Saturday, July 18, 2015

The End

It has been a little over a week since I returned from Guatemala.
So, there have been a lot of different things going through my head, trying to adapt to not having such a structured schedule, food that I seem to enjoy more, and the odd sickly-sensation of having left a part of me behind in Guatemala. I wasn't quite ready to make the change back into reality, but that's what life is all about: moving on, trying harder and going upward and onward.

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” -Walt Disney
It's time to move on...

Not to leave behind the lessons learned, but to put them into practice, to grow even more and to carry a part of Guatemala with me...wherever I go next.
I am so glad that I took the opportunity to go on a mission. It has blessed my life more than anything else that I have ever done. It has been a gift, a refiners fire and living proof that my Heavenly Father is aware of me, and knows how to help me through the good and bad...that he has a plan for me and for everyone that I come in contact with every day.
He knows about you too. And he will help you just as he did me.
I would like to thank all of the wonderful people who helped cheer me on throughout my whole mission. For President and Sister Stay and their marvelous example of love and devotion, for President and Sister Caffaro, for being so full of faith and dedication...I have been blessed with fantastic Mission Presidents who have taught me so much.
I'm grateful for everyone I was able to teach and be taught by, for my incredible family who was right there with me every step of the way. For every experience that I was able to have and for the amazing missionaries, members and investigators who impacted my life every day.
I am going to miss Guatemala, but I am proud of all of the work I did there. Even if it doesn't feel real to be back in the United States, it's life now. And I wouldn't change all of the things that I learned on my mission for the world. 
So, it's back to the daily grind for, work and family.
But now it all means a lot more.
I know this church is true, I know that Jesus Christ is our savior, lord and redeemer. He died on the cross for all of our sins.
I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith was called of God to open the dispensation of the fullness of times and help to continue the great call of our messiah to, "Preach his gospel to every nation kindred, tongue and people" a cause to which I have just dedicated 2 whole years.
I loved my mission and I am so grateful to have served.
This fantastic journey that I embarked on has reached it's end...but with the faith and trust that this work will move will keep moving forward.

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 102: Mission Accomplished‏

I'm in denial.
Don't worry, I'll probably get over it by Wednesday, but as for today I'm not in any position to go home. Or perhaps I am, or perhaps I HAVE been for a very long time now...whatever the answer may be, I don't know if I'm ready to accept it.

If I could, I think I would stay here for another week....But my plane ticket is already bought and things are all ready for me to go home....
Except for my suitcases, that is, which are something that I will have to work on for a while tonight.

But, all in all, I am confident to say that I have served a worthy full-time mission. That these past two years I have grown in spirit and in character...that I am a better person than I was when I left.
No, I'm not perfect, but I am getting better day by day.
Its so hard for me to believe that 2 years ago this month I set off on such a grand the bright, innocent boy in the airport, young enough to make my fellow passengers wonder if my parents knew I was here.
After having the time of my life in the CCM, I went to San Juan and spent 6 months there.
With Elder Hernandez I learned the ropes of being a missionary, how to get things done...I learned how to work with members and how to love the people whom we served.
With Elder Alvarez I learned about friendship, how to be a true and honest servant of the Lord. How not to buckle under pressure.
Then I received my true trainer: Elder Beckstead. With him I learned how to be an example, and how to work my very hardest every day (even in my dreams I found myself knocking on doors), how to enjoy the mission and help others to do the same.
Afterwards I went off to Jutiapa, where I learned from my Brazilian companion how to be exactly obedient. And how true humility is not only doing the Lord's will, but having the sincere desire to subject myself to his will...with a smile on my face.
In Montufar I learned from Elder Gil that it's important to have a friend who loves you enough to correct be diligent in working even if we don't see the results. How to be dedicated to the work of the Lord in every moment, not just in body but in spirit as well.
From Elder Prestwich I learned to have faith in our works. Just as Faith without works is dead, works without faith is as well. I learned that perfection is a process, and the most important thing is to make sure that you are always improving.
When I went to Tesoro with Elder Argueta I learned how to love someone in spite of a wrong choice that they make. How to desire the spiritual aid of another...but to also respect their agency. When he went home I was sad.
Elder Linford taught me to be a Leader, that a leader is someone who inspires, uplifts and aids all of those for whom he is accountable...and that numbers don't matter as much as the heart and progress of the Missionary.
Elder Gudiel helped me to learn that every person, every investigator, member and missionary has a story, that they themselves have deeper meaning than the face value, and that we can help them if we only listen.
Elder Simoni in Panorama taught me how not to overstress the things that we take a breath and do it right the first time. To be the person that people enjoy being around without compromising your standards.
Elder Chunga was a truly good friend as well. A person who defied the popular opinion for the things that are right. How to work your hardest in spite of the hardness of the people's hearts.
When I came here to Castillo Lara I learned a lesson with Elder Hughes on to be truly good and without guile, and how to not only accept my own weaknesses but also those around me.
And now, with Elder Taya I have worked harder than I have with anyone else....and learned that if you can be someone's friend...they will always have your back.

Truly. I have had an incredible mission.

I will write more about what happens these last 3 days on Thursday or so...Thank you to everyone who has been such a great support to me during this great adventure I am so happy and grateful that I was able to get this far!
I may as well start packing
Stay Classy
See you on Wednesday!

-Elder Tyler J. Monson

What a beautiful tribute to each companion Elder Monson has had. I love how he tells what he has learned from each and taken that and applied it.  He had some amazing experiences that built and shaped his mission and will shape his life.

The last "I'm on" email this morning. I'm super emotional with too many emotions to identify but the strongest one right now is gratitude. I'm grateful for a son who chose on his own to serve a mission, to go when he did, to answer the call and serve with all his heart, might, mind and strength. I'm grateful for a son who did not quit, did not give up on himself, on the mission, on his companions, on those he taught, the investigators, the district and zone he lead, he did not quit when learning the numbers in the office as Secretary.  He did it!  All on his own... he learned to rely on the Lord and never give up. I'm grateful for two wonderful mission presidents and their wives who took care of him, who loved him, corrected him, listened to him and protected him.  I'm grateful for Elder and Sis. Trapnell who took care of him during surgery and after. I'm especially grateful for the members and investigators who took him in, fed him, loved him, and listened to him. I'm grateful to the Lord for protecting him and allowing him to learn and grow. 

And now its time for me to sign off... no more Missionary Mondays (atleast until the next child goes out). I'll miss the regular communication with Tyler, the small insight into what he was going and feeling.  He wrote every week, never did i have to wonder and I'm so grateful for that. His pictures are worth a thousand words too.

Can't say it better the Elder Holland:
"Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it— You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” 
And guess what... that's exactly what Elder Tyler Monson did! And I believe he will keep doing, life has another beautiful chapter for him and it starts Thursday morning!
Love you to the moon and back Elder!  See you Wednesday!
-Love, Mom

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 101: A Promise‏

Of all of the overwhelming feelings that I felt during this week, the most impactful was that of hope. And for me, that was something that was the most surprising...the comforting sense of a future achievement was one of the last things I expected to experience.  

The week as a whole had it's fair share of triumphs and was uneven and yet it was perfect, like a really good episode of Psych...and that was all I needed to lift my spirits even higher.
Things got kicked off a week ago, as we were playing soccer with our zone and I received a call from the Assistants informing me about my exit interview....
The next day.
So...on that note, I started off my week...just a little bit nervous for what was going to happen on the morning of my birthday.
I soon found out, at 9 a.m. in the mission offices (a place I know all-too well). It was a lively conversation with President Caffaro, talking a lot about the future....about everything that was to come...from that point and onward. He said that the 5 basic principles and actions in the mission follow in full-force even afterwards:
1. Plan
2. Find
3. Teach
4. Baptize
5. Retain
Utilizing those things will get you far...I'll just let you think about it and I'll explain it to you later.
The whole rest of the day I was stuck thinking about everything that was going to happen after Wednesday the's a lot to think about for a kid who just turned 20...Marriage, Family, Studies, Work....
We'll see how I fare.
I'm Sure I'll be fine.
That night a member family invited us over to eat dinner....and, a White-Chocolate Cheesecake with 20 candles all lit up like the 4th of July (somebody tipped them off). I was so happy. It feels good to know that people are aware of you...and that they care for you as well.

I am really going to miss people like that here in Guatemala because they are more than a few.
The rest of the week flew by, Divisions with Elder Barker, Divisions with Elder Villanueva, Lessons, Contacts, Questions and Answers.....
Until Sunday rolled around and I wasn't sure what hit me.
The best experience of the week was during Gospel Principles class....Marlon, Andrea and Evelyn all came to church and participated actively during the lesson on Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Teacher, Hermana Chavac, had everyone there write on a piece of paper the answer to the question "Why would I be baptized?" for all of the investigators....and then share their answers.
It was so emotional...Marlon, who had been hard of heart began to weep, saying that he would like to be baptized because he wants to show a good example for his young family...that he wants to change and be a better Father....
I was truly touched by this man's sincerity....ant the spirit of the Lord had touched his heart in a way we hadn't anticipated before....

It was a promise: hope from God that Castilo Lara was going to see miracles in the future:
"When we have hope, we trust God's promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). Mormon taught that such hope comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41)."
The rest of the day was filled with similar experiences with different families....
There's just so much good on the horizon....

Even though for me, it ends in a week, it'll keep on going,

"Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” -Elder Jeffrery R. Holland
Please take a minute and watch one of my favorite videos:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week 100: Hey...It's my Birthday!‏

It's Monday again here in "La Zona Utatlan" and it's good to know that the world is still turning. Things just keep chugging along around here, as we keep moving forward we keep seeing more blessings and more miracles...that's the key to Enduring to the End. 
I love the quote from Elder Kevin W. Pearson in this last General Conference, "Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life. But when trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply “hang in there.” Let me be clear: to “hang in there” is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him."

Sometimes "enduring to the end" can seem like a burden, a task, a chore, but the "Joy" is indeed found "in the journey" as modern Prophets and the Wizard of Oz episode of Phineas and Ferb have all declared.
So, while reality begins to set in, I am just doing my best to try to keep my mind occupied in other things 
The good thing is that there are a lot of things to keep myself occupied doing...otherwise I would be plastered by the overwhelming sensations that come with finishing a mission.

We started the week with a Zone Council on Tuesday, my last zone council.
In spite of that weighty thought, it was actually a great experience. We learned a lot about being a "Consecrated Missionary" and how we can better apply chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel, on working with Ward and Stake leaders. There was so much to cover in so little time  but in the end we all came out with a renewed resolve to do things even better.
We worked really hard all day and prepared ourselves for the planned division with the AP's the next morning.
On Wednesday, I went back to Montufar, which is now the Assistant's Area, and worked like crazy with Elder Bustillo. He's from Honduras. The sector we worked in was Elder Walton and Elder Mendez's area while I was in the office, so I was able to see some familiar faces...but aside from them there were a bunch of members I didn't quite recognize.
We taught some very spiritual lessons to a large quantity of Investigators, and what really impacted me was that all of them demonstrated a sincere desire to follow Christ, and those who had a Baptismal Date showed true fruits of repentance.
Overall, it was a great day.
We woke up early the next morning and went back to our area. Elder Taya and I did weekly Planning and then went off on Divisions once more with the Elders of Monte Verde 1. I stayed in Castillo Lara with Elder Rich (from Ohio), and we worked really hard.
Elder Rich has been in the mission for a good 4 months now...and being with him made me feel really old (haha, I'm not even 20 yet...technically still a teenager). Things went well.
The rest of the week was spent peparing things for the Baptism of Dayna on Saturday morning.
It was an awesome experience, Dayna was literally thrilled to be there, and invited a bunch of friends that she had made in "Fumbal" (all of whom are ex-missionaries)....and a whopping 30-something people came. It was just great.
After the service, I asked Dayna how she felt...and she exclaimed, "while I was changing out of my baptismal clothes, I felt like I was just new, and I was shedding my old skin and taking on a new life.
Elder Taya told her that that feeling was the confirmation of the spirit that her baptism was valid in the Lord's eyes.
So, things are good...I am happy, anxious and tired....and ready to go out there and make my last 2 weeks the best they can possibly be.
Have a great week!

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstien

My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.

And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen. -Moroni 9 25-26

Happy Birthday Elder Monson!!! 

 Finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish