Monday, July 14, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

Well, the time has come to write my last letter home. I wanted to start of by telling you all how much I love you. It was always my goal to be both a missionary in the field and a missionary to those that love me back home. Thank you for your prayers, your love, and your support. I've felt it. Thank you so much.

Impressions of Mexico!

*I've decided to do a few stats or recaps of my mission.

1) During these two years I've lived in: Iguala, Guerrero. Cuautla, Morelos. Tepalcingo, Morelos. Yautepec, Morelos. Altamirano, Guerrero. Huetamo, Michoacan. And Acapulco, Guerrero. My mission was basically half in the state of Guerrero and half in the state of Morelos.

2) I've had 11 companions while serving in the field. 9 from Mexico (Queretaro (2), Puebla, Veracruz (2), Chihuahua, Estado de México, San Luis Potosí, Chiapas). 1 from Argentina. And 1 from Utah (the only white boy).

3) I've served in 3 wards (for aproximately 7 1/2 months) and in 4 branches (aproximately 16 1/2 months).

4) What more can I say about the Mexican people than simply that I love them. I'm going to miss them a lot. I love learning new things about their culture, but more importantly, I've grown to love them very deeply. It wasn't like that in the very first moment. It takes a lot of getting used to. But, I feel so blessed for the opportunity I've had to serve them and live with them and love them for two years of my life. I've been in huge cities and the tiniest of pueblos and I've come to love each place where I have served. I feel very grateful.

Friday was the baptism of Rogelio! And he was confirmed on Sunday! It was such a sweet experience. The ward was really supportive. Rogelio is going to be a great member of the church. He's almost in Mosiah in The Book of Mormon (this never happens by the way) and he wants to serve a full-time mission. It was just such a testimony builder to me of the power that the members really have in missionary work. They can make miracles if they invite others with faith. I know this to be true. If everything goes right we should be having two more baptisms this Friday, my last day here in Acapulco. The Lord has really been merciful to us and has granted us a lot of success. I feel very content and very grateful.

I've been thinking a lot about what I could share or say in this last letter. I guess the only thing I can think of is to share my testimony with you all for the last time here from Mexico. I know that God lives. I know that he loves his children. I know that he answers our prayers. I know that when we keep his commandments we will be protected, we will feel peace, and we will feel his love even more. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that he came to this world with the divine purpose of atoning for us. His Atonement is the answer to every aching heart, every pain, every sin, every sickness, every fear, every doubt, and every weakness. It is also there to give us the strength we need to move forward. I know that the Lord forgives sin. He is merciful to those that repent and have the desire to change their lives. I know that we are given weaknesses so that we can humble ourselves before God and realize that we need his divine grace and help. I also know that with the enabling power of the Atonement, weaknesses can be converted into strengths. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and I know that The Book of Mormon is true.

It has been such a privilege to serve as a missionary for two years. To wear the name of Jesus Christ on my chest. I've honestly striven to be more like him. I realize that I am still very imperfect and that I still have much more growth to experience, but my mission literally has been the best and most rewarding experience of my life. During it I have felt joy, I have felt love and charity, my faith and hope have grown. I have also been humbled, tried, and have grown. I'm so grateful for the people that I've grown to know, love, and serve and for the miracles that the Lord has made in their lives and in my life. I know that if we strive, with all we have, until the very end, that one day we will be able to stand in the presence of God: pure, tried, clean, sealed, and whole. How grateful I am to know that I am his child. That he loves me with a love that is perfect and understands me with an understanding that surpasses my ability to comprehend. I know that this is true for each and every one of us here on this earth.

Well, I love you all. I can't wait to see you and be with you again. I'm so excited for what life has in store for me. I can't wait.

Elder Nielsen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

It's really weird for me to think that this is the second-to-last letter that I'm going to write home. Time passes by quickly. I feel so grateful. Yesterday I was able to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting in my last fast and testimony meeting in Mexico. I just felt so much gratitude in my heart for all that God has given to me and taught me during my service as a missionary.

Impressions of Mexico!

1) I repeat again, because I just experienced it today, that there is nothing more frightening than playing soccer against Mexicans. They have no mercy when it comes to a soccer game.

We're going to have a baptism this week! His name is Rogelio. I've talked a little about him before. He's 25 years old and is the friend of a young man in the ward that's preparing to serve a mission. His friend started working in the same store where Rogelio works and invited him to go to church with him. He accepted the invitation and attended sacrament meeting and has not missed a sacrament meeting since. Rogelio is a really great example to me of someone that is humble and teachable. There are so many people today that are so set in their ways. They think that they know everything and are really difficult to be taught. It's such a breathe of fresh air to meet and to get to know and to get to love people that truly are humble in their hearts. That are willing to be taught and act. I'm so excited to see him enter in the waters of baptism!

Something else that I've been pondering a lot this week is the idea of perfectionism. I think sometimes we get caught up in the mindset that we must be perfect, not make mistakes, or be special in order to be deserving of love. I've found that this way of thinking can only really bring great pain to the individual. Because if we think this way, then we are never really going to be happy or content. When the love that the Savior has for us is described in the scriptures it is described as not needing money and not having a price. If we are scared of others seeing our imperfections or our weaknesses because we fear that they will not love us or accept us, we should think for a moment on Jesus Christ. He saw everything. Our weaknesses, faults, sins, and pains. Everything. And yet, his love for us is perfect and is given freely. I know that that love can transform lives. When someone really starts to feel it and understand it and comprehend it, they start to have the desire to live his gospel. We don't need to be perfect in order to be loved. 

A member of the 70 said in a recently published talk, "The word perfection, however, is sometimes misunderstood to mean never making a mistake. Perhaps you or someone you know is trying hard to be perfect in this way. Because such perfection always seems out of reach, even our best efforts can leave us anxious, discouraged, or exhausted. We unsuccessfully try to control our circumstances and the people around us. We fret over weaknesses and mistakes. In fact, the harder we try, the further we may feel from the perfection we seek....The Greek word for perfect can be translated as “complete, finished, fully developed”."

I'm so grateful for my mission. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I've been given to serve my Heavenly Father and come to know him on a deeper and more intimate level. I know that when I open my heart to him that I will always feel his love and receive answers to my prayers. I need him always. This life is literally meaningless without him, his guidance, and the gospel of his Son. Jesus Christ lives! I know he lives. I have felt the power of his Atonement time and time again. Not only helping me feel forgiveness, but also strengthening me, teaching me, comforting me, and helping me feel his love which enables to me to truly live.

I love you all so much.

Elder Nielsen