Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

I found out that I will continue serving here in Altamirano for at least 6 more weeks! I am here with my new companion Elder Carvajal!  He's from the state of Veracruz here in Mexico (my streak of all Mexican companions minus one Argentinian continues untarnished) and has about 4 months in the mission field. This week Elder Méndez finished his mission. I was sad to see him go. He has been one of my favorite companions and helped me out a lot here in the branch. So that's just about all the news from Altamirano!

Impressions of Mexico!

1.) Here in Altamirano, instead of saying "friend" or calling someone by their real name, they just shout "Oye, Primo!" Which basically means "Hey, Cousin!" They are never actually cousins. They just call all of their friends their cousins. That's a little weird to me.

I've felt an even deeper appreciation for the Atonement in my life this week. It is a literal power that we can call upon to strengthen us during moments of weakness. I promise you all that if you pray, during a moment of weakness, and ask for the grace and mercy of the Savior's Atonement to strengthen you so that you do not keep going down the same old destructive roads and paths in your life, that in that moment, you will be strengthened. I don't know how to describe it. It is a literal energy that flows through you and helps you during your moment of need. I have also learned this week that by shifting our minds towards others and their needs during moments when we are tempted to zero-in on ourselves and our own needs, we will experience happiness, peace, and greater understanding. I think that God is so willing to bless his children with greater strength to face their own challenges when they are willing to and actually serve others.

Things are going well here in Altamirano. We are struggling a little to help our investigators progress but I feel like a big part of my mission here is to help fortify and strengthen the members and the branch so that missionary work can flourish here in the future. I am content with the experiences that my Heavenly Father has given me. It is enough for me. I feel peaceful because I feel like I have strived to do my best throughout my mission, in both the good and bad moments.  I know that when we do all we can do, that is when grace comes in.  That is when God blesses us from on high. There are so many people that just want answers and blessings without putting in any effort on their part. It just doesn't work like that. We have to be willing to make the first move. Dedicate ourselves, humble ourselves, and work hard. In that process, God refines us, shapes us, and molds us into the men and women that he wants us to become.

I know that the power of the Holy Ghost is real. I feel so grateful to have his presence in my life. He is the force behind everything. He changes people's hearts. He guides us to the place where we need to be. He comforts us, helps us feel the Father's love, and assures us.  He gives us hope of eternal life. I know that Christ is real. The Book of Mormon is true. The Atonement is available to everyone that wishes to be healed. We can all do our part a little better. We can all be a little better. We can all improve. We should be constantly seeking for that. But also be content with what we have been given.

I love you all so very much. I'll let you know how everything is going with my new companion next week!

Elder Nielsen

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