Monday, July 23, 2012

This is the last letter that I will be writing you from the mission.

Hola Familia,

This is the last letter that I will be writing you from the has been a crazy week!  I have been trying so hard to focus on the mission these past two years that it is almost super weird to start thinking about home.  I am now in the mission office with my "generation".  We have today to go do whatever we want.  I am planning to see a couple more things in the center of the city and visit some souvenir shops. Tomorrow we are going to go to Teotihuacan; to the pyramids of the sun and moon.  We are going to go with a tour guide that knows about church archaeology.  We are going to take an English Book of Mormon so that we can see the relation between the architecture of the pyramids and the Book of Mormon.  HOW COOL WILL THAT BE!!!

Wednesday we are going to go to the Temple and then have dinner with President and his family.  We are going to end the evening with a testimony meeting.  Thursday I will be beside myself with excitement as I wait for you guys to pick me up at the mission office.  I am SOOO excited to see you all!  I don't have much time to write but I thought I would make a couple suggestions of things to bring.

It is colder at night and it would be great to bring a little coat.  It is raining like crazy so if you could bring some umbrellas also.  Mine broke this last week...haha after two years of protecting me from the rain!!  So if you could bring me one also...

SUPER IMPORTANT:  It is so important if you could bring all my agendas from the mission.  They are full of directions and telephone numbers. They are in the box that I sent home with the members that stopped by Salt Lake.   I will need all of that to make plans and get together with the converts.  Many of them are SOOO excited to meet you guys.  I decided that my time here with you guys will be an awesome opportunity to not only visit the converts but also to help many of them come back to church.  The retention rate in Mexico is like 50% so there are actually many that I would love to visit and help them remember the experience of their conversions.  I feel like it will be a mini mission to reactivate the families along with giving you guys the opportunity to visit them!!  I really am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited; it will be a blast!

Thanks for all the support and prayers that you ALL were constantly giving me through out these two years.  I knew that I had protection and blessings because of all you were doing for me.  I have become a different person and I will never go back to be the person I was.  I overcame weaknesses and my love for the Lord is so much more real.  I have experienced the Atonement and seen miracles so amazing that have changed my life.  I will be forever in debt to the Lord for all he has done for me.  My mission will not be a pretty book I store on a shelf in my closet.  It will be a source of experience and strength that I will use everyday for the rest of my life!  For me I can say, they were the best two years of my life AND for my life.  I have made many goals and I feel the mission has given me the tools to be able to accomplish them.  I love you all so much will shortly be giving you all a huge, long hug!!

Elder Janis

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Rangel Family and Sergio

Hola Familia,

WOW, what a week to remember!  Miracles have been a super huge part of my mission but during this last week I saw some of the biggest!

The WHOLE Rangel family got baptized!!  The parents, who had gotten divorced with some wild idea of moving to the States to get married again weren't going to be able to be baptized. However, they went to the government offices to see what they could do about the divorce.  Due to the economic problems of the family this last couple of months they had missed a payment due to finalize the process of the divorce.  Miraculously, they were divinely given the opportunity to anull the divorce meaning that they would still be legally married.  They were beside themselves with happiness when they let us know.  The whole family has changed sooooo much.  They started reading the Book of Mormon and praying as a family.  Usually famlies will start doing that when we invite them to but they started from their own initiative!!  They will be a huge blessing for the ward and the church.  The Mom, Veronica, was especially happy and shared her testimony that she knew the church is true.  The ward has already wrapped around them and they have visiting teachers and home teachers.  The kids are going to go to the temple this next week to do baptisms in the temple!!  I love the Rangel family, Oliver, Veronica, Cristian, Jessica!!!

Sergio, the other guy who got baptized, is living a really hard experience.  He dropped his wife off at work on Friday morning and went to pick her up at 6 pm that same day.  He waited a while but she never came out.  He went in to the school and asked if she was still there and the other co-workers told him that she had left hours ago.  He then received a call at 2:30 am the next morning from her saying that she was going to move on.  She had the locks on the house changed, threw his clothes into one of his friend's house, and left him and their five year old kid without a place to sleep.  He moved into his daughter's house which is how we meet him.  He loved church the first Sunday and wanted nothing more than be baptized this last Sunday.  In every single one of the prayers he said at the end of the lesson he would thank the Lord for two things: for helping him find the true church and for the chance to be born again by baptism.  He was sooooo excited for his baptism and didn't want to wait until after church services but do it at the beginning.

I sent you all home two pictures to enjoy!  The first is the Rangel Family, my companion and me.  They were all so happy to be baptized and they love church.  I love the second picture because it is everyone in white!  The front it is my companion, me and the ward mission leader Erick.  Behind is the Rangel family and Sergio to the far right.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and I will work harder than ever this last week.  I will end my mission with another baptismal service!!!  I love you all and I cannot wait to see you Mom and Dad.  I think this might be my last letter...if not next week you'll get one more!  If it is my last, we will just have to wait to talk in person.

Elder Janis

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Photo in the City Center

Hola Familia!!!

I could not be any happier and grateful after the week that we just had!  I'll start with the sad note that was sad, but is now SUPER happy.  The Rangel family who were preparing for baptism this last Sunday fell off date because Veronica and Oliver (the parents of the family) aren't married.  However, they are going to see if this coming week they can make the decision and we will help them get married.  Their kids, Jessica and Christian, are still going to get baptized.  Oliver and Veronica want them to have the Holy Ghost as soon as possible.  This is a huge miracle because when we talked about baptism with them they were only talking about years before they would decide.  Fortunately the Spirit helped my companions to know that they needed to know about the Holy Ghost.  The Spirit was so strong in the room and they commented on how different they felt describing it as something they had never felt.  Jessica and Oliver are so excited for their baptisms this coming weekend!

Sunday morning we had a couple of new investigators that we were sure were going to come to church.  Unfortunately, not one of them did.....however, the Lord had other things planned.  We were helping someone baptized over four weeks ago to get confirmed finally when we were surprised to see that she had brought her father to get to know the church.  I sat next to him in Gospel Principles and did the best I could to gain his confidence.  After the class I asked if we could go by and share a message with him to which he seemed to reluctantly accept.  However, when we showed up to the appointment we quickly were able to have a connection of trust with him.  He had wanted to be baptized like Chirst for years and was so excited that we invited him to be baptized this coming Sunday!  We are going to be passing by everyday to help him prepare.  He also loved the church and enjoyed the Spirit he felt both there and in our lesson.  What a blessing and miracle!

Elder McMullin and I went to Zocalo, the center of the city, and I took him sight seeing!  It was tons of fun to see how he reacted to all the people that are just jammed into the metro and that line the streets and markets.  We went to different parts of the center and took many pictures.  I bought a new memory card so that I had one without a virus.  I can now without any problems take about 600 photos of everything I can before the mission comes to an end.  I took advantage and also sent home a picture of Elder McMullin and me in front of the huge flag in the center of the City.

I love you all and feel so assured that this week will be AWESOME!!!  I hope you are all enjoying the summer!

Elder Janis

Monday, July 2, 2012

Two Years Almost With The Same Greeting

Hola Familia, (HAHA two years almost with the same greeting!!)

This was a week to remember!!  Many, many miracles!!  I don't have much time but I thought I would let you all in on what amazing-ness happened this last week!

MIRACLE 1: We were visiting some recent converts when we had the chance to meet their niece, Atenea who is 11 years old.  She had gone to church and LOVED it.  We taught her the importance of following the example of Christ and being baptized just as he was.  She excitedly exclaimed that she would love to and that she wanted to do it as soon as possible.  Her aunt, a recent convert, shared her excitement but explained to us that she would need the permission of her father.  Rather directly, she told us that her father would probably not give Atenea permission because he barely let her even go to church.  We taught Atenea prayer and invited her to pray that her father would let her do something so important and special.  She finished the lesson with the prayer and asked the Lord to help her father give her permission.  Friday when we passed by again she happily informed us that he had given her permission!!  I was amazed at the power prayer and faith that Atenea had and the miracle that they produced.  I was humbled by that small lesson she taught me and I am so happy for her!!

MIRACLE 2: Francisco and Patricia get baptized!!!!!!!!!!!  That was the most amazing baptism I have had yet!  Getting them there was no easy feat and took a miracle.  Tuesday was the last time we were able to talk to them...and until Saturday we saw them.  President Fuentes, the 1st Counselor in the mission presidency, came to do special interviews with the two of them to help them repent of past mistakes; something they wouldn't be able to be baptized without.  We had been trying to call them all week but they never answered.  We later found out that he had run out of money on his phone and that's why he could never answer.  However, not knowing that made me worry a ton.  I had prayed and prayed asking for miracles and I was worried that it might be not them.  Fortunately, upon arriving at their house, we found them still there.  They were on their way out when the architect that is helping them with their 10th or 11th house they are building had shown up.  Miraculously, we were able to find them home.  President Fuentes talked to the two of them and they came out of the interviews having decided on being baptized the next day!

The baptism was so beautiful.  Many members came and were happy to see another priesthood holder join the ranks.  (side note: the ward doesn't have many priesthood holders and we have taken upon ourselves to find some!)  Paco and Paty were beside themselves with emotion.  We took a really great picture that I had hoped to send to you guys but my memory card with its viruses didn't let me...  Anyways, I baptized Paco and when he came out of the water with a huge smile, I met him with a huge hug.  He whispered a sincere thanks and I responded with congratulations.  I will remember the feeling of love I felt as gave him that hug, as if it were feeling a little bit of what the Lord feels for him.  Then Paty came around the corner crying her head off.  HAHA, literally alligator tears.  Thankfully, the member that had invited her to the first lessons gave her a hug and shared a moment of excitement.  Paty entered the water and Elder McMullin baptized her.  She came out with the hugest grin and determination.  They were each given a moment to talk about their experience to which they shared with us a Spirit driven desire to really leave their old life behind and start a new one!  I can hardly wait to see them progress.  OH, Mom and Dad, I told them that you guys were coming to pick me up and they REALLY want to meet you guys.  They want to take us out to eat while you are here!

Well, what a wonderful week!  We also had a family of four, the Rangel Cruz Family, come with us to church and we are helping them prepare for baptism this coming week!  I'll have to let you all know how things went!  I love you and I LOVED the pictures you took both in Manti and on the Daybreak letters!!  What a beautiful family I am blessed to be a part of!!

Elder Janis