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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).