Monday, October 31, 2011

Us with Miriam
Familia Hernandez Maya

Apaxco has literally exploded with missionary work. This week was my first baptism of a person that I found and did everything with, and I even got to baptize her. Her name is Miriam, and her whole family (Enrique, Beatriz, Maria, and Luis, not the 3 year old Alexis) are going to be baptized in the next few weeks. We also found an excellent family who is the brother of the less active family that we reactivated (the one that had TONS of problems) and they're all preparing for the 13 to be baptized. We also have several prospective investigators that are actually fairly promising. I'm just so excited about the work now! Heavenly Father has blessed us so much for being willing to submit our will to His and to do all that He has asked us to do. Honestly, I'm looking forward to another transfer here in Apaxco, and I kind of feel right now that it will happen. Things are just going great.
I had an amazing teaching experience this week with Fam. Acevedo (the reference from the reactivated, formerly less-active family) in the which the wife basically unloaded everything on us (which we were actually hoping for, so that was good first of all) and told us how her husband had cheated on her 6 months ago, but they're still together, she's had this kind of problem and the other and just feels like she needs to get closer to God. After she told us that, the Spirit told me so strongly that I needed to share Alma 36:18-21 (Alma sharing when he was converted to Helaman). So I did. I have never felt like I was doing the Lord's will as a missionary more than in that moment. I absolutely know that I was an instrument in the Lord's hands to help one of His daughters to feel His redeeming love and the power of His Atonement. It was so amazing to think that the Lord considered me worthy and able to literally save her soul from the gall of bitterness and misery. There was a visible change in her from then on (not just because we were both crying), and she just seems happier with life. It was just so amazing to be a part of that experience.
That's really just how Mr. Durtschi is (from my experience and Alyssa's), so don't feel too bad about it. I'm glad the concert went well and that you saw Trent's mom. I actually had a dream with him the other night, and I've been wondering how he's doing. He's right at about 10 months now, and last I heard (in June), things were going just swell. It makes me excited for when everyone gets home and we can all share our experiences and everything. I'm sorry that Lys hurt her finger. I really hope it starts getting better and that you make it out of your surgery alive. I'll be praying for you. I've thought a lot about what I would say in a talk coming home, and I've got a lot of really good Elder Holland inspired ideas that I know mom would just love. The mission gave us a DVD with a talk by him and Elder Eyring that are both really powerful that I'm making you all watch when we get home. I really hope that when I do come home, I'll be changed enough that I'll be able to impact someone with something the Lord inspires me to say. That's really cool that you had that fireside about missionary work. I think it would be just amazing if you and dad went on a mission (after I'm done with college, though. I need your half-tuition benefits), especially if you learned Spanish. I think the whole family should come back to Mexico sometime no matter what, though. We could visit my mission and Brigham's and just have a great time (maybe even a side stop in Cancun, just for the fun of it). It would be fun if you learned Spanish, as well. You're basically just left out right now being the only ones that don't speak it. That, and me and Brigham will be in our own world with our own Spanish while Lys and Manuel are in their world, and Scott and Tara in their scholastic Spanish world. Who knows, maybe my semi-chilango Spanish is different enough from Brigham's that we won't even relate that much. Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Also, I don't know why you titled this email "hurricane issues?"
I almost forgot, but we had Zone Conference this week, as well, which was great. President Call spoke a lot about what happened to me with Sr. Acevedo (not me specifically, but the principle) about how we need to be motivated by love for the people and for Heavenly Father and Jesus or the work will never happen as effectively as it should. It was really nice to have that emphasized so much for me this week.
Well I hope everyone has a great week, and that things go as well there as they are here. I know that the Lord is guiding us and helping us. His hand is everywhere in my life, and I know that He is molding me into the missionary that He needs me to be to help His children. I know that this church is true. The Lord leads and guides us through a living prophet that knows our needs and who will guide us in the Lord's paths. I know that through weekly participation of the sacrament that we can renew our baptismal and other covenants in order to be cleansed from sin. The Holy Ghost will lead and guide us as we do so, and we can all be faithful servants of the Lord when we listen to His promptings. I know that this is the Lord's work, and that I couldn't do it without His help. I'm so grateful for everyone's support (including Emily and Betsy for letters this week), and I know the Lord is blessing you for it. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances that He has set forth for us. Strive to do your best, and the Lord will do the rest.

Elder Joseph Facer

PS happy birthday to Scott this week! You're so old!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another First (sort of...)

Well this week was another mostly successful week. We found another family of 5, but the dad won't let us come back, which is a shame because the rest were really good and wanted to come to church and everything. Enrique did come this week with his wife and one of his daughters. This was all of their 2nd week, so the daughter can be baptized this Sunday, and if we can get him and his wife married, then she can be baptized Sunday, too. Things are really starting to look up. Even though we didn't really find any new investigators this week, I have high hopes for what we can do now that we're complying with the standards the Lord as set concerning our work. This was the first time that we've had people come 2 Sundays, which is a pretty big deal. About 80% of those who come the first week don't come the second. Anyway, the work continues, and things are looking good.

Congrats to THS soccer and to Tara. I'm sure it must've been hard to have watched all of that from the sideline, but I'm proud of you for hanging in there and for still being happy for the rest of your team. I'm starting to learn that it's more important to be happy for other people's successes than to be sad or discouraged for our own failures. Let them be swallowed up in the happiness of others. That's the real secret to happiness in hard times (including keeping the commandments, but that's a given...). Good work Lys on getting your job! I hope things start looking up, though, and that you can come to enjoy it and all the benefits you'll be getting (especially the A lot pass... I'm still jealous). I'm really glad Alyssa finally got my letters, and that means the next bunch should be there in three weeks (sorry about the delay). I got letters this week from Sharon, Betsy, and two from Alyssa. I also got the package, which was wonderful. There was a tear in one corner of the box, but everything was still packed perfectly and arranged just like I'm sure mom put it in there. Thanks so much for that; it was everything I needed and so much more. Thanks also to Alyssa, Mattea, and Sr. Shirley for their contributions. Alyssa, I loved the book you put in there, and I appreciate Sr. Shirley's experience that she shared. Thanks to everyone!

That's so fun that Andrew's finally walking! I'm sure Savanna's going to have to get used to chasing him around now instead of just running up to him while he's sitting there. I sure wish I could see it, but I bet he'll be walking even better by the time I get back. The pictures you sent of Canyon and Savanna at the temple were also really cute. Canyon just seems like he's growing up a whole lot right now. That's also really great the experience you had with Sr. Schulter, and I really hope that she decides to do what it takes to come back. She will be so blessed if she does, and I know that it can make all the difference in her life and the lives of her children.

I'm just about finished with the Old Testament (I'm starting Ezekiel, pg. 1026 of 1184), and plan on finishing this week. After, I'm going to read the Book of Mormon again before I do anything else. I just feel like that needs to happen. Anyway, we're short on time this week, so I have to wrap it up. I know that this church is the only true and living church on the whole face of the earth, guided and directed by Jesus Christ through a living prophet. The blessings we receive from having this guidance are inmeasurable, and we can only take advantage of them by being obedient to their counsel. I read a really good scripture on obedience that inspired me to want to do more (Jeremiah 42:6). I know that the Lord is ready and willing to bless us when we are worthy of His blessings. The temples are so important to everything we do here, and it is there that we can do the greatest service of all. I know the Lord lives and loves all of you. In your darkest moments, turn to Him, and He will give you peace.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, October 17, 2011

His Hand is Stretched out Still

Who would've thought, mom was right all along about my attitude... this week I made a very conscious, strong effort to change my attitude, my work, and essentially everything I was doing. The changes I have seen in the last week have been incredible, and could not have been brought to my stubborn self if not through the Lord's hand. Thanks to everyone for reminding what's important and why I came here. Even when I was too prideful and foolish to remember it, the Lord's hand is stretched out always to those who will reach for Him.

Well this week was just a lot better. We started doing our 10 contacts/person/day (as Elder Ballard had asked us before I got here) and the blessings came. We were contacted by a man named Enrique on Monday night, totally drunk, and told us he wanted to change. We stopped by Tuesday and he wasn't there, but his mom told us that he really needs help and that we should come by again. We left our phone number and told them to call us whenever they have time and we'd be there. Saturday morning, we got the call and walked 20 minutes to his house and found him and his whole family at home. It turns out he is very alcoholic and has a pretty bad drug problem, his wife has almost left him and the kids (4) several times, and the kids are all to the point of fairly severe depression because of all of that. We taught them about the Atonement, and the power it has to help everyone change anything in their lives. I know that we were instruments in God's hands in helping that family to start on the road to the Gospel. They came to church (stake conference), and I think they felt the spirit. We're going to visit them tonight, and I really hope everything continues to go well. They need all the prayers they can get, so please pray for Enrique, Beatriz, Maria del Carmen, Mirian, Luis, and Alexis. I know that the Lord can help this family to be whole again. Stake conference was really good, and we found out that they're going to start building a real chapel in Apaxco starting in January, so that was really great news.

It sounds like this week was a pretty good one for you, as well. I really enjoyed the letter from Rosy, and it's so nice to see the sweet, simple testimonies of recent converts. My one baptism here in Apaxco (Josefina) is super solid, and was called a few weeks ago to be the 2nd Sunday teacher in Relief Society. That's so great that Camron was given another chance at his mission. Tell him congratulations for me, and that this is the best decision he could make right now. That's good that you've been able to spend some time with their family and learn from the trials they're going through. Our tribulations bring us patience, and with patience, love for the Lord and our fellowman. I'm glad that Chris was able to be there, too. It's too bad that he may not be able to serve a proselyting mission, but I know the Lord has a way that he can help to build His kingdom, even if it's not serving a mission. I think it was Bro. Scoubes that told me that even if the young men don't serve missions, it doesn't mean they're lost. The mission, although an incredible growing opportunity, isn't required for salvation, and that the young men who don't serve should still look forward to the temple. I wish I could've been there for the primary program, but I'm glad you all enjoyed it. That's fun that the Maile girls got to sing. They've always been such great, exemplary young girls. That's fun that all the grandkids are growing up. I'm sad that I'm missing all these changes, but look forward to being a bigger part of them with my own family one day. Tell them that I miss them and pray for them, and to keep being such great kids. I'm glad Alyssa's doing well in school. The reason she probably hasn't gotten my letters is because I sent 2 or 3 week's worth of letters in one envelope because I don't have enough for 1 every week. They'll be a little delayed, but they are coming. I'll let you know when I get the package and what condition it's in.

You'll also be proud to know that we finally cleaned the apartment, and everything looks good, actually. I'll get pictures when we have power again, because it's been out all week, and pictures with candlelight just don't look as good (no power also meant my new gallon of milk went bad... dang it)

I absolutely know that this is the true church of God and Jesus Christ. They guide this work and all that we do as members of this church. Jesus Christ suffered for every single one of you. He took the time to feel your pains and sorrows individually so that He can know how to help you every single day of your life. The Atonement is how we can make changes in our lives, but we have to be willing to make the changes and do all that we can. When we've put forth our very best effort and we still fail, the Lord will do the rest. I know that He lives, and loves every one of you. When we fall, He will pick us up and carry us until we return to His presence and the Father's.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, October 10, 2011

General Conference Hangover

Basically that means that I was really glad this week that we had conference last week, and thankfully I had some of the same spirit that I had during conference. Things are still hard. Our family of 4 that promised to come to church failed even after we passed by them in the morning, our other family of 4's dad broke his leg and can't leave his apartment, and anything else we may have had didn't come either. This was one of the worst weeks of my mission as far as numbers are concerned, which certainly doesn't help me to be excited about it. Things are still quite difficult with Elder Irigoyen, and not exactly looking up. Don't get me wrong in all of this, though. Things are very difficult, but somehow I still manage to find even very small things to keep me smiling and going on. I still don't understand why everything is happening the way that it is, but I know that the Lord has some kind of purpose in all of this. Even though that continues to elude me, He has strengthened me enough that I feel good about continuing where I'm at.

Thanks to Alyssa Lebaron, Betsy, and Alyssa Shirley, from whom I received letters this week. Betsy, Dear Elder is just fine if that's the way you want to do it. Why do you think Alyssa Shirley hasn't gotten my letters? You told me once that she did, and she told me once in one of the letters I got that she did. And Lys, I'm super happy for you that you got the job! I'm sure that will be a really nice thing for you, even if I don't totally understand all the benefits you'll be getting (but I do understand the A parking pass). Andrew sure looked different in the pictures you sent. He looks a lot more grown up, and he looks really natural standing up, so it's hard to believe he still isn't walking. Let me know what happens with your next Peru trip. Tara, even though I don't have a physical injury, I still know how you feel. When things are hard, just keep pressing on. I like to remember the words in "I Believe in Christ" when it says that "His voice is heard: 'ye shall obtain'". That just reminds me that I have to press on and put my best effort forward, and He will give us what He knows we need. Also remember 2 Nephi 31:20 that says that if we endure to the end (of anything, not just this life) with a love of God and of all men, feasting upon the words of Christ, then we will receive all the blessings that God has for us (in the case of the scripture: eternal life; not a bad reward, right?). Just remember that I'm praying for you, too, and that the Lord has a purpose in this. That's great news that Camron, Tanner, and Alan are all getting ready to go. Tell them all that I'm super happy and proud for and of them (respectively), and that I'll be praying for them. That's interesting that Tim and Alan both are in the Sunday School Presidency, but it will be a good experience for both of them. I hope I didn't sound too much like Jonathan last week; it was definitely hard, but I didn't want to sound like any of that. I know there is a purpose in this, but I just needed to let off a little steam. Playing for primary was a really great experience for me, too, and I'm glad you have the chance to fill in for Sr. Perl (and me) sometimes. The songs are so simple, but they are so powerful. I wouldn't mind being able to play primary songs every week in sacrament. I probably already have noted what Bro. Bott would and has said about it, actually. Do you think you could send all of my notes to me? They're in the laptop in my documents, then in BYU, then Fall 2010, then Mission Prep, and I would really like it if you could send them all to me. I've been a little lacking in learning from personal study (I finally made it out of kings and chronicles this week) and I think that would be a great help to me.

I'm glad Alyssa's visiting you more often, and even though I'm sure she'll read this before she talks to you again, tell her hi for me and that I hope everything is going well. Are you still working with Emily, or did all of that change with your job, too? I'm still having a little bit of stomach problems, but no more than any other missionaries. I think all is well in that department. As far as sleeping goes, I probably haven't slept well since leaving the MTC. I don't think I've had a full night's sleep since then, and I've had several nights where I maybe get 2 hours of sleep. It's hard, but I don't really expect it to improve anytime soon, so I'm just learning to live without sleep (which shouldn't be too hard, I did it throughout Jr. High, High school, and college; now I just don't get naps).

I'm still trying to do my best. Things are hard, but like I said, I'm finding motivation, and I know I can get through this. I know that with the Lord's help I can do anything He asks me to do, even when it seems impossible. With the strength I receive every day from Him, I know that He will help me find a way to really be a tool in His hands in bringing others to Christ. This is His work, not mine, and I know I can't do it without Him. I came out because of the knowledge I have about this church, and I think I just realized I lost sight of that somewhere. Right now I'm promising all of you and the Lord to rededicate myself to this work. I'm going to do my very best to consecrate my whole soul to the Lord and become what He wants me to be. He has given me everything, and deserves nothing less in return, and I would be ungrateful and worthy of being cast off forever if I'm unwilling to do that. You are all my witnesses of that, and I hope you all check up regularly to make sure I fulfill this promise. I know that the Lord loves you. He is your Father. Pray to Him. Do what it takes to be worthy and obedient and, with faith, you can have the same power as Nephi, the disciple, who could do all things that were expedient before the Lord through his faith. Study the Book of Mormon daily, and you will find peace in your lives. Keep your covenants that you have made, and you will always have the Spirit with you. I know that's true because the Lord has promised it.

Elder Joseph Facer

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thank goodness for conference

Well this week was ok. We have some investigators that really can progress if they will just come to church, but that's the issue. One family we have (Antonio, Lulu, Eder, and Alan) are really good and receptive, but are busy all day Sundays because Lulu's mom is super sick and needs care every day, and she does it Saturdays and Sundays, go figure. Our other family (Marcos, Cristina, Sadi, and Anson) are also really good, but just don't catch on to baptism. We've explained several times, even right after President Monson spoke, about how this is the only church with the authority to baptize in the name of Christ, but every time we invite them, they just say "but we were already baptized..." Basically it's really frustrating, but we're still working with them. Transfers came and transfers went and nothing changed. I'm still in Apaxco with Elder Irigoyen, and to be totally honest, I'm not looking forward to it at all. This is a huge test of my faith in seeing the Lord's purpose in this, and, so far, I still just don't feel good about it. It's going to be an extremely hard transfer, but I'm trying my best to have a good attitude and keep working. For that reason, I'm extremely grateful for conference. This was the first time in a while that I was able to watch all of it, and it was just incredible. Every single talk was just so powerful, and I felt the spirit so strongly the entire conference. I absolutely know that those men and women are inspired and called of God to lead this church. I especially enjoyed Elder Scott's talk about scripture study. He's my favorite speaker, and that's a theme that has been very important to me since taking BOM at BYU. He also does his own Spanish translation, so it was really cool to hear his actual voice, but I imagine it was still better in English. Anyway, conference definitely saved my life this weekend, and I'm so grateful for the chance we have to listen to the modern prophets. I told Tara to read Elder Packer's talk, but maybe it would be an even better idea if you and dad read it with her.

That was great about the tabernacle being converted, and I'm pretty excited to maybe be back in time for the dedication of that. I thought about Grandpa Facer when they anounced the Star Valley temple, and I sure hope he gets to benefit from that in one way or another. Thanks for the update about Alyssa Shirley, and thanks for sending me the package. I should be getting mail sometime this week because Elder Stepp (one of the Elders in Tequix whom I really like) is going to the offices to pick up his trainee tonight, so I'll get mail soon, but I doubt the package will be here. I'll have to wait a little longer for that to come, but I'm still very excited for it, and thanks so much for doing that for me. I sure hope Tara will improve and make progress. This is definitely a hard thing, but you will be blessed for persevering with patience and love for the Lord. That's fun that dad got a new truck. I'm sure the pony will cry a few days, but it'll be ok when Brigham gets home in 5.5 months (really, 5.5?). I'm glad my car's getting a break, too. I'm sure that's why this happened to Tara. I feel I know enough about your job to know what you mean. Did they move your office? Does that mean you still work with Emily and everyone else? I'm glad Alyssa is comfortable enough to come visit you now.

Well I hope everyone has a good week, and that things will improve. I hope Grandpa Sumner will end up ok, and that maybe you can salvage some peaches before there's no more hope for this year. I've been eating a lot more fruit, and there are now almost none that I won't eat. I even ate cuccumbers, and I can get them down, but I don't necessarily like them. Anyway, continue to study the words of the prophets. I felt a strong emphasis on the Book of Mormon in this conference, and hope that you will all continue to study it every day. The Lord will bless you so much if you do that and follow the principles contained therein. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet of God, leading the only true and living church upon the face of the world. I know that the apostles and general authorities are called of God, and that their words are the same as His. He loves you all so much, and I know He is watching out for you and showing His hand in your lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our everlasting savior, and that those who come to Him, repent, and endure to the end will receive the greatest gift of God, even eternal life. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is our only way to happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come. Use it constantly. Be clean of your sins. Receive the Holy Ghost in your lives, and let Him be your constant companion to guide and inspire you.

Elder Joseph Facer