Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

Today, Luz Maria, that was baptized about a week ago, took Elder Mendez and I out to eat at a fish restaurant here in Altamirano. I love the way the Mexicans eat. It is so unique. On the table (remember, we will be eating fish) were the following condiments:

Ketchup, Hot Sauce, Jalape├▒os. My companion ordered a fried fish and they brought it out...bones, eyes, tail and all. The Holy Trinity, when it comes to eating in Mexico is: Chile, Lime, and Salt. Oh, we also ate the fish with tortillas of course. I'm going to miss the food here so much.

Impressions of Mexico!

1) People take their pills with Coke here. That just brought Coke-addict to a new level for me.

2) I love old Mexican people for a wide variety of reasons. Some of which I have already mentioned in other letters. Here are a few more reasons: When they gossip, they make sure EVERYONE can hear what they are saying. The 90 year-old Mexican women are the biggest flirts.  But what I love most of all is their humility. You can tell that they have gone through a lot during their lives. They live simple, simple lives and find joy and meaning in smaller things. The most important things to them are their family, their health, and having food to eat that day. As long as God provides that for them, they are the happiest people on the planet. I have learned a lot from observing their humility throughout my mission.

I'm doing fine. I'm actually really peaceful right now. We had sort of a tough week when it comes to missionary work but truly have been giving it all we have. I have faith that everything will be just fine here in Altamirano. When I got here, I saw what I thought was a disaster and I sort of just let the immensity of the problem and all the work that had to be done intimidate me. I have really learned the importance of attacking large-scale problems one step at a time. God works line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. If we let the gravity of all of our biggest problems overwhelm us, then we will never be effectual. Because we will be attacking the problem out of fear and doubt rather than faith and hope. I have learned that God already knows what he wants to be done and has already devised plans to get the work done. We just need to be willing participants in his plan. Willing to accept his will in all things and keep moving forward with faith. There is still so much that needs to be done in Altamirano. It is a place that desperately needs the gospel. But what has given me peace are the small successes. The small battles won. And the slow but continual progression. Even in moments when it seems like all progression has stopped I can still be at peace, knowing that if I am doing all that I can do with what I have, then it is enough. I am applying these same concepts to my life.  Everything will be alright. No matter what stage you are in, no matter how much or how fast you are progressing, you are fine. You are where God wants you to be if you are being obedient, faithful, and seeking to do what is right.

I read this week in The Acts about the martyrdom of Stephen. The book relates that Stephen was a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost. He did exactly what God asked him to do. In the end his testimony was not listened to, rejected, and he was killed for his belief in Christ.  What I learn from reading this story is how close Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are during moments of difficulty in the lives of those who follow him. Right before he died, Stephen had a vision of God and Jesus Christ and forgave those that had killed him. I know that even in the most difficult of situations, God, our loving Heavenly Father is near. His Son and his infinite Atonement are accessible. And he sends angels to protect us and keep us. That is something that I have learned in Altamirano as well.

I have also learned that there is so much joy to be found in taking in the uniqueness around you. Enjoying everything that God gives you day by day. I love my Father in Heaven so much. I trust him. I know he lives. The least I can do is continue striving to serve him with everything I have. I still have weaknesses and am so imperfect. But I am improving. I am tired but I am enduring. I am so grateful for my mission. I would not trade this experience for anything.

I love you all so very much.

Elder Nielsen

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