Espero que todos se encuentran bien de salud, animos, y situaciones. Ojalá que todos podamos seguir el Espíritu en esta semana que acaba de empezar y pedirle ayuda a nuestro Padre Celestial para poder soportar las pruebas que siempre vienen. También espero que siempre recordemos y veamos la belleza de este mundo y que podamos tener un poco más de alegría al poder vivir aquí y tener esta experiencia mortal. :)
The first thing that you'll probably notice is that I'm writing from a new email address- MyLDSMail recently made a program switch over to Google mail (everything eventually ends up at Google, huh?). All the old mail is transferred over, so there shouldn't be any problems. The new system should work better, and maybe it'll be easier to upload photos now, too.
This week was wonderful. Honestly, just when I think things can't get better, they do. And I know I've said something to that effect many times throughout my mission - that's because it just never stops! It's almost like, Okay, now it's as good as I can ask for - and then Heavenly Father just pours out more blessings. That then makes me more grateful, more humble, more obedient, and more desirous to serve and work hard, which of course leads to further blessings. Kind of a neat cycle, huh? :)
We continued teaching the three kids I mentioned last week - Diego, Sergio, and Victor. They're going to be baptized on Saturday. :) They've made some amazing changes in their lives, and I've only known them for just over a week now - it's incredible how receptive they are to the Spirit and how willing they are to listen, learn, and apply the message of the restored Gospel. They brought their mom to church yesterday and she seemed to enjoy it a lot. The fact that her kids are changing is starting to change her attitude as well, and we're going to continue teaching her. I think soon enough she'll accept the baptismal invitation as well. The kids have gone from stealing and talking back to behaving, working hard in school, and being really nice to their mom. It's a cool difference to see, and having the gift of the Holy Ghost will help them continue progressing. It's going to be a good weekend.:)
We're continuing to teach Maritza as well, and she's doing well with her Book of Mormon reading and prayers, so all good on that front. We've worked a lot with members and less actives this week too, and five of the inactives showed up at church yesterday! We had 95 people in sacrament meeting yesterday, which is about 20 higher than what we saw a month or so ago. Oh, and remember Carlos, the less active I talked about? Well, he's been completely reactivated now; he was set apart yesterday as second counselor in the YM presidency. He's really excited about his calling. He gets along really well with the teenagers and they seem to have a lot of fun with him too. I love seeing him at church and at Mutual and how he's working hard and helping others in the ward. Again, it's amazing the changes that the gospel can have on people's lives, and a blessing to see and be a part of it firsthand. Missionary work rocks. :)
Something interesting that I forgot to mention last week - I met a sister in the ward who used to live in Orem - in an apartment complex "right over by Gold's Gym and the mall," she told me. So, basically, in Grandma's backyard. I didn't have a chance to talk to her very much, and she has a stake calling so I can't always find her at church, but I'd be interested to know what ward she was in. Mom, can you ask your mom the name of her bishop or something? And if she happened to meet someone in church who is from Tabasco? :) hah. It was a pretty neat coincidence, though, and cool to talk to her.
I mentioned that this week was wonderful, and it truly was. We worked hard and saw the fruits of that labor yesterday, in addition to experiences throughout the week. I had several neat experiences personally throughout the week, too. I discovered (invented? haha) a few things in my Patriarchal Blessing this week, and said to myself (like Reagans little autistic classmate, who only knows these two words) "What the!" I also wondered, "When did they slip that in there?" I swear that document is like the Liahona; the writing seems to change when I'm faced with different situations, problems, questions, and experiences. It's amazing how much I can learn each time I read through it. Right now I'm studying "being faithful to the Lord," since it seems my blessing mentions it at least a dozen times - even though I don't remember noticing it before. :) I've learned that being faithful has a lot to do with loyalty - meaning that we rely on and stick with the Lord, whether things are good or bad in our lives. Like you said, Dad, we do need to pray and seek the Lord's help in everything, and then be loyal and make good choices and govern our lives as best we can, learning valuable lessons along the way. Sometimes His way of teaching us is by letting us make decisions on our own and through trial and error. He'll help us avoid the wrong decisions, but if something isn't necessarily UNrighteous, maybe He'll just leave it up to us so that we really learn through experience. I liked what you said about this life being the time for us to practice. I think that's true. We're not going to get it right the first time - that's where faithfulness comes in; we need to stick with it, trust in the Lord, and do our best, knowing that things will come out all right in the end. This reminds me of something Mike Lanham said to me in a letter once; he was talking about missionary work, but it applies to all of us. He said, "If you just walk out the door and stick your finger in the air and the Spirit tells you where to go, you're not going to learn very much." The example of a father teaching his child how to ride a bike is an apt one. Heavenly Father will help us throughout our lives and will always be there for us, but sometimes He lets go of the bike, lets us make our own decisions to help us practice and learn and grow. Anyway, I'm discovering some great things through reading and pondering my Patriarchal Blessing and it's been really cool. I've felt the Spirit's guidance more overtly this week and felt more than once a specific prompting followed by immediate blessings when I obeyed the counsel. It's really cool to have that sort of thing happen and I hope to be able to continue progressing and growing this coming week.
Man, this week's letter is a good one. (They're always good, but I meant in terms of length... and quality too. Good all around. Good job, family.) Time for a few preguntas and respuestas.
Miranda - Sheesh, that's quite an email! Or letter, I guess, since you wrote it by hand. (Don't you people have jobs? haha - I know that's a movie quote, Dad, help me out on this one). Seriously, though, very cool. What you said at the beginning about attitude is completely true and a very good thing to know. Much of life depends on how you look at things and your perspective. I remember reading a couple Conference talks quite a while ago about optimism and staying positive, and they gave some really good counsel. Optimism is something I've always felt I had, but it's something we need to practice and work at, because sometimes life gets a little tough. But really, your attitude makes all the difference. The problems are going to come (ir)regardless, but you can't do anything to fix them if you spend all your time whining about it - plus, if you're complaining all the time, maybe the Lord might send you another trial just to teach you a lesson. :) The best way to do things is just to be happy and be obedient. Not always easy, but always worth it. The snowmobile jump sounds pretty awesome. That's something I've never done - snowmobiling in general, I mean. I'll have to give it a shot when I get home. It sounds like you had some good times up at Kelsey's cabin and in the snow and caves and such. Also, your classes for next year sound pretty cool. A lot of my friends took medical anatomy and they said they really liked it. As for dissecting things - we dissected frogs once in biology, but that's all I remember. It wasn't terrible... but good luck haha. :) Computer tech is fun and easy, same with PE (obviously). Seminary is a great one, and I loved Film Lit. It's with Saxton, right? Man, I loved that class. You basically watch movies and music videos all the time, and your homework is either to watch something or write about it. So you're having fun, and at the same time learning a lot about film techniques and other cool things. The Shakespeare class sounds neat too. I've really liked everything I've read by Shakespeare, and I think it would be cool to take a class at college when I get home. It would be sweet if you can do that internship, and likely help you out a lot for your future. The rest of your classes sound good too. Who are your teachers?
Your insights and comments about Alma 51 and the Sunday School lesson were pretty cool. I liked what you said about how we waste time (and make things worse) fighting in the wrong place, when we should be focusing on our spiritual preparation. And, all too often, we fight against the people who are on our side (like family, friends, going to church, etc.), making us more vulnerable to temptation and sin. Captain Moroni's an amazing example of getting things done and fighting the battles that really matter in life. I like that whole last half of Alma a lot. It sounds like you're learning a lot and really taking the scriptures to heart - keep it up! And keep telling me what you learn, too; it helps me in my own study and understanding.
The new phones sounds awesome. Everybody commented about them in the email. :) Also, exciting to hear about lacrosse - congratulations! That's really exciting. Have you started practicing yet? When does the season begin?
Well, Miranda, as always, thank you very much for writing and sharing about what's going on, and for being a good example to me. Keep working hard and having fun, and remember to enjoy life the best you can. :) I love you very much! Have a great week!
Gabbie! - Haha that just reminded me for some reason of the video Dad made: "The Gabbie Show". :) Remember Mean Man and "Crazy Horses"? That was pretty funny. We'll catch up on mean man when I get home - even though I'm a little afraid of how strong you'll be by then! Your letter was fun to read, because it sounds exactly like you talking. :) So you're done with the Percy Jackson series, huh? "Don't you have a good book to read?" (Dad - hah.) I recommended to Miranda a series last week, and I think you'd really like it a lot too - it's Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. See if you can check it out of the library or something. I read the first two books and they're really really good. Give 'em a shot! Your solar system journal sounds pretty cool too. Mom said she'll send me pictures when she can - I'm excited to see them. You're really good at art and I bet it turned out great. And congratulations on the new babysitting job! :) The cash is going to start rolling in... Well, Gabs, have an amazing week, play some Mario for me, and give Nikka a good run around the yard. Throw in a hug for Reagan, too. I love you too! Adios!
Mom - Thanks for the prayers on my behalf and for the investigators - actually, that goes to everyone, since I'm sure you've all been praying as well. Things have gone really well with the people we've been teaching, and with the Lord's help this week will be even better. That's cool that you got to talk with Sister Thurlow about Shawn - I'd been wondering how he was doing. I'm glad to hear he's doing well too. That's exciting about Heather Johnson's mission call, and sad about Bryce. Hopefully things heal up well and that whatever he decides to do goes well. Gabbie does sound like she's doing good - I laughed about the puppet show for the Last Olympian. That's Gabbie! :) Also, the comment about Miranda being a "driving fool" (loves driving). I remember, like you said, how last year she always talked about not wanting to drive and not wanting to get a license. Turns out that it's kinda fun after all, huh? Has she had any experiences with Reagan Interference yet? (Reagan likes to sneak out of his seatbelt, get down behind the driver and adjust the seat forward and back) I guess I could be asking her these questions. :) It does sound like the girls are doing really well, though, which is good.
I was shocked - floored! astounded! in slack-jawed amazement! (what a bird!) - at the news about your new phone. Haha. Sounds like it's a pretty slick new thing - which is funny, seeing how long you went for years with a broken screen and a lack of all functions but calling and receiving. Maybe by the time I get home the girls and Dad can teach you how to use it all. :) Haha. That's funny though. Times are changing indeed.
Anyway. Reagan sounds like he's doing really well too. The singing at school sounds funny. I can picture everyone singing except him, while he just pulls his paper hat over his face. I'd really like to see a class of autistic kids singing and doing actions together. Actually, a class of autistic kids doing just about anything would be entertaining. It's touching to hear that he misses me - I think a lot about what it'll be like when I get back in those first few hours. Remember how he was after we got home from Scotland? It does sound like he's doing really well, and that's awesome to hear.
Oh, and thanks for finding out about the YW medallions. Those are the gold ones? Sounds kinda cheap. I'll talk to the sister and see if she needs further help with that. Thanks.
I liked the "thanks for being in the pictures you take." :) I'm slowly learning... Thank you very much for your email. Oh, and for the pictures you sent - especially the one of Reagan dragging Nikka with him into the shower. That was hilarious. I always love hearing from you how everyone's doing. I'm working my hardest, eating healthy, take care of myself, and having an amazing time. I love you very much, Mom. Have a great week!
Dad - Sheesh. One of these days I'll learn to type faster. My hour is almost up. Oh well :) Your comments about Mom and her phone and emailing and everything were funny. Also, what you said about Gabbie made me laugh. :) Sounds like she's turning out all right, huh? (Not too bad for a shaved-down monkey we taught how to walk! Haha.) Yeah, I'd heard about the earthquake in Chile, but not as many details as you mentioned. That's pretty crazy. And everything lately has been out of the ordinary - first Haiti, now Chile, the tidal wave warning in Hawaii (I was glad to hear nothing happened)... I heard there was a similar warning for the Gulf of Mexico area (ie, where I am... yikes). We're really coming to the latter days, huh? Glad to hear things turned out as well as they did in Chile though. Your comments about Paul and your own experiences are true and important to learn. It really is a choice between happiness and sadness in the end. And you've got to watch out for that "reaper of percussions" - he'll get you every time. :) I also liked you comments about answers to prayers. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and rereading your discurso letter and studying the scriptures and pondering. It seems like a lot of what you and I write about each week comes back to that same idea. And each time and each letter adds a new piece to the puzzle. I liked a lot what you said last week about repentance, as I mentioned - I'm printing it out today to read it more this week, because you said some great things.
A quick mention of something I studied this morning that I really liked. I read the book of Enos today (yeah, that's right, I read the whole book... it's no big deal). I always like and focus on the length of his prayer, his desires, his belief in God's words, and what I can learn from that, but this time I paid more attention to what happens after that experience. He talks about himself and many other prophets traveling the land and preaching to the people. I really like what he says in verse 23, about how they continually preached the same topics to the people to keep them in the fear of God and on the narrow path of the Gospel. It's like you've talked about before, how we always hear the same things in church and conference and everything, and there's a reason for that. We need to be continually reminded and continually nourished. We can't learn just from one talk or one lesson and be good for the rest of our lives - we need to constantly learn so that we don't fall back into the dumb ways of our natural man. (Reminds me of what my mission prep teacher at BYU used to say: "Repeat after me. My natural man is an idiot." Hah.) We need to be constantly reminded of the consequences of our choices so that we remember to exercise our agency correctly. The verse is really good, and so are the references - I looked up every single one, and really learned a lot. I'd recommend reading that verse and the corresponding references. It's pretty cool. I especially liked Alma 4:19, which talks about bearing pure testimony and stuff. It was a pretty great study session this morning and I learn a lot - give those verses a look when you can.
Reagan looking at pictures and watching the vides is cool to hear about. Oh, and I laughed at your comments about taciturn dwarves - haha. It's all coming together now... :) And, Dad, thank you for all the prayers, the love and support, the movie quotes and jokes and good memories, the experiences we've had and the things you've taught me. Thanks for everything. I love you very much. Have a great week. :)