Feliz Cumpleanos! Mordida! Mordida!

This past week was my dad’s birthday and I was a pretty bummed that I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate with him and the family or even at least call him to wish him a happy birthday. His day is the 22nd and it just so happened that two of my favorite people out here in New Mexico had birthdays on the 21st and the 23rd. As much as I wish I could’ve been celebrating with my family back at home this week, it was nice to feel like I was a part of a family out here too… and I definitely ended up getting my fair share of party-ing.

On the 21st one of our investigator families, Familia Trejo, invited us over for dinner to celebrate Geovana’s birthday. She refers to us missionaries as her niños and niñas, and I love that. The 23rd was Hermana Dominguez’s birthday and she threw an all out party yesterday evening to celebrate. She even took us out shopping last p-day to make sure we had new outfits for her big day. Her family are returning less-actives that have pretty much adopted us.

After lighting the candles and singing happy birthday, it’s Hispanic tradition to chant "Mor-di-da! Mor-di-da! Mor-di-da!" This means "bite it!" because the birthday girl or boy is always suppose to take the first bite of the cake. Usually in the process of doing so, they end up getting their face shoved into it. It’s one of my new favorite traditions.

I’m seriously so blessed to have so many good people in my life, both here in Albuquerque and all of you back at home. As always, thank you for your love, support and prayers. You guys are the best. Les amo con todo mi corazon! and Happy Birthday Dad, I hope it was a good one!

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Yahaira’s Baptism

YAHAIRA GOT BAPTIZED!! I have been teaching this amazing little girl since my very first week here and this past Saturday she was finally baptized! The place was packed with fans and loved ones, and she was all smiles. The day’s festivities included homemade Posole and a bounce house. These New Mexicans know how to do it right.

There’s not much else to say except that wow, this Gospel blesses lives. I came across a quote in a missionary manual the other day that said that missionaries get a "front row seat to the greatest miracle of all: the effect of Christ’s Atonement on individuals and families." How true that is and how thankful I am to get to be apart of helping others to come unto Him.

Nutella and Banana Pancakes

Time is flying! I apologize for how long it’s been since I last sent out an update. It’s been a crazy month. I officially graduated from the 12 week training program for new missionaries only to jump right back into it, this time on the other side, as a trainer. What a learning experience that has been! I love my greenie, Hermana Sinibaldi. She’s a recent convert to the church and a native Spanish speaker from Gautemala, and honestly she probably ought to be the "trainer" in this companionship because I am learning SO much from her.

I’m happy, healthy, and learning and growing a ton. I love being a missionary.

My focus in studies has increasingly become more focused on Christ, His doctrine and the Atonement. I can’t seem to get enough of the New Testament, the book Jesus the Christ, and chapters in the Book of Mormon about our Savior. Recently I came across verse 15 in Alma chapter 6, that states: "And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come." I thought that was pretty cool. As members of the church we wear the nickname of "Mormon," but first and foremost we are Christians. We are Christians in the truest sense of the title: followers of Jesus Christ.

With that in mind, my companion and I have made it our goal to be better representatives of His name. This is a goal we’ve been inviting the members here to take up as well. This can be done in a whole lot of different ways, whether through directly sharing testimony of who Jesus Christ was or by doing as He did and helping others. Hermana Sinibaldi is awesome at both. That girl never leaves a conversation with out sharing her testimony is some way or another, and she always jumps right in to help those in need. Her kindness isn’t limited to any type of person. I think she really, genuinely loves everyone. I’ve been the lucky recipient of her Christ-like service on more than one occasion, my favorite times being when she has made pancakes topped with nutella and bananas. Que rico!

This week, both for those of you that consider yourself Christian and for those that maybe don’t, I’d challenge you to look for opportunities to do as Christ might do. Get creative with it (making nutella and banana pancakes for someone most definitely counts). See for yourself what kind of happiness it can bring to live life following in His footsteps.

My faith in Christ grows by the day. He was more than mere man. He was in reality who He claimed to be, the Son of God. He performed miracles. He lived humbly and died willingly to provide the way home for all. In Him we can find true happiness.

As always, thank you all for your letters, prayers and support. Les quiero!