Monday, January 30, 2012

I Look Like Robin Williams, Maybe

Mi Familia,

What another amazing week!  I don't think I have ever felt so tired in my life.  I mean I literally could not keep my eyes open when we were in a bus traveling from one part of the area to another.  I felt like a crazy wild man running around all week to make everything work out.  HAHA, in the evenings we would crash into our beds and I slept like a rock every night!

We saw a huge miracle this last week as we helped the Padilla Family get baptized.  They are a wonderful family that I had known for a while.  I met them the third day in this area when I felt a clear, strong impression to contact the mom.  We tried passing by the next couple of weeks to start teaching the family but the father always told us no.  However, we kept saying hi to them as we passed their "sope" and "quesadilla" stand.  One day when we were passing by I recognized the father of the family helping her make the food.  We went up and introduced ourselves and he responded asking if we were Mormons.  When we explained that Mormons was a nickname we have, he asked me why in our church we teach people to want to kill others.  Quite surprised by his question, I asked him if he really thought that our church taught something like that.  He answered no and then on his own invited us to come to his house the coming Saturday.

That first lesson went super well, they came to church, we got them married, and this last Sunday THEY ALL GOT BAPTIZED!!!!  I will never forget the miracle the Lord showed us.  It is such an example of the last verse in Alma 32.  With faith, patience, and diligence we WILL see miracles.

We also found a new family that in the first lesson told us that they knew we were sent by God and that they would do anything we told them they needed to do.  We had decided to knock doors and theirs was the first one we had knocked.  They all agreed to be baptized this coming Sunday and loved church.  When we talked about the Word of Wisdom, they were more than willing to make the sacrifice to stop smoking.  Overall, the greatest blessing I have found in knowing this family is the difference in happiness and light I see in every progressing visit.  In the first visit they sadly informed us about all the trials they were currently facing and their failing health.  The Spirit is definitely entering into their lives as they are starting to live the gospel.  I really enjoying noting the difference that people have before and after the lesson.  You can tell the difference in their face and especially in their eyes.  They are SUPER excited for this coming Sunday!

So its abnormally cold here and am actually using long sleeve shirts!  I am enjoying the "cold" weather but I know it is nothing compared to the snow that you are currently having.  HAHA, so funny side note: lately on the days that I wear my glasses, everyone tells me that I look like Robin Williams...HAHA.  Investigators, other missionaries, members; they all tell me that I look a lot like him.  I don't see it but I find it pretty funny.  I have lost a lot of weight and I am grateful I look like a famous actor and not like a famous sumo wrestler.

I really am so grateful for every single one of you and your loving and encouraging words.  They mean so much to me and I love reading your letters and knowing whats going on back home.  I know that they Lord is showering blessings upon me here in the mission for my service but it is also fulfilling to see these blessings being poured upon you guys.  I love you, every single one of you!!

Elder Janis

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sacrifice vs. Consecration

Buenas Tardes Familia,

I am feeling the happiest that I ever have in my life!  Well, I have been super happy before but the happiness that I feel right now is deeper, more real, and impressively peaceful.  I finally learned this last week the difference between sacrifice and consecration.  I had always thought that they were the same thing but I realize now that they only really have superficial similarities.  Sacrifice - when we do the will of God over our own (sometimes thinking - "I get done doing what I NEED to do and afterwards have the opportunity to do what I WANT to do.")  As missionary we think at times about the food, P-DAY, sleeping, or things about home.  We are outwardly working with all our might and strength but we aren't happy doing it.  We begin to be frustrated at the fact there is little or no time to do what we WANT to do because all the things we NEED to do.
Consecration on the other hand is so different.  To start, when we are truly consecrated our will becomes the Lord's will.  We stop thinking about the cost of fulfilling a duty/calling and think more about the promise in Matt. 19:29.  We realize that the only intelligent thing is to dedicate ourselves to making what we NEED to do all that we WANT to do.  There will still be tough times but deep in our hearts we will feel a happiness and peace that doesn't come close to anything else.  Our eyes will open up to a whole new view of the world when we take off our blurry lenses of self-interest and let charity fill our bowels (D&C 121: 45-46).  We begin to change and convert ourselves, becoming more like our Savior.
I testify that there is nothing more satisfying than this.  I feel it right now.  I hope that my thoughts above made sense.  I have lots of these ideas swirling around in my head and it was hard to put them down on "paper".
So we had a wonderful baptismal service for two people this last week.  We also brought two new families to church this last week and we hope to help them be able to take their baptisms this next week.  There are a lot of super exciting things going on right now.  I am learning so much right now and changing who I am to which I am SO thankful to the Lord.  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!!
Elder Janis

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Baptism of Tina Rojas

Buenas Tardes Familia,
All I can say is how blessed we are as a family!  I am so happy to know that our family as a whole is doing what the Lord requires of us in order to enter into his Holy House and receive power from on high.  In the world we live in, obedience to the commandments is growing more and more like a suggestion rather than divine laws to inherit our divine potential.  I know that the power promised by going through the temple and making the covenants that we do there is REAL.  I am astounded by the blessings I have seen in my life come directly from the things I learned and experienced in the temple and for the rich affect it is having on the rest of my life.  May we all remain worthy of such amazing blessings!
So last week I let you all in on the miracle decision of Tina Rojas to be baptized.  Well, everything went perfectly!  I have to say that this will be one of the conversion stories that I will never EVER forget.  She is a completely different person; a definite example of a change of heart.  First of all, the day of the baptism we went by her house to pick her up and saw a completely softer demeanor.  She seemed SO happy and resolved to carry out the decision she had made.  When we were on the way to the baptism, her husband was talking to her about the special decision she was making and bore his testimony about the wonderful difference it was going to make in her life.  The baptismal service was so simple and it was sweet to see all her family there to support her.  After the service we had the chance to congratulate her and with tearful eyes she thanked us.  We were so surprised to see all these changes in someone who before was always so hard, and dry about everything.  Another example of the change was when we went to solidify everything for the confirmation for Sunday.  Previously, she refused to go to church and told us that when she felt like it she would go and for no other reason.  "Cuando me da la gana" is what she really said.  However, she responded to the invitation to go to church with a surprisingly excited YES and Sunday morning there she was with her kids and her husband.  They could not have looked any happier!  This is what the Gospel is all about; seeing people literally change and be better,  happier people.  Changes that only Christ can make when he knocks and we let Him in.  Elder Thompson and I joke about how she was such a dry and hard person by saying, "We got a dry person wet!"  HA HA, it has a lot of pun to it and I'm sure you will all roll your eyes at the missionary humor but hey we are having fun!
So, today we are going to play soccer as a Zone and then go and buy Tortas (huge melts with a lot of different kinds of meat and cheese on them).  Sadly, I am in another zone that doesn't have very many sights to see and there aren't many opportunities to go sight seeing but I am going to get permission from President to go to Zocalo again and go sight seeing some more!  Well, I love you all tons and tons and hope that you all have a great week!
Elder Janis

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Three Best Things You Can Do Now To Prepare for Success in Missionary Work

Hola Familia,
WOW, Chad you are going to go to Germany!!!!  I can't believe it and even did a yelp of surprise here in the internet cafe!  What a great experience you will have there in Germany.  Man, for like two months there will be three of us in the mission.  What a blessing it will be to go on your missions Elaine and Chad!  Wow, I can't tell you guys how excited I am for you all.  There is nothing like the mission and nothing will ever compare to it.  I love it and every day is such a blessing!

The best thing you can do now to prepare yourselves is understand that all the success in missionary work comes from 3 things:  1) Obedience-Missionary work is impossible without the Holy Ghost and it is impossible to have the Holy Ghost without being 100% obedient.  President has taught us that we give fruits to the Lord and they aren't baptisms; they are obedience.  2) Diligence-With this amazing opportunity comes a great responsibility; we will be held accountable for what we do with the time the Lord has given us and there is no way you can be an instrument in the Lord's hands without lots of hard work.  Some of the most satisfying moments I have, other than a baptismal service, have been coming home beat tired, feeling that my legs are going to fall off, and emotionally and spiritually drained.  3) Desire-Faith and charity/love are expressed in your desire to work and look for the elect of God prepared to except the Gospel.

If you start the mission with these habits you will be SUPER powerful missionaries.  HAHA, I am going to be sending you both lots of advice like this and cheerleading you both on through your service so I hope you don't mind!!  I love you tons and tons and know you both were prepared from before this life to be where you were assigned to labor.
So, I had a pretty trying week with looking and looking all over for families prepared to hear the gospel.  We have set a goal as a companionship to find 7 families every week.  We found tons this week but none of them came with us to church.  However, the Lord had a little different plan for us this last week.  We did have someone come with us to church that is preparing for baptism but the baptism we were going to have fell through.  We went to our food appointment sad but excited for the opportunity to see what was in store for the coming week.  We were eating when we got a call from my Zone Leader who told me that the zone had 0 baptisms.  That is something that has never even happened while I have been here in Mexico.  I could not believe what we were hearing and Elder Thompson and I decided we were going to do everything that we could to baptize Sunday.  We made a list of all the people that had attended church and started making contact with all of them when a name came to our minds.  TINA ROJAS!!  She was someone we had left a couple of weeks ago because she angrily told us that she would be baptized when SHE felt like it.
When went quickly to her house and we found her family in the parking lot.  They asked us to come in and give her husband, who is member, a priesthood blessing.  We went in and gave the blessing and then sat the family down to see what miracle the Lord had planned for this family.  A quick side note: we had put into our backpack a talk by Elder Eyring called "algun dia" which is about not procrastinating repentance.  We had it there because we were thinking about using it with another investigator which I now know was really the Lord preparing all the elements for the lesson we had with Tina.  We pulled out the talk and read a couple parts and testified to the message it gave.  We started the lesson out with her usually hard hearted resistance but after reading the talk and testifying, the Spirit began changing her heart.  We saw a softness in her eyes and a change in her face.  We then invited her to be baptized that same day and she said YES!  We were excited and utterly surprised and tried to contain ourselves as we started to get things ready for the baptism.  That is when she expressed her desire that her husband be the one that would baptize her.  He, being super sick, couldn't do it so we made plans for the next possible day to do it which would be tomorrow!!  We left that lesson overly amazed with the display of the Spirit and the power of the Lord.  I can't wait for Tuesday!!
Well, I am so happy and excited to see what is coming this week and can't be more excited for you guys, Elaine and Chad!  Brazil and Germany have no idea what's going to hit them when you guys get there!!
Elder Janis

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feliz Año Nuevo from Mexico

Hola Familia,

Feliz Año Nuevo!!  Wow, Elaine I just read that you are going to Brazil!!!!  I am SOOOO excited for you! You are going to be such an amazing missionary and be a powerful tool in the Lord's hands.  I am so proud of you and happy for the choice that you have made!  Chad, I'll be anxiously waiting this coming week to hear where you will be going!

We had an amazing week!  The season right now made it a harder week than usual but we worked harder than ever.  I am so tired right now,  but man was it worth the miracles we saw this last week.  Elder Thompson and I put a goal to baptize, have 30 lessons, and 140 contacts and we were determined to get them.  This week being right smack in the middle of holidays was hard because many were out of town or didn't have time to visit with us.  However, we were blessed to find new families and were even able to help Liliana get baptized this week.  However, the contacts were a battle to obtain.  Many were not in their houses when we knocked doors and there were a lot less people in the streets.  Sunday we had two hours of open time between church services and missionary meetings in which we talked to 44 people!  We started unsure that we could finish the goal but we put ourselves to it and we were able to accomplish the goal!!

For New Years Eve, we as a Zone had a barbecue and ate steaks with nopales (cactus) and chocolate cake.  Elder Thompson and I went to our house and waited for the New Year and even had the blessing to start the new year with a Martinelli like we always do every year!  New Years Day we ate Pozole which is puffed corn with chicken in a chicken broth.  It was so delicious!  We in the evening then watched The Testaments.  Today we got permission from President to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 and Tangled which are going to be fun to see!!

Well,  I love you all and hope that you had a wonderful start to whats going to be an amazing new year.

Elder Janis