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