Called to Serve

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Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013--Week 67

Hey everybody :)

I can´t believe Adam and Jared already graduated.... and that my graduation was two full years ago and that about two years ago as well I was starting at BYU.  Seriously... where does the time go? 

This was a pretty good week.  We´re having a wonderful time here in Chahuites apart from burning to death as usual :) So, I have a couple of cool stories from this week:

--First of all, we found the family that the Lord wanted us to find. :) Right now we´re just teaching the mom and one of her daughters, but she has two other sons and we´re hoping to be able to teach her husband, too.  Our first lesson with her we had an incredible experience. She told us about something that had happened to her about 15 years ago. She lost her first child in an accident, and she told us that for a long time she had nothing to hold on to and that she had constant thoughts of taking her own life. Her little girl had died without being baptized in the Catholic church, and all of her family told her that her child would be in limbo forever and it was her fault. Needless to say, she was passing through a lot of guilt and depression. One day, on the way home from the doctor, she randomly (better said miraculously) found a Book of Mormon laying in the street. Even more miraculously, she opened up to Moroni 8.  Out of all of the 633 pages in the Spanish Book of Mormon, she turned to the only chapter where it talks about infant baptism.  As she read verse 11 and read "little children need no repentence, neither baptism" until verse 12 where it says "little children are alive in Christ" she told us that everything that she had felt just went away, and she knew that it was true.  I am so grateful for the Lord's promises to us.  I know he prepared this sister to recieve the joy of the Gospel, and I know that he kept the promise that He made to my companion and me that we would find this prepared family.  

--On a less spiritual note, we rescued an abandoned puppy that´s like two or three weeks old.  I´ll attach a picture in a second.  We´re not allowed to have pets, so we took it to the members that we rent from and begged them to keep it there (but we give it food and take care of it, which is kind of borderline on the rules even though it´s not in our house) until we find it a home.  We plan to do today because it´s probably not ok.  But, it was just abandoned on the side of the road in the pouring rain and I couldn´t leave it there to die.  

--Not really a story, but we´re super psyched and happy because the zone is doing awesome. :) Everybody is baptized and working to find their family.  A couple of areas apart from us have already found them. :)

--Also, thank you very much for the package.  I didn´t really mention it last week because I ran out of time.  Seriously, that package was so incredibly awesome.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Jon Schmidt "Hymns Without Words" and the BYU Mens Chorus "Set Apart" albums.  On that note, everyone reading this email LEARN TO PLAY THE PIANO BEFORE YOU LEAVE ON YOUR MISSION.  MOM ISN'T KIDDING WHEN SHE SAYS THAT YOU'LL REGRET NOT BEING ABLE TO PLAY THE HYMNS WHEN YOU´RE IN A BRANCH IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE WHERE NOBODY PLAYS THE PIANO OR KNOWS HOW TO SING THE HYMNS.  Ok.  I think that deserves capital letters just so that everyone understands where I´m coming from.  Learn until you can sight-read the hymns and acompany in sacrament meeting.  You´ll be extremely grateful that you did.  I finally got fed up enough with the branch here while they sing that I ordered myself a symplified hymns book from store to see if I can acompany like that.  

Well, my time is up and I've got to go.  I love you very much. :)  Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrew Nickerl

I´ve wanted one of these "walking with the companion" photos for a while so we put the camera on a timer on a bridge and walked by :) and it worked.

This is the puppy we rescued.  We named him Padrino.  We´re going to find him a nice home today.

The pollito (little chicken) thought he was a parrot. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013--Week 67

Hello everyone!

This has been an incredible week!  We had the baptisms of two sisters, Azucena and Norma.  I´ll send the photos in a sec when my comp finishes sending them to his family. :) Apart from that, we did exchanges with the assistants to start the week and then later in the week we did exchanges with one of our district leaders so that he could interview the sisters that were going to get baptized and so that we could interview the brother that they were going to baptize.  

I´ll start by talking about the exchange with the assistants first.  It was AWESOME.  One of the assistants right now was my zone leader in Comitán (Elder Gunter), and I´d done exchanges with him before, but this time he came here to Chahuites and stayed with my comp.  I went with his comp  (Elder Cerna) to their area in Tuxtla (They have the temple in their area and I saw it again!!!!  The offices, which is where they live, is like  2 blocks away from it.).  I´ve wanted to have an area in Tuxtla my entire mission and this was the first time I had even worked there so it was pretty cool.  Anyway, Elder Cerna is from Peru, he´s a convert of three years, and is probably the most charismatic missionary that I've ever met.  It´s his first transfer as assistant, so I hadn´t really heard that much from him before, but I learned SO MUCH from him.  So, that was a really cool experience. Also, by miraculous means, the package that you had sent was already there (and I went on Tuesday)! More on that a little later.

Later in the week, after I got back from Tuxtla, we did divisions with our district leader, Elder Stucki.  I stayed in Chahuites this time and was with Elder Stucki, and Elder Reyes went to Zanatepec with Elder Jensen (Elder Stucki´s comp).  It was awesome.  Mexicans don´t really appreciate the pure genius of Reese´s Peanut Cups (that you sent in my package), so Elder Stucki and I took advantage of the opportunity to buy ice cream and eat it with the Reese´s.  Also, unexpectedly, one of our investigators bought us like 10 empanadas each, so we had a feast Thursday night while listening Jon Schmidt´s "Hymns Without Words" (another thing that Mexicans don´t understand the sheer genius of). So that was a lot of fun :)

Then, the other days we had baptisms. :) Both of the sisters were confirmed Sunday morning, as well.  All in all, it was a very happy week.  That´s about all I have to report.  I love you all very much!  Make it through the last week of school and then start enjoying the summer :) the only thing it means for me here different is rain!  But I love it :) and I love all of you!  Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew Nickerl

P.S.  So I´ve got a random logistical sidenote.  I learned officially today with transfers that all the missionaries that were here for the weird transfer of 10 weeks will be going home 2 weeks early, and not 4 weeks late.  So, it looks like instead of getting home in late March, I´ll be getting home in mid-Febuary.  So, if you guys can keep an eye out for a job out for me that I can work like 40 hours a week when I get back that would be great. Don´t worry about agressively job hunting, just if you hear of something keep it in mind for me :) because it looks like I´ll be home for a couple of months before going back to BYU. I'm hoping it´ll help me get a job that I know Spanish (although Spanish speakers in San Diego are a dime a dozen, I think I probably speak a better Spanish than most of them speak English, so we´ll see if that helps...) and I think maybe I could present my mission as leadership experience since I´ve been district or zone leader for like 8 months now and it´ll be more than that by the time I finish.  So hopefully with all of that combined I can get a good job and can save some money.  I decided that if I have that much time in house before BYU, I´m not going to spend it idly, so I´m also going to practice a lot the piano, reremember all the programming that I learned (I realized as Adam and Jared were telling me that they´re going to do CS and CE that I don´t really remember how to code anymore... we don´t do too much of that around here...) and do crossfit and whatever other productive things I can think of in the meantime. :)

Norma's Baptism

Azucena's Baptism

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013--Week 66

Hello Family!

So, we had another AWESOME week this week.  Although it was a little bit disrupted by a hurricane.  And nobody even advised us ahead of time.  Which we did not appreciate very much and got very wet because of.  Sorry, I don't have pictures because I still don´t have my camera charger. :( The Comitán zone leaders forgot it in their house which is very understandable because I think I´ve forgotten one thing each time I've gone to something in Tuxtla my entire mission).  But that´s ok!  So, we started off the week by going to Tuxtla for the Leaders of the Mission Council (the translation is something like that now.  It´s not called "Zone Leaders Council" anymore because the sister missionary leaders are there too).  And it was pretty cool.  Each month we have one of those, and we have an "analysis of the zones." We look at all the numbers of the zones and the zone leaders whose numbers have gone down go up and make excuses for why and the ones who improve go up and talk about what they did to make it better (that´s basically what it comes down to).  So, the month of April we had only had 3 baptisms in the entire zone (that´s a pretty low number), so we were trying to do a bunch of stuff this month to help the zone to improve.  And this month we had 8.  So we were pretty happy about that. And we´re even happier this month because we´re going to have 8 baptisms in this week alone.  So, I think we're definitely improving :) and we like that.  Then, later, we were in the consejo, and I just randomly had this thought pop into my head "the zone needs to be teaching more families".  So I told my comp and he was like, "Huh, that´s funny, that´s exactly what I was just thinking".  And we really felt like there is a complete family in each one of the areas in our zone ready to accept the Gospel.  So, that´s pretty much what happened in Tuxtla.  

Wednesday (the day of the hurricane), we had our zone training, and we talked to all the elders (we don´t have any hermanas in our zone) about what we felt in Tuxtla.  That everyone needs to find that family.  One of the areas has already found their family, and they´re preparing to be baptized at the end of this month.  We're still in our search, but we know that we´re going to find them soon :) I hope I´ll be able to say by next week that we've found them.  We´ll see what the Lord´s timeline looks like.   

Afterwards, everybody came to our house a few blocks from the chapel to get materials, and we all got soaking wet.  And then we went to eat, and while we were eating (we were in a very stable house, luckily) a very unusual amount of wind picked up.  And started ripping trees out of the ground.  It was kind of scary.  But, we had appointments with the two sisters that are going to be baptized this week (Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th), so we decided we needed to get going anyway and teach them the lessons that we had prepared. :) On our way, the ward mission leader (who is an RM and understands that the Gospel is still true even when it´s raining so as missionaries we keep working) told us that we were crazy and to go home.  And we said, "OK!" and then we went to teach our lessons :) and then the wind stopped.  It was a nice day--a really wet, nice day.  Anyway, the next day, two of the elders in our zone (from a little town called Zapata) came to live and work with us for a couple of days because their area was the one that got REALLY flooded and they had a power outage for a couple of days and they didn´t have cell phone coverage and stuff.  But, the Lord protects His missionaries, and we`re all fine here and where it passed through Chiapas they´re all fine, too.  

Apart from that, the work keeps progressing quickly here.  We´re seeing so many blessings from the Lord.  This week we´re going to have two baptisms, one Friday night and one Saturday night.  We also found another brother this week with very sincere desires to change and be a better person.  He´s going to be baptized at the end of the month.  We also have a couple of other sisters who we´re going to see if they get baptized this month or not. :) But we´re very happy and very, very grateful for these many blessings.  The branch is starting to get really excited and we are all progressing!  

I just want to tell you all that I love this work.  My companion and I have come over the same promise again and again and again this week in our study of the Book of Mormon (it's definitely one of the central message that it contains):  "Keep my commandments, and you will prosper in the land."  It´s so simple and beautiful and true.  The commandments aren´t restrictions.  They´re more of a how-to manual on living a happy life.  It comes again in Doctrine and Covenants:  "Fear not, little flock, do good, let earth and hell combine against thee, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." (DyC 6:34) and "But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come." (DyC 59:23)  Do good, and prosper.  So, it´s ok. :)  Trials will come.  Temptations will come.  Just follow the commandments.  Trust in Christ.  Trust in His words:  "Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.  Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel.  He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall."  (DyC 50:41-42, 44)

I love you all very much.  Have a great week.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Andrew nickerl