Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb 17--Emails From Matt

Re: A Valentine for You

Wow, That was really nice! Thanks! I printed it off and I'm going to save it! :)


Hey, Thanks for your letter! I really enjoyed both of them. Hmmmmmm...... I didn't write too much last week because we had a meeting on Monday and it took away all of our p-day so when we did get to write it was a very short letter. I'm so glad that you were able to have a happy Valentine's day. I actually got a package last week, so I'm going to count it as my Valentine's package from you guys! (It was from Grandma and Grandpa, and I'm also very much counting it as theirs too :]) that along with your email has made this a very good Valentine's this year. Thank you so much.
I never really got to thank you too much for your email that you sent a week ago. It was absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much mom.

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Our Zone

As for this week:

A few sad things happened:
Guillermo disappeared, we are 99.9% sure that he's back into using drugs.
We found out that Lizeth isn't married, which is not good but at the same time it's good because we found out what she really needed to hear which is awesomely great!
Elder Jara had to go home (He is a missionary in our zone) because of medical reasons and Elder Juarez went to his area to be companions with the missionary that Elder Jara left behind. Elder Jara has only been in the mission for about 3 months and so it's sad to see him go. The good news is that he does have a 6 month period of time to fix his medical problems and get back into the field which is good.
My companion is doing good which is a pretty sad thing, because normally he is unbelievably awesome. (That's a joke, Elder Sullivan wanted me to add that in there)
And that's about it for this week.

Good things:
We started testifying of the Atonement and not of the truthfulness of the church. Why, you may ask, did we do that? Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only thing that brings salvation unto the children of God,"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." 2 Nephi 2:8

Because we have started doing that, I feel like we are really learning more about the Atonement and the Sacrament. Both are vital things that very member needs to understand. I'm very thankful that the Lord is hastening His work.

Speaking of which: HELP THE MISSIONARIES! YOU CAN DO SOMETHING!!!!! YOU COULD HELP SOMEONE! SOMEONE OUT THERE NEEDS YOU! :) We love you, we trust in you. Help the Lord in His work, and He will give you your recompense.

We had the opportunity to talk to an atheist man yesterday named Fransisco. We talked for a solid 3 hours with him about the existence of God and what happens after we leave this life. My companion, after our discussion, made an interesting connection: Almost all of Fransisco's doubts of the existence of God where based on a miss-conception of free agency and what it does to help us in our lives. It is important to have a firm understanding of the basic principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We weren't able to help Fransisco (mostly because he didn't want our help) but we were helped quite a bit. We were able to define our beliefs in our minds and solidify our testimonies. We also found out a very important fact: Not all atheists are unpleasant people. Fransisco is one of the nicest people I've met recently. It is very important to be polite no matter what we or other people believe. I say that because we believe that the first two greatest commandments are these: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. and: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. couple that with 3 nephi 11:29-30 and.......... yeah. Let's be nicer. I need to work on that a lot still! :)

In my scripture study: Well I was reading Alma 11 and I was wondering how Amulek became converted so much to be able to testify as much and as powerfully as he did. I looked at the specifics of the chapter and I decided on a few major things that he did. I don't have them here with me, nor is my study going to seem very life changing for anyone else, but I really liked it! :)

Because there are only 2 missionaries in La Cruz and not 4, we are now teaching a family that previously the other Elders were teaching. The Dad's name is Benjamin and he has 4 kids: Erik Daniel Linda and Jimena. They are a wonderful family, all of them listen to us except for Benjamin's wife. It's vital for the progression of this family the Benjamin's wife starts listening to us so that is going to be one of our goals this week. I'm sure that this week is going to be hard, stressful and fun.

I love you all and I hope that you are all having a wonderful week!


Feb 17--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  I hope you liked your Valentine from me.  How are you doing?  Are you still in a trio?  How is that going?  Thanks for writing a little to us last week even though you couldn’t write much.  It was still nice to hear from you and know that you are okay.

This has been a good week.  Monday after work, Dad and I drove in the washing machine together as planned.  It was nice to be together and visit.  After dinner we went to the play at the high school for family home evening because Katrina had to be an usher before the play.  The play was “Emma” and the students did a good job—we really enjoyed it. 

Tuesday I grocery shopped and we had asparagus soup and muffins for dinner.  Besides that I can’t really remember what we did.  It must not have been all that spectacular.  Wednesday Katrina and I dropped Thomas off at gymnastics and then went to parent teacher conference.  It took us an hour to see all their teachers, then we had to go pick up Thomas, and then we went back to talk to their seminary teachers.  I had been coming down with a cold, and by the time it was all over, I was very sick.  By the time we got home from all of that, Dad was home.  He had me go to “bed,” or should I say “couch” and Katrina made tacos for the family for dinner which was real nice of her.  I felt awful. 

Thursday I was supposed to give blood, but I was still sick, so I didn’t go.  They called me to see where I was.  They like my blood.  Last time I went to give blood, they sent me home because I was anemic, and then the next week they called and begged me to eat spinach, drink o.j. and try again.  Too bad it didn’t work out the second time.  I spent the evening on the couch again and Dad and the kids brought dinner home from Wendy’s.   While I sat on the couch I made paper lace gift bags and cards to give for Valentine’s Day.

Friday was awesome!!!  My co workers loved their Valentine’s goodies, and I had so much fun passing out Valentines to my students.  By the time school was over, I was laden down with cookies and chocolate from the students, the rest of the stuff, like the donuts, I turned down or gave away.  I was supposed to pick up Thomas and Katrina from school and then hurry to meet Miriam and Dad at Miriam’s work, and go to see Les Miserables from there.  But when I got to the car, Jon called, and I was very excited because I had Valentine’s stuff for him and thought I was going to have to drop it off at his house without ever seeing him, but he said he was at the house, and so I said I’d come home to see him.  I picked up the kids and then went home.  It was so nice to see Jon and give him a hug because I haven’t seen him since my birthday.  He surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries from Costco which were so delicious and fun to eat, especially because I had been surrounded by sugar all day and had not eaten any of it.  It was very fun to give Jon his Valentine’s stuff and visit with him while we scarfed the gifts we’d given to each other.  Miriam met us at home instead, and I gave her and the other kids their Valentines, too, and then Dad came home and I gave him his Valentines, and it was so fun, especially visiting with Jon.  For Valentine’s I made everyone a special card and gave them chocolate.  I also gave the girls roses, Thomas and Jon balloons, and Dad filet mignon.  

After Jon left, we loaded up and headed for Les Miserables which was Dad’s Valentine’s gift to us all.  Matt, I cannot begin to describe how amazing it was.  It was so wonderful.  The cast was amazing, the singing was beautiful, and the staging was perfect, the performance was family-friendly.  We loved every bit of it.  During intermission, we got a call from Cassandra.  They called to thank me for the Valentines, and I was so happy they’d gotten them on Friday, because I didn’t end up sending them till Wednesday.  I had made a card for Cassandra and Emerson and also a card for Lily with a little girl in a pretty dress on the front, and inside I enclosed four more cut-outs of girls in different pretty dresses.  Plus, Dad had a necklace for Lily, so I put it on a heart for her to find inside as well.  She loved it all, and it was so fun to talk to her about it and to tell her and her parents “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  I’m so glad they liked the cards it was a wonderful, wonderful day.

For all of that, Saturday was even more wonderful, Matt, because that morning during scripture study, I saw my way so clearly and knew that I needed to rely on the Lord all day to direct my actions.  The whole day, I tried to ask myself what Jesus would do, I prayed and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit at every turn, and the day was amazing.  I talked to loved ones, visited a lonely friend, and other friends, too.  As I was visiting with one friend, I had a feeling of perfect peace come over me, and I knew without a doubt that I was doing at that moment exactly what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.  The day was so wonderful, every bit of it.

Today, I once again tried to seek the Lord’s will and guidance throughout the day.  After church I got to talk to more family members, Skype with Cassandra, Emerson and Lily, eat with the family, and do family history with Dad and the kids.  Now we are going to have family home evening on keeping the Sabbath day holy, a subject I’ve felt inspired to choose. 

Well, now my lesson is over, and I think it went well.  Most of us are sitting around the table eating milk and cookies.  It has been a wonderful day.  Oh!  Do you know what makes it even more wonderful???  There’s no work or school tomorrow because it’s president’s day.  How awesome is that? 

I love you, Matt.  Have a great day and a great week and remember how much we love you and are praying for you. 

Feb 17--A Valentine for Matt

Dear Elder,
Happy Valentine’s Day!   I love you!  Thanks so much for being my son.  Here are some of the things I love about you from A-Z…
Active—Your active mind and body help you be an effective missionary.
Bold—You have learned to declare the word of the Lord with boldness.
Compassionate—Your compassion for others emulates the pure love of Christ, and they can feel His love through you.
Diligent—even during hard times, you are diligent and wait upon the blessings of the Lord.
Earnest—As you teach the gospel, I know you do it with a deep earnestness that brings the spirit to the hearts of the people you teach.
Faith—You have a deep and abiding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ which enables you to teach with power from on high.
Good—Matt, your goodness radiates from you and inspires me and the people you teach.
Humble—You work with an eye single to God’s glory and not your own.
Inspired—Matt, you have written inspired words to me, and I know that the Holy Ghost works through you to inspire others.
Knowledgeable—You know the scriptures, and you use them to bless your life and the lives of others.  You also know many things because of the experiences you have had in your life.  You have learned from them, and this knowledge gives you wisdom.
Leader—Because of your obedience and understanding, you have been able to lead others to Christ
Meek--Matt, you realize that you don’t have all the answers which makes you teachable.  You will go far in life because of your meekness.
Noble—Matt, you are a noble priesthood holder, missionary, and son of God.
Optimistic—Matt, you keep a good and cheerful attitude which comes from faith in Jesus Christ assuring you that everything will work out.
Patient—Matt, you bear your trials with patience, knowing that others have suffered more than you for what is right
Quiet—You know how to be quiet and listen to others speak to listen for the Spirit’s voice.  Your quiet attitude makes it possible for the still, small voice to speak through you.
Reverent—You keep sacred things sacred, and your love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ shows in your reverent speech and attitude.
Selfless—Matt, everyday, you forget yourself and go to work serving others.
Truthful—You are honest about your mistakes and your shortcomings, and you repent of them and forge ahead.
Understanding—Matt, you have a deep understanding of the Gospel and of the things that God wants you to do.  You don’t condemn sin in others, but you try to understand others and their challenges and to inspire them to overcome them
Valiant—You are valiant in your testimony of Jesus Christ.
Wise—You don’t just “know,” you “do.”  This give you wisdom and helps you be like our Savior.
Example—You are following the Savior in being a light to the world in bringing others to Him.
Young—Matt, you are still young.  You have a lifetime ahead of you.  The things that you are doing now, in your youth, will bless you and your children throughout the years to come.
Zion—You are helping in the great work of gathering Zion, the pure in heart, to the gospel and preparing the way of the lord.
These are some of the things I love about you, but this is not why I love you.  I love you because you are my son, and you will be forever and ever.
I love you!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Feb 11--Email From Matt

Hey mom, thanks for both of your letters, they are truly inspiring. I got to read them yesterday in the bus ride back to La Cruz. I was in a meeting all yesterday, and we barely were able to squeeze in time to write... Elder Sullivan says hi. As of last week on Monday I've been in a trio with Elder Sullivan, and Elder Juarez.  Elder Juarez is from Puerto Rico.
This week has just been a blur, I'm so sorry........... there are soooooooo many things that we need to do. There are so many people that we must talk to, we have to be better than ever. I know that we can do our part with the help of the Lord.
Well, I've never really been able to write very good emails but mom, those last emails that you sent me were very important to me.  Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to write them.
well that's that. We didn't really have enough time to write.

Feb 10--Dear Elder

Hi, Matt, that was weird.  I was writing a letter to you and had gotten quite a bit written, when the email I was writing disappeared.  I have no idea where it went, and it's not in my drafts or my sent mail, so now I have to start over which really stinks.  I started by basically saying that I am happy for all of the progress that your investigators are making and I hope to hear more about them this week.

I also said thank you for your encouraging words to me and for helping me to look back at how I gained a testimony.  It is a very strengthening thing to do.  Also, I said that reading with my students does remind me of reading with you and I have sweet memories of reading "My Father's Dragon" together.  I want you to know that I have learned more patience since then, ha ha.

I think its really cool that you are studying obedience and keeping track of your obedience.  I'm looking forward to hearing more about that in your letter.  I have been studying about obedience, too, in 1 Ne. 3 and 4.  Here is a link to my study notes if you have time to and are allowed to and want to read them.

Well, today is Sunday and I went to our ward and another ward.  I also had a meeting this evening.  Still, we were able to eat a meal together as a family and to have family home evening.  Dad did family home evening, and he read an article from Brigham Young University that talked about ridding our lives of destructive behaviors and cycles.  I was very informative, I thought.  Tomorrow he and I are going to drive to get a washing machine fixed for the laundry.  It will be fun to spend a couple of hours driving there together.

A month or so ago I signed up for a few city yard sales on Facebook, and someone was selling a brand-new-never-been-used fondue pot for eight dollars.  I have no idea why I messaged them and asked them if they’d take five, because then I had to go buy it when they said “yes” which was kind of a pain.  Anyway, I thought it would be a cheap aluminum thingy, but the stand and pot were cast iron.  That was the good news.  The bad news is that I also thought it would be heated electrically, but it wasn’t.  It was heated with a little stove that requires denatured alcohol that you slip under the stand, and it heats the pot.  So I bought the alcohol, another pain, and the cheese, and found out how to make fondue without wine, and yesterday I made it.  The fondue was delicious.  The “old world” recipe enclosed with the pot was just the ticket, and using lemon instead of wine worked wonderfully.  The only thing that didn’t work wonderfully was the burner under the pot.  It never got the pot hot enough to melt the cheese all the way, and I ended up making and serving it on the stove so everyone had to crowd around it.  It was disappointing and I don’t think I’ll make it again unless I can get the pot to work.

Speaking of doing lots of driving, yesterday we went to a family history expo.  Miriam and Katrina went with us, but Thomas didn’t because he didn’t want to miss his last basketball game of the season.  We got to hear Elder Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak as well as others.  It was a wonderful event and I’m really glad we went.  Now if we could just DO family history!  It is less of a mystery to me now, happily.  Did you know that the Church has struck a deal with and other genealogy websites, and within a year, those websites will be free to use along with which is already free, of course.  The lds family day at the expo was also free.  (Blog Note:  We got tote bags and backpacks and lanyards.  The church had given each participant all that free of charge.  After the conference, I couldn't throw it all away.  I'm hoping it will somehow come in handy for our family reunion this summer.)  The church is so awesome!

Well, last week was a very busy week, Matt.  Dad was sick, for one thing.  I also had meetings Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.  Then, because it was the beginning of the month, I also did my monthly inventory and shopping trips to keep the house stocked with three month’s supply of food and non-food items.  Besides all that, Thomas and I figured out what eagle scout project he wanted to do, filled out the proposal, and got him before the board Thursday night to present it.  They loved the idea, so he is now ready to start the project.  It all made for a very busy week, though I did bow out of the Thursday meeting because of Dad being sick and Thomas presenting his project.  

For his eagle project, Thomas plans to help out the elementary school's P.E. department by making bean bags, repairing the parachute, and cleaning equipment.  His friend Hayden’s mom is the P.E. teacher, so he worked it all out with her.  He wants to make the bean bags out of old donated jeans and donated beans and other grains.  He wants to get young men, young women, and moms together in the church with sewing machines and have the moms teach the kids to sew the bags, and the kids to cut out the bags, sew, and clean the equipment.  He wants to sew the parachute himself.  Anyway, that’s the plan.

Well, besides going out with Dad on Friday, there’s not much else to say about the week.  I look forward to this week.  Tonight we are going to the school play because Katrina helped with some of the scenery and also sewed cravats for the men’s costumes.  Also, she has to be an usher tonight, so we are all going in order to be with her on family home evening night and to see the play.

I really hope that this week we can do some family history work although I still wish I had more of a handle on it so that I could help the kids when they get stuck so that they won’t get discouraged.  I also need to pray about where to start.  It really is a daunting task, to me, Matt, even with all the training we got on Saturday.  I just need to do it!

Also this week, we all look forward to Friday, Valentines Day.  After school, we are going to see “Les Miserables” performed at a community theater.  In preparation for the event, I have not listened to any music from the play so that, first, I could get the memory of the movie out of my head, and, second, I can appreciate the beautiful music even more, having not heard it for awhile.  Dad and I saw the Broadway play five or so years ago, and we are very excited to take the kids.

Well, Matt, I love you!  Thanks for taking the time to write us.  Don’t worry if you cant write much, we understand.  I am so glad that you are so happy doing the Lord’s work, and that you are working with so many wonderful people.  Tell Elder Sullivan “Hi” for us, and your investigators, too, if you want.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.  Have a wonderful week!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Feb 8--Dear Elder: My Testimony

Dear Elder,

 I loved your last letter!  In it you asked me two questions that I want to answer, and then I will answer the rest of your letter tomorrow.

The questions were, "How did you gain your testimony of the gospel?" and "How has it grown to what it is today?"  It is very important to me that you know some of the many experiences I have had that give me the firm assurance that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today.

First, Matt, I have always had a deep desire to do what is right.  I never doubted that Heavenly Father and Jesus live and that I wanted to please them.  My parents and siblings, especially my big brother, were good examples to me of choosing the right, and I wanted to be like them. I found very quickly that I wasn't very good at choosing the right, but I cheerfully forged ahead, being naughty at times, but trying for the most part to be good.

 When I was a very little girl, I sat in Primary and sang songs that filled me with the Holy Ghost and firmly cemented the desire to do what is right deep into my heart.  Two of the songs we sang were particularly moving to me. One was "Dare to do Right," and the Other was "Stand for the Right."

Dare to do right.
Dare to be true.
You have a work that no other can do!
Do it so bravely, so kindly, so well,
Angels will hasten the story to tell."

I didn’t know much about the Holy Ghost, but the music and words stirred my heart.  It’s hard to explain, but they filled me with longing and I knew that the words of the song were true.  I knew when I sang it that I did have a work that no other could do, and that I must always dare to be true to what is right, kindly, bravely, no matter what.  The beautiful music and words of "Stand for the Right" had a similar effect on me and filled me with the determination to follow God’s prophet and stand for the right.

Our prophet has some words for you,
And these are the words: Be true, be true!
At work or at play, in darkness or light,
Be true, be true,
And stand for the right.

As I type the words to these songs here, I imagine them with the music, and my mind goes back to those days and I can still feel that longing, a longing to be with God, and a determination to always be true to Him.

When I was fourteen, I began taking seminary, of course.  That first year, we studied the Book of Mormon.  I will never forget the feeling I had as we studied Lehi's vision of the tree of life, Matt.  I felt very strongly the desire to reach that tree and partake of it's fruit. I knew that if I held fast to the iron rod which represented the word of God, I would be able to stay true, gain eternal life, and have a fullness of joy.  I reasoned that reading the scriptures daily was a very small and simple commandment and that even I could do that.  I determined then to study the scriptures daily, especially the Book of Mormon.  That determination has made all the difference in my life.

I read the Book of Mormon faithfully after that, and although I can't say I never missed a day, I hardly ever did.  Since then I estimate that I have read the Book of Mormon more than 30 times, at least once a year since the age of fourteen.

As you know, Matt, at the end of the Book of Mormon, In Moroni chapter 10, verses 4 and 5, Moroni makes a promise to whoever reads the Book of Mormon.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."--Moroni 10:4-5

I didn't have much understanding or experience with the Holy Ghost, or so I thought.  I wish I could go back in time and remind my younger self of the experiences I have related to you so far, Matt, and say to the younger me, "That was the Holy Ghost!  You have felt the Spirit of the Lord!" 

Because of my supposed inexperience with the Holy Ghost, Moroni's promise caused me a bit of consternation, and I would almost dread arriving at the end of the Book of Mormon, knowing I would need to obey Moroni’s exhortation to ask of God.  Still, I trusted in the Lord's promises, and always got on my knees to pray for a special witness when I got to that point.  I remember crying at times when that witness didn't come, I also remember at other times assuring the Lord in prayer that I would wait upon Him and His timing.  I must have read the Book of Mormon at least 5 times without receiving the witness I sought. This didn't stop me from reading, Matt, because, even at that time, I believed and was sure that the Book of Mormon contained the words of Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I felt the truthfulness of its words every time I read.  Still, I hoped that some day I would receive further witness that it was true.
When I was about 21 years old, One-year-old Cassandra and I were living at Grandpa and Grandma's house because Dad was in basic training for the US Army.  One day, I finished reading the Book of Mormon again.  It was a fast Sunday, Matt, and after church, while I was still fasting, and had been for nearly 24 hours, I left Cassandra with her aunts and uncles and went in to my room alone to finish the book and to pray.  As I knelt in prayer and fervently asked my Heavenly Father the question, "Is the Book of Mormon true?" I was overcome with the Holy Ghost.  It flooded me with an overwhelming feeling of joy that lifted me.  That's the best way I can describe it, Matt, I was lifted with joy, and my heart sang with the words, "Yes, It is true!"  I have felt joy since, but never like that, and I knew what it was to taste of the fruit that is sweet above all that is sweet and pure above all that is pure, and I knew that the Book of Mormon is true.  Heavenly Father took a long time to answer my prayers, but He sent me a witness when I needed it most—when I was only just embarking on my life’s mission which is to be a mother in Zion and raise an eternal family.

Matt, after I received a sure witness, and even before that, the Book of Mormon strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ, and I know without a doubt that it is a testament of Him.  As you may know, over half of its verses speak directly of Christ, and it contains the fullness of His gospel.  It stands with The Holy Bible as an undeniable witness to me that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  I know He lives!  I rely daily on His Grace and His atoning sacrifice.  It gives me comfort in my weaknesses and it assures me that if we stay faithful, we will one day see His face, hear His voice, and live with Him forever.
Matt, because I know these things, and because of further witness from the Holy Ghost from time to time, I also know that we are children of God, that He answers our prayers, and that He has a work for us to do.  I know that Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and restored to him the gospel of Jesus Christ from ancient times.  I know that we have a prophet and apostles with us on the earth to day who speak for God.  I know God's promises are true, His commandments are just, and that if we stay faithful, you, your siblings, your Dad and I can be together forever "to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens."

Matt, I am very sorry for your sake, and for your siblings' sake, that knowing all these truths hasn't made me perfect.  I shutter to think where my mistakes and sins would have taken us if not for the power of repentance through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and His power to heal, to save, and to redeem.  I know that staying faithful to Jesus Christ and His holy word has made all the difference in our family.

 "Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man [or family] of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked" --Helaman 3:29

I hope that somewhat answers your question, Matt.  As to how my testimony has grown into what it is today, I refer you to Alma 32, which likens the word of God to a seed that, if it is planted by faith and nourished by patience and diligence, springs up into a tree of everlasting life.  Now I need to remain faithful, diligent, and patient till the end of my days.

"And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." --2 Ne. 31:19-20.

Feb 3--Email From Matt

Hey Mom, thanks for your letter! 

This week we did a few things. We taught Martha a bit, and we got to see Ellery. He is going through some hard moments right now, but he's taken the firm decision to be baptized. I truly believe that he's going to get baptized, I just don't know when. He started working on Sunday and that means that he will have to get baptized after he goes to church 5 times. He's gone once... so in a few months. We'll see what happens.

Lupita and RocĂ­o both came to church. They are both dating members of the church. We are excited for them. I'll probably write more about them next week.

Martina (I talked about her in the letter that I sent on the 20th of January) came to church again! She is such a good person! She is getting more and more converted to the Gospel. She's actually trying to get her husband to listen to us. We'll see how it goes.

AHHHHHHH!!! I almost forgot! You remember Gregorio right? He's still awesome! His brother, Guillermo, (The guy that was in the rehab center) is out! He came to church yesterday!

We've been talking to a lot of people, trying to find a lot of people and praying for a lot of people.

In my studies I've been looking for the blessings that we get from following commandments. It has been really fun. I'm going to ask the Lord to bless me with those things as I do them so that I can testify to others that they can really receive them. I've gotten a little bit done, but next week (if you remind me) I'll send some of the blessings and scriptures that I've found.

My companion is studying the old testament and so basically I am too, because, I don't know why, but I love reading the old testament. I just don't read it too often because I feel like I don't learn stuff that will help the investigators. hahaha!

That's so fun to hear about your student! I'm so happy to hear that his is trying so hard to read! Being able to read really is a blessing that will help him. Do you ever feel like you are helping out a little 8-9 year old Matthew to read?           
In her letter to me, Katrina mentioned going to the art exhibit. She said that she felt the spirit there! 
                                                                                                                                                    _| |
                                                                                                                                              __/   /__
                                                                                                                                                            |       (<----That's a thumbs up right there...)

I'm also glad that you are finding time to study, even if it is at 4am. Mom, I'm so grateful that you realize the importance of reading the scriptures. How did you gain your testimony of the gospel? How has it grown to what it is today? 

Do you remember that one time about 6 months ago when you and dad were on a cruse and you sent me that letter about the Beatitudes? I still have a copy in the house and the other day I found it and was reading it. I think that it was very inspired mom. Thanks for sending it! I love you!

I love you mom. I hope that you have a wonderful week and that you are able to feel the spirit as you help the kids and as you are working.  I'm doing my best here and I really love being here. I'm also glad that you are acting upon your testimony. Please remember that: "ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."

Do you remember that one time you made that little story about the breach and lifting it up based on Isaiah 58:12? That has become one of my favorite scriptures and has helped me see things in an eternal perspective.

Know that I really love you all, and that I hope that you are doing well. I hope that your week is wonderful!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Feb 2--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you?  Thank you so much for the email and the picture.  It was so nice to see what Ellery and Janeth and Martha and the others look like.  It looks like you really had a wonderful birthday.  I loved seeing your smiling face holding your birthday tamale.  It really warmed my heart that you had people around you to celebrate your birthday with you.  BTW, did you get the SD card yet?  I'm wondering if you will ever get it.  I'm fasting today, so hopefully my prayers that you will get the card will be extra efficacious and that you will get it.

I'm so glad that you have found a way to incorporate the thirteen steps found in Preach My Gospel into your day.  Are you still doing it?  I hope so.  If not, remember how well it worked, and start doing it again, okay.  You asked me if work affects my scripture reading, and it does sometimes because a good night's sleep is more important than ever.  So if I wake up at 4 am or something, I usually read scriptures until I fall back asleep, and then I call that my scripture reading and wake up later than my usual 6 am wake up and scripture reading time.  The reason this hurts my scripture study is that when am able to wake up at 6, I don't just read, I study, but when I read in the middle of the night, I read without taking notes and studying and it's just not as effective in my life.  Anyway, don't worry, Heavenly Father helps me when I am committed, and lately I have really been able to feast upon the word and get direction for my life.  Right now I am reading 1 Nephi 3 and I am learning more from the chapter than ever.

Thanks so much for sharing Doctrine and Covenants 128:8 with us.  It is so wonderful to think that God loves us enough to have restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to us in the latter days and that Christ has given His church the authority to seal on earth and have it be sealed in heaven.  We really live in a wonderful time, Matt.  I hope you can remember that when you get home and see the changes that have occurred in our country since you left.

Hmmm... what have we been doing this week?  Let's see...Wow, Matt, it's really hard to remember.  I wish I had more time in the mornings so that I could write to you a little every day instead of trying to remember at the end of the week.  Um...Thomas is trying to find an Eagle Scout project these days, Katrina has been driving us around a lot, Miriam is feeling sick and so is Dad.  I did visiting teaching this week.  I have also been trying to work a bit on family history.  I'm really trying to make that my new hobby.

I have really been keeping up on things at work and thoroughly enjoy working one-on-one with the students.  I have one student who is reading on level F right now, but we also read an abridged version of "Call of The Wild" together and he works so hard to read it that his reading is improving through sheer will power.  He told me on Tuesday that he wants to read "The Outsiders" when we finish this book.  I looked up "The Outsiders" on the internet and found out that it is a level Z.  That worried me, but when I pulled it up on Amazon and reviewed a page or two, I realized that it is totally do-able for him.  That is a very exciting thing, Matt, because he may be moving away in April, and I can't think of anything that we can do better for him than to increase his love for reading and his ability to do it.  I work with other students, too, all wonderful.

My job is kind of tenuous, Matt, because we are on the borderline of having enough students to justify having a fourth aide in the class.  If student numbers go down, I will presumably be the one who goes because I am lowest in seniority.  The district won't lay me off, they will just relocate me, thank goodness, but no where else I can work will be as wonderful as where I am working now, so I cherish every moment I spend here.  It is truly one of the sweet experiences that my patriarchal blessing assures me I will have in this life.  What's amazing is that it is nothing compared to the even sweeter experiences I have had with the family and the gospel through the years.

Friday Dad and I went out to dinner and then we walked around the mall to get a little exercise.  I really enjoy walking and talking with your dad, Matt. He's an amazing guy.  He started feeling a bit sick that night, but on Saturday morning he still went to the gun show and really felt sick on the way home, pretty much being down for the count the rest of the weekend.  I sure hope that he feels better after today because he says there is no way he can miss work tomorrow or the rest of the week since his aide is taking the week off.

We had tickets to see the art exhibit on Saturday night, but Dad was too sick to go.  Miriam didn't go either, so it was just me, Katrina, and Thomas.  It was just as wonderful an experience as it was when I went last week, Matt, to see those beautiful paintings.  Katrina and Thomas really liked it, too, and I think they were glad that we went.  I really want to get more tickets so that Dad can see it later, and hopefully Miriam, too.

Today I only had to go to my regular church meetings, which was nice, and my poor back thanked me, ha ha.  It really hurts to sit through five and six hours of church.  I have determined to take Advil next week to help me through.  Next week is our own ward's ward conference, and I think we may have only one week after that and then ward conferences will be over for the year.

After church today we had a nice time visiting around the dinner table as some of us broke our fast.  We also got to Skype Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily today which was wonderful.  Lily was really excited to see us and wanted to be sure that we noticed her pretty pink dress, which we assured her that we did.  She loved yelling "hi" to us.  We didn't really get to talk long, but it was very heart-warming to see them.  I love them so much!

Now I am writing to you, Matt, which I love to do.  Have a wonderful week.  I know that you cherish every moment of your mission, Matt, and I am glad that you do.  Thank you for not only having a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ but for acting on that testimony by bringing it's truth to others.  I love you.