Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Mi querida familia,
How great to hear that so much is going on at home. You all sound so busy! And how great to hear about Mimi even more, she is always in my prayers. Well let me tell you, this week has been a busy one for me too. So much going on. First off, we're doing fhe with the families in our ward to teach them the restauration again, and its going great, we already have like half the ward taught. Secondly, we have been working our tails off here visiting everyone we can. We've been looking in the ward directory and we have visited a few inactive members and less-actives to see what the heck is going on. Its going great. Our normal 30-40 people in church went up to 50 this week! Its was a pretty full-house. With 3 investigators in church. This week, we did exchanges with Las Choapas, Elder Pack and Elder Flores. I went to Las Chopas with Elder Pack, while Elder Flores came here with Elder Williams. Elder Williams was really scared to be alone in the area, but I made a map for him and it was all good. Gotta learn somehow, and I think its faster to learn when you HAVE to do it. If I'm always there with him he just trusts I'll guide him, but he's getting ahold of the area now. Getting more confident with everything. He really is great at spanish, way better than I was when I got here, but he has some confidence issues sometimes. The other day he was considering going home, and I was like what the heck, why?? Then we talked a bit and he realized how dumb of an idea it was. I really don't remember ever being like that with Elder Plummer... I think I was prideful alot, but never a debbie-downer. Eh, who knows, he's getting better. We're excited because there's a lot of awesome stuff going on in our area now.
So we have some new investigators:
-Jerry(Gerardo) lived in the US for like 4 years and knows english better than I do. We've been teaching him in english (Confidence booster for Elder Williams, because he can teach better than I can in English haha) and he prayed to know if everything is true and says that he knows it is, and that he wants to follow his answer.
-Well, I already told you about Yael, but she is just getting so awesome. She is so excited to heaer us every time we come over and wants to have an eternal family. She was sick yesterday though, and couldn't come to church. Bummer...
-Flor, the mother-in-law of Jael, is the grandma of Williams(Jael's son) who is an ex-investigator of mine. We walked by their house the other day and I felt like saying hi. Well, they told us that now they don't work on Sundays like they used to, and that Flor would like to come to church now! We went by her house yesterday (she couldn't go to church either) and she accepted to be baptized (again) and we put a goal with her for the 16th of June. Awesome!
-Jaime, is another ex-investigator of mine, back from the days of Elder Andrade, like in January. He was never interested when we visited him, his brother(Jose Manuel) was a little bit but way into the pentecost church. But then a member from Las Choapas told us to go visit his Jose and I was like, "okay, we'll give it a shot again." Well he's still way into the pentecost church and doesn't want to hear us, but Jaime is SO READY to hear the gospel. He's way interested now and wants to accept the gospel in his life again.
-Leydi, is the sister of a member, and she just got out of the hospital like a month ago. She was in some crazy accident. She was in front of a car when it got hit from behind, and she got pushed UNDERneath the car. Her leg was way damaged, but she didn't break a bone or anything. What a miracle. Well she has come to activities before, but until yesterday she had never came to church on a sunday. She liked it alot and said that she's going to come next week too. Way cool.

Well, with so much going on, I feel so immensely blessed to be working here in Cuichapa. My companion and I are getting along fine, I'm trying to help him be a bit more independent and self-sufficient though (you know me).. We're going places. With such a dry period in this area, its going to explode pretty soon hahaha
We've just gotta wait with faith and worthy acts always.

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Revelations12

I love you all! Write me if you have some time this week, I'd love to hear how you are all doing!

Con amor,
Elder Knight

Monday, May 21, 2012

Un milagro en Cuichapa

Mi querida familia,

Have I told you how much I love you. I know miracles happen every day. It makes me SOOOO happy to know that Mimi is getting better, I didn't even doubt that she would. Having known the Bolster family, they're not ones to give up, and the Lord knows that. We are blessed for our diligence and perseverance. 

I am also so happy for Caitlynn and Seth, have fun being married. I guess that's what everybody's doing these days haha, getting married. Whatever, I am having the time of my life here in the mission. There is really no other place I'd rather be. I am so happy and grateful for the church in my life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve my Lord and God, even Jesus Christ, for the little time I may be able to. I was just thinking this morning that I would like NOT to go home hahaha. It really is amazing here. 

Oh, also, congratulations to Haley on catching your fish! That's rad. And congrats on taking out your endowments too! Even more rad! Way to go Danny on scoring the job in Utah, have fun up there! Are you going to live with Bud? Man I miss that guy too, tell him I said hi, he's way rad too. Haha ..rad.. I love you Reagan, you're rad.. Love you Mom and Dad, you are SOO rad.. Keep it going Rad family...

Anyways, this week has been all over the place. Mission movie I swear. So Elder Williams and I are here in Cuichapa. I've got about 5 months under my belt here, and he's got 3 weeks coming up. Well, his first two weeks were pretty tough. Walked into a wall with the whole mission thing. We teach, we pray, we sing hymns, we contact, we serve, we obey, we study, we do just about everything we can think of. And with all of it, well not much fruit growing lately. Little did I know that we were growing vegetables! (Don't know where that came from) But its likewe've been working and all we see as a result is a little fig coming out of the ground. No fruit, maybe a few leaves, but nothing solid showing. But I just figured out that the fruit is growing UNDER the dirt. (Wow, this whole metaphor thing is weirding me out too) (But anyways..) So about 2 months ago Elder Rodríguez and I contacted this lady in the 18 de Marzo (a neigborhood, not a date). She told us she lived in the Agraria (neighborhood), so we went to visit her (twice) and she was never home, so we gave up. Then, we saw her again, like 4 weeks later in the Comercial (other neighborhood) and she invited us over again. But when we went she wasn't there. So we began to think, okay, she's nice to our face but she probably doesn't even want to hear from us. So we gave up again.

AND THEN, take note I have a new companion, Elder Williams. And I'm trying to teach him to talk to EVERYONE he sees. SO I see her and think, "Man, I already contacted her like 2 times now.." But passing by her I literally felt something telling me to talk to her. So I turned around and said "Hermana!"(Sister!) and she was like ,"¿que pasó?"(What's happening?). And I thought of an excuse, and said, "I want to introduce you to my new companion." And then I asked her name, because I had forgotten it (woops), and she was like "I've already told you twice." And I explained that we had tried to visit her a few times but we never found her home. So she invited us over again, and she was there! And she was so ready to listen to us. We talked about our families, taught her how to pray right, and gave her the Proclamation to the world, and she was so up for everything. So we set up another appointment to go back and I felt SO GREAT.

Now, next appointment, we walk towards her house and she is outside with two kids watching something. We then see around a corner a big group of people and some drunk guys are fighting it up. Pretty gnarly stuff alright, but normal here in Cuichap-chap. So I saw her 6 year old daughter, Wendy, and said, "We'd better go inside and chat a bit.  We don't need to be watching this kind of stuff." And then Whoa, we walk in and I see a familiar face. Williams, an 11 year old kid, who lives in another nieghborhood, whose grandma we taught, and also his aunt on two seperate occasions. So I see him and I'm like "Williams, what are you doing here?" And Jael was like, "You know him?" And I said heck yeah that we grew up together, and she laughed and said, "He's my son." And I was like "WHAAAAAAAAAAAT????!!!" No way José. Wow, that just changes everything. So we talked with them a bit, and laughed alot about how I already know practically all of her family, including her husband who works 20/10 (to say he works far away 20 days, and comes back for only 10, then goes back to work 20 days again, and so on.) So it was way cool. She is way cool, and way chosen to receive the gospel. I just pray that nothing gets in her way of finding the truth. Her family needs the gospel in their lives, and are so ready for it. She came to church yesterday, and said that she's going to come next week. And that when her husband comes back, she's going to bring him with her too. I cannot wait for these coming weeks.

Time up. I love you all. I know that miracles happen when we are diligent in keeping the commandments.

"Obedience brings blessings. EXACT Obedience (or Sanctification) brings MIRACLES."
"Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27)

With love, Elder Knight

Monday, May 14, 2012

...the day after Mother's Day...

(this is me talking to my Mom on Mother's Day - that's dad's laptop on our kitchen counter in San Marcos, CA)

¡Mi familia!
I just saw and talked to you all yesterday. It was pretty weird to be honest. I didn´t feel like its been 5 months since I last saw you all (Christmas time Skype). Sister Lucresia and Sister Leva were so happy to see you all! Lucresia told me that I should send a "hello" to my family from her, and when I told her pretty much like, "Why don't you just tell them yourself?" she got SO excited. Just so you know, they both took showers and put on really nice clothes just so they could skype with you. =) They are so great, seriously. I love them to death. I was just telling Elder Williams about how lucky he is to have this as his first area. The people here can be pretty tough, I'll be honest, but we find good people. The members are all nice, they all have such great hearts. Its a small branch, and we only have a house of prayer (there's no chapel or anything) we get by with what we've got. 

The President is great, we were talking with him last night about the branch, and we really were on one wavelength it was cool. He totally understands us, and as we talked about what we could do to help the branch, the members, and investigators, we were just filled with inspiration. We have plans to go to the temple this June. The branch hasn't gone at all while I've been here... And we want the recent converts to go with us and experience work in the temple. So President and us put firm plans to rent a small bus and ask the stake president if we can take out a portion of the branch's budget to pay for a portion of everyone's tickets. Its going to be great, I am stoked. (Because I want to go to the temple too). ..And not to mention that this area also has a sweet house. We've got a big desk, a good shower head, a washing machine, and awesome members next door(Leva and Lucresia..aka our 'Grandma' and 'Mom' here).

We're getting people ready for baptism, although many baptismal dates have been falling since Elder Williams has got here, we keep putting more. They all fall because the people don't come to church. We have 3 weeks now without investigators in church on Sunday. Yesterday we passed by more than 15 people in the morning, and not one came with us to church. It was rough for Elder Williams. I feel bad that we're not having much fruit, but I know that the Lord is preparing the people for us right now, and it'll only be a matter of time until they start coming to church.

Congrats to Caitlynn and Seth on your wedding! I already have a new brother, haha. Reagan, I hope you keep enjoying seminary. Its a blast, I miss it so much. Haley, you're probably already on your way to Utah right now; don't let yourself stop praying, studying, and going to church EVER. These habits are commandments, and are truly blessings for us; they help us to constantly remember our Savior Jesus Christ. Like how the children of Israel had the Law of Moses, filled with all kinds of practices and customs, they didn't even have a chance to forget the Savior if they were always doing as they should. We in these days don't have to do so many practices or customs or sacrifices at all. We only have to remember him in Prayer, in Study, in Obedience to His holy commandments.

"Let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven...
"For behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit...
"Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven...
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."
(3 Nephi 12:16,19-20, 48)

I know that eternal life will be worth everything it takes. I have the faith that if I push forward in all my life, with a broken heart and contrite spirit in front of my Savior, He will rescue me from this broken world. I know that things aren't always as I would like them to be, and maybe its not as God would want them to be either, but He permits us to fall sometimes so that we can strengthen ourselves when we stand back up. He knows what's best for us, and His kingdom is being prepared for the entrance of those who so are worthy of it.

I love you all. Chelsea and Danny, you are both studs, I can't wait to see Porter when I get back! Mom, Dad, you are the best parents in the world. Thank you for everything you do for me. I know my Heavenly Father loves me, because He has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. =) I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. I wouldn't be able to stay here either if it wasn't for your examples to me of perseverance and hard work. I love you!

Love, Elder Knight

P.S. My scripture of the week. Alma was a BOSS.
"And it came to pass.. that Alma saw the wickedness of the church, and he saw also that the example of the church began to lead those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus bringing on the destruction of the people...
Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake, who should come according to the spirit of prophecy;
Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him...
And he himself [went] forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
And thus Alma..confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to the testimony of the word, according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy."
(Alma 4:11,13-15,19-20)
Such a stud...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mi querida familia,

I just want you to know how much I love you all. I received a Dear Elder last week from Dad, a forward from another well-known sister, and it made me so happy to know that there are people at home being blessed from the same testimony that is blessing me. I know that testimonies are meant to be shared. If you don't share it, yours will never grow. What an opportunity to be a missionary, and share your testimony in every moment of every day. I have never felt so close to my Savior, than I do when I am testifying of Him. I feel like He is really right next to me, shoulder to shoulder we stand, and whether the people accept us or not, He is always smiling at me as I testify of His gracious love. Whether the person wants to hear or believe you or not, the Savior is always pleased with those who share His message of Salvation.

Well, this week has been pretty interesting. I finally have another American companion. As the Mexicanos say: "Fresh out of the package". His name is Elder Williams, he's from Montana, 19 years old, likes music and whatever sport. He served in the Independence Missouri Mission for a month while waiting for his visa. He's pretty funny too, we're getting along, he already speaks spanish pretty well, way better than I did when I got here. He took 4 years of Spanish in high school, so that helps I guess. We're just working our butts off here. His first day here, I just walked up to literally EVERYONE in the street who came in our way, and we contacted them. He was pretty lost, and told me that they never do contacts like this in the Missouri mission. But with different cultures and different people, I guess you have to work different too. He told me they worked with a lot of references from members and church headquarters, haha. It was pretty funny to me, but it made me think about how different the mission must be in the U.S. I'm sure there are all kinds of different strategies for working, different tragedies, different disappointments. But I love the way we work, I can't imagine working less, you all know how restless I can be. (Haha, just so you know... When I first got in the mission, I used translators every once in a while to translate from English to Spanish.. I just realized that I translated something from Spanish to English... Nooooo! I'm forgetting English already!! We found a guy who speaks English in the street the other day, and afterwards Elder Williams couldn't stop laughing. He was like, "Hahaha now you know how I feel. Maybe I can't speak spanish to the people, but you can't even speak English! Ha!" was pretty embarrasing to say the least.. When all you know how to do is respond to the people in Spanish. But I'm getting better =) With Elder Williams as my companion.!)

Well family, time is just flying by. Seems like just yesterday Caitlynn told me about Seth, and now they're getting married this week! Seems like just yesterday that Haley told me she was going to take her endowments out, and this is the week! I can't beleive it, I really can't. I feel like everything is so surreal, that so much is going on and I just totally forget about it in the days.. Danny's already back too, wow so much stuff is going on. It reminds me of what Elder Vasquez and I were talking about the other day. So Elder Vasquez is like my best friend here in the mission, he's from Maryland, and we've been following eachother around all of the mission. He was in Mina with me, then we were in Carmen together, and now we're in Coatza together too! And he's training a newbie this transfer too, so we both went to Villa together to pick them up last week. It was so great, we didn't just talk about home and what we were going to do after the mission or junk. But we were just casually sharing scriptures with eachother, talking about gospel principles, talking and contacting people in the bus. It felt so great. I really feel like we were friends in the premortal existence. God put us here together to support eachother. It is so great. He gets home 3 months before I do though, but we've made plans to go on trips together or something. Mom and Dad, you will meet him, he's coming to our house to learn how to surf haha. By the way, if a Mexican ever shows up at our home door, just let them in and I'm sure they'll tell you that Elder Knight said they could stop by haha.

So one thing our zone is doing right now is trying to figure out how to be true missionaries of Jesus Christ, true disciples. These last two weeks we've had no baptisms at all. Baptismal dates falling here and there, progressing investigators disappearing or deciding not to hear from us anymore, all kinds of disappointments and strifes. All of our zone is experiencing it. So we had a district leader meeting yesterday, and it was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had in my mission. Elder Williams and I went from Cuichapa to the stake center (an hour and a half bus ride), and met with all the other district leaders and the zone leaders. We went into a room with a table and nice chairs, and air conditioning(hallelujah). As we prayed, and sang together I started feeling so comfortable with the other elders. Then we just opened the conversation to all who were there, and we discussed over what our zone can do to get better. By far, the conclusion was to UNDERSTAND the atonement. Many of us know what the atonement is, we can teach it to other people, we can cite 100 scriptures about it, and we can share our testimony about it. But last night we came to the conclusion that we should all really UNDERSTAND the Atonement. I don't know how to explain it all in a letter, but I'd like to share with you an experience from another missionary, a bit old now, but a true disciple of Christ:

As a young missionary, Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931), who later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had a dream so powerful that it changed his life forever. He later wrote:
“One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. … I stood behind a tree in the foreground. … Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed …: ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’
“As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.
“Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, inaffected by the least show of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour. …
“Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.
“All at once the circumstance seemed to change. … Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.
“I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.”

I love you all so much.  I'm praying for all of you.  I wish a happy week to you all.  I know we will all be happier if we can all focus ourselves in the loving sacrifice that Jesus Christ gave for us.  Let our thoughts always be directed to him and let our words always be testifying of Him.  Our actions always reaching out to those who have need to feel this same love from Him.  Never give up.  KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

Love, Elder Knight