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 cariƱo,
Elder Janis