Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 26, 2011 letter

Mi querido familia,
I miss you all so much. Not like I want to come home or anything, but I just miss you all. Reading all of your kind and inspiring words every week gives me so much strength to keep moving forward. Almost as much as the scriptures, (btw, make sure you're all reading your scriptures everyday. That is so much spiritual strenth you are missing out on EVERY DAY if you aren't!) I can't tell you how much comfort the scriptures give to me. The Book of Mormon, all of the Standard Works, Conference talks, Church magazines, Preach My Gospel. Wow, whenever I feel down or need help, I know I can always turn to these, my faithful friends. Most of all, to study the atonement.
Especially this week, has been a bit of a tough one. Well, honestly it has just been tough. Elder Alvarado and I just can't get along. I feel like I have tried everything, but I just can't figure out how to help him. He does not enjoy doing anything with me, and I can't seem to make him happy or satisfied with anything I do. I have been looking alot into the scriptures and Preach My Gospel for advice, and have found surprisingly much. I have read everything already, but when I read it looking to solve this certain problem, along with prayer, it seems like my spiritual eyes have really been opened. I have come to understand scriptures and words of the prophets that I have never understood so fully before. I have come to find so many answers to my problems, have come to find so much hope in that things can always get better. Elder Alvarado shared with me this week, that if he doesn't get along with somebody at first, then they never will. Because he is a persistent person and doesn't change. He meant to say that he is not two-faced. But while he was saying all of this to me, I felt so disanimated, so perplexed at how a person can look at a relationship like that. I was truly perplexed by it, that I shared it with one of my close friends, Elder Vasquez, this morning in our zone activity. He told me something that really struck me. That to say that there is no hope in these types of things, is to truly deny the power of the Atonement.

If we truly have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in His sacrifice, in His love; then we know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is always a way out of danger, always a way to receive forgiveness, it is always possible to become a better person. We came to this Earth with the purpose of trying our hardest to become like our Heavenly Father. Perfect. Like our Savior, Jesus Christ. Perfect. When we truly exercise our faith in Him, we can become like Him. We exercise faith in Jesus Christ through repenting of our sins, errors, and imperfections. Through being baptized, and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost in the manner in which He commanded us. Through being obedient, through always staying true to these sacred covenants we have made with Him. I know that when we are obedient, when we obey His word, He will bless us. When we try to put our will in line with His, He will make all things possible for us. When we are truly devoted to living the gospel of Jesus Christ, He will open up all doors for us, and help us, even guide us, in our progression to become like Him.
I know without a doubt that this gospel, found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is the true and complete gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that He restored His church through the prophet Joseph Smith, and continues to direct His church through the prophet Thomas S. Monson this very day. When we are faithful, pray often, keep the commandments, and strive to become better, we can find so much more strength and guidance through way of the Holy Ghost's direction in our lives. I pray that we all can become better. That we do not give up. That we prove our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, and be examples of the believers.
I share this testimony of mine (as well as this not so great letter this week) with all of you in the hopes that we can all really become better. No matter how great we may think we are. I am trying to be better. ...And I do so in the sacred name of my Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

P.s. I LOVE THIS HYMN (But it doesn't exist in the Spanish Hymnbook...)=
I love my sister for sharing it with me, I have never forgotten about it,
and it has given me so much strength in trying times.

Hymn #171 - With Humble Heart

With humble heart, I bow my head And think of thee, O Savior, Lord.
I take the water and the bread To show remembrance of thy word.
Help me remember, I implore, Thou gav'st thy life on Calvary,
That I might live forevermore And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.

To be like thee! I lift my eyes From earth below toward heav'n above,
That I may learn from vaulted skies How I my worthiness can prove.

As I walk daily here on earth, Give me thy Spirit as I seek
A change of heart, another birth, And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.
P.s.s. Attached are pictures of:
--Elder Vasquez and I with Samuel and Tomás (investigators)
--A map of all the oil platforms of the coast of Campeche, México
--Pictures of our house
..........And one demonstrating how my companion studies every day =[
..........(don't put that one on the blogsite hehe) thank you

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011

Querido familia mía,

     This week has been great! I have been learning so much in every aspect. Many prayers, many spiritual lessons, many tender mercies felt this week here in Carmen. I am doing well, seriously learning alot this week. Everyone treats us very kindly here. Seriously don't worry about me, I honestly have never thought or felt any ideas of being kidnapped, its not that sketchy at all here. Everyone is very relaxed, I can´t see anyone going so out of their way to kidnap somebody here, the people just aren´t like that. The food is great, we were just talking about that the other day. And if its not that great, well we still eat it haha. But I really do love the food. And I'm way more open to trying new stuff than I ever have been in my life.

     Our apartment is really nice, I'll take pictures of it for you next week. We're getting a new fridge from a member today, well old and used. But its better than the one we have now. I think an Elder tried cleaning it and poked the freezer part, and then a member repaired it, but its always spilling water in our stuff and dripping on the floor. So we're SUPER excited.

     Hermana Martha was baptized this week! And she was so kind to hem my pants for me too. She's a seamstress just like you mom, she always doing something. Their whole family is family to me, we are definitely coming back to see them after my mission.

     We had Martha's baptism on Friday. It was one of the most spiritual services I have had in my Mission. We prepared everything with the help of the Hermana Domitila who is the Relief Society President. Also, I found out that the very first missionary to visit Martha's family, like 10 years ago, lives here in another ward. And we invited him to speak in the baptismal service too. He spoke about planting seeds and seeing how us as missionaries ten years later are reaping what he sewed. How no act goes unnoticed in the service of God. Don't ever be afraid to share your testimony with anyone, Heavenly Father will ALWAYS support us in our good actions.

     Also, Agustin and Manuela were baptized this Saturday too!!!! We had to drive to Sabancuy and back twice on Wednesday to get immigration papers signed and finally ...marry them! It was awesome, but a pretty lame wedding. There was an old guy sitting at a typewriter in this shabby old building, just reading everything out loud in monotone, and then he asked them to sign the marriage certificate, and it was done. Pretty dull, but all of us were so excited for them. We then all squeezed into the car with 10 people and drove back to Carmen. It was a good day, I'll have to get some pictures from Elder Vasquez's camera because I didn't take mine with me that day.

     I was teaching Gospel Principles in Sunday School yesterday, and I heard such a beautiful story from one of our investigators. Her name is Rosa, she is the fiancé of another investigator Carlos. They are both 19 years old, have one baby girl, and are just waiting until certain papers come so they can get married and get baptized. Anyways, Carlos is already pretty much a member non-baptized. He always helps us in church and has a solid testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anyways, the topic of the lesson was our Heavenly Family, with a focus on our gifts and talents that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with.

     I was teaching and felt impressed to ask an unplanned question. But I just asked if anyone had an experience this week in which they recognized how the blessed talent of another person had helped them to strengthen their testimony. Rosa immediately looked up and told me that she had one. Rosa had never fully supported Carlos in going to church. He usually came alone, and felt very frustrated because he knew he couldn't force her to go, but he wanted her to. And this week, Hermana Norma went and visited Rosa. Hermana Norma lives with her two sons who are both more or less active, her husband passed away a couple years ago. She lives on the other side of our area, and doesn't have a car, neither are there buses that pass by in the route to Carlos and Rosa's home. But Rosa told us that Norman had passed by unexpected one afternoon, and shared a brief discussion with her in which Norma expressed her testimony in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Rosa told us about how during the discussion, she felt a desire to support Carlos in going to the church. She realized the great plan that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with. And how Carlos has a big part in her plan, and how grateful she is for his example. And that she was now going to follow him full force in their path to Baptism.

     I stood, surprised, amazed, at how every member can help in the missionary work. I knew that without a doubt, Hermana Norma, who does not know Rosa very well, was inspired by the Holy Ghost and led to the home of Rosa. I don't know how Rosa would have gained a testimony without the help of Norma. All because Norma followed the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.

     I know that if we all put our focus in the Lord's work, in what He desires, that He will bless us with the power to do so. I know that to put our will in line with our Heavenly Father's, our lives will make much more sense, and have so much more purpose. When we listen to the Holy Ghost, that still small voice, and we follow His counsel and guidance, we are walking in the path of the Lord. We are walking where He wants us to be. We are walking closer and closer to true eternal happiness.

     I pray that we all can move our will in line with our Heavenly Father's this week. And that as we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we can help in bringing to pass this "great and marvelous work," in the salvation of many souls. There is no such work that will bring us more reward, more joy, more hapiness, more love. I know that this church that I am representing is the true church of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That He, through his prophets, is guiding this church. That Joseph Smith was called of God, spoke with Him, and received the power of the priesthood to restore the true church of Christ when the world was finally ready. There is no power on earth greater than this priesthood, the power and authority of God to act in His name. 

     I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. And I will work with all my heart, might, mind and strength to serve Him, to bring His children back into His prescence. So that all can achieve this eternal happiness, and have an eternal family in the life to come.
     I love you, family. And I am SO proud of you all, and your faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. Have faith, always.

Con mucho amor, Elder Knight

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mi Familia

Mi Familia,

I do not have much time today (when do I ever, haha), but I will update you on everything I can think of =)

*Martha did not get baptized this week =( She disappeared the day before when she was going to have her interview, and we had to reschedule an appointment with Pres. Castañeda on Saturday for it. But now she is planning on being baptized this friday, the 16th, and we are preparing a beautiful baptismal service for her with the Relief Society here.

*I received your package yesterday! Thank you so much! The pants are great, and everyone enjoyed the candies. The duct tape is awesome too, we found some here, but it costs $200 pesos! I love my parents. And thank you Reagan for the Christmas card, I'm sorry I left it in the car hahaha. I can't tell you how grateful I am for the letters, and for your handouts from church haha! They really are all great! I've been using some of the handouts in my personal study. Also, I received some letters from Mom. They were postmarked from June =D hahaha The letters always take forever, but I've heard the packages take 2-3 weeks only. Don't worry about putting pictures of Christ on any mail. Presidente told us not to, and I know that he said it for a reason. Everything should get here safe.

*My companion, Elder Alvarado, and I are doing better this week. Its been a bit difficult because he thinks of ways that I can improve, and I can see when he finds them. But he doesn't tell me, and it frustrates me that he doesn't share what he thinks with me. But I'm trying to better ourselves. I was reading in Alma the other day, and shared a few scriptures with him. Alma 48:11-19 explains how great of a captain and leader Moroni was. How great work he did and how many souls he rescued because of his faith and valor. And then it says that Helaman and others didn't lead armies, but they preached the gospel valiantly also. And that in that way, they were just as great of men as Moroni was. They were doing different types of work, but are equally important. And I love to think that we don't have to be huge leaders and captains of armies like Moroni to do great things in the eyes of the Lord. But if we work valiantly in this calling that we have received, we will be equally effective in the salvation of souls. That right now I have to put all my faith in God, and be strictly obedient, and I will receive the blessings and see the miracles of our Heavenly Father in this great and marvelous work.
*I finally have a photo album! Thank you for it, every elder that has asked to see my photos has been super surprised when I say I don't have one. "What?! You don't have one? Every American Elder has like 400 photo albums!"

*Kenny, you should send over some of those roadtrip photos, if you've got some time. I miss that so much. Good times... Oh, especially that picture that looks like the first vision =D I will never forget

*I now have too many brothers serving missions, its crazy. And now sisters too! Congrats to Shelbi and Lindsey on your mission calls!!!!!!!

*It has rained SO much lately. There is a storm that came in or something. I don't know exactly because we don't watch TV or read newspapers. But a few people have told us that there's a bit more to come. The streets are always flooded for days after it rains here too because there aren't any sewer drains or anything. The water pretty much just sits there until the sun comes out to evaporate everything. My shoes are full of water at the end of almost every other day haha.

*We had district conference this weekend. It was awesome! President Castañeda came and spoke, Sister Castañeda and the counselors too. It was awesome!

*I'm forgetting how to speak English already. We took a taxi and I started to contact the driver last night. And he told me that its easier for him to speak English because he lived in the U.S. for 8 years. I kept on throwing spanish words and phrases in while we were talking. It was horrible..

*And I'm sleeping in a hammock now.

Well, I will send some pictures too, because I have batteries for my camera!! =D Awesome, I love you all so much. Take care everyone. I am so grateful for your words of inspiration and influences that you have all had in my lives. Seriously, I know I would not be here if it wasn't for all of my great friends, family, and family of friends. You are the best. Never forget that our Heavenly Father loves you. No matter what we do or what transgressions we make, there is nothing that can change how infinitely loving our Heavenly Father is for us. Never forget, you are loved.

With more love, Elder Knight

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hellooooo family,

     Happy Labor Day? I am so oblivious to all the American holidays here, but do enjoy it for me over there in the states!

     I haven't gotten any mail since last transfer. But the zone leaders go to Villahermosa this week and usually bring back mail, so we'll see. And that sucks that stuff is getting returned, I would love to receive their letters. I'm still working on letters, but almost never have time to write. We work all day it seems, and I'm so tired at the end of the day, that its already tiring enough to fill out reports and records, so much that I almost dont write in my journal anymore...oops...

     I'm so excited for Reagan to be in Seminary! I was never the best example of going every day, nor on time, but I sure do miss it and regret not taking it so seriously. What a blessing it is to study the scriptures every morning with such a great group of friends. To prepare yourself spiritually for the day, and receive so much knowledge and light from my teachers. I am so grateful for my Seminary teachers, I apologize to them for not taking it so seriously, but I really am so grateful for them and their influences in my life. The mission would be so much easier if I actually remembered all of the scripture mastery haha.

     This week has been super good, I feel like I have learned ALOT. My companion and I got in a pretty big argument the other night, it was rough on me. And I cannot honestly say that I was not at fault, because (like Mom and Dad always said) it takes two people to fight. Nevertheless, I really did learn alot. Afterwards, I felt so spiritually drained, and alone. All I could think of was to read in my Predicad Mi Evangelio (Preach my gospel), and I read about the Christlike attributes. The attribute that stuck out most to me was Humility. And how important it really is. I read in Proverbios 15:10, and how strong this scripture is. "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die." Wow. I cannot explain how grievous I felt after having read this scripture. I immediately went to my knees and prayed to my Heavenly Father to help me be more humble, to accept correction and not fight it. I prayed for my companion, and for our relationship, that it could better itself. That I can be more humble and full of charity towards my companion. I later tried to apologize to Elder Alvarado, but he was still mad too and wouldn't accept anything. I felt so bad, and so at fault. That we both could have avoided all of this with more humility. I want to help him even more now. So that we can be a more effective companionship, more guided by the Spirit. I read also in Doctrina y Convenios 121:41-44, "..that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death." When it comes to mission rules, I feel pretty confident in my obedience. But I know that different things are harder for everyone, that I still have a lot of other weaknesses. And that when I accept correction from my companion, we will both better our relationship. But if one thing I can do to help my companion is how to be more obedient, I shouldn't entirely hold back. That I should help him recognize at times, but do it with love. So that he can see I am doing it for the Lord, because I want to be faithful and worthy of His blessings and guidance in our lives.  What a great lesson I learned this week. I know that it will help me for the rest of my life.

     Also, Martha is getting baptized this week! We set a date with her for the 10th of Septembre. And she is super excited. Her daughters(who are both members of the church) both missed church yesterday, but Martha came alone because she told me, "I know this is where I should be, this is what Heavenly Father wants." How great of an example she is. And how much it touched me to hear her say that, I cannot explain in words. I'm praying I get your package this week, with batteries in it, so that I can take pictures at the baptism haha. I have so much more to say, but no time today already. I'll do my best to write it in my journal to tell you later.

     Love you all so much, congratulations to Grandma and Grandpa on your 50th Anniversary! I couldn't watch the video, but sounds like everyone had a blast together for dinner! Cuídense a todos. Les quiero muchísimo. (translation from Dad: take care everyone.  I love you all very much.)

Con mucho amor (with much love), Elder Knight