|Elias's house on his birthday for some cake and ice cream|
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Good to hear from all of you this week! Things sure sound great. I wish Conner and Claire luck in their new adventure working in the temple! That is pretty sweet for you two! Also, it is super exciting that you will all be home for Christmas! Hope that you all have fun and live it up. I love hearing about all of the nephews. I'm sure Nate and Karli have their hands full with those little guys.
Last but not least.. Happy Birthday Dad!! You are the best dad that there is! Really I don't have the words to describe how much I appreciate all that you do for the family. You are my hero!
This week I had a great experience. I took an Elder to the United States Embassy. First time that I have ever been there. Now, you have to realize that the most American thing I have seen for a long time comes out of the packages that I get from home. This place was amazing! Huge perimeter walls, maximum security, english.. I felt right at home haha! I gave a nice salute as I passed the Utah state flag on our way in to help this Elder with his travel documents. I haven't seen such great service in such a long time either, we were in and out in minutes. Good stuff!
Oscar and Martha are doing so well! I cannot believe how much they have progressed in the last couple of months. When we first found them, Martha was drunk on the street about every other day and a smoking addict. She couldn't hold a job or be trusted with any money for fear that she would buy alcohol. Now, she looks like a completely different person. She dresses all up to come to church and participates in the classes each week. Oscar and Martha are now saying a prayer together each morning and night. She now has a job and has advanced in that job to the point where they are considering her for a raise. Now carries all of the money that she makes with no problem and is down to one or two cigarettes a day!
Oscar, too, is doing so well! He really understands the doctrine. He reads the Gospel Principles lesson manual and underlines and makes notes all over the place. He has advanced considerably in the Book of Mormon and reads out loud with Martha each night the addiction recovery manual from LDS Family Services. Currently they are learning about how sincerity is essential in addiction recovery. He, too, has improved considerably with his smoking, considering that he has been addicted since the age of 13.
I am so blessed to see the hand of the Lord work in their lives. The atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace are a reality! Each time that we visit Oscar and Martha and am in awe at the power and grace of our Savior and how He can transform our lives if we allow him to. I think all of us have felt at one point or another the grace of Jesus Christ in our lives. Only through Him can we return to our Heavenly Father and only through Him the dream of eternal life can become a reality. One of my favorite sacrament hymns helps me to understand better the atonement of Christ. It says,
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
I hope that you are all doing well and that you are seeing the hand of the Lord in your lives. Wow it sounds like life is moving forward at a rapid pace. I love to hear about what is going on with each of you and all of the success that you are having. You are the best!
This week was another changes week. Which meant a lot of paperwork and early mornings. We lost a bunch of great missionaries, but we also received missionaries with tons of potential as well. Each time we send a group of missionaries to the airport, it gives me a sense of urgency about this great work. We only have two years to give all that we have to the Lord, and as Tad. R. Callister so masterfully stated "to put all that we have on the altar of sacrifice." For each of us, there will be an end to our full-time missionary service as young men, and we better well have made the most of those two years. It is my prayer that I can become the servant that the Lord wants me to become and to give Him everything I have to offer. President Wilkinson always taught us that we, alone, are nothing. Many times in life we think that we did something great, or that we are great people. He taught that in this life, if we count on our own abilities or our own knowledge and strength, we will surely fail. Only through Christ, and His mercy, do we have all that we have and can become what we will become. Just like Christ turned water into wine, if we let Him into our lives, we can allow Him to turn us into "wine" as well.
My companion and I have been thinking and praying about how we can help this ward. For years, the missionaries have struggled in this ward to find how to work effectively and efficiently. Like all wards, it has several issues, but from what I can tell the best way to describe it would be to say that the members are spiritually "asleep." It has had several issues in the past and the members have no trust in the missionaries. My companion and I are now on a quest to wake up this ward! In the most loving way possible we hope to teach the ward that being a Mormon is not just going to church on Sundays. It is a way of life. We are a covenant keeping people. We make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father and we do all that we can to stay true to those covenants throughout our lives. That is how we find true happiness and joy! Like President Uchtdorf poignantly asked "Are you sleeping through the restoration?" Ancient prophets saw visions of our day and longed to be a part of the time when the gospel of Jesus Christ would once again be restored in its fullness to the earth! We are living in a crucial time in the history of this earth. We must do all we can to prepare ourselves, and the kingdom of God for second coming and the millennial reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can't live our lives half way. God wants us to be hot or cold, not lukewarm as he says in Revalation"
My faith has grown so much over the past 15 months. The spirit continues to testify to me the truthfulness of our message. Faith is a choice. We must ask our Heavenly Father each day for more faith!
I love you all so much!
Mi amigo mexicano siempre me preguntaba "¿Estás durmiendo durante la restauración?"
Monday, October 12, 2015
So I saw the the pictures of the wedding finally! Wow.. everything looks completely different. I can tell that you put tons of work into it and it looked fantastic! Everybody looked different too. Robert is huge and has tons of hair! I never even met the little guy, but he is no longer a little guy. Karli's two kids look super big too, wow. Everybody just looks different in those pictures. Oh well, I guess I look different too. My companion tells me that I look like an old man. Everybody in the street guesses that I am 25 or up. I no longer have the baby face that I loved so much haha.
I hope you all enjoyed General Conference. It was so good! We tried to get as many people there as possible and I feel like it was a success. Elias was there for all five sessions! He is doing so good. There were so many good talks, and I noticed that a ton of them were great for all of the Costa Rican members. Right on point. I loved Niel L. Andersen´s statement "For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven." What great advice for us, and like he also said "faith is not by chance, but by choice." We can spend our whole lives living as critics and unbelievers, or we can put all of that aside and begin to FEEL what the Spirit tells us to be true. Through the spirit we can know the truthfulness of all things. I am so excited to review all of these General Conference talks, so good!
This week we were in the office quite a bit preparing for the changes this week. We will be bringing in a good number of new missionaries and saying goodbye to a bunch of my friends who have finished their missions. It will be a busy week and we will have a full house.
Cultural note: Do not mention the word "Halloween" in Costa Rica. The country is very superstitious, and they don't want anything to do with it. My companion bought some pumpkins at the store this week, and when he was walking back to the office people yelled at him and called him a demon worshiper. It is even to the extreme that some people, when they hear that members in the United States celebrate Halloween, they go inactive and never go back to church. I just thought that it was so interesting.
Hey, I was in the Central American news section of the Liahona this month. Pretty cool, huh? I'll send you a picture.
Well, I've gotta go! The church is true! Love you tons!
Sunday, October 4, 2015
I send my love from Costa Rica! Everything is well here, the work is great and the people are good to us. Glad to hear that everyone will be home for the weekend. Hopefully you can all listen to conference together and receive the inspired direction from prophets of God! And with the new apostles, who could miss such a great conference. To prepare for conference, I watched Jeffrey R. Holland's first talk as an apostle. It was so good, and got me excited to see what happens. The best part of this situation is that whoever it is.. we know that we are in good hands, the God of Israel directs this church!
This week was great! Elias got a temple recommend and went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. He loved it! He also blessed the sacrament. He was so nervous but did so well! He also went out on divisions with us this week, he completely taught the lesson and testified like a champ. He is turning 17 soon and has his eyes set on a mission, it makes us so happy to see him growing and progressing in the gospel. He is so great!
We have been teaching several good families and hope to bring as many people to the stake center this weekend as possible to hear a prophet's voice! We will be running back and forth between each session to see who we can get there. I'm really excited!
My companion is a Christmas lover. I mean.. can I blame him? But, on October 1st he started the Christmas season here in the office. He always has the music playing, and he has been buying tons of hot chocolate. Personally, I think it's a little early, but it makes him happy so it's all good! We´ve got the Christmas spirit going in October.
I hope that you all enjoy conference! I love you lots! ¡Que Dios les bendiga!
P.S. Amazing talk that I heard this week. Tad R. Callister is one of my favorites. https://www.lds.org/general-
conference/2009/10/joseph- smith-prophet-of-the- restoration?lang=eng
This week was really great! Got a lot of work done and did a lot of work. I'm glad to hear that everything is going well back at home, I know that the Lord is watching over our family. I hope that Dad has a great time in Budapest and that everything goes well there. Glad to hear that Conner and Claire are teaching primary. They will do so good. They need to prepare those future missionaries while they are young! I hope that Nate does well on his exams and that Zach and Karli have some time to relax with those two children haha.
So, we ate the pigs foot.... it wasn't too bad. The fat melts in your mouth like an ice cream cone. I would eat that any day over mondongo. My companion was completely grossed out though, there was no convincing him. The deal breaker was when Hermana Flor showed us that the best part was sucking on the bones and the hoof. I enjoyed it for the most part..
This week was pretty crazy. We have been running pretty low on energy but we were able to get it all done. Now we can take a nice deep breath. The mission planned a temple trip for all of the missionaries (half of the mission this week and half next week.) So we were doing a lot of running around to prepare all of the plans and events that would accompany the temple trip. On Tuesday night, in preparation for an early temple session the next morning, we had over thirty elders sleeping in our house. It is quite the experience being in a house with that many elders, but everything turned out okay and the house was only mildly destroyed. We were up early in the morning on Wednesday to get everyone out the door, take President's daughter to the airport, and make it to a late-morning session. It was a great day in the temple and the spirit was so strong. As a missionary, I seem to look at everything completely different. What a great blessing of the restoration, temples of our Lord upon the face of the earth once again. What a great blessing, the restoration of the Priesthood authority, the key that unlocks such great blessings unto our Heavenly Father´s children. I can only imagine the love that our Heavenly Father has for his children, that he would restore such key principles and ordinances to the Earth for the happiness and the welfare of His children. How blessed are we to be a part of this great work.
This week I learned a great lesson of faith from an Elder friend that I have. He has about 7 months in the mission, and on his first day here I took him out on divisions. While we were at the temple on Wednesday, he received the news that his brother had passed away back home in Guatemala. He was crushed. What really amazes me about the faith of this Elder is how he takes trials with joy. He is a convert to the church, and little before leaving to the mission he lost his mother as well. I was able to be on divisions with him for a couple of hours on Wednesday night, and I was just amazed at the way that he was taking this trial. Yes, he was very sad, but he has the hope that the gospel brings to the lives of those who live it. After this experience, I began to think a lot about what hope is and started to study a bit about it. The prophet Ether in chapter 12 teaches great things about hope. Hope is what the gospel is all about. We have trials and difficulties in life, but with our hope we can progress and be happy despite the trials.
I love you all so much! Keep the faith! Build the kingdom!
Mi amigo Mexicano siempre me decía "y fe, esperanza, caridad y amor, con la mira puesta únicamente en la gloria de Dios, lo califican para la obra."