Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 74: It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown‏

It's that time of year again.
Where sugarplums, calling birds, and Josh Groban's incredibly well-done version of "The First Noel" are the tinsel and bows of the season. The air is filled with dreams and wonder and a renewed desire to give and receive with a grateful heart.
With each new day marked off on the advent calendar, anxiety's impatience lingers in the still winter air.
It's Christmas everyone. 

With only 3 days and counting until the expected date, the holidays have been on the brain. Memories of past celebrations, family traditions and old TV specials are harrowed up from the senile, baggy brain. But what else is there to do but go on in so great a cause?

Tuesday and Wednesday were a little bit rough, just about everyone from my area has left to go vacation in their respective "Pueblos" leaving my companion and I here to see what we can muster up here in Panorama.
It wasn't much but...we're getting there...
Thursday was an incredible day. We had one of the most spiritual Zone Conference that I've had in my whole mission. In Montufar's Chapel, President talked to us about the love of christ, and how it is divided into three different categories:
"Love for Christ, Love from Christ, and Love Like Christ"
I really enjoyed that thought, and it gave me a lot of things to think about during this Christmas season, how we and love our Savior through the things that we do every day.
Nephi spoke of this love in 1 Nephi 11: "And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!  And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul."

So for the rest of the week we went about trying to share the love that Christ has for us. Doing service, helping people to realize the true message of Christmas. It was a great week. 

I don't have much more time, but I just wanted to wish all of you a very merry Christmas, and hope that you can feel the love that Christ has for you during this season.
I can testify that he loves all of us, and if we come unto him, we can enjoy all of the blessings that come from him!
Merry Christmas!
Elder Monson

What a wonderful letter this week, full of happiness, blessings and service, not to mention a Christmas party too!  Merry Christmas Elder Monson!  We can't wait to Skype with you on Thursday afternoon!  Love you!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 73: A New Day‏

This Tuesday was the first time in years that the Change Meeting wasn't held in Montufar. And that wasn't even the biggest change made here in the South Mission. The entire reunion went for a good two and a half hours and the end of it just left me with my mouth wide open, a ready resting station for any passerby-fly (or mosquito, there seem to be a lot of them around here). 18 missionaries finished their missions this week, among them was my trainer, Elder Hernandez, Elder Linford and Elder Chavez (a friend from San Juan). It made me think about how, little by little my big group of friends here in the mission is being whittled away at and replaced by newer, brighter faces.
The mission is nothing like it was when I came here last September.
Elder Perry- Zone Leader in San Cristobal
La Zona San Cristobal 
Now there are 4 assistants, and among them was a great friend from my very first district, Elder Bento! He's so cool. And now they put him and Elder Webb in Montufar 3! Which to me, results as something completely crazy...but....holy cow.
Zone by zone the changes were read off until eventually we came to "La Zona San Cristobal" where I then received my new companion: Elder Chunga!
He's from Piura, Peru, and he and I were in the MTC together. It's super weird to think about how long ago that was but....whatever.
He's an awesome companion, and we're getting along really well. He was actually the missionary that came to San Juan with Elder Beckstead after I left. So we have a lot in common. He was studying law before the mission and he likes to play Soccer (what Latino DOESN'T like to play soccer?). 
It's really funny because now, in my ward, Panorama...the two companionships consist of a Peruvian and a Utahan: Hermana Bustamante is training a new missionary, Hermana Woodward (from Kearns). And in my district it's just me, them and two other Hermanas (Hermana Merlo and Hermana Campbell).
But all four of them are just on fire right now! My district is seeing miracles left and right. I have a great feeling about this change.
Elder Chunga and I are trying to start this change was a completely clean slate...just starting all over and trying to see what we can do to have success. Miraculously, we found 15 new investigators and 3 new families this week....little by little we are building things back up here.
I keep feeling reminded of my time with Elder Beckstead, where we just worked our hardest, and saw the hand of the lord in just about everything we did! I felt uplifted and with a lot more desires to work my very hardest.
So things are good.
12 days of Christmas gift
Next week, we're probably going to have a baptism for Hermano Juan Diego, someone that the Hermanas of San Cristobal were actually teaching who lives in my area! He's all ready to be baptized, he only needs to be interviewed....and from the little that I've gotten to know of him, he is a very good man with great desires to follow Christ.
This week I was reading in 3Nephi 1: where Jesus Christ is born, and the signs that were seen in the Americas:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son—of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.
 And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.
I love the thought that Jesus Christ came to fulfill with every prophecy that was given and that his very birth saved the lives of thousands...indeed, it saved the souls of every living creature.

Merry Christmas everyone, I love you all and hope you have a great week!
favorite quote for the day

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 72: #SharetheGift‏

As this last change came to a left me with a lot of questions, and a great deal of things to think about.

Especially since I feel as congested as a snuffeupagus with a sinus infection.
It started on Wednesday, when I went on divisions with the Zone Leaders in Peronia. I was with my good friend from Paraguay, Elder Garcia. He told me that I should have put on a sweater because the sun had gone down early and there was a thick, mountain breeze gusting through the streets of the area. He proved to be prophetic on all accounts.
I had left my jacket in Panorama and thought it better to endure the cold than to take the time and get it back. We visited a lot of people, and in the last lesson the gave the two of us a coconut to drink.
I had never drunken Coconut milk before....but, I'm not sure I'm a huge fan.
The next morning i woke up feeling like someone had parked a semi on my chest..
I sort of continued feeling the same for the following 5 days.
On Thursday, I went on divisions with my buddy Elder Linford, who tomorrow is about to kick the bucket. It was a really long day, but I was in good company. We had fun together as he told me about all of his plans for when he goes home (which are many ;)).

The next day I started feeling really lousy. And when we got back to Panorama, Elder Simoni and I worked our hardest, trying to help as many people as we could to come unto Christ. That's the true Christmas Spirit.
That's what we learned on Saturday when our Zone Leaders presented the new "He is the Gift" video to us. The church is taking initiative and are inviting us to utilize this movie to interest as many people as possible.

And you know what? It's working out very nicely.
Everyone that I've talked to about "He is the Gift" seems to be so much more receptive to our message; on Saturday alone we got 5 new investigators from the video.
The Lord works in mysterious ways....and something tells me that this way is rather effective.
On Sunday we went as a ward to see the Christmas devotional in the stake center. I loved it, if you didn't get the chance to see it, I invite you to go and watch it! It made me reflect on a Christmas carol:

What shall we give to the babe in the manger,
What shall we offer the child in the stall?
Incense and spices and gold we've a-plenty-
Are these the gifts for the king of us all?
What shall we give to the boy in the temple,
What shall we offer the man by the sea?
Palms at his feet and hosannas uprising; 
Are these for him who will carry the tree?
What shall we give to the lamb who was offered,
Rising the third day and shedding his love?
Tears for his mercy we'll weep at the manger,
Bathing the infant come down from above.

Christ suffered so that he could understand how to succor us....what do we do to give back to him?
So that was my week...sorry I'm so I don't have much else to say but.....
My companion also has changes tomorrow.....


From Mom:
This week my heart has been full of love for Elder Monson. I'm not sure of all the reasons why he's been in my thoughts more this week, maybe it was a mother's instinct that he was sick, I think it was the Lord letting me know how much He loves him.  Maybe it was something I needed to focus on so today when we were able to write back and forth for a bit I would know what to say to ease a small part of his worries.  But most importantly I think its because its the Christmas Season with twinkling lights and beautiful music, love and family all around -I'm missing him terribly.  He is the spark to our family, the light, the energy and without him here to share in the holiday's I'm afraid I am a little lost again this year.  And yet where else would I want him to be?  Where else would he have the opportunity to share with the people he loves so much the message of a Savior and Redeemer?  What could be more important than this for him this year?  My answer is a strong "no where else"!  It is true it's hard to be so far away and not be able to hug him or see his face but I do know he is about the Lord's work.  He is a very blessed missionary in a wonderful area with amazing missionaries and faithful people around him.  I'm blessed because of Tyler and his diligence to do what he is asked.  Merry Christmas Elder Monson!  With all my heart I Love you!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 71: Lost and Found‏

It was, yet another week that left me floored...just, completely wiped out, wasted on my bed and asleep in less-than a minute. It all started off as we got lost as a district in the forest...searching for a waterfall that our Zone Leader had found once. In two words, our P-Day was unsuccessful but a blast. We went out into the woods and followed a trail right next to the river, and up, up and up we went...until Elder Kunde announced that we had gotten lost.
And lost we were.

We found a different path and followed it until we found a deep, tropical ravine.
So, we had to go back to where we came from, and walk...downward until we found ourselves in a cornfield, where we took some pictures with the gang and played a little football.

It made me think: how many times do we have all the confidence in the world, do we truly think that we know where we're going....and we end up at the edge of a ravine with nowhere else to go but back. That is the reason for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so that we, the lost sheep can find our way back to the fold of God.
"Now, if for any reason you individually or as a family have lost your way, then you need only apply the Savior’s teachings from Luke, chapter 15, to correct your course. Here the Savior tells of the effort of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, of a woman searching for a lost coin, and of the welcome received by the prodigal son returning home. Why did Jesus teach these parables? He wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings." (M. Russell Ballard, April 2012)

The week continued, and sadly enough, all of my investigators had seemed to have lost their way during the past week. Little by little, the adversary whittled away at our investigators until we were left with three different people.
1--Julio: A Shoe-Maker with a smoking problem, he has a sincere desire to find the truth. He was a catholic before but now he seems very interested in our religion and the Prophet Joseph Smith. he really wants to know more and accepted the invitation to be baptized.
2--Gabby: An ex-atheist, Gabby studies Law in the university. She listened to the missionaries before but until now she hadn't shown a true interest to listen too intently. She expresses the sincere desire to be baptized and find the answers to her questions.
3--Joaquin: He's been an investigator for a while now. He's got a lot of questions (a lot of which come from shady internet articles). We're going to see what happens with him this coming week....
It's been a crazy week.
We lost 10 now it's time to go back to the drawing board, and go out and look for the Lord's chosen. We're going to be working a lot more with the members. Our biggest plug right now is that we can share the gospel as a part of our everyday lives. Not the idea that we will just live well and that people will magically just join the church from our efforts. We have to SHARE the gospel with all the world, like it says in the Sermon on the Mount:
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
I like that thought a lot!
Have a great week!

P.S. My favorite quote from the week: "Look at Steve Jobs, he partied all the way through college and now he's....dead.....but he's a rich dead man!" Elder Linford, (on after the mission plans.)