Monday, April 14, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

Heat, heat, and more heat. The wind is hot. The water that comes out of the pipe is hot. Rooms feel like ovens. My face is always some shade of pink or red. It must be Altamirano in April!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) So, "Spring Break", in Mexico, is called Semana Santa or Holy Week. But this is the week that EVERYONE goes on vacation. Literally, on Sundays usually there are tons of people walking around in the market and streets of Altamirano but yesterday it was as if we were in a ghost town. This is also a huge week for the Catholic Church here in Mexico. There are literally parties and family gatherings almost daily.

2) As we were walking down the street this week we saw a huge truck packed to the brim with goats (normal) and a man sweeping up their...well...droppings (also normal). We stopped to talk to him and he asked us where we're from, etc. He then told us, did you know that goat poop is actually really healthy if you make it into a tea? (not normal). He said that all they eat are herbs and natural things and so it makes for a really healthy tea. HELLO PEOPLE.

On Sunday Luz MarĂ­a, that got baptized almost two months ago, was callled to be first counselor in the Primary! She's excited. She also bore her testimony in sacrament meeting for the first time on Sunday. She talked about the day that Elder Millan and I arrived in her restaurant for the first time and that since that day her life has completely changed for the better. She sincerely and simply stated that she knows the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. That was such a treat for me to hear. It's just another testimony to me of how much the restored gospel can change men and women. I love her very much and I know that she's going to knock 'em dead in Altamirano.

Something that I've been pondering lately is how easy it is to get wrapped up in the things of this world and lose sight of the bigger picture. Most people do not understand why they are here on earth. The majority that I have talked to have told me that they haven't even thought about it before. So many live, just to live. They take things one day at a time. Never thinking about tomorrow, the future, or striving for something better. For so many, their vision and perspective is so cloudy and limited. Of course, if I did not really believe that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that life continues after death, that repentance is real, and that one day we will have that personal interview with the Savior and be judged according to our works, then yes. My choices and actions would reflect those beliefs. I would make decisions based on momentary pleasure. I would not put any real effort into trying to do or be something better because, what would be the point? In my opinion, and from what I have seen and observed as a missionary, is that the world is the way it is because people have forgotten, or do not know, or do not want to know and comprehend, that they are children of God. They are eternal. They have always existed and will always exist. This life means something. What we do here on earth means something. The decisions we make today will affect us eternally. Sometimes I wish that everyone could just understand that. If everyone knew and truly understood the meaning of the fact that they are sons and daughters of God and the plan of salvation, this world would be a different place.

I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of a Savior. That even though I make mistakes, that even though I am not perfect, that I can receive forgiveness, change, and become something better than I was before. I have deep gratitude for what he has done for me and those I love. His work continues to move forward. He is calling each and every one of us to be more dedicated, converted, and loving. I know that his gospel has been restored. That it is here on earth in its fulness. I know that Prophets and Apostles lead this church under his direction. I know that God, in his infinite love for us, guides us, tests us, and builds us up, helping us to understand, little by little, the divine potential that we truly have. I know he lives, that his love is pure and perfect, and that as we honestly strive to come closer to him each and everyday, that we will find peace.

I love you all so very much.

Elder Nielsen

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