Again, Mom, thanks for all the Christmas packages. To answer your question--the packages, as far as I could tell, got here unopened. There are no gifts opened or missing (at least from the ones that you marked with the dates). I´ll send a picture in a sec of how I put everything up today :)
In answer to your question about extra money--that would be wonderful. Sorry I took out so much money last week, I had to pay a ton of money in the transports of the changes, because they definitely did not send us enough money last month, and neither of us was planning on being changed. I definitely need new shoes. Really bad. One pair is holding up fairly well still (meaning that the rips in the sole are much smaller than the other pair), but the other pair is totally finished. I think a nice pair of shoes here costs at very, very most 1000 pesos, or about $85. And, I´m definitely going to buy some sweaters and more blankets, because I have been freezing at night, and I´ve been wearing my suit everywhere, but I don´t want to wear it out (thus the sweaters). So, with my monthly money here and the money that you put in, that should definitely be enough. Thank you so much!
I went with the leaders of the zone to a leadership conference in Tuxtla (which was AWESOME; it was a super spiritual conference, and I saw all the elders from my generation there! Elder Turner is a district leader in Tuxtla, and the rest are all trainers, so it was awesome seeing everybody, pictures in a sec).
My comp and I are just outside of what is actually Comitán, and we have a lot of nothing in our area. We do a lot of walking. Elder Mounteer and Elder Tadeo are in the Comitán ward with the zone leaders (the ward has two companionships of Elders). My district is just my comp and I and a companionship of sisters. Which is kind of weird because usually they don´t do it like that. But that´s ok because the hermanas are awesome.
Pictures of the house in a second. It is AWESOME. Prettiest house that I´ve seen missionaries here live in to date. The only thing that´s no fun is that it turns out that houses without heaters are worse than houses without AC. AND that I was so psyched because I was going to get to take a warm shower again (because I childishly thought that I didn´t like taking cold showers where it´s hot; looking back, I love it). Turns out that we´re out of gas, and I´ve been showering with ice cold water all week, here, where it is NOT hot. That being said, Comitán is beautiful. And, it is really nice to not be sweating every hour of every day (although once it gets dark I tend to forget that I´m grateful for that). The branch is tiny... even smaller than Huixtla. But there is a lot of work to do here, and there are leaders that are willing and happy to support us, so I´m excited and ready to work hard. My comp, Elder Vargas, is from the state of Morelos (by the Distrito Federal), and just finished his period of training. We´ve gotten along really, really well this week, and all and all, I´m happy :) I do miss Elder Esparza a lot, he was an awesome comp, and I do miss a lot of people in Huixtla (we found a ton of awesome investigators my last week there), but I´m doing great here, and after I buy some sweaters and blankets I will be doing all that much better.
I love you all so much! I know this work is the Lord´s, and the blessing that I´ve seen in my own life and the lives of those around me from participating in it are incredible. I see the Lord´s tender mercies every day, so much in my own life, and also in the lives of those around me. I have seen lives change and the Lord´s willingness to help each one of His children come unto Him as long as they do so in humility. I love this work so much, and every day I see the fulfillment of the promise in my mission call "More happiness than you have before experienced awaits as you serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children." I am so happy. I miss you all so much, especially at this time of year when I have always been with you as a family, but the opportunity to help people to come closer to the Lord and recognize the real importance of this time of year makes it all completely worth it. God lives. He loves His children. He sent His Only Begotten Son to be born in the humility of a manger and to die as our Savior so that we could all be happy, in this life, and forever. And, in our day He has restored His Church, with His authority of the Priesthood, so that we can receive the fullness of the blessings that come from that eternal sacrifice.
I love you all so much. I hope that you enjoy this time together this year, and as a family that we can all center ourselves in this holiday season upon our Savior and Lord.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl
Here we are with our Christmas tree and our presents :) We're like niños excited for Christmas. And adopting the "every missionary in the world does thumbs up in pictures" pose. People in Mexico put up trees too--they celebrate Christmas very much the the same. I love my little tree. My "arbolito" :)
This is my Christmas corner :) I really really love the Christmas banner too.
Once again with the "missionaries always do thumbs up" pose.
The photo is a picture of our house. It´s a gorgous house for missionaries here.
The road not quite so much.
This is a vew from our patio. We have a huge patio which is reallllllly nice and
something that I haven´t had since living in the States. Comitán is really pretty.
Me in Tuxtla during the leadership conference.
It was the first time I got to see the temple in person here, and I loved it :)
The first time I had seen "Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord" in Spanish. Awesome.
Here are 4 of the 5 gringos from my generation. The other one was there too but we had to take the picture fast and we couldn´t find him in that very second. First time I had seen any of them in a longggg time. Fun little reunion.
Elder Cárdenas and I were both in Tapachula his first transfer and my second transfer in the same district. They sent him to the Tzotsil zone when they sent me to Huixtla. He´s a district leader now too, and it was the first time I had seen him since then. It was good seeing a lot of old mission friends.