Monday, June 9, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

We are definitely starting the rainy season here in Mexico. When it pours. And it rains a lot. It's actually sort of a vicious cycle. It rains. Making it even more humid. Then the sun comes out in its full splendor and all that rain starts evaporating making it even more humid and hot. It's definitely different living in a tropical setting. Oh yeah. My companion Elder Anglin went to Cuernavaca on Saturday morning and should be on his way home right now. I'm here with my new and last companion! His name is Elder Gonzalez (I've digressed to having all-Mexican companions) and he is from Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. He has about 8 months in the mission and is the most distracted person I've ever met but a really good Elder. I'm starting my last change!

Impressions of Mexico!

1) So on the Costera (the touristy street on the coast), at night time, there are literal Cinderella-esque carriages that go down the streets, being pulled by white horses, draped by multicolored Christmas-lights, with tourists riding in the back. HELLO PEOPLE.

2) Some of the common professions that people have here all have to do with tourism. They all work in hotels, restaurants, and there are actually a lot that work in the fishing industry as well (the Dad of the stake president that lives above us goes to work at 7:00 p.m. every day and dives for lobsters).

So this week was hectic. There were just a lot of changes and a lot of activity. But the thing that impressed me the most this week was what Heavenly Father taught me about the principle of prayer. Elder Anglin (and now Elder Gonzalez) and I have worked really hard here in the ward. We've been finding a lot of people to teach but for one reason or another they just haven't been progressing. They just don't attend church. On Saturday night I remember, after making all the plans for members to go by for them, making phone calls, and doing everything I could, I just remember praying and asking that God would bless each and every one of them, by name, that they would be able to arrive at sacrament meeting the next day. On Sunday, not one investigator showed up for the second week in a row. I remember sitting in sacrament meeting yesterday and just feeling so confused and a little depressed. I felt that God had not answered my prayers and I didn't understand why. After the meeting had ended, however, I noticed that a young man that's preparing to serve a mission in the ward had brought a friend that's not a member. His friend stayed all three hours and I was able to sit next to him in the meetings and explain everything that was going on. At the end of the services we taught him about the Book of Mormon and challenged him to be baptized and he accepted the challenge. It was such a unique way in which God answered my prayers. He addressed our needs and rewarded our efforts and answered my prayers, but not in the way I expected them to be answered. I didn't even anticipate it. What worried me a little is that even after seeing a new person attend church that could progress I still found myself thinking about the people that didn't come. But I strove to focus on the one that did come and accept that as an answer to my prayer.

Later on in the day, as we were walking to an appointment, we stopped to talk to a lady that was washing clothes in front of her house. She began crying and told us how tired she was and how sometimes she loses the will to live. And that she's been praying and asking God for strength and help to move forward. She has recently lost her son and the wife of her son abandoned their child with her. Another one of her grandchildren also recently had a serious accident. We began to teach her about the Plan of Salvation and invited her to come unto to Christ, promising that our message would make her burdens light and affirming that God sends us to those who need us. But at the end she said that she didn't have time to listen to us. I believe that we arrived at her door as a response to her prayers. But, I don't believe she recognized, or wanted to recognize the answer. After we began walking away a very strong impression came into my mind in the form of a phrase, "I hear and answer every child's prayer."

How often to we reject the answers that God gives us just because they don't fit neatly into the spectrum of answers or help that we were waiting for and willing to receive? So many prayers must be answered but maybe those answers go by unnoticed because we are not willing to listen or recognize. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

I know God lives and loves us. I know that he hears and answers our prayers. I hope that I will always be able to recognize those answers when they come and be so happy and rejoice in the help and answers he gives me. I'm learning more and more to trust in him and walk with him every day. I love missionary work. We are literally inviting people, every day, to come unto Christ and rest. I know that this work will move forward. I know my Savior lives and loves me and each and every one of us.

I love you all very much.

Elder Nielsen

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