Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Week 8- Member Missionary Work

Howdy y´all!

This week flew by! It seems like just a couple days ago I was writing about my first week in Mexico.
I have learned a lot this week about my duty as a missionary. It is kind of hard for me to get the courage to contact people in the street and ask if they would be willing to meet with us and learn more about Jesus Christ and His teachings. It is so much easier to say ´Buenas tardes´and just let them go by! But I realized this week, that that is exactly what I shouldn´t be doing. I have felt so much peace, happiness, and even joy from the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is no reason that I shouldn´t want to share that with others. I have gotten better this week at getting the courage to speak to people and bear simple testimony about God´s love for us, and the blessings that can come from this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On a less formal note, every night when we get back from our proselyting, it has become habit for me to drop my bags in our study room, then begin the search for cucarachas (cockroaches) in the kitchen. Its normal to find about 5, and so sometimes I get the courage to kill 1, maybe 2; but most times I say, "Elder Velez, tengo un trabajo para Ud.! " And then he kills them, then I sweep the dead devil up and put it in the garbage. It is a nice little system. I repay Elder Velez for his services in quesadillas. 

We had some really good lessons this week! We stay busy with visiting less actives, having lessons with investigators, and doing contacting in the streets. But I´d like to share a short experience I had in one lesson with a great lady. She has two young kids, and her husband serves in the military. We were able to share a lesson about faith in Jesus Christ. I was able to testify of the blessings that come from having faith in Jesus Christ. I know that as we show our faith, He will bless us. He always has His hand extended, we just have to come to Him.

I also had a really neat experience in sharing a spiritual thought with a sister in our area after eating lunch in her home. I shared Mosiah 4:9, which describes that we simply must believe in God, and believe that He knows better than we do. As humans, we tend to rely so much on ourselves. But we must humble enough to recognize that God knows better than we do. God has a plan for each and every one of us. All we have to do, as the scripture says is believe in Him. Believe Him. Believe He has a plan for you. He will bless you as you do that, I promise you. I have seen the blessings from doing so in my own life. So much happiness in relying on God!!

We had Stake Conference this weekend which was way good! Elder Ortiz from the Area Seventy spoke, as well as President Velez and his wife. We had an adult meeting on Saturday night, and then the normal one on Sunday. It was really really cool because the whole focus was on missionary work, ESPECIALLY member missionary work. I want to share a couple paraphrased and (attempted) translated quotes. ´Missionary service allows us to feel the love that God has for each of His children´. President Velez talked about all of the RMs (returned missionaries) in our stake, speaking directly to them. He was relatively straight forward when he said, "Great, you´re a returned missionary. What are you doing today to continue this work?.....Members have an equal duty to do their part to share the Gospel with others....Missionary work is not completed in this world until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ." Elder Ortiz talked about the importance of having members work with missionaries in going to lessons with investigators, and loving the investigators. That is so huge. If members don't do their part, so often the investigators don´t feel included. The work is supposed to be hastening, we live in the last dispensation. What are we all doing to be a part of hastening the work? It is our duty to share the Gospel with others. We should want to share the blessings we have with others. We have no right to deprive people of the blessings of this Gospel. D&C 123:12 says, 

´For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—´.

I promise you that you strive to come closer to God you will be blessed! For those of you reading this who are members, share your beliefs with others. It is not just a suggestion from God, it is a commandment. And a blessing. For those of you who aren´t members and always dread reading me saying these weird things about what I believe: yes I know they are weird. But I know that they are true. God loves you. Jesus Christ is the Savior. He died for us so that we can be clean and be happy, not just in this life, but forever!

Love you all! Have an awesome week. Seek to find God´s love for you each day this week.

Elder Daines

"I've still got it."

"The missionaries in my ward (area)."

"My companions Elder Velez, & Elder Henderson"

"First haircut in the field! At home!"

"I felt so cool walking through here!" 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Week 7: Saludos!

¡Saludos, Familia y Amigos!

Just finishing up my first week in México, and it has been awesome so far! I love it. The culture is a little bit different and it is hard at times to adjust, but I am getting there and I know that with the Lord´s help I can do things that I cannot do on my own. 

My companions, Elders Henderson and Velez, are pretty great! They are both really focused and hard working and are a great example to me. They have really helped me get used to the changes here. Just want to share a couple interesting things that I have learned here and some cool experiences I have had! First of all, people love to sing here! We sing at pretty much every lesson, and we also sing in our studies in the morning. Also, the food is incredible! I love it so much. We are able to eat with members every day, and they feed us really well! Interesting thing is that we eat at like 2 every day, and then people don´t really eat dinner! That has taken a bit of time to get used to, but I just eat a bunch at lunch then make it through the rest of the day okay. For any of you that know me, that is hard to believe that I can eat a lot at one sitting, but I´m doing it! I´m still the last one eating at the table though haha. 

The members here are really great!! Elder Henderson in the past few days has brought us around to pretty much every family´s house in the ward! They are very kind and loving, and are excited to help with missionary work. The only big difference here is that we do a lot of walking here, and it is super hot during the day! I use that ´toallita´ probably 100 times a day to wipe off sweat.

Funny story: I was writing in my journal a couple days ago on my bed, and all of a sudden I saw a giant cockraoch next to me! I jumped out of my bed faster than I get off the start line in races! I ran to the bathroom to hide from it. Elder Velez killed it and then chased me with it.  Don´t worry, I´ve gotten a little better though. 

I learned a great lesson a couple days ago, again on the reliance on God. The mission is clearly already the hardest thing I have ever done, I did not think it would be this hard for me. But I was studying Christlike attributes, especially faith, and charity, and I was filled with so much love to know that I am being strengthened to do things that I cannot do on my own. 

We also do a lot of contacting here, it´s funny sometimes because people say they are too busy to talk to us, when they´re just sitting out on their porch, or watching TV, and I just feel bad for them! Because I know how much happiness this Gospel can bring to their lives. It´s like a story I read, as missionaries, it´s like we´re going around trying to give out $100 bills to everyone we see, and if they don´t accept it, we just go on and try to give it to someone else! The only difference is though, that our message is worth so much more than a $100 bill. This Gospel has brought me so much peace, comfort, and knowledge, and I would truly be lost without it. I know that this is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

I gave my first talk in the mission field yesterday (where we speak in our church service), and I decided to speak on the importance of faith and prayer. I was able to share the example that Nephi is to us in having such great faith to be led byh the Spirit, not knowing beforehand what he should do. I know that as we follow God´s commandments, especially baptism, and renewing the promises we make with God at baptism, we are promised that we can have the Spirit with us at all times. I know that as we have faith and follow the Spirit, we can trust that God will answer our prayers. I know that God answers prayers, especially through the Scriptures! I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. 

Love you all!!

Elder Daines
"My first Coca in Mexico. (You might want to send this in to Coca-Cola for their next ad)."

"Washing clothes by hand. Surprisingly kind of fun!"

"Leaky toilet."

"The view of the city from our rooftop." 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Week 6: Viva la Mexico!

¡Hola Hola Hola! 

This week was a great last week in Citrus Heights. I had to go to the Mexican Consulate three times! Which was kind of frustrating but we finally got my visa finalized and taken care of. Even though I was only in California for like three weeks, I grew to love the people and the ward so much. 

One experience I had this week, which was big for me-- for the last couple weeks, we have been teaching this older man, but he hasn’t been very accepting of our message, and sadly last time, he told us that he does not think the Book of Mormon is the word of God and he doesn’t think that our message is true. He was baptized in the church a few years ago, but he said he never believed it was true. So we went to his house on Thursday to discuss the situation, and he was standing outside all alone. He has been fairly rude to us at times, but I saw him out there and I just felt so much love for him! I felt so sad that he was rejecting this message. During our visit with him, I was overcome with this feeling of sadness, which I am sure that Jesus Christ feels, when people refuse to come to Him. This man ultimately accepted that we would no longer visit him, but we were there to help if he ever needed service. I was able to testify of the truthfulness of this Gospel, and I don’t think I have ever realized how strongly I know this Church is true, until this time. I think to some degree, I began to feel charity for this man, who I so greatly desired to see accept our message. Our message is a message of hope, of eternal happiness, and especially of love--the love of God. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

We also had three great lessons with a familia where we got to discuss the Plan of Salvation in greater detail, because they had lots of questions! They have been keeping their commitments to read, and we are hoping that they will be able to come to Church (even though I am already gone), and eventually be accept an invitation to baptism! They are such a wonderful family and I already miss them so much. 

I said goodbye to my companions, Elders Soto y Escalante on Sunday night, and slept at the mission home! President Marston took me to the Sacramento airport Monday morning early, early, early. Monday was a long day. I met two other Elders in Salt Lake, who are in the Culiacan mission! Elders Erickson and Finkner. We flew from Salt Lake to Mexico City to Culiacan. My first meal in Mexico was great...Subway haha! It’s so weird seeing a sub cost $87...but it’s in pesos. So weird. ALSO! I sat next to the sweetest lady from Canada on the plane from Salt Lake. We talked for like two hours! We talked a bit throughout the flight, then about the church, but very little, and as we were beginning to descend, I told myself, ¨I have to talk to her about the Church,¨ but I got nervous! I finally got the courage to bring it up, and I was able to bear my testimony to her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and she accepted my invitation to accept the Book of Mormon and learn more about the Church! I’ve been out for a few weeks already, but it can still be tough to open up. But the Gospel should be preached to everyone. And we should want to share the happiness we feel, with everyone! 

Culiacan is so incredibly beautiful! It is so great to see how green it is, it reminds me of home! And it is right on the ocean. AND there are mountains. It’s perfect. It has everything.
So funny story, I arrived at the Mission Office where we meet the Mission President, and I found out that they didn’t know that I was coming today! Apparently they thought I was coming on the 14th of September (when I was originally supposed to leave the MTC), then the 23rd, and then they had no idea! So I didn’t have an assigned companion or anything, so I will be in a trio again for a couple weeks until I get my more permanent companion. 

It is so hot and humid here in Culiacán, one of the first things they gave us at the Mission Office was a hand towel to wipe off sweat! It will take getting used to, but if other people can live here just fine, so can I! I already saw a scorpion, it was right next to my foot and I didn’t even freak out. And I’m eating tomatoes.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be serving here in the Culiacan mission; I know that it is where God wants me to be. I cannot wait to begin sharing my beliefs with the people here in Culiacan. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. I know that everyone can come closer to God by reading the Book of Mormon. It truly is the word of God. I have received answers to my prayers each day I read, no matter where I read. It truly is Another Testament of Christ, as it claims to be.

¡Les amo y les extraño mucho!

Elder Daines

"I'm in heaven!"


"My first real meal in Mexico."

"The Master Chef! Homemade tortillas!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Week 5 (and some exciting news)!

¡Buenas tardes!

It was such a good week in Citrus Heights! I've grown so much this week and seen people's lives change through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is one of the most amazing things you could ever see. It is such a sacred and beautiful experience to see firsthand how the fullness of the Gospel brings so much peace and happiness to wonderful children of God.

BIG NEWS: Got my visa! I fly to Mexico next Monday, the 12th! I am so excited you have no idea. I've been amazed how much more God knows that I do, in the last few weeks, and that if I just have a bit of faith, I will be comforted to know that God knows what is best for me. I'm going to the originally assigned mission for me on the exact same day I was originally assigned to go there, and the experiences God had in store for me in the last six weeks have been so much more than I could have ever experienced all by myself. 
We had quite a few lessons this week, ten more than last week! It's so great to be able to have people interested in increasing their faith in Christ through the knowledge this Church contains. I have been able to share with several people this week the truth of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. This truth proves just how much God loves us, to give us prophets and more scripture: the Book of Mormon. Because of the Restoration of this Gospel, we can come to know for ourselves just how much God loves each one of us, and its teachings give us purpose in life.

In Citrus Heights, there are so many people here ready to receive our message! It's so exciting to see. I'd like to share a bit about two lessons we had this week. On Saturday, we had a lesson with a great family of seven, they already have so much love for each other. They're kids are between ages 5 and 13, and we have been already been able to teach them "La Familia: Una Proclamación Para El Mundo" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World) and on Saturday we had the privilege to teach El Plan de Salvación, or better named, the Plan of Happiness. This lesson discusses the doctrine that families. Can be together forever, and that this life is not the end. The Spirit was so strong in this lesson, because as a companionship we truly grew to love this family, and desire to see them progress and have the opportunity to accept this Gospel. I helped them understand how this knowledge will change their life. How wonderful is it to know that God has a plan for us, and He wants us to succeed, and also to know that we can live with God and our families for eternity. Knowing this helps me recognize that death in this life is sad, but that it should also be a reason to rejoice, because we know that they are that much closer to God now! I can just see this wonderful family all dressed in white, to be baptized and make covenants with God, and receive the blessings God wants so badly to give them.

The other lesson was with a 22 year old man. I hadn't been able to meet with him because he was never home when we dropped by, but we had a lesson with him on Friday and then last night. We read some scriptures with him and talked about faith. He has been keeping commitments, he came to church a couple times, and last night we invited him to be baptized on the 31st! And he said yes! It was so cool to see him accept the Gospel, he has so much faith. I bore my testimony to him of the blessings that come from this Gospel and how much it will change his life. It's so cool to see how our hard work and faith really does pay off. It's also amazing to see how we as missionaries are being used as tools to change people's lives through the Spirit. I am so excited to be able to see his example, it helps increase my faith in Christ.

We also had an incredible opportunity to hear from the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his Apostles, and other Church leaders this past weekend at General Conference. It was so amazing! I received so many answers to prayers and answers to questions that I had. I could talk about it all day, but I especially liked two talks that were back to back, which talked about obedience to commandments. Elder Von G .Keetch and Sister Carole M. Stephens spoke about this topic. Elder Keetch shared a story about a barrier in the water, which kept surfers from going out to the bigger waves, and a man explained, "Don't be overly critical of the barrier, it's the only thing keeping you from being devoured." So often we can see commandments of God as old fashioned, inconvenient, or embarrassing even! But they are blessings and an incredible source of protection. Sister Stephens shared an experience she had with her granddaughter, who didn't understand the importance of seat belts, so Sister Stephens explained how it keeps us safe, and her little three year old granddaughter said, "Grandma, you want me to wear my seatbelt because you love me!" This really got to me, not only does God give us commandments to keep us safe, but it is because He loves us! The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly allows us to see that God can make much more of us than we could ever do on our own.

I'd like to close with something somewhat personal to me. This is something I was able to share with a less active member who we taught this past week, who doesn't understand why bad things happen to good people, and even when we are faithful, why bad things still happen! I honestly don't know why bad things happen to good people; we are taught that we should learn from these things, but that isn't the only reason. The plain and simple answer that I have found is that we live in a fallen world. We experience both good and bad, we see happiness and sadness. But you cannot know happiness, without feeling sadness. There are millions of people everywhere who everyday struggle, like my wonderful mother. She has great faith, yet she has a very hard life. I've asked myself that same question of why does this have to happen to her? I hate to see it happen, but I cannot imagine how much God pains to see this. He doesn't want to see us struggle. But I do know this: if we have true, real faith in Christ, no matter how hard our life may be, we can be happy. And to add to that, we can have hope. I would like to add my testimony to Alma's, who says, 

"for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." 

I know that as we trust in God, amidst the most daunting trials, we can know we will have help. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we know that, 

"He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities." 

Jesus Christ suffered for not only our sins, but every single difficulty we experience. You are not alone in your trials. Trust in God and you will never be alone.

I love you all so much! Have a splendid week!

Elder Daines