. I've just felt a lot of love for them this week.

I've also seen a lot of unecessary suffering here in Mexico. My eyes have been truly opened to the sweet and the bitter. Good, and extreme evil. A lot of people that I have come to love have suffered a lot for the unrighteous actions and decisions of others. It breaks my heart when I hear their stories. It reminds me of what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

We are in the last days. God is gathering in his chosen sons and daughters. He is fighting, harder than ever I think, to bring his gospel to all that will listen and accept it. Yes, evil is raging in the world. Yes, there is so much darkness. Yes, more and more people are making incorrect choices and moving away from God's light and love. But I have such a strong testimony that God's light is so much stronger than the evil of the world. His love penetrates. His Spirit enlightens the mind, soul, and body and causes men to change their lives. His gospel unites broken families and broken hearts. If we accept his gospel we can be healed. The Atonement of Christ provides that healing power. 

I have so much love for my Savior. Through him I know that we can become pure again. Clean. Whole. Completely aligned with God and his will. He is the reason why I keep going. I can't imagine my life without a knowledge of his Atonement. It is a beautiful thing to have the opportunity to represent him. I still have so much to improve. But that is what the gospel does. It gives us the tools to improve. I testify that he lives and that the love he has for us is perfect and unchanging.

I love you all so much. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. 

Elder Nielsen

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