Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

Honestly, there was a lot of the bitter with a few sweet moments here and there this week. It was one of the toughest weeks of my mission thus far. But I have also learned so much and will continue to learn from the experiences I have had this week. But first things first...

Impressions of Mexico!

1) They have this tradition in Mexico that on New Year's Eve, everyone has to eat one grape every second for the last twelve seconds of the year. As they are doing that, they have to make a wish for every single grape they eat. Sounds dangerous to me. I thought that was unique.

2) Sorry beforehand but this one is going to be a bathroom one. I don't know why. But it is very common here in Mexico to put the toilet paper you use in the bathroom in a trashcan right next to the toilet instead of flushing it. I personally think that that's disgusting. 

3) Another bathroom one (I have to say them as they come to mind). In a lot of bathrooms the only way to "flush" the toilet is to literally go fetch a pail of water hold it up high and dump it into the toilet bowl so that the bad water flushes down. This is usually the only way to unclog toilets as well. Just if you wanted to know. Be thankful for the things that you take for granted. You never know how much you have until you don't have it.

This week a less-active sister introduced us to a family that she thought could use our help. The parents have a 13 year-old boy that recently suffered a horrible motorcycle accident. He needed extensive surgery on his head and is expected to recover completely but since coming home has gone in and out of severe depression. He had been telling his parents that he just wants to die. He was scared of or did not want to talk to us but he did allow us to give him a priesthood blessing. As I laid my hands on his head, I felt the Spirit very strongly. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to receive a blessing from the Savior himself. I've been reading in Matthew this week about the miracles that the Savior performed. With almost every miracle or healing he performed, it is written that he laid his hands upon or touched the person that was sick. Through his priesthood and his perfect virtue and love, he healed these people of their infirmities both physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I can't imagine how much love and gratitude these people must have felt. Their hearts must just have been burning. I had so much love and compassion for this young man and my love is imperfect. The love of the Savior is perfect. I guess in one way or another, each and every one of us are broken and in need of healing. We need to be cleansed, purified, and healed through the power of the Savior's Atonement. It's easy to talk about it theoretically but our faith really gets put to the test when we need to put it into action. Everything starts with faith. If we believe that perfect healing and wholeness are possible then, with that faith, one day we will be perfectly whole and healed. That is the way faith works. The trick is developing that type of faith.

We need to trust that God is listening to our prayers as well. I understand completely that sometimes we feel as if they are not being heard or that they are not being answered. I think those are moments when we are too focused on what we want and not on what is best for us. I believe that God blesses us richly. But there are moments when he wants us to learn something from giving us just enough to get by. We learn complete and total dependence on him. He has a great plan laid out for each and every one of us. He is trying to save each and every one of us. He is trying to work through the layers of our heart that have been hardened by life. Sometimes that requires hard and humbling experiences. Sometimes it is a slow and steady process. Sometimes it hits us so quickly that we are not even expecting it. But he is preparing the way for us to make to it the celestial kingdom with our families. There is no easy way around it. If we want it and if we believe that we can achieve it, then we are going to have to put everything on the line for him. We are going to have to be patient as he works with us. We are going to have to trust in him and his Son's atoning sacrifice completely. We need to enjoy every blessing he gives us. We need to love and serve others. We need to be purified and clean. Sometimes it is hard but it is so gratifying. This world causes us to move farther and farther away from his glory and perfection. He on the other hand is putting every plan in place to pull us back. He listens to us. He loves us. He cares. He is anxiously engaged.

Things have gotten a little heated security-wise in our area so we are going to have to be in Iguala doing divisions with other companionships for two weeks waiting for things to calm down. I was very disappointed when I heard. I am still searching for what God wants me to learn in these two areas. We were experiencing miracles this week and new investigators were coming out of the woodwork, but then comes the trial. I'm going to trust that everything is as God would have it be and that everything will be fine.

I love you all so much and hope that you have an amazing week.

Elder Nielsen

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