Called to Serve

Daisypath Vacation tickers

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 16, 2013--Week 93

Dear Family,

Mom, congratulations on your finals!  The Lord does work--and we can see His miracles when we look for them. :) On that note we had a really cool experience giving a blessing this week.  One of the families of investigators that we´re teaching has a son that has had a high fever for a couple of weeks. The medicine that they'd given him had no effect. We gave him a blessing and two days later when we came back he was just fine. I don´t think that they realized the significance of what happened, but I definitely did. I know that God is still a God of miracles today just as much as He was anciently.

Ok, so my time is short--again. :/ Sorry about that.  This week started off really awesome.  We found 5 new investigators who we set baptismal dates with.  That was pretty cool.  The really uncool part was that not even one of them came to church on Sunday (although they had all committed to doing so), which also meant that their baptismal dates no longer exist (since they have to go to Church five times before being baptized).  The family that we found last week was really excited (we found the dad on Tuesday and had an awesome lesson and set baptismal dates with him and his wife), but then on Friday, the pastor from the Church that they had recently stopped attending, came to see them and talked to the mom.  And since the family is indiginous (we think they´re Tzotzils but we´re not sure) and very humble, it also means that it´s a very male dominated culture and the women have very little say.  So, having said that, she sees the pastor as a huge authority figure and he told her not to go to church with us anymore or even to accept us in her house.  So, that was really frustrating and we wanted to have a few words with that pastor but unfortunately (or rather fortunately haha) he was no longer there when we got there.  So she won´t let us talk to her anymore but we´re going to see what her husband says when we have an opportunity to meet with him.  

So, it would have ended up being a pretty discouraging week, but last night we had stake leadership training with the Area Seventy (his name is Elder Reyes).  President Cárdenas called us on Saturday and told us that we would be attending this meeting.  So, we went and Elder Reyes talked about Hastening the Work of Salvation.  And he said that the purpose of the ward council is to carry this work out. So, what we gathered together in Ward Councils and made lists of people (one list of non-members and one list of members) for us to visit.  Actually, we didn´t make the list, the ward council did. Our ward council came up with more than 50 names on each list.  So now, we´re psyched to work with the all these new people and we ended the week on a great note.  ...And better yet, the ward is now focused on filling our planners and giving us people to teach. :) 

I´m so grateful for modern revelation and I know that this work will move forward so much more powerfully this way.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013--Week 92

Dear Family,

So, this week was pretty great.  We started off by going to Tuxtla for the leadership council and President talked to us about working with the ward councils and the members so that the Work of Salvation moves forward correctly.  That´s been all of the focus lately.  I can´t believe how much that´s changed for me since the beginning of my mission--we used to just knock doors all day.  I´m so thankful that the Lord helped us see the more effective way of doing things.  This week we received a referral from a recent convert of a complete family.  They´re a very humble family.  They don´t have much, and the dad is always gone working (we still haven´t met him yet, but we have an appointment with them tomorrow and we´re hoping to find him).  On Sunday morning we went with a brother in the ward to bring the mom with two of her kids to Church.  Next week we´ll be turning that reponsibility over to the ward mission leader, who will make sure that they get to church. :) Working with the members really is more effective... Imagine how many more people the members can bring to church together than just us two missionaries (actually four... there are four missionaries in this ward, too) without a car.  Speaking of that, this is by far the biggest ward that I´ve been assigned to work in (although Chahuites is heading this way, too), 120-130 people attend every week.  So, that´s all I have for this week.  Sorry it´s rushed, but I´m out of time.  I was going to send a couple of pictures, too, but again, I´m out of time.

Anyway, I love you all very much :) Thank you for your prayers.  I feel them in our work here.  Have a great week and for everyone that has exams and finals--trust in the Lord and know that if you do your part, He´ll do the rest.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Nickerl

P.S. I wanted to tell you that this week when we went to Tuxtla, they gave us the time-frame for our Christmas call.  We plan on calling on Dec. 24th.  I´ll have time to do my videochat at 7pm here.  It´ll be on Skype just like the last two calls.  We´ll be doing it in the stake president´s house.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013--Week 91

Hello from the cold!!

So, this week I just about froze to death (but I didn´t). San Cristóbal actually has a beautiful climate (that we´re now enjoying), but the same day that I got here there was a cold front from the Gulf of Mexico which lasted about 3 days. And the sun didn´t come out. And I was really cold. But on Friday the sun came out and although it´s cold at night we´re enjoying beautiful weather during the day. I´ve just been reminded this week that I don´t mind the cold--as long as I live in a heated house--which I don´t.  haha. But anyway, apart from the cold, San Cristóbal is AWESOME. It´s a beautiful city and I now understand why it´s the tourist center of Chiapas. That´s been another super weird thing, by the way... I see white people here all the time. I was not used to that. I was the white guy in Chahuites. Speaking of Chahuites, I miss my little town and all of my people there. As awesome as San Cristóbal is, I don´t recognize everyone that I see in the street and it doesn´t have the same general friendliness as Chahuites does. But yeah, anyway, I´ve heard so many languages here. I´ve heard people speaking English in the street a couple of times, but mostly I´ve heard German and French and other languages that I don´t distinguish. Also there are a ton of indiginous people here, mostly Tzotziles and Chamulas. I´ve started learning a couple words here and there in Tzotzil, mostly to lower prices on the stuff that they sell. (haha)  I know how to say (the spelling on the tzotzil words is very likely not correct, it´s just how it´s pronounced in Spanish) "Hi/good morning/good afternoon/etc"--"Leoté", "How are you?"--"cushailán", "fine"--"lecoy", "What are you doing?"--"Cushi-shapás", "How much does this cost?"--"cus-tojol", "That´s really expensive."--"Toj-toyol", "I want a lower price"--"tsu-lesó", and "thank you"--"kolabal". So that´s been fun. I´m going to try to find a good Tzotzil book and learn a little bit more. :) 

As far as the work goes right now, we don´t have many of investigators here, so we have been/will be visiting a lot of members and teaching them the lessons and inviting them to invite their friends to listen to us. We know that we`ll find a lot of people that way.

Another cool experience really quick before I go... yesterday we were waiting outside the church for our investigators, and a whole bunch of members from Utah showed up. And they didn´t speak Spanish. So they asked me to translate for them in sacrament meeting. To my great surprise, I did so fairly successfully. Just one time I realized that instead of translating what the person was saying I was just repeating it in Spanish... everyone turned around and looked at me and laughed... that was embarassing. But other than that it went pretty well :)

That`s it for this week.  I love you all very much! Rely on the Lord in these couple of exam weeks and everything will go just fine :)

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013--Week 90

Hey family :)

Sorry, this might be kind of a lame letter this week... I think that's usually how it goes when I get transfered because I don´t really remember that much about the week before because I´m busy thinking about what's ahead. So I´ll just talk about my transfer. This morning we got the news that after more than 8 months in my beloved little town of Chahuites, tomorrow I´ll be heading to San Cristóbal. I´ll still be zone leader there. I´ll probably only be there this transfer (until January 5th) as it´s my last transfer as zone leader. My companion is going to be Elder Martínez. I don´t know that much about him, but I´ve talked to him a few times before in leadership councils (he´s been a zone leader a while, too). I just know that he´s from Colombia and that he´s an awesome missionary. I´m super psyched to go to San Cristóbal. It´s the tourist center of Chiapas. Everyone goes there to see the indiginous people and there is an incredible amount of culture there. I´ll hopefully be able to learn a little bit of Tzotzil. The missionaries have told me that if you know Tzotzil you can get wayyy lower prices on all of the cool things that they sell (if you don´t, they crank up the prices because you´re just another tourist). Oh yeah, San Cristóbal is also the coldest zone in the mission (I would guess that it doesn´t get below freezing too often, but after being here and without a house with a heating system like the houses in the US, that´s going to be a shock for me). I´m going to be really grateful for the sweaters that I bought in Comitán. I heard that the hot water system in the house isn't working either... I really hope that that´s not true... If it is I´ll just have to work out really hard in the mornings so that I´m sweating and enjoy my bucket-of-ice showers (the previous experience in Comitán will come in handy as well). But all-in-all I'm really excited and hopefully I'll email with some cool pictures next week.  

Before I go, I did write down a couple of cool experiences from the week:
--First of all, we were eating with the Hna Imara this week and she gave us a couple of sea turtle eggs each to try.  Sea turtle eggs are a delicacy here.  It´s weird... the shell is soft and you kind of semi-boil it and then just tear the shell a little bit and suck out the contents.  I can´t say that I loved it but it was a cool experience :)
--One of our investigators gave us coconuts--but not as we know them in the US.  She gave them to us like they fall off of the tree.  With a machete to open it.  So we opened them up with the machete, drank the coconut water, and then opened it up all the way to eat the fruit.  Mom and Dad, when we come back in March we can do it. :) It was a lot of fun.

Anyway, that´s all!  I´m thankful for your support and prayers!  Happy Thanksgiving!  I love you!!!  

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013--Week 89

Happy Monday everyone!

This is another one of those weeks that has just flown by. I´m not really sure where the time is going anymore.... today we´re starting week 6 of this transfer (the last week) and consequently almost without doubt my last week in Chahuites (I would really love to be proven wrong on that next week, we´ll see how it goes). Probably next Monday when I email I´ll be able to tell you where my next area will be.

Anyway, apart from the strange and disappearing concept also known as time, this was a good week. I think part of the reason that things are going so fast is because we´ve been so incredibly busy. We didn't have one day this week that we got to work in our area all day like normal missionaries. I love being a zone leader, but I´m excited to be a normal senior companion again my last transfer here in about a month and a half. :) So, one of the things that made this week very busy was the fact that we had zone conference. We usually have it with another zone in a city/town close to here called Arriaga, but this time we had it here in Chahuites, which means that all of the logistics of the conference fell squarely over us. They had told us beforehand that the conference was going to be the 20th, but the assistants called us Tuesday with the surprise that it had been changed to the following day (Wednesday the 13th) and that we had to find someone to prepare lunch (remember that here that´s the big meal of the day) for 30 people, invite the district president and all of the branch presidents, and prepare a 20 minute presentation from a pamphlet that we didn´t have. :) So, I´m not quite sure how we got that all figured out, but it was pretty awesome. The conference was great. I love hearing from President Cárdenas and Sister Cárdenas. Sister Cárdenas talked about the first principle that we teach as missionaries:  "God is our loving Heavenly Father". It was awesome because sometimes we get so caught up in what we´re doing and teaching that we forget to ponder on the basics like that. I felt the Spirit very strongly and I know that Heavenly Father values me as His son (see attached song--it has to do with this and I love it). Then President Cárdenas talked about the Book of Mormon and the Gathering of Israel. And it was awesome. I love Sunday school every Sunday, but I definitely already know what they´re talking about (especially since we go to Gospel Principles with our investigators). It was definitely more on a missionary understanding of doctrine level :) and I really enjoyed it and learned a lot.

Apart from that we´ve been running around the zone doing lots of other things in these last couple of days. We´ve been checking on the elders, doing exchanges, baptismal interviews, etc. In our limited time to work in our area, we did find some other people who now have baptismal dates. They´re nieces and nephews of a member family--they gave us the referral and we teach them in their home.  Just another example of how much more quickly the work progresses when missionaries and members are one united force. We would never have found them on our own.  

I´ve got to go because of time, but I´m so grateful for the blessings of the Lord.  I know that He is a God of miracles today just as much as He was to the children of Israel, the Nephites, or any other group of people in any time. The typhoon story with the sister missionaries is just another example of that (thank you, Mom, for sending that to me--it was an extremely touching story and full of miracles).  

Have a great week, everyone. Always rely on the Lord.  Wise words from the Relief Society President here: "Haz el Señor socio de tu empresa." I´m not sure how to translate that that well.  Basically it´s like "Make the Lord the center of your business." Business meaning "life" for the analogy´s sake.  I love you all :)

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

This was fun as well--we left the house one day and found a donkey outside of our door.  It was really manso (someone can look up the translation for that) so we took pictures with it.  It was a really nice donkey.

This is a cool picture that we took coming back from a baptismal interview in Ixhuatán (area of one of the district leaders).  We caught the sunset on the bridge just a tad late, but it turned out pretty well anyway. 

This is just another one of those cool "I´m serving in a little town in the middle of nowhere and it´s beautiful" pictures.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 11, 2013--Week 88

Dear Family,

Ok, to answer your questions first: :) the CMEJ (EFY in Mexico) was held over the summer. And I didn´t know that music for it in Spanish even existed and I do not have access to it.  :) So yes, if you could send me a disc with it that would be super.

The district conference you saw the photos of was held in Zanatepec (more or less the central location in the zone) and it was on the basketball/soccer court of an elementary school there. All the chapels here are pretty small, so we definitely don´t all fit in just one for the district conference. That was a pretty awesome experience. We felt pretty good because we brought 9 investigators with us to the conference (that´s a lot).  

I did get Brother Mahelona´s poem and I thought it was pretty awesome.  I thought I had responded about that before :/ so I'm sorry about that.  I´ve also gotten a couple of other letters from him with funny/inspiration poems/cartoons/quotes that have all been really awesome.  Could you give me his email address so that I could write personally and thank him?

So, this week has been really good.  It´s hitting me pretty hard now that I´m really going to be leaving Chahuites in just a couple of weeks.  That´s going to be tough for me.  I love the people here so much. But we´re going to have another baptism the Saturday before I leave, and we´ve found a ton of people that are definitely going to be baptized in December, so I feel like I´ll be leaving the area in good shape. :) Also, I don´t know if I had told you last week or not, but before district conference (we didn´t take attendence of the branch there) we´d had 3 consecutive weeks with more than 100 members in attendence. We set that goal back in July, and we had hit it a couple of times, but now we´ve done it 3 weeks consistently.  It is so excited to reach a goal and seemed nearly impossible at the time.  Now it´s now time to set a higher goal. :) 

I´m still loving having Elder Finn as my companion. We would have liked to have more time than just one transfer as companions, but that´s ok. The Lord knows what He´s doing. :) We get a long well and we help each other out in a lot of things. We get up and do excercise really well every morning.  We did no más today. :) We can just barely make it through step 7, but in a couple of days we´re going to do it to step 8.  

Umm other than that I don´t have too much to say.  I love this work and I´m kind of freaking out a little bit that my time is coming to an end. As I leave Chahuites I´ll only have two transfers left.  And it´s probable that those two transfers will be in two different areas, since in this mission if you´re a zone leader for your last transfer you get another area as just a normal senior comp or as a district leader.  So, I´ve got one transfer left as a zone leader and then they´ll probably change me again. So, I´ll have the chance to have two more areas :) unless by some miracle I get to stay in Chahuites again.  

Anyway, I love you all! Have a wonderful week. :) Keep up the good work in your lives.  I know that there is a lot to do right now and it´s a really busy time of year with the holidays and school finals, but always remember to make the Lord the center of your lives and everything else will fall into place.

"Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewith shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye need all of these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you."--3 Nephi 13:31--33

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl 

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013--Week 87

Dear Family,

Sorry, we've had a super hectic report writing/family writing session today... full of calls from the assistants and from just about every area in the zone.  I've really loved being a zone leader, but I´ll be pretty happy for my last transfer when I can just be a normal senior companion again.  So, I apologize that I'm just about out of time to write and I didn't say anything about this week other than the baptism. All I can say is that it was a great week and that we had a lot of really good experiences.  The leadership council in Tuxtla was pretty awesome, and then we came back Wednesday and had a really really great zone training.  We felt like we transmitted to the elders and sisters what President wanted them to know and hear.  Then, we had a couple of really cool experiences as a companionship finding investigators. We found a couple of new people that are definitely going to get baptized. I guess we'll just wait to see if I'm still around when that happens or not. :) 

Sorry that that´s all I can write. :( I´m out of time.
Have a great week!  I love you all very much!

Con mucho amor!
Elder Andrew Nickerl

So, this week when we went to fill up the baptismal font, water did not come out.  We thought that was pretty unfortunate until we learned that we could have the baptism in the RIVER!!!  And at that point it became the best thing that happened to us all day.  So, here´s Merced and me right after the ordinance.  

This is right before the ordinance.  Both of us were pretty excited because we hadn´t baptized in a river before.  This was a really special experience.  
Here we are heading out to the water...

And right before the ordinance.... so this one really goes right after the first one that I sent. :)  It was an AWESOME baptismal service.  If we can, we´re going to have the rest of our baptisms here in Chahuites in the river.  The only downside is that my white temple pants are super dirty.  But they´re in the washer right now so we´ll see if I can get them a little bit cleaner. :)  If not, I´ll have to scrub them by hand (which I don´t like doing).   

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013--Week 86

Hello family!

So, first of all, we´re going to have a baptism this Saturday so we´re pretty excited about that. With the new rule that they have to go to church five times before getting baptized, Merced is definitely more than ready and we´re ready to have one too. We´ve now gone more than a month without a baptism so we we’re getting a little restless. I´m not actually going to write that much today because I´m going to send some pictures. I figured out a way to fix my camera short-term (I put in and take out the SD card with tweezers) and I´m hoping it´ll last until I get home and then we can take it to a good repair-man.

We're off to Tuxtla now for our leadership conference which is tomorrow.  We're taking the bus and it will take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there so I need to go after I send some photos.  

I love you all.  Have a great week!
Con mucho amor, 
Elder Andrew Nickerl

I´ve now been in Oaxaca almost longer than I was in Chiapas. :) Oaxaca is currently my favorite Mexican state. 

This past Saturday we had an activity in the Church.  It was kind of an "open house" so that the people from the town could see the Church on the inside.  Each organization prepared their own room and were assigned to talk about certain things. This is the room that the Relief Society (Sociedad de Socorro) prepared to explain Relief Society.  They talked about the history of Relief Society and what it does for women today.

This room was prepared by the Primary... so I´m not exactly sure why it has the Young Women´s banner hanging on the wall behind the little temple--but it looked really nice.  And I´m not sure who made the little temple, but it was pretty amazing.

The Youth (meaning basically the YW because there is only one fully active YM) were assigned to explain the Book of Mormon.

The activity went really well.  They were announcing it all week on the radio.  We didn´t have as big of a showout from the general public as we had hoped (based on how many people asked us in the street about it), but a good number of people showed up and we´re going to look for them this week and try to teach them. :) 

Here we are with the sisters and with Cristian at the activity.  They´re going to call some ward missionaries soon which will be awesome.  The missionary corps is growing. :)

This was this morning.  We´ve been looking for more opportunities lately to give service, and today we got to cut down an oak tree with a hand saw. :) We started by cutting off the branches on top so that it didn´t break anything when it fell (and then we got to make firewood out of the branches with a machete!!  I love machetes!)  This is finishing that process.

This is the last branch we cut off the top before we started cutting the trunk. 
Making firewood out of the branches with the machete. 

This was the hardest part.  Cutting through the trunk was a beast.  

The tree is finally down! And, my comp and I got a picture together.  With me sending pictures of just me it makes it look like I did all the work.  But no, my comp probably did more than I did.  To answer the confusion with the half missionary clothes/half service clothes, we were in our own yard--doing service for the people who own the house (they´re awesome and they take care of us a lot, so we owe them all sorts of favors anyway).  

So yeah it took us about an hour, but we beat the tree.  I feel like my man-skills have greatly increased on my mission haha (I´ve now cut down trees with a hand saw and cut grass with a giant knife--and it feels pretty cool).  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 21, 2013--Week 85

Hey family :)

So, this week was a pretty cool week. We started it with transfers. It was pretty unreal when Elder Reyes left. After having been companions for almost 6 months, I was expecting him to come back at any minute. Turns out that he stayed in Tuxtla (that´s what he was supposed to do, I just wasn´t quite with the program yet).  

So, then we waited for the afternoon in Arriaga for the new missionaries in the zone to get there. I didn't tell you guys that Elder Esparza is in our zone now as a district leader. It's pretty cool having an old companion here.  I'm happy to be able to be around him for this last transfer in Chahuites (it´s almost for sure that at the end of November I'll be heading out of here.  It's pretty much unheard of that a missionary stays longer in his area than 6 transfers, and I´m now in my 6th transfer).  

So, this week having Elder Finn as my comp has been pretty awesome. It's pretty funny hearing us talk. Our Spanglish is terrible. We never speak English, only pure Spanish or a ridiculous mix of the two languages. For example, this morning I said, "I´ve got to wash this vass todavía" (meaning "I´ve still got to wash this cup" or "Tengo que lavar este vaso todavía"). And that´s how we do it. We get along great and we work and teach together really well, too, so it´s a shame that we´re only going to be companions this transfer. Another thing that I didn´t realize until this week is how many people I know in this town. Elder Reyes knew almost everyone that I knew, so I didn´t really think about with when I was with him. But yeah, I almost can´t walk for a block here without saying hi to someone that I know. We went on Wednesday to buy tlayudas (the famous gigantic quesadilla with carne asada and beans of Oaxaca) so that Elder Finn could try them, and I knew everyone in the restaurant. It´s not a huge restaurant, there were only like 4 families eating there, but yeah it was pretty funny. I knew and talked to them all. So that's pretty cool.  

As far as the Work goes we had a couple of disappointments this week. A lot of people that we thought were going to get baptized made it clear to us this week that they don´t really want to. But, we´ve got one awesome young man (he´s 18) who´s going to get baptized November 2nd. He even brought a friend with him this week to Church. We´re going to visit her for the first time tomorrow. So yeah. I´m running out of time, and I don´t have much else to say right now :) I love you all!

Have a great week!  

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013--Week 84


So, this was an awesome week.  Before I forget, I have to share the bad news first that I've been forgetting to tell you for the last couple of weeks. My camera broke. :( The camera itself is fine, but the card slot is broken.  Part of one of the SD cards got jammed inside. Maybe I dropped it or something.  I have no idea.  But the good thing is that the card works too and I still have all of my pictures. But yeah.... needless to say it´s going to be kind of tough for me to take pictures. I guess I´ll just be relying on my comp for the rest of the time that I´m in Chahuites because there´s definitely not a place around here to fix it. If they send me to Tuxtla or something then I´ll be able to get it fixed.  

That brings me to my next big news! TODAY IS TRANSFERS!!!! And I´M OFFICIALLY GOING TO......................... CHURCH IN CHAHUITES THIS SUNDAY!!!  Again :) for another 6 weeks! So awesome. But, Elder Reyes is getting transfered :( after almost 6 months of being my comp. But, that´s how it all goes and if all goes according to our plan then this time next year we´ll be roommates at BYU anyway. So, the cool news is that my comp is going to be Elder Finn. He´s from my "graduating class" of elders por así decirlo (don´t remember how to say that correctly in English...). We got here at the same time and we´ll be leaving at the same time.  He´s going to get here tomorrow from Comitán. He´s an awesome missionary and I already know him so I´m pretty excited. And I just love Chahuites so I´m happy. :) I think I´m actually just going to live here after my mission (not really). This is almost for sure my last transfer here, though. I´ve only ever heard once that a missionary in this mission stayed in his area for more than 6 transfers... and it´s now my sixth. So yeah. That´s what´s going down with transfers.

So, this week we had a really awesome opportunity to find some new investigators. We were looking for a referral that the sister missionaries had given us and just asking around with the people who live around there so that they could tell us where the referral lived. We asked this one lady and she said that she didn´t know him, but we said that she was moving a bunch of wood in her yard so we offered to help.  We helped and we also noticed that her two daughters were pulling out the weeds in her yard (which is huge) by hand. Here in Chahuites they usually do that with a machete.  We had never actually worked with machetes before, but we told her that we were going to go back the next day (which was Saturday) to chop her giant weeds down with machetes. We rounded up a couple of the brothers from the branch (thanks to Cristian, our ward mission leader, who you´ve now met, Mom) and went to cut her yard. And that was definitely the most grueling physical labor that I´ve done in my entire life (it didn´t help that we had decided to go on a run that morning, too).  Seriously I´m still out of energy. Cristian took some pictures and said he was going to post them on facebook, which is awesome because I don´t have access to my camera anymore. So anyway, we invited them to church, and then we went with a brother that has a truck and we took them to church the next day. We had 4 new investigators go to church for the first time this week! I love it when that happens :) So, that was a cool experience from this week.  I feel pretty cool cutting grass with a machete. But I don´t think I´ll be doing it again any time soon, though, because I´m beat still. But I think that has inspired me to buy a machete (they´re really cheap here--4-7 bucks depending on the size). 

So that´s all :) the work continues to move forward here in this wonderful part of the Lord's vinyard. I love you all!!!  Have a wonderful week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Jason Nickerl

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 7, 2013--Week 83

Hello family!

So, first of all, I got the package this week. And it is SOOOOOOO awesome. We downed the goldfish pretty quickly. :) Surprisingly, the package was pretty banged up, but everything inside was intact and the goldfish weren´t even that broken. We´re going to make the brownies this week with Imara and her kids!  We don´t have an oven and we figured it would be better to share them anyway instead of eating them all ourselves and getting really sick :) and the textbooks are great! Please tell Mrs. LaMotte that I said muchísimas gracias he podido estudiar mejor esta semana que lo que he podido hacer hace mucho tiempo. So the package was a huge ánimo-booster all the way around. Thank you :)

The leadership conference in Tuxtla was pretty cool. We got to Tuxlta pretty late last Monday night and there were way too many people staying in the asistants´ house. Getting ready in the morning was a nightmare.  But anyway, it was a pretty cool conference and I got to see a couple of my old companions that I hadn´t seen for a while and that was pretty cool. And Sister Cárdenas got back from the States (she had a surgery there and had been gone for about a month or maybe a little more), so it was good to see her back with us again. Turns out that our zone, even though we´re one of the smaller zones in this mission, had the 2nd most baptisms in the mission (the zone that had one more baptism than us has 28 missionaries--we have 18) in the month of September.  We have awesome missionaries in the zone right now, and we´re so grateful for them and for their efforts in helping the work of the Lord roll forth in this part of His vinyard. We also found out this week that next transfer (which is next Monday--the 14th), we´ll be recieving yet another pair of sisters in the zone.  So that´s pretty cool as well. Now every zone in the mission except for one will have at least 4 sisters in it--with some of the bigger zones having up to 10. And, the first American sister will be coming to our mission at the end of November. That´s pretty crazy. It´s been years and years and years since there has been American sister missionaries in Mexico.  It´s incredible to see how fast the work is now progressing.  

This week here in Chahuites has been pretty great, too. After our baptism last week we bastically didn't have any investigators left, so this week we used in large part to find new investigators.  And we found them. :) We now have 6 investigators with baptismal dates. It´s wonderful how they just appear out of nowhere when we trust in the Lord :) He knows where His chosen children are. We just have to trust in Him and be worthy so that one way or another He leads us to them.  

Apart from that we did exchanges with Elder Stucki and his comp Elder Gervais this week to do the baptismal interviews for their three baptisms this weekend. That was fun as always. Elder Stucki and I have been in the same zone for almost 7 months now, so we´re good buddies.

I was so grateful for the chance to listen to Conference this week... We had some experience talking to people this week that reminded me just how wonderful it is to have the knowledge of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life.  Sometimes we take for granted that we know the simple and beautiful truths that we know.  I love the emphasis on family and marriage that there was in the Conference--it´s so plain to me here that this is one way that Satan gains so much power--by fragmenting the family and defacing the value of marraige. I´m so grateful that the family is the center of God´s plan and that He has given us the oportunity to be eternal families. He lives, and He loves us. His work is progressing, and the world is being prepared for the Second Coming of His Son.

Umm I think that´s about all that I have to report this week. :) Thank you so much for all the support and prayers from home.  I hope you all know how much I love you and that you can feel my prayers like I can feel the strength from yours.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013--Week 82

Hello everyone!

The only really new thing to report this week was our baptism... which I covered in the comment on the photo that I sent. So I'm not really sure what else I have to talk about. The weather is better now. It only rained a couple times this week and we only got soaked once. So that's good :) 

Let´s see... we´ve been working a lot more with the missionaries of the zone lately. We've been doing exchanges every week and that´s been pretty great. We have some really awesome missionaries in our zone. Funny note:  one of the new missionaries that got here this transfer is from Panama. And he knows my roommate Cameron from BYU (that's where Cameron is serving his mission right now). The fact that we figured that out is pretty crazy. It's a small world. Other than that, we get to go to Tuxtla today for a leadership training. We are going with all of our district leaders from here (there are 4 of them now, as compared with only 2 when I got here. The zone has gotten a lot bigger). And we're going to have the conference in the Tuxtla México Stake, which is right by the temple. That is awesome, because it's been awhile since I last saw the temple. And I always enjoy going back to civilization once a month. :) The best part is that when we get back we have a tonnnnn of appointments. Actually the entire day Wednesday and Thursday we´ve got booked. I'm down with that. I love it when we have a lot of work to do. The only scary part about it is that it makes the time flyyyyyyyy by.  

Anyway, I´m kind of just rambling because I don´t have that much more to talk about.  :) So, I'll close by sharing my testimony quickly (it gets tougher every time to do that in English). I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ has power to change us and transform us into better people in our lives. I'm so thankful for that influence and power in my life. I know that Jesus Christ really lived, worked miracles, taught the words of life, and suffered and died for our sins because He loves us and knew that there would be no other way for us to return to the presence of our Eternal Father. I know that His Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He directs it through His prophets and apostles, and in doing so He prepares the Earth for His Second Coming. That´s what this work is about. I´m now out of time, so I'll just finish with that. God loves us, and in each moment He is ready and willing to accept our efforts to repent and serve Him more fully and bless us in return.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is us with Brian right before he got baptized.  He's an incredibly kid.  He's good friends with an active family in our branch and he´s the only one out of his family that wanted to listen to us. But his mom went to his baptism and felt the Spirit very strongly and afterwards she said that we could go visit her. We're going to visit her and her other kids this Wednesday.  And, we´re hoping to have a picture of the rest of the family in white in just a couple of weeks--thanks to Brian's example.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 22, 2013--Week 81

Hello family :)

So, this week we´ve been very blessed.  The Lord is blessing us in the whole zone the find the people that He has prepared for us to baptize.  We´ve been traveling all over the place to do baptismal interviews for the district leaders.  This week we´ll also be having a baptism in our own area.  Then we'll have another the 19th of October.  There was a change in the area a couple of weeks ago that an investigator must now attend church at least 5 times before being baptized, hence the really far away date (it feels really far to me because since the week before last we set that baptismal date and before we invited for about 3 or 4 weeks out instead of 5 or 6).  This week will also be the same thing in the zone--we'll be traveling all over the place doing baptismal interviews.  That means less time in our area, but that´s okay. :) We like it when the rest of the zone gets to baptize, too.  I don´t have too much else to report :) Sorry, I feel like this is happening more and more these days.  If you want to know about anything specifically, you can tell me.  

Thanks so much for all of your support, love, and prayers :) I love you all so much.  

Con mucho amor,

Elder Nickerl

This is the street--I mean river--that was outside of our house during the tropical storm last week.  And this was like 6 hours after the rain stopped.

This is us on Elder Reyes´ birthday (Happy birthday!!!  We´re going to put church clothes on and get soaking wet and walk around in those soaking wet church clothes all day!!  Doesn´t that sound like a great birthday celebration?)  The day after this I made a really nice rain coat out of giant plastic trash bag that goes all the way down to my ankles almost so I stay a lot dryer now.  

This is earlier the same day--we had done exchanges with Elder Stucki and I went to Zanatepec (his area) to interview their investigator for baptism.  We got soaked.  Then, the next day, we also got soaked.  This is us with our incredibly ineffective umbrellas.  I don´t like umbrellas anyway... they just make you mad when the wind starts blowing.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013--Week 79

Hey Mama :) 

What awesome news from home this week!  I´m soooooooo psyched for Adam.  He will be a great missionary in Madrid Spain! We´re going to speak with COMPLETELY different accents haha.  That's so awesome.  He's going to speak Castellano (that´s what the Spain accent is called) and I think I´m going to end up speaking like a mix of a bunch of different states here because I talk like my comps. But anyway, I´m really really happy and excited for him. 

Ok, so I don´t have time to write much anymore because I was sending the pictures, but basically we spent a lot of time this week preparing the area and the house of the hermanas, who got here this week. We now officially have cut our area in half.  But that´s ok. :) The branch is super excited to have them and things are going great.  We had 103 people in sacrament meeting last week, which apart from our branch conference (and about 20 people from other branches in the district attended our branch conference and it totalled at 103) is more people than have attended since I´ve been in Chahuites.  So, we're psyched!  The only problem is we don´t really have any more investigators.  But that´s ok, we´re going to Tuxtla for consejo today and tomorrow, and when we get back, we´re going to devote all our time to help the members be missionaries, and that way we find wayyyyyyyy more investigators than we ever did alone.  That´s about all I have to report this week.  I´m so excited for the news of Adam´s mission call this week.  I´m going to miss seeing him by less than 3 months, but that´s ok.  The Lord needs him in His harvest field :) 

I love you all so much.  Have an awesome week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is Elder Reyes and I with Elder Jensen, another good friend who had been in the zone with me for the last 6 months or so.  He was Elder Stucki´s comp and this is in the bus station just before he left to go to his new area in Tuxtla.

This is us with Elder Stucki again.  This place is in Arriaga (the closest "city" to where we are--that´s where we do the transfers from and everything), and it makes awesome hamburgers and tortas (giant sandwiches on hogie-type bread) and licuados (kind of like a crumby milkshake).  So we went there while we were waiting for the other Elders to get to Arriaga to make sure all the transfers happened without problems. 

This is Elder Stucki and I pulling water out of a well.  I pulled it out and he poured it into the giant water bucket next to it.  That´s how a lot of people get their water here.  They don´t have running water sometimes.  Elder Stucki has been my district leader here in Chahuites since I got here, so he´s my good buddy.  He was with us this Tuesday while we were waiting for his new comp to get here.  Mom, I don´t know if you know his mom, but if you don´t you should try to find her on missionary moms or facebook or something.  But yeah, he went to BYU beforehand too and he finishes his mission in June of next year (a couple months after me), so we decided with Elder Reyes that we´re all going to be roommates there fall semester of next year.  

After we pulled water out of the well, we played soccer for a few minutes with these kids (they´re the same ones that got baptized the week before last).  We usually do something like this with them because they have short attention spans so we make deals with them that we get to teach them for 20 minutes and if they behave well afterwards we play soccer with them for 20 minutes or something like that.  I´m not sure where the ball is in this picture but that´s what we were doing :)

Another action shot playing soccer... I think Elder Stucki totally stuffed me about a half second after this picture was taken... haha we don´t play that often so I´m still not that great at soccer.  

One of the miracles of the week.  I found bottled root bear!!!  I´m not going to say that it was like "IBC" or anything, but it was pretty awesome after not having dranken (or is it "drinken"?) root beer for like a year and a half.  So, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had root beer and I did something that I very rarely do:  I bought ice cream (it´s valued here at about the price of gold, which is why I almost never buy it).  And I had root beer floats.  And it was incredible.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013--Week 78

Hello family!  

Well, this was a great week. :) We had 4 baptisms!  One of the ones that we were going to have got posponed until next week, but that´s ok!  That happens sometimes.  I´ll send the pictures in just a sec :) I´m so grateful for the success that the Lord has given us here these last couple of weeks.  I love this little town and these people and branch so much.  

So, transfer news!!!!!!!!!!  Elder Reyes and I are staying here another transfer!!! Woohoo! It´s pretty crazy. I had never had a comp for longer than 2 transfers before. This new one makes 4 now. I´m just really grateful that it´s with a companion that I get along with and work together really well with. If not it would be a nightmare haha. But yeah. This month I also will have been here in Chahuites for more than 6 months. :) That´s pretty crazy too because I had never been in an area for longer than 4 months. But the crazy news is that we had to divide our area today!  They´re sending hermanas here to open the area of Chahuites 2!!! That´s awesome because we know that the work is going to progress way faster and the branch is going to be super excited. Our area is now half the size that is was, but that´s ok because we know that the Lord will still give us people to meet our goals :) and we won´t even have to walk as much to do it.  So, we´re pretty psyched.  We´re working on finding the hermanas a nice house right now and buying them all the stuff they need before they get here (beds, fridge, table and chairs, etc).  

Other than that I don´t have too much to say this week.  I´m glad that you guys have two pairs of missionaries now.  That´s awesome!  I´m a pretty big fan of missionaries. So tell them "hi" for me and more importantly give them people to teach!!!  Because knocking doors is horrible and we never find anybody that wants to listen that way. :) If you want proof you can do a comparison of how many people I had baptized in all my mission before like 3 months ago and how many we´ve baptized in the last 3 months.  What´s the difference?  We work to gain the confidence of the members.  They trust us and let us teach the people that they love and care about. And those people get baptized. And they stay active and become the strong members. The Work progresses and the Lord is pleased and blesses us.  

I testify that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace and changes lives.  I´ve never lived without it, so I hadn´t realized that before my mission.  Here I have seen a change in the disposition of the people who start to live it over and over again.  In the MTC I understood for the first time that as I share the Gospel with people, a light comes into their lives. Some people don´t have any light in their lives beforehand. Since then I have seen that darkness replaced by light and despair replaced by hope and peace in the lives of those who have chosen to accept our invitation to come unto Christ.  That´s what makes me love my mission.  I am happy.  

I love you all. In these busy couple of weeks starting school and ending vacations, rely on the Lord. He´ll help :)

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is Claudia and her 3 kids:  Osvaldo, Diego, and Yovani.  They´re a perfect example of a hard life made so much more happy and peaceful as it was filled with the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is Mariana.  The photo turned out kind of funny... But anyway, we had been teaching her a while back and then we stopped. Out of the blue she decided a couple weeks after that that she was going to get baptized.  It´s an example of the fact that the Lord does way more to prepare people and change their hearts than we do.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013--Week 77

Hello everyone!

Mom, I got the package today and everything is great!  My comp told me to tell you a huge thank you for the CD.  We liked that you wrapped it up :) and thank you very much for all the other stuff as well. It was exactly what I asked for :D 

This week I don´t have a whole lot different to report other than that we are definitely going to have all 5 of the baptisms that we had planned for this week! We were kind of stressing because a lot of the times things happen and the baptisms don´t happen... but everything is ready to go and we´re working on putting together awesome baptismal services for Friday and Saturday.  Obviously we´re super psyched about that.  The only problem is that after we baptize those 5 people, we literally have no investigators left... sooooo... we´re definitely going to be relying on the Lord more than ever this month since we have the goal of 10 baptisms for the month of September and we have nobody to teach... But that´s how August was too, we had the goal of 6 and only one person to teach.  And the Lord made it happen.  We believe that´s going to happen again as long as we do our part and work hard--so that´s what we´re going to do. :) We´ve got transfers again in a week... I´m kind of scared about that.  I´ve not been here in Chahuites 4 transfers... like 5 and a half months.  Much longer than I had been in any other area before.  I´m just hoping for more time here.  The branch is on fire and the average sacrament meeting attendence is about 150% of what it was about 2 months ago.  I hope the Lord lets me stay here.  I love this town, these people, and this branch.  But, if the Lord has other things in mind, that´s ok, too.  "So trusting my all to Thy tender care, and knowing Thou lovest me, I´ll do thy will with a heart sincere:  I´ll be what you want me to be."  That´s definitely one of my favorite hymns.  Anyway, I'm happy as always and each week is better than the last.  I love you all very much and I know that as you rely on the Lord with all the changes and new responsibilities that you´ll have in your lives, everything will be fine.  

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

PS--This week I almost ate a chicken foot!  They gave us chicken with potatoes in stew... which is pretty normal.  What isn´t normal is that I found the foot of the chicken floating in my stew.  I didn´t eat it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 19, 2013--Week 76

Dear Family,

This week has been awesome! I basically have a lot of the same things to say as last week.  Claudia and her family are progressing toward their baptismal date, we just have to teach them a few more things. They stopped drinking coffee and they came to church again yesterday. We did a ward FHE in their house this week, and like 30 members from the ward came. It was pretty awesome. Around the middle of the week, we learned that the other baptismal dates that we had set to meet our goal of 6 for the months fell through (there were 2). So, we didn´t really know what to think about that. But we didn´t worry too much because we´re working hard and we know that the Lord was going to keep His promise that He made us when we set the goal. So, we kept working, and Saturday and yesterday we set two more baptismal dates for the 30th and 31st. So, we are going to have 6.  Just like we knew would happen. :) We didn´t know who they were, but the Lord had prepared us 6 people to baptize in the month of August and on His own timeline He led us to them. Yesterday we set our goal for September. We don´t know if we´re both still going to be here (President kind of told us but not 100% sure thay he´s going to take us out of the area to put hermanas here, but we don´t know for sure yet), but we´re going to work hard to make sure that whoever ends up being here has those 10 baptisms in September. We love this branch, but we know that other missionaries have to come sooner or later. Speaking of the branch, we´re now at a weekly attendance of about 90. When I got here, it was between 50-60. The branch is excited and so are we. The blessings of the Lord here are so evident.  

On a different note: Every week it blows my mind that Adam and Jared are really going to BYU... it can´t have been two years ago already that I was there.  It makes me realize just how much time I´ve been on my mission. In 10 days I´ll have been on my mission for exactly a year and a half. Wow.  I can´t believe that it´s all passed by so fast.  Kind of bittersweet.  I don´t want it to end yet.  The only thing I can do is make the 6 months that I have left the best 6 months of my mission. :)

Anyway, I wanted to write more, but I´m out of time. :(  I´m sure I´ll be able to tell you about how great this week is going to be next Monday (but it may be later than normal because we´re supposed to have our zone activity next Monday in Arriaga). Each week is better than the one before. I love being a missionary. I love you all!! You´re in my prayers.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013--Week 75

This has been an awesome week! :) I don´t remember if we mentioned it last week or not, but in July, we set the goal of 6 baptisms for August. As of the last week of July, we only had one person with a baptismal date.  Well, she just got baptized, and we were kind of freaking out because we had only been able to find one other person to be baptized by the end of the month.  Doing the math (it´s an incredibly complicated sum... 6 - 1 - 1 = ?) we were still 4 people short, and the way that we prepare people to be baptized is usually over a 3 week period of time (they have to go to church at least twice) and so this week we´re doing baptismal invitations for the first week of September.  So, Saturday after our baptism, the branch president of the neighboring town called us and told us that he had a family for us to teach and that he wanted to take us to see them immediately.  We went with him to see them, and we met another sister.  Her name is Claudia.  She has 3 kids (Osvaldo is 10, Diego is 8, and José is 6) and she´s had a lot of challenges in her life. She´s in the middle of several challenges right now and a separation from her husband. She´s not from here, so she doesn´t have any family to fall back on. So, this branch president had talked with her and of course knew to call us right away.  Yesterday we woke up early and went to pick her and her kids up to go to church. And they loved it. And all of the members were super supportive.  They came up and were hugging her and everything even though they don´t know her yet.  Seriously we have seen such a change in the attitude in this branch in the last couple of months.  It´s been incredible.  We went with some members to visit her yesterday afternoon after church and we invited her to be baptized with her two oldest children on the 31st of August, and they accepted.  So, now we´re only one short of our goal instead of 4 short.  We know that the Lord will put that last person in our path.  And it´ll be two months in a row that we´ve met our goals for baptisms :) and it feels incredible, because we know that we´re doing the work that the Lord expects of us.  When we set goals with the influence of the Holy Ghost, it isn´t just a goal set by us, but a promise from the Lord.  So, we know that as we meet those goals we´re finding and baptizing the people that the Lord has prepared.  We have to set those type of goals to really have success in our lives and not just as missionaries--but everyone.  Here´s a quote from Presidente Cárdenas that I love:  "He who does not have goals calls everything success."  But doesn´t really have much success at all. :)

Anyway, I´m very happy.  I know that I am doing the Lord´s work.  There´s nothing more satisfying in life than seeing the results of dedicated and inspired service to Him in my own life and in the lives of others.  My testimony of this Gospel has been strengthened to a point that I didn´t know existed before. I know that it´s true and that it changes lives and changes people.  I know because I personally have lived it and experienced it.  I've felt the Lord´s love and forgiveness as I repent, followed by an increased capacity to serve Him and help others.  I´ve grown so much in these last weeks and months, and I´m so grateful for all of the experiences, although some of them have been very difficult for me, that have caused that growth.  The Lord is aware of our needs and puts us through His refining fire so that we can grow and be more happy. 

I love you all very much.  You´re always in my prayers.  I know that with all of the changes and the start of school, college, and seminary in these next couple of weeks, everything will be okay.  Difficult things might come, but the Lord will take care of it all.  

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is Martha.  She´s had some challenges in her life. She´s been listening to the missionaries for more than two years.  Her niece (who is a member) told us to go visit her again, and the Lord had prepared her for baptism.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013--Week 74

Hello everyone :)

So, this has been another great week.  After our baptism last week, we were kind of like, "So, what now?"  And so this week we put almost all of our energy into finding new people.  And we did find new people :) and we´re going to have a baptism of one of the new people this Saturday.  Something pretty awesome is that we´re baptizing every other week.  I like that a lot.  It´s a lot more fun than not baptizing or baptizing every once in a while :) We´ve still got a lot of work to do, though because we don´t have near as many investigators as we should, and our goal for the month of August is 6 baptisms.  So far we only have one planned (the one for this Saturday).  But, we know that the Lord has prepared us people.  We just have to find them.  So, that´s what we´ll do :) 

Umm... I really don´t have that much more to report this week.  We´re working hard.  We walk a lot in the sun :) and apart from that we decided to start exercising a lot better than we had been and we passed the majority of this week very, very sore (we did the routine that Dad sent me last week a couple of times).  

Oh!  We also went to Tuxtla for our leadership council.  And we were really psyched to see that even though we´re one of the smaller zones in the mission, our zone baptized more than any other in the mission (except that we tied with another zone that has 28 missionaries--we only have 16).  So, we´re planning a repeat of that this month (not that it's a competition, it´s just good to know that we´re working well).  Oh, and I promised the elders that I would buy everyone pizza if we meet our goal of baptisms as a zone this month.  So, I´m really hoping that at the end of the month I'll have to ask you to transfer about 80 dollars from my savings account so that I can do that.  Anyway.  That´s all I have to report :) I´m very happy.  I love you all very much!  Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl 

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013--Week 73

Hello family :)

So, this week was pretty awesome.  Actually, it was the happiest week of my mission.  I'm so grateful that I had this oportunity to stay here in Chahuites these transfers.  The baptism we had Saturday was so amazing.  We tried to plan it out really well so that it would be a good experience for Imara and her kids, and our efforts in that respect really paid off.  I can´t really explain how prepared this family was. Seriously the experience of teaching and baptizing them was the dream of any missionary. I´ll give a few examples. First, the dad of the family is very Catholic (he´s not quite on board yet, we´re working on that), and he was kind of harassing Owen (who is 10) when we weren´t there (they told us about this afterwards) about how he shouldn´t be getting baptized again since he got baptized as a baby. And that the Catholic Church was the first church and all the other churches are just knock-offs of it. And Owen answers him (and we didn´t even spend that much time teaching them about the Great Apostasy) "No, the Church of Jesus Christ was lost when the apostles died, but God restored His Church again when he talked with Joseph Smith.  I need to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ."  WOW.  He´s 10. And has been learning about the Gospel for 3 weeks.  He´s going to be an amazing missionary. Second example.  Yesterday they were confirmed.  The branch has a temple trip this week, so Imara wanted to go, and she was interviewed by the branch president and everything.  And then our Gospel Principles class was on the covenant people of the Lord. And we talked about covenants. And a little bit about the Abrahamic covenant. And she understood it all. She made a comment about how as we accept the Gospel it blesses future generations, just like God promised to Abraham.  That´s pretty profound understanding by someone who had been baptized one day earlier.  So then in the night we went to see them and teach them a little bit about the temple, and when they go to the temple Saturday, they´re already going to bring family names to do the baptisms for them!  I haven´t even done that after 8 years of being able to do baptisms in the temple! I'm so so grateful for the oportunity that I had to teach this family.  We´ll continue working with the dad, because we know that Heavenly Father wants them to be an eternal family and that He´s preparing the way for that to happen.  I love this family so much.  

I´m also extremely grateful that because of the choice Grandma and Grandpa made to be baptized years ago, my life is completely different than what it would be if they hadn´t done so. And that as a consequence I was able to share that happiness with another family by whom generations will be blessed (just like Imara said) in the same way.  

That´s about all for this week.  We´ve still got a lot of work to do :) I loved hearing about the vacations and EFY, lax camp, and all the rest.  I love you all so much!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

This is the picture of the baptism of Imara (the mom), Owen (the son), and Britney (the daugher).  The other couple in the picture are the members of the church who gave us the referral and are really the reason that we had the baptism.  Their baptismal service was awesome--more than 30 people came and more than half of them were non-members that Imara had invited.  She´s a teacher and is very well known here in Chahuites so she´s going to be a huge help in finding new investigators.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 22, 2013--Week 72

Hello everyone!

So, I just got finished eating cow stomach--for the second time in my entire misión (I´ve been told I´m very lucky to have only eaten it twice).  It wasn´t actually that bad.  The first time it was horrible.  But this time I kind of liked I wouldn´t ask for it in a restaurant or anything but I wasn´t choking it down either. 

Anyway, apart from that, this has been a pretty awesome week.  Capped off with the cambios!  I´m staying here in Chahuites!  And so is Elder Reyes.  So, we both get to be here for the baptism of our super awesome family that we´re teaching this Saturday!  Woohoo!!!  We´re psyched.  Things are going very, very well here.  We don´t actually have that many investigators right now, but the members are giving us a lot of referrals.  And member referrals are like 1000000000000000000x´s better than knocking doors.  Seriously.  So much easier.  And so much more successful.  Anyway, the lady we´re going to baptize this week is named Imara.  And her kids that are going to get baptized are Owen and Brittney (They were born in the US.  Those aren´t normal Mexican names).  And they´re super awesome.  I thought this whole week that I was going to get changed and that I wasn´t going to get to see their baptism, but it looks like the Lord want´s me to stay here :) Which is fine with me.  I love Chahuites!  It´s the ugliest, smelliest, most horrible little town in the world that I love completely. :) Anyway, Imara is a teacher, and a lot of people know her here (like the entire town), so we´re expecting a pretty good turnout at her baptism and we´re hoping to find quite a few new investigators because of that.  So this is basically how the work of salvation is going down here:  The members give us references.  Then we teach them.  Then they get baptized.  Then those new members give us references.  Then we teach them.  Then they get baptized.  It´s like a domino effect.  And it´s wonderful. :) One of the sisters that we baptized last month is a perfect example of that.  She gave us 2 referrals and went with us to meet them and teach the lesson with us (she also got called 2 weeks ago as the secretary in the RS presidency and she went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead).  So, we´re pretty happy around here.  And the best part is that we get to stay here :) and keep helping this branch to grow.  Since we set the goal for 100 people attending in the first week of August, we went from like 50-60 per week to 72 this past Sunday.  We´ll see how things are the first week of August. :)  Anyway, sorry this is kind of rushed, but I already have to go.

Just know that this work is incredible.  It´s the most important work on this Earth.  We have to be involved in it.  We can only reach salvation ourselves if we´re doing everything we can to bring other people with us.

Have a great week, everyone!  I love you all very much.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013--Week 71

Hello everyone!  

This has been an AWESOME week!  First of all, my comp and I both got really sick!  But not at the same time.  Different days.  So we took turns being the one dying in bed and the one being bored out of his mind with nothing productive to do after already having read the scriptures for like 5 hours.  Seriously I read like all of 2 Nephi until Mosiah.  And I read all of Chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel.  And on Friday we did divisions with our district leader, Elder Stucki, who was also sick, so he could do the baptismal interview.  I was still sick at that point, so basically we left to work and taught one lesson, did the baptismal interview and then kept trying to work, but we ended up in the house eating saltine crackers and drinking electrolytes because it was just not working out.  So, it was a sick week (in a very literal way, although reading it like slang works too because it was an awesome week).

But that´s not the awesome part… The awesome part is that by Saturday we were both fine, and we had our baptism (see picture attached)!  And as if that weren´t enough to make an awesome week, Sunday was even better!  The Relief Society president here is awesome (and her husband, who is the branch 2st councilor).  Seriously they´re like my model for what I want my family to be like in like 10 years.  Anyway, she’s been bringing a friend and her kids to church for a couple of weeks.  Her friend is a teacher and here the schools just got out for their summer vacation, so she´s been super busy with end of the year stuff and we haven´t been able to talk with her and her kids.  So, yesterday we finally got to talk to her with her kids (and two other kids that she brought with her to church, her niece and her neighbor).  Pretty much the first thing that her 9-year old daughter said was "I already want to get baptized!"  And then all of the other kids were like "ME TOO! ME TOO!"  And we were like "Can you wait two weeks so that we can teach you what you need to know so that you can pass the baptism interview?"  And they were like, "That´s a long time..." but of course their mom told them to wait two weeks (oh and she wants to get baptized too). So. Yeah. That´s awesome! On the 27th we´re going to have five baptisms.  If they change me next week I am not going to be a happy camper.  But, if that happens of course I´ll do what the Lord wants me to and I´ll leave very happy knowing that this family is going to be baptized. :)

That´s about all I have to report!  I´ve never been so happy about the progress I´ve seen in any one of my areas before.  So, things are going pretty great.  I love you all very, very much!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

The picture above and below are of our chapel.  They take care of the grass a lot.  Grass like this basically does not exist here in normal places (it´s very very VERY rare for someone to have grass in their yard).  So, this is definitely the prettiest church in all of Chahuites and we love our building.  All of the other churches are made of stuff like concrete block.

I tried to get an action shot of what we do every day, but it didn´t really work out that well.  Unfortunately my arm doesn´t stretch any further and you can just see part of me and the pamphlet we were using and the investigator.  We were teaching the word of wisdom here to a lady who is actually the mom of one of my comp´s aunts.
It´s a small world down here.