"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Touch of the Master's Hand

It is hot. And it is just starting. Apparently, everything--every aspect of Tabasco Mexico is condusive to disease. This week Elder Cabral and I got stomach infections. His didn't last quite as long since he has a healthier stomach, but it still got the both of us pretty good. The adversity always seems to come up on us as we have something important to do. 

Which brings us to the story of this week. Which is really the story of the last month--the story of Hna Zuleyma. 

Well, we can't even really call her Hermana Zuleyma, cause then she sounds like an old indigenous woman. When the fact of the matter is that she is the Bishop's 20 year old neighbor and family friend. She has known the family, and consequently the church, and consequently the missionaries for the past 13 years. The first day we passed by her house was over a month ago while Elder Deem and I were purging the old records from the Area Book of everyone that had ever progressed in the area for the last 5 years. We noticed she lived by the Bishop so we figured we'd stop by and see what the situation was like. We brought with us the Bishop's son which is when we found out that they were actually close friends--like brother and sister. 

She told us that she never could be conquered by the other missionaries because eventually they would stop coming. So, we continued with the lesson and at the end asked if there was anything that we could do for her. The room went silent. She slowly looked up and me and Elder Deem and just said softly, "Please come back." 

Well, as a missionary, upon hearing that you are happy, right? But, you couldn't help but wonder why so many pairs of missionaries had left her. A question that she, as well as I still don't know. But, in that moment, I let her in on a secret. The secret was simple. That she does the homework we leave and that she really tries to understand what we teach. So, she agreed she would do just that. We had to put her to the test, so we left a pamphlet, the Book of Mormon with some assigned reading and some other small things to do that really add up for a first visit and told her we would be back the next day to check up on her progress. For certain if she read it all then we could justify walking the hour to her house in the hot sun, if not, it would be easy to drop her. So, we went back the next day.

She forgot where we told her to stop, so she read even more to make sure. We asked her questions, and we couldn't believe what we were hearing. She explained every little detail to us! She retaught us the lesson we had taught from the previous day and then added more with what she had read. We were blown away.

According to the mission standards she could have gotten baptized the next day since in the past 13 years she had to for sure have gone to the church 4 times, and she didn't have any problems with any of the commandments that would keep her waiting, but something kept me and Elder Deem back and we committed her to be baptized 1 month later after that day (thus assisting 4 more times). It certainly wasn't necessary, and certainly wasn't wise if we were worried about reporting numbers or the fact that Elder Deem wouldn't be there, but we did what we felt was right. And there we went.

We taught everything as Preach My Gospel tells to in the exact order as it comes.  Rarely ever happens like that because you always get side-tracked one way or another, but we decided to do it like that. Many missionaries can teach all the lessons in a week, hey, I did it all once in one day, but it really takes a good missionary to effectively teach and keep someone interested for 4 weeks. Something that amazingly Elder Deem, and eventually Elder Cabral and I were able to do for her. 

All the while Zuleyma found herself fighting a battle with her own family, which are the rest of her neighbors. Even the day of her baptism her mom sent her a text message saying she shouldn't get baptized. But, Zuleyma had already mentioned to us that she had felt what she had felt, and that she had to continue with what she knew was right.

She was then baptized last Thursday where we had the most spiritual baptismal program I have ever attended. She then asked me to also confirm her as a member of the Church--my first time ever doing so. I had imagined that my first time to do so would come with my own children, but that did not change the experience. While confirming someone you also give them a blessing. But the blessing is not from you. But, comes from your Father in Heaven. Once again I was allowed to feel as I would imagine a father would in this role, even though she is older than me and already has a child of her own. It is an odd feeling. A special feeling when you hope you've taught her well enough. You hope she will be able to go on. You are concerned for what will happen when the day comes that you aren't there to take care of her--because as a missionary that day will surely come. And nothing is more comforting than being able to leave the Holy Ghost at that time. There was nothing better I could do for her. 

True repentance is a real aspect of life made possible to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and his Atonement. Our potential and children of God is unimagineable. Please, do not sell yourself short. 
And always watch for the "Touch of the Master's Hand"

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

With love,
Elder Andrews

Elder Cabral, Zuleyma, and Elder Andrews at Zuleyma's baptism.

Elder Andrews with a coconut drink and a churro!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Letter #27 from Mexico

It was a successful week. But, with your successes, come failures. Which, gives us more opportunities to have successes, again.

One battle that we were having with Delfina is getting some stability. With that, Julio and his brother Arnold have been some great help. With that, we are using our time to help all of them, which is nice since Julio just recently got baptized. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, he got a job where he was required to work Sundays. So, we went with him and had an awesome lesson. So awesome in fact that he went and was able to find a different job and attend with us last week with his mom. This week, he convinced his sister to come to Church with us which was nothing short of a miracle. We even got his interview all set up to get the Priesthood yesterday and he was going to go early. So, we passed by to check on them before we ourselves headed off and Julio was gone as we expected. But no one but his brother wanted to come anymore. Turns out Julio went to work! Still have to fingure out what is going on there.

We've also had a lot of success with Zuleyma who is going to be baptized this Thursday. We've had a lot of running around to do and we're doing the best we can to keep up. For that reason, don't have much time to say much of anything (sorry mom).

I hope that a few pictures can help animate this week for ya.

With love,
Elder Andrews

P.S. Don't be a pig.
P.P.S. Mom, we only hung it up to clean it, don't worry. It fell down.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Running Around

I had some really cool stuff to share with you this week, but I forgot most of it. Sorry.

To start off, I'm now with Elder Cabral. He is a good companion and we get along pretty well. His English is terrible. We're getting there. It's funny when his pronunciation is so bad that he starts saying profanities on accident. We're learning more carefully about when to pracitce English--not that anyone here would understand it. Elder Cabral surprisingly is still pretty shy even after a year and a half in the mission. I'm convinced that if I didn't look at him for a whole lesson he just wouldn't say a thing. He's not lost, just goes a little slower. But, the best thing is that we get along and are working well together.

As for my health, well, many keep asking me. My health is doing fine. Don't worry. In fact, we are finding out daily more ways to help what I have. Or, what I may actually have. Just putting my whole entire medical history in order. It's funny because since there is so much wrong with me, the Bishop, Elder Deem and I would just joke that I have cancer (which, yes, there is a real risk for, but not likely). Long story short, two Sundays ago as Elder Deem was saying goodbye to everyone he would occassionally mention to some members to make sure to take care of my cancer. The Stake President's wife overheard that and got scared for me. (The Stake President lives in my ward and we are already pretty tight). Long story short, she thought I really had cancer and had Stake President Jimenez take me for an ultrasound. I'm glad I will never be pregnant cause those things are cold. I don't have cancer. I do have some other cool problems and a picture of my stomach though. While we were there the Stake President figured why not and got one too. He also has some of my problems. So we're even closer now.

That day I was still limping. Pretty bad. But, now, after a few adjustments, I don't limp. It is something else. In fact, to make sure Elder Cabral is awake and ready, while we are walking I just start to run. (He walks slower than me, and I have arthritis.) He just looks at me, decides he has nothing better to do I suppose and just chases after me until we get to wherever I decide to stop.

About that. It's nice that I'm healing such because there are certain times in missionary work when you need your health. This Sunday was one. We passed by with an investigator to take her to a member's house to get a ride to church. She informed us she wasn't going anymore. (This is Delfina, Julio's mom). She said she didn't want to go because she didn't have a dress. Lame excuse, right? There is always another underlying problem though. So, after questioning her even more she said that that really was her reason. At that point, I cut off our conversation and said we'd be right back. Then, Elder Cabral and I ran 20 minutes to a member's house her size (the best I could tell) to retrieve a dress. Guess what. She went to Church. All because I could run.

Also, with the new transfer starting up, new missionaries came. We had Zone Class and there are only 4 gringos in the Zone of 19. I think I have the most time in the mission of all the gringos too. Point is, there was a new Elder who came up to me and started talking to me like we knew each other for a while. Started asking about my foot and everything. It all seemed a little strange. Apparently he's been keeping up reading the blog. He said the mission seemed rough. Haha. The transition still hit him pretty hard even after knowing all of the details of my mission. So, just know that you don't get the full effect. And I'll try to be more careful about what I share with you kids.

So, for now, I'll just say, it's amazing.

Love you all,
Elder Andrews

Take a moment to watch it:
Padre Terrenal, Padre Celestial (Earthly Father, Heavenly Father)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Week of Change

So, this week another week of change. Elder Deem should be in Denver by now waiting on his way home. He finished his two (and two week) years of service and for that, is no longer with me. It was a good run for the last three weeks and he wasn't sure how to feel going home he may have developed Colitis himself with all those butterflies he had in his stomach. But, we'll see how he takes it later. 

My new companion I will be picking up tomorrow in Villahermosa. His name in Elder Cabral and he is from Elder Andrade's generation. So, he has got some experience, and I hope I'll be able to learn as much as I can from him. We'll see about his English. When Elder Nelson was here he told us about a missionary who came back to his ward and had forgotten English. I thought before, "How cool that must be to just forget". He then followed up by saying, "How selfish" of this missionary, "...he didn't teach any of his companions English." I would joke with Elder Deem when he tried to say something in English and failed by just calling him selfish.

In this last week we had a good time though. Elder Deem never had his green card, so there was a scare that he might not be allowed to go home. For that, we spent a whole day in Villa. He went to the airport to sign papers and I went out to work with Elder Alvarado, the missionary that stayed inside the house with me all day because he too was going home. Long story short, we are both still here! Sad story made longer, he still doesn't know his area so we spent the day walking around in the rain. Don't worry mother, I was prepared! But, I gave it away to another Elder who was going to be stuck in Villa with one set of clothes, which would be important to not get wet then, right? Remember when someone else got stuck in Villa and rained on right as they started up? That was me, so Iwas able to show  little mercy. Point is, I got really wet, but with my cool packpack, my books didn't. After walking around all day I got back to the offices to pick up Elder Deem, who of course was still perfectly dry. We said goodbye to President nd he came to give me a big hug because I m still live--which might be the biggest miracle of all. I gave him a big hug and he to me, but whispered in my ear in English, "Wet Bear". Elder Deem heard it and laughed the whole way home. 

So now I am known as Colitis Boy, Sharky, and Wet Bear. But, I guess not anymore since Elder Deem left. But Bishop will still call me Sharky because some pills I take are Shark cartilege. That's cool.

Which brings us to the next story. This ward is awesome. When they invite you to share your testimonies, if you don't go up the first time, you don't go up. Literally they don't let you. There are that many people that go up. I thought they were evacuating the building. It was insane. Since it was Elder Deem's last week, they invited us to go first. As the Counselor in the Bishopric invited us he said, "...and now we'll hear from Elder...ehh...Elder...(silence)...Elder Deem and his companion." Obviously I was supposed to go first since the occasion wasn't really "for me" but the counselor just didn't know my name. So, I started off my testimony, "Good afternoon. My name is Elder Andrews. Many of you know me as 'other Elder'..." Sad story, but true, because many people have called me "otro Elder". It doesn't help that Andrews is practically impossible to pronounce in Spanish and so many just don't try. But, now that Elder Deem is gone and after my testimony (introduction, don't worry mom, I shared stuff that actually mattered), many people assured me that I was now Elder Andrews and my new companion would be 'other Elder'. How nice.

So, how's the work? It's going great. We have so much to do, we just have to remember it all so it doesn't die down. We have one investigator  in particular that is awesome. She is a single mother in her 20's. Family friend of the Bishop (lives two houses down) and the first time I went to visit her she told us how many missionaries had been to visit her but none could conquer her and convince her. Long story short, maybe we were in the right place at the right time? Because she is getting baptized this 21st of March. It is cool to work with her and have the Bishop's family so closely involved in everything. Zuleyma has already been scolded by her family for hearing so frequently from the Mormons. She was backed up to the wall of her faith. She didn't know what to do. So she prayed. She sked for help from her friend and neighbor--the Bishop's son, who happens to be our Ward Mission Leader. He gave her advice, that was surprisingly unbiased. She made her decision for herself. She decided she could not deny what she had learned, and she could not deny she desired to learn more.

I hope that all of us could evaluate our own conversions and I would suggest what President Monson did this last conference about testimony, "I believe that everyone here has a conversion. If you do not have the depth of conversion you would like, I would suggest you work towards the one you would like." (More or less).

Remeber, "The path is simple, but not easy to follow"

With love,
Elder Caleb O. Andrews