Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Celebrations

This week was both awesome a little disappointing...I'll start off with the not so great stuff. On Saturday, we were supposed to have a baptism for three little kids, ages 8, 10, and 14. We got there and were filling the font when we realized the gas wasn't working, so all we had was freezing cold water...then we missed some things for their interviews...then the Bishop couldn't come...then no one showed up until super late...just a whole bunch of things all added up and we had to postpone it. Super bummer. The family was really upset about it. But good news, we have it planned again for January 10th, after all the breaks are over so that we can figure everything out! 
Tuesday, we had exchanges for the day with the Zone Leaders. I went to their area with one of them, Elder Cardenas. He's from Oklahoma, super happy, funny, spiritual Elder, it was an awesome opportunity learning from him for a day.

On Wednesday, we spent Christmas Eve with the Soriano family. They're like, 5th generation LDS or something, one of the first families in Mexico to join the church here. Their house used to be the meeting place for Sunday services, all kinds of cool history behind that. They were also housing a family reunion of over 100 people in their house for the first time in 20 years, so it was packed. On the brightside, tooooons of food! The turkey was gigantic, I'll send a picture. 

Christmas morning, I opened up the package I got from mom! She's just the best, she sent me so many nice things! Candy, Cocoa Puffs, Family pics, a little nativity, some Christmas lights, all sorts of good stuff. Love her. 
I also got to skype my family for a bit! That was so great to see them again and just talk to them and laugh and chat. I loved it so much! They're the best ever!

Annnnd Friday, my companion got sick. Saturday, he got me sick. Gross man. Nothing serious, just my head and throat are not happy campers. Well, then again, neither is the rest of my body haha. Ah well, I'm pretty sure I'll survive haha. 

Alma 5:57;'And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people' 

I love this scripture. When we know the teachings of Christ, and if we truly want to follow Him and ve like Him one day, we cannot allow ourselves to think that evil things are ok. Even if you are not participating, just being in that atmosphere is a bad idea and can get us into a lot of trouble, because the Spirit cannot dwell their with us. If we follow Christ, we don't turn to one side or the other when the world calls us; we continue down that straight and narrow path and NEVER diverge. Of course, we are not perfect, and the truth is we're gonna mess up, but that's why we have repentance! We are never so far away from that path that we cannot turn back! 

I love you all! Happy New Year!!

Elder Connor
  1. Elder Antonio, my new companion, and I. He's awesome! Good hard worker, really wants to serve!
  2. A little birds nest in my house in a cactus. 
  3. My little nativity! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hello all!

So my new area is made up of two little pueblos called San Pablo and Zula, and a whoooooole lot of country! There aren't very many roads, just dust and dirt everywhere (hence, San Polvo, or Saint Dust). We have some investigators and members that literally live out in the middle of nowhere, we have to hike through all these open fields, and we can see their teeny tiny house from forever away. Crazy, man. My companion is Elder Antonio. He's been serving for one transfer less than me, lives a few hours away in Ixtapa Zihutanejo, and is one of the two members in his family of 11 (I hope that makes sense...). He has been a member for just over a year, but he loves the church and he knows the scriptures really well. He's a great guy, I'm really lucky to have him! District leading is so fun, I really enjoy it! I now have this renewed desire to be more obedient and serve more diligently and everything, I love it! 

On Thursday, we had our mission wide Christmas, which was so fun! I got to see my mission dad, Elder Jimenez, as well as some other awesome mission friends. So great, I love these elders. 

One thing I've noticed in my area is that there are lots of investigators who are progressing really well, and yet, they don't have baptismal dates. I'm not sure why, but we're gonna work on getting them prepared to make those holy covenants with God so they can truly enjoy all the wonderful blessings God has in store for them. 

Alma 5:45-46; 'And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.'

I love this scripture so much! Just a little bit of back story, the prophet speaking is called Alma. As a youth, Alma hated the church and went about causing all sorts of iniquitous acts to be committed by members and nonmembers alike. One day, he was going around with his friends, the sons of Mosiah (who was a prophet and the king of the people at the time), when an angel appeared to them and told them to stop it. After much guilt and pain and sorrow, Alma repented and became one of the greatest prophets and missionaries ever. 

Now back to the scripture. Notice he does not say, 'I know these things because I saw an angel. That experience never even enters the conversation. Instead, his testimony came from the witnesses of the Holy Ghost as he prayed and fasted to gain this knowledge. Some people say seeing is believing, but honestly that's a load of...well, it's not correct. To quote President Joseph Fielding Smith;“When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even of the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase.' 

I love this! Things we see with our eyes are never going to be firm foundations for our testimonies, but the feelings of love and joy and happiness we receive when the Holy Ghost testifies of the truth to our hearts, THOSE experiences change us and make us better. I encourage everyone to do the same as Alma; that is, fast and pray for your own witness. As you do so with faith, I promise, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that you will receive your answer and that it will be a resounding 'YES!! IT IS TRUE!!'

I love you all! Merry Christmas!!!
Elder Connor

Monday, December 15, 2014

Virgin Day, Temple, and Transfers!!

I figure I'll just get the transfers stuff over with now. Here's what's going down; Elder Gonzalez is gonna stay here in Cinco de Mayo 1, and I'm leaving! My new area is Atlatzalpa, in the Mixquic zone. Super far away from where I am now. What!? Just wait, it gets crazier. Not only am I leaving the stake, I'm going to be a district leader!!! Not kidding, I thought they were joking at first. I don't even know what to think, not only am I gonna miss my area here, all the people, the members, the missionaries, etc. but I'm also pretty nervous about leading a district. I still have so much to learn, including the language, but I'm grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord and these people more fully and grow in the way God wants me to. 

So crazy. Sorry to get you all excited for this email, this week was actually kind of slow. Not many lessons, few people available, not too much work. Most of that had to do with the fact that on the 12th, every Catholic in Mexico celebrates 'El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe.' Depending on how far away they are, many Catholics start their march towards the Basilica, and they celebrate all week. On the 12th, we had to return home at 5:30 to avoid any dangerous situations. Crazy story, as we were heading home, we had about 5 minutes, so we started running, turned a corner, and ran right into a procession of marching people! Bands playing, people dancing, lots of Catholics shouting and whistling at two Mormon missionaries as we tried to make our way through as quickly as possible. So crazy, we had a good laugh about it once we were safe inside haha. 

Since we didn't have many success with contacts, we taught a lot more members. Most of those lessons consisted of giving them the 'Él es la Dádiva' cards for this month and practicing with them how to give one to a friend. We're expecting lots of references this month, which would be awesome!!

On Saturday, we spent most of the day with the Sains family at the temple visitor's center! The mom is an investigator, and the dad, son, and both daughters are less actives. They're really nice and love to let us visit, and the visitor's center was an amazing experience. We went on the tour by two sister missionaries that are serving there and the Spirit was very strong. We then ate and bought some scripture cases and books and ties (well I did, they bought other things). We wanted to stay for the lights, but they weren't gonna late them until 6:30, and we couldn't stay that long, so we left. The difference spiritually between the temple grounds and just stepping on the bus home was very noticeable. Temples are truly holy places. 

Sad news, we were told that we can't use our water heater thingies anymore, so I've been showering with cold water all week again. Seriously praying for gas in my next area. 

This week, I'm gonna share a story from Alma chapter 1. At this time, the King of the city of Zarahemla, King Mosiah (who was also a prophet), had just died. The new prophet, Alma the younger, was a really great man of God, and tried to strengthen the church in every way possible. Despite his efforts, many members of the church became prideful and left. At the same time, many that were not members also became prideful and began to persecute the members. Of this, the scriptures say the following;

Alma 1:25; 'Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable inkeeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.' 
I love this scripture! Despite all their trials, those who were truly disciples of Christ were 'steadfast and immovable' as they held onto their faith and trusted in God. They did not ever allow their doubts to grow so great that they let go of the Church; rather, they were patient in their suffering, and pressed forward, enduring to the end. Let us all be more like these members of the church, 'steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God.'
I love you all! Have a great week!!! 

Elder Connor
P.S. I'm gonna send some pictures from last week as well, to make up for what I missed.
  1. Elder Nava, my zone leader, and I. Elder Nava is such a good missionary, he really focuses and works hard!
  2. Elder Ramos and I. He has one transfer less than I, from Nevada, super great guy.
  3. Juan (my son) and I. Future rapper. Dang it, I should have gotten something signed!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Magical Ironing Board

'Design for the children all are fangle and in the high quality welcome you use our products'

That was the product description of this Magical Ironing Board toy I found. Very convincing hahaha. Don't ask what is fangle, it's definitely not Spanish, let alone English haha. 

This week we had exchanges with the zone leaders! I was originally supposed to go with Elder Merrill to his area, but they prayed about it before and felt like Elder Nava should come here with me instead. This is probably his last transfer here, so I was really glad they did. This is the only time I've had the opportunity to serve with him, and he is such a stupendous missionary. He talks to literally everybody that passes by, he listens to the Spirit constantly, he is bold but not overbearing. I learned so much from him this past week and we also traded ties. Boom. 

Yesterday, we had the Christmas devotional, a meeting in which we get to hear from the leaders of the church talk about Christmas! I really loved it this year, it was a very different experience for me. Normally, I watch it in English (duh), but they didn't have an English translation, so I had to watch in Spanish! Don't get me wrong, my Spanish has definitely improved in these past 4 months (as of two days ago, four months old!), but there was still so much I didn't understand. As a result, I spent most of the devotional listening to the Spirit and writing down whatever promptings I received as I struggled to understand the messages of the speakers, and boy was it an edifying meeting! I would listen to the words coming out of the mouths of the translators, and then listen a little harder and feel like there was something I could do better, so I would write it down. It was awesome, I want to be able to do that at all of these meetings (but in English would be nice...) 

I want to talk about one of our investigators. His name is Santos Mejía, and he is GOLDEN. He's a little tough to teach, we'll be talking about Faith and then he'll ask us if he wants to go see the 50 baby chicks he just bought, but he's reading, praying, coming to church, etc. Some of my favorite quotes by him:

'WE are the Church of Jesus Christ'
'Is what they're teaching bad? No. Is what they're saying bad? No. Is what they're doing bad? No, it's all really good, so why would you reject it?' (to his mom who doesn't want to listen to the lessons.)
We had our first lesson with him 2 sundays ago, before church, and invited him to attend with us in an hour and a half. Didn't think he was gonna come, but he did, in CHURCH DRESS. Blew my mind, that never happens here, even with some of the members. He even participated in class these past two sundays, and the things he said were totally correct, not even a little false doctrine. He could totally already be a member, it's awesome teaching him.

Saturday, we had our youth activity where we did splits with the youth throughout the stake. My son's name is Juan, he's a really cool kid, good hard worker. He hasn't finished high school yet, but he's planning on doing that this next year so he can serve as soon as possible. He also told me he wants to be a professional rapper...haha ok. 

This morning, we had our zone Christmas party. Traded more ties, beat some piñatas (I'll send pictures), and played soccer and frisbee. Boooom, Merry Christmas haha. We're also gonna start an English class! The ward got together a group of people that want to learn, and President gave us a teaching book and the go ahead, so we're probably gonna start that pretty soon. Transfers are next tuesday though, so we'll see where I end up....
I love you all! Have a great week! 

Elder Connor
Ok actually, it's not letting me attach any pictures, so I'll have to send them next week. Sorry!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mexican Thanksgiving

...doesn't actually exist. I know. Bummer. Even so, we had some delicious foods on Thursday, which was nice! 

This week was kind of slow, not as much success. Also, freezing cold. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, every morning, have to plug in the heater. And if we have lights on, it shuts off all the electricity, so we exercise in the dark. We still did a lot of good work! 

We had divisions on Friday, I went to the other area in my district with Elder Berger. He's seriously awesome, we taught 5 new investigators! He's super tall, really long legs, so I was half-walking, half-running all day haha. We ended the divisions at the chapel, and it turns out the other ward was having a wedding reception, so we ate some food and then went home. Good stuff. 

I want to tell you about one of my favorite people to visit. There's this old lady in a wheelchair in our area, who we like to go do service for. Her name is Hermana Betanzos, and she's seriously one of the nicest ladies in the world, always so happy to see us and to give us references and feed us. We went to go pick some chayotes for her (some kind of squash), she has them growing all over her house, got almost 200 in a couple hours. She doesn't have very much, but she is so giving and so humble. At the beginning of the week, we stopped by and she was feeling really sick. We gave her a blessing, and then went and asked some of her neighbors (including the bishop and stake president) to visit her and help her out. We returned the next day, and she was up and rolling around in her wheelchair, happy as ever. It was a wonderful experience. 

On Saturday, we had the first part of a youth activity called, 'Oid el Toque Del Clarin,' which is the spanish title of the Zion's Camp hymn. Seriously so awesome. In this activity, the youth came to the stake center, which we converted into a mini MTC. In the first part, we explained some of the rules of missionary work, taught them how to start teaching, and how to teach the Restoration. All this week, they are expected to follow ALL the mission rules; no phones, no facebook, 6:30 wake up call, 10:30bedtime, exercise, study in the morning, etc. Then, on saturday, we're actually going to do divisions with them from 8:00 to after lunch!! They received their 'calls' last week and we're gonna do study with them and everything. Gahhhhh I'm so pumped!!! I'll have a son for a day, that'll be kinda crazy haha. 

I want to share a couple verses from Doctrine and Covenants this week. The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations that Joseph Smith received as the church was restarting. In D&C 1:31, it says; 'For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.' That's some pretty intense stuff. No matter what we do, whether it's as little as thinking a mean thought about a sibling, or as big as shedding innocent blood (or anything in between), it doesn't matter, because we automatically exclude ourselves from God's presence. Remember Adam and Eve? All they did was eat some fruit. At first, that may not sound so bad, but remember, they were commanded not to, and for their disobedience, they could no longer abide in God's presence and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Any sin, no matter it's size, is offensive to God and disqualifies us from returning to His presence. 

Now whatever you do, DON'T STOP READING NOW. Let's take a look at the next verse, 32; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven'; No matter what we do, whether it's as little as thinking a mean thought about a sibling, or as big as shedding innocent blood (or anything in between), it doesn't matter, because we WILL be forgiven, if we truly repent and keep His commandments from then on out. Of course, repentance doesn't mean that we are completely perfect afterwards, but it does mean that we have changed the desire of our hearts and we do everything in our power to better ourselves. 

That is what this Gospel is all about; helping people to better themselves so we can eventually return to God's presence and reach our great potential as His children. This gives me so much hope, and I hope it does for you all. 

Until next week!! 

Elder Connor
P.S. sorry my pictures aren't all that fun, but here ya go; 
  1. My current planner that I made. Boom.
  2. My next planner, with the lost lamb and the prodigal son. REPENTANCE.
  3. The sleeping lady mountain from our roof. I might have already sent this one, not sure...there's a Romeo and Juliet story behind this mountain and a volcano next to her, something about how they were lovers, and then she died (or fell asleep...?) and so the volcano cries ashes. Something like that, I think it's supposed to be more romantic haha.