"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, December 30, 2013

To the Theme of New

I invite all of you to take a look at all the wonderful Mormon Messages that are already there and post it somewhere, share it with someone and share your testimony as you do it.

Elder Andrews

Look Not Behind Thee

A lot has happened in this week that I can't really quite share without being able to share the end with it, but I hope you can take it to heart just the same.

This Mormon Message is super appropriate for the turn of the New Year and for everything that you have and will ever pass through.

May God be with you all at the turn of each new day.

Elder Andrews

Monday, December 23, 2013

So Great Faith (Romero Contreras Family)

First read 3 Nephi 19:35-36

This one just may be a story you get at it's fullest. It is the story of the Romero Contreras Family; of Maribel and her three kids: Brando, Abril, and Lorenzo.

We first met them because 10 year old Lorenzo had grown curious of the church seeing as his uncle was the owner of the building the Church rented to have it's services. So, one day, he called up his uncle to pick him up so he could go. And so he showed up. Seeing as the congreagation here is so small, Lorenzo stuck with hsi uncle throughout almost all the services, even in the most boring of adult classes. And so we met Lorenzo.

As good missionaries to a new area, we quickly found out where he lived and got to know him a bit more. We even got to meet his mother. His father had passed away about 9 years earlier due to a sudden heart attack leaving Lorenzo fatherless at just one year of age. After talking a bit with Lorenzo and his mother a bit, we quickly realized we had our work cut out for us and Lorenzo's jitters often interrupted prayers and lessons. Haha. Let alone that the Lorenzo let us know very clearly every day we passed by that his mother was not going to let him be baptized. And he said it right in front of her face. 

So, we used something that Stake President Stock was very clear to me about as he set me apart as a missionary. He shared with me:

 41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile
 43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase ofdlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath.

We really felt the power of the Spirit as we taught each lesson. We went a lot slower. We had a lot of patience. And just maybe for that, we have grown to love this family just a bit more. Slowly, Brando, the eldest of all the children, decided he would join in on our lessons. We invited them to pray to know that what we were teaching was really true. We left all we could for them to do so that they really could know it. So that they could feel it. 

Shortly thereafter, Brando had recieved his answer it was true, Lorenzo as well, and the Mom still skeptical. The secret is, is that she has not been doing the homework. We still didn't have permission to baptize Lorenzo even though he had a goal date set. So, we attcked that point. But not with harsh words, rather with the Spirit of God. We were able to share the scriptures in a way that they spoke to her personally. I think it may have also helped that we finished off the lesson with Christ's own words when he said:

 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little achildren to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. [Luke 18:16]

By teaching in this manner Maribel has been able to feel and recongize the Spirit often in our lessons. And for that reason, even though it has cost us just about a month of every day work, she came to church for the first time yesterday. Her daughter, Abril, just recently got back from college a week ago and has decided to be baptized as well with all the good things she is hearing from her brothers.

They've given up coffee altogether for about 3 weeks. A substance that they took in daily. They gave it up cold turkey. For reference of how we managed that one see Romans 14:20-23. "Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin."

If you would've asked Maribel's children -- who know her best -- if they would have ever seen their mother making these changes, they would have called you a liar. In fact they told us that it would happen, but in a very long time. 

So, what changed? Why did this family come this far, and how have they been able to do it? I say unto you, "so great faith have I never seen..." All that we have done is help them feel that it is right, and they do it. 

And that is why the three children will be baptized this January 11th. And we'll be working so that Maribel feels it by that day as well. 

I have never seen the Spirit work such great miracles in a family. All it takes is faith. 

May you have a great Christmas season and keep your faith in Christ always, that he might always work miracles in your life.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrews

Monday, December 16, 2013

Savior of the World

How sad is it that I never knew this existed? It's a huge gift from the Church and what is more appropriate to listen to during this holiday season? Take a moment to look at and download the soundtrack from Savior of the World:

Way sweet. The first time I heard of this play was from my landlord back in Minatitlan. He was a funny guy. His name was Nabor.

But, just to share with you briefly, I love being a trainer. And my companion couldn't be greater. Sure, he hardly knows what he is doing at times and sometimes it feels like you are talking to a wall, but I wouldn't trade it for the world! I am learning so much from what I came here to do. Which brings me to the only question I want to address in this email.

Why do you go on a mission when you are 18 (formerly 19)? Wouldn't it make more sense and wouldn't I have had more success had I finished my psychology career before I came?

The answer is, Yes, I would have had much more tools in how to relate to people and help them overcome their challenges to come to a full conversion of this gospel. Yes, but the mission isn't the final test, it's the preparation. 

I am convinced that I have learned more things in this year and a half of my mission much more quickly than I would have been able to learn them in 4-8 years of psychology classes in college. 

What does that mean then? Well, it means that now when I go through the years to come I will have alread learned and applied some of the things that will come at me. The key is the experience that I have gained. Because I have lived the things I have been able to apply them and will be able to keep doing so in the future.

One of my favorite quotes is from Preach My Gospel is from Chapter 5 when it says:

"Application is the mental bridge between comprehension and obedience."

It all makes sense. You can read the scriptures, you can study all the books, but until you actually do something you haven't done anything. It's as easy as that!

During my mission I have been able to help drug addicts, orphans, wife-abusers, people contemplating suicide, murderers, and much more. I hope you realize that missionaries actually help people! All of these disorders or behaviors of misconduct can be brought down to some simple events in their past. Whether it happened to them or they simply let hate and anger grow inside of them sin is always influenced in why they became this way, by themselves or by others. And that is where we can help. If any of you are thinking about IF you should serve a mission or when you should serve a mission, I hope I have been some help. But after all, part of psychology is helping the person you are talking to come to the decision themselves. 

Repentance is putting your will with God's. It's trading good decisions for better ones. 

Just like I learned many years ago playing chess, "When you see a good move, wait -- look for a better one."

And that's how you win.

Elder Andrews

P.S. Elder Rime got his first baptism. I normally don't send you guys pictures of my baptisms any more, but, this one was in a river!

Baptism photo. Take note of Elder Andrews' tie. All three brothers have worn this tie in our missions to Latin America (Ecuador, Chile, and Mexico)!

Monday, December 9, 2013

La Guadalupana

Happy Birthday first and foremost to my parents. Dad. Mom. I always remember them both, but write inbetween the actual dates. It's hard to forget my mother's birthday since it is a HUGE Mexican holiday--the day that the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to Juan Diego (a catholic priest). From what I understand it is just a Mexican Catholic tradition, but since those are all the people I talk to all day it is quite interesting that they believe that but not that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, or even less that Jesus Christ also visited the Americas. They don't seem to see the connection, but surprisingly I've never gotten in a fight with someone about it. Many Mexicans realize that commercial interests change holidays because they even have a song that says that the Virgin Mary was Mexican. Things can get interesting.

Candelaria is where the last Aztec Emperor was killed. Some have it said that he died in El Tigre (the ruins I sent a couple weeks past). That is kind of cool. Also is attached a picture of me on the Nacho Libre tricycles. Here they have shade roofs. How cool, right? I have not had ... since easterz. That is right. Happy day.

Elder Rime got sick for the first time and so I got him to the doctor (luckily for him I had experience with doctors and knew what was going on). The doctor asked if we should give him a shot to get him feeling better quicker, so I translated it to him in English to see what he wanted and "forgot" :P to mention that here in Mexico they don't put the shots in your arm. Haha. But he is a good sport.

He is progressing really well and we are seeing a bit of success from our work. We got to the area and had nothing, but we are slowly increasing the amount of people we are teaching. Right now we are teaching really just youth (practically). The first time that this has happened to me in the mission.

We are going to start teaching a 13 year old girl named Yanet (Janet) for the first time tonight. She is the daughter of a part member family. Her dad is a member but drinks a lot and her mom has always received the missionaries once a week but has never gone to Church. All this while Yanet has hid in the house refusing to come out. Including while we have taught her mother a few times. But, we stopped by to remind her mom about the Christmas Dinner we were having and said she was too sick to go, but that she would send her kids. Honestly it didn't sound likely, but we made arrangments for the Branch President's wife to pass by for them and she came! And not only that, but she came the next day, Sunday, to church! And then she came to the Christmas devotional that night! 3 times in a row all by herself. She is very mature for her age, so she actually is able to take it a little more seriously, and is even helping to activate the young men a little bit... Haha. I don't see us taking them with us to teach her any time soon.

Then, Brando and Lorenzo. Yes, just like that. They are relatives of the guy who owns the House of Prayer (Church that is rented). The owner is not a member, but always goes every week. He just doesn't want to get marrie because everyone tells him to. But their dad died a few years ago and they came to Church this last week too. They are progressing quite nicely, but it never seems like we have much time to teach anyone. But Brando always does his homework we leave him. He is 22 and Lorenzo, his little brother, is 10. They both like coming to Church, after all, it basically is a family reunion for them.

Guadalupe. He is about 40 and is a great investigator. But he has complicated problems with his marriage papers. He is married, but not to the lady he lives with. He used to be a very messed up person from what it sounds like and so he separated from his wife. Since then, he has cleaned up his act and found a new woman and they have 4 great kids (all very young). But, the other lady he was married to doesn't want to give him the divorce and he has had troubles with that. So, I made some calls to Cancun and it looks like we are going to have some advances in the legal department and in the mean time, I figured, why not, I'll work from both angles. So, I sent the mean lady's address to the other mission so that the other missionaries would go and try to teach her. Haha.

My mission is a cross-bread of The Other Side of Heaven and Nacho Libre. And yes, It's a Wonderful Life.

May you all enjoy your week and Christmas Season,
Elder Andrews
Elder Andrews riding a "Nacho Libre" tricycle.
Elders Andrews and Rime entering Candelaria. "Welcome to Candelaria. The final resting place of the last Aztec emperor."
Elder Andrews and Cuauhtémoc, the final Aztec emperor.

Monday, December 2, 2013

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

To respond to a few general questions first. Yes, you can email me directly to my email. I just had everyone email my mom before because I only had 30 minutes to write in the MTC and was still struggling to find out how to best use the time. The pressure gets to you after a while. But, since we have progressively gotten more and more time, it's fine to email me directly. As long as you don't live inside the limits of my mission and are female. And you can even get around that one if you just ask permission from President first. The point of writing each week is to share your testimony, so there aren't many restrictions on who you should share it with.

A lot of people also ask about my health a lot. I haven't been sick since my first Sunday in Mina. So about 5 months ago. All except for losing my voice once and a slight cold, but that was more fun than getting sick. So don't worry about my health. I eat a lot of Raisin Bran and Wheat Bread. I know mother, I have changed.

This week has been interesting. I have followed up in my Old Testament reading which I had set aside for a while but now I am in 2 Samuel. It is kind of a personal goal to read the Standard Works in Spanish before I finish my mission. I have already read all the others, so the goal should be pretty easy. It is kind of interesting that I learn more from the scriptures in Spanish. Maybe I'll always study my scriptures in Spanish, who knows. I just like reading more in a different language. But, this week I was reading about Samuel the Prophet, Saul the King of Israel, and the annointing of who would soon become King David. While reading through this section one scripture hit me really hard when talking about the downfall of King Saul. (1 Samuel 15:21)

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

The Lord had instructed Saul to destroy an entire people and Saul seemed to change his mind just a little bit and think of a way to -- what I think he may have thought-- do it better. But we see very clearly that when it comes to the Lord's commandments and covenants to us there are only two choices we can make. Just like my father always quoted from the Star Wars master Yoda,

"Do, or do not, there is no try."

There is no half way. When it comes to things of the Lord you either do them, or you do not. You either keep the commandments or you do not.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

You cannot pick which commandments are convenient for you and which promises you choose to keep. Remember that covenants with God will always be set on His terms.

Actually, I'd invite each of you to just read James 2. Think about it and let the Spirit testify to you what you need to do. No one is perfect in this life save Jesus Christ. Let us not fall for the one point in which we offend. 

Make the Change.
No day comes faster than today.

With much love,
Elder Andrews