Hello! I hope I haven´t caused any worry that I´m writing so late, but we had an activity of the zone today. We went to this cool park that has caves and stuff and it also has these massive smooth rock slides that are like water slides (without the water) and I did some serious exercise running up the stairs again and again and again. Then we played sports and I opted to play volleyball because I was pretty tired from going up the stairs to the giant slides millions of times and I didn´t have the energy to play soccer. But it was in San Cristobal and we got back really late because of the drive, so I just finished writing to Presidente and I´m now on to write to you guys :)
Everybody reported that this was a good week! I am so glad to hear it. It makes me happy that you’re progressing in your lives and for the success that you´re all having. That´s also awesome to hear that you´re going to be able to go to General Conference in April. It´s an incredible experience hearing the apostles and prophets of the Lord in person. Also that´s great news about the PELL grants. I think that´s a pretty easy decision for me to make, even though I don´t know exactly how much time there will be between my mission and the BYU spring term. Regardless of how much time it may be, like you said, Mom, what beats free school? And, like you said, Dad, I can take Spanish, Portugues, a religion class, and advanced racquetball, and have a pretty stress-free term and bolster my not-so-hot GPA (although thankfully the Spanish Language Certification test will help me a lot with that too... supposedly it´s 16 credits of 4.0).
And on that Spanish note, great work, Mom! I promise you that if you stick with the conversation coach you will feel so much more comfortable speaking Spanish. The key to learning a language really is speaking it. And, when you do that, the mechanics that you´re already good at will become concreted in your mind and you won´t even have to think about it any more--like English--just a little bit at a time. If you´re struggling with the pronunciation, I´d recommend that you give a good look at the Spanish alphabet and get to the point that you recognize the sound each letter makes--especially the ones that make different noises than they do in English (like that dang "r", that gives all gringos problems, because it´s tough with the "rr" to roll your tongue the way they do, and the "r" all alone makes a noise more like an English "d", it´s just a tap on the roof of the mouth). But yeah, that´s about all the advice I have on that. But I´m really proud of you for your efforts, and I know that you really can learn Spanish, and I´ll be really excited to speak Spanish with you in a little more than a year :)
But, about the area, not too much to report again. I´d just like to talk about a special experience from this week. You already know that each week I send an email to Presidente Cárdenas, just like every other missionary in the mission. He has to read them all and according to my previous knowledge, he doesn´t respond. But, this week he did respond to my email. That was really special, because after reading about a couple of the mission presidents from friends in other missions, I feel like sometimes they have a more personal relationship with each missionary, and before this week I hadn’t received any personal message, phone call, or email from him (that´s not at all to say that he is not an incredibly inspired man fulfilling his calling in the way the Lord wants him to, because I know he is, it´s just in a different way than some others do it I guess).
But anyway, I definitely know that he is the man that the Lord wants directing this mission, and that he does it based solely on what the Lord wants, and he really does receive revelation for this mission and for us as missionaries. He´s seen the problems we´ve had finding investigators that really want to progress and our problems to be able to teach the Gospel in the quantity and way that we want to. He told me something that hit me pretty hard. He told me something roughly like this, "Every area has it´s challenges, and some more than others, but difficult areas do not exist. What blocks us from seeing that is that our fears or sins blind us from seeing the power of the miracles that faith bring to pass. What very few understand is that the Lord really sent me (using "me" generally) forth as a missionary to realize the beautiful miracle of finding His elect (for clarification on that term, which is a term we use a lot in our mission, see D&C 29:7). To realize this beautiful miracle, I need to overcome the challenges that will always come before the miracle happens." He knew exactly what I needed to hear, and I´m ready to do whatever it takes to remove whatever is in my way of having that type of faith.
Well, I hope you all have a great week. I love you all so much, and I appreciate the constant strength that I receive from your prayers.
Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl