Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting the hang of being a Zone Leader

Hola Familia,

I am finally getting the hang of being a Zone Leader.  It is such a beautiful oppportunity because I have had the chance to serve, encourage, and help convert the missionaries in the zone.  I have come to realize that missionary work isn't only baptizing, learning how to work hard, and seeing really is the glorious work of saving souls.  The primary purpose of missionary work is to save my own soul, in other words, to convert me to the Gospel, the Church, and to the Lord by helping others come unto Christ: not only the Mexican people but the missionaries the Lord has blessed me to serve.  I have loved encouraging them to work hard and then sharing with them moments of miracles they never imagined possible.

MIRACLE:  I went with a companionship of Elders in an area that hasn't had much success for months.  They had been working harder than anyone in the zone leading everyone in contacts, lessons, and invitations to baptism.  They had no one to baptize on Sunday but had confirmed the attendance of someone that had been preparing for baptism for some time and just didn't want to make the decision.  I offered to go and do the interview during the sacrament services.  I felt confident that the Lord would bless them with a miracle because they had done all that was necesary during the week trying to baptize.  I stepped into the interview and felt the Spirit urge me on with complete confidence that he was going to say yes to being baptized.  If I hadn't felt what I felt starting the interview it would have been hard to have kept the faith.  He was FULL of doubts and resistance but as I patiently waited on the Lord the Spirit began taking down his walls.  However, there was a moment when I lost this level of hope and I almost gave up on him.  Suddenly, I imagined that the guy was Chad or Derek and knew that if they were the ones I was interviewing I would never leave the room without a YES.  I instantly felt a revival of the Spirit and the confident feeling that the Lord would win came rushing back into the room.  After a little more struggle and some phrases and examples I had never before thought of, Hugo agreed to be baptized that very same day!!  What a blessing!  I was so happy to help the Lord give the hard working Elders a miracle that would encourage them to never doubt the Lord and his promises.

We had a special baptism of a super awesome family of four this last weekend.  Their names are Teresa, Natali, Citlalli, and Daniel.  They never even faltered in their progression to baptism with faith that I haven't seen for a long time!! What a miracle!  I love them and it was a super special experience!

Love you all and hope you all have a wonderful week.  Sorry I didn't write Monday....we had a Zone Leader Conference.

Elder Janis

Monday, March 19, 2012

Called to be a Zone Leader Dad

Hola Familia,

WOW!! I haven't really mentioned it to you guys before now, but the Zone in which I am in right now hasn't had many baptisms for months and months, up to even more than a year.  This last week Elder Monjarraz and I were able to help the Zone have double digits in baptisms!!  What a relief it was to see the success begin to spring forth after all the effort we are putting in.  This week we have 14 baptismal dates and 11 more possibles.  I am so thankful for the Lord's mercy that is allowing us to have this success.

There's a quote that I love and that sinks deeper and deeper into my heart as I get more and more time in the mission.  Elder Holland said, "Some blessings come now.  Some come later.  Some don't come until heaven.  However, for those that embrace the Gospel they come."  What a sweet promise made by an Apostle.  Everyday we see this apply.  When we see immediate blessings for responding to the promptings of the Spirit in the moment that we receive them or when we obediently follow the commandments although we don't know when we will see the promised blessings.  As I have embraced the gospel, my life is happier and I see it also brighten the lives of others.  Recently, I have come to love diligently searching the scriptures and finding answers through prayer and even hidden doctrine.  I have loved how studying the scriptures opens our eyes to the terrific gravity of the Atonement and necessity of not only taking the name of Christ upon us but acting as he would act.  I know and testify that daily striving to act as Jesus would brings the light of hope to our lives and an assurance of receiving the blessings the Savior has promised each and everyone of us.  We have got to keep the faith and never lose sight of that which is truly worth fighting for: our eternal potential as a family to have all that the Father has.  There is no promise more grander or of more importance.  All this and more we can have as we daily search the scriptures and pray sincerely, fervently, and intelligently.

Today we had changes and man do I have some wonderful news.  Wait,  sad news first...Elder Monjarraz was changed to another zone. I will never forget the wonderful things that Elder Monjarraz taught me, for his example, and for the person he helped me to become.  There is a huge difference between the Elder Janis before the change with Elder Monjarraz and the Elder Janis after the change.  He is and always will be a great friend.  He is so Christ-like.  Sunday night before the changes, I went to bed at 1:00 a.m. and he was still up packing.  In the morning I asked him at what time he had finally gone to bed to which he told me 3:00 a.m.  He then explained to me that he still needed to pack.  I was thinking to myself, how is it that he was up almost all night and didn't pack.  I found what he had been doing when I saw every one of my shoes shined and all my recently washed shirts ironed and hanging up.  This isn't the first time he did something like that for me.  Things like that made a lasting impact on me!  He also helped me overcome hurdles I thought almost impossible to overcome.

HAHA, so now for the wonderful news.  I was called to be a Zone Leader dad!  That means I will be training a new zone leader and showing him the ropes.  Not only that but I was also given two new district leaders in the zone who have never interviewed before and the responsibility to train them too.  With only one transfer as a Zone Leader I would be honest in saying that a certain thought crossed my mind: Am I capable of this?  If there is anything the mission has taught me (well, one of the million things I have learned) is that some one the Lord calls, he also qualifies.  I will be faithful holding to that promise because man do I have some great work ahead of me!  My new companion will be a huge help!  He is Elder Sanchez Zapata from Tabasco, Mexico.  He is a super consecrated missionary and has tons of potential.  He also has come to the table with tons of great ideas.  I know we will make a great team!

Well, things are going great! We have an amazing family preparing for baptism this coming Sunday and I look forward to also having another family work out for this Sunday also.  Many miracles are in the making and I couldn't be more thankful for the Lord's love and trust.  I love all of you so much and hope you are all doing well!

Elder Janis

Monday, March 12, 2012

Will you trust in God and be baptized this coming Sunday?

Hola Familia,
So as I said in my letter last week we planned to do tons of exchanges and that is what we did this week!!  It turned out to be a wonderful week where we saw many miracles.  Some of the companionships in the Zone hadn't baptized and after doing exchanges we were able to let them see miracles and almost everyone baptized this last week!
One of my favorite moments was when a companionship made an appointment for me to interview a guy who told them he wasn't going to get baptized anytime soon.  He was the only hope they had to baptize this week and so I decided to go ahead and give the guy an opportunity in the interview.  It turned out to be one of the most spiritual interviews I have ever had in my entire life!  I think what he really needed was someone that would listen to him and that's exactly what I had the opportunity to do.  He told me about the problems he was recently facing and about dreams he had had and many other things.  Usually we try to make the interviews short and powerful but I felt impressed to just let him go at it.  When I had the chance I would relate anything he had said to baptism and the blessings that it would bring to his life.  I testfied and felt my mouth filled as to know just what to say and to promise him.  In the end he agreed to be baptized but did not want to do it for a couple of weeks.  I shared with him a couple scriptures about not waiting to act upon things such as this and then felt impressed to have him pray.  That is exactly what we did and in that moment he prayed and asked God.  There was a powerful feeling of peace and assurance that felt as if we were both in a bonfire.  I think of it as something like in Helaman 5.  I then told him "As a Representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that we both just felt the will of God.  You must get baptized this coming Sunday.  Will you trust in God and be baptized this coming Sunday?"   He looked at me as we both felt the intense peace and looking me right in the eyes said "I will."  WOW, I will never forget that moment.  What was equally special was see the faces of the Elders for whom I had done the interview.  They were so surprised and SOOO happy.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the other Elders in my zone have success, see miracles, and prayers answered!
Wow, so I actually don't have anymore time to write anything else.  I am doing great and loving the experience of being a Zone Leader.  I am looking forward to another week full of exchanges!  I hope you all have a great week and I really appreciate the letters you are all sending me!
Elder Janis

Monday, March 5, 2012

Unity in Feeling the Spirit

Hola Familia!

WOW what an excellent week!!!!!!  To start off the week Elder Monjarraz and I organized a soccer game with the Zone and it turned out super fun.  We are pretty united as a Zone and we had a lot of fun together.  HAHA, while I was playing I thought that I would get fancy...when the ball came towards me I lifted my foot up to bring it down trying to time it just right to send it into the goal.  However, when I brought my foot down I ended up slipping and falling splat on my back.  I instantly got back up and started playing but about busted my head open all over the concrete...Thanks for all of the prayers of protection!! :)  Yeah so I am more than fine just super grateful nothing serious happened!

Speaking of gratitude for your prayers on my behalf, Elder Monjarraz and I have tons of unity in feeling the Spirit.  When we feel something and voice it about 80% of the time we are feeling the same thing.  This has never happened before but man have we had some powerful experiences seeing the Spirit work in our daily labors.  Anyways, the other day we were walking home at about 9:30 pm when we felt super strongly we should not be walking in the path we were walking.  We decided to go home another way and instantly we felt better.  Who knows what could have happened but I am so grateful for the prayers and protection the Lord is sending me from your guy's faith.  THANKS!!

On Tuesday, I had my first Zone Leader Conference.  What a blessing it is to have the experiences the Lord is blessing me to have.  The Conference was so great!  We meet together, talked about the progress of the mission, ideas to make things better, and President shared a super spiritual message that has changed my life.  I realize that I don't have that much time left here and I have many goals.  One of the most important to me is to come home converted; converted to the gospel, the Lord, and His Church.  That's really the core purpose of missionary work and if I am going to sacrifice two years of my time why not get EVERYTHING I can out of it?  That's my plan.  I am counting down my days and treating my mission time like a track race.  That last lap is going to be where I run the fastest and hardest I ever have in my life!  I am on that last lap and I WILL give it all I have got and more.  Cheesy, I know, but it is helping me stay focused and work harder than ever!!

This last week we made a record of baptisms they tell us in the ward!  We had a baptism on Friday night for a teenage girl named Paola and it was packed with her friends.  She was crying throughout the baptism and her friends that are members bore their testimonies and she was just SOO happy.  On Sunday, we had the baptisms of Paty and Paco (a young couple we found knocking doors and are probably the most golden investigators I have ever had) and Francia and Lorena (cousins we found this last week who had been to church many times but just needed a spiritual experience to help them make the decision).  The service was super special and Elder Monjarraz and I sang "Nearer My God to Thee" and it turned out wonderfully.  What a blessing it is to do the Lord's work!

Well, this next week I am going to be spending a lot of time outside of my area in interchanges to help some struggling Elders in the Zone.  This is a part of my assignment that I really love and I look forward to the opportunity to lift some discouraged missionaries and help them see some miracles!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!!

Elder Janis