Friday, July 29, 2011

Lots of pictures this week!

Hey Fam! How is everyone?

This week has been a great week as far as missionary work goes. The office work has been kind of slow, which is sweet, because that just meant more time to be out preaching. I did get to go to the "Federal Palace" for the first time this week (that's what they call the government building where we go for the migratory stuff). I took a few missionaries there to sign some papers and give some finger prints for the updating of their visas. So that was pretty cool.

This week we found two investigators that speak Spanish and English. One is named Eliseo, and the other is Samuel Aguilar. haha. They've both got some pretty troubled pasts, filled with drug addictions and difficult family situations.

Eliseo right now is living in a pretty humble situation. He has a small family that still lives in the U.S. but he hasn't seen them for a long time. Right now he's living in a house full of temptation and distractions. He lives with other adults who have similar histories, and who are actually still struggling with alcoholism and other addictions. The difference is that he's the only one who wants to change his life. While he was living in the U.S. he had a way sweet experience with the missionaries. There was a day when he was feeling especially down, and he started to just ask Heavenly Father for help. Shortly after, the missionaries came across his home. He started to come to church activities and stuff, and loved reading the Book of Mormon. He actually read it from the start almost all the way through Alma while he was up there. He said he would always start reading with the intention of just reading a chapter, but then he'd just keep reading and reading because of how he felt when he read. He said that he had a desire to be baptized, but his addictions kept him from having the opportunity. He's a really smart guy. He actually explained to us yesterday that he recognizes that baptism is a covenant, and the beginning of a lifetime of discipleship. Wow. We didn't teach him those terms, I think he just picked it all up from reading the scriptures. Anyway. This Sunday is his birthday, and he's looking forward to coming to church to start another year of his life the right way.

Samuel Aguilar also has family still in the U.S., but since he's been here he's been married and started a family. He's doing pretty well financially, and is no longer struggling with any of his past addictions. He just really wants forgiveness from the Lord for all the mistakes he's made. He's also a pretty smart guy, he was explaining to us the other day about his long search for the truth, and how he takes advantage of any opportunity to learn about any church, with the hope that he'll soon find the right path. He's really yearning for the healing power of the Atonement. He was saying that he has daily reminders of the effects of his bad decisions. From his past drug addictions, he often feels like he has a hard time thinking straight. It's going to be awesome to see them both progress. I just hope they have the faith and desire to put their trust 100% in the Lord, and act upon the answers they'll receive to their prayers.

Mom- Those pictures I sent from last week have the names of the missionaries as the file names I think. Elder Tibbitts and Elder Woodhouse are the Assistants, Elder Buckmiller is the old Executive Secretary (he goes home on Monday with Elder Moberg and Elder Ricks), Elder Villanueva is my companion, the $ secretary, Elder Galindo is in charge of the houses and the cell phones and stuff, and Elder Martinez is just visiting. We just took the pictures because we were playing with Elder Villanueva's new camera. haha. You don't have to put them on the blog unless you really want to. The pictures I'm sending with this e mail are from the fourth of July fun with the package Bam sent. It's only taken me a month to send them. haha. There are also a few pictures from the drive to cosco on P day, a picture of the temple from when we drove past it, and some pictures of more bikes that we got for certain areas, bought from the donations. The missionary that's playing with the yo yo's with me is Elder Wright, by the way, he's the proselyting secretary. Thanks for the update on the college situation. I haven't ever heard of the RM thing at BYU either. I still think that'd be pretty expensive though. The Meet the Robinson's song is a good motto. haha. I actually sing it a lot in the street since you mentioned it to me in that letter about six months ago when I was struggling a little bit. Thanks for being awesome Mom. :) You'll have to let me know how it goes with Elder Dial and Nay. haha. Love ya! Have a great week!

Dig- High adventure camp!? I thought that was for like eighteen year olds. haha Four wheeling though, sweet man. I remember going to a few camp outs like that. We never got to go four wheeling but we did alot of rock climbing and stuff. Are you and denny going to the same camp? If you are, make sure he's having a good time ok? You'll have to let me know how it goes. So you got in trouble for jumping off the rocks in Palisades? I thought that it wasn't against the rules. Hmm. Strange. Anyway. Stay sweet. Love ya! Have a great week!

Den- Have you been on a long scout camp before? Or is this your first time? You're going to love the camp den. Don't feel like your missing out just because you have to do the merrit badges and stuff. I loved doing the merrit badge classes. You can learn alot of sweet stuff in them. Have a great time and be safe ok denny o? Love ya! Have a great week!

Dad- Planning a trek for next year huh? I think that the most spiritual experiences of my life have happened at EFY, on Trek, and here in the mission. That's way lucky to have a calling that helps you be involved with it again. Sweet. That story from Tanner sounds pretty hilarious. haha. Thanks fro your love and Support Dad. Love ya! Have a great week!

Nay- Maybe it sounds crazy but no I don't have any idea what planking is. haha. I've kind of been out of the media loop for a year and a half. You'll have to explain it to me in the next e mail. Sounds like the Five Foxies are getting pretty big time. Do you still have the goal to get on Ellen? That'd be awesome. haha. Hey could you do me a favor? Could you tell Tanner and Cris I said hi, and thanks for their little messages in the e mail. Love ya! Have a great week!

Shash- Sounds like Palisades was a blast sloosh! Was it hard to catch Hoppy? I don't think I was ever able to catch one of the big frogs, I only ever caught the tiny baby frogs. That's awesome that you're inviting your friends to church that aren't members! It's going to have a big impact on your lives, and you'll probably end up helping their whole family. Just think of what a huge difference it made in the long run after Nay started inviting Tessa to church. Then Tessa helped her whole family with her great example, and now Tina has gone through the temple! Awesome. Keep being a good member missionary Shash. Love ya! Have a great week!

Love you All!
Elder Aguilar

Road Trip to Costco

Guadalajara Temple

Bikes purchased through donations from the missionaries' families - us!

Elder Aguilar & Elder Wright

Patriotic yo-yo's from Bam :)


This picture cracks me up.  He's still a kid. :)

I really don't know what's going on here.

Silly String!

Lunch on the festive 4th of July decorations from Bam's package.

Elder Aguilar, Elder Villanueva, & Elder Buckmiller

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Office

Hey fam!

How is everyone? This week has gone well. We've been a little busy in the offices, but not that busy. So we've had a lot of time for preaching which has been sweet. The area is doing well. We're finally starting to find some new investigators. This is the first ward I've served in on my mission so far that actually has the chapel in the ward boundaries, and it makes a big difference in the proselyting. It's sweet to go knocking on doors in the neighborhoods that are around the chapel, because everyone that answers the door says "oh are you guys from the church over in the intersection?" Which already starts the conversation and gains a little of their confidence. It also makes it more likely that the people will be able to fulfill their commitments to come to church, which is a huge difference from the other areas I've been in. Now, instead of leaving an hour and a half before church starts, pass by four or five houses, and pay all the bus tickets to truck our investigators in from out of town, we can leave like thirty minutes before the services, walk to the investigators' houses, and walk with them to the church. Awesome. Anyway.

The bishop gave us the names of three inactive families this week to start working on getting them back to church. We've been going around visiting them, and they're in difficult situations. In one of the visits with one of the families in particular it was a pretty sad experience. We went to visit an elderly couple that have been members of the church for about twenty five years. We started talking to them, and we found out that each Sunday they go out to a little farm house they have in the country and work on their crops. I asked them if that was the only thing that had been keeping them from going to church. They said that it wasn't, so we started to talk to them about what had really been keeping them from coming to church. They started to list off not so great experiences from the past, about how they felt mistreated by others at church. None of the things they were listing off were at all serious, only simple things, like asking them to bring more food to an activity that most other members had to bring. They ended up talking to us about that for kind of a long time. We shared our testimonies, and I read a few scriptures, and we tried to remind them that their testimonies should be founded upon the Savior, and not the actions of others. We tried to help them see that the church isn't there simply as a social club, but as a place to worship God. Regardless of our efforts, they stayed fixed on their decision, that their inactivity in the church was everyone's fault but their own. While I sat listening to them, I was pretty sad. I felt bad that someone could get so confused about the gospel, that they could forget entirely the teachings of the Savior, lose sight of their eternal goals, and become so blind about their situation. Later on I was looking over Grandpa Ellis' funeral program, and imagining what a special spiritual experience it must have been to be there. I started to reflect on his great example to our family, and the enormous impact that he had on our family, his ward, friends, neighbors, and others. I pondered on the extreme contrast between Grandma and Grandpa Ellis, and the couple we had visited. I wondered what could have made such a difference in the outcomes of the lives of these people. Once again my thoughts came back to testimony. I think the difference is really just that Grandma and Grandpa Ellis lived as disciples of Christ. I've never seen them look for the mistakes that others make, they've always just striven to love and serve in every opportunity that came up. Their testimonies have been built upon the Rock of Christ, Our Redeemer. The other couple, however, seems to have spent the last twenty five years looking for, finding, and dwelling on the mistakes that others make. They've spent so much time judging, criticizing, and taking offense, that they no longer had time to recognize all the blessings in their lives, or appreciate the great attributes that other people have. Anyway, I'm not just saying this to point out negative things about those members. That's not my intention, and we're going to keep praying for them and trying to help them make it back to church someday. But I do think it's a good learning experience. We should always be striving to grow in our testimonies of the Savior, and really become what He would have us be. Just going through the motions, or waiting around for some exclusive opportunity to act on what the Lord has commanded isn't going to get us anywhere. We need to be anxiously engaged in this great cause, and take full advantage of every opportunity to come closer to Christ, and strengthen our testimonies of Him.

I love you all!

Bam- thanks for the e mail Bam. Sounds like your new dog is great for you and for the whole fam. haha. I'll be excited to get the pictures. I still haven't sent the fourth of July pics, sorry. I'll be sure to send them next week though! The package really was awesome. Everyone was blown away by all the stuff. We enjoyed the table decorations, and all the little toys, and of course the candy. Love ya! Have a great week!

Mom- P-day is Thursday for me now, to answer your question. This week we had it changed to Friday, because we had a meeting on Thursday. But it's always going to be on Thursday unless it's a special case like that. Thanks for the updates on the fam and stuff from the reunion. And thanks for the advice and everything Mom. Thanks for being interested in my happiness. Haha. Love ya! Have a great week!

Shash- Sounds like the toys from Idaho were pretty awesome! And all the water fun too. Love ya! Have a great week!

Den- Sounds like that lava trip was a blast denny o! Love ya! Have a great week!

Dad- Those new canal sports sound pretty extreme. haha. Thanks for all your love and support Dad. I always appreciate your testimony. Love ya! Have a great week!

Dig- Sounds like ya had a pretty fun week man. Love ya! Have a great week!

Nay- That mini triathlon sounds like it was way fun. It's crazy that you're already getting your room stuff set up for college. You're getting old! haha. JK. Love ya! Have a great week!

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar

Elder Aguilar

I think these are all the Elders that work in the office...

Elder Buckmiller

Elder Galindo (His old companion)

Elder Martinez

Elder Tibbitts

Elder Villanueva

Elder Woodhouse

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Is Well :)

I think Elder Aguilar has been given a new p-day since we didn't hear from him until Thursday.  He offers no explanation for the delay, but I seem to remember that the Elders in the office have Thursday p-day instead of Monday.  So this is what we got Thursday.  We were out of town, so I am just posting it now.

Hey Family!!!

How is everybody? I'm doing good. This week has been good. Finally starting to get a hang of the new secretary job. The responsibilities that I'll have are prepare visa papers for newly arrived missionaries and make sure they're legal. Renew visas for older missionaries. Plan the travel and buy plane tickets for missionaries that are going home. Notify incoming missionaries' families of certain things expected in the mission before the missionaries get sent out. Notify families of missionaries going home about travel plans and get them letters and stuff about things the President wants them to know. Keep the information on transfers and missionary contact info. etc. updated. And just little jobs that I might get from the President or Sister Jesperson. The hardest part is going to be the visa stuff. That'll be the most stressful as well, because if the missionaries aren't in line with their status in the country and stuff like that, it can make it difficult for the Church to be able to continue sending missionaries in from out of Mexico. Aside from the secretary stuff, my responsibility is to continue inviting others to come unto Christ. We start preaching each day at three, unless of an emergency in the secretary duties. My goal is to get my responsibilities as a secretary super organized and prioritized so that I can spend as much time proselyting as possible. It shouldn't be hard at all, this week we've had no problem getting out to preach on time each day.

Anyway. The ward I'm in is great. The members are really incredible. It's easily the strongest ward I've been in so far on my mission (out of all four of the wards that I've been in. Haha.). The members really support the missionaries, and President Jesperson refers to it as the "gold mine" ward, because if we work well with the members here anything can be possible. At church the members were actually talking to us first to ask when we have time to do splits with them. WOW. Sweet.

Right now we have very few investigators in teaching, and only one is progressing. His name is Carlos. He's fifteen, and he spends most of his time at the house of a family in the ward. I'm not sure why but I get the feeling his own family situation isn't in very good shape. He's been coming to church every week for about a month now, and is back and forth about his decision of whether or not he wants to be baptized. He'll also need permission from his mom, and she feels that it's too soon. We'll see what happens.

These past couple of weeks I've been trying to take advantage of all the opportunities I get to testify. Testimony is just so awesome. It's cool to see that the most clever, smartest, best person/missionary in the whole world could reason, explain, and convince all day long and still not see many hearts open to the gospel, while the newest, most humble, scared missionary that barely even speaks the language, and struggles to remember all the doctrines in the Preach My Gospel lessons, can bare his sincere heartfelt testimony and reach the heart of every person in the room by the power of the Holy Ghost. There's a quote from President Hinckley about prayer in Preach My Gospel that talks about that.

I've been studying a little bit lately about how to apply the principles of the gospel, and especially the power of the atonement in our lives. I like the scripture in 2 Peter 1: 5-10. I originally read the quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he talked about adding knowledge to virtue. Then when I started to study it a little more in the scriptures and with references from talks from church leaders, I realized that in that scripture we're basically given a step by step process that leads us to reach the potential that the Savior invites/commands us to work towards (Matthew 5: 48; 3 Nephi 12: 48). Right now I'm studying a little more about faith, which is the first step. I've learned that in exercising faith there are three steps. The first is assurance, followed by action, then evidence. In a simple situation that could mean that I have an assurance that if I press the keys on the keyboard, the letters will be written on the screen. So I take action and press the keys, then I see the evidence as the words appear on the screen. Or something much larger, as Moses was standing on the bank of the Red Sea with an army of killers behind him, a sea in front of him, and desert/mountains on either side, and the lives of so many people depending on his actions. He first received the assurance by the promptings of the Spirit that if he took a simple action with his staff, the Lord would provide a miracle. Then he took the action. And then, after his trial of faith, he saw the evidence, as the Lord opened the sea, and all were able to cross to safety on dry land. Those principles of faith are present in everything we do, however big or small.

Bam- I did get your package on time. haha. I arrived here to the offices on the 4th of July, which was pretty good timing, since my 4th of July package was in the offices. We had lunch with the sweet patriotic decorations, and enjoyed all the toys and treats. I'll send the pictures next week because they're on another missionary's camera so I don't have them right now. Thanks for the package and for your letters Bam. You're the best. Love you! have a great week!

Gram- Thanks for that e mail Gram. It's always nice to get caught up on all the little things going on back home. I appreciate the encouragement and support. A few words from a loved one make a pretty big difference. Thank you. Love you! have a great week!

Shash- Sounds like you're tearing it up in Jazz Attitude Shash! Awesome. Keep up the hard work! Love you! have a great week!

Den- DEACON! Awesome Denny-o. I bet you're setting a great example there in the ward. I can't wait to see you pass the sacrament in about six months! haha. Love you! have a great week!

Nay- Way to face your fears. haha. I had an experience with that yesterday. I'm super scared of fighter dogs, and yesterday at the house of some inactive members, their 60 pound pit bull was playing fight with it's puppy right in front of where I was sitting on the couch. I was scared out of my mind. haha. Nothing bad happened though. Thanks for your comments Nay. About my favorite scripture... I have no idea. I've been especially into the teachings of Christ during his earthly ministry lately. They're like a perfect map of how to live and love like Christ did. Love you! have a great week!

Dig- Have a blast on those trips man. They're all a blast. Let me know how they all go. The week long ought to be pretty awesome. Love you! have a great week!

Mom- The package from the fam also got here. I forgot to mention it in my last e mail. Thanks for the oreos and the gatorade and powerade mix! It's exactly what I wanted. It was a relief to finally get the new slacks too. It gives me a tiny bit more of an option when I get ready in the morning. haha. Just kidding. Thanks for forwarding that e mail from Elder Dial. It wouldn't be a bad idea to introduce him and Nay. haha. Love you! have a great week!

Dad- Thanks for that story about Elder Elmer. That is pretty interesting about the timing with everything. I guess I'll probably be giving a similar report at the end of the Mish. Love you! have a great week!

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hey Fam!

How is everyone? This week has been alright.

The family from Utah (the family Sosa), still hasn't shown much progress. It's kinda frustrating not knowing at all what to do with them to help the mom (Chela) open up a bit, but all in due time.

This week we came across a family that has been members their whole lives, but that haven't been to church in ten years! The mom saw us in the street and invited us to come visit them. As we talked to them we found out that of the whole family, their kids are already all grown up and married, and only one of them still goes to church. One has started drinking and smoking. One of the daughters now considers herself Jehova's Witness, and the mom, the one who invited us to come, had begun worshipping the grim reaper. Wow. haha. As we talked with them we found out that there was alot of history behind their situation. After being members for about four years, always being in church on Sundays, keeping the commandments, reading the scriptures, etc, the mom was preparing to enter the temple. She was super excited and was taking temple prep classes and stuff. One day, her sister, also a member of the church, came over to visit her, and told her that she didn't think she was prepared to enter the temple, and that she thought she should wait. The mom felt pretty bad about it, and ended up never going to church again. From that point on each person in the family sort of went their own way. The happy ending is that they are dying to return to the church. They are willing to do anything to be in good standing again with the Lord, and they all have a great attitude toward life and stuff. Their daughter in law is also pretty excited. She's not a member, but is looking forward to going to church with her family, and will probably be able to be baptized soon. It'll be great to hear about the big turn around their making in their lives.

Well, I had transfers. Last friday President Jesperson came all the way out to our house and talked with us about some things. He interviewed me personally and talked to me about alot of things to do with the teachings of Christ and testimony. Then on Sunday Elder Tibbits called me and let me know that President had been praying all day long about an impression or decision he was trying to make, and had recieved an answer that I needed to be moved from my area. I'm no longer a zone leader. Elder Newell will be taking my place, and I'll be headed to Guadalajara as the Visa Secretary. I'm kind of confused about what to think about the change. Secretaries in the mission are usually either young missionaries who are responsible enough to take care of the papers and stuff in the offices, but that will also have alot of time after their secretary service to work in the field; or missionaries that are struggling with something that the Assistants and President want to keep an eye on. I'm definitely not a young missionary any more, but I'd like to think that I'm not going there just to be watched. From what I understand, I think President recognizes that there are some things I still need to learn about life and the gospel, that I haven't been able to figure out yet, and he's felt that the transfer will be the best thing to do. I don't know really. All I know is that in President Uchtdorf's talk about pride he talks about how humility includes accepting all the responsibilities or tasks that the Lord gives to us, whether big or small, and doing our very best. So I'll just have to be happy and excited for the new responsibility!

Shash- Sounds like your week was packed with fun stuff with your friends. Sweet Sloosh. I hope you enjoy your fourth of July! Love you! Have a great week!

Den- Sounds like your b day was a blast man! What are you going to spend your birthday cash on? I hope you enjoy your fourth of July! Love you! Have a great week!

Dad- Sounds like the spruces activities were pretty awesome. I remember repelling at scouts a few times, but it was always just on a wall, I bet it's sweeter with real rocks and cliffs. That talk from Jeffrey R. Holland is also a good one. I hope you enjoy your fourth of July! Love you! Have a great week!

Dig- Holy cats man! You've had a crazy week when it comes to bike stuff! That's too bad about the stolen one but it's good you'll be able to work for a new one. I hope you enjoy your fourth of July! Love you! Have a great week!

Mom- I guess I won't be there for the final results of the Sosa Family (Lety and Anthony), but I'm sure your continued prayers will help Elders Newell and Vasquez to help that family out. Thanks for the updates on everyone from home. Could you let the Hill fam know I said congrats on the baptism of Anna and the baby blessing of Alyvia? None of the packages have gotten here yet, but now that I'll be in the offices I'll probably be getting my mail months sooner than usual. haha. Thanks for everything Mom. I hope you enjoy your fourth of July! Love you! Have a great week!

Elder Aguilar

These were sent to us last week.

Hey mom,

These are some pictures from the last Zone Leader Council that we had.

Love ya!!!
Elder Aguilar