Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

So we got the call on Saturday. I'm going SUPER Altamirano! Altamirano and Huetamo will both be open with a pair of missionaries. Elder Gonzalez is going to stay in Huetamo and I will be serving as the district leader in Altamirano. My new companion's name is Elder Mendez. He's from San Luis Potosi, Mexico and this will be his last change in the mission field!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) So, this week Elder Gonzalez and I were walking in a famous grocery store in Mexico that is called Soriana. We were in the meat section. Now, what would you normally expect to find in the meat section in a grocery store? Chicken, beef, etc. Well, we saw...not one, not two, but three straight-up ginormous pig heads wrapped in plastic wrapping complete with snout, ears, and eyes. They were just frozen pig heads. We also saw chicken feet, various intestines, and cow stomach. I love Mexico.

2) In one of our many bus rides this week on our way to a small pueblo called San Lucas, we got into a small fender-bender with the car in front of us. What surprised me is that no one reacted. Like the car in front of us didn't even stop. The bus driver didn't stop. Everyone just continued on as if nothing had happened. Weird.

3) I don't think I've ever described the difference between Mexican and American tacos before. Let me just say that our perception of a taco in the United States is way off track. A real taco includes two super small tortillas that are fried just a little in oil so that they are crisp (hard taco shells do not exist) and usually include some type of meat that is chopped up into really small pieces. The only thing that I have seen people put into their tacos are: onion, cilantro, salsa, and pineapple. Tacos are my favorite. They usually only eat them at night and there is usually at least one little taco stand in every single street.

I am so convinced that if we treat people with love that everything can change. This week we visited a less-active named Dalia here in Huetamo. Every single time that we invited her to church she would just always say that it was impossible for her to go. But this time that we visited her was different than any other visit that we had had in the past. We started by just talking and getting to know her better. I truly felt love for her as a person and sincere interest in her life. Then we started reading in the scriptures about the importance of reading the scriptures, praying, and partaking of the sacrament. She opened up to us and told us how she had lost a baby a few years ago in a miscarriage. Through her tears she told us that she felt peaceful. That maybe she wasn't ready to have a child in that moment but that she's grateful that God has been watching out for her family. I learned a lot from this experience. When we teach and visit others, it should always be done in the way the Savior would have done it. With love. Compassion. Patience. And real interest. I also learned a lot from her attitude. That even though she had passed through such a hard trial, she continued to trust in God and that trust produced peace.

I decided to read a little this week in the beginning of Exodus. The story of Moses taking the children of Israel out of Egypt. There was one part in particular that impressed me. After all of the plagues and curses that the Egyptians had experienced, God asks Pharaoh a question through his servant Moses, "How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?" Later on, after refusing to let the children of Israel go yet again, the servants of Pharaoh ask him, "How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?" I have taught and visited with many less-actives and investigators that just refuse to accept the gospel in their lives. They could be passing through the worst trials, and some of them are, but they refuse to start keeping the commandments and live the gospel. These questions that God and the servants of Pharaoh asked really enlightened me. How long will we keep making the same mistakes or keep going down the same paths that we know will not make us happy in the long run? I know that God loves his children. I comprehend that love a little more each and every week. It is perfect. It is always there no matter what we do. But he corrects and chastens those that he loves so that they can be better than they were before. I know that by living the principles of the gospel that we can save ourselves from a lot of pain and regret. God shouldn't have to humble us like he did with Pharaoh in order to get our attention.

I love being a missionary. My life has changed because of it. I'm not the same person I was before. I have such a strong love for the Mexican people. I have such a strong love for the gospel. I know that God is our eternal father. I also know that his son Jesus Christ knows us perfectly and loves us perfectly. Imagine that. He knows everything about you. Down to the very last thought. Both the good and bad. And he loves you unconditionally. That is the type of pure love that helps people to change.

I love you all very much.

Elder Nielsen

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