Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A surprise this week!

Hola Mi Familia Fantastica!
I had a crazy awesome week!  I'll start out by giving you two cool experiences and then end with a grand finale:) 
So Elder Fuentes and I were whitewashed out of our area this last Wednesday at transfers and the Assistants to the Presidents took over the area.  They called me the day after transfers and asked me to go on splits with them for the day.  What a great experience!  I was able to introduce the APs to all of my investigators and the 9 people on date.  They were shocked by the work that E. Fuentes and I accomplished in one transfer and are thankful.  As APs, they don't get too much time to go out proselyting but with the investigators we left behind they be a baptizing machine!  The Lord blessed E. Fuentes and I so much and we saw tons of miracles.  I look forward to seeing the names of the families that I loved in the weekly newsletter the mission sends out!  It was such a treat to go out with seasoned AP missionaries and just soak in all I could learn from them.  I cannot believe the amazing experiences that the Lord is blessing me with.  When I first received my temporary reassignment, I was thinking "ok I'll do it but why Salt Lake City?"  Now I know why and I am so thankful for every moment that I have had here.
We have a Christmas season baptism tomorrow!  His name is Paulo and his fellowshipper, Pablo, is a wonderful recent convert that is introducing his soccer team and friends to the church.  Paulo and Pablo are both planning on serving missions!  The other day Paulo asked us, "Should I start saving for my mission right now?"  My companions and I were all over that one!  He and Paulo are Seniors in High School and are so excited about the gospel.  I have loved watching the Gospel and the Savior make these guys, who are only a little younger than me, change so much.  It brings me so much joy to watch Pablo excitedly explain the Law of Tithing or the Plan of Salvation to his humble friend.  It makes me wonder how much joy Christ feels as he watches His sons and daughters learn more about him and even pray to gain faith.  The happiness and joy I feel as I watch an investigator come to knowledge of a living Savior and then repent of their sins to become baptized is comparably insignificant and smaller than the size of a quark (the material that composes atoms).  I have loved being a missionary in this Christmas season and taking upon my mantle and role as a representative of Christ.  I cannot help but be humbled by the opportunity I have to strive everyday to become more and more Christlike.  Christ is our perfect example and Savior.  We have an investigator that used to be atheist  but when we told her that if she would ask God directly in prayer if He exists that she would get an answer.  We called her the next day and she informed us that she had an amazing experience.  I cannot comprehend the happiness God felt as one of His daughters sought out His existence and is seeking to know more of His will for her!  The work is amazing and I am SOOO blessed to be a missionary right HERE, right now!!
GRAND FINALE!!!!  So guess who got their Visa on Tuesday and is flying to Mexico City on Monday morning at 9am?!!!!!:)  ME!!!!  I went to the Mexican Consulate on Tuesday and received my flight plans today!  WOW am I excited or what!!!!! [Haha, if you didn't notice by all the exclamation marks and caps!]  I really have had the most wonderful, amazing, fantastic experience and feel so ready to take on Distrito Federal.  So basically the next email you'll get from me will probably be from a computer in Mexico City!
Ok so, I am going to call on Friday morning for about 5 minutes to set up a time to call for the real thing on Saturday.  I'll only have a max of 1 hr. on Christmas Day so we'll have to set up some time slot type thing like E. Janis (Damon) set up.  So I was thinking we could start out with 10 minutes with the whole family, 6 minutes for each sibling individually, and 20 minutes for Mom and Dad.  It doesn't have to be like this exactly but I thought this would be a fun way to do it!  Maybe during the first 10 minutes you could have some questions prepared so that I don't lose anytime taking to anyone!!  (again another idea attributed to E. (Damon) Janis).  I love you all so much and am so thankful to every single one of you.  Thanks to all the extended family who sent me such wonderful Christmas notes and gifts.  I look forward to opening them all on the 25th!!  I can't tell you enough of how thankful I am for your thoughtfulness.
Merry Christmas to all!!
-Elder Janis

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A "crazy awesome" week

Hola Familia!
This last week explained in two words would be "crazy  awesome"!!!!  So many wonderful things happened and the Lord was most definitely behind all of it.  Elder Fuentes and I were blessed to take 14 investigators to church on Sunday!  4 whole families!  We also had a baptism for Daniel Chavarrin.   Looking back on the last 6 weeks and starting this next transfer, I can see that the 8 hour door knocking days really paid off.  When Elder Fuentes and I entered our area 6 weeks ago, we had no one on date and a very small pool of investigators.  Both he and I were transferred out this morning leaving behind 10 people on date and tons of potential.  It was hard for the two of us to say goodbye to all the wonderful families we were teaching but I'm sure the next missionaries that come in will do a great job!
As I said, transfers were this morning so now I am in the Salt Lake Zone with two new companions, Elder Whiting and Elder Reese.  Elder Whiting is from Mississippi and Elder Reese is from Alabama making us a trio of Southerners!  I don't know Elder Reese very well but he seems super friendly and hard working.  Elder Whiting was in my district last transfer and so we already get along really well.  We were actually joking before this transfer about how cool it would be if we became companions and here we are!
So out of the 16 Visa waiters that came into the Salt Lake Mission with me, 12 of them are leaving tomorrow morning for Mexico.  I and 3 other Visa waiters still haven't gotten ours.  I was a little disappointed to find out that I didn't get mine yet but know that I am meant to stay in this mission for longer.  Everything happens for a purpose, I just need to find out why.  I will most definitely learn more!  In addition, the fact that I was put into a trio is significant reason to guess mine may be coming soon.  I'll be super excited when it comes but for now I will just keep focused as if I wasn't waiting.  All is well in Zion!
I love all of you so much and am SO grateful for all the letters and packages from home.  I haven't had the chance to open the packages yet because they gave them to me and then I was transferred.  I look forward to opening them tonight before going to bed!! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the Christmas cookies and presents.  I love the tie and socks!  My Zone Leaders brought me the fresh cookies earlier than mail and so Elder Fuentes and I enjoyed some great cookies.  Have a wonder Christmas Holiday!
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Janis

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Embarrassing but Hilarious Spanish Mistake

Hola Mi Familia Maravillosa!
Elder Fuentes and I had an amazing week!  All our 8 hour tracting days where we knocked hundreds of doors have really paid off.  We have 9 people on date for baptism for December!!!  8 of them were found from knocking doors and 1 of them was from a referral.  The Lord has helped us find the people that have been prepared for the Gospel.  I am pretty stressed with all the work it requires to keep these people on date but I know that they have been prepared and that as we work hard things will work out!  Mom and Dad, you will be proud to know that I have learned how to not worry so much and to even elimate the word "worry" from my vocabulary.  Most of this comes from learning how to put my trust in the Lord and that every thing happens for a reason.  I have loved my mission so far because of all the amazing growing and testimony building experiences!
So I had a pretty embarrasing but hilarious Spanish mistake during a lesson.  I was reading a General Conference talk in Spanish during language study in order to learn more vocabulary when I came across the words Varon and Hembra, which means male and female.  I quickly memorized this phrase just in case I could use it later.  In a lesson later that night, we were inviting a couple to Church and were telling them how the women go to Relief Society and the men go to Priesthood.  I thought it would be great to use my new vocabulary and said that the "varones" go to one class and the "hembras" to another.  The couple that we were teaching looked like I was crazy and had no idea what I was talking about which it turns out, I didn't.  Elder Fuentes corrected the situation by saying that I meant to say "hombres" and "mujeres" meaning men and women.  He then told me after the lesson that "varones and hembras" means male and female for animals only...I was basically calling them animals or implying that lifestock would be in church with us!!  Ha ha, Elder Fuentes and I just laughed and laughed about it later!
I found this amazing scripture in the Bible in 2 Timothy 2:3.  "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."  This scripture came at the perfect time for me the other morning during morning study!  I have been trying to work well under trial and keep up a great attitude.  The scripture was referenced under a song called "Oid, el toque del clarin" and is about an army marshalling together to fight against evil foes and principalities.  It also talks about enduring trials well.  I read the scriptures that come under the hymns and that was a scripture that I will memorize and keep as my battle motto here in the field. 
I am having a wonderful Christmas season in the SLC valley, loving the slightly warmer weather, and looking forward to the mountains of success the Lord is intrusting to Elder Fuentes and me!  I love you all so much and have really enjoyed the letters and support!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I was the answer to a prayer

Hola Familia!
This week was full of success and wonderful experiences!  We added 6 new investigators and have three people on date for baptism for the second of December!  The cold weather isn't slowing Elder Fuentes and I down at all but actually makes us faster because members have taken pity on us in the snow and go on splits with us almost every night.  We also get people that stop and ask if we need rides while proselyting in the afternoon.  We cannot thank them enough for helping us use our time more effectively.  The Lord is blessing us so much with people prepared to listen and ways to get to all of them!
I had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I ate a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving feast at an American family's home named the Duvalls.  They are 88 and 96 years old respectively and we had such a great time with them.  They stuffed us full of hilarious life experiences and wonderful food.  Elder Fuentes and I waddled home for the evening to take a nap and prepare for the Thanksgiving night Mission Proselyting Game.  The game is where you get 1 point for every investigator and recent converts you visit to wish a Happy Thanksgiving and 3 points for every referral.  Elder Fuentes and I ran around like crazy and met with 14 different families and got 18 REFERRALS.  Through this we have added many new investigators!
I cannot tell you have much I loved the lovin' from home in all those packages I received!  I have been really enjoying all the candy,  and the hot chocolate was perfect for Elder Fuentes and me on those particularly cold nights.  I appreciate all the time, thought, and effort you put into every item in the packages.  THANKS!  Oh, I really liked the testimony cards in the Christmas package, they were such a wonderful idea!  I shared them with Elder Fuentes and we will look for ways to use them with our new investigators.  Thanks for that great idea and for taking the time to make those for me!
One of the investigators we have on date named Lucio and his wife (who we will be putting on date soon) are the best investigators that I have ever had.  They just soak up every lesson and love the Book of Mormon.  They came to church with us this last Sunday and just ate it all up!  The members did a wonderful job of befriending them and they were basically smiling the whole time!  We have gone to their house everyday this week because they want to learn everything and do everything they can to learn.  We took them to temple square to see the Christmas lights and go on the Families Forever Tour which they also just loved.  They were a family we found while tracting and we feel so trusted and blessed by the Lord with the opportunity to help them prepare for baptism.
Leo Paur, the less active guy we met last week, went to church with us this last Sunday also for the first time in a long time with his daughter and one of his sons.  We visited him a couple of times before church to remind him and he was just so thankful for us coming by.  He also told us that we knocked on his door literally 5 minutes after he had prayed to the Lord for guidance.  He also told us that if we hadn't been Spanish speaking missionaries, he probably wouldn't have listened to us.  He didn't clarify why that was the way it was but we are thankful for the opportunity we had to help him.  I am also so humbled that I of all people was the answer to a prayer.  The Lord really does qualify those he calls because without the Spirit we would not have been able to help Leo in the way we did!
I love all of you soooo much!  Thanks for all that you do and all the prayers.
Elder Janis