Once again a great week down here in the volcano. (It's actually a little cooler lately. Mid-80s or so. Positively freezing! ... not really. Still sweating all day. Oh well.) But the sun is shining and the work always moves forward. I'm just excited to be a part of it. Even with challenges, it's always a lot of fun.
That's about all I've got for this week... just kidding. Some other things happened too. One thing was Thanksgiving! Well, sort of. They don't celebrate it here. We were thinking about fixing up something special for dinner, but 1, we don't really having the culinary appliances (or know-how) to make many things, and 2, we were fasting all day. It was kind of a weird experience, fasting on Thanksgiving. Definitely a first.
Nonetheless, the spirit of Thanksgiving was still there, at least for me. I focused on all the blessings I have in my life and the wonderful experiences I've had and people I know. I realized that with all of those good things, there's no room for any sadness or disappointment in my life. It's hard to be sad when you think about your blessings. We've all been very blessed in our lives, and those blessings and experiences can help us when tough times come.
Speaking of fasting - we fasted on Thursday because on Friday we had the chance to go to the Temple! Believe me, it was a wonderful opportunity; I've really missed being able to go. Our entire zone went. As it happened, my comp and I got a little lost getting there - based on some misinformation about combi routes - and we arrived at the temple right after they started the session. So, instead, we got to do initiatories for about an hour and a half. I hadn't done them vicariously before, and it was a really neat experience. It really gave me a spiritual boost and a good feeling that's stayed with me since. It was a great opportunity. (Side note: I started my journal entry for Thanksgiving this way - "Thanksgiving! Day 100! Wow! What a bird!" haha. Just thought I'd throw that in there for you, Dad, you know that book we read about Mexico)
I had a cool experience with prayer and the influence of the Spirit this week. A couple days back, we were planning for the next day and wanted to visit with a less active, so we decided to pray for specific guidance as to who we should visit. I said the prayer, and immediately afterward picked up the list of members in the ward. The first name I looked at was of a less-active family nearby that we've visited once before. We decided to pass by them the following day. Next day comes, we go to the house, and the 17-year-old daughter answers. We talk with her for a while, and turns out her younger sister's sick with dengue. We ask if she wants a blessing, and she accepts. We give her the blessing, it's a cool experience, and we leave the house feeling really good about it.
That alone would have been enough. But then yesterday at church, the 17-year-old shows up. She hasn't been in a couple months, so that was another blessing right there. Now, the ward secretary is a single guy, maybe 25 years old, and he had brought a friend of his to church - a girl about the same age (a woman, I guess) who's not a member but interested in finding out more. The less-active girl and the nonmember were at some point introduced, and by the end of the meeting it was like they'd been best friends forever. They were talking and laughing and everything. We're going to follow up with the nonmember later this week, but it was clear that she had a really good experience at church, and that was largely due to the other girl's influence. It was yet another testament to me of how we really are in the work of the Lord and are guided by His hand. Who knows what will happen from here on out or whose lives might be changed, and all because of a simple prayer for guidance. I thought that whole sequence of events was really cool.
This weekend we're most likely going to have a baptism. His name is Raymundo - his wife was baptized a couple months back. He's had problems with alcohol and lots of other things, but he's really humble right now and has repented and wants to change his life. He doesn't know how to read or write, though, so teaching him is sometimes a little slow, and plus he's been gone for the last two weeks; he just got back last night. He still wants to be baptized this Saturday, but we're going to see how it goes. If not this weekend, most likely the next. He really has a lot of faith and is the perfect example of humility.
One other thing I wanted to share - Mosiah 21:19. I read that scripture this morning and spent quite a while studying and thinking about it. It talks about how King Limhi doesn't want to leave the city without his guards, because in some way or another the Lamanites might attack him. I really like the words the verse uses. I thought about how it compares to us spiritually - we never know when or how temptation will hit us, and the natural man can't be trusted in a situation like that. So first, we need to be humble and recognize situations where we might be tempted. Also, we need to remember to bring our "guards" with us. We don't know when or where we might be tempted, so we have to be prepared to face whatever comes. Guards can be things like prayer, faith, testimony, scripture study, obedience, family, church attendance. The basics of the gospel, really. They protect us against the world and against the natural man. If we make sure we're surrounded by those things every time we leave the house, we'll be protected against whatever might come against us.
Now for some questions from last week's letter.
Gabbie (my favorite sister... shh, don't tell Miranda): Hey Gabs! Sounds like you got lots of cool things from Lisa and Laura's trip to Egypt. Where are my presents? Haha. You mentioned in your email that you were playing hide and seek tag with the Bowns. I remember playing that all the time... we don't get to play much on the mission though. :) When I get back home, I'm going to have lots of catching up to do, so better start practicing now! It sounds like you're having lots of fun with everything that's going on, though, which is awesome. Keep having fun! It also sounds like you're getting ready for Christmas - man, I can't believe it's almost Christmas! It's going to be different being away from home, and probably different without me there. Just pretend I'm there though, and you can have all my presents. :) I'm going to find you some sort of cool present from Mexico, but I might have to give it to you at the end of my mission. :) Thanksgiving at Greg's sounds like lots of fun - actually, everything you've been up to sounds like fun. Gabs, Ilove you, and I'm glad you're doing well. Keep it up! Love you!
Miranda (my other favorite sister. haha): Have you been down to the DMV yet? Let me know when you do get your license. (Also, when you get into your first accident. Haha... just kidding, I have complete confidence in you.) It's pretty exciting that you're about ready to be driving on your own and everything. Time sure flies. Mom says you bought a pass to Sundance - that sounds really fun. I've been to Brighton (broke my thumb there, remember?) and Snowbird (lots of fun), but never actually snowboarded or anything at Sundance - so you'll have to tell me how well you learn to board, all of that. Sounds like everything is going well - keep up the good work! How your Spanish? Mine's doing okay. :) Let me know how school and everything goes. Keep working hard and playing hard too. I love you very much. :)
Mom - I'm glad to hear your birthday went well, and that Thanksgiving did too.Thanks for the help all those years with making me write down my homework - I finally see the value of writing down goals and making plans. I laughed a lot when you told me about Reagan moving your seat while you're driving. That little boy is a road hazard, but it does make driving a lot more interesting. Haha. I'm glad he's been doing so well lately, especially with swimming and everything. It also made me feel good to hear that he still gets excited when he sees my picture. Not that I'm glad that he misses me or anything, but you know what I mean - it's a feeling of love. I'll keep you posted on when I receive letters and packages and stuff. Thanks, by the way. :) I love you very much and I hope you have a great week!
Dad: I'm really excited for your mailed letter - can't wait to read all about everything.
I think it's cool that Lisa and Laura were able to bring you back a rock from the pyramids and the Nile to go with your collection of pieces o Hardian's Wall, Machu Picchu, Blarney Castle ... Eventually you'll have stolen a piece of every country in the world! I thought Josh Aiken's questions were really cool - tell him I'm absolutely loving the mission. It's cool that he showed that much interest in it and everything.
My Spanish is coming along pretty well. I won't say I understand everything, by any means, but I can follow and participate in most every conversation, and it's easy to ask for clarification if I need it. I speak Spanish with my comp most of the time - English when I need to or when we want to express ourselves better, though. We teach about 25 lessons a week and do about 90 door-knocking contacts, on average.
As always, I have much more to say, but we're short on time.I love you very much. Thanks for everything, Dad.
Well, everyone, have a great week and remember that I love you all very very much. Can't wait to hear from you next week. Everything's great here.