Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 29: A bit more of Mexico

Sometimes days in the mission start to feel really long and you don't feel like you have enough energy to take another step, but then God gives you an experience that reminds you of why you're here. A lot of times it isn't anything even that big, just a little reminder that I'm not here serving alone, but I have His support. 

Friday we went searching for a reference, we knocked on a door and a little old lady answered. We asked if Armondo lived there and she said yes but wasn't there at that moment, we asked if she had a little bit of time to talk but she anxiously said no and closed the door. Later in the day we were walking by and she was outside shoveling gravel into a bag, we ran over to her and offered to help. She said she didn't need our help, but we weren't taking no for an answer! Somehow Elder C├írdenas managed to get the shovel from her and I started talking. She ended up opening up to us and even asked where our church building is and that she'd like to come. She didn't end up coming because she had to work, but it was cool to see the difference in someone when we just started serving. 

We had a special mission conference on Wednesday and they changed the standard of excellence for the mission. Before we were supposed to make at least 25 contacts in the street each week. Now we're supposed to make 20 each day! I can't say that we reached that goal, but we did make improvements this week because of the higher standard. 

This morning we went into the offices and I saw the president, he asked me how long I've been in my area. I told him five and a half months, all he said after that was "pack" and then walked into his office. SO I guess I'll be having changes in week, I don't know where, all I know is I won't be here. Which I  guess I'm a bit excited for! I'll finally get to see a bit more of Mexico.

Thank you for all of your support! I love you all so much!
Love Elder Twede

Sister Lopez Rivera who helps us with our laundry and always gives us a bunch of food. I haven't grown at all... I just look a lot taller next to most of the people here ;)

Elder C├írdenas getting his bag ready for the day. 

Elder Bradshaw who was in the MTC with me. We ran into each other at the offices this morning. He's an amazing missionary!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week 28: A Very Rewarding Sunday!

Finally this week things started turning around! We found 5 new investigators and had 9 investigators in the church on Sunday! After 5 five weeks of not having an investigator come to church it was a very rewarding Sunday! It's a lot easier to have energy each day when you can actually see the fruits of you labors.

This week just all in all was better, it was a lot easier for me to focus on being positive. And when I'm positive I make more good memories. I'll probably be able to tell what kind of week I had in the mission when I read my journal depending on what kind of memories I have in there. One day when we were teaching one of our new investigators they had a parrot outside their door and the whole lessons it was talking. Well.. more like yelling than talking. It had the kid yelling "papa, papa, papaaaaaa" down! The one that nearly got me laughing while we were teaching was when it screamed "Perro! AHHHHH!" It was a very entertaining lesson.

One day when we went to eat at a members house, we were sitting on the couch waiting and their dog ran up and jump onto the couch next to me with a mouse in it's mouth. But this was just any mouse, I had never seen a mouse like it, it must be a new breed or something because this thing was paper thin! I grabbed the dog and it dropped the mouse, my companion grabbed the mouse by the tail and threw it out the door.

On Tuesday we had a sneak attack rainstorm that got us soaked, as we were running down the street to our next appointment I couldn't help but feel like I was in a temple run game (for you adults that don't know what that is, just ask any kid that has ever used a smart phone.) We ran next to the houses that have little ledges that come out over the doors, we would sprint from one door to the next dodging the little waterfalls coming off the houses. I really wish that my camera was waterproof, because that was a very entertaining moment.

This week we haven't had gas because we keep missing the guy that comes walking down the street screaming "GAAAASS"... He passes by so fast and we never can seem to catch him before he's gone around the corner. But this means that we have been bathing from a bucket all week again. I'll admit that the one thing I'm probably going to appreciate most when I get back is having a nice bathroom again. That doesn't run out of hot water.    

The mission really is a boot camp for ones faith. Every day it must be exercised in order to really have the success and strength. Serving a full two year mission would be impossible if one tried doing it without faith, because this work requires miracles. Miracles come from God and we must exercise faith in him in order to see those miracles. As it says in Ether 12:12 "For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith." Often we pray and ask for a miracle or for simple blessings with the expectation that we'll receive it just because we asked. But if we do not do our part to work with what the Lord has already provided us, how can we expect him to bless us. We must be like the men in Matthew 25 who received talents and doubled what they had received through working and received the blessings of the Lord as it says in verse 21 "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." If we are like that of the man who received one talent and did nothing to improve on that, we will be left without the blessings of the Lord. We must ACT in faith, for faith without works is dead, not taking for granted the things the Lord has given us. After we have worked and improved upon our talents from the Lord, the Lord can then give us the blessings. For "he showed not himself until after their faith."

I love this work and am learning so much every day! I can't believe that I have already been on my mission for 6 months! I have so much more to do and learn before it all just flies by! I can really understand now why people that serve missions talk about for the rest of their lives, it really is a chance of a lifetime. 

I love you all!

Love Elder Twede

After running through the rain. You can't really tell.. but I was soaked 

I know that I looked really weird in this picture... but hey... I was pretty excited to get a valentine of Mexican Candy ;) 

Marco Polo! He's an awesome member, he's 20 and has been a member for about 3 years and plans on serving a mission. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Week 27: I love this work

I just have to start by telling you that I shook Elder Oaks hand on Saturday. Yep. I can probably stop right there because that's the coolest thing that happened this week. ;) But I'll write a little more just to be nice. 

This week was a lot better than the last! Probably due to the fact that I didn't feel like my stomach was going to explode. It's a lot easier to work when you don't feel super sick, that's the last time I'll except street tacos from someone. 

We're still haven't a bit of trouble with our investigators keeping their commitments... Yesterday we didn't have any investigators in church again. It's does get really tiring when people just don't progress. It's just sad to see them have struggles and trials and wonder why, but not make the effort to recieve the blessings. In the conference with Elder Oaks he talked a lot about church attendance. Right now in Mexico is about 1/4 of the members are active, and it's been like that for a long time. It doesn't go up or down, it just sits there at 1/4th. This really is the hardest thing in joining the church for the Mexican people, they just aren't used to attending church every Sunday. It brought me to reflect on my childhood and I'm very grateful to have been raised in a family where going to church and partaking of the sacrement is so important. Even when we went of vacations we always rested on Sunday and went to church. I may not have understood why it was so important when I was younger, but now as a missionary I can really see the difference it makes in someones life when they  come to church every week. 

If you read in 3 Nephi 18 it's when Christ taught the people how to do the sacrement ordenance. In verse 7 it says "And this shall ye do in aremembrance of my bbody, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you."  When we partake of the sacrement we are doing it in rememberance of Him and there's a promise in this verse that if we remember him we will always have his spirit. Elder Oaks said in the conference that anyone that wants to follow the teachings of the Savior must have the spirit in order to do so. If we do not go to church and partake of the sacrement, we will not have the spirit with us and we will not be able to follow in his footsteps. When we partake of the sacrement we establish ourselves on the rock of our Savior and when the winds of the world come beating against us we will not fall. If only more people here understood this. 

I love this work and what a great opportunity I have now to dedicate 100% of my time to the Lord! It's hard work and it is difficult at times, but the things I have learned and the testimony I have gained I wouldn't trade for the world! 

Love Elder Twede

This is just one of the patios where we are washing our cloths today. I thought I'd take a quick picture to just show what most houses are like. This one is actually really nice! Most are a bit scary looking. 

A typical Mexican meal. Rice. Beans. Spagetti and hot dog tacos... provecho! 

These things are everywhere! people ride them down the streets selling things.

Here's Mexican construction for ya. The road is starting to have huge sink holes, so they put these bars in to stop cars from driving on it. But they put them too far apart without measuring so the cars still drove through. Now they just have bags of rocks to do the job.  I'm actually sitting in that building right behind that parked car right now emailing! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 26: The Blessing of a Trial

This week was hard. But if I were to put a tittle to this letter it would be "the blessing of a trial". We haven't been having a lot of success in our area and every day seems really hard. I've been praying a lot for more strength so that I can continue working without losing heart. Friday night I got really sick because an investigator gave us tacos and they did not sit well in my stomach. Normally I try to turn unhealthy things down, but this an investigator, so I ate the tacos. That night I sat in bed with a bucket and didn't sleep a whole lot. For a moment I let my mind wonder into the negative area and I started to get really down. I had been praying for strength so that I could bear my struggles, but at this moment I felt very, very weak and like I wouldn't be able to move forward. 

I'm pretty sure that I've shared this scripture before, but it applies to this week perfectly.
Ether 12:27

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. 

There was a moment that night that I really feel like the Lord was teaching me. At 6:00 in the morning I was throwing up in my bucket. Now throwing up is bad enough, but throwing up chili... let's just say it burns a little more. As I sat there huddled over my bucket in my bed, this scripture came to my mind and I suddenly felt this strength come to me... and I smiled. I'll admit I was a little surprised that I was able to smile in the middle of regurgitating my meal, but I did. And.. well suddenly my mind was lifted from that place of negativity and I recognized that this was a blessing, I just had to look at it that way. Because really I do feel stronger because of this experience! And that's what I was praying for in the first place. 

I remembered the talk by D. Todd Christofferson titled "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" There's a line in his talk that says ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’” We can either choose to curse God for our troubles, or recognize it as the opportunity that he has given us to learn and grow. It may not be easy, but if we put our trust in God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we can go through it with a smile :)

Thank you for all of your love and support! It really is a great blessing as a missionary to have friends and family that love me and write often! I love you all so much!

Love Elder Twede