Monday, April 21, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

So, yes. There was a large earthquake with its epicenter in Guerrero this week. My companion and I were in the middle of our companionship study when it suddenly started to shake. We live in an apartment on the third floor so it felt really strong. But nothing happened! Everyone's safe and there was no damage. My companion sort of freaked out a little but I was calm (what growing up in southern California above the San Andres Fault does to you). But we had an amazing week!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) I don't know if I've mentioned this before. But Mexicans have tiny, tiny little feet. What's normal for us is like gigantic to them. They are just a tiny people.

2) So, earthquakes. People are really, really, really, scared and superstitious when it comes to earthquakes. One elderly woman told us that her grandfather had taught her that every time they felt an earthquake that they had to kneel down and ask God for forgiveness immediately.

3) I'd say that the most common business that you can find here in Mexico would be places where they cut hair. Near the center of any chosen city or pueblo there are dozens of places to choose from. And the funniest part is that they are usually all really close to one another. (One time I saw like four in the same block).

Elder Carvajal and I really strove to work positively and with faith and hope this week. We saw so many miracles. We found two new families to teach and various other investigators. It was just a really fulfilling week for us. On Sunday morning I woke up and got ready and just started to read about the resurrection of the Savior in Jesus the Christ and in the scriptures. Then we went to church in order to prepare the little house that we meet in for sacrament meeting. I had prayed and had so much hope that the investigators that we had found would attend church. I had felt that we had done all we could. Sacrament meeting started, literally with about 7 members and 0 investigators. As the meeting progressed less-actives we had taught and other members began to arrive but still, 0 investigators. Before, I would have gotten downhearted and discouraged, but as I observed that no one arrived I felt peace. Peace, because I knew that we had done all we could do. As the meeting was about to finish, two investigators, an elderly couple that we have been teaching, arrived. At the end of the three hours, the husband, who had been really resistent, told us that he wanted to be baptized after hearing about the temple sealing in the Priesthood class. I know that God works miracles. I know that his light is stronger than darkness. And I know that when we do all we can do to do what is right, that the result we should be waiting for is peace. I've learned to never demand certain results from God. I should always hope and have faith that good things will come to pass, but, I am not anybody to counsel him or demand of him what I feel I need. I understand now that his plans are far more detailed and perfect than anything I could ever imagine. If we are living righteous, obedient lives and keeping our covenants, then we can be assured that everything is fine. That everything is as it should be and how God would have it be.

I've also learned this week, even more clearly, that when we choose to serve others, instead of thinking in ourselves, we find real happiness. I don't know why we are so prone to think only in ourselves. I've found that I'm never very happy when I put myself in the center of the universe and want to see everything revolve around me. Nevertheless, I think it is a human tendency that we are all prone to have and that we must vigilently be suppressing. This week something happened that discouraged me and I started to internalize. I realized the damage this was having and prayed that God would put someone in our path that we could help. We sat down to visit a less-active sister and I still found that I was thinking about myself. The mother of this less-active sister was there and I just told myself, "Elder Nielsen, give these people the attention that they deserve". I started to ask them questions about themselves and their family and found out that the husband of the mother of this less-active sister had passed away a few years ago. Without a clear understanding of the Plan of Salvation, I could see that she still felt a lot of grief. We began to testify of the resurrection. That she would see and hug her husband again. That if we live the gospel, we can be sealed with our families and live with them in the presence of God. She felt the Spirit, cried, and at the end said something that really struck me. She said, "When that day arrives, and I am with him again, I will remember these words you spoke to me today." Leaving that appointment I felt strengthened. I completely forgot about the trivial problems that were consuming my thoughts and I felt the Spirit. Service leads to peace, personal growth, and greater understanding.

I know Christ lives. On that beautiful Sunday, many years ago, he left the tomb with a body of flesh and bones. Glorified, perfect, and immortal. I know that one day we too will be resurrected. This life is so short. And it is passing by so quickly. Because of the Savior's Atonement, we can have the peace and assurity that we will be with those we love if we purify ourselves through obedience, repentance, service, and love. That will be such a glorious day. Being surrounded by those we love. Hugging and kissing one another. But even better, knowing that we made it. As families. That we all strove and endured and are ready to enter into the presence of God together. I know that on that day we will truly understand the love that God has for us. I love my Savior and I am forever indebted to him for what he did for me and for those I love and serve. We should remember the sacrifice he made every day of our lives, not just on Easter Sunday. Because it is through this sacrifice that we can be become pure, proven, tried, tested, and accepted. I love him so much.

I hope that you all have an amazing week!

Elder Nielsen

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