Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Elder Peterson and Elder Moore - March 6, 2017

March 6 was Elder Peterson's (Assistant) and Elder Moore's (Mission Secretary) last day in the office. They served very well and we will miss them.

Converted Unto Christ - March 20, 2017

Hey Everyone, Well the second week here and it was awesome to be able to get out and meet even more of the members and get to know the people here. Honestly the people here are so humble but are so willing to give up what they have to us. I feel bad because I am so happy just to know them but they feel like they have to give us something to make sure that they know we are appreciated. One of these people is the Relief Society President named Margarita. She has been a member for about 10 years now and she is the nicest lady that I have ever known. Last Monday we had a lesson with her future son in law Juan but when we got there she told us "Elders I havent done my family home evening for a long time, can we do it tonight with my whole family" So we quickly set something up and we were just able to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon. Margarita has a hard time with spanish because Zapoteco is her first language so she had so many questions for us that invited the spirit into her home. At the end of the lesson she finished by saying "I love this Church, I love this gospel and I have never been happier in it. I have never once thought of falling away because I just love this so much. I want more than anything for my daughters to be able to come with me to the Celestial Kingdom because they are everything to me and I want nothing more for them than the happiness that they I am feeling here in the gospel" She was so emotional about it but it was such a spiritual tender moment that we were able to share and it was so spiritual for her whole family and Juan there at that moment too. This week we have just buckled down and went to work so hard. Elder Clark pushes me hard and I hope that I push him too and together we are seeing a lot of progress in the area. It has been hard because there has been opposition. I feel like right now we are battling for our lives here. I love it. We come home each night as if we have been through a war, but we are happy. This week we walked a ton. Last week we were able to find many investigators and this week was the challenge of trying to find them. We were walking up and down all over San Blas and we couldnt find all of them, but I have never felt the spirit more strongly at times than we did this week. It was something that Sister Madsen taught us the very first week of the mission, and something that I had heard reiterated several times about what Spencer W. Kimball said. He said "The secret to success in missionary work is simply to work. When a missionary works then the spirit is with him or her to testify of the work that they are doing!" I have loved what we have been doing and I feel like this promise to us is becoming reality. We have looked for the reasons this week in all of our lessons that our investigators need Jesus Christ in their lives, and then have tried to connect that to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been an amazing experience to really try to come to know who Christ is and come closer to him. This week we are hoping for 2 baptisms. One is a little girl named Naomi, she is 9 years old but her mom was a less active when she was 8 and she didnt get baptized. More than anything it has been fun to see the way that those 2 have come closer to each other to have more unity in their family. The other is a girl named Regina who is 12 years old, again a girl who her family was just reactivated in the church. It has been a great experience this week to be able to teach these families, and more than anything to help them light their testimonies again that they once had. Something that Elder Clark and I have been talking about a lot this week is our love for Christ and all that we do for him. At the start of the week we were able to study the talk by D. Todd Christofferson called "Why the Church" in the October 2015 General Conference. I helped him to understand that the church is simply an instrument that Christ uses to help us draw closer to him. Without this instrument of the Church, this would not be possible and we wouldnt have a full knowledge of the Atonement that he performed for us. The question this week that we have had and asked to many, including ourselves, is "Are we converted to the church, or converted unto Christ" We have tried to focus everything on coming to know him and coming to love him not just for what he did for us, but for the person he is to us. We have learned that a love for Christ as the person he is comes through a total dependence upon him, and we have been trying to depend completely upon him in his work that we are doing. I have loved the spirit that we have felt to be able to come unto Christ, and we have felt and seen miracles here that are too sacred to write over email. I know that he lives, and that he is our perfect example of all things.
Climbing up to a members house
The view from the top of San Blas
Walking in the hot dusty roads but it is all so worth it
The Bridge in Tehuantapec

Adventures in San Blas, Oaxaca - March 13, 2017

Well this week has been very interesting that have come with a lot of changes. So on Monday I stayed in the city to help Elder Caballero and Elder Vasquez with the changes. I ended up sitting in the bus station for 4 and a half hours waiting for the busses with missionaries to get there. There were road blocks all over Oaxaca that day and it was a nightmare. At 9 we got back to the office just in time to pack up my stuff and get ready for the next morning. On Tuesday I traveled down here to sunny San Blas and we got right to work. Wow did I miss working here in the Istmo. Everyone is so humble here and willing to listen and we found so many people to teach this week. It has been fun to work with Elder Clark this week. He is a great missionary that is so willing to learn. It has been fun because he just asks me to teach him a bunch of stuff that I have learned throughout my mission and then he puts it into practice the very next lesson. He is still trying to learn spanish and it is understandable why...here in San Blas they speak nothing but Zapoteco, like I mentioned in my last email. Yesterday we were in church and a lady got up and gave a talk in Zapoteco...we didnt know what was going on and a lot of the time its the same story. It is wierd to be walking through a small rural Oaxacan town and have people be speaking in some weird language and you know they are saying "Look at those two white boys what are they doing here" but it is fun trying to learn it. It is nearly impossible to learn it through books, and hearing it is even harder, but we will see where it all leads to in the end. So a huge change here is that it is sooooo hot here. The difference from the first time is that my companion and I are the only people in the whole town that have an air conditioner. So we turn that thing down every night and we sleep really good. Really this week has just been so worthwhile and I have enjoyed it a ton. I havent had the opportunity to do normal missionary work like this for a long time and I have loved it. Really the Lord is guiding us where we need to go and we have had people come up to us in the street saying that before they have had the missionaries come and talk to them but now they need to hear us again. The members are so willing to help us in the work and are willing to give up everything for the gospel. It has been a week of trying to get to know the area, the people, and how to help the branch to progress. I am so thankful for this opportunity to be able to come down here to finish my mission and to be surrounded by so many amazing people. Really my heart is full for the gospel and the blessings that it brings to us. This week Elder Clark and I were talking about how our purpose is to invite others to come unto CHRIST, and that everything that we teach are instruments that allow us to do so. Heavenly Father has blessed us with a church, a gospel, the priesthood, and so many other things so that through those we can come unto Christ to be perfected and one day enter into his presence. I feel like this week in the many people that we taught, we were able to learn how to promise them blessings and invite them to come unto Christ, to enter into his pathway that leads to eternal life. We are so blessed to be able to have the restored gospel, that has everything we need to understand the perfect plan of happiness that Heavenly Father has for us and the many blessings through covenants that we have upon the earth today. I know that I wasnt able to say a lot about the area or people that we have met, but next week I look forward to doing so, when I know a little bit more about everything here. I hope that you all have a great week and Ill talk to you next Monday!! Elder Peterson
A quick note, leaving Casa Blanca was one of the hardest things that I have had to do in my mission. After 7 months there I had made a huge family, the members there had come so close to me and it was hard to have to say goodbye to them, especially Hermano Gil, our ward mission leader who always supported us and helped us to keep going even though it seemed that all of our hard work would never pay off. This last day with them was the greatest thing that I could see, to see Maria and her Family there and so involved in the church and to see the ward had grown and was spiritual once again. I am so thankful for this experience. This is a picture of Hermano Gil and his family along with Maria and Max.
Fighting off the wind and the heat here
Typical San Blas Houses
Elder Clark and I
This is a lemon that they grew here in San Blas

The Power of Families - March 4, 2017

Well these past few weeks have been so special to have been able to finish out my time here in Casa Blanca. Really we have seen the fruits of our labors, and the Lord did everything for us, we can say that we were simply instruments in his hands throughout this work. I would hope that our influence that we have had here for the past 4 months will be a lasting one. This week we were able to see the baptism of Jose, after 3 years of waiting he was finally able to enter the waters of baptism and it was the most humbling experience to be able to participate in it. Every missionary that has gone through Casa Blanca has taught him, invited him, and tried to help him, yet we were the ones with the blessing of seeing his young family start down this path of righteousness. It was special because now they know that they are in the process of being able to enter the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. I am so thankful for the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that promise us eternal blessings if we are willing to have faith in him and show that faith through the fruits of our repentance. We are so thankful for this opportunity that we have had to teach this family and for the eternal potential that they have. Truly, for my companion and I, it was a battle of our faith. A month ago to the day that Jose was baptized, we had a lesson with them about faith. We taught them about Ether 12:27 and about how we need to go to the Lord to ask what we lack with our faith. We asked Jose and Lulu if they were willing to go to the Lord and exercise their faith so that he could be baptized this week. We extended them promises that stretched our faith, and constantly we had to go to the Lord to help us in our lack of faith so that we could be strengthened to continue to believe in the promises that we made. The Lord blessed us with blessings that we could have never received, and although our faith was never the biggest or greatest, it was sufficient for him. One of the sobering experiences this week happened when we returned to visit with Maria and her family. When we got there they began to tell us about how people had all of a sudden started telling them how different they were, and had began to persecute them. Nataly told us that she had lost her friends in school because they didnt like how she acted differently. It was sad to see, that in their first week after baptism that Satan was already trying to attack them. Yet it was Nataly, the youngest of the family, that reassured everyone that they had entered into a covenant that promises eternal protection and blessings, and that is greater than anything that can be recieved in this world. It was amazing to see the faith of this family, a week into their eternal journey and at times doubting, yet staying faithful and true to a Father in Heaven who will always bless us in the end and who will always protect us through the covenants that we have made. This experience was truly a testimony of the teachings of the Savior when he states in Matthew 5:14, 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. I am grateful that Nataly, and her family understand this principle and are so willing to live it, humbly and faithfully. They have taught me so much in how I need to live, without fear and always with a hope that the Lord will bless when we are faithful to him and hopeful of his promises. Well my time has come to an end here in Casa Blanca, it was an amazing ward to be in and it will be so hard to have to leave these amazing people who have become what seems to be my family. On Tuesday I will be going back to the Istmo with Elder Clark from Heber City to a small town called San Blas. It is a place where the main language is Zapoteco so I will get to learn another language!! I have loved my time here in the offices as well being able to serve and help missionaries, but I am so excited to now go out and be able to serve the people 100 percent of the time. I love the istmo and look forward to being with these amazing people again. I am so excited for the opportunity I will have to finish my mission there, and to continue to be an instrument here in the Lords work.
Jose's Baptism, with his wife Lulu and their daughter Dianel
We couldnt get all of the stains out of the font so we had to die the water blue to cover them up

Seeing The Hands Of God - February 25, 2017

Hello Everyone! Well it has been an amazing week here in Casa Blanca, actually it was one where it was just worrying about Maria and her family. This morning we had the chance to see Maria, Max, and Nataly get baptized and it was such a special experience. We spent this week getting them ready and really doing all that we could to be able to make sure that they were ready to be baptized. And as with every person that is on the brink of being baptized, there is always a nervousness about possible things that could go wrong, sometimes unnecessary stress. But I dont know why we were so stressed out about it. It was almost as if Elder Caballero and I forgot that this is the Lords work and that he had prepared this family to get baptized. We were continually shown that Maria was ready along with her family. She would recieve calls during the lessons and she would invite them to her baptism. Last night was crazy, we had set up the interviews at Maria's house at 8:00. Elder Sosa and Elder Zavala got to our area at 8:15 and we walked over there. When we got to their house we knocked on the door and the people that live up front told us that they weren't home. We started frantically calling Nataly to see if she would answer but her phone was off. Then we called Maria and she said that she was just getting done with work and that she would be there in half an hour. When she got there it was 9:00 and we started filling out the paperwork for them as fast as we could. But while we were doing all of the administrative stuff it was fun to note the way that Maria was acting. She is 54 years old and she was bouncing up and down saying the whole time that she couldnt wait for tomorrow to come. I had never seen such a big change in someone before. We started out by teaching her in the street where she was selling chips, and eventually we got her confidence to start teaching her family, and now they have received full testimonies of the gospel. At 10:00 last night we left their house and headed back home, and we were still worried about possible things that could go wrong. This morning we woke up and went down to the church to make sure everything was ready. At 11:00 they showed up and they all came in smiling and so excited for the day. It was the first time in my whole entire mission that the investigators getting baptized showed up on time. The whole service Maria was smiling the whole time, you could tell that she was so happy to be able to receive the blessings of the gospel. This week we also saw a HUGE miracle. Jose and Lulu, the ones that have waiting 3 years to be able to get married, are finally getting married on Tuesday. Lulu called us on Thursday and told us to start getting our lessons ready to teach Jose so that he can pass his interview. He will hopefully be getting baptized this coming Saturday and we are so excited because he has so much potential as a Priesthood holder in the church. Really the Lord is strengthening us in everything that we do. We were talking to our ward mission leader today at the baptism. A few weeks ago his wife was telling me that I would never see the fruits here in Casa Blanca but that I had planted a ton of seeds. It didnt really matter to me, but today when we were talking to him, he taught me something very important to me. He told me that the members and missionaries who arent worried about when the blessings and miracles will come are always the ones who receive them. He told me that I had been an example of that to him. 7 months here in Casa Blanca has not been the easiest, and it has been hard to find people to teach, but I have learned a valuable lesson that I have said before, that stress is a lack of faith, and that doubt is inaction. I have learned here in my 7 months that I have had to increase my faith more than ever, and that I have had to loose my doubt in order to act according to my faith. And I am thankful and humble for that because the Lord has truly blessed us with miracles. I know that he knows each one of us, he is aware of what is happening in our lives, and he is waiting to bless us with miracles each and every one of us. Elder Peterson
Our Nacho Libre discoveries continue, here is the cliff where he finds the eagle eggs
The baptism this morning

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Gospel Principles of Action - February 18, 2017

Hello Everyone, Wow this week was so amazing. We continue to have and see so many miracles in our area and throughout the mission. This week we continued our really busy schedule of doing splits with the missionaries who are struggling. It was actually a week that pushed me to be a lot more that the Lord needs right now. This week we went on splits with a lot of younger Elders here in the mission but they were all so humble and they were literally taking in everything that they could. I was able to see what these Elders expected of themselves and they just kept asking me what the best way to do these things were. It really humbled me to see the willingness that they had to learn even though they have been in hard circumstances. It makes me grateful that we have those circumstances to help us to learn and grow and be who the Lord would have us be. On Monday after we finished all of our weekly reports we got a call from the Nochixtlan zone leaders that we needed to go up and help two Elders in a small town called Tenango. One of them happened to be Elder Martinez, the one that I trained in Juchitan. Anyways so we cancelled everything that we had and left right away to get up there before 9. On Tuesday I had the chance to work with them and it really taught me the importance of obedience so that we can obtain that light that we need. We talked about with them that they really are a light to this small town, and that many people were depending on them to be disciples of Christ. It was a fun experience because Tenango is a small town of about 500 people, and outside of that there are smaller towns of about 200 people. We went to a town called Correo and we were able to find and teach a mom and her son. The son is battling with cancer and the mom said that she wanted to know why it was happening. I dont know why some people go through greater trials than others, but we were able to teach that it was a sign that God was still watching out for her and her family, and that he was aware of her needs. We taught that through this trial she could experience the blessing of Heavenly Joy that only comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was a powerful lesson. On Wednesday we were able to head back to our area and continue on with our work there. We are seeing so many miracles there and are working as hard as we can wherever we are. I know that Heavenly Father truly blessed us for our sacrifice to go and help these missionaries out, because when we got back we went and visited Maria and her family again. We taught them once again about the Restauration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith. Her whole family accepted it and they all testified of the truthfulness of it that they had felt in their hearts. On Friday we were able to go back and teach them about the Word of Wisdom. We were worried that they were going to have a problem with it with the coffee part. While we were teaching it we taught about how the Word of Wisdom was a principle of action to change our habits to be able to repent and be baptized. Maria said that she was willing to follow it even before we started teaching what we could and could not partake of. So we taught the commandment and when we finished she said that she was willing to live it because she needed the blessings that come from it. Her faith is so big and is a testimony to me that God continues to work miracles on this earth. We have hardly done anything with her, simply taught her the restored truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and she has gained a testimony along with her family to know that this is true. We are so excited because this Saturday her and her 2 kids have made the decision to be baptized and are literally counting down the days until they can be baptized. I am so thankful for this experience that we have had to see the changes that they have made in their lives. Yesterday I had the chance to do splits with Elder Perez from Chihuahua Mexico. After asking me how much time we get to work in our area and seeing Maria and her family he asked me how we did it. Something that I still remember from the transmission that we had about a month ago is that Elder Bednar taught us that the Gospel is a principle of action. He taught that faith is action, and doubt is inaction. Faith is the principle that leads us to repent and follow the commandments of God to be able to return to his presence, doubt is when we do nothing. Elder Caballero and I have really applied this to our lessons. We have learned that these lessons are not simply us teaching someone to gain more understanding, but it is teaching them and inviting these people to act! We have taught the basic principles and Heavenly Father has helped these people to repent and act so that they could see the divine potential that they truly have in this plan. I am so thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that invites all of us to continually repent so that we may have the strengthening power of Christ and his atonement in our lives. Something that I learned this week is something that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, that we have been called to teach repentance and invite all to repent. I am thankful that we were able to learn this principle this week.
With Elder Martinez and Elder Siufuentes in Tenango
Valentines Day in the offices (Thanks to Sister Madsen)
"Dont you just want to feel a taste of the glory" -Nacho Libre Yes we found the Nacho Libre alleyway today
Correo Oaxaca

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Doing the Work - February 11, 2017

Hey Everyone! Well this week was an excellent week once again. We were able to participate in our own zone conference in Monte Alban and able to learn for ourselves. But the other part that has been crazy about this week is the splits that we have been doing with everyone. Elder Caballero and I were talking this week about what we need to do to continue to help the mission. I love Elder Caballero because we hardly ever talk about anything other than missionary work, and it has helped us to recieve guidance more fully in these past few weeks. While we were talking we really felt like we were here another change because there was something unfinished we needed to be doing or teaching the missionaries. We decided to analize who the missionaries were that we felt needed a boost more than anything in their areas and to be able to go help them so that they were able to more fully learn and grow as missionaries. So we put a rigorous schedule for the next few weeks to do splits nearly every day. There will only be 3 days that I will be able to work with Elder Caballero because he or I will be in a different area according to the needs that those missionaries have. This week we started that after the zone conference and it was hard. I realized that 5 changes in Casa Blanca has me feeling like I am at home and it was hard to have to be going to a different area each day. In each area there were very few investigators to teach so we knocked and knocked on doors trying to find people. The Lord really blessed our efforts in all that we did. We were able to find several new investigators in each area and I think I was able to learn a lot more than I was able to teach. So here is a resume of the week that we had. On Tuesday we were able to go and do splits with Elder Mares from Guatemala and Elder Jimenez from Mexico. I was with Elder Mares in his own area and he pushed me so hard. He has only been here in the mission for 8 weeks and I have never seen a new missionary work so hard. At the end of the night we were both exhausted yet he was so willing to still serve everyone that he could. It was an amazing example of humility in the service of the Lord and he helped me to learn that it was something that I needed to apply. We didnt teach the most lessons but we were sure at the end that we gave it our all and that there was a potential there in that area. On Wednesday we had our Zone Conference, I know that I talked about it last week so I wont spend a lot of time with that, but afterwards I had the chance to go to Casa Blanca with Elder Sosa. We havent been in our area for so long that I found ourselves in the same situation. Very few investigators to teach. So we began looking and the Lord literally prepared people for us to teach. We would literally be walking in the street and people would come out and tell us to come in and teach them a lesson. It was a really neat experience to have. At the end of the night we were able to go visit Maria and her family. It is hard because they are progressing so good yet her landlord wont let us come in. She has to sneak us in sometimes or we need to ask for permission to get in. So Maria is trying to find a different house where we can keep teaching her. But her testimony is growing so strong along with her family and I love seeing the progress that they are making. On Thursday and Friday we did splits with Elder Orrock from Highland and Elder Seanez from Ciudad Juarez. The same thing happened, we ended up contacting for the whole time in their area and it was a huge test of patience and love for the people there. But Elder Orrock helped me to learn that lesson and in the end I feel as if I am coming and trying to be more like our Savior. It is something that we have been stressing here in the mission. To apply the gospel to our lives rather than just teaching it, trying to be like Christ rather than just explaining it. I feel like all of our studies have been focused on being able more than anything to take the Sacrament each week and make it the priority of our week. It is the way that we recieve the Holy Ghost, who can strengthen us and help us to recieve our Heavenly Fathers love. I know that it is something that we all need, and when we make the sacrament the priority of our week then we realize that the Holy Ghost is also working constantly for us to recieve these blessings. This is what our mission is focusing on and I have felt the Holy Ghost in my life and in my testimony. He has strengthened me in this hard schedule, and helped me to go on when I have been emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I know that comes from the Sacrament and I invite all of you to make each day a preparation for the sacrament this week. It will bless you. I know this work is true and I am more than grateful to be here. These are pictures of our adventure to Tiotitlan, a place that makes handmade rugs and fabrics. Here is what we found!!