Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Mexico

Hola Familia,
This last week flew by!  However, the highlight was definitely talking to you guys.  It was such a great experience talking and seeing your faces.  I am so thankful that we had the means to accomplish that!  Afterwards, I could not be more thankful in all my life that every single one of you is healthy and happy.  What a wonderful blessing it is to know and see that!!  Elaine and Chad, I am so excited to hear where you will be heading out on the mission and I could not be happier to know that you are making such amazing choices with your lives.  You will cherish the mission and never, EVER, regret the decision you have made.  Even if I don't have the opportunity to see your faces in person before you leave, I will do everything I can to be a cheerleader.  It is so amazing to me that you have made the decision to get out in the field as soon as possible and I know the Lord will bless you for that!
It was hard to say goodbye the other day as we ended the call because I could have easily talked to you guys for hours.  However, I will have more than just hours to talk to you and look forward to that time!  It was like a short dream that I had while talking to you guys.  I get so lost in missionary work that the time goes by so fast.  The phone call was amazing and afterwards is was back to work as if nothing happened.
Well, Christmas here in Mexico is quite the scene!  The 24th here is a huge party in which the people start at about 8pm and don't end until 6 or 7 of the morning (25th) the next day.  We walked out the door Sunday morning and there was no one in the street and everything was dead.  However there were exceptions to this with drunk people sprawled out onto the ground, something that makes me sad to see.  When we trying to sleep there were tons of parties competeing with loud music and fireworks all night long.  Ha ha, but it is a wonderful time it which the lifestyle here slows way down and families get together and celebrate.  We as missionaries ate tons of food on the 24th.  We ate chicken in red salsa, ham, and spaggeti and tons of chocolate.  The 25th, I ate tacos of cow heart, liver, tongue, and other cow innards.  We also ate turkey with ground beef, beet salad, fish, and more ham!  As you can see the traditions here are to eat a ton and be together as friends and family.
I was so grateful for the opportunity the Christmas season offers.  We receive gifts from the Lord all year round and sometimes we rarely give him gifts.  We had the chance to watch the Christmas devotional by the First Presidency and I really loved what Pres. Uchtdorf said about the different gifts we can give and how that makes the Christmas season something special.  I have thought a lot about  that recently and the only thing that is really mine right now is my will and agency.  When ever I make the decision to do the will of God instead of mine own I am really giving a wonderful gift to the Lord.  That is something that we can do in all times of the year.  This last Christmas I gave to the Lord more of my diligence and have already seen miracles.  I know that every time we make the effort to do what the Lord wants us to do we can find more happiness, peace, and blessings in our lives.  Like in all things, the Lord was the greatest example of this while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane saying to the Father that he would do His will instead of that of his own.  Thanks to this humilty and love we now have the way to return to the presence of our Father in Heaven.  I am so thankful for my Savior and for the opportunity that I have to serve him everyday.
I love you all and hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and the happy new year!!
Elder Janis

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sisters Started Balling and The Holy Ghost Filled My Mouth With Words of Comfort

Hola Familia,

I had the most incredible experience this last week and we saw tons more miracles!!! :) I had wanted to be able to tell you all about them but due to time I will only be able to write a bit.

We started out the week without anyone that could be baptized. We made a list of the people that had attended church and went by every single one of them.  To make a long story short: One of the first families we stopped by answered the door saying, "why did you guys stop coming by? We want to learn more and finally be baptized."  Extremely happy and surprised we were invited in and after the first lesson everything was made concrete for Sunday.  All week we passed by and they were excitedly preparing for their baptism.  What a special experience it was in their baptism this last Sunday!

Saturday night we had another opportunity to find another person that wanted to be baptized.  We stopped by a recent convert's house and found his 12 year old son there.  We asked him for a couple of minutes to share a message.  He reluctantly came out and gave us a little of his time.  In the 15 minutes that we talked, he went from super distracted and unconcerned to being SUPER excited about being baptized.  While I was trying to encourage him to be baptized, I remembered that he has had problems with his dad after his mom passed away.  I then started to testify that the only way to be with his mother again was through being baptized.  When I said this his eyes lit up and he started interactively asking questions.  We ended the lesson and the next day he was baptized.  I was amazed at the miracle because we talked to him for the first time Saturday, we talked with him 15 minutes, and the next day he was baptized.  If that isn´t a miracle, what is!!! :)

The Sisters had a rough week and called me the other night to tell me about it.  I sat there listening while they both started balling.  Now if there is anything I know really well about myself it is that I am happy to listen but when it comes time to talk the words are hard to come out.  I have come to rely SO much on the Holy Ghost, and in this moment the Holy Ghost filled my mouth with words that I hadn't even thought before.  After listening a long while, there came the pause in which the Sisters were hoping for words of comfort.  I opened my mouth and words just came flowing out.  I hardly remember what I said but the effect was miraculous.  They started working the hardest they have yet this transfer.  I could not be happier with how things worked out and am so thankful for the help the Lord gave me in this moment.  Elaine, I thought you might think it would be funny to know that I thought about you and the times we just talked and it gave me confidence to know what to do.  I love the opportunities I have as a missionary to be a literal mouth piece for the Lord and for my investigators and district.

Well, Merry Christmas everyone!  I will be Skype-ing the 24th (Saturday) because I don't want to pay to do it on Sunday in an internet cafe.  I am so excited to see your faces and hear your voices!!! :)  However, I am not sure what time I will be able to be here to Skype.  I am thinking that it will be anywhere from 3-6 pm.  I hope that everyone in the family can be there to Skype!!! Oh, I will receive my Christmas package on Thursday!!! Thanks!!!

Elder Janis

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feliz Día de la Virgen Guadalupe

Hola Familia,
Feliz Día de la Virgen Guadalupe!!!  Haha, the 12th of Dec. is a great, huge festival here with people partying like never to celebrate the birthday of the virgin.  Well, this last week was great!  We saw more miracles!
Miracle: The Hnas. (i.e., Sisters) have been working really hard and were quite upset that they weren't seeing fruits.  We read Alma 32:43, one of my favorite scriptures, and I felt prompted to promise them if they were diligent and obedient this coming week they would see a miracle.  However, when they came to church they came without anyone.  They looked super sad and stressed.  They came up to me and jokingly told me that I had lied...however, I was devasted to see them so sad.  I had no idea how to help them but just prayed that things would work out.  When we went to class I saw a new face and after introducing myself I found out that she had come for the first time and that she lived in the area of the Hnas.  After welcoming her to church and I hurried to tell the Hnas. who about cried with happiness.  It was such a great experience to see them work hard this last week and then after all the hard work see a miracle and tender mercy of the Lord.
We went to Costco the other day and, for the cold weather that we have been having, I bought a really sweet jacket that will last forever after the mission.  It was weird to be in a place so familiar but so far from home.  I couldn't help but want to buy potstickers and other appetizers but with limited money knew that I shouldn't do it!  Today for P-Day we went to Aldo Conti and they were having a huge clearance sale.  They were selling ties for 25 pesos which is like 2 US dollars.  They are super high quality and were a lot more expensive before.  We are going to have a present exchange as a Zone today and I am excited to give Elder Dearden a coin pouch and cologne.  He is another district leader and he lives nearby where we are going to live.  I found the things he wanted super high quality but cheaper in the Tianguis in the street.  Tianguis: a street market where a bunch of stands sell whatever you could think, lining up and down the street.  I am super excited to see how he reacts to the presents.  I really love giving!
I am looking forward to another Christmas in the field and the chance to give to the Lord all of my time and effort.  I feel such a desire to work super hard this Christmas season because I feel I have been given so much from the Lord this last year.  I hope to finish the year obtaining the goals I have and giving all that I have to the Lord.  I love you all so much and hope that you enjoy the season and the chance to show love for others likewise showing love for the Lord!
Elder Janis

Monday, December 5, 2011

Doing What Even the Apostles and Seventy Can't Do

Hola Familia,

Many wonderful things happened this last week!  To start out the week we had the chance to have a zone conference with Elder Johnson from the Seventy and man was it great.  I learned a bunch of wonderful things that are opening the door to a more effective way to work with the Holy Ghost.  I am loving the opportunities that I have every week to be more dilligent and obedient in order to have the Spirit as a constant companion.  We also learned about the importance of using the mission as an opportunity to be converted to the Lord.  He helped us reflect on how converted we really are or for what reasons we are here in the mission.  I am thankful for the time I have in the mission to start putting these things into practice and really start achieving the potential that the Lord has planned for me.   I have been concentrating my study on this recently and on how I can really take advantage of being a representative of Christ enjoying the opportunities of the Spirit.  I only have 8 months to enjoy doing what even the Apostles and Seventy can't do.

We had a baptismal service for Mario and the children of the family that miraculously went to church with us Sunday last week!  I had the opportunity to do the ordinance and it was such a fun experience to help each one of the children be baptized.  They left the water SO happy and the mom was SO proud and happy.  I then did the ordinance for Mario.  He is the investigator that showed up with a friend at sacrament meeting last week.  He was SUPER excited when he got into the water and it looked like he almost cried as I helped him into the water.  After he was submerged he had the biggest smile on his face!  We waited for the dressing rooms to empty out and I had the chance to talk to him about how he was feeling.  With his huge smile, he told me how great he felt.  I will never forget his happiness and joy as he explained to me how he felt.  It really doesn't get old serving and loving people with all that I have.  There really isn't any greater joy in life than that which you find serving!

We have several potential baptisms for this coming week and I couldn't be happier! :)  I love you all!!

Con amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, November 28, 2011

Obedience, Diligence, and Baptisms (in order of importance)

Hola Familia,

This week went by so fast and so much happened!  My companion and I saw miracles that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  President has been teaching that as missionaries we give three fruits to the Lord: obedience, diligence, and baptisms (in order of importance).  I have been meditating on this all week long and even had the chance to apply this doctrine creating the opportunity to have a huge miracle!!!!

So, Friday Elder Madrid and I had 12 people that were all going to come with us to church.  We were doing everything we could to keep them excited to come to church by passing by everyday that we could and teaching them as powerfully as we could.  However, Saturday night at about 7pm we were looking at 1 person that was actually going to be able to come with us.   I was stressed and sad at first but the words of President about the importance of obedience and diligence came to my mind and I realized that I still had 2 hours to find and invite people to come to church.  We then started stopping by references that we had been given and no one was home.  I was starting to lose hope when a thought very clearly came to mind to look at a list of former investigators that I made last week.  As I scanned the list a certain family stuck out to me.  We quickly arrived at the door of the family and the mother answered.  She didn't look too  happy to see us.  However, we presented ourselves and then asked her if she had a moment.  She then whipped out the pretexts that we always hear like "I'm busy" or "my kids will make too much noise."  We were determined to enter this house and so we started promising her blessings and that we would only share something small and quick.

She then said "ok, but something quick."  Relieved and excited for the opportunity we walked in and started getting to know the family.  The mother is 27 and has 6 kids!!  She and her husband have been living together without marriage for 13 years and they had practically nothing in the house.  We sang the song, "Families can be together forever" and started talking about the Gospel of Christ.  30 minutes later they all wanted to be baptized like Jesus Christ.  We then invited them to come to church and the mom responded "yeah, we'll go" and then she turned to her children and asked them to which they responded enthusiastically "YES!"  We then, super happy, ended the lesson with a prayer and the mother asked why we had to go so soon and that she had many, many questions for us.  We explained to her that the next morning we would pass by and then throughout the coming week we would pass by to answer all her questions.

The next morning we stopped by and the mother and 5 of her kids we all ready to go to church!!!  To top it off, they loved the church so much and the mother even signed up to give us lunch this coming Saturday!  What a blessing it was in this moment to decide to be diligent and fight even though it would have been so easy to give up and be ok with the one person that wanted to come.  We would never have had the opportunity to see this miracle and even less the opportunity to help this amazing family.

Even greater and better was when we went to church.  We arrived and a member came up to us with her boyfriend that had been to church a couple of times and wanted to hear the lessons.  The sister missionaries taught lesson 1 and then found out that he lives in our area and so we taught baptism and put him on date and he accepted!!  We now have this wonderful family and someone else that just fell from heaven!  The Lord is blessing us tons and tons and I know that it was for that decision we made the other day to be diligent when it would have been tons easier to be lazy and sad.  What a great lesson learned and definitely something that will I apply the rest of my life!!

I hope that you all have a great week and I love you all lots!!!

Elder Janis

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parque Via is the Promised Land Filled with Fruits and Gold

Querida Familia,

What an amazing time I am having in my new area.  My companion has only a week in the area and so we are basically opening up the area.  The area is huge in comparison to the area in which I was in Cuauhtemoc.  There are tons and tons of apartment complexes and two pueblos (small cities).  We are finding tons of families that are starting to listen to us and I am finding that Parque Via is the promised land filled with fruits and gold!  HAHA, so basically we are working with tons of families that are progressing towards baptism and confirmation.  I also am loving being a district leader here even though it is way different.  I am what you call the President of the Relief Society meaning that my district is me, my companion, and sister missionaries.  I have had the quite the experience trying to get used to just talking to the sisters.  The first time I talked to a sister missionary was in my first district meeting with them and it was so weird.  I have gotten so used talking to and relating to other Elders that doing to same with sisters is just so different.  However, it won't be impossible and I will just have to have patience in overcoming the barrier.

We had a miracle this last week as we searched for a baptism.  The Elders that were here before left one person with attending church and progressing.  I decided before we entered that we would put him on date for the coming weekend and see what happens.  As the lesson progressed, Cosme told us that he wants to, but later.  We told him that in the coming week we would pass by every day and help him prepare.  We also left him with the invitation to pray and ask God if he should be baptized this coming Sunday.  We came back two days later and he told us that after praying he felt lots of "ganas" (desires) to be baptized.  We then answered a couple of doubts he had and he committed to Sunday for his baptism.  Prayer is so powerful!  I read a talk the other day that made me start forming a habit that I hope I never lose.  It was a talk about how we can have our own "sacred grove" moments.  Every morning I write in my journal, exercise, get dressed, and go to another room in the apartment.  Once I am alone with the door closed, I kneel down and just talk with my Heavenly Father.  I cannot describe the joy I find in doing this every morning.  I have just started but I have already started to see the difference it is starting to make in my life.  I feel so much closer to the Spirit and am finding more answers to my prayers and needs.

Well, this last P-Day I couldn't write because we had a district leader meeting with President.  It was great and it is amazing how great the work is going here in the mission.  President is amazing and I am so lucky to have him has an example and leader.  I am starting to finally get the hang of what a leader is all about and have seen myself be an instrument the Lord's hands to help out the missionaries in my district.  I have so much more to learn but I thank the Lord for how far I've come.  I love all of you and hope you have a great week!

Elder Janis

Monday, November 14, 2011

Transfer to Azcapozalco

Hola Familia!

We had transfers today and I am in a new area, with a new district.  I was previously in the Estado de Mexico but now I am in the District Federal again.  I am SOOOO excited to be here in DF again and look forward to all the people that I can help here.  I am in the northern part of DF in the delegation Azcapozalco.  I don't know much about the area because my companion has been here only a week and I have barely an hour here but he tells me that it is groups of apartment  complexes.  That means that tons and tons of people live here and man am I excited to start looking for the people that the Lord has prepared for me here.  Ha ha, I am imagining a scene like that of Alma in the waters of Mormon or Peter and other apostles in the Day of Pentecost when hundreds line up to be baptized.  Who knows if we can achieve something like that here and now, but I am going to work as if it were possible and see what miracles the Lord pours out upon us.

So, many of you guys are asking me what I normally do on P-Day.  Well, to tell you the truth...not much.  In Cuauhtemoc, where I was, it was an extremely large apartment complex and a small, poor colony in which there is basically nothing.  The whole zone is super similar.  So normally what we would do is play soccer a couple hours, shop for groceries, and do emailing.  Usually a member invited us to eat with them in the afternoon.  However, here I am in DF again and I will have the chance to go to museums, historical sites, and there is a super nice mall near by.  I thought before I got here that it would be a lot more rural in parts but I was SUPER wrong.  Imagine downtown, downtown New York, but so large that it takes four hours to drive around it on the highway here called Periferico.  It still amazes me how many people live here and how many cars there are in the streets.

I am super excited for the coming week in my new area.  The area is called Parque Via 1 (Parque Via 2 is an area of Hermanas (i.e., Sisters) which are going to be in my District).  I am excited to have the chance to help the members of my new district and learn from them.  Oh, I want to take pictures of the apartment in which we live; super small but there is only us living in it. I have seen two and sometimes three families stuffed in an apartment the same size.  The majority of the people here are humble and barely make a living.  A convert I baptized in my last area makes 800 pesos every two weeks which is about 65 dollars working 48 hours a week.

Hey, so this last week Alma, the member with curly hair from my last ward who met you guys at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, is going with her husband to Salt Lake City for Christmas.  She offered to carry a box of things to you guys that I am just lugging around.  Another member bought me a molcajete-a stone bowl-in which you use another stone to grind avocados and tomatoes to make a guacamole.  I am excited to show you guys how to make a guacamole like that in Anamias but BETTER!!  She told me that she would be in contact with you guys to figure out how she will get it to you.

I love each and every one of you and am so thankful for the support that you send me every week.  Sorry that I am sooooooo horrible about writing back to the majority of you but I am going to be better.  Hope you have a great coming week!

Elder Janis

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meeting Elder Johnson

Buenas tardes familia,

I had another great week!  Which was filled with the baptism of an amazing family, chatting with the area seventy of Mexico, and celebrating the Día de Muertos.

The family that we had the opportunity to baptize was a reference that we received from a family in the ward.  From day one, they wanted nothing more than be baptized and have the blessings that come afterwards.  I was amazed at times as they related to us how they withstood the comments of family and friends telling that they shouldn't follow through with the baptism.  They were sure that they did the right thing because the Holy Ghost had testified to them that they needed to do it every time we came by, they read the Book of Mormon, or prayed!  Missionary work would be impossible without the help of the Holy Ghost.  They were so excited Sunday for the baptism and everything went super smoothly.

So, the other day I went with my companion to Tecamachalco (the Church offices of all of Mexico) for an appointment we had there.  I was waiting in the reception center studying my scriptures when I heard the first bit English that I have heard for a while: "Elder, how are you doing?"  I looked up to see that it was President Johnson, the seventy who is over the Church affairs here in Mexico.  He then chatted with me about where I am from, the mission, and his family.  I was impressed with how happy he was.  He was so kind and I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with him a while.  He was such a great example of charity by taking time out of his obviously busy day to chat with some missionary sitting in the reception area.

For the Día de Muertos, we had the opportunity to eat pan muerto which are sweet rolls covered in sugar (YUMMY!!), carve pumpkins (Elder Méndez and I won third place!!), play with a Caja de Toques (Shock Box), and eat tons of pizza.  I thought we would do something more traditional but the people here in this part of Mexico City worked through the Holiday.  In the evening the kids go around with costumes and trick or treat.  However, instead of asking for candy from houses, they ask for candy from the businesses.  To win third place in the pumpkin carving contest we did a pumpkin with the face of Jack Skeleton from a movie that my companion likes.  The Caja de Toques was a lot of fun and it was funny to see how much volts everyone could withstand and the companionships. I was able to do it pretty well, but I'm not one to enjoy self-inflicted really was a fun time!!

I hope that you all have a great week and enjoy the fall weather that is approaching!

Elder Janis

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Día de Muertos

Hola Familia,

I don't have very much time to write a good letter today, SORRY!  We had P-Day today because today is the Día de Muertos.  This is a really cool holiday that they have here in Mexico in which they celebrate and commemorate the people that have passed on.  They put little altars outside of their houses with photos, skulls with candles, and the favorite food of the family members that have passed on.  They visit graveyards and spend time as families.  We, as missionaries, are going to play soccer, have a pumpkin carving contest, a costume contest, and eat pizza (something that they don't have a lot of here).

This last week was great.  We went to a food appointment and the Hermana who gave us the food also gave us the opportunity to meet a neighbor of hers.  This friend accepted a baptismal date in the first lesson and the rest of her family in the lesson after.  This coming week we are going to have the baptismal service for them!!

Well, I am working hard and trying my best to learn from my mistakes to everyday be a better Elder and person!  I love you all tons and tons!

Con amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Encounter with a Jehovah Witness and My Investigator Family

Hola Familia,

WHAT A WEEK!  I am just breathing a sigh of relief and am so thankful for a chance to sit back for a couple of moments.  This last week was an adventure and man was it great!

To start off, this last Sunday Elder Mendez baptized the Salomón Family who left the baptismal service happy and excited to learn more.  Their 9 year old daughter had tons and tons of fear of being baptized that night and absolutely refused to be baptized.  We tried to encourage her but she just started crying and saying "NO".  We decided that it would be best to let her watch her parents get baptized and next week she could be baptized.  She even refused to put on the baptismal clothing.  However, Monday night when we were about to start a lesson planned to encourage Pamela, the daughter, for her baptism and talk about the confirmations of the parents, a Jehovah's Witness knocked on the our utter disappointment the Salomón Family invited him in and he offered to listen to our lesson.  If you don't know very much about the Jehovah's Witnesses, they love to fight about doctrine using the Bible, don't believe in the Holy Ghost, and teach people that they must learn the Bible before they can be baptized.  This was such a huge problem because we were teaching the Holy Ghost, confirmation, and helping Pamela have less fear of being baptized.  He began asking me about why I was on a mission and what I was trying to acheive because he was looking for a way to attack me doctrinally in front of the Salomón family.  We never want to have a Bible bashing party especially not in front of recent converts and someone that was going to get baptized.  I having talked to tons of JW (Jehovah's Witnesses), knew where he was going and decided to change the subject asking him about his family.  To my relief he fell for the trick!  I told him that my family has 9 people in it.  He then began explaining to us that he didn't have very many kids because families with too many kids do drugs in the street and are super dysfunctional.  How crazy huh?  I then explained politely that we are a large family that doesn't have even the hint of those sorts of problems; all of this in front of our wonderful family.

I then knew that we had to gain control of the lesson, teach, and testify.  After we finished the lesson, the JW didn't leave.  Knowing that after listening to what we shared with the family he would tell them all about how we were wrong, we hesitated in leaving but we didn't want to be rude.  That's exactly what he did.  We returned about 20 minutes later with an "urgent need to use the bathroom" and when we entered he suddenly decided that it was time to go.  The next night we came back for our follow-up appointment and they were filled with doubts.  They had shared with the Jehovah's Witness the things that they had felt during the baptism and he told them simply "not everything that shines is gold."  The mom almost began crying as she expressed her confusion.  It was a hard battle to help them remember what they had felt and that it was the Holy Ghost testifying to them.  The Spirit filled the room as we testified and helped  them remember that which they felt.  It was a hard battle and I felt like the scripture in Mosiah 20:11 where it talks about fighting like a dragon for family.  I love them and I was fighting with all I have to help them work towards the confirmation and Pamela for her baptism.  It hit me after the week of passing every day and encouraging them that we were fighting for their salvation and man was it worth it!!

In the baptism of Pamela, the mom of the Salomón family gave the closing prayer and she began crying as she thanked the Lord for the blessing of finding the true Church and for being so good to her and her family.  In that moment I realized just how worth all that time, effort, prayer, and fasting had been.  SO WORTH IT!  I love the miracles that I am seeing!!


Elder Janis

Monday, October 17, 2011

No clean clothes...that just isn't a good way to start a day!

Hola Familia,

I am never going to forget the miracles that we saw this last week!! I know that last week I told you about miracles that we saw, but hey, this is the Lord´s work and it is FILLED with miracles!!

First of all I would like to tell you all about the day that we had Thursday; one of the hardest days yet. In the morning there was no water and so we couldn't shower and we didn't have clean clothes and so we ended up wearing clothes from the day before. That just isn't a good way to start a day ;)! Throughout the day we went from appointment to appointment and no one was there. We would then focus on diligence and began knocking doors to which nobody was answering their doors. On top of that, as we kept trudging along looking for a lesson or someone that would receive us the majority didn't want anything to do with us. The food appointment forgot that we were coming but through the grace and mercy of the Lord she made a quick and yummy lunch. On top of all of that I had the hardest time keeping my thoughts focused on the mission. This is hardly a problem but thoughts were popping into my mind about being at home, family, BYU, friends, and all sorts of other things that are associated with being home. Things that never were too much trouble to push out of my mind in order to work hard were fighting to get the foreground of my mind all day long.

However, I said a prayer and didn't let myself slack off. Actually, when I began thinking negatively or about things I didn't want to think about I instantly began walking faster, saying a prayer, or contacting the nearest person. As the day kept going we finally started to see the blessings begin pouring down from our loving and oh so patient Heavenly Father.

Miracle 1: About 3 days ago we contacted a less active member in the street and Thursday we had the chance to meet her son. We taught a lesson that went super well but over all we left with another baptismal date. Friday we put him in an interview and he decided to get baptized this last Sunday. It was so cool to just "happen" across another elect of God. Ismael was super excited to be baptized!

Miracle 2: After this amazing lesson we then went to a lesson with Alex, Cintya, and Pamela super nervous but ready and faithful to see another miracle. We were sure that God would help us come off the conquerors. In the morning we made a plan of what we were going to teach that was so inspired. We started the lesson with only Cintya and Pamela there which was divinely inspired. We had the opportunity to focus on Cintya and help her see that God had answered her prayers and that she had received assurances that the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. She began shaking her head in agreement as she came to realize that she had received her answers. Right when we had established that with her, Alex came home from work. Perfect timing!! We then began establishing more concretely that which they knew to be true. We then read Moroni 10:3-7 and my companion Elder Mendez read and made emphasis that in verse 3 it says "it be wisdom in God that ye should read them" at this time and with the challenge in verse 7 that says "I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God." When we had read and explained these two doctrines that God had made known to them about the Book of Mormon and the church at this time in their lives that they needed it the most and that they had the challenge to accept that which they already knew. After we testified to that, the room filled with the force of the Holy Ghost and Cintya (the hardest one in the family) began shaking her head yes. We then taught baptism a bit and hard commited them to be baptized this coming Sunday and they said yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We could not have been happier. :) After leaving we said a prayer of gratitude and I felt as if I was surrounded by angles rejoicing! I will never forget that feeling of pure happiness.

I am loving that which I am seeing, feeling, and learning here in Mexico City on the Lord´s errand! I love you all tons and more!


Elder Janis

Monday, October 10, 2011

Three miracles this week recounted from tons

Hola Familia!
This last week was amazing!!  I had the opportunity to see tons of miracles but I will only have the chance to tell you about 3.
1- To start out the week, Elder Mèndez and I decided that we had to do everything we could this last week to be able to baptize this week.  The first morning we decided that we would focus on Lilian Perez whom we had found knocking doors the other week and who had gone to General Conference.  She has been progressing so well and absolutely loves listening to the church hymns she downloaded from the internet during her work.  She also has been reading and listening to the audio of the Book of Mormon and loves it because she feels a lot of peace as she reads.  We decided to read 3 Nephi 11 with her and then put her on date after reading it.  We did just that, testifying of the truths and applying them to her and her needs as the Spirit was present.  When the time was appropriate we invited her to be baptized this last week and she said YES!!!  It was a wonderful baptismal service and I being the one that was directing the service felt impressed to give her the chance to share with us the feelings she had during the ordinance. She told us how wonderful she felt and that she felt so good in the church.  It was so special to see her so content!
2- I went and did an interview for a companionship in my area that had only one hope of baptizing this week and I am willing to do everything I can to help them have success.  When I started the interview I already knew he had problems with two of the commandments.  As the interview went along I saw such a sincere desire to change, to be closer to God.  He was willing to change his life completely in order to be able to see more blessings in his life.  I was amazed at how readily he accepted the neccessity to stop smoking and quite drinking coffee.  In the end when it came to asking him if he was ready to be baptized this coming Sunday he told me no...I felt that he wanted to but had some sort of doubt.  As I talked to him a while, he said he wasn't going to be ready for Sunday.  I then felt prompted to promise him that he was ready and that after being baptized and confirmed the Lord would bless him with the Holy Ghost to strengthen him and guard him against temptation.  I then asked "will you be baptized this coming Sunday?"  he then replied, "yes, I need to prepare my clothes!"  He then told me that he had everything that he needed other than a tie.  I then felt impressed to gift him the tie I was wearing and man did his eyes light up as I took it off and gave it to him.  He was delighted and showed it to the other missionaries after the interview was over!
3- Elder Mèndez saw a miracle coming and knew that we had to do everything we could to make it happen this week.  We called up the Zone Leaders who came and I went with my leader named Elder Vasquez.  As we started the companion-exchange it started pouring rain but we just kept going because we all had our hearts set on a miracle.  We went by a family of three that also went with us to conference but they weren't home.  We decided that we would try again later and went to other houses marching along in the rain.  However, after about an hour we came back and they were home!  They let us in immediately and we went to teaching baptism and how the gospel of Christ helps us have the opportunity to have eternal families.  The room was overcome with the Spirit as we asked inspired questions and testified something like this:

Us-"Would heaven be heaven without our families?"

Them- NO

Us-What do we need to do in order to live in the presence of God with our families?

Them- Baptism

Us-If Christ were here in this room at this time, when would he tell you to get baptized?

Them-As soon as possible

Us- Well right now it is raining so we aren't going to do it tonight (HAHA) but when would be the next opportunity?

The oldest kid- TOMORROW!

Us- Tomorrow will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and by baptized be someone holding the authority of God.


We saw tons of miracles and I know that they were the products of fasting, prayers, obedience, diligence, and your prayers also!!  Elder Mèndez and I are so excited because we have 6 possibilities for baptism this coming week!!  I am so thankful for your prayers and support that help me keep going.  I am loving the mission more and more everyday.  I hope you all have a great week because we are seeing an extraordinary one!!
Con Amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Hardest Week

Hola Familia:
I had the hardest week that I have ever had in the mission this last week.  We had two wonderful people all ready and excited for baptism but the both fell through at the last moment.  One of them had to work or he wouldn't have money to buy his children their school books.  He almost cried as he tried to explain to us that he wanted to do it but if he didn't work this last Saturday and Sunday he wouldn't have the money that he needed.  The other one was a little more tragic.  We passed by his house in the morning and he told us that he would meet us down in the chapel in about 1 hour.  Elder Mèndez and I went to a lesson and then to the chapel to be waiting and ready for them.  However, after waiting about 30 minutes we gave the wife of the person that would get baptized a call and she told us that she was on her way.   We then waited about 2 hours; we passed by their house and the grandma's house, and then to the chapel waiting and calling only to get the voice mail box as the response.  We didn't want to leave and then have them show up.  We then decided that we had to pack up and stop by the house as soon as possible.  On the way up the super steep hill in our area we found Carlos, he who was going to get baptized, coming down the hill.  We greeted him to find that he was super mad and told us that he couldn't come because his wife had done something stupid, they had gone to the hospital, and he now had to go to work.  He was already late but told us that he would give us more details Monday night, tonight.  We hope that everything is alright and that we can help him again have the chance to be baptized.
It was hard to see these wonderful people have such hard conflicts and opposition to be baptized.  This last couple of weeks Elder Mèndez and I have seen tons and tons of miracles so this is probably a test of patience and humility.  We are only going to work harder and smarter to be able to help them get baptized in the coming weeks.  When the Lord's on your side, who's against you. 
I absolutely loved conference and as I listened to the wonderful words revealed from God to latter-day prophets and apostles I received ideas and inspiration to help me be even a better leader and missionary.  What a humbling blessing we have to listen to President Monson and know that he talks face-to-face with the Lord.  As he was talking, this thought came to my mind and the Spirit came and affirmed this thought as I listened to his inspired words.  One thing that he said that was so powerful and that I will not hesitate to apply is "I do everything I can to serve the Lord, and I will do everything I can to serve YOU."  What a strong message of what being a true disciple of Christ is really all about; be the servant/server rather than the one who receives the service.  I have been trying to apply this message and am praying to know how to apply it in a way to really help my district.
I had a wonderful opportunity to interview someone this last week that didn't want to get baptized.  I was pretty nervous going into the interview but this companionship of elders in my district had a goal they wanted to meet and I am willing to do everything to help them have success.  The interview lasted about 2 hours and was filled with the Spirit.  I could see her slowly changing her disposition and in the closing of the interview she told me that nothing would stop her from taking her baptism.  Not only was she to get baptized but she was to do it this last Sunday.  It was such a blessing to have that opportunity to work WITH/ALONGSIDE the Spirit and have success that I would have never had without the Lord's help.  It was also a huge blessing to leave the interview and see the excitement fill the faces of the elders as she said that she would get baptized.  I will always remember listening intently to every word she said and then when it came time to talk I would have words just put into my mouth.  I will never forget the opportunity the Lord gave me to help out my district in this way!
I love you all and am looking forward to what the Lord has planned for us this coming week!  I hope that you all have a wonderful week!
Con amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Incredible Week That I Will NEVER Forget

Hola Familia,

I had an incredible week that I will NEVER forget!  I'm sure you are all thinking, "well that's what he says every week" but hey I am extremely happy and so very excited to let you all in on what miracle we saw this last week!

So last week, I told you all about how a teenage girl from an inactive family with whom we had been working with told us in sacrament meeting that she wanted to be baptized.  Well, this last week Elder Méndez and I had the opportunity to go to the house of this less active family to teach and instruct the family along with Anahi who was so excited to be baptized.  However, every time we passed by, the father was super rough and didn't really want to talk to us about the baptism.  I don't remember if I told you in the last letter but he has a look that kills and it appears to warn you if you say something a little out of place in his opinion you'll receive a fist in the face.  When we would pass by and would say anything about baptism he would yell from another room "you're not getting baptized."  The mother would just roll her eyes and tell us that everything was ok and Anahi would yell something back like you already told me that I could do it. 

The day before the baptism (I, having been in other areas of my district helping them out, finally had the chance to be in my own area) we passed by to talk to the father and figure everything out.  We started the lesson with the idea to start talking about the program and see where things got us.  We started the lesson and invited the father to join us this time.  The room, the moment he sat down, got so tense and the mother had a look of pure terror as to what his response would be.  After about 10 seconds of silence and not knowing what to do exactly, I felt the need to say with courage, that came from not from me but from the Spirit, "Brother Iraseo, why exactly do you not what your daughter to be baptized?"  He then began to tell us that it was just flat out not going to happen.  A little lost as to how to react we felt the need to describe the experience that we had the past week with praying for a miracle, passing by with Anahi, and that she received an answer from God saying that she needed to be baptized.  He then said "well, she can get baptized because it is something that Anahi and my wife want to do but I will NOT be going."  Elder Méndez then shared with all of us an experience he had in which he was baptized secretly so that his dad wouldn't know and how sad he was to this day that his father wasn't there.  The Spirit filled the room so strongly and I was praying that everything would work out.  Anahi began bawling like crazy and out of nowhere Elder Méndez says, "Anahi hug your dad."  She got up without hesitation and sat on her dad's lap and cried begging him to come to her baptism.  He then began crying, shook his head yes, and left so that we would not see him crying.  I could not believe it!!

Flash forward to the next day and we entered the chapel to find out that there was absolutely no light in the church and none in the colony around it.  We also found out that someone, thinking they were going to help us out, turned the cold water on full blast and upon arriving at the stake center, the maintenance people were fuming because the font almost overflowed.  Elder Méndez and I were instantly overwhelmed and didn't know what we were going to do.  On top of that, the family of Anahi came walking in with the father in the lead.  He had absolutely changed to the extreme and was an absolutely different person to us.  They began asking us if we could reschedule the baptism.  To our delight and sweet surprise, Anahi responded to the complaints and desire for a schedule change saying, "It's the opposition that is doing this and I want to do it with or without light."  I then ran with another companion to a store next door to buy candles.  That morning I had felt the need to put all the money I had in my wallet and didn't know why I should, but I knew why in this moment.  I bought as many candles as I could and we then started the baptism as a candle light service.  We were beginning the services when the lights came back on!  Everything happened almost flawlessly!!

Everything turned out beautifully and I am so thankful!!  I really wish I could give you tons more details but I ran out of time...sorry!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!!

Con amor,
Elder Janis

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pambazos and What Felt Like It Might be a Fist in the Face

Hola Familia,

I had a very wonderful week!  Although I had just sent you an email on Friday we have the regular P-Day today and everything is back to normal.  Elder Mèndez and I are seeing tons and tons of miracles.  Every week it is a neat to see what the Lord has in store for us as we as search for the people prepared to accept the Gospel of Christ.  In our search of finding someone to help get baptized this last week, we went to a super inactive family that haven't been to church in years.  It was due to fight the family had with the bishop over if they could use the church building for a birthday party.  When the bishop said no they got super upset and decided that they weren’t going to come back to the church again.  Sadly enough they have a 12 year-old daughter that never had the chance to be baptized.

We were praying and searching for direction as to on whom we should focus and the thought came to us to see what would happen talking to this family.  The first lesson was super awkward and ended with the parents mad that we even talked about baptism.  Very apprehensive we returned to see what we could do to gain the trust and confidence of
the family and then talk to the 12 year old, Anahi.  We stopped by and they were in the middle of eating dinner and invited us to eat some Pambazos (it is like french bread covered in salsa with sausage and mashed potatoes inside).  We talked to them for a while and ended with laughter and the tension eased up TONS.  We then asked if we could talk to Anahi and they let us.  We talked to her and put her on date for this coming Sunday.  We left her with the assignment to pray and ask God if that was something that he wanted her to do.

We then showed up the next day to do an interview and in the interview the Elder worked with her for almost an hour and a half.  When they left she said that she wasn’t 100% sure she wanted to do it still.  We invited her to church and she told us that she would be going.  In Sacrament meeting the theme was about missionary work and return missionaries talked about their missions and especially about baptism. The Spirit was so abnormally strong and present.  After the meeting Anahi came up to us and told us, "I want to get baptized next weekend on Saturday."  Elder Mèndez and I could not help but stand there a couple of seconds in utter surprise until we finally responded with excitement congratulating her on the success of getting an answer from God.

What a miracle!  She was completely sure with the choice and told us that having talked to her parents they were comfortable with whatever she decided to do.  She was super excited too and we know that this will help the family to begin to come to church once again.  I am so grateful for the blessings and miracles that the Lord is sending us.  We weren’t even sad that we didn’t have someone to baptize this next week because the baptism of Anahi is a HUGE miracle.  I wish I could describe to you how hard and tense that first lesson was with this family.  The father looks like if something we said didn’t go over well with him we would receive a fist in the face.  However, due to the Spirit, patience, and a lot of prayers we saw the miracle!  I am super happy right now and ready to see what the Lord has in store for
us this coming week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Hola Familia!
So are you all wondering why it took me so long to be able to write this last week.  Today the 15th of September is the shout ("el grito") of Independence and tomorrow is Independence Day here in Mexico.  In the center of Mexico City, el Zocalo o Plaza La Constitución, thousands of people gather together to shout the cry of independence.  The President of Mexico comes out onto a balcony and shouts things like "VIVA MEXICO!" and everyone shouts.  Instead of having P-Day on Monday, President Villarreal told us we could write on Thursday and have P-Day on Friday.  Tonight we are going to have a small party with the missionaries here in my zone (Tenayo), eat tacos, and then go home a little bit early.  There are going to be tons of pachangas (large parties) and you would say it was Christmas here a little early with everything that the people do here to celebrate.  The traditions and culture here are deeply rooted in the people.
This week was absolutely amazing!  We had two baptisms that were pure miracles.  One was Kelly who got baptized Thursday night and the other was Julia who got baptized Saturday afternoon.  It was a little hectic this week running from one area to another area interviewing the other district's investigators and then coming to our area to help the people we had with baptismal dates prepare for baptism.  My companion, due to the success we are having, is excited and does great work in the area when I can't be there which is a huge blessing.  He is such a great companion and is helping me learn how to apply the saying of an apostle "come what may and love it!"
So something I have taken to love learning more about myself here in the mission is.  I never thought about it before now but I didn't know much about myself before the mission but through the trails and success of the mission and especially this last week I have learned tons about myself.  I am learning what my strengths are and what are my weaknesses.  The thing that I really am loving is how I have learned to be able to apply the Gospel in my own life and gain strength and understanding from the Atonement.  I am learning that you can apply the Atonement in so many different ways gaining understanding, patience, and love for others.  This last week I started wonder why I was having this trial and that other trial but realized that was an opportunity to accept the chance to learn more about the Atonement, forget about myself, and work harder than ever.  What a blessing it is to have trials and afflictions.  It might sound quite weird to be saying that but I can really see myself learning and progressing more rapidly.  Every trial that I face is like God being a sculptor shaping me with time, thought, and love into the man/missionary that he needs me to be.  What a pleasure it is to face the trials and look for ways to rely more on prayer and the Atonement.  I am grateful for this perspective that the mission is helping me to gain.
I love all of you and look forward to telling about another miracle of a baptism and the other wonderful things we see as missionaries everyday this next Monday.  Thanks for all the love and support and especially for the prayers.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, September 5, 2011

Another Amazing Miracle

Hola Familia!
WOW!! I cannot believe that people think that the heavens are sealed and that God doesn't work with miracles in our day and age.  After finishing this week, I can't even image thinking something so untrue and sad.  I literally participated in such an amazing miracle that even now as I write this letter I am humbled by the hand of the Lord in our lives.  Let me start out by telling you that Elder Mendez and I started out the week without anyone to baptize for the coming weekend.  We decided that we couldn't let that affect our excitement we HAD to work harder and smarter in order to find someone to help accept the gospel of Christ.  We were thinking about the amazing people that the Lord has blessed us to teach when we felt that we needed to put on date for baptism Pedro and his wife, Margarita, for this next Sunday.  However, we thought it would be amazing to baptize the two of them this last Sunday but we recognized that it wouldn't be easy.  They aren't married and Margarita was in Leon about 5 hours away from here and nobody knew when she would return.  Despite the seemingly impossible feat it would be to help them get baptized we decided to work with the hope and have faith that the Lord would help us make it happen.
Last Tuesday we taught a review of baptism and invited Pedro to be baptized.  He responded excitedly but as we explained the need to be married in order to be baptized he got super pensive.  We asked him rather apprehensively when Margarita would be home so that we could set goals and he surprisingly told us in the next day or two.  When we heard this we knew that we had felt the need to talk about baptism with Pedro for a reason and set the goals for Friday to be married and Sunday to get baptized.  We passed  by every day, Margarita came home on Wednesday, and Friday they were super excited to go and get married.  They got married by a member lawyer who helped us help them get married for super cheap and everything was perfect and working like a well-oiled machine.  However, Saturday in the morning as we were doing Personal Study (I was reading a Conference talk called "Come what may, and love it" about not letting the circumstances of life stop us from being happy [not a coincidence]) when we got a call from Pedro that his father had died and that he was going to leave for his father´s house and didn't know when he would get back.  Shocked and unsure what we should do we passed by his house before he left to give him words of comfort and to tell him that we could save the baptism for when they got back.  They were grateful for the words of comfort and rather surprisingly they told us that would still like to baptized on Sunday.
I cannot tell you how hard it was to not worry and work with a lot of excitement due to the last minute change in plans.  However, Elder Mendez and I decided we would pray first and then look for back-up plan for a baptism.  We then worked harder than I have thus far in my mission and had tons of unexpected success.  We helped someone that we thought was one of those eternal investigators accept a baptismal date for the coming Saturday at 4pm!  However, ending the day and starting Sunday we didn't have anyone with baptismal date for the day.  We just kept on working and didn't let ourselves get down and man was it hard for me to not be stressed but celestial help made it possible to work with happiness and excitement.  At 4:30 we almost lost the calm and confidence but decided that we were fasting and with prayer everything would work out.  At 5 o´clock we got a surprise text message from Margarita saying that they had just got home and that they wanted us to stop by!!  We sure did stop by and an hour later they were in the all white!!!! :)  They were so excited to have had the chance to be baptized this week and the service was especially wonderful.
I know that this was a miracle and evidence that this really is the Lord´s work.  Starting the week we had thought it impossible to have accomplished such a feat.  I feel so blessed to have been apart of this hard but trying experience that turned out to be so rewarding and special.  I have never had felt so happy in my life and it wasn´t happiness due to baptizing, it was what I call celestialized happiness brought from the success of others!  I have learned that when we put our eye single to the glory of God we receive the greatest rewards and blessings.  I know that this was a blessing due to the diligence and obedience that Elder Mendez and I did; everything we could to have this blessing.  I will never forget this week and look forward to seeing more of the miracles that the Lord always has prepared for me here.  I cannot explain to you all the happiness and love I have being here and never want it to stop!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two Powerful Lessons Learned

Hola Familia,
I learned two powerful lessons this last week that I will never forget!  The first lesson I learned is that obedience and diligence really do pay off.  I was preparing for my district meeting and planning what I would talk to my district about.  Having just started a new change, I talked to them about how we need to have the basics (obedience and diligence) if we are going to reach the success that the Lord has planned for us.  I felt confident that I could promise them miracles if we as a district focused on carrying out the basics of missionary work.  This last week was absolutely amazing.  We as a district baptized 8 people and have about 9 people with baptismal dates for the coming week!  Every baptism that we have in missionary work is a miracle and this last week was no different.  Elder Mendez and I baptized Daniel who will get married this coming week!  My district right now is super upbeat and excited to work with a goal of 37 baptisms for the change!!  I am praying and searching the scriptures for how to help them retain their excitement and continue to work with faith, obedience, and diligence to obtain our goals.  I super excited to see how the coming week goes.
The second lesson I learned this last week was that I have got to worry A LOT less.  I got sick this last week and when the mission doctor checked me he told me, "Elder, you are completely healthy but have got to learn how to worry less."  I was worried that I was sick because I had something super serious but there wasn't because I had literally "worried myself sick."  I have been praying to know what I could do and when the moments of stress come (which in the mission they always do) I have been learning ways to overcome the worry.  I read a super awesome quote from Elder Wirthlin that is "Next time you are tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead.  It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable."  I am going to let come what comes but will learn how to laugh about it and enjoy it.  My new companion is such a great example of this and I am enjoying the chance to learn this from him.  Elder Mendez is hilarious and when we come on a difficult situation he always cracks a couple of jokes and we both end up laughing.  Oh, and don't worry I am completely fine and recovered and am so happy to apply the lessons that I learned from the experience.
So this next week Elder Mendez and I have a family and two individuals with baptismal dates and we are going to do everything so that the Lord can work the miracle.  I love you all tons and hope that you all have a wonderful week!!!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, August 22, 2011

I LOVE EVERY MOMENT of the mission!

So I just finished my first transfer here in Cuauhtemoc and man was it amazing.  First of all, we had a miracle baptism this Sunday!  Elder Laguna and I were doing our weekly meeting with the mission leader when he informed us that his daughter was dating a non-member who had come to church two times and who was interested in meeting with us missionaries.  We set up a time to go by on Monday night and had one of the most powerful lessons that I have ever had.  We taught baptism and invited him to be baptized to which he said without any hesitation,  yes.  He then asked us why are there so many churches and how he could know if our church is the one with the correct authority.  To answer his question we shared lesson about the restoration of the church.  As we taught the First Vision, Elder Laguna had the opportunity to teach the experience Joseph Smith had.  While he was detailing the experience, I was praying the Spirit would testify to Erik the truthfulness of what we were sharing.  Almost immediately, I felt the Spirit enter the room with almost an extra-terrestial force; one of the strongest confirmations by the Spirit that I have ever had; I could tell that Erik felt it too.  After we explained the First Vision, I asked Erik if he believed that Joseph Smith was called of God like we explained and testified.  Without even the slightest bit of hesitation he answered, YES!!!  Flash forward 6 days later and he was baptized!  Every baptism is a miracle and a work of faith but this baptism was one of the most miraculous that I have had yet.
So I received a new companion named Elder Mendez.  He is from Tabasco, Mexico and has a really cool accent where he makes a "th" sound when he pronounces "s" in Spanish.  He is super hilarious and I am sure that will make the best of this coming transfer.  He has had a hard time in the past with laziness and disobedience but I hope to help him work hard and see that it brings the most amazing fruits and blessings!  It was actually pretty hard to say goodbye to Elder Laguna because we had become such great friends.  Last night as he was finishing packing we talked about what our first impressions were of the area and of each other.  He told me that he repeatedly thought, "que honda que este" which basically means "what's his problem."  He told me that he was pretty annoyed by my desire to be exactly obedient but decided to go with it and looking back, he told me he was thankful for the things I helped him to see.  He told me that he hasn't been so obedient before and has never achieved the number of lessons, contacts, and overall success before.  Basically, it was a cool experience to hear such wonderful things I was able to do to help him and then to thank him for his support and advice as I learned to be a leader.  This has been my hardest but favorite transfer that I have had thus far!!
Tonight Elder Mendez and I hit the streets and I have decided that I am going to apply all the diligence and knowledge I gained from the last transfer right off in the start and we are going to have another successful transfer!!  I am super happy and I know I am making this phrase cliche but it never gets old to say, but I LOVE EVERY MOMENT of the mission!  At the end of every month completed part of me rejoices in the success and progression that I am having and seeing, but the other part groans because I don't want to stop.  I have so much to do and accomplish that I am going to have to use every moment even more and more diligently and effectively.  I love the Lord and His wonderful work!  I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, August 15, 2011

Always looking for ways to do things better and better

Hola Familia,
Wow what a wonderful week!  Sometimes I wonder why the time has to go faster and faster every day of the mission.  I already want more time and don't like the fact that I am on the other side of the things.  The mission is just so wonderful and every day working in among the people here is such an amazing blessing.  This last week we achieved all of our goals but did not end up having a baptism of someone that seemed to just disappear as her baptism approached.  However, we worked hard and didn't let this affect us and ended up with a super golden family in sacrament meeting.  They love us so much and want us passing by every day to teach them more and more.  They love the church and we are excited to help them get married and have them planned for baptism this coming Sunday.
Hey, so I received an awesome package from you guys today!  My companion and I enjoyed eating the sweets that I have been missing as we traveled from the mission offices to our area.  Thank you so much for sending me the LOVELY pictures of Laura and Sarah.  I cannot believe how beautiful and grown-up you look Laura and Sarah!  Oh and what a surprise it was to hear that we are actually going to move to Utah but I am happy that while at BYU I will have family a lot closer.  The view of the lot is SO cool and what a find Mom and Dad.  The house looks like it will be pretty and seems like the house that Mom has always wanted.
I have learned a lot about how to ask and receive revelation.  I read a talk and scriptures and have thought a lot about how to be better at it.  I learned that a lot of revelation is making a decision, praying about it, and going for it.  I realized that we have been given the ability to reason things out and make the choice that feels right and with a prayer execute the decision.  I am thankful for learning this because as you all know I am not the best at making decisions.  I have found that leading a District is hard and I am always looking for ways to do things better and better.  I have found that as I understand how revelation works I will be a much grander and better instrument in the hands of the Lord.  I have decided that the greatest gift to carry with me from the mission is the trust of the Lord and confidence that he can depend on me to be obedient and diligent carrying about His work.  I really do love every moment and it makes me sad the time has to fly by so fast.  I have just got to utilize the time better and better and work harder than ever!  I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week. 
Con MUCHO amor,

Elder Janis

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Hardest but Most Amazing Change

Hola Familia,

What a week!  Everything went super well and the Lord is showering us with blessings right now!  This last week was nowhere near as exciting and miraculous but it was a sweet, satisfying week.  We had another baptism yesterday and the work here is finally starting to roll.  We have a goal of 8 baptisms for this change and Elder Laguna and I are sure that we are going to be able to accomplish our goals.  Elder Laguna and I are working harder and harder everyday.  There are days when we return to the house to plan and immediately after we are sound asleep in our beds.  We then wake up the next morning to work even harder.  I have never felt more excited to work in mission than I do right now.  I absolutely love every minute of everyday!!

This last week I have grown to love section 121 of Doctrine and Covenants.  First of all it has helped me realize how I should treat my opportunity to encourage and lead other missionaries.  I have found myself on the verge of asking the question that comes in the first verse.  Never in my life have I ever been really that close to even think something like that but wow I have had some pretty tough trials.  However I have found SO much consolation in the comfort that the Lord sent to Joseph Smith in 7 and 8.  There have been nights where I have no idea how much time I was on my knees at my bedside.  I know that God heard my prayers and has helped me in ways I never thought possible.  One example would be that Elder Laguna has really been a huge support and listens to my worries.  Elder Laguna has been one of the best companions I have had yet.  I have really been focusing on my dependency on the Lord as I carry out my responsibilities and am relying hopefully and patiently for the promise to be completed of "whom the Lord calls he qualifies."  I have found so much peace and happiness when I know I am doing everything I can to learn and to be diligent and obedient because I have the ability to receive the blessings I'll need.

I am loving this change of my mission and I will count it as one of the hardest but most amazing changes of my mission.  I have seen miracles and the hand of the Lord is definitely extended.  I love all of you and hope you have an amazing week!  Elder Laguna and I have some amazing things planned for this coming week with another baptism planned!

Con amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, August 1, 2011

Filling the Baptismal Font with Rain Water

Hola Familia!
I had an amazing week with experience that I will NEVER forget for the rest of my life!!  Elder Laguna and I are working harder than ever and loving the mission more than ever.  After about two weeks of some tough trials we are starting to see tons of the fruits; enduring to the end with a positive attitude was not an easy task but man has it really paid off!!
To start off I thought I would relate to you about a surprise baptism that we had on Monday.  We did our P-Day things and started working at 6pm.  We had been conversing during the day that we must work even harder than we have been.  At 6 we started passed by an appointment but they weren't there.  We then decided that we would start doing some follow-up work and contact people that we met on the streets.  We were walking with full diligence praying to be guided where the Lord would have us go.  As we passed a particular apartment building out came running an investigator named Jose Luis.  He is Catholic, has been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses,  goes to a Christian church, and has been receiving lessons from us.  He called and invited us to come in for a moment.  Silently surprised by the abrupt change of events we stepped into his house and he told that he was leaving that night at 10 to go to another state of Mexico called Colima.  He then said something that almost forced me into a coma or something to that extent.  He said, "So Hermanos, I want to go to Colima baptized and confirmed.  Can I have my baptism tonight?"
After assuring him that of course we could do it that night, we ran to the bishop's house and got permission to go forward with the baptism.  We then ran to the church to fill up the font and at this point we starting worrying that everything wasn`t going to work out.  Right now we are attending at the Stake Center and the font is pretty large and it would take a good 3 hours or so to fill up.  It was 7 and the baptism was planned for 8:30.  Looking at the options of what we could do, rain like I have never seen before, began falling.  I'm sure other people were worried about flooding problems but when I saw the rain falling so thick an idea came to my mind.  We ran to the custodial closet and got out about 8 buckets and put them out in the rain to let the rain fill them up.  Elder Laguna and I were running with buckets that we filling up super fast in the rain from outside to the font.  In about an hour the font was filled to a level in which we could do the baptism.
The rain was such a blessing and definitely sent from God to enable us to carry out the baptism.  I was so filled with gratitude as everything work out flawlessly.  Then as the time came to go and get Jose Luis for the baptism and his family the rain almost completely went away!!
The other experience I had this week was in an interview for baptism.  I have really been focusing this week on carrying out my responsibilities for the glory of God and not for my own.  The person I was interviewing didn't want to be baptized.  I started trying to convince him that he needed to do it.  However, the thought came to me that when I leave this interview I don't want to think that the success was my own glory but that of God's.  I then felt a clear impression that we were to kneel down and offer a prayer to God and that he would have the opportunity to ask God in a prayer if he should be baptized.  We did just that and after he asked during the prayer if he should be baptized like Christ he paused.  Everything was quiet for almost a minute when he finally said "Gracias Dios, Gracias."  He finished the prayer and the Spirit was so strong.  He pondered a bit and then I felt it was appropriate to ask what God's response was to his question.  He then told me that he knew he needed to be baptized.
I will never forget this moment.  I haven't felt the Spirit that strong in many other moments in my life.  I will never forget the peace I saw in his eyes and face and his determination afterwards to do what he knew was right.  I am loving the mission more than ever.  I learned a powerful lesson: Endure to the end with a positive attitude and the Lord will take care of the rest, not for my glory but for the glory of my Divine Redeemer.  I love you all tons and hope that you had a great week!
Con mucho cariño,
Elder Janis

Monday, July 25, 2011

A 40 Day Fast

Hola Familia,
What a week!  Elder Laguna and I are working like none other and the fruits of our hard work are starting to come out of the fog.  I heard a lot of negative things about my new area and companion before I got here but I decided to come into the area with a positive attitude and man has that paid off.  I know that every area has people that the Lord is preparing and with love and understanding any companionship can work out.  So really this is going to be one of the most difficult changes of my mission so far but I know it will be one of the most rewarding as I stick it through and continue to be optimistic and just work like crazy.  We have someone named Yael on date for this coming weekend to be baptized and we found some great new families to start teaching.  I feel so happy and at peace to know that the Lord has trusted me to be here and now.  I am formulating many great plans and have a high hopes for Cuauhtemoc.
So this last week I did another interview and man are they powerful experiences.  I interviewed a man who has problems or had problems with a lot of the commandments.  However, as I taught and committed him to obey the laws of God he was more than willing to change his life completely.  The Holy Ghost was a third member of the interview and I felt the love of Lord for this man as we discussed the changes he needed to continue to make in order to honor the covenant of baptism.  He accepted everything and he was so happy to tell his Elders that he was going to be baptized.
So right now we are focusing huge time on talking to everyone we can in the street with a goal to talk to at least 140 people this coming week.  We are going to work with an urgency like I have never worked before in the mission running basically from appointment to appointment because every moment is precious in the Lord's time.  I know that this is something that will help us to find, teach, and help more people.  I KNOW that there are at least 3 complete families prepared by the Lord for us to find and this next week we are going to work with an urgency knowing that we are going to find them.
I started a 40 day fast on Sunday.  I made a list of all the things that are blocking my ability to have the Holy Ghost as my companion in every moment at its full extent.  I am going to pray every morning for the strength to avoid these things at all costs and to be able to recognize potential threats.  In the night I am going to give an accounting to the Lord and recommit myself.  I am looking forward to changing myself and to the opportunity to be a much more effective and dependable instrument in the hands of the Master.  I am going to make this sacrifice because I love the Savior and I love working in His vineyard.  I love the scripture in Revelations 3:19 and know that as I am obedient and work to overcome my weaknesses, the hard times I am facing right now and will face will be out of the Lord's love for me and His desire to make me the man He needs.  I love you all and hope that everyone of you is as happy and peaceful as I feel right now!
Disfrutando al máximo cada día,
Elder Janis

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Baptismal Interview

Hola Familia,
What an amazing week!  I am loving my new area and my companion is wonderful.  My companion has more time than me in the mission but did a couple things that he shouldn't have and the President put him with me to help him learn to be obedient.  I am excited to help him out and we have already had a great start in that regard!  He is a pro with the members, getting referrals and getting them excited to participate more in the work.  We work really well as a team and even though I am tecnically the Senior Companion, we work as if we are co-mayors (i.e., co-seniors).  I have a great feeling about the transfer and know that we are going to have TONS of success.  I also got to know my district on Tuesday and they are great!  I talked to them about the importance of contacting in the street and talking to as many people as they can in the day.  This last Sunday when they all called in their numbers there were already improvements in the number of lessons and new investigators.  I am excited to help them this next coming week to have more people in the chapel and people with baptismal date.
We had a wonderful baptism this last week in which one member of the family was baptized.  The rest of the family came to the baptism and the mom told us afterwards that she hopes that all the family follows suit!!  We are super excited to start working with the rest of the family and to help all of them accept the restored gospel.  The area that I am in has had many challenges for missionaries in the past and the President expects that I will be 100% obedient.  I am excited to do just that and I know that there are tons of people that the Lord will put in our path or us in their path.  I am grateful for the trust the Lord has put in me and will do everything to learn from my mistakes and be an example for my companion and my district.
So I gave my first baptismal interview this last week and man was it a special experience.  It was for a 13 year girl that was baptized but never got confirmed.  After 6 months you have to be re-baptized.  She hadn't gone to church in about 5 years and she and her mom are starting to return.  She was SO excited to start over again and be baptized but this time confirmed.  The interview was a super special opportunity and so far it is one of the things I like the best as a district leader.  Everytime I testified, told her that God loved her, or confirmed to her the blessing the baptism would have in her life, the Spirit was so strong.  I have had lessons in which the Spirit was incredibly strong but I haven't felt so strongly that the things I was saying were true.  I look forward to doing another!
This morning I climbed to the top of an extremely tall hill in my area called the Hill of Cuauhtemoc.  I took a lot of pictures because it was beautiful but I can't send all of them.  I chose to send you some of the ones I liked the best.  I especially love the one where I am jumping off a rock!  I love all of you and hope you all have a wonderful week!  I know that I will!!!:)



Con Amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, July 11, 2011

Transferred to Cuauhtemoc (Kwow-te-mok), Tenayo

Hola Familia,
I had one of the most fulfilling weeks that I have ever had in my life.  This past week was the last week of the transfer and it turned out to be the last week I had in Nápoles, Tacubaya.  I got a call Saturday night that I would be going to Cuauhtemoc(Kwow-te-mok), Tenayo.  Its fun to say right!  However, with this new transfer and area came a wonderful and exciting surprise.  I have just been called to be a District Leader!  What a great opportunity I have in front of me to serve and to not only help investigators but also missionaries.  I am praying and going to fast to know how to carry out this calling to the very best of my abilities.  What a responsibility but with the Lord's help I know that I can take in on and lead my district to success!  Thank you mom and dad for your excellent examples of carrying out your callings.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be in a new area and look for the elect that are prepared and waiting.  I was in Nápoles for 6 months which is super rare and such a blessing.  I loved the ward, the converts, the investigators, and all the wonderful experiences that I had there.
Speaking of leaving Nápoles, it was incredibly hard to leave.  The members were devastated and all told me that I would be missed.  They have all told me on multiple occasions how thankful they are for all the work that I did in their ward and for the wonderful families that we helped start going to the ward.  They were all telling me things way to nice and a couple cried when I started sharing the news.  I have grown to love the ward and it was hard to see them cry, however the missionary that will come and take my place will no doubt be a hard worker also.  I gave a talk in the sacrament meeting and it was a special experience to share with them a couple of the amazing moments I had while serving in the ward.  It was neat to look out over the stand and see the fruits of the hard work and obedience that my companions and I executed for 6 months.  They went by incredibly fast and man they were amazing!  I have been writing in my journal every night and I am so thankful for this goal that Craig gave me the idea to set because I want to remember every moment of my time here in the mission.
The hardest part of saying goodbye was to the families that I said goodbye to.  They were all wrote a message in a notebook I bought and we took pictures.  I shared a couple of thoughts with them and told them just how much I have grown to love them.  They all cried and it was hard to finally wave goodbye and walk out the door.  However, I know that I need to move on; I have a new opportunity to search for the wonderful souls that the Lord has prepared for me to find and help.  I have attached the photos of the families that I have grown to love so much and in the last couple of months.  I will never forget them!
One of the photos I am holding a bag of fish!  Lourdes and Karina, the two on the far right, bought them for me.  They were balling as they told me how much they were going to miss me and I'll never forget the appreciation they have for the little things I was able to do for them.  We can't have any type of pet and so I gave them to the two little girls in the photo, the one where we are sitting on a bed.  Another family bought me a malcajete (a stone bowl thing to make guacamole) and a maquina (to make homemade tortillas).  It was SO hard to say goodbye and know that I will be able to see them again, if not in this life, in the life that comes.
I hope that all of you had a wonderful week because mine was a amazing and super special; I'll never forget it!  I love all of you and look forward to informing you all about the wonderful experiences I will have here in a new area.
Con Amor,

Elder Janis

Monday, July 4, 2011

Overcoming Weakness

Hola Familia!
I am sending a quick letter to tell you that I am still alive and having the time of my life but don't have time to write much.  We had a wild week with experiences that make you love the mission field that much more and have an even greater desire work harder.  I have thought a lot about the missionary I have become and the missionary I want to become before I hit a year.  I came into the mission with a vision of who I wanted to become when all was said and done and I have thought a lot about the progress that I have in this preparation.  I have realized that I still have a long way to go and that I must focus on my weaknesses.  In my studies in the morning I have focused a portion of my time in what are my weaknesses and how I must overcome them.  I feel relieved to know that with prayer and faith Chirst will help me overcome this weakness.  I actually came to realize in a real sense that only through the Atonement of Christ will I ever progress and improve.  I am so grateful for my Savior and Redeemer and am actively looking for the sweet sensation of love that the Lord sends as we search for more understanding and comprension of His infinite sacrifice.  I love all of you and apologize again for the short letter!
Elder Janis

Monday, June 27, 2011

Janis, I want to be baptized. When can I be baptized?

Hola Familia,
I had a wonderful week that ended wonderfully!!!  The week was pretty stressful because we put on a ward activity to get the members more involved in missionary work and we spent a lot of time planning and carrying it out.  We passed out 300 flyers and talked with a lot members exciting them to invite people.  Sadly the day of the activity was a huge thunderstorm with thunder that shook everything as if atomic bombs were falling and there was absolutely nobody in the streets.  However, all of our progressing investigators and recent converts came and we had a blast teaching them the plan of salvation.  We had three different rooms to talk about "where did we come from?", "why are we here?", and "where are we going after this life?".  When we finished all of our progressing investigators were super excited to be baptized and the ones that were hesitant realized that it is something absolutely necessary!!  It turned out a lot different than we planned when not very many showed up but man am I thankful for the fruits that did come!
So we had an amazing baptismal service for a complete family of four that were so happy to make this decision as a family.  I love helping people make the correct decisions but it is especially wonderful when it is a family with father, mother, and all the kids that want to make this wonderful choice together.  They already make a great addition to the ward and the ward is especially happy to receive them!  I attached a photo that you can see them!  We ate dinner with them after church and they are so peaceful and happy.  Missionary work never gets old and won't! :)  I am looking forward to helping them prepare for a temple marriage about a year from now we hope to go with them in this special moment!
Right now we have a wayward son of Lourdes on date for this coming Sunday.  What a special experience it has been teaching him.  His family had to kick him out on the street because he would come home drunk yelling and hitting people.  They are had a super hard time having to do this but they have told him that they aren't going to let him in when he is in this state.  We decided that we would give it a shot trying to help him out but the two times we found him in the street he was SUPER drunk crying and pleading for help.  However, one day I felt we should stop by an investigator who ended up not being home but in the way there we found him at a taco stand.  We talked to him for a bit and invited him to come to church the next Sunday.  To our utter surprise he came and also LOVED it.  He then didn't drink for the next whole week and came to church a second time.  After the services he came up to me and said, "Janis, I want to be baptized.  When can I be baptized?"  Oh I could barely keep in my excitement and told him we would come by later in the night and we could put everything in order for a baptism.  The lesson went great and he is probably one of the most happiest people I have ever taught and the most excited to be baptized.
I am so thankful for the impressions of the Spirit that lead and guide us everyday in finding the people that are prepared for the Gospel.  I love the mission and especially love the moments when it hits me and I think "wow I'm here and I am actually a missionary!"  I love reading my name tag and treasure putting it on every morning!  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis