Hello Family and Friends!
Winter has now finished. It's heating up in Mexico. At least where I'm at. I guess it never actually got cold in the first place...Just a random train of thought. I'm sweating like a pig as I write this.
Impressions of Mexico!
1) You can't truly become Mexican if you don't know how to dance the Salsa. You just can't. Every single ward activity that I have been in the members just break out into full on salsa dancing. Complete with the largest loudspeakers you have ever seen in your life.
2) Bargaining is an art that every good Mexican has to know because the people that work in the local markets are ruthless, especially to foreigners. Today my companion and I were looking at a hand-made leather bag that we saw in the market here in Iguala and we started up a conversation with the man selling the bag. He said that the price of the bag for those in Iguala is $550 pesos, or like $50 dollars which is the real price. But...he said that he sells the same exact bag in Playa del Carmen which is in Cancún...for $1,300 pesos...and only to innocent Gringos. I was shocked. So basically, the real price of the thing you want is about half the price of what they say it is. That is what I have learned.
Luz María accepted a baptismal date for February! We are so excited for her. She is just one of those people that you know has been prepared before you arrive. On Sunday we had an attendance of about 13 in Altamirano. Two of them being Luz María and her grandaughter. We ate with her afterwards and I asked her how she feels leaving church every week. She told me that she feels strengthened. She then clarified and said, "Not, physically, but inside of my soul." I told her that I feel the same. She taught me an important lesson. People that are prepared to hear the message of the gospel will just accept it. If they are honestly seeking after the truth, then they will go to church for the right reasons. They will go because they want to receive an answer from God, and not because of activities, to see friends, or to have another social group. We should go to be strengthened spiritually and to serve others. Imagine that. A person being able to feel the Spirit and feel strengthened even after attending a meeting that was far from perfect. It is because this is the Church of Christ. Even if two or three people showed up every week it would still be his church. That strengthened my testimony.
Here are a few quotes from the last General Conference that I wanted to share that have strengthened me this week.
"We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions." - Elder Holland
"Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter." - Elder Holland
"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before. This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls with His comforting words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change. My brothers and sisters, may we have a commitment to our Heavenly Father that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. We should not need to experience difficulties for us to remember Him, and we should not be driven to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. May we ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father. To do so, we must pray to Him and listen to Him every day. We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain. May His promise ever be our watchword: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives and loves us, that His Only Begotten Son lived and died for us, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light which shines through the darkness of our lives." - President Thomas S. Monson
I know that these words are true. They express how I feel and what I have experienced better than my own words. I know God lives. I know that Christ is the Savior of the world. His Atonement is available to each and every one of us. We all need to be healed. And it is through him that we can become whole. I know that these things are true. Now we just have to endure.
I love you all so very much and hope that you have an amazing week.