Monday, January 28, 2013

Conference with Elder Nelson

Mi querida familia,

This week has been crazy amazing! So much going on, and so much work, but soooo worth it without doubt!
For starters, Mosiah, an awesome young man in our ward, got his mission call last week! He's going to San Jorge, Utah! (St. George, my friends). He enters in the MTC on April 2nd, and is sooo stoked on life. He went to the Benemerito (its like the high school version of byu here in Mexico) and learned how to be a missionary, how to speak English, and how to just be awesome. He will be an excellent missionary. This week he got pretty sick of a stomach infection, but got better towards the weekend.
Friday our leaders didn't have much planned for the conference on Sunday, so we decided to do divisions and take care of it ourselves. Elder Randolph went with Victor on one side of the area to secure members' seats on the bus, while Mosiah and I were on the other side of town all day doing the same with the rest of the members and investigators. I couldn't believe it, Mosiah was still feeling a bit sick, but came with us (we needed his help sooo bad) and was walking around with me all day all over town without complaining or anything. He is great, and very knowledgeable about the gospel too. He's the seminary teacher right now.

And the conference went super well! Friday, as I mentioned, we pretty much just took control over the whole transportation scene, for lack of planning from our branch leaders, it was pretty upsetting. But with the help of Mosiah and Victor we got a lot done. We had to do everything possible all on Friday, because Saturday we had to be in the city of Villa already to hear Elder Nelson speak to the missionaries. Well we got it all done. And then Saturday night we came all the way back to Zapata, just to make sure everything went smoothly in the buses Sunday morning. We got to the chapel at 3 o'clock in the morning, and started calling EVERYONE to make sure they had already woken up, or were on their way. Some members showed up in cars, and we sent them back out to pick up those people who hadn't showed up yet hahaha. It all worked out fine, we filled the two buses we rented to the max! We even had to put primary chairs in the aisles of the bus for extra people to sit because it was just so full (try getting away with that in America!). I was one of them haha. We filled the two buses with 112 people, 6 being investigators who are way awesome. I'm so glad they all could come.
We got to Villa at about 8 o'clock and saved our seats for the conference to start at 10:00. I saw some of the members from my ward in Carmen!!! First I saw Karen, Alexis (Elder Cardenas's) sister, and she was so stoked and told me that Alexis is doing great in the mission in Argentina. Then I saw Fredy and a whole bunch of others who were all so excited. They all rented a van just to come see the Apostle. It was so worth it too! Some of our members were already there, like Pres Zenteno and Pres Carpio(1st cons district president) with their famiies. So our total attendance, including the Playa Larga members (who left their homes at 1 o'clock in the morning to come with us on the buses), was 120 from the Zapata branch. It was excellent. When we told Pres Valencia, who knew that on Thursday night our branch presidency hadn't done much with the transportation or anything, he just lit up and was like NO WAY. It took alot of work, we were dead tired yesterday after the conference. But on the bus, since I was in a primary chair in the aisle in the back, I turned my seat around and the Playa Large members and I had a lesson, reviewing our notes from Elder Nelson's talk about the families. It was good to review it, and make sure it didn't just all fly by their heads. But then when we finished, everyone fell asleep the last hour of the ride home haha. Elder Randolph was in the other bus, and got a bunch of pictures of all the members sleeping.

As for the conference, it was amazing. Elder Nelson talked to the people about the things that a parent shuld teach their children. I will share the things with you later.... As for our work here, February looks like its going to be an amazing month for our branch. Lots of converts who are really converted! And more converted members too. I'm going out with a bang, thats for sure!
I love you all. Keep up the amazing work at home!
Elder Trevor Knight
P.S. I told Mosiah that I was going to pick him up from the airport in Utah when he goes to the MTC in provo en April, and I'm going to find him a place to stay. Soooo, don't plan anything important for the end of March, or beginning of April pleaseeee, unless its in Utah haha. Love you all! P.S.S. In what city do Chelsea and Danny live exactly? I'm so stoked to host Mosiah around Utah before he enters the MTC! His mom speaks English and wants to come too, they lived in New York for a while and are the closest thing to an American family here in Zapata haha. STOKED!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

1.21.2013 Letter home

Mi querida familia,
Wow, well these two weeks have been crazy! We are super stoked right now, because Elder Russell M. Nelson is coming this Saturday to talk to us, the missionaries, and Sunday he is going to address all of the members here in Tabasco! They rented out a conference center in Villahermosa that holds like 5,000 people. Its going to be crazy cool. Everyone's going! As missionaries, we are all preparing ourselves by reading ALL of Preach My Gospel before he comes. Yup, all 13 chapters in one week. We started on Friday, and it is amazing! It is helping us so much. Elder Randolph and I have only gotten through the first 3 chapters so far, but it is so helpful studying it fast, because it gives us  broader vision of what we should be doing and how we should be working and teaching. I invite everyone to do it, whether its in Preach My Gospel, or a leaders manual, or a Strength for the Youth, Personal Progress, Duty to God. Just a quick read through and we get a better perspective of what to do every day. Our vision is increased, and the Spirit is more able to guide us because our minds are conditioned to understand His "dialect".
Last thursday Elder Randolph and I accompanied Pres. Rosales, from Church Maintenance in Villahermosa, to visit and revise the houses of prayer in Candelaria, Triunfo, and Playa Larga (Long Beach haha). We went, looked at what improvements could be made, according to the growth potential in the area. It was way cool going with him, I learned alot. He had never seen the hosue of prayer in Playa Larga, so we went to show it to him. And we told him about an idea of renting out the house of a sister who used to live there, but now lives in Carmen, and converting it to a bigger house of prayer than the one they have now. We took the hermana Francisca with us when we got there, and she was so excited! She called her husband Lorenzo, because he was working, and asked him for the sisters number to contact her about the property. The members are so excited! We should see some progress in the new house of prayer in the next few months. Maybe before I leave, hopefully! That would be so cool to see it.
Our attendance at church is growing. We are focusing on strengthening the members alot, and it is awesome to see how we can still do missionary work while doing "home teaching"(Almost). We find family members who aren't members, friends in the less-actives' homes who are interested. And we have more investigators, and members in church every week. Working with the members is inspired, not just working with them (along their side) but working with them (ON them) so that they are more converted members, and faithful to their covenants made. It is wonderful to see how great it all works.
We as missionaries just love seeing people happy and changed by the gospel. It is a wonderful feeling, that you have been a useful tool in the Lord's hands to bless His loved children. Just like that quote I shared with you a few weeks ago from Pres. Monson, about being on the Lord's errand. There is no greater joy in life, really. I plan to continue looking for these opportunities forever, even without a nametag on my front pocket that says so.
Elder Randolph and I have been arguing a bit lately (not seriously) about whats alright to take home from the missionary(not that we're trunky, but planners). I loved this talk I found a few months ago in a Liahona:  "Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field" (Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley) 
I was telling him how I plan on giving my scriptures to a young man here, who could use them to prepare himself for the mission. And Elder Randolph freaked out saying I need to keep them. I'm not sure what's right, but I'm pretty set on giving them to him. Elder Randolph argued that my scriptures could come in handy if I got called to serve in a spanish position or something.. "Well I'll buy another pair of scriptures then, or download it on an iphone I'm sure," I replied. We'll see what happens... Haha
I'm loving being here, we are helping the branch grow, and the leaders to be more united. Instead of everyone pulling in different directions and not getting anywhere, why don't we all just work towards the same goal?! The members are starting to feel more love here, and beginning to share it with others who come too. Its good stuff.
How's Elder Stevenson? I met some guys the other day who speak Tzotzil, and were trying to teach me a few words in the mechanic shop of a member. We came to the conclusion that it seems kind of similar to Spanish, but then not at all really haha, because I still couldn't speak it I don't think. But then I heard that Elders in Chiapas are certified translators in Tzotzil, is it true? That would be cool. I don't speak any dialects, just "Castallano" haha (Central-American Spanish)
Hope you are all loving life right now. Its way cold here in Tabasco, freezing to death somedays. But I bet its nothing compared to Utah haha, I'm just accustomed to the heat here now. We're hoping the heat comes back, (1) so that we don't have to take ice showers anymoreee, and (2) so that Elias can have more business in his ice cream store. He's the ice cream guy who lives on the corner like 3 blocks from our house. We always say hi to him when we pass by, and we talk with him about the gospel. He went to a way in depth Catholic Seminary for 4 years when he was younger, and understands alot about Jesus Christ and His life. It was amazing, yesterday he came to church for the first time (he usually always stays in his business to work), and just by the work of God, Pres. Vasquez came to visit our branch by surprise. He's the second counselor in the mission presidency, and used to be in the CES presidency in Mexico or something cool. Well he came and gave an incredibly inspiring talk about the life of Christ and the miracles He performed. Elias loved it, and I presented them to eachother after and Elias said he wants to keep coming and learn more. He likes listening to us and our message. I guess some TJ's went to his store the other day and left a pamphlet, but he didn't like what they taught because they told him that Satan governs the world. Elias understood that its not true, and that even though there are temptations, we are not subject to obey them, or even expected to. We are our own free agents, and we choose our actions, whether for good or bad. He is basically an awesome investigator. He's about 50 or so years old, has a son who past away when he had 16 years old, and he has faith! We're just trying to get him to close the store on Sunday, but like everyone he says that "Sunday is the best sales day" (P.s. DO NOT BUY ON THE SABBATH DAY!) If he does, the young woman that works with him Yajaira could attend church too. She is interested, we found her studying her Book of Mormon that we left her the other day at work, and she has gone to church before with a young man from the branch too! Miracles. They are the only two progressing investigators that I think we have right now, who we found alone. The rest are all references(better.)
Got to go!
Love, Elder Knight
"Errar es humano; perdonar divino." -Alexander Pope (To commit errors is human; but to forgive is divine)

(Beautiful part of Mexico-not!  Notice the corn growing around the garbage lol)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A letter to my missionary sister...

MI QUERIDA HERMANA Haley (my dear sister Haley),

This letter is moreso directed to you today, but I figure we'll share it with the family too...
I was thinking in this last week about what I would like to tell you before you went into the mtc this Wednesday. I thought of a few talks, and a few other random things I wanted to share with you. I want you to know that these (almost) 2 years have truly been the best of my life, I have learned so much and grown (not physically) a lot too. Even with many trials and faith-breakers, the Lord has always watched over me. I know He lives, and answers our prayers. I am grateful for those who pray for me, and us as missionaries. I don't know if there's a group of people more prayed for in the world, except for the prophet! I feel these prayers, and surely have needed them many times. The mission has been a testimony to me that the very best things require the very best effort. I'm grateful for this lesson, and especially for my parents who also prepared me by teaching me since forever ago. Haley, we surely have been born of goodly parents. NEVER forget that...

First of all, I want to share a few talks with you to study a bit: (Print them out and take them with you too..)
Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary -Elder David A. Bednar (I can't find it on the internet, and I only have it in spanish, and on a CD in english. you could ask a missionary there at home and maybe they'll have it, a lo mejor sí. If not, I will swiftly be sending you a good package of nifty things when i get home. I just can't send a lot of things now, for fear that you or i may never see them again... hahaha) But look for it! It's awesome!
Act in All Diligence -Henry B. Eyring (Its a priesthood talk, so it doesn't entirely apply to you, but amazing because he talks about the atonement in such a beautiful inspiring way)
Second, a little list that I myself made... =) with a little help from elder randolph (sorry my capitalization sucks, but my keyboard is really sucky at this ciber)

1. Make every moment count, whether you've got 2 years, 1.5 years, or even a month and a half... Because you will want it back. Don't you take a minute for granted!
2. Don't even think about going back home (unless your mission president tells you to go early, of course) You will be so much better off in the mission, I promise, even if its "just for a few weeks/months"
3. Learn to share EVERYTHING with everyone... Life is just a whole lot easier this way. Trust me. Learn it quick, and just be ready to share, always.
4. Be yourself! Always! Because there's no reason in being fake. and be your BEST self! Let the mission, not so much "change" you, but rather "cut off your rigid edges" (See PMG ch.6)
5. Get everything as small as possible. Everything smaller is better. Transfers will be a nightmare if you don't. play it safe, prepare, and get the small stuff.. :) I hear they sell some cool little preach my gospel now, i wish they had those when i started the mission, because i always have to carry my big one aroudn to district classes and on buses because it doesn't fit in my bag. But simply, just go small, for the better. (Alma 36:6-7) hehehe
6. Learn to discern. whether it means discern the truth from lies, or the spirit from the adversary. The Gift of Discernment is a Gift of the Spirit. seek for it, because it is an incredibly useful tool in the work.
7. Love your companion, and be willing to have fun with them. Do not judge others, especially your companion. Love those who despise you. I wish I would have known this earlier in the mission with a certain companion, would have made things a whole lot easier. now i understand, but too late...
8. Study the scriptures EVERY day. Sundays and P-Days too. it can be hard sometimes (well at least here) but it changes your whole day's experience)
9. When you write to your Mission President, imagine you are writing to the lord. He is a representative of our Lord, and when we report to him, we are reporting to Him. =) sometimes i even write "Dear Savior" or something similar before i write, and then right before i send it, i change it to the president's name. it helps me to remember for who I am working every week.
10. Write your brother every week. Never fail.. =)

I love you so much Haley, and I am so ridiculously proud of you. I tell everyone that my sister is going on a mission, and they are all praying for you too. You have so many people who love you, who appreciate you in their lives, me being one of the first. I may not be the perfect missionary, but I wanted to share my thoughts with you, they are my personal suggestions for my sister.

May God be with you 'til we meet again. Who would've known that when you dropped me off at the provo mtc february 2011, we would be saying "Hasta luego" until another 3 1/2 years? Its a tad bit long, but worth it in the work of the Lord. He is our Savior and Lord. He is the great Jehovah of the old Testament, and the profesied Mesiah of the new testament. He died for us on calvary, He lives, and is watching over us as we prepare this earth for His pleasant return. may be be ready. Serve Him, my sister. There is no greater joy for the soul. And soon enough we will be laughing about how true it all is.

With all my love,

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7th, 2013

Mi querida familia,

This week has been AWESOME! I am so sorry I have not been able to write you all lately. I just never feel like I have time on Mondays. I have dedicated a lot of my time to making informes (pamphlets) and handy formats for our zone. It seems to be working too, because we had an awesome zone training meeting on Friday, following the Zone Leader council from Tuesday and Wednesday, in which I got to share one of the checklists I made for the Elders to help them focus every day. President seemed to love it, when we presented it as part of our one plan for the month here in Zapata. Things are looking bright here in Zapata in January. Takes a lot of planning, which we still fault a lot of, but we're getting there I feel it.

Things are going well here in the mission. Things are changing still, a lot. But I feel like I'm finally starting to understand everything and get the handle of things. Elder Randolph and I get along really well, but almost too well. We are both way too sarcastic with each other. (Dad, I thought I had changed, but Elder Randolph just brought the sarcasm right back out of me..ha ha) And sometimes the sarcasm just goes over border crazy(We are literally on the other side of the border, btw). Christmas was awesome, we found some chispitas and other fun stuff and played with them on the roof Christmas night. We then had our late Christmas after bringing our packages home from Villa on Wednesday, Elder Randolph's family sent him the 12 days of Christmas with tons of packages, and a stocking for me too. It was crazy. and I got the best package ever from my loving family. Thank you so much for everything. Haley, O Holy Night is also one of my favorite Christmas songs, don't you worry! I made a sick Motab CD with pure Christmas music and we've been listening to it ever since October (I was so prepared for Christmas, right?)

Well we've been working alot, but in new ways, and we see it working a lot here in our area. Along with teaching investigators, we have a list of 50 families in our ward, with whom we also make priority to visit and edify every day. It is working! And strangely (more like miraculously, because the Lord is not strange in His work) it works all around! We had more investigators in church than normal, and the attendance went up this week in church! We had 8 investigators in the sacrament meeting, and 12 less-actives. There's an easy 20 more people coming closer to Christ this week. It was way cool. We usually count just the investigators, but as of last week I started counting the recent converts and less-actives too, and keeping track of them. It is so cool to see them progressing! But now the only thing that worries us is keeping them here, because we are trying so hard to convert people to Christ (and NOT to us). Like instead of having them come for us, they know that they're coming for the Lord, and that is what makes it count. That is what makes me want to stay in the mission, is seeing these people PROGRESS. Even if they're already members, it is just so awesome seeing them come back into the fold. Now, seriously, our only hard part is to make sure they feel good about the transition of returning to the branch again and interacting with the members and leaders. If you think there's drama in your wards in the states, WOOO its nothing compared to MY branch here. I guess there's drama anywhere you go, but this is like a straight up novela some times. I swear, I feel like we are in a novela some days with the stuff that happens here.

Bad news: Elder Carpio came back from his mission, I guess he didn't feel worthy there in the mission, and is coming back. In fact his plane flight should be coming back at this very second landing in Villa. His parents were way upset when they heard the news, President's wife called us and told us, and so we went and comforted his family that day (Friday). Who knows how the branch will react. If you have any helping or comforting words, feel free to share them with me (to share with him), it would be very much appreciated. I check my email often, for emails from the elders and secretaries, so you can send it soon (if you feel so). I know there are a few Elders who have had to return early too, and your counsel could be more helpful than mine for him because you've been in his shoes. Thank you.
I love you all. 2 months and we'll all be working together at home. Lots of people to help over there too, ya know :)

Love, Elder Knight

P.S. I found this quote last night on the back of a DVD box.  It's called "On the Lord's Errand", its about the life of President Thomas S. Monson.  I borrowed it and watched it today in between washing clothes this morning at Atilana's house.  Here' the marvelous quote that I love (note: there is an edit....)

" The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that is was the fulfillment of someone's prayer or someone's need.  And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, [Trevor Knight] will run that errand for Him."