Hello Family and Friends!
Sometimes it is hard for me to express everything that I have learned throughout the week. So many things happen during the week of a missionary. I guess that is the part I love the most about being a missionary. Every day is unique. Every day I learn something new about myself and about others. There are highs and lows. There are spiritual and learning experiences if I pay close attention. I cannot believe that December is here again. Time is passing by very quickly.
Impressions of Mexico!
1) I would say that, at least a few times every single week, people ask me what time it is. Now, I know what you are thinking. That is not weird. The funny cultural part is that sometimes people walk right up next to you or from behind and grab or move your arm so they can see your watch and then ask you what time it is. That happened today. Or sometimes they literally shout out the question to you from the other side of the street. "Hey white boy, could you tell me what time it is?"
2) For most of the new members of the church, we are not the Elders, we are the Hermanos. In Mexico, there are two classifications for Christian churches. You are either Catholic, "Catolico" or a Brother, "Hermano". "Los Hermanos" are basically every other Christian church outside of the Catholic Church. So when slightly intoxicated men call at us in the street they usually say, "HERMANOS (in Spanish) Hey you dude come over here (in broken English)".
3) Other famous "English" phrases that every Mexican knows are..."How are you my friend?" "What are you doing here?" and...my favorite..."Do you speak a Spanish?"
A few days ago we met two men in the street in a pueblo outside of Altamirano named Coyuca de Catalán. One of them was completely intoxicated and started telling us about a ton of serious mistakes that he has made in his life. He told us that now he was ready to accept God and that he just wanted everything to go away. The other man we saw was walking in the street selling hammocks door-to-door. He told us that he had lived in the United States for almost his entire life, but, due to serious mistakes that he made, he was put into prison for 8 years and then brought back to Mexico. I started to reflect on these experiences and thought about how sad it is to suffer the consequences of sin and disobedience. Just like the great and spacious building must have seemed so attractive to those struggling to hold on tight to a rod of iron, people today are going off in droves, feeling their way towards that building instead keeping the commandments of God. Every single Sunday the churches are almost empty but the markets and stores are booming with customers. The breaking of the word of wisdom and the law of chastity have caused so much heartache in the lives of so many that I have come to love here that it is impossible to describe. And I have seen, firsthand, the prophecy being fulfilled that in the last days men's hearts will fail them. I have learned, on such a deep level, that disobedience, however freeing and fun it may seem in the moment, only brings pain, regret, bondage, and, ultimately, the destruction of our spirits. Obedience to the commandments and the honoring of covenants brings freedom, light, growth, and peace. God's path will never be as flashy as the world's path. But it is the only path that leads to eternal life.
I want to testify that God answers prayers and fasting. The answers do not come immediately. They do not come when we want them to. But they come when we need them most. We had been praying and fasting that God would lead us towards families, priesthood holders, and individuals that are ready to receive the gospel. And this Sunday we saw the miracle. A lot of part-member families and a few investigators attended church. I know that when we give all we have to give, then it is enough. When we exercise faith in God, he answers us. He is very active in our lives. I was so elated. There is nothing greater for a missionary than to see growth and progress in others. This is God's work. This is his church. Of that I am sure.
I know that Christ lives. I feel a lot of tender feelings for my Savior. It is still very humbling for me to be his representative on this earth. I know that his Atonement, his grace, and his mercy make up for what I lack after I give all that I have. I cannot wait for that moment. That moment when I will be able to see him again. Be in his presence. Feel that penetrating love he has woosh over me. To feel completely tried, pure, and proven. Ready to receive the greatest gift of all, eternal life. It is my goal to make it there. What an amazing opportunity I have to help others start on that same journey. I love being a missionary.
I love you all and hope you have an amazing week.