Monday, July 23, 2012

This is the last letter that I will be writing you from the mission.

Hola Familia,

This is the last letter that I will be writing you from the has been a crazy week!  I have been trying so hard to focus on the mission these past two years that it is almost super weird to start thinking about home.  I am now in the mission office with my "generation".  We have today to go do whatever we want.  I am planning to see a couple more things in the center of the city and visit some souvenir shops. Tomorrow we are going to go to Teotihuacan; to the pyramids of the sun and moon.  We are going to go with a tour guide that knows about church archaeology.  We are going to take an English Book of Mormon so that we can see the relation between the architecture of the pyramids and the Book of Mormon.  HOW COOL WILL THAT BE!!!

Wednesday we are going to go to the Temple and then have dinner with President and his family.  We are going to end the evening with a testimony meeting.  Thursday I will be beside myself with excitement as I wait for you guys to pick me up at the mission office.  I am SOOO excited to see you all!  I don't have much time to write but I thought I would make a couple suggestions of things to bring.

It is colder at night and it would be great to bring a little coat.  It is raining like crazy so if you could bring some umbrellas also.  Mine broke this last week...haha after two years of protecting me from the rain!!  So if you could bring me one also...

SUPER IMPORTANT:  It is so important if you could bring all my agendas from the mission.  They are full of directions and telephone numbers. They are in the box that I sent home with the members that stopped by Salt Lake.   I will need all of that to make plans and get together with the converts.  Many of them are SOOO excited to meet you guys.  I decided that my time here with you guys will be an awesome opportunity to not only visit the converts but also to help many of them come back to church.  The retention rate in Mexico is like 50% so there are actually many that I would love to visit and help them remember the experience of their conversions.  I feel like it will be a mini mission to reactivate the families along with giving you guys the opportunity to visit them!!  I really am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited; it will be a blast!

Thanks for all the support and prayers that you ALL were constantly giving me through out these two years.  I knew that I had protection and blessings because of all you were doing for me.  I have become a different person and I will never go back to be the person I was.  I overcame weaknesses and my love for the Lord is so much more real.  I have experienced the Atonement and seen miracles so amazing that have changed my life.  I will be forever in debt to the Lord for all he has done for me.  My mission will not be a pretty book I store on a shelf in my closet.  It will be a source of experience and strength that I will use everyday for the rest of my life!  For me I can say, they were the best two years of my life AND for my life.  I have made many goals and I feel the mission has given me the tools to be able to accomplish them.  I love you all so much will shortly be giving you all a huge, long hug!!

Elder Janis

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Rangel Family and Sergio

Hola Familia,

WOW, what a week to remember!  Miracles have been a super huge part of my mission but during this last week I saw some of the biggest!

The WHOLE Rangel family got baptized!!  The parents, who had gotten divorced with some wild idea of moving to the States to get married again weren't going to be able to be baptized. However, they went to the government offices to see what they could do about the divorce.  Due to the economic problems of the family this last couple of months they had missed a payment due to finalize the process of the divorce.  Miraculously, they were divinely given the opportunity to anull the divorce meaning that they would still be legally married.  They were beside themselves with happiness when they let us know.  The whole family has changed sooooo much.  They started reading the Book of Mormon and praying as a family.  Usually famlies will start doing that when we invite them to but they started from their own initiative!!  They will be a huge blessing for the ward and the church.  The Mom, Veronica, was especially happy and shared her testimony that she knew the church is true.  The ward has already wrapped around them and they have visiting teachers and home teachers.  The kids are going to go to the temple this next week to do baptisms in the temple!!  I love the Rangel family, Oliver, Veronica, Cristian, Jessica!!!

Sergio, the other guy who got baptized, is living a really hard experience.  He dropped his wife off at work on Friday morning and went to pick her up at 6 pm that same day.  He waited a while but she never came out.  He went in to the school and asked if she was still there and the other co-workers told him that she had left hours ago.  He then received a call at 2:30 am the next morning from her saying that she was going to move on.  She had the locks on the house changed, threw his clothes into one of his friend's house, and left him and their five year old kid without a place to sleep.  He moved into his daughter's house which is how we meet him.  He loved church the first Sunday and wanted nothing more than be baptized this last Sunday.  In every single one of the prayers he said at the end of the lesson he would thank the Lord for two things: for helping him find the true church and for the chance to be born again by baptism.  He was sooooo excited for his baptism and didn't want to wait until after church services but do it at the beginning.

I sent you all home two pictures to enjoy!  The first is the Rangel Family, my companion and me.  They were all so happy to be baptized and they love church.  I love the second picture because it is everyone in white!  The front it is my companion, me and the ward mission leader Erick.  Behind is the Rangel family and Sergio to the far right.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and I will work harder than ever this last week.  I will end my mission with another baptismal service!!!  I love you all and I cannot wait to see you Mom and Dad.  I think this might be my last letter...if not next week you'll get one more!  If it is my last, we will just have to wait to talk in person.

Elder Janis

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Photo in the City Center

Hola Familia!!!

I could not be any happier and grateful after the week that we just had!  I'll start with the sad note that was sad, but is now SUPER happy.  The Rangel family who were preparing for baptism this last Sunday fell off date because Veronica and Oliver (the parents of the family) aren't married.  However, they are going to see if this coming week they can make the decision and we will help them get married.  Their kids, Jessica and Christian, are still going to get baptized.  Oliver and Veronica want them to have the Holy Ghost as soon as possible.  This is a huge miracle because when we talked about baptism with them they were only talking about years before they would decide.  Fortunately the Spirit helped my companions to know that they needed to know about the Holy Ghost.  The Spirit was so strong in the room and they commented on how different they felt describing it as something they had never felt.  Jessica and Oliver are so excited for their baptisms this coming weekend!

Sunday morning we had a couple of new investigators that we were sure were going to come to church.  Unfortunately, not one of them did.....however, the Lord had other things planned.  We were helping someone baptized over four weeks ago to get confirmed finally when we were surprised to see that she had brought her father to get to know the church.  I sat next to him in Gospel Principles and did the best I could to gain his confidence.  After the class I asked if we could go by and share a message with him to which he seemed to reluctantly accept.  However, when we showed up to the appointment we quickly were able to have a connection of trust with him.  He had wanted to be baptized like Chirst for years and was so excited that we invited him to be baptized this coming Sunday!  We are going to be passing by everyday to help him prepare.  He also loved the church and enjoyed the Spirit he felt both there and in our lesson.  What a blessing and miracle!

Elder McMullin and I went to Zocalo, the center of the city, and I took him sight seeing!  It was tons of fun to see how he reacted to all the people that are just jammed into the metro and that line the streets and markets.  We went to different parts of the center and took many pictures.  I bought a new memory card so that I had one without a virus.  I can now without any problems take about 600 photos of everything I can before the mission comes to an end.  I took advantage and also sent home a picture of Elder McMullin and me in front of the huge flag in the center of the City.

I love you all and feel so assured that this week will be AWESOME!!!  I hope you are all enjoying the summer!

Elder Janis

Monday, July 2, 2012

Two Years Almost With The Same Greeting

Hola Familia, (HAHA two years almost with the same greeting!!)

This was a week to remember!!  Many, many miracles!!  I don't have much time but I thought I would let you all in on what amazing-ness happened this last week!

MIRACLE 1: We were visiting some recent converts when we had the chance to meet their niece, Atenea who is 11 years old.  She had gone to church and LOVED it.  We taught her the importance of following the example of Christ and being baptized just as he was.  She excitedly exclaimed that she would love to and that she wanted to do it as soon as possible.  Her aunt, a recent convert, shared her excitement but explained to us that she would need the permission of her father.  Rather directly, she told us that her father would probably not give Atenea permission because he barely let her even go to church.  We taught Atenea prayer and invited her to pray that her father would let her do something so important and special.  She finished the lesson with the prayer and asked the Lord to help her father give her permission.  Friday when we passed by again she happily informed us that he had given her permission!!  I was amazed at the power prayer and faith that Atenea had and the miracle that they produced.  I was humbled by that small lesson she taught me and I am so happy for her!!

MIRACLE 2: Francisco and Patricia get baptized!!!!!!!!!!!  That was the most amazing baptism I have had yet!  Getting them there was no easy feat and took a miracle.  Tuesday was the last time we were able to talk to them...and until Saturday we saw them.  President Fuentes, the 1st Counselor in the mission presidency, came to do special interviews with the two of them to help them repent of past mistakes; something they wouldn't be able to be baptized without.  We had been trying to call them all week but they never answered.  We later found out that he had run out of money on his phone and that's why he could never answer.  However, not knowing that made me worry a ton.  I had prayed and prayed asking for miracles and I was worried that it might be not them.  Fortunately, upon arriving at their house, we found them still there.  They were on their way out when the architect that is helping them with their 10th or 11th house they are building had shown up.  Miraculously, we were able to find them home.  President Fuentes talked to the two of them and they came out of the interviews having decided on being baptized the next day!

The baptism was so beautiful.  Many members came and were happy to see another priesthood holder join the ranks.  (side note: the ward doesn't have many priesthood holders and we have taken upon ourselves to find some!)  Paco and Paty were beside themselves with emotion.  We took a really great picture that I had hoped to send to you guys but my memory card with its viruses didn't let me...  Anyways, I baptized Paco and when he came out of the water with a huge smile, I met him with a huge hug.  He whispered a sincere thanks and I responded with congratulations.  I will remember the feeling of love I felt as gave him that hug, as if it were feeling a little bit of what the Lord feels for him.  Then Paty came around the corner crying her head off.  HAHA, literally alligator tears.  Thankfully, the member that had invited her to the first lessons gave her a hug and shared a moment of excitement.  Paty entered the water and Elder McMullin baptized her.  She came out with the hugest grin and determination.  They were each given a moment to talk about their experience to which they shared with us a Spirit driven desire to really leave their old life behind and start a new one!  I can hardly wait to see them progress.  OH, Mom and Dad, I told them that you guys were coming to pick me up and they REALLY want to meet you guys.  They want to take us out to eat while you are here!

Well, what a wonderful week!  We also had a family of four, the Rangel Cruz Family, come with us to church and we are helping them prepare for baptism this coming week!  I'll have to let you all know how things went!  I love you and I LOVED the pictures you took both in Manti and on the Daybreak letters!!  What a beautiful family I am blessed to be a part of!!

Elder Janis

Monday, June 25, 2012

I had never entered a home so lavish my whole mission...


What an AWESOME week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am walking on clouds and over water; I just feel so happy right now!  We are finding some amazing people to teach.  I ‘m not sure if it is because I am coming to the close of my mission or my capacity to love has grown but I would do anything for the families that we are teaching right now.  I thought I would let you all in on who we are teaching right now:

Francisco and Patricia - They were a member referral.  The first time we went by we were pretty intimidated by how much money this family has.  We walked through a pretty front gate into a huge garden with a fountain and a maid cleaning.  As we walked up the pathway we saw 5 cars such as BMW and Audi. As we got to the doorway the maid invited us to sit down and we sat there waiting a couple minutes until they came down.  I had never entered a home so lavish my whole mission.  HAHA, I’m used to sitting on plastic buckets in concrete rooms that more than one family live in.  They came down the stairs and straight away we could sense a little bit of conflict in the marriage.  We quickly saw that despite the large amount of wealth that they had, they were thinking about divorce and they argued a lot.  However, in the last two weeks of teaching, they have completely changed.  This morning we went by to visit them and they were actually sitting together on the couch, something that they had never done in any appointment before.  The Gospel is changing their lives.  They are excitedly preparing to be baptized this coming Sunday.  Elder McMullin is pretty excited for his first baptism!!  They are so repentant and have such a huge desire to do things the Lord’s way.

Rafael and Alejandra Palma - We found them when they were in the middle of fighting about something. We knocked the door and the wife said, "its the Mormons, don’t you let them in."  However, Rafael opened the door and let us in.  He commented after that first lesson how much better he felt and that he needed the guidance we were giving him.  He loves the Book of Mormon.  When we taught the Book of Mormon he excitedly told us that he had always thought that Christ came to America also.  He came to church without us even passing by and loved the church services.  At the end of services he explained that he would be coming every single Sunday!

We are praying that we find more elect of God.  We are doing everything we can to work by the Spirit so that we can continue to find the people who are ready to accept the Gospel!!!

Elder McMullin is doing great and progressing super fast.  He has started to give larger portions of the lessons.  It is a hard process because he almost doesn’t have any Spanish but the Lord is blessing him a ton. He is spiritual and has a strong testimony!  I am enjoying teaching him everything that I can so that he can be better than I could ever be.

I love you all and hope you see miracles this coming week!

Elder Janis

Monday, June 18, 2012

A lot of things have changed this last week...

Hola Familia,

A lot of things have changed this last week for me here in Mexico City.  I love the blessing God gave me to train during my last transfer. My new companion and last kid’s name is Elder McMullin.  He is from Redding, California and is super-obedient and ready to learn.  He got here the first day and hardly could say anything in Spanish.  It was hard to see him struggle and so I thought about waking 30 minutes earlier with him and doing a language study together.  He liked the idea and it has been fun working on Spanish together.  It has been great for me to review the grammar too.  I can already see progress and he is starting to take more and more initiative in the lessons. 

I love my new area!  Sadly, the members and other missionaries keep telling me that baptizing here is super hard and that all the people here are hard-hearted and will never accepted the gospel.  Satan is throwing negative thoughts at us from all directions.  However, I am doing everything I can to not let any of those thoughts take root.  The moment they appear in my head I throw them out.  Sometimes when people reject us or it starts pouring rain and no one is home the thoughts come but I do everything I can to not let them linger.  The success we will have here is going to come a lot from the mentality I maintain.  I want to think of this area as if it were any other "gold mine" area in the mission.  I know there are tons of families prepared.  The challenge will be purifying myself so that I am worthy of the Spirit as I find, teach, and pray by the Spirit. The Lord has blessed us with some wonderful people to start teaching.  Here are some of the families we found:

Familia Palma-They let us in and we started teaching the dad and daughter.  They seemed slightly hesitant at first but we taught baptism and the gospel of Christ.  By the end of the lesson they were so drawn in by every word coming out of our mouths.  When we finished the lessons we testified that the change in atmosphere in the house was the Holy Ghost testifying that what we taught was true.  They then explained how grateful they were because right before we arrived, the family had a huge argument and the Spirit had brought peace back to the home.  They then explained that they believed in Christ but had been lacking someone to tell them what they needed to do.  They were so happy that we had come and excitedly accepted another appointment.

Felipe-We knocked his door last night.  When he opened the door I noticed something different about him.  He had a sincere look in his eyes as I testified to him that we were Representatives of Jesus Christ.  He let us in the stairwell of his house that leads up to the house.  We taught him the gospel of Christ and when we invited him to be baptized like Christ he responded, "me encantarĂ­a!"  We could really feel he understood the wonderful blessings he would receive and he is excitedly preparing for baptism.

I am loving life and the mission!  I love you all and hope the best week for you!

Elder Janis

Monday, June 11, 2012

WOW, I am starting my last change in the mission

Hola Familia,
WOW, I am starting my last change in the mission...I don't know what to think or say only that I am so excited for this coming change.  I talked to President yesterday and he asked me to train my last change.  He explained to me that Elder Lubiano, who was my second kid that I trained a year ago and is a Zone Leader in another zone, wanted me to be his ZL companion to end the mission.  Jokingly he told me that he would never let something like that happen because he could never put Batman and Superman together.  He also told me that he wanted a "little Janis" and asked if I would like to accept this opportunity to train instead.  He then assigned me to one of the richest areas in the mission which are thought of to be the hardest areas in which to baptize.  Santa Monica is the name of the ward and I am so excited to be here.  I have the chance to help the Lord change the mentality of the missionaries.  It doesn't matter where you are or who you are with you will have success if you do the work the way the Lord wants.  I am going to make that my main focus in this sprinting run to the finish.  I am going to strive to be and do what the Lord needs and wants.  What a blessing and I can't wait to receive my new kid tomorrow and teach him everything I have learned so that he can be 10 times better than I will ever be!
Milagro!!!!!!  This last week Elder Barajas and I had been trying to help all the progressing investigators that we had to want to be baptized this last week but no one wanted to.  We had a possible who we thought was going to be the miracle convert for the week.  I went with another Elder down to a river canal to their house in the most dangerous part of my area on Saturday night at 8:30pm!  BTW, now that I am not there anymore...El Molinito isn't one of the most dangerous areas in the mission, it IS the most dangerous.  I am not there anymore but man do I have some crazy stories to tell you guys when we get back...HAHA.  Anyways, I was super hesitant to go down to the river canal and I wasn't sure what was going to happen.  We made it to the house of the possible and seeing as I had only taught her one time, I did the interview.  Sadly, despite the scary sacrifice we had made she was not ready to obey some of the commandments.  We left and surprisingly nothing happened to one even took notice of us! 
However, this wasn't the miracle but you could say it was the recipe for the coming miracle.  We went to church and were greeting all the people coming in when an older lady comes walking in with a HUGE smile on her face.  She then explains that she had had visits from the missionaries before who had taught her the lessons.  In her last visit with the missionaries they had given her a blessing of health with oil and everything.  The missionaries had invited her to be baptized and in the moment she had not accepted.  However, this last week she felt that she had to do it.  Even though she hadn't met with missionaries in months she came to church ready to be baptized.  We got her the interview which she passed and even remembered everything really well that the missionaries had taught.  After talking to her a bit, Isabel was baptized and came up crying she was so happy.  She was crying as the ward congratulated her on her decision.  It was such a beautiful experience.  I don't feel worthy of such a HUGE miracle but I will never forget how merciful the Lord is.  I took a sweet picture of her but seeing that my memory has a virus I will not be able to send the pictures.  I will have to show you all afterwards.
I am so ready to make the most of this last change.  I am going to a training for the trainers tomorrow and I am so excited to learn from President.  I have the assignment to BAPTIZE, BAPTIZE, and BAPTIZE.  There is no other greater way to end a mission.  I love you all!!
Elder Janis