Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 11 - God loves His children


I had such a wonderful week! Each week I grow to love the missionary service more and more. I absolutely love the people and opportunity I have to dedicate all of my time to the Lord for two years of my life. There truly is no greater happiness than the joy found in serving others. 

I have many experiences this week have increased my faith in Christ and my love of this Gospel. One: this wonderful old man. He is 96 years old! He was just baptized a few months ago, but he already has such a strong testimony of this Gospel! He can still walk, but uses a walker. We got to his house just as his daughter was dropping him off, and we walked with him to his door. Its a few hundred feet away, and Elder Padilla told me it would take 15 minutes, and I thought it was an exaggeration, but it was no lie! It was incredible to see. But he is so happy. He told me of how much this Gospel has changed his life, compared to what he was before. And I just felt so grateful for his example to me. There is really no time to worry about the littlest things in life that so often bother us. The purpose of this life is to have joy! Why live life unhappily? 

I also have truly grown to love the time I am given to study the scriptures each morning. It is one of my most anticipated times of each day. I love it so much and am always disappointed when I have to stop. I was reading in 2 Nephi 31 in the Book of Mormon this week, and I was pondering about the importance of enduring to the end, or being faithful to God and His commandments for our entire lives. I began to think about it as a marathon (yes I miss running a lot). Just as marathons have a starting line, boundaries, race officials, and water and snacks along the way, God has given us many tools to help us in this life. The thing about this marathon though, is that it doesn´t matter how many times you fall, how many times you lose your way, how much help you need along the way, or how long it takes you to finish, the reward for all who finish the race is the same. If we run the race God would have us run, he promises the same gift to all of us, which is the greatest gift any race official could give, which is the gift of eternal life. To be able to return to live with God, Jesus Christ, and our families, in complete happiness, for all eternity. 

God loves His children. We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. This simple knowledge changes lives. God is aware of all of you. He knows your struggles, weaknesses, and circumstances. We tried to find a family this weekend that is in our church records, but nobody knows them. We went to their house and they did not answer. As we were about to leave, a car pulled up. It was them! They said they didn’t have too much time, but invited us to come back on Saturday! So we came back, and again they weren’t there. We were kind of bummed, we thought that they actually wanted to talk! We walked a couple hundred feet down the road, and guess what. There they were, driving home again! They apologized and allowed us inside. We were able to talk about when they were baptized a few years ago when they lived in Mexico City, but when they moved here, they didn’t come to Church. They just got busy with this crazy life. The missionaries here had never found them. But both times that we came, we ran into them at the perfect moment. God is aware of us and He loves us all perfectly. I felt prompted to invite them to not only come to Church, but as I testified of the truthfulness of this Church, I felt I should invite them to prepare to be sealed together in the temple for time and all eternity as a family. Doing so allows them to be a family not only in earth, but forever. The Spirit was so strong there. I know that God has prepared my companion and I to contact this family and bring them back to His Church. They came to Church on Sunday and loved it! We are going to have a Family Home Evening on Thursday and I am so excited for it! They have a 9 year old daughter that is not yet baptized and so we will also get to prepare her for baptism! 

The experiences I have had this week have not only answered my prayers, but gone well beyond what I could have expected. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us all. He wants to bless us all, but we must come to Him! By obeying His commandments He will bless us more than we can possibly imagine. I am so grateful to be a full time representative of Jesus Christ. I know that this is His Church. I know it is true. I know that this Gospel changes lives. 

Elder Daines

My companion: Elder Padilla

My new sheets! 

Our house! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week 10 - La Paz


It has been an awesome week. Some news to start off: I got transferred mid-transfer! I left from Culiacan on Friday morning to the Baja California, and I am now serving in La Paz. I truly came to love the people in Culiacan, and right when I started to feel comfortable, I got moved! But in the last couple days I have been here, I have already come to love the people here! Here in La Paz it seems more like home to me! The people here are so incredibly loving, everyone. When we are waiting to cross the street, the cars stop for us, literally like every time! Everyone is willing to take time to talk to us. The members here are also so great!!

My companions name is Elder Padilla! He is from Barranquilla, Colombia. He has 20 months in the mission already. He was baptized in the church three years ago! He left on a mission just over a year after he was baptized. It is so crazy! I love him so much already! We are already becoming like brothers, and we really have a strong connection. He is a really loving and caring person to everyone we talk to, and is a great worker. He is such a wonderful example and trainer to me. I’m now living in a house instead of a teeny apartment, which is kind of nice! It feels more home-y. Sadly though, there are still cockroaches. But I have gotten better at not freaking out every time I see one. Still trying to gain the courage to kill them.

We had a great experience on Sunday to see the children in the church here sing and talk about their faith in Christ, as part of a Primary program. It was so amazing and spiritual to see these little children bear simple testimony to know that God and Jesus Christ live, and that they love us. So simple, but so powerful. We also had an amazing first lesson with an investigator yesterday. She read a church magazine and loved it, and she wants to learn more. We were able to talk about how God knows and loves her, and wants the best for her family. She is so receptive to our teaching and she gave an amazing prayer at the end. We are going to return to teach her again this week!

We also have an investigator with a baptismal date in a couple weeks! Her and her little brothers came to church for the 4th time this past Sunday! She is doing great and we are having a lesson with her and her family tonight. The members are so willing to help us with lessons, it is so great!

I also had a great personal experience in the past couple days. I miss home a lot and all my friends and family, and sometimes it is hard to think I wont see them for so long, so I prayed for help, and it came. I felt love and comfort from God to know my friends and family are doing well and my companion talked to me and helped me. The time we have as missionaries seems long as 2 years, but compared to eternity, it is nothing! I need to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and I will be blessed for it! Just like all of us. This life is so short, but it is our time to prepare to return to live with God. We need to continually try to follow the example of Jesus Christ, and if we have faith in God, he will pour out blessings upon us. I would like to reemphasize what I talked about last week. This life is meant for us to be happy. There is no reason we need to dwell on the struggles we have, just be happy! Just love life. 

I love you all so much, and I am loving being a missionary, and loving life!

¡Hasta luego!

Elder Daines 

Culiacan Tomateros

My district in Culiacan

They tell me I have already gained weight....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 9 - Finding Joy in the Journey

¡Buenas tardes!

I can´t tell you how many times I have said that this week. I love saying hi to people. I may be a little nervous still to tell them about the Gospel, but I can always be a good reflection of what a missionary is like by simply saying hi and smiling at them. I say hi to just about every person we pass. But don´t worry, when we see people that we feel we can talk to about the Gospel, we jump at the opportunity. I have taken the lead on some of them this week and it is really pretty awesome. Wh
​en people say yes to accepting a time to hear our message, it makes me so happy--because I know this message can change their life, no matter who it is.

This week in my companionship study, we sang Yo sé que vive mi Señor, or I Know that My Redeemer Lives, and I just felt overcome with the Spirit. I know that He lives. I can´t see Him, but I can feel His presence when I testify of the truthfulness of this Gospel. It´s such a simple statement, but it is so powerful. And because He lives, I have such comfort to know that I can live with my family forever. I testify that Jesus Christ lives today. 

We focused more on involving members this week, and so we did quite a bit of visits )(or trying to visit) members this week. We testified to several families in the ward the importance of member missionary work, and we were ale to invite them to find friends or family members with whom they can just show more love! The best way I can show my love for others as a missionary is by being like Christ. Always serving others. There is no greater joy or happiness that comes than from serving. And the best way I can think of to serve people, is to teach them that they have a Father in Heaven and a Savior who loves them, that they have purpose in this life, and that they can live with their family forever.

I had an eye opening experience this week. I haven´t been able to run hardly at all on the mission, which I expected, but I translated my love and drive for running into the missionary work. For any of you know that know me, if I put my mind to something I am going to give it 100%. So that it was I have been doing. I have been trying to be 100% obedient and be the best missionary I can be, but I kept finding myself displeased with myself, or just unhappy. I talked to my companions this week, and they advised me that I need to allow myself to be happy. I need to enjoy this work. I was so focused on being so serious and focused, that I was forgetting the central part of what we teach: happiness and hope! I have found in the last couple days that as I allow myself to be happy and to enjoy the journey, that I love the work that much more!

Don´t get so focused on doing everything you have to in life, that you forget the central purpose of this life--to have joy. Be happy. Smile more. and Have fun. 

I love you all so much!!

Elder Daines

"Late night stretches"