Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 25: It's such a good feeling

Let me just start out by saying how this was a great week! We split the area and Elder Cardenas and I are still working together. We make a great companionship, but we do have a little weakness.. He's a little bit quiet and I'm a little bit quiet in spanish still, so we're still having a little bit of trouble making contacts in the street. There are a lot of times when he'll look at me like he wants me to take over the conversation and I look back with the same expression because I don't understand what the person said. But speaking about my Spanish, I am getting a lot better at it! I'm understanding a whole lot more and I feel like I'm really able to apply spiritual messages personaly to the people that we're teaching. I still have a whole lot to learn, but I have a big enough vocabulary now to at least express myself... in a round about way at times :) 

We have been working a lot with the less active members in my area, it's really nice now that the area is half the size we can focus more on the people because there are fewer. We found this huge list of members and we don't know most of them, so this week we went knocking doors and found a ton of awesome people that all it took was one visit and the came to church on Sunday. We jumped up about 15 in attendance yesterday in church! we had 99 people! The first Sunday when I came here there were 36 counting Elder West, Huefner and I. It's such a good feeling seeing the ward get stronger like this.

We found this one less active mom of three kids and her kids aren't members (missionary dream right there!) Her husband isn't a member either but is a really great guy. She had cancer and is recovering from treatment right now, but she's getting a lot better. She came to church yesterday alone, and that night we had a family night with them that went really well! We're super excited because it seems rare to find whole families together with a father and mother here. We watched some mormon messages about the relationships between parents and their kids and both the parents seemed really touched by the massage. I really look forward to teaching them more!

So... people here also think that I look like Tom Cruise. I really don't understand why, I don't see it at all. But but they keep bringing it up like they did back home. 

Well I just want you all to know that I'm doing great! Missionary work is a lot of hard work, but I'm really enjoying it! Thank you for all of your support and letters! they're great and always give me a big boost for the next week!

Lots of love
Elder Twede

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 24: Being happy really is as easy as choosing to be

What a crazy day! tomorrow there are the changes, but I get to stay in my area with Elder Cardenas!!! but... they are splitting my area, so we've had to find a new house and everything to get ready for the new missionaries that will be coming tomorrow. We looked everywhere for a house and just barely found one the other day just in time. So today we had to move all of our stuff... I really don't like moving... I'm so tired now... We didn't have the money to pay for the new apartment, so this morning we had to go into the offices in chalco to pick up the money. It ended up being a four hour trip, that really cuts into the p-day time... especially when you have to move all in the same day. 

Aside from all that craziness, I have quite a few stories this week. We met some very interesting people, sometimes it amazes me how interesting some people are. There was this one guy that we contacted on the sidewalk. He invited us inside and he had lots of roosters for cock fights. We sat down and started talking about where we live and such. We quickly realized that he wasn't completely sober at that moment, and it became perfectly obvious that he wasn't when he started talking about his holy water. He got up and brought out a shot glass and stuck it in my face to smell... Tequila... It was an interesting lesson as we talked about the Book of Mormon while he sipped his tequila.

The next crazy person that we met is actually a memeber. We were walking down the street after church and saw him walking towards his house. We hadn't ever visited him before so we asked him if he had a little time for us to share a message. We went into his house and shared a scripture, and then he went off.. He started talking about the dead that are everywhere. At first we had no clue what he was talking about, but then he started to point them out to us on the cement floor. Any time that there was anything that slightly resembled a face (like two dots for eyes and one for the mouth) he said that it was one of the dead. We asked him if he lived in his house with anyone else and he said "I live with the dead" he then got up and started showing us all the "dead" all over his house and on his back patio. I must admit I admire how hard he was trying to convince us, but as I realized that if we let him he would show us every single "dead" in his entire house we had to do something to get out of there, because I was hungry and our next appointment was to eat. I finally just said "That's very interesting, we would like to end with a closing prayer now" It worked and we were eating within the next 10 minutes.

Well I don't have a whole lot of time left. I'd like to finish up with a quick spiritual thought.

This week I have had a lot of ups and downs. We have been working really hard with people, but they just don't seem to be progressing or there are always things that come up that keep putting off the baptismal date. It's been a little bit of a stuggle for me to always keep the most positive attitude possible in every moment. I've been studying the lesson on the plan of salvation and something stuck out to me. God gave us our agency to act, that is one of our greatest gifts from him. We aren't always free to choose what happens to us, but we have the agency to choose how we are going to respond. It comes back to the principle of acting and not being acted upon. If we allow the things in our lives to make us miserable and bitter, we hinder our ability to progress from these learning apportunities. Focusing on having this attitude of using my agency to choose to be happy has really helped me make it through each day with a smile on my face, and I really am a lot happier. 

Moral of the story --- Being happy really is as easy as choosing to be. 

Love Elder Twede

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 23: The gospel really is pretty simple

Some weeks on the mission are just harder, this week was one of them for me. Things have been pretty slow with finding more people to teach and it's been hard to find people in their homes. I thought that after all the holidays it would get easier to have more lessons during the day, but that wasn't really the case. Days feel so long when all you do is walk house to house knocking but never getting to go inside to teach. 

The whole mission has been having trouble finding new people to teach, so they have set the standard for every companionship to make 5 contacts in the street every day. Let's just say that I'm not really comfortable enough with my ability to speak in Spanish yet.. because this has been a really hard thing for me to do. I know that I probably have the words in my head of what I need to say, but as soon as I start talking to a stranger in the street all of my thoughts seem to switch to English. Which makes it kind of hard to talk to someone who only understands Spanish. It's happened more than once where I start talking in Spanish and then start talking in English without really noticing until they give me strange looks... I can't wait until I do that with English.

One thing that I have really gained a testimony of while out on my mission is the power in every little promise that the Lord gives us. like it ways in D&C 130:20-21 
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
 21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

The gospel really is pretty simple, we are given commandments and if we keep those commandment we recieve the blessings. simple.
Why don't people understand that?
People say that they have faith in God, but they don't trust him. If they did, they would do the things that he asks. Take tithing for example, it's an act of faith to pay tithing because we directly give up some of our worldy possesion to recieve the blessings of heaven. Some people don't see it that way and would rather keep the money for themselves so that they can have just a little bit more to spend. When really all they are doing is keeping the blessings from heaven from being poured out on them. When we keep the money for ourselves, we're basically saying that we don't trust the Lord as much as we trust in the things of the world. 

Every single commandment has a purpose, we may not fuly understand that purpose in this life, but if we follow the promise is sure. Like in the song keep the commandments by Great aunt Barbra
"Keep the commandments, in this there is safety, in this there is peace."

No matter what is happening in the world, we can have safety and peace if we follow this plan of happiness that God has prepared. He has invited us, we just need to except the invitation.

They are simple formulas. Rightousness=Happiness Obedience=Blessings 

Love Elder Twede

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week 22: The Most Rewarding Feeling Ever!

Ok just a quick explanation on why suddenly I'm at week 22, at first I wasn't counting the MTC, just only my time in Mexico. But it's just easier to put it all together, so week 22 :)

So it's the start of the new year! The year that I'll be in Mexico the entire year or as Bryce calls it my "black out year". It's kind of a lot to take in thinking that this whole year I'll be here on my mission, but with how fast the months have been slipping by I know that it's going to be a short year. I have so much that I want to accomplished before my mission ends, first being learn Spanish ;) 

It has been really hard this week to find people to teach because of the new year and they have a holiday here called the day of the kings. It's basically celebrating when the wise men came and gave gifts to Christ, except it's really big here. They don't really celebrate Christmas here a whole lot, but the dia de reyes replaces it. Kids here don't get gifts fom Santa, they get gifts from the wise men. But because of the holidays it has been really hard to teach a lot. I'm excited for this week because school starts again tomorrow, so families should be home again!

This week I have really focused my studies on the Atonement. Even when just scratching the surface of this beautiful topic my appreciation for everything I have increases so much! As a missionary trying to learn Spanish I have had a few stuggles. It gets really hard day in and day out when you're just super tired from trying  to understand people and still not understanding half of the conversations. I started studying a talk by Elder Bednar that talks about how not only sinners need the Atonement, but saints too. He used Nephi as an example when his brothers had bound him and he prayed for strength to break the cords. I realized that i too can pray for more strength to work through each day. Since I have started praying this way I have had a new energy in me, not that I can suddenly speak the language or that the work is easy. But I know that Christ suffered ALL things for us, even the things that seem small to us. But this has been a huge blessing for me. 

We had a ward activity for the dia de reyes. There's a tradition where they have this big cake that they serve everyone. in one of the pieces is a little baby Jesus, the person that gets this in their piece has to buy Tamales for everyone else on the 2nd february. Guess who the lucky person was?
I wonder if I'll still be in this area to buy everyone tamales...
They also did their piƱatas and it was a blast to watch all the little kids go crazy over everything. I think as a missionary without a lot of entertainment it was probably a lot more hysterical than it normaly would be. But I really enjoyed it and i even got to break one of them, and I even got it all on video! 

There are some moments on the mission that are really hard, and sometimes the alarm goes off and you wonder how you're going to make it through another day. But it always seems to be those days that I learn the most. I love this gospel so much and sharing is the most rewarding feeling ever! I really can't imagine what my life would be like without the knowledge of the gospel, but that's what I see every single day in other people. I breaks my heart to see how bad off some people are. The gospel really is an amazing thing though in how it can help anyone, no matter what their situation is.

It was a great week all in all! I look forward to this week though because the holidays are over and we can get back to our normal schedule. I love you all and I hope you all had a wonderful new years eve!

Elder Twede