Gratitude and The Power of the Atonement

Hey Everyone!

Well, the changes keep flying by. Every six weeks seems a little bit shorter than the 6 weeks before. Well, I will be leaving Cuautitlán after a great 6 months here and going to an area called Ciudad Labor in the zone Tepalcapa. My new companion is going to be Elder Van Tassell! I’m pretty excited about that! He is one of the other 3 elders that got here to the mission together from Provo. This change with Elder Abaroa has been pretty awesome though, and I will be kind of sad to leave this area, but I’m excited to have some new experiences in a new place!

Well something kind of funny happened this week. Elder Abaroa and I thought that it was Thanksgiving last Thursday, so we made ourselves some baked potatoes and bought a roasted chicken and some little pies that they sell here to celebrate haha!! Well, I guess we’ll just have to celebrate it twice this year haha! I always like to study about the principle of Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving  – I like the way it´s said in Spanish a lot better than how it’s said in English because it implies that we need to act in order to show our thanks). On Thanksgiving Day and this year I learned something really cool about it. In the Atonement of Jesus Christ there are 2 powers, the redeeming power and the strengthening, or enabling power. Most people know that we need to repent and be baptized to access the redeeming power, but I had always wondered how to access the strengthening power. While I was listening to talks and studying the scriptures this week, I discovered something interesting. There is a direct relationship between our ”accion de gracias” and our being strengthened by the Atonement. It teaches that in various places in the scriptures, and it is especially clear in D&C 98:1 and 3. I think that is one reason why the Lord commands us to give thanks in all things, although there are many more. Maybe you could all think about and study about that this week to see what else you can learn. I feel like it was a blessing to have studied that topic a week earlier than I might have otherwise though, because a lot of people in my area needed the strengthening power of the Atonement this week. We visited a recent convert with severe health challenges who was struggling a lot to handle the pain, and we taught her more about the atonement and gave her a priesthood blessing. We had just left the lesson with her when we received news that the relief society president had just passed away after a 2 year battle with cancer. Her death hit the ward pretty hard, because she had been getting much better and then the cancer came back very quickly. Everyone loved her because she was always going around visiting and helping people. After the funeral services, we went to visit some of the members to strengthen them. We decided to first go visit Hermana Leti. When we got there she was just getting off the phone with a friend who was giving her an update on the health of  another friend who had just had a heart attack and was in intensive care. She just kind of broke down with everything that was going on. We said a prayer and shared a message of much needed comfort and the Spirit was very strong. She told us that she felt like we were angels sent from heaven to strengthen her in the exact moment when she needed it. After we left, I had the impression that we should visit the Mendez family. We went over there planning to share the same kind of message with them. When we got there, it felt kind of strange in their house, like something wasn’t right. We said a prayer and were going to share a message with them but the phone rang and Brother Mendez grabbed it and said, “What happened?” and ran outside. We just asked them if everything was alright and Sister Mendez told us that they were passing through a big family problem at that moment on top of having lost a close friend, but that we should continue, and read the verse that we had given her. It just didn’t feel right though, so we asked if it would be better for us to come another time, and then we just kind of sat there for a couple minutes until Sister Mendez asked if we could say a prayer with them. We did, and then they started telling us a little bit how they were feeling, so we shared a message about the atonement and the Spirit was very strong as we delivered the personalized message that God had in mind for them that night. They expressed their gratitude that we had passed by to visit them and one of them said, “It’s funny how the missionaries always just tend to show up in just the moment when we need them”. I learned a valuable lesson, that everyone is different and has different needs and circumstances, even if it may look like they need the same thing. That is why it is so important to listen to the Spirit to know where to go and what to say. God knows who needs strengthening and will direct our path to where we need to be and direct our words to what we need to say. I am really grateful when I get the blessing of seeing Gods hand working through me to lift, strengthen, and inspire those around me. I would invite all of you to look for ways to be instruments in God´s hands. I think there is no better feeling than to look back and see how you were guided in order to help someone who desperately needed it. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Love,

Elder Black

 

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A pre-Thanksgiving dinner.

Excited About the Temple

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TANYA!!!!!!!! ¡¡¡¡¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS!!!! Wow I can`t believe you`re already turning 13!!! Time has gone by really fast and from the pictures it looks like you and Nathan have changed a ton since I left! I hope you have a great birthday!

We got the temple attendance guidelines today! We will be going in January and July, except I won`t be here anymore in July, but I will also get to go the week before I go home in June. I’m really excited to go to the temple again! It`s been over a year since I’ve had the opportunity to attend the temple, and I have a really strong desire to go again. This was a pretty busy week because we had our zone conference, a district meeting and our monthly coordination meeting with the stake president and mission president. It kind of flew by really fast. We also did exchanges and I was with Elder Medina again. It was kind of cool to have been here for 4 and a half months in neighboring wards. I think there were some things I needed to learn from going on exchanges with old companions. Also, I got the chance to teach Elder Medina a couple things that I didn’t know about when I was training him, for example how to work with members, so I was grateful to have that opportunity. Things are going great with Marsela and Diana! The Mendez family really stepped up when we asked them to be there to help them in their conversion process. They invited them to go on a trip to the temple visitors center this past Saturday and bought triple combinations for them! After seeing what the temple has to offer they have an even stronger desire to be baptized and they are now sure of their decision! Well, that is the most exciting news from this week! I love you lots! Thanks for sending pictures, it looks like everyone`s having a good time and doing well!

Love,

Elder Black

Everything is Going Well

This was a pretty good week, although it went by super fast! On Tuesday and Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Huxford haha! It was super cool to be working together again after such a short time apart! It was a little weird though because I went to his area in Atlanta, so we were together but in a different area! It was really interesting during our interview on Wednesday morning to see how the Lord qualifies those who He calls. I had previously written down a couple needs that I have and Elder Huxford said some very inspired words at one point that directly responded to what I had written down. I know that the Spirit and the gift of discernment and revelation are real.  Marsela and Diana are still progressing really great! We talked to the Mendez family about what President Hinckley teaches in chapter 13 of PMG about how every convert needs a friend to help them in their gospel journey and we invited them to be those friends for Marsela´s family. Since then they have been coming with us to every lesson, helping them feel welcome at church, and Sister Mendez is even going to drive them down to the visitor´s center on Saturday!!! We are super excited for them and they will be getting baptized probably the 22nd of November! Well that is probably the most exciting thing that has happened this week. One thought about pride real quick. In 2 Timothy 3:7 it talks about how that is a huge obstacle to our learning. I talked to someone this week who is apparently very smart and he is also very prideful and believes himself to be better and have more knowledge or be on a higher plane of thinking than other people. I could discern in him that he did not have the ability to see himself as he really is and he is a fulfillment of that scripture. The reason that we cannot arrive at the knowledge of the truth if we have pride is that that kind of knowledge is spiritual knowledge and the Spirit, being meek and humble, cannot teach that kind of person. I don´t really know why I put that, but pride is a very easy trap to fall into. Maybe someone who reads that will need it. I love you all lots and I hope you have a great week! Also, Dad, I studied what you said about the admonition of Paul. It´s kind of funny how sometimes we read certain verses hundreds of times and never stop to ask what a simple phrase like that might mean. Here´s another one of those kinds of scriptures that Elder Holland called to my attention a while back. D&C 2:2 What are the promises? Elder Holland says that we promised our ancestors during the premortal life that we would do the temple work for them so that they can also receive the ordinances of salvation. Actually I would like to start working a little more with family history and fill out my pamphlet of Family: Stories that unite us (I don´t actually know if that one exists in English?) But could you maybe send me some fotos and information about some ancestors please? That would be awesome, thanks! Thanks! Love you lots!

Love,

Elder Black

A Great Fellowshipping Message

Well, Sounds like a pretty exciting week what with Halloween and everything! Nothing happened here really on Halloween, because in Mexico the big celebration is on November 1st, The Day of the Dead. And they also kind of combined it with American Halloween traditions because they also go trick or treating. Instead of saying trick or treat they say, una calaverita por favor! We had to be home at 6:00 on Sunday because of that, and our doorbell was ringing all evening long. We just went to bed early! Haha, I’ve just been getting pretty tired lately, so it was nice to just rest and not have to be doing anything for a little while. We had a few investigators in church on Sunday! Faustino came, and also the new people from last week, Marsela and Diana. We think that Liliana and Emiliano might live in the other ward though, so I´m not sure what we’ll do about that. Anyway, it was good to see the Principles of the Gospel classroom so crowded! I think if any more people had come we would have had to have another classroom to fit everyone! In the special training segment I gave on Wednesday with all the district and zone leaders, I had the theme of zone and district meeting and taking the state of the missionaries. I talked about how all these things are programs and like it teaches in Mark 2:27 programs are made for people. I taught a bit about how to help the missionaries become better disciples of Christ so that they then have a greater capacity to help others to become disciples of Christ. It went really well and the Spirit was definitely there teaching us because I learned a lot as I was teaching. Also in the zone meeting we taught about the importance of the Laws and Ordinances of lesson 5 in chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. I shared a story with my zone about when we went to Angel´s Landing after Christmas with the Cannons a couple years ago. At one point in the hike we got to a high spot that I thought was the top. Then Aaron and Daniel and Ryan started laughing and pointed almost straight upward and said, ¨no, we’re going up there!¨ Well, I got a little scared when I saw what they were pointing at haha! But I think that happens a lot of times with new converts. They get to their baptism and think that they have arrived at the top, but then they look up at the difficult path ahead and get discouraged. That is why we have to prepare them for it by teaching them about the laws and ordinances before there baptism. And the members after their baptism can make the climb alongside the new convert and help him or her make it to the top and receive the temples covenants. Anyway, I had a pretty good week! I love you all lots, have a great week! 

Love,

Elder Black

 

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One Giant Hot Dog