Monday, September 24, 2012

Didn't See That Coming...

Didn't See That Coming...

I am no longer in Jurica.  President Call had told us that there would be very very few transfers, so I was ready for another 6 weeks in Querétaro.  Lo and behold, the Lord had other things in mind.  I'm in an area called Teoloyucan in the Cuautitlán stake in the state of México.  My companion is Elder Gaytan, from Monterrey, and I'll be finishing up his last 3 weeks of training.  He lived in Austin, Texas for a few years, so he speaks English fluently, which is a nice feature.  Anyway, that was an interesting and unexpected change.  Saying goodbye in Jurica was a whole lot harder than I thought.  I didn't realize how much I had grown to love all of those members.  It was especially hard to say goodbye to my excellent converts.  The good news is that Luis and Norma are getting all ready to be sealed in July, so I'll be back before too long.  Alfredo didn't make a big deal out of it, but I wouldn't expect him to.  I'll sure miss them, though.  At the same time, I'm really excited for this new area.  It's possible that this will be my last if I'm here for a while, which is a really strange thought.  Anyway, change is good, and it's not like I have a choice, right?

It sounds like it was a busy week for everyone.  Did Trevor stay a little longer?  I feel like I remember that Ryan got home a couple of weeks ago.  That's great that Dad's got that option of a job now.  The Lord is just so good at orchestrating things in our lives so that, if we listen to the Spirit, everything works out just how it should.  I always love stories where two people had to follow promptings, but then it makes a miracle.  What are the chances, right?  I'm also coming to learn the effect that selfless service has on a person.  I've felt the need to start fasting more frequently, and I've felt that Heavenly Father has sustained me in that.  Even working hard and getting tired just doesn't matter, even not having eaten, because I know that the Lord needs me to help His children.  I was going to speak on Sunday (but didn't because of a misunderstanding) about a talk by Pres. Kimball from Oct. 1982 about 4 keys to happiness that he mentions, the last of which is being anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord's kingdom on the earth.  How true it is.  That talk by Elder Bednar was excellent, and I had mentioned it before.  Probably one of the biggest lessons I've learned so far is about the real power the Atonement can have in every part of our lives because it makes grace available to all of us.  I had talked a lot with Elder Cox about that, but it didn't help much in the moment.  I can't say I'm surprised that Mr. Jackson would ask something like that.  I don't know if there's a shortage, but egg prices are soaring.  It's cheaper to buy meat than eggs.  That's fun that you saw Trent's mom.  Make sure you tell them hi when you see them again.  Trent frequents my dreams more than anyone for some reason, so there must be something going on there.  

I don't know how Brig has dumped and been dumped when I haven't even heard that he's been dating anyone.  Good luck Tara on your senior game.  Last I heard, THS soccer wasn't so hot this year, but now Mom says you're in 2nd place, so good work.  Brian, if you're having real health problems, don't let that stop you from serving.  Talking with members in Jurica yesterday, I reflected on how much my life has changed from what I've learned here.  There is absolutely no experience that can replace it, and there is no excuse for not doing it if you want to serve the Lord.  "Therefore if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work".  That goes for everyone as well.  Whom the Lord calls, He also qualifies.  I know I couldn't do this if He hadn't enabled me to do so.

Well I had pictures, but with my camera in the state it's in, and not having an SD slot on these computers, we'll have to wait on those.  Sorry.

Mom, remember that the people that say "all's well in Zion" are being woed by the Lord.  (that's not a real criticism or call to repentance, just a joke)

I know that the Lord watches over all of His children.  He is aware of every single one of us and our needs.  I know that He hears every single one of our prayers and answers them in His own due time.  I know that striving to live like Christ is a key to our happiness.  There is no other way to be happy other than living the Gospel.  What an amazing blessing that we live in a day and place where we knew of the restored Gospel even from birth.  That will make such a difference in our lives if we let it.  I know that as we strive to become more like Christ through the power of His Atonement, God will bless us with all the attributes necessary for godhood.  We have all been given spiritual gifts, and it is our responsibility to develop them and seek for more.  I know that doing so will bring down the powers of heaven into our lives.  I know that only through the Atonement of Christ can mankind be saved.  That is God's plan.  We must live according to His laws and His ordinances to receive His blessings.  I know that the Lord always fulfills His promises.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Small and Simple Things

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: it was another rough week. No investigators came to church, but we're planning on doing some real committing and putting baptismal dates with Maria de Jesus and Alfredo Jr. I know the Lord will bless us and help us help them. We had a little scare this week with Elder Cox. During companionship inventory, we were talking about a few things, which led to us putting some goals with Elder Cox (for the second time. He never finished the first time). That took all morning, but we didn't finish, so we went to eat and came back. I really felt that we needed to do that before we left to go look for people and contact, etc. so I kept us there doing that. Eventually, through some very careful guidance of the Spirit and inspired questions, it came out that he is really struggling with our apparent lack of success and doesn't really have a clear purpose for being here. Essentially, he told me he wanted to go home and stop wasting his time. I decided that this was a matter for President Call, so I had Elder Cox call him up and they worked things out. I found out that Elder Nuñez (companion in Tequis) had been sent home for something he had done while we were companions, and I wasn't about to let another one of my companions head home. Anyway, he's staying, but I'm having a hard time helping him get a real excitement for the work even when times are hard. I would really appreciate suggestions or ideas from anyone who can offer it.

I read a talk today by Elder Ballard from Oct. 2010 "Finding Joy through Loving Service" which was really strengthening for me. In that talk, he also mentions what I've been saying about the simplicity of the gospel. He talks about the need for members to participate in missionary work. He talks about charity. Basically, that talk summed up my life for the past couple of months, but in better detail and more spiritual than I've been doing in these letters. I also read about patience today in PMG, and I felt like that's something we could all benefit from right now. I decided that patience is understanding and accepting that God works on His own time, not on ours. Dad, He promised you a great job, and He'll give it to you. Maybe all it'll take right now is just a little patience. There's also a really good quote from Pres. Monson in that section that I can't remember, but that I invite you to look up. I'm so glad you continue to go faithfully to the temple. I'm absolutely committed to going at least once a week when I get home. As strengthening as being a missionary is, there are special blessings that I need from temple service.

It sounds like conference went well for everyone except Lys in the adult session. I'm not surprised that Dad could give a great talk on service. He's become my example of consecrated priesthood service now that I reflect on the example he's given and need something to emulate. That was a cool story with the woman who lost her husband. Sometimes I think of what I would do in that kind of situation. I sure hope I'd be strong enough to continue so faithfully. I sure love hearing about those grandkids. Thanks for the updates. I love hearing every week about what new things are going on with them and the funny things they do. I'm sure looking forward to enjoying Sundays with the family again. That's great that Scott's going to get back in school. It will definitely be added pressure for a time, but I've come to appreciate so much the blessing of having an education. Every day, the majority of people that I talk with are very, very uneducated and closed-minded. I know that the pursuit of education is a godly trait, and one of His greatest desires for us in this life.

I actually started praying for at least one opportunity to do real service every day after hearing about Jeff's experience. On Tuesday, as we were coming from eating, I had a very strong impression to go see the Villa family. They happened to be on the way to where we were headed, so it all worked out great. I asked why we needed to go or what we needed to do with them, but the Spirit just told me not to worry about it and to get there quick. We speed-walked to their house to find sister Villa there with her kids just enjoying a normal afternoon. I told her I had felt prompted to come and asked how we could serve her, but she said they were just fine. While we were talking a lady showed up that sells garbage bags and talked a little with sister Villa as well. Sister Villa told us she is trying to share the gospel with the garbage bag lady, so I gave her a Book of Mormon to give to the lady when she felt to do so. Walking away from that, I asked the Lord if I had done what he needed us to, and I felt that we had. I don't know if it was the visit, the Book, or just that the garbage bag lady saw us, but I knew that I had followed a very distinct prompting and done what the Lord wanted me to. This week I was memorizing D&C 64:33. "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great". That probably wasn't a coincidence.

I know that God knows us. I know that His mighty hands are always over us to save us from physical and spiritual dangers that surround us. His love for us passes all human understanding. I know that He hears our prayers and gives us ansers to them as we pray with faith and humility. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. There is not a single soul, and single sin, sorrow, or pain, or any single weakness that cannot be healed through the power of His saving grace. I know that through the Atonement, we can put off our natural man and become a saint. Doing so is our mortal preparation for godhood. I know that the Lord chastens us because He loves us. As we seek His loving rebuke, He will mold us and shape us into what He knows we can be. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called by the great Jehovah to effect the restoration of all things to the earth. I know that Thomas S. Monson is his authorized successor on the earth today, and that no other man is authorized by God to exercise every key, power, and authority of God's holy priesthood. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and is a powerful witness of the divine Sonship of Christ.

Elder Facer

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pura Pachanga en estos partes...

Well this was a bit of a trying week for us. I feel like we were working hard, but there were just no results. I'm still doing my best to stay positive and happy, and it's been going pretty well. We did have a couple of people in church (Juan and Maria de Jesus), but neither has accepted baptism yet. We haven't been able to teach Maria de Jesus because she lives alone with a toddler, so we can't enter her house. We finally set up an appointment with her in a member's house tonight, so I'm excited for that. Also, both Luis and Alfredo were ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood yesterday. Everything worked out with Luis's little scare, and things are all just going swell. Other than that, it was a pretty rough week, though.

We had a couple of weird things happen, though. One day as we left the house, there were three girls dressed up as mimes walking around with a camera singing at people and just miming, I guess. That was weird. Another day, we contacted a guy and he talked to us for almost forever, and when he finished, he said we must be part of the 144,000 that will go to heaven. He had Catholic beliefs mixed with Jehova's Witness beliefs, so that was interesting. Good news, though:I'm saved. We also ate strawberries this week. I forgot how good strawberries are. I will be looking forward to them very much upon my return.

Mom, in the next package, could you send me another 5-subject notebook? All the notebooks here are graphed paper instead of lined, and I'm about ready for a new one.

I wasn't trying to offend anyone with what I said last week, nor to sound prideful. I've just realized that we tend to overcomplicate life and the gospel way too much. The principles are nothing more than simple, universal truths that apply to any situation. It's really just black and white, and as long as we're on the Lord's side, there's nothing to worry about. I don't think I'll face the same challenges as Brigham when I get home because we're very different people and the Lord has given us very different challenges up to this point. I'll certainly have my own problems, and I certainly won't be perfect, but I know that the things I've learned and am learning will allow me to overcome anything that comes.

That's fun that Elder Levie is doing so well. I'd like to be able to serve members like that and to strengthen them, but there really isn't the chance to do so here. Literally everyone works (women included) until 6 PM at the very earliest, and then there aren't members that live close to us to allow us to get home on time. The closest members live in gated communities that we can't enter. I wish I could be doing that, too, but it simply isn't possible in this area.

That's strange that I was the only missionary that wrote for the ward. I would've expected a better turn out. Anyway, I'll be thinking of one for next month, and I'll probably just start sending them the last p-day of the month so it gets up at the beginning of each month. The real problem will be pictures, though. Do they want a new one every month, or is my Guanábana one good enough for forever?

I know that God is our Father. He hears and answers our prayers when we pray with faith. I know that He is aware of our situation in every moment and is always working to help us. I know that He loves us and will never leave us comfortless. I know that Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten of the Father in the flesh, and that the Atonement that He effected makes possible our salvation and happiness. There is no other way nor means whereby these things come. I know that the Gospel has been restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, and that President Monson is his authorized successor today. He is a true prophet of God. I know that through the Atonement, our natures can be changed. We can not only put off the natural man, but we can become saints, and eventually gods as we apply the Atonement through gospel living. I know that God's grace will lift us to be more than what we could ever do ourselves. It is available to us all, and His Holy Spirit will bring it to us as we ask, seek, and knock.

Elder Facer

Monday, September 3, 2012

10 Transfers

who knows what that fruit is (I bet nobody will)

really good chocolate cake

a fancy hotel where our mission leader's daughter's after baptism lunch was held

the second scorpion I've seen in Mexico. He was just taking a stroll, though

the coolest chess set ever

Well this week begins a new shortened transfer (3 weeks, and thus the reason I'll be home 3 weeks earlier), and I'm still here in Jurica with Elder Cox, which I'm excited about. I really almost didn't even remember that it was transfers this week. Anyway, we had 3 investigators come to church, but none of them have accepted a baptismal date. Dang it. One of them is Alfredo Jr. He's finally starting to make things work out so that he can come to church, but still has to figure out what to do with work. Really he just needs to quit his job and get a better one. He's looking, so we're praying that he'll get something that'll give him Sundays. The other two people were actually referrals that members brought with them. I just can't tell you how happy I was when I saw members doing their job. I'd certainly call it a tender mercy that we've been working so hard so the members will do it and now they did. Preach My Gospel is true.

Aside from that, Alfredo got sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in stake priesthood meeting last night, which is awesome, and both he and Luis now have home teaching assignments. I've just loved seeing them progress and learn. We did have a little scare with Luis, though. He had his interview for the Melchizedek priesthood on Wednesday with a counselor in the stake presidency, and it turns out he wasn't quite paying a full tithe, so the counselor said he didn't have faith, which really hurt him. We passed by their house Thursday (by pure inspiration) and Norma told us all about it and that Luis was starting to be really short-tempered again and was going back to his old ways. I talked with the counselors in the bishopric and they went and straightened things out. I couldn't even begin to describe how anxious I was. The thought of Luis leaving the church over that or going inactive or something was just too much to bear. Thankfully, all went well, and he came to church on Sunday just as happy as ever.

Tell Bro. Cox thanks a lot for his messages. I always love what he sends, and it's always really inspiring for me. I prefer getting them in the mail if he wouldn't mind sending them, though. I do get them, it just takes a little more time. Mom, it sounds like work is starting to get a little hectic. All I can say is just try to be patient and pray always. That's made so much difference for me when we get stressed or things don't go well. We rely on the Lord more than we realize. It sounds like Brig's life has taken a bit of a turn as well. You'll just have to use all kinds of Mexican words in your Spanish class to counter the Spain Spanish, bro. I hope you practiced your doble sentido. I think it's fun that you're at school, though, and I know things will go well. Mom said you missed having the constant companionship of the Spirit. There's really no reason you can't have it. The sacrament works the same for missionaries and normal members. The Lord's promise to all is that we can always have His Spirit to be with us. Just remember two things, the idle mind is the devil's workshop, and distractions stop us from being diligent. Focus on the Lord and let Him guide you in doing the everday things instead of doing those things first and then looking for the Lord. Dad, keep looking for a job. I'll be fasting and praying for you, and I know the Lord will fulfill the promise that you received in that blessing a while ago. All things happen on His time, but they always happen. Sounds like Tara had a pretty crazy soccer game. I'm not sure why parents keep time, though. That's just asking for conflicts with the refs. As to being mopey all week, one of the biggest things I've learned thus far is that attitude is a choice. We must act, not be acted upon. If you're mopey, it's because you're choosing to be mopey. I, personally, think being happy is a lot better, and it only takes the decision on your part. That's super funny that Andrew is such a travieso (I couldn't think of the appropriate word in English). Also cool that Bro. Wood got back home. I thought about him a few weeks ago and that message you sent about doing their sacrament services and all that. That's cool that Romney is doing well and being bold. Even though things may be so black and white to missionaries, that only changes because of the change in attitude after the mission. The gospel and its principles don't change based on our callings or responsibilities, but when we allow other things to take over our thoughts, we lose the focus one the simple truths of the gospel. We are either in the Lord's territory or we aren't. There is no in between. Obviously, charity is essential in helping others live the gospel, but we also have to declare the doctrine with love and invite with love, or our charity isn't complete and won't yield a fulness of fruit. Just like faith, it requires action.

A very happy birthday this week to Dad and Andrew (even though mom didn't remember to mention Andrew, I remembered).

Thanks to Alyssa Shirley and Alyssa Lebaron for letters this week. We got letters on Wednesday and Sunday (that's why I like having the zone leaders go to church in the same building as us). I loved the Mexican party pictures, and I'm glad you had a good time on your trip to Southern Utah.

As far as a message for the ward, I'm not sure exactly what you want, but I'll give it a go: (feel free to edit based on what the Bishop actually wanted)
Dear Windsor 7th ward,
First of all, thank you so much for your prayers and support. I truly feel it, and I know that the Lord will bless you for your faithfulness in upholding His servants. I feel that if there is one thing I could share with you, it would have to be about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This supreme gift to man is the center of all things that we do in the gospel. It applies to every aspect of our lives, and its power to change and improve us is infinite. Every sin, weakness, lack, or fault in our lives can be made correct through this infinite and eternal sacrifice. It makes bad people good, and good people better until one day we will be not only with our Heavenly Father, but like Him. There is no other power on earth or in Heaven that can transform us into gods. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Through the shedding of His blood, he has wrought a perfect, infinite, eternal sacrifice to save all mankind that will accept him. As we apply the principles of the Gospel in our lives, we experience this power and are made more like our Father in Heaven. I know that in no other way can we find happiness, only in and through Jesus Christ, our Master.

I know that this is Christ's church. We have His priesthood authority and power to act in the very name of God. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the means whereby we are sanctified through the blood of Christ. I know that His Atonement is applicable to all men, and that every guilt, sorrow, or trial we pass through can be turned into joy and strength through this divine gift. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know that he restored the church and the gospel to the earth, and that it will never be taken from it again. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is a witness of the divinity of the Savior. It is a guide in our times of trial. I know that as we read, study, and apply it's teachings, we will grow closer to God and establish a true relationship with Him. I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He answers them according to our faith and His will. I know that He truly is our Father, and He knows and understands us perfectly. I know that we can always find comfort through Christ. He has experienced all things according to the flesh in order to succor us. We are never out of reach of His bounteous love. I know that the worth of every single soul is great in the sight of God. We are all His children, and He desires that we all return to His presence, without exception. Through the Atonement of Christ, God has made possible the bringing about of His eternal work and glory.

Elder Facer