Monday, November 24, 2014

A Week of Miracles

This week, I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of people with different religious backgrounds and ideas. Not that this is unusual, it happens everyday, but I had some rather profound experiences, all of which made me realize how many people there are that just don't know the truth. I want to share a few simple truths in this email. 
  1. We still need prophets- This is something that some people don't know! but it's true, prophets are ESSENTIAL to God's work. If we didn't have prophets, it'd be like being in class without a teacher or a textbook. Or the internet. We just have to figure it all out ourselves, and while we may make some good advances, we can't hope to reach the same understanding as we could with their guidance. Amos 3:7; 'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.' NOTHING. That's how important prophets are. Not just anyone can be a prophet though, they must be worthy Priesthood men whom God has called to guide His church (one guy tried to tell us that he wasa prophet this week. Pretty sure he was drunk.)
  2. If we have prophets, revelation persists in these days. What happened after Christ died? Did He stop leading His church? Of course not! Ephesians2:20; 'And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner.' Christ still leads His church and directs His prophets, AS WELL AS HIS PEOPLE. We can all receive revelation for ourselves. That is what our message is all about! We as missionaries are humans, and we have the ability to lie. We could. Not saying that we do (because we don't) but we have that option. Our invitation is not to trust us or our word, but to trust God. Ask Him if it's true. Because God CANNOT lie. He can't do it. He WON'T do it. It's not in His nature, as a perfect being. 
  3. Another thing that is important; The Bible is imperfect. It is not a perfect book. It is extremely useful and contains much of God's word, but after the death of Christ and His apostles, many people changed things in the Bible. Over the past 2000 years, much has become distorted and corrupted. Isaiah 24:5; 'The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.' Things have changed, and for that reason, God in His immense and perfect love for His children, has given us the Book of Mormon. This Book has not been defiled as the Word of God. It have only one translation, dont by the first Prophet of this time, Joseph Smith. He did not write it. He translated by the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost, given to him by God. It contains the fulness and plenitude of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is a perfect Book. 
These are the things, among many others, of which we teach and testify. Basic principles of the Gospel that I KNOW that so many people do not. If you do not yet know these principles for yourself, please please please follow the steps to gaining this knowledge; 
  1. read the Book of Mormon
  2. I mean read read it. Study it out. 
  3. Pray about it, with a sincere desire to know. 
You may not receive your answer right away, maybe not even for weeks after, but if you continue to do so, you WILL know that these things are true. I thought I knew when I was a kid, but really, I just knew that everyone else knew. When I learned for myself, I was 16, just two years ago, and it has changed my life in so many, unimaginable and wonderful ways. 

I'm sorry this email isn't very much of an update, but that's what I'm gonna talk about now. As of last week, (week 15) we had 4 investigators, and no one was progressing. This week, we found 15 new people to teach, 6 of whom have baptismal dates, and 9 of whom pertain to two different families. One of them was a street contact, and all the others were references from members. The one street contact has cousins who are super faithful members and who all served missions. Basically, the effect the members have had on this work in one week has been astounding. Were it not for the members working with us, we would probably be at the same spot we were last week. I feel so blessed to be a part of this great work of inviting souls to come unto Christ. 

Other news, we had a trio day with Elder Cory! It was fun, I made him speak spanish so he'd learn haha. Good stuff. 

I love you all! Have a great week! 
Elder Connor
  1. An origami dress shirt a ward sister missionary taught me how to make
  2. Close up (it has my name tag!!)
  3. We had a pizza party! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Friends, New District

I guess I'll start off with the new district. My companion is Elder Gonzalez, from Guatemala, and he's super great!! He doesn't speak a ton of English, but he is always complimenting me ('You are the best!'). Dang it Elder, I'm trying to be humble here! Elder Berger and Elder Cory are the other companionship. Elder Berger has 14 months in the mission, and he is awesome! He's lost something like 50 pounds or more since he's been here, such a champ. Elder Cory is new! He doesn't speak a lot of Spanish, so I try to help him out. I totally remember being in those shoes and I'm realizing how far I've come with the language in these 3 and a halfish months. I'm still not at all fluent, but...well, for example, we had a zone conference this morning and a spiritual thought in English, and I was gonna add a little spiritual insight I had, and then I couldn't remember how to say it in English...yeah, I felt Hispanic. Yay!...

Wednesday was a day of very mixed emotions. We had to leave a bunch of investigators this week because they really have no desires to change. We have 4 now, and none of them are progressing. It was really sad for us. BUT! We decided to go visit a little family of a mom and her two kids. I love this family, the son is 16 and just got ordained a priest. The daughter is 14, and a little rebelious. We went by there place and talked with them a bit, and we soon found out that their house had never been dedicated. Normally this is something that a Melchizedek Priesthood holder would do, but families can also do it together. I felt impressed to ask the son, Brian, if he would do so, after our lesson. We talked about obedience and how we can grow closer together as families. 

Afterwards, as he offered the prayer, I felt the Spirit super strong. We all ended up crying, because we could tangibly feel a huge difference in the presence of the Spirit settle over the home. It was an incredible experience, especially for this little family. What a great blessing that they have a loving mother who looks out for them, that they have a worthy priesthood holder in their home, that they have the Gospel to help them get through the trials in their life! This Gospel is the perfect truth, something I know from having seen it in action, changing the lives of those I've met who have accepted it. 

Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference. During the sunday session, we had some speakers broadcast talks to us; Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the 70, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the 70, Elder Richard J. Maynes, Sister Linda S. Reeves of the General Relief Society Presidency, and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles! Sister Reeves and I met on the plane ride out to the MTC, and I'm telling you, she totally requested to speak at this Stake Conference because she knew I'd be there. We're best friends, guys. They all had to speak in Spanish and most of them don't know the language, but even with all their mistakes and their Northern accents, the Spirit was strong as they testified of the truth! 

Last week we had to get flu shots, and last night, I got pretty sick. It didn't last very long, I'm a lot better now after a 12 hour nap, but lemme tell ya, it was no fun haha. In other news, I've decided that Mexican hamburgers are better than those in the states. Call me un-American, but the ones down here actually taste good. 

I'd like to share a scripture in Mosiah 23. In this chapter, Alma the older and his people have escaped the armies of the wicked King Noah and built an awesome city in this beautiful land named Helam. They're doing great, lots of prosperity and blessings, super obedient righteous people, all that good stuff. Then, all of a sudden, this Lamanite army comes out of nowhere and brings them into bondage.

Verses 21-22 say; 'Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.'

Sometimes in our lives, we're doing all these good things and being super obedient, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes this great trial. We may often think, 'Why me?? Why do I have to suffer even though I'm being such a good person right now?? Why not my mean boss, or Kim Jong Un, or someone else??' My belief is this. Sometimes we are like the people of Alma, in that we're being righteous, receiving blessings, and not getting prideful. God can see our reaction to the blessings we receive, and now it's time to test our faith. He knows that we're righteous when we're comfortable, but what about when we have trials? Will we stand firm in our beliefs? Will we still trust in God? Or will our confidence crumble? 

I can testify to you that if we do not let go of our beliefs amidst our trials, we will be lifted up so that we can overcome them. The people of Alma were faithful, even when tried, and because of that, they were also lifted up. God does not cause bad things to happen, but sometimes, He allows us to experience evil so we can truly appreciate the good and seek after it. There's a lot of evil going on in the world right now, and so it is our responsibility (and to our benefit) to stand strong and draw ourselves even closer to God. 

I love you all!! 
Elder Connor
  1. Me, Elder Pancheo (my little brother!!!) and Elder Jimenez
  2. My zone! Love these guys
  3. My district! from left to right: Elders Cory, Gonzalez, Berger, Me

Monday, November 10, 2014

Proper Grooming and Scorpions

This week we had lots of meetings. On Tuesday, we had an 'ending of training' meeting, where all the trainers and their sons attended. It was awesome to see the rest of my generation and how far we've come in only three months. Also, Elder Brewer was there!! We had a fun little reunion, I missed that guy. 

Wednesday, was Elder Jimenez' 21 monthiversary, and my 3 monthiversary was Thursday, so we bought a pizza and celebrated! Sad thing was, we were both sick that morning. I recovered pretty quick, but he's been sick all week. As a result, we didn't get to do a whole lot of work, which was a bummer. 

Thursday, a Seventy came to visit, Elder Salinas! Apparently the whole 'Dallin H. Oaks coming to visit at the end of the month' thing was a lie, he apparently visited at the beginning of October and we weren't told until later...but Elder Salinas was AWESOME! He met with my zone and two others on Thursday and talked a lot about how to be better missionaries. His wife also spoke and talked about proper grooming. Classic. It was a really inspirational and fun meeting, I gave the closing prayer! 

Friday, he met with the same three zones, plus the leaders of the stakes that they pertain to, so it was a nice big meeting! The main message was that the First Presidency has charged the Church in Mexico with becoming autosufficient. I love it!! It was a discussion meeting, so I stood up and spoke! Such a blessing that people can somehow actually understand most of what I say haha. Here in Mexico, there are lots of people that join the church because they want to get something out of it, but they don't give much. It's really sad to see because these generally go inactive. Part of the charge of the First Presidency is to become first autosufficient in your faith. This is so important! It's nice to know that someone else knows the Gospel is true, but how far is that going to get you? It may carry you through your life, but a testimony of someone else's testimony will not help you as much as your own can. If you know for yourself that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, etc, then you can not only receive more blessings in this life, but you can also bless the lives of others more effectively!! As we are autosufficent in our faith, we become better tools in the hands of the Lord; forget the manual screwdriver, let's use the electrical power tools!! 

My Spanish has gotten to the point where I came up with my very own, HILARIOUS Spanish joke! It's seriously so funny, I'll tell you all about it one day. 

Sunday was the Primary Program! It was so fun to hear the little kids sing and speak and direct the meeting! That's right, one of the primary kids directed it! All the kids were dressed in white and the girls had matching red bows with blue or yellow ribbons, and the guys had matching red ties with a blue and yellow stripe (for the primary colors). It was adorable, Mom, you would have loved it! 
I suppose I've made you wait long enough. TRANSFERS!! I'm staying and Elder Jimenez is heading out! My new companion will be Elder Gonzalez, from Guatemala! Dad, you might somehow know his family, I'm gonna find out! He's in my generation, so we're gonna greenie break each other! I'm excited! Elder jimenez is going to open a new area, be a district leader, AND train again! I'm gonna have a baby brother!! I will call him Jacob. 

I know I normally share scriptures at the end of my letters, but this week I'm gonna share a quote from our meeting with Elder Salinas. As he was bearing his testimony, he said this; 'The best way we show our love for someone is seen when we show our love for Christ.' BOOM. I love that! Lots of people feel love in different ways; for example, through receiving gifts, or service, or what have you. But EVERYONE can feel the love Christ has for them, which love works through His servants; us! If we love Christ, we DO those things that He asks us to do. We don't just sit around twiddling our thumbs, we get on our feet and ACT. As we serve, share, help, teach, testify, and invite others, we show our love for Christ and His teachings and they can feel it! I love that!! That's why I'm serving a mission; I want people not only to know that I love them, but more importantly that God does and that He has a plan for all of us. THAT is what's important. 

I love you all! Have a great week!! 

Elder Connor

1 & 2: The Stake President's son taught us how to make scorpions out of copper wire. So cool!! 

3: For our celebration, we made signs. His basically says (not a direct translation), '21 months down' and mine basically says '21 months left...' So clever, I know haha. 

1. Elder Brewer and I, reunited! Love this guy.

2 & 3. This is a fun little family whom I love, their kids are so funny and fun! Sarah, the kid on my left in the blue sweater is your age, in case you were wondering ;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Still pretty white"

This week was kinda rough in some ways, and really spiritual in many others! 

On Monday night, we had planned to stop by a family's house and teach a lesson, but when we arrived, there were tons of people there. We soon found out that a member of the family, the dad's dad, had passed away the night before. We stayed for the Mormon funeral service, and I soon realized that they weren't gonna open up the floor for others to speak. I feel like it's very important that missionaries speak in funeral services to let people know who we are and what we do. It's the perfect opportunity to open the door for someone to hear our message about eternal families and the Plan of Salvation. I leaned over before it was over and asked the bishop's counselor who was conducting the service if I could say a few words. He paused, thought about it, and then nodded his head. Since my first week here (maybe it was my second) when I spoke at a funeral, my Spanish has grown to the point where I am now able to convey my ideas, generally. It was by no means perfect, far from it, but I felt the Spirit, and I think so did the others in the room. I feel so blessed to have been able to be God's mouthpiece on that night. 

On Tuesday, we were walking home for the night and this guy stopped us in the street. He asked us if we were the missionaries for the LDS Church and we told him we were. He then proceeded to tell us his name is Robert, that he is a member, and that he had moved here a month ago from California, where he'd lived his entire life, so he needed to transfer his records. When he found out I'm from the states (I mean, it's not that hard, I'm still pretty white...), he wouldn't stop speaking English to me haha. We told him we'd come pick him up for church that Sunday and left. A couple days later, he saw us again in the street and totally remembered my name! We got his records transferred, and he came to church for the first time in about 3 years. He stopped attending when he was 13 (9 years ago) except for random Sundays throughout the years. It appears he really wants to make a much better, more spiritual life for himself down here, which is awesome to see. 

Thursday, I went on splits with a YSA, Rafael, who's 20 years old. He was baptized in January, without his parents' knowledge, and when they found out, they shoved tons of anti mormon literature in his direction. He remembered he'd felt right about joining, and when he prayed again, he felt the same way. He knew the church was true, and when he wouldn't back down, his family completely rejected him. In these past few months, they've allowed him to come back, but they will not hear anything about the church and get very upset whenever he attends. Through all this, he still wants to serve a mission. He knows it's true and he wants to share it. It was a wonderful experience to serve those few hours with him, I learned a lot. 

Friday was Halloween here, but it's not seriously celebrated. The real party came on the 1st and 2nd, saturday and sunday, Los Días de los Muertos. Saturday is Día de los Niños, when they celebrate the lives of the children that have passed on. Everyone dressed up, and went asking for candy, like on Halloween. It was really cool to see, there were some crazy costumes. I wanted to take pictures, but I'd really rather not have my camera get stolen. Sunday, they celebrated the lives of the older people who had died. Almost everyone has an altar to their family members who've passed on with their favorite foods. As a result of the festivities, work was kinda slow and not super productive, which was a bummer. 

Another bummer was that we stopped by Maribel and Angel's place on Sunday to go to church, only to find out that they no longer live there. This hit hard for me. I had really loved teaching them, I really thought they were going to accept the message, and now I can't teach them anymore. I've been praying for the missionaries to find them again, wherever they may be. 

I want to share a scripture in Mosiah 5:13; 'For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served,and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?'

God knows us and we knew him, but when we came here to live on this Earth, we forgot our premortal life. The purpose of this life is to repent of our sins and do the will of the Father. But how can we do that if we do not serve Him? How can we know what He wants for us if we do not work to build His Kingdom on this earth, if we do not work to bring others unto Him? The truth is, without doing what He commands us to do, we cannot truly come to know Him ourselves. So go to work! 

I love you all! 
Elder Connor

I didn't take any fun pictures this week, so here's my apartment! Sorry I'm lame...
  1. Entryway/kitchen from the door
  2. our little study room
  3. bedroom