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