Called to Serve

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Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013--Week 47

Hello family :)                                                                                                

I hope everyone finds themselves well on this wonderful day.  So, we have a few new developments in our area!  We found an awesome family this week—and a couple of other good investigators too.  But, I´ll just tell you quickly about the family, and ask for your prayers on their behalf.  So, until now, we only had the chance to talk with the dad (but we´re going to have a lesson with them tonight and he told us that his wife and his kids would be available as well this time).  I think he´s about the same age as Mom and Dad.  His name is Antonio, and he´s one of the coolest people I´ve met here.  The first time we met him, he invited us in and showed us around his house/property.  He´s got a HUGE yard, which is awesome because most people here don´t have much of a yard.  He´s got like 60 rabbits, 14 doves, 3 squirrels, and some guinea pigs in the mix of rabbits.  And when we came back to teach him the first lesson, he had cooked us a rabbit.  And it was delicious.  But anyway, afterwards we explained to him about our purpose in being here.  Most people around here think that we just "give studies", so we always clarify what we really do.  We explained to him that we´re here to help him come closer to our Father in Heaven by coming to know that our message comes directly from Him, and then making sacred covenants with Him, such as baptism.  He told us, "Everyone around here is Catholic.  But we don´t really have any certainty about whether it´s really true or not.  I´d like to have that certainty in my life."  So, we left him a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation and asked him to read it with his wife, and then pray about it together to know if what it contains is true.  And, he said he would.  So, we´re really excited to go back tonight.

I don´t have anything else to share, so I just want to bear my testimony.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God lives and that He loves us.  He "so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son" (John 3:16), knowing that He would be "despised and rejected of man" (Isaiah 53:3), but knowing that without an Atonement, all mankind would perish (Alma 34:9), He sent His Beloved Son, hoping that we would love and accept Him here below so that we could lay hold upon salvation.  I know that our Savior loves us as well, and that in every way He performed perfectly the duty that our Father in Heaven sent Him forth to do. He established His Church, and with everything necessary to bring about the salvation of those who lived in His dispensation.  He worked out a perfect Atonement, providing the only acceptable sacrifice that would give us the opportunity to be freed of our sins and return to live with our Father above. After the people rejected Him and the Church He established and caused it to fall, in our day He has established it once again through a living prophet, exactly as He had always done before.  I testify that that Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, truly is His.  It is "the only true and living church upon the face of the earth" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30), because He stands at it´s head and directs it.  With it, salvation is available to every being who has ever lived upon the face of this earth.  His Kingdom is filling the earth (Daniel 2:44).  This is His work, and there is nothing that brings as much joy as being a part of it.  Something that I have realized here is that there is something that one can have only through the Gospel and that is peace.  By living the Gospel, it doesn´t mean that we´ll have a burning, I-want-to-sing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-for-happiness type of happiness in every moment, but it does mean that we can always be at peace.  Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and do great on your finals and other stuff you may have going on!  I love you so much!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013--Week 46

Hello family :)

I just want to start by saying that I love you all so very much.  Thank you for all of your happy birthday wishes :) and Mom, don´t worry at all about the package/mail situation. I'm very grateful that 1. you´ve sent/are sending me packages for my birthday (and not just one, but two!), 2. that one already got here, 3. that the other is on it´s way, 4. and although the mail is a pain, I'm mostly happy that I´m on my mission for my 20th birthday.  And also Mom, I was wondering as well how you can be the mom of a no-longer-teenager.  Everyone who has seen the Christmas banner you sent me has asked if you´re my sister or my cousin.  I´m sure you hear it all the time, but you do look way too young to have a 20-year-old son.  

But anyway, I´ve really been counting my blessings a lot this week, and I´m so grateful for so many things.  I have been so blessed my entire life.  I´m grateful that Grandma and Grandpa listened to the missionaries some 40 years ago, paid attention to the Spirit, and made the decision to be baptized.  I´m so grateful also that Dad, some 20 years ago, made the same choice.  After being out here for a while, I´ve recognized that after taking these things for granted my entire life, they are such a miracle.  I´m so grateful to have been born into a family sealed for eternity in the House of the Lord, and that my entire life I have enjoyed the blessings of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness.  I´m so grateful here for all of the support that I receive, and all my family (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) and friends that care about me, and the many prayers offered in faith on my behalf.  Most of all, I´m grateful for the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and that because of it, I can follow the Plan of Salvation that was laid out before me since before the foundations of this world.

This has been a great week.  For the first time in a very long time, we found people who are going to really progress.  And, for the first time since I´ve been here, and after many Sunday mornings of leaving the house early to try unsuccessfully to bring investigators to church, we had an investigator in church.  I still wouldn´t say that we have so many people to teach that we can´t teach them all, but we´re things are happening here!  We´re psyched.  

I´m running out of time, but real quick I just wanted to share a scripture and experience. Here in our zone (and probably in a lot of other places too, but I hadn’t heard it before here) we have a phrase (actually it´s just a word) that we use to basically say "to rebuke somebody with the scriptures" which is "planchar" ("to iron").  So, this week I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants, y yo me planché solito.  "I ironed myself all on my own."  I read D&C 58:31-33, which reads as follows: 

 31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have apromised and have not fulfilled?
 32 I command and men aobey not; I brevoke and they receive not the blessing.
 33 Then they asay in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for theirbreward lurketh cbeneath, and not from above.
And, I thought about a few weeks ago when I was kind of complaining about the area and the lack of success and stuff, and I came to a quick conclusion that I will not be doing that again, because unless I am perfect in EVERY commandment, I can´t expect to receive all the promised blessings, because I don´t want my reward to lurk beneath.  

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week.  I love you all very, very much and you´re always in my prayers.  

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 7, 2013--Week 45


I sent emails to my brothers and my sister, and it took a little more time than expected. But anyway, I´ll follow your suggestion and tell you about some of the families in the branch.  Until now, I haven't had a ward or branch that has missionaries in the field, and here in the branch, they have two.  One is about to come back in March, and the other has been out just a few months less than me (and is the branch president´s son).  And, as missionaries, of course all the members treat us really well, but those two families treat us really really well.  There´s a little town outside of where we are called Margaritas, and about half of the active members are there, including one of the families that has their son out on the mission and that´s where we ate Christmas Eve.  They remind me a lot of our family, but kind of reversed, because their oldest daughter is about to graduate from college, and then the rest are boys.  One is about to come home from his mission, the next one is just about to leave (he´s a few months older than Adam and Jared), the next one is Jacob´s age, and the youngest is Anna´s age.  Last month we ate with them every Saturday, and they always treat us super well and the mom makes delicious food and it´s always funny being there because they joke around a lot and it reminds me a lot of home.  Except that it´s all in Spanish and we are in Mexico haha. 

But, I am officially out of time, sorry that that´s all for this week.  I love you all very very much and I hope everything is well!  Enjoy your vacation, Mom and Dad :)

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

Friday, January 4, 2013

December 31, 2012--Week 44

Dear Family,

I feel super lame not having anything to share week after week, but there is really not a lot going on in this area.  To be completely honest, these last couple of weeks had been really tough ones for me.  Until this point in my mission, I have not had an area in which it is so difficult to have any kind of success.  We haven´t had any investigators in church the whole transfer (for 5 weeks), and before, I have never gone two weeks in a row without investigators in church.  We´ve definitely been going through some trials, and honestly I've let it get a little bit to my faith.  As we were starting this week, I was frustrated with everything--with my companion, with the branch, with the area, with the fact that every baptism in the last year is now inactive,  and because the few investigators that we do have haven´t been able to see us or come to church.  I was starting to believe that success doesn´t exist in this area.  Thursday, I was listening to the "The Work" CD just after waking up (I don´t know if you´ve had a chance to listen to it more, but it is an AWESOME CD).  The song "The Only Prayer that Matters"came on and there´s a part that says, "This is my work and glory.  If you love me, feed my sheep. Love with your heart wide open, and you´ll see the world through me."  The first time I heard that, it hit me really really hard.  I´m sure it hit me hard in that moment because my Father in Heaven knew that I was not living up to my potential as His son, and He lovingly reminded me of what I need to be doing.  The days since then, I´ve worked harder than I ever have.  And I´ll be honest, we still haven´t had much success, but I'm happy--so much happier than I´ve been my entire mission.  Preach My Gospel (in chapter one) is right on when it talks about what a successful missionary is.  I know that the Lord's will will be done in this area.  I know He loves His children, and I know that in some corner of our area, someone is being prepared to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive all of His blessings.  That´s all I have this week.  I love you all very much.  I hope that as you start this new year, your highest priority is to follow our Savior, to become more fully converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to love others as He loves us.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl