Monday, November 26, 2012

The Last Mexican Thanksgiving

Well nobody here celebrates Thanksgiving, but I already knew that.  I almost didn't even remember that it was, to be honest.  The bigger deal for me was that Thursday was my 17 month mark.  That just seems like too long.  Anyway, it was something of a rough week for us here.  Elder Gaytan is still struggling with a lot of things, so I try to help, but it doesn't always end well.  We ended up going to the offices again today so he could talk to President, but I don't know what the results of that visit were yet.  I tried to talk to him on Thursday for the companionship inventory, but he just ended up getting mad at me.  I'm not quite sure what to do to help him, but I'm not giving up.  Unfortunately, that essentially kills any opportunities we have to be a successful companionship until we figure this out.  That, along with me getting a little sick with fluish symptoms, has made for something of a rough week, but I'm still quite happy out here.  Funny how that works, isn't it?
Going to the offices today meant I got the Christmas package, which was absolutely excellent.  I almost laughed out loud for joy when I saw the poems on the presents.  I loved the pictures, the calendar, and everything that I get to give away.  You chose an excellent CD to give away.  I think that's one of my favorites that I have.  Really, it was just an excellent package, and I'm sad it'll be my last.  Thanks very much to all who contributed.  
Also a big thanks to Sharon for her donation.  I'm so thankful for all you've done for me.
It sounds like everyone's been pretty busy this week.  That's weird that Jeff'll be coming home so soon.  It seems like he left a long time before I did, but not really.  I'm glad everyone got to participate in Black Friday shopping.  That's something I won't be looking forward to.  I think I'll wait for Cyber Monday.  Bert Murdock is no longer the place to go for sheet music.  Really retail stores aren't the place to go.  Essentially everything's going online, just FYI.  They were talking about hiring teachers and doing lessons when I was still working there.  I'm surprised they're actually doing it, to be honest.  I don't think I ever had food allergies, and I'm sure I don't now, I was just picky.  The fact that I can now eat squash without even complaining attests to that.  Thanks for your apology, Mom.  Neither of us was ever anything close to perfect, but we made things work out pretty well.  I never thought I'd miss the family very much being out here, but I think one thing I most look forward to is having everyone over on Sunday nights.  That's awesome that Jordan's going on a mission.  He'll be going where Jeff Lewis is (although Jeff will probably be home by the time Jordan leaves).  Unfortunately, that ruins the possibility of a Festivus reunion for some time.  That's great that Nate got his Eagle.  That's funny that Jesse called to invite themselves to dinner.  Make it a good one for them.  I think it would be good to talk to them about the blessings of missionary work for them, their families, and the people they help.  Follow PMG chapter 11 and commit them to serve missions.

Here's the letter for the ward:

Dear Windsor 7th Ward,
When did the tradition of gift giving begin?  Some might say it's a pagan tradition.  Some might say it began with the Maggi visiting the baby Jesus.  Really it began before the foundation of this world when Jehovah said "Here am I, send me".  We tend to think a lot more about others in this season, and I'm all for that.  However, why don't we do it all the time?  Did Jesus only perform miracles and loving service right around His birthday?  Obviously not; He served everyone at every chance He got.  Loving service is the very essence of discipleship.  As in all things, Christ is our perfect example.  He didn't just give His Sundays or a couple of days a week to the service of His Father, He gave all that He had.  I have no doubt that there were times when He thought He deserved a rest or needed to take a break, but that wasn't part of the program.  There was no seasonality in His service, so why should there be in ours?  We have taken upon us the name of Christ, and that is no passive declaration.  We, too, must give all that we have to the cause of the Master.  I testify that doing so will bring us greater joy and peace to our lives and we will receive revelation to know how to help others.  God will give us the abilities we lack in order to help His children.  My challenge to you all is that this Christmas season become a time of conversion, not simply a short surge in selfless service.  Start now and make it the pattern for your life throughout the year.  I testify that conversion and discipleship are the only way to obtain a greater measure of happiness that we may not even know exists.  As you begin this pattern of living, I promise you that you will not lack in your homes.  Your families will be strengthened, and you will all become more Christlike and be closer to your loving Father in Heaven.  Let us give the greatest gift of all to all the children of God who stand in need of our lives of service.  As a representative of Jesus Christ, I invoke the blessings of Heaven upon you all, and wish you the very best in your efforts to emulate our Savior.

Elder Facer

 I felt pretty inspired about this letter, so I'd love it if you could make sure the whole ward hears that challenge.  I'd also love to hear feedback and opportunities they find to serve.
I know that we are in the right place.  I know that this is the only true church of Jesus Christ and the only true gospel of Jesus Christ to be found in all the earth.  I know that there is no substitute for gospel living if we wish to be happy.  I know that President Monson is a true prophet, and he holds and administers all the keys of the holy Priesthood.  I know the Priesthood is real, and it is the very power of God.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  I know that His Atonement is infinite in every way, and we are all capable of attaining to it's richness of blessings.  I know that we can be healed of any hurt through this divine power.  I know that God is our Father.  He loves us.  He knows us.  He hears and answers our prayers.  I know that His plan of salvation is the only way whereby we can be saved, and the only way that we can find everlasting happiness.  I testify that living the gospel in its fulness will bring us closer to that joy than anything else.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Suffer the little children to come unto me... for of such is the kingdom of heaven"

This was something of an interesting week.  I think everything I've told you about this area was reversed, and will be now that we don't knock and only do inspired contacts.  This has required that we visit the members more, and so now I have a lot of opportunities to uplift and serve them.  There still aren't a lot of referrals, but we're working on it.  It's been a really good experience for me to share the gospel in a non-investigator setting, and I'm excited for when I'll be home for FHE and the like.  Also, we had the primary program this week.  It was easily the worst program music-wise (singing, not necessarily song choice) that I've ever heard, but the Spirit was just so powerful.  If I ever get to choose my calling, it'd probably have to be primary pianist, but also ward organist, because I love that too much as well.  I think this time it really got me because I've really started teaching and testifying more simply lately so people better understand.  Then the primary kids get up and their whole part is "Soy un hijo de dios" or "Sé que Dios me ama" it just broke me down.  I was crying through half of it and on the edge of crying for the whole time.  I sure love those primary kids.  There was one line in a song that I really liked: "como hijo de Dios, Su luz me dará.  Su Santo Espíritu me guiará."  So simple, but so true.  Another fun surprise was that during the week we visited our ward mission leader who is usually kind of depressed, and I felt to share a scripture with him.  On Sunday, he based his lesson (he gives gospel principles) on what I shared and said how much it helped him.  As much as I wish he's just give a lesson from the manual, I was glad that what I said helped him.

Before I forget for the third week in a row, happy birthday to Scott on the 3rd, to Mom on the 23rd, and happy anniversary to Mom and Dad on the yesterday.  I know that's grammatically incorrect, but that's what came out.   It sounds like everyone's doing well.  I didn't hear about Tara's date with David; I guess she didn't feel the need to share about that.  Other than that, it sounds like things are going well with her.  Lys, the honeydew melons there must be bigger than the ones here, or your baby shrunk.  I hope everything goes well with your crazy week of traveling and shopping and ruining family traditions yet again (as if we haven't done that enough in past years.  Who buys pizza on Thanksgiving?).  Brig, we do companionship inventories every week, and it helps, but doesn't solve all the problems all the time.  Do I even know this Heather that you're dating?  I'm glad that your priority is on getting married, but remember that it will happen on the Lord's time.  He knows your desires, and will grant you the blessings you need when you're most ready.  I sure love hearing about those grandkids.  I'm glad everything turned out ok with Andrew.  I imagine that's a really tough, worrisome situation to be in as a parent.  That's fun to hear about the other missionaries.  I've had times where I felt like John Knaphus.  I had to learn that real success is based essentially on our worthiness, our consecration, and the Christlike attributes we develop (PMG p. 10-11).  If we do our part, it doesn't matter if the people are cold and we don't teach much.  The Lord will be pleased with us, and His is the only approval that really matters. I don't really know how my mission could be blessing the youth and children, but I'm so glad it is.  Please tell them all that I love them and hope that they will also serve missions when the time comes.  There is just nothing better for a person than to truly dedicate their life in service to the Lord.  If they come out half as blessed as I have been, it will easily be the greatest blessing in their life up to that point.  I hope I'll have the opportunity to directly influence them when I get back.
I also feel like some of the best times in my mission are yet to come.  I'm progressing so much in every way, and I'm just so thankful that the Lord has given me this chance to redeem the foolish youth that I was and turn into the man that He needs me to be.  As much as I learn and progress, I know that I am still nothing.  I can only do this work because the Lord sustains me through every minute of every day.  If I don't trust in Him and His guidance, we don't have success, and I simply can't do it.  I've come to understand the true nobility in the calling of a teacher.  That's really all that we do, and there is no greater call.  "and ye receive the Spirit by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach".  How true it is. 

We played soccer today, and I'm super out of shape and have lost most of my skill.  Dang.  Also this week on Wednesday is interviews, so that'll mean a couple of letters and maybe the package if it's arrived. 

I just know that this is the Lord's work.  I know that His hand is in every single part of this work that takes place.  As able as we may think we are, only the Lord can do His work, and He allows us to be instruments in His hands to help Him and His children.  I know that our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can know.  As infinite and eternal as He and His creations are, He knows us each individually and perfectly.  I know that He hears and answers our prayers.  I know that as we love others and follow the Spirit, any fear we have will leave, and we can become saviors on Mount Zion.  I know that there is power in covenant keeping.  As we strive daily to live according to those sacred promises we have made, heaven's richest blessing will be poured out upon us.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  We simply could not make it through this life without Him.  I know that as we come unto Him and repent, we can find true happiness.  There is no other way to find it.  Wickedness never was happiness, nor is it now, nor will it ever be.  I know that Heavenly Father can show us things as they really are and give us strength to follow Him daily through the grace of the Atonement wrought by Christ.  I know that His love, reach, and power are infinite, and that He can save us from sin, sorrow, and, when necessary, ourselves. 

Elder Facer

Monday, November 12, 2012

Regional Conerence

Well this week we overcame one difficulty only to run into another one that I once knew long ago.  We finally found some people this week, almost all of which accepted baptismal dates, but then nobody came to church.  Excellent.  It's ok, though.  They're more likely to come this week now that we'll be back in the normal place and time as opposed to 40 minutes away.  This week we had regional conference, and it was really good.  We heard from Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Sister Carole A. Stevens, Elder Don R. Clarke, and Elder Scott.  There was quite the variety of themes, but it was still really good.  Elder Scott came and said that he didn't have a written message because he wanted to talk "heart-to-heart", then talked about how much he loves that he was able to learn Spanish.  Saying a thankful prayer this week, I had thought of that, too, and it's really such a blessing to have learned Spanish.  Then he went on to talk about marriage and the sealing ordinance.  I love when he talks about that because you can really feel how strong his testimony is of that having lost his wife 18 years ago.  Anyway, it was a really good conference, and I came away from it quite happy.
It's weird to remember that snow exists.  It hailed once when I was in Tequis, but that's the closest thing to snow that's existed in this part of Mexico for some 30 years.  I didn't hear anything about that earthquake, and we didn't feel it, either.  That's good that Dad's been able to work, but I sure hope something more stable comes along.  I had to focus a lot while I was playing in the pictures you got because we were singing "Have I Done any Good", and I don't think I've played that one for reals in several years.  Lys commented that my suit looked a little big.  I may have just been slouching or sitting awkwardly, but it still fits fine.  I've put on weight (pure muscle) and gotten skinnier, but the suit still fits fine.  It sounds like all the missionaries are doing great.  It's weird to think that two of my friends (Trent and Jeff) will be home in January as well.  That's awesome that the church is using people from our ward in a movie.  I'll have to check that out sometime.  We always used to say that Bro. Jordan looked Islamic when he would grow his beard out and we were just foolish deacons.  I did hear about Obama, but right now it really doesn't mean much to me.  I wasn't interested enough in politics before leaving to know what he did, and I missed the second half of his term.  Elder Lewis and I should be flying back the same day as far as I'm aware.  That's fun that you got to go to Canyon's primary program.  The ward primary sent me an email saying they had theirs this week, too. Ours is this Sunday.  I remember being quite impressed with Brigham's Spanish when we spoke on Mother's Day before I left.  Either I didn't know any better or he's lost some of it, but I'm surprised he's struggled in 321. 
Well that paragraph was far too long.  Good news this week: I got two letters from Alyssa (10/15 and 10/22).  Unfortunately, I think everyone else has stopped writing me.  I haven't heard from any aunts in months, and really it was only them and Alyssa that write me.  I'm sure it's fine.  Thanks for sending the package.  It'll probably get here way too early and I may have it when we have interviews on the 21 of November, but that's just fine with me.
I know I don't say this enough, but thanks for sending details about everyone.  Time is going by so quickly that it's easy to lose track of people and events and big happenings and the like.  I love hearing about the grandkids and their crazy antics.  As much as I'd love to hear more from more people, thanks very much for what you do send.
I know this church is true.  I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that through him, the priesthood and all its keys were restored to the earth, allowing us to enjoy a fulness of blessings and happiness in the life to come.  I know that family's are central to God's plan for our happiness.  I know that family's can be eternal through the keys restored through Joseph Smith.  I know that Pres. Monson has all of those keys and exercises them.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  His Atonement is infinite in depth and coverage, allowing everyone to find relief from anything.  I know that we can find comfort and peace by following His example.  Though the road to discipleship isn't an easy one, I know that Christ has walked every step of the way and will lead us along.  I know that when we face challenges, He is there for us, saying "Be of good cheer, it is I.  Be not afraid".  He will sustain us in all of our challenges if we will turn to Him and lay our burdens on Him.  I know this is true with all of my heart and soul.
Elder Facer

Monday, November 5, 2012

"They did teach with power and authority"

This is probably the worst part of Mexican weather.  We're still in the rainy season, but it's starting to get cold.  I'll probably have to break out the jacket again soon.  This was probably the worst week we've had so far in this area, but I felt like we worked harder than we had before, so I'm not too worried about that.  The good news is that God saw our work and blessed us... on his own time.  We visited a referral with a member Sunday night, and they all accepted baptismal dates (José, Reina, Alejandro, and Jairo.  Parents aren't married and Reina isn't divorced) for the 25.  We're praying for a miracle.  Getting that referral was also something of a small miracle.  We visited a returned missionary and his very pregnant wife (she's due close to Christmas, but will probably have a Cesarian right around Thanksgiving.  Good thing they don't celebrate that here).  Anyway, we showed up in the middle of their día de muertos party, but they let us in to give her a blessing (the RM currently has his rights suspended.  That's uncommonly common in this ward), so we did and right after he called his friend (Jairo) and said "hey, come to church with me tomorrow" and he did.  Excellent.  After the blessing, we shared a message with them about faith.  Sunday, the wife signed up to give us food this month after not having done so in about a month and a half.  It was kind of a nice little return for the service we gave them (that doesn't count as priestcraft, does it?)
I also had an interesting experience this week with a non-member whose wife and kids are all members.  Out of pure inspiration, we decided to visit his wife to try to get a referral, but he happened to be there, so we took full advantage of it.  We taught lesson 3 (the gospel of Jesus Christ), but I felt like every word out of my mouth was guided and directed by the Spirit.  It was such a powerful lesson.  He told us that he knows the church is true, but that he can't be baptized.  He wouldn't tell us why (his wife had already told us that he's a pretty heavy drinker), so we left it at that for the moment.  They went out of town after that, and we saw him briefly on Sunday.  Walking away then, I was wondering when he'll finally get baptized, and the impression came to me "you'll baptize him, but you have to work for it".  I felt a connection with him since the first time his wife told us his situation, and now I know why.  I know that the Lord can use me to help him, but I'm asking for your prayers on his and my behalf as well.  He's Salvador Cabrera (they call him Chava).  
Really I just feel like this week I've started teaching not just good, but excellent.  I don't know what the difference is, but I just feel like I'm completely guided by the Spirit in every teaching situation, and I teach with a lot more power and authority.  Maybe not quite as much as the sons of Mosiah, but I'm getting there.  
I haven't mentioned much about study lately because I mosely did it as filler when I didn't know what else to write about but I felt like my letters were really short.  It sounds like everyone's been pretty busy this week.  All we did for the holidays was avoid the drunks and keep on working.  Something they do here that they didn't do last year in Apaxco was walk around with goblets filled with incense or something that really just smelled like weed.  I had to hold my breath every time we passed one because it just made me sick.  I had remembered this week that Callie was getting married, but I didn't remember when.  I'm not sure anyone ever said when, but now I know, I guess.  A few others have gotten married already, but she's among the first.  As far as the package goes, I would like more music (strictly motab, please.  remember, I have called to serve, this is the christ, and consider the lillies), but other than that, I really don't know.  I had a huge peanut butter craving a few weeks ago, but I can buy that here (even though it's super expensive).  Ah, I know.  Mint brownies.  That would be the best.  Thank you in advance.  My camera's been good, but I've seen lots of other ones with more features and things that I would like to have.  Really, we don't and shouldn't take too many pictures.  The rule is that we shouldn't take pictures while we're proselyting.  That means only on Mondays before 5 essentially.  Really we don't do a lot of fun things.  This district doesn't do Monday activities, and we use all our time on Monday to wash, write, etc. anyway.  We're still trying to figure out how to work with the ward, but it's difficult.  There just isn't a lot of desire to help with missionary work, and even less understanding of how.  We hear from Sister Call every now and then, but usually it's just a short message in the letter from President.  She's been starting to do very mom-ish things in the mission lately, and is teaching missionaries how to direct music, make a 72 hour kit, and other such things.  
I know this is the Lord's work.  He directs it and takes part in it.  I know that living the fulness of the gospel is the way to happiness.  Doing all that the Lord has commanded is the only sure way to be happy and safe regardless of our life situation.  I know that Heavenly Father knows and loves us.  He blesses us for our obedience.  He sends His Spirit to guide and direct us when we are worthy and do all we can to seek that divine help.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  His Atonement is infinite and perfect.  We never reach our last chance so long as we are willing to come unto Him.  I know that as we do so and repent, we find true happiness.  The only way to be really happy and have peace in this life is by aligning our will and our actions with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  He knows us and loves us.  When we are doing His work, He will go before our face, He will be on our right hand and on our left.  His spirit will be in our hearts, and His angels will be round about us to bear us up.  I know this is true.


Elder Facer