Monday, May 12, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

So, the apartment where we live is literally in the middle of a steep hill. In order to arrive at our house we must climb, (I counted them), 134 stairs. Sometimes multiple times every single day. That, in addition to the steep hills. And the humidity. Needless to say, I end every day drenched in sweat (sorry if that's gross...but it's true). Oh yeah, our house has water problems a lot so we usually shower with a hose like 2-3 days a week. I prefer it to showering with buckets (done that too). Just a random stream of thought right now. But I'm really loving Acapulco!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) So you know how on some buildings if they don't want people jumping the walls or climbing up the gates that they will put some type of barbed wire or spikes on top of the wall or gate? Well, in Mexico they use broken glass bottles! Like literally they just break beer and soda bottles in half and place the part with the jagged edges upward to try to ward off anyone that tries to break into their homes.

2) Acapulco is full of mango trees. And I guess right now mangos are in season. It's actually pretty dangerous because you'll just be walking down the streets and mangos will just be literally falling from the trees. Some have almost hit me in the head. They are all over the ground as well. Needless to say, the members have been offering us A LOT of mangos lately.

3) I mentioned this before but just to remind you, usually when we eat with members they make us water by blending some type of fruit and putting its juice and pulp in water. The only not so good part is that a lot of Mexicans do not like to add sugar to the water. They hate it actually. So it gets pretty bitter sometimes. And sometimes they don't blend the fruit really well so it's just like water with fruit chunks.

4) I ate pansita this week. Cow stomach that is. It looks like and smells like a cow's stomach I might add. She put it in this super spicy broth and gave us tortillas and Coke and white rice and beans. It was...interesting. It just tastes like your eating animal fat.

A lot of impressions this week. Mexico never ceases to amaze me. I truly love it here. I'm really going to miss a lot of aspects of the culture. I think one of the things that I'm going to miss the most is how loving the Mexican people really are. When they truly love someone they would give almost anything for that person. They are such a giving people and show their love to others through their actions. They just make you feel good as well. They make me laugh a lot. At the beginning of my mission it was so hard for me to love them. I mean, I didn't understand what they were saying to start off with and everything just seemed completely foreign to me. But now as the time has passed and my mission starts to come to a close I realize how my feelings have dramatically changed. I love the Mexican people. And I'm going to miss them a lot. These people will always have a very special place in my heart.

I think one of the most difficult things for missionaries sometimes is seeing people have spiritual experiences and even after all they have seen and felt, that they still just aren't ready to move forward. We had something happen like that this week. There's a man here that got baptized in December but never returned to church to get confirmed. We had a lesson with him and the 1st counselor of the ward Monday night in the chapel. I felt the Spirit so strongly. We testified to him of the power of the Holy Ghost and the importance of receiving that gift. He even cried and said that the message had touched his heart. He committed to come to church on Sunday to be confirmed....and then didn't show up. The Spirit can only touch our hearts. It can only testify of truth and help us feel God's love. But it can't force us to make correct choices. But even if the person does or doesn't make the right choice, we can know that we did our best and our duty if the Spirit is there.

I love the Holy Ghost. Being a missionary has taught me the stark difference between living with and without the influence of the Holy Ghost. Literally I just feel weak and ineffectual without him. He makes up all the difference. He is the true power behind conversion. We're just mouthpieces as missionaries.

I'm very happy right now. I feel peaceful. I'm really content with my mission. It's been such a hard experience but so worth it in every way. I can't imagine how my life would have been without it. I know that Christ lives. His Atonement is real. Just decide to repent and decide to change and you will know what I mean. It brings such joy. 

I love you all very much.

Elder Nielsen

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