Friday, January 31, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

Hello everyone! I really enjoyed this morning. I enjoyed experiencing the uniqueness of everything that surrounds me. We had to take an 1 1/2 bus ride from Huetamo to Altamirano and then a 3 1/2 bus ride from Altamirano to Iguala. I saw/heard: A cute old couple getting onto the bus in the middle of nowhere. He had a cowboy hat on, the first four buttons of his shirt undone, a machete, and sandals. She had a shawl and one of those dresses from the 1940's. They were supporting each other as they got on the bus. I thought they were adorable. One young woman got on the bus and I realized that she had baby chicks in the bucket that she was carrying in her hand. Tons of men with very traditional Mexican mustaches. Banda (Mexican form of Country Music) literally blasting in the bus terminal. A rickety old bus that would have been nice about 35 years ago still in operation. Two old lady friends that were gossiping so loud that everyone on the bus could hear. And much, much more. I love this country. I love the people. The food. The culture. The language. The Mexican people will always hold a special place in my heart. Always.

This week my companion moved a box in our apartment in Altamirano and four little mice ran out of it and out the front door. I was seriously disturbed after that.

During our bus ride to Iguala this morning, I started thinking about that well known scripture in 2 Nephi Chapter 2 that says, "Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy." I started to really think about what type of "joy" that would be. I came to the conclusion that true joy comes when we are keeping the commandments and constantly striving to put ourselves in harmony with God. His plans and his will. 

I have had joyful moments this week. Every single time I followed the Spirit I felt peace and joy. I literally felt God guiding us to people that we needed to talk with and help. On Saturday an appointment we had fell through right before the meal that we were going to have with a member. So we decided to head over to where she lives and talk to a few people before the meal. When we got there we just began walking around the neighborhood and looking at the houses. We passed by a neon orange house and I noticed that there was a man sitting in the patio using one of those old typewriters. We passed by the house but decided to turn around and talk to him. We passed by and literally only had to say "Good Afternoon" and he invited us in. Turns out that he is an elementary school teacher and that he was updating report cards. He told us that he wanted to learn more about God because he did not know much. He was fascinated by the Book of Mormon. I learned that if we exercise faith in God, if we are still, if we let him easily work through us instead of forcing him to push us around because of our lack of belief or our lack of wanting to let him take control, that he will guide us and that at the end of the day, we will have done his will. We will feel peaceful because we worked in harmony with God instead of always battling against his will and thinking we know what's best. Comparing my agenda to what we actually did, I realized that his plans and what he wanted us to do were so different from I had originally planned to do. I trust him even more now.

I've decided that I want to feel that "joy" more often. There is so much beauty around me and there is so much joy to be found in the work that I have been called to do. I love my Heavenly Father. He loves each and every one of us so much. That love is evident in the Savior that he sent for us. It fills me with peace to know that even when we fall upon dark and difficult situations, that we can always be lifted up and restored again. Not just restored, but we will also improve. The greatest miracle for me is seeing the power of repentance and the Atonement take effect in people. I have seen so many examples of that in others and in myself. It is so fulfilling to know that I have been able to be an instrument in the hands of God. I am going to continue striving to be a more and more efficient tool each and every day of my mission and my life. In order to do it, I think we need to stop looking down in the mud and start looking up and realize all the wonderful things that surround us and the improvement, joy, beauty, and experiences that are to come. Then move forward with faith.

I love you all so much.

Elder Nielsen

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