Trusting in what He has in store

So this past Saturday evening pretty much everything that Hermana Duran and I had planned fell through (that happens from time to time). We’d tried every back up plan to no avail and weren’t too sure what else to do. I remembered the name of a lady that we had been told might be interested, so we put her address into the GPS and headed that way. Even with the GPS I wasn’t super confident that we’d be able to find the house in the dark, but we gave it a shot.

Clearly marked house numbers in that particular neighborhood aren’t really a thing so we counted and then walked up to the house that we thought might be the one we were looking for. A man named Diego answered. He had no idea who the lady we were looking for was or where she might live, but he was friendly and chatted with us for a bit. We asked if we could sing him a song and he invited us in to introduce us to his wife and have us sing to the both of them. We sang "I am a Child of God" and then talked about what they were feeling. They liked the peace that was there in their home.

We learned that Diego was big on books and had accumulated a pretty impressive library over his lifetime. We asked if he’d ever read the account of when Christ came to the Americas. That spiked his interest. We gave a brief explanation to what the Book of Mormon is and how it could help them to continue to have peace in their home. He was excited to add a copy of it to his collection and we set up a time to come back and read it together.

God has a plan. He works in the details of our lives and guides our everyday. He speaks to us through the scriptures saying, "this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." He’s actively working for our benefit and welfare. When things may not go our way and we may feel unsure of what to make of what seems like a broken situation, we can trust that there are still great things in store. We just have to do the things that are within our power to do and then leave the rest of Him.

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Kickin things off here in Cruces

Things here in Las Cruces have started off great! My companion, Hermana Duran, is the best. Like I mentioned a little while back she’s from the Dominican Republic and still learning English, so we help each other out a lot when it comes to learning the others’ language. You wouldn’t ever guess that she’s just started her mission with all the wisdom she’s already got stored up. She’s a great teacher and a sweet friend. I’m looking forward to all that our time together will have in store.

We had a great experience yesterday. It was the monthly fast Sunday, so we took the opportunity to fast to find new people to teach. We were fasting both for our companionship and for our zone because as a companionship we inherited the people that the previous missionaries in the area had been teaching, but since arriving here in Las Cruces we still had yet to find anybody new to teach. Also, as a zone we had set the goal to collectively find 20 new individuals to teach this week. We know there are people out there searching for exactly what we have to offer and that God will lead us to those that He is preparing to receive this message of hope.

After church we got out to work. We went to try by a former investigator, and as we got out of our car there was a man parked not too far off fixing his own car. I thought about going and talking to him, but we weren’t in the nicest of neighborhoods and he looked tough and tatted and made me nervous. So instead we went straight to the door of the former investigator. She wasn’t home and I was feeling bad for not talking to the first person we saw, so we talked to everyone else we could catch around the complex. Not much more came out of that than a few polite no thank you’s. We headed back to where we had parked and I noticed that same man was still out fixing his car a little ways off. It was starting to get dark by then and he still made me nervous, so we got into our car and started on to the next plan. As we were driving, I recalled a man we had met that very morning in church. He too was a little rough around the edges, but went out of his way to catch us, shake our hands and thank us for what we were doing as missionaries. He told us that two "angels" just like ourselves had changed his life. A few years back he had been out fixing his car and saw these two nicely dressed girls walking in his neighborhood. They caught his attention because they seemed so out of place and he was actually convinced that they just might have been angels. He told us that they easily could’ve walked right past him, but they didn’t. They stopped and talked to him and because of that he came to know his Savior and was able to change his life entirely. He told us not to ever let fear trump faith, that if we ever felt like we needed to talk to someone, we should step out in faith and do it. With his words ringing loudly in my mind I hit the brakes and put the car in park right where we were. Hermana Duran looked at me confused and I told her we needed to talk to that man we had walked past, and then I hopped out of the car and walked back to him. He was just headed into his house, so I called out to him and we started up a conversation. His name was Freddy and despite tough appearances, we quickly learned what a good person he was. Hermana Duran and I told him of his Savior’s love and it touched his heart. He told us he had been going through a tough divorce and that it was really good to meet people like us because he had been trying to accept Christ into his life and make a new start. He was so humble and good hearted. We talked more about what we do as missionaries and how the whole reason we’re out here is to help people get closer to Christ. He liked the sound of that, so we set up a time to come back and left him with a prayer.

From there we went to try by a media referral that hadn’t been home the last 3 times we had knocked on her door. We were about ready to give up on trying by her, but we felt like that’s where we needed to be so we went. This time she was there and she quickly invited us into her home. She told us that her name was Wendy and that her mom had been meeting with missionaries down in Juarez. Her mom had told her good things about her experience and so Wendy was interested in learning more for herself. We told her how important she is to her Father in Heaven and she began to cry, telling us that she’d had a rough day and had been asking God to let her know He was listening and there. We told her that it was no coincidence that we had found her right then and that our words were an answer directly from Him. We set up a time to come back and left her with a prayer.

There is a God. He is the Father of our spirits and he loves us very much. He places us in each others’ paths. He wants us to help each other make it back home to Him. If we’re willing and prepared to listen, He’ll let us know where we need to be and what we need to say.

Las Cruces, NM

My new companion’s name is Hermana Duran and she gets to the mission field this Wednesday! We’ll be serving in Las Cruces, New Mexico and I am SO pumped! Pictures to come next week 🙂 love you guys!

Hard Goodbyes and New Beginnings: President Thomas S. Monson and a Training Call

This past Friday the funeral services were held for our prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He has served as president of the church for half of my life and has been in a position of leadership for as far back as I can remember. I love him and I know I’m not alone in saying that he will be very missed.

One of my favorite Thomas S. Monson sayings is "we can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." This week that thought has become all the more relevant to my own life as I received news from my mission president that I will be leaving the Rio Grande area to open a new area and train an incoming missionary. Getting blown around a lot is just a part of mission experience. I’m sad to go, but excited for a new adventure. It is a very bittersweet feeling.

Something that put a smile on my face and will hopefully do the same for you is this link to a clip of President Monson’s famous ear wiggle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuWJoCGdC-4

Also, if you haven’t already seen it, here is a link to the full length video of his funeral services:

https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/president-monson-funeral-service?cid=HP_TU_16-1-2018_dPFD_fBROADCAST_xLIDyL2-2_

This morning the new First Presidency was officially announced. Russell M. Nelson has been called as the 17th Prophet and President of the church, and President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring will serve as his counselors. To learn more about this, here’s another link:

https://www.lds.org/church/news/new-first-presidency-speaks-to-members-worldwide?cid=HP_TU_16-1-2018_dPAD_fMNWS_xLIDyL1-A_&lang=eng

I’ll have more details about where exactly I’m headed next week. The best mailing address to continue to write me at is the mission office:

4400 Presidential Dr NE Ste E
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Love and miss you all! Thank you for the prayers, support and love. Have a great week 🙂

2018

Happy New Year! I don’t have too much time to write this week, but for all of you that are trying to make New Year’s resolutions happen here’s one of my favorite quotes about committing oneself to something:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” -W.H. Murray

Here’s to 2018 being the best year yet!

 

Remembering Mary and Joseph

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas y una Navidad bien feliz! I was well taken care of this year by many different families here in our ward. I got to spend the holiday surrounded by friends and stuffed with good food! I hope the same was true for all of you 🙂

I know it’s officially the 26th, but if it’s alright, I wanted to share one last Christmas message before the season comes to a close. This past week I reflected a lot on the Nativity story. It’s one that most of us have heard for all of our lives. Mary was visited by an angel and she was told that she would be the mother of the Son of God. Christ was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. A star in the heavens led the shepherds and the wise men to the babe. This little infant would grow and go onto perform many miracles, preach peace, be put to death at the hands of an angry mob and ultimately, provide the way home for all of us. It’s a familiar tale.

This year the part of the story where the Savior of the world was born in a stable, struck me in a way that it never had before. His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, had willingly submitted to the great responsibility of bringing this important soul into the world. They surely felt the pressure of such a task and would’ve wanted to do all they could to provide the best for Him. Yet there they were, weary travelers in Bethlehem just hours away from the arrival of their newborn baby, unable to find any form of refuge anywhere in that city. There was no room in the inn. That’s a pretty valid cause for a little frustration and heartache, maybe even a little questioning why.

Elder Anderson of the quorum of the twelve Apostles teaches, "Remembering Mary reminds us that many of the sorrows, difficulties, uncertainties, and challenges that confront us should not be seen as heaven’s disfavor but rather as defining moments in our lives- opportunities to go forward in faith, realizing that the full purposes of the Lord will be understood, if not at that very moment, then later."

Think of all that was gained because of the humble circumstances of His birth. No one need ever feel alone in rejection or time of hardship. When all may seem hopeless, when tough times come- tough times that we may feel undeserving of or confused about why it had to be us, why it had to be then and in that way, that’s when we ought to remember Christ.

He is our Savior and our friend. He knows our thoughts and our hearts. He understands because He’s personally felt it. He’s been there.

It’s all part of the plan. There is a divine hand at work in our lives. Our Heavenly Father loves us. That’s why He sent His son and that’s why He allows trials. It’s to help us grow and progress. Recognizing and trusting in that makes all the difference.

Merry Christmas!

He lives who once was dead

In one of the conferences I got to attend while Elder Renlund was here, he talked about the play "the Passion of Christ." It’s this 6 hour long production that’s put on every 10 years in a little town in Germany. It’s a historical event that’s been happening since like the 1600’s and it’s a pretty big deal. This play is all about the end of Christ’s ministry, His final moments here on earth. Elder Renlund, who saw it with his wife, described it saying that the whole 6 hours crescendo into the crucifixion and that it’s just an overwhelmingly powerful scene. But then in the final 5 minutes, the man who plays Jesus just stands there on the stage. He stands there while an actor representing an angel reads the part of the New Testament that talks about resurrection. At that point Elder Renlund’s wife, Ruth, leaned over to him and said, "They’re not sure. They’re not sure what resurrection means." If, as commonly believed, God is a Spirit that is everywhere and nowhere all at once, then what does it mean to be resurrected into a body of flesh and bone?

We believe in a literal resurrection, and to me that makes all the difference. We have a Father in Heaven who loves us very much. He is the all powerful Creator, but He is not a free floating, abstract mass of spirit. The scriptures teach that we are created in His image. Our bodies are not an accidental design. They are a mirror image of His perfect form. Because He loves us, He sent His Son to earth. Christ lived, He set the example and laid out the path that would make it possible for us to get back to our heavenly home. He died for us, and then He lived again. He lives today. Our Father in heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ want us to be happy. They want us to make it home safely.

In a different conference with Elder Renlund last weekend, he again touched on the topic of resurrection. He talked about the tsunami that hit Indonesia on Christmas day in 2004. It was devastating. The leaders of the church gathered together to discuss what they could say to people who had endured great challenges and difficulties in their lives. One leader offered a lengthy, eloqent answer that Elder Renlund said was so nicely put that it could probably have gone into the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Then another leader, namely Elder Holland, popped up and said, "I have a simpler answer. Tell them He is not here. He is risen."

"This changes everything for everybody forever." -Elder Renlund

There’s an awesome short clip on youtube called "Because of Him" that further illustrates this point. I think it’s a video that everyone should see, so if you haven’t yet, here’s a link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S3TI4bYerU

Generally Christmas time is when we place the focus on the Savior’s birth and Easter is the time for celebrating
His resurrection. But really, they are one in the same. He was born! He lived and then He lived again! He has conquered death and because He lives we will too. Separation from loved ones is only temporary. Families can be together forever. This is the message of hope that underlies all the happiness of the Christmas season. This is what it’s all about.

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! He lives!