Hello Family and Friends!Well we got a surprise on Saturday! Changes. Elder Millan is off to Cuautla and I will be staying in Huetamo and Altamirano. My new companion's name is Elder Gonzalez (still haven't met him yet, I'll let you know a little bit about him next week). I was actually really bummed out. Elder Millan was a really good companion. I cannot believe that it's almost Christmas! My last Christmas in México :0 The fiestas for Christmas officially start today in México. You know the drill. Piñatas. Loud Music. Closing down entire streets. It is going to be a good Christmas.
Impressions of México!1) The Mexican people do not know how to say no. They are literally the nicest and most polite people that I have ever met. For example, we knock on a door, they answer and say "Thank you very much, but can you come back another day, it's just that I'm so busy right now." Now, young missionaries get confused and think that they really want you to come back. But in reality, phrases like that and others like that are code for "Not Interested".
2) Branches are funny sometimes. The members in Huetamo have been preparing a choir for when President Kusch comes. They were thinking about singing "Whom Shall I Serve". Now. What we are used to in church special musical numbers is reverent singing accompanied by piano, violin, etc. But no. Not in Huetamo. They literally whipped out the acoustic guitar and sang so loudly while rocking from side to side. I enjoyed it.
3) The sign outside of the house of prayer in Huetamo that says the name of the church is mispelled. In Spanish, Jesus Christ is Jesucristo. We are the Church of Jesuscristo. As a result, Elder Millan and I say that our church is almost true in Huetamo.
I have been reading and studying the general conference talks this week during my personal studies. There were two talks that particularly struck me. In his talk, President Monson taught a lot about how to overcome and persevere through the trials and difficulties of life. He told the story about how he went to visit one of his friends that was 105 years old and was about to die. He was completely blind, could not hear, and was confined to a small room in a nursing home. His wife and two of his eight children had already passed away as well. He asked to be with "Tommy" Monson before he passed away. When President Monson arrived and made it known that he was there (this is the part when I got emotional), his friend got excited and put his hands on his head, asking for a priesthood blessing. After the blessing was given, his friend said, "Thank you, my Heavenly Father has been so good to me." He then made the comment that instead of focusing on what he was lacking, he thanked God for his many blessings. Elder Scott, in his talk about the Atonement, made the comment that the surest way to protect ourselves from going back to who we were before and being enticed by the same temptations and old habits is by dedicating yourself to serving others.
During this Christmas season, and for the rest of my life, that is what I want to focus on. I made a personal goal that everytime things get hard, or overwhelming, or seemingly impossible, that instead of complaining or wondering "Why me?" I will say "Thank you. You have been so good to me," and start recognizing the blessings that I have received during the day. Our Heavenly Father gives us so much. He gives so many good gifts daily. Sometimes we just don't recognize them because we are so caught up in what we lack. I want to recognize all of the good gifts that he gives me daily. I think the greatest gift that he gives me, each and everyday, is the opportunity to be a missionary. A representative of his glorious and perfect Son. My Savior and Redeemer. And for the opportunity to work in the work of salvation. I love my Father in Heaven so much. He really has been so good to me. And to each and every one of us. His love is perfect. We may look at ourselves and see old baggage, trash, incompleteness, and imperfection. But he sees what we can become if we cleanse ourselves through the Atonement, make and keep covenants, and then strive to endure to the end. Exalted. Eternal. Home in his presence once again.I share my testimony, and testify, that Christ lives. I have seen the strength of his Atonement in my life personally. It has given me the strength to do things and become what I never thought I could do or become. It is a literal power and energy that enters into both body, mind, and spirit if we ask for it humbly. The love and timing of our Father in Heaven is perfect. I think a lot of the time we are impatient for change or progress. I am learning that patience and humility are usually what he wants us to learn. We should be content with where we are if we are keeping the commandments and our covenants and striving to be like the Savior. Because it is exactly where he wants us to be. He is preparing us for eternal life. He is preparing us for perfect purity and love. Enjoy the process. Accept his will. When we do, that is when we will start to feel peace. And when you feel like you can't anymore, remember, please remember that the Savior knows you personally. He knows how to succor the sick and afflicted, heal the soul, provide strength to the weary, and give love and support to those who honestly seek after him. Keep moving forward.
This church is true. Every single day God allows me to have experiences that strengthen my testimony. Missions are difficult. But I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve.Merry Christmas!