Called to Serve

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Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012--Week 39

So, basically I can´t write much of email again this week, because I´m getting changed, and Elder Esparza is training, so we need to be in Tapachula in like an hour and a half so that he can leave on the bus to pick up his new comp.  Así que así está la cosa.  So, I´m not too shaken up by this change.  I´m pretty phyched actually.  They´re sending me to Comitán, and it´s does cold there (that´s sarcasm, my english hasn´t deteriorated that much)!!  I love places that do cold.  And I´m going to get to shower with hot water again!!!  So, that´s awesome.  My area is called San José Obrero (ironic that I have two different areas that are called "San José"), and it´s another little branch without a chapel... so we´ll see how that goes.  I´m going to be there as district leader, so that´s not going to change.  But, I´m excited for the chance to start again in a new area, and although I´m definitely a little nervous, because I don´t even know who my comp is going to be, but I know that above all else, the Lord is at the helm, and I know that He "does inspire men to his holy work in this age and generation as in ancient times" (that translation may be a little shaky because I have that scripture memorized only in spanish).  So, knowing that, I´m going cheerfully and peacefully. 

The only other thing I wanted to comment is that I did think of more things for my birthday package!  We did divisions with one of our zone leaders this week, Elder Merino (who ironically is the one you talked on the phone with when you called a few months ago, he was a secretary in the mission offices then), and he has a CD that´s by "Nashville Tribute" (the same people who did "Joseph: A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet") called "The Work",  and it´s awesome.  Also, I don´t know if you can still find them, but a few more of those Van Huesen long-sleeve shirts would be awesome.  The one I have I wear almost every week to church but it´s getting kind of old haha.

Also, remind me next week to give you a few more details on the divisions that we did with Elder Merino this week, because I learned a ton, but I just don´t remember what I was going to tell you right now because we´re pressed for time and I´m not thinking super clearly.

I hope you guys all have a great week!  I love you tons and tons! 

Con mucho amor,
Elder Nickerl

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 19, 2012--Week 38

Dear Family, 

Sorry, I don´t think I´m going to write a very long letter today because I wrote a much longer letter than usual to Presidente Cárdenas, so I´m not going to have time, but I did just want to tell you a few things.               

So, the first thing I wanted to tell you was thank you for your Christmas package!  It flipping rocks, and you are incredibly clever.  I love love love love love the "Feliz Navidad Elder Nickerl" that you guys made (thank you to everyone involved!), and I will be buying nails today to put it up.  And, I forgot to take a picture of the little tree, but I already put it up :) and it's awesome.  And I love it.  And thank you for all of it, because you are seriously the best mission mom ever.  Seriously you put all the other moms (at least in my mission) to shame :)

The other random tidbits that I wanted to mention is that in the next couple of weeks I will probably be buying shoes, because they are officially falling apart (although I still keep them nice and shiny).  Also, Happy Thanksgiving!  We will not be having too many festivities here because it is not a Mexican holiday.  And the last random tidbit is that Presidente Cárdenas showed up randomly at our meetings on Wednesday.  I´m going to steal Elder Palmer´s expression that I was "scared out of my missionary shoes".  It was kind of funny, we were finishing the meeting of district leaders, and we were all laughing and harassing one of the zone leaders about something (right before we did the closing prayer), and then we heard the door open and we all turned around and watched Presidente walk in and we all very quickly and quietly kneeled down for the prayer.  And then, later, while I was giving my district meeting, he joined us for a few minutes.  So that was kind of cool and stressful at the same time.  But yeah, that´s all I have to report for this week, sorry it was so quick!

OH!  And also I´m very, very, very glad to hear that Dad will be coming home early!  That makes me very happy :)

I hope you all have a great week and that you take care and enjoy Thanksgiving.  I love you all so much and I´m very grateful for you this Thanksgiving week. 

Con mucho amor,

Elder Nickerl

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012--Week 37


So, first off, the earthquake!  It was crazy!  Nothing at all happened here destruction-wise in Huixtla, but we definitely felt it, and it scared the majority of the town out of their socks.  I was just sitting at my desk during our hour of language study, reading my Bible out loud (good pronunciation practice), and everything started to shake.  So, we evacuated the house, and watched the concrete wall outside our house shake for 30ish seconds.  It was pretty cool (since there was no destruction).  They told me that when it passed by here it was a 7.4 on the Richter scale.  There was a little bit of destruction in Tapachula, but no deaths.  Where it supposedly did a lot of damage and took a lot of lives was in San Marcos, Guatemala (I think I remember someone telling me that almost 200 people died).  The thing that was irritating is it downed the public phones that we had been using in absence of our cell phone, so we couldn´t call the zone leaders until that afternoon, and it was the same day that we were trying to get things figured out about getting our new cell phone (which, thankfully we do now have).

Also, one of our investigators wanted me to tell you that if there´s a tsunami because of the earthquakes that you don´t need to worry about it, because she's got a tractor tire, and she´s going to make sure that we´re safe.  I wish you could meet this lady.  Her name is Rita, and she´s got three sons (the youngest is my age, the oldest is 25), and her oldest son got baptized in Tuxtla and submitted her name to the church as a referral.  She wants to get baptized, but she can´t right now because of some complications.  She´s hilarious, always makes us delicious food, and basically has made herself our adopted mom (and in her prayers in our lessons, she ALWAYS prays for our families).  We always go to her house p-days and she makes us lunch and lets us use her washing machine so we don´t have to go through the horrible process of hand-washing. But anyway, just wanted to tell you about her and let you know that if there is a tsunami, we´ll be fine because we´ll be floating along on a tractor tire with la Hna Rita.

For my birthday package... I´ve been trying to think hard about what I would like or need and I´m sorry to say that I have not been super successful in thinking of anything.  The only thing that I can say is that “ultimamente me ha estado antojando un buen” some trail mix.  I think that would be like "I´ve been fancying some trail mix" (the difference is they say it).  Other than that I have not been able to think of anything helpful.  Sorry :( But along those lines, we got packages last week, and I got two Christmas packages from Grandma (thank you tons, Grandma, you´re the best! Those popped chips and energy bars were awesome, seriously), and I wanted to know if I should wait until Christmas to open the gift bags inside?  I also got a package from Aunt Sarah (also thank you so much!  The beef jerky is worth it´s weight in gold around here, and the suckers go a long way in winning the hearts of the primary children).  

So... let´s see what´s new around here.  First of all, the rain has stopped.  I thought I would be happy about that, until I realized that the rain was the only thing stopping the constant heat all day and all night.  Apart from that, we got our cell phone back (yeahhhhhh we can effectively do missionary work again!). Also, I don´t remember if I mentioned to you guys or not that they have now told us here as well that we no long knock doors.  It´s not because it´s dangerous (because here it´s really not), rather it´s a change that they´ve made in all the missions in Mexico.  I think it´s because they´ve wanted us to spend more time working with referrals from the members and less time (being no time) knocking doors.  This week, we´re starting to see more and more the genius of that rule (I was way iffy about it at first, and to be honest did not like it at all, because planning became infinitely more difficult each day; that just goes to show that obedience brings blessing, even when we don´t necessarily like or understand the rule).  We set two baptismal dates for the 8th of December, and both were referrals from less-active members.  Also, I´ve completely lost my fear of just walking up to random people on the street and asking them a random question to start a conversation with them.  Sometimes we play games to see who can come up with the most ridiculous conversation starter, and sometimes we play games and say that we have to use a certain word in our contacts.  So, it´s always a good time.  Elder Esparza made me use the word "onion", and I could not for the life of me figure out a good way to use it, so I just ended up saying something completely ridiculous I think (I got him back by making him use "tooth paste" in his next contact, and he said something equally as ridiculous, so yeah, it´s a lot of fun).  

So, also in the week we did end up doing divisions (I cannot for the life of me remember what the English speaking missionaries use for that term).  But anyway, I went to Framboyanes for the day and worked with Elder Scott.  It was an awesome day.  He´s a great elder, he´s got a ton of ánimo, he´s super obedient, and the amount of Spanish he speaks for only having been out for 4 weeks truly amazes me.  We taught a few lessons, did a baptismal invitation, talked to lots of people in the street, spoke a lot of English (a very rare thing for us to be able to do) and as such received many stares from the people around us, and after a good day of work we ordered pizza and watched the Testaments.  

And, last of all, my definite highlight of the week was last night.  The Stake High Council invited all the missionaries from the stake to attend a stake fireside about serving missions.  A ton of the youth from the stake came.  We got there a little late (it´s a long way to travel from Huixtla), so we didn´t talk to anyone beforehand.  The High Council had invited us to sing "Ejercito de Helaman" and to recite Doctrine and Covenants 4.  When we went up to the stand at the end to sing, I was looking for people from San José in the people that were there, and I saw Salvador!  So, as soon as we had finished singing and the closing prayer was said, I bee-lined for him, gave him a big hug, and had the opportunity do talk to him for about 10 minutes.  And wow.  I was really so happy to see him and the progress that he´s made.  Saturday he had gone to the temple for the first time to do proxy baptisms, and yesterday he had his interview from the stake presidency to receive the Melchezedek Priesthood. It was one of the most special experiences in my mission to be able to see the difference between the man that I spoke with last night and the man that I met 5 months ago in Tapachula.  What a powerful reminder for me of why I am here.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly changes lives, and there is no privilege greater than to be such an involved part in helping that change work within people.  The Gospel is true.  The Church is true, and is the instrument that the Lord has given us to become more fully converted to that Gospel.  And, through that conversion and with time, each one of us can make that drastic change between our natural weakness and the potential that we have as spiritual children of the Most High God.  

I love you all.  I miss you like crazy, but I know why I´m out here, and it´s worth every minute of it.  A section of the Doctrine and Covenants that really impacted me this week was Section 31.  It´s a very missionary section, but anyone who would like to read it will be very spiritually uplifted nonetheless :) it had been a while since I’d read it, and it was an awesome reminder and ánimo booster for me.

Anyway, that´s all for this week!  Take care everyone and have a great week!

Con amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 5, 2012--Week 36

1. So, how was "El día de muertos"? I know what we talked about in our class and read about in our textbook. But, what is it really like--where you are? How do the people celebrate and what do they do? Were you part of any festivities?

Basically, it was super lame.  I was expecting a ton of festivities and stuff, but it turns out that the people of Huixtla are not super festive.

2.  At one point, you mentioned a new chapel being built in Huixta? Is it close to done? Is it a regular church building? I know last week with the baptism photo, you mentioned that you really miss the pretty San Jose building.  That made me think to ask the question.

Nooooooooo.  They decided that they´re putting it on hold until February (they haven´t even started) because the branch did not meet the goals that they set.

4.  You talked about Antonio being an English teacher.  Where does he teach?  At a university or high school?  Do you talk with him in English?  :)

Antonio isn´t an English teacher, but he is a teacher.  Of primary school (that´s not what we say in english... whatever comes before middle school).  Like 2nd grade I think.

5.  Lastly--how was your week?  I hope that the baptism went through and that the Spirit was strong and the branch members came as a support.  

Our week was awesome because of Antonio´s baptism.  I really feel so privileged to have been able to teach him.  Not that I don´t love the other people that I´ve baptized as well, but this was definitely the most special baptism that I´ve had since being in the field. The sad thing is that only one family came to the baptism.  But, the baptism was very special nonetheless, and we confirmed him yesterday and also ordained him a priest, which he asked me to do, which was very special because I know that he is going to be a great Priesthood holder and will honor his Priesthood and use it to serve the Lord and others, and because I had never done it in Spanish before.  

Also, another awesome thing happened this week.  Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and President of the Area of Mexico, came to talk to the 2 zones of Tapachula.  It was very special and personal, and we felt the Spirit and received revelation for our area, and even more so for how to improve ourselves individually as missionaries, and as I have put in practice some of the things that he told us to do in this week, I have had some very special experiences, and have felt an increase in the guidance of the Spirit.  Also, I just wanted to share specifically with you, Mom, about his wife.  I´m pretty sure that Sister Johnson did not speak Spanish before he was called to be president of the area of Mexico, but you can see how hard she has worked to learn, because she communicated herself very well, and she had a very special spirit about her when she spoke to us.  She was a huge example for me in that aspect, and I thought you might like to hear about that as well :)

A frustrating thing that happened this week is that I lost our cell phone (I know... I never lose trash like that... but there´s a first time for everything) by leaving it in a taxi on Saturday, so we will not be recovering it.  And, that pretty much puts any plans that we had to do exchanges on hold until we get a new one.  I was excited to do my first exchange not only as district leader, but just as senior comp (we were going to do them this week).  But, that´s what happens because I did a tontería and left our cell phone in the taxi... 

It´s been a pretty significant pain to not have a cell phone... but we´re managing and we should get a new one within a few weeks.  Walking works pretty well, as I´ve seen my entire mission.  The zone leaders had to take the weekly reports of the missionaries of my district, and as of right now we´re calling them every night from public phones (which are CRAZY expensive it´s ridiculous) on the street to see about announcements and stuff like that.

I think that’s it for now.  Have a great week!  Good luck with your Spanish, Mom!  Thank you so much for your prayers.  I love and miss you all!  

Con amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl