The Lord Has Been Good to Me

Dearest Family,

“…it feels surreal that this is all going to suddenly end”

Getting Ready to Come Home

Second-to-last Preparation Day.

Dad, reading that quote from me talking about Elder Vasquez going home at the end of his mission was weird (in a good way)…it´s odd to me that it will all soon come to an end. Honestly, having seen the changes and the people [other missionaries finishing their missions] going home so many times [since I’m an AP] has prepared me; it feels surreal that this is all going to suddenly end and I´ll be in a winter wonderland (not really; I´m sure that I´m going to die) *shiver* but I know that there are things that I need to do at home to help others. So overall I feel very at peace and most of all grateful for this sacred time to serve and learn in the Lord´s way. 

Right now I´m listening to [the audio recording you sent with] all of your 2017 predictions – honestly it sounds super weird. It´s a completely different world from that which I´m used to.

Truly, serving a mission has been a dream come true for me.

Last night as we walked home I realized that wow – ´tomorrow will be 2018…that by the end of this week, I will have been a missionary for more than two years…wow that is a long time, huh?¨ But the Lord has been so good to me; last night and this morning I wrote my 2017 testimony and lessons from the year and could not help but feel full of gratitude to Heavenly Father and His perfect plan. Truly, serving a mission has been a dream come true for me; my dreams since I was 14 years old (and even before then; since when I was a little boy, frankly) have come true.
Buuuut the good news is that there’s still time!

Cool Moments:

1. Gisselle Paredes (17) and the Book of Mormon

In divisions on Tuesday, Elder Valenzuela´s knee was hurting him a little bit, so rather than drag him up the face of the mountain like I´d originally planned, I decided to drag him up a smaller mountain that was closer 🙂

¨Who do you know that needs a visit of peace and comfort in Jesus Christ?¨

 After climbing up the steps of El Milagro (creo que le dicen El Milagro porque es un milagro que una persona suba tantas gradas día tras día) [Ed. – translation: “(I think they call it The Miracle because it is a miracle that a person climbs so many steps day after day)”], we went to a pulpería [grocer’s shop] that Elder Gutierrez and I had previously done service too (we carried up their corn and wheat and eggs up the steps of El Milagro about two weeks ago) and the daughter came out to receive us. We tried to share a message, but they were busy, no sé que, no sé cuanto, excuses excuses and so I decided to ask the classic President Bush question, ¨Quién conoce que necesita una visita de paz y consuelo en Jesucristo?¨ [Ed. -Who do you know that needs a visit of peace and comfort in Jesus Christ? ¨]. And she sent us to their two neighbors who recently had family members die. 

President Bush and me. What an amazing servant of God he is.

One of the people we met, 17 year old Gisselle, told us after reading una hoja [one page] of the Book of Mormon, ¨This is really cool – I love to read; come back tomorrow and I´ll make sure my family can listen.¨ We went back the next day and as we explained the Book of Mormon to them, they came up with a bunch of cool questions like, ¨how do you ´accept Christ´?¨ or ¨does God really answer our prayers?¨ or ¨how can I recognize said answers to prayers?¨ It was so perfect to be able to knowingly testify that the Book of Mormon really does answer every question and does so by the Holy Spirit.

2. Kristhian Pineda, our less-active ward mission leader

We´ve been unable to continue with the daily visits, but we keep up with him by calling daily and inviting him to pray, to read, to come to church, etc. Finally last Friday night he opened up to us and said, ¨When I was a missionary, people would be inactive and I´d think it was so easy for them to start to do the little things again and get active…but it´s hard! It´s really hard, and I just feel awful. But thank you for trying to help me.¨ 
He had to work on Sunday, so we´ll try to help lift him again this week.

3. Obispo Mauricio Sierra

Bishop Mauricio Sierra, his wife, Trinie, and their two Mexican granddaughters.

…loves us. Yesterday, we ran over the Ward´s goals for 2018 and he said, ¨The good news is that you´re still going to both be here for a long while, right? When are changes?¨ When I responded that in the next week that I´d be finishing my mission, he sighed a looong time. ¨That´s really too bad. You two have done a wonderful job together here. Well, that´s alright – we´ll keep moving forward.¨ He invited us over for dinner (the first time he did so in 2017; good thing that we went in the last 5 hours of the year). I´ve attached a photo of us with his wife, Trinie, and their two Mexican granddaughters.

5. Elections Update

Rumors are that it could get crazy again this week; let´s hope not. It´ll be fine.
I’m glad that I still have a normal week to look forward to 🙂 Next week will be weird to write about. 
Love, Elder Call

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