Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mexico Week 16 -- Ups and Downs

 My Dear Sweet Favorite Family! 

I think I have a new love and they are called mangoes! For real, I am like Marley from Marley and Me! The fruit in the picture is called a pitalla! They are the weirdest things but I really do like them! Umm, I also decided that I would like Nutella!  Fun fact ... I like avocados! I always said that I didn’t but I actually haven’t tried them. I tried them and now I know that I like them! Also, Hermana Gudelia in our ward makes and sells the most incredible ice cream. It’s like the family business!  It is all natural and there a gal that makes the cones out back from batter.  Seriously, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I don’t think any ice cream will ever top it!  Okay, I think that covers everything that has to do with food :)

Mom, kids are loving your treats here! Seriously, you should see kids faces when we put the towels in water!  So fun!  Sometimes we take the simplest of things for granted, like towels from the dollar store with characters on them, or using a box of crayons with more than eight colors, or markers that smell!  I love watching them get so excited as they experience these for the first time.  It is such a great reminder to appreciate the smallest and most simple things in life.

I got to see Hermana Mansfield this week! She’s had two trainers and they’ve both returned home early from their missions.  She’s struggling a little bit and is with the sister training leaders. She is still working on finishing her training program.  I will never stop having gratitude for Hermana Valdez.  I am amazed by Hermana Mansfield’s determination and strong will to just roll with the punches!

This week for stake conference we went to the chapel that is right next to the temple!  It is outside of our mission boundaries, so who knows when we will get to return, but it was so pretty!  The Infante family brought us.  How awesome is it that y’all are Facebook buds and rockin pictures for Tyler! 

I have a question for you guys! One of the hermanas in our ward has a twin sister in the mission field and her sister asked her what blessings they have received from her being on a mission. I thought that was an interesting question and you should all hit me up with a response! 

Well much happened this week...good and bad! 

First things first, Antonio loved his GIANT Book of Mormon!  He could totally see everything and it made such a difference in his ability to read.  We were so excited to see him later in the week and see how far he had gotten.  We went to clean the house again on Friday!  His bathroom and bedroom under the direction of Claudia!  Not gonna lie, they were pretty nasty, but that’s what service is all about right?  A couple of days later, I just got really frustrated with this old fart.  It’s like on paper he’s doing all of the right things, but he just doesn’t feel it.  I’ve really been dumping my heart out to Heavenly Father every day. In our weekly planning, we planned a whole hour just for him. I just felt like we received a ton of revelation for him.  Before his lesson on Friday, we studied a ton, we practiced and felt the spirit so strong.  We were going to rock this Word of Wisdom lesson! I was so pumped to teach Him! 

So we start teaching, we are teaching so good together and really feeling the spirit, I can see it in Hermana Antonio’s eyes too that he’s really listening. ‘I said things that I know didn’t come from me.  Well at the end of the lesson, some kind of switch flips and he gets fired up telling us that drinking coffee isn’t a commandment from God.  Also that he doesn’t need to repent for all of the adultery that he committed because it’s natural.  Actually, he said he won’t pray to know if it’s a commandment or not.  He’s still fired up and I just felt the spirit really strong and told him that we respected him a lot.  We know that we have a lot to learn from his life of experience, and then I asked him for his respect.  Because even though we are young, we have experiences too.  We are representatives of Jesus Christ that invite people to come unto Christ and to know Him and His laws and how we are going to make it home.  We are not going to force him, but we are giving him the opportunity to know the truth. Then I asked him to say the closing prayer.  He had this look on his face and his tone of voice completely changed and he said he would offer the closing prayer. 

Leaving there, I was thinking so much about Carlos Contreras ... another night we left after a rough lesson.  It is truly heartbreaking when we leave a house and even a desire to know the truth or follow it isn’t there.  Actually, I started thinking about Heavenly Father.  He taught all of His kids for who knows how long.  He taught every single one of us the plan.  He loved us so much and knew exactly what we needed to make it back to Him.  And yet, a third of his kids said no.  I can’t even imagine how he felt.  Missionaries like Abinadi and Alma loved people and they taught people who rejected the message too.  The truth is, it is hard because you love them.  For as frustrated as he makes me, I just love the heck out of him.  He prays for health every single day but also drinks coffee every day.  He has chronic health issues and won’t follow the directions from the doctor.  Sometimes I just want to say, “Hey buddy, you can’t pray for health every day and ignore Heavenly Fathers health code.”  

I started thinking about the things that I’m praying for.  Am I following the counsel Heavenly Father has given me?  Praying with faith means that we do something, we try something.  He’s answering us, He’s giving us the counsel.  Obedience is so important and it is the answer to everything.  We just have to have the faith that He loves us and His commandments are loving instructions.  Then, we have to show our love and obey.  Half obedience means half blessings. We can’t receive a blessing without obedience to the law upon which it was predicated. 

So, the other day, we visited Hermana Ester.  I told her sorry for not having more patience with her husband and explained what we taught and how he responded.  I told her how I felt and afterward, we sang some hymns.  We taught her how to pray in her mind the last time and asked her if she’s been praying.  She told us yes and that she feels better when she prays.  We prayed before we left and I held her hand like I always do, but her hands are super limp. While we were praying, with the tips of her fingers, she squeezed my hand. It was the most incredible thing and I know that sometimes our Heavenly Father answers prayers through other people.  Ah, it was just one of those mission moments that I am never going to forget. 

So Hermana Claudia took my blood pressure this week and it was super high, like wow, never been that high before!  It kind of freaked me out and I realized how stressed I have been.  In this past General Conference David A. Bednar said "I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone - through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.  It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us, but we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us, not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us."  Wow!  Is that true or what?  When I was set apart and also when I received a blessing before leaving the MTC, both talked about learning more fully how to come unto Christ. I think sometimes I think that I just have to work really hard, like really, really hard, and after, I can feel His love, approval, and forgiveness.  I think I’m starting to learn that this is not how it works.  I think the lesson I need to learn is that we can feel these things every step of the way. I know that the Savior lives and I know that one of my biggest trials is to overcome my perfection problems and let Him love me and let Him help me. Good thing I’m firming up this relationship with Him right now! I hope that someday my kids can read this stuff and hopefully they can learn from my challenges and I can be somewhat of an example for them! 

I love you all so much!  I’m a little jealous that I am missing out on graduation and Nat and Tony this week but know that I love y’all tons!

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