Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hey Fam! Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving has already been way better than last Thanksgiving. A family in our ward invited us to a Thanksgiving dinner at five o clock, so that'll be awesome. And for lunch we had a Thanksgiving dinner as well! We used all the stuff that Bam sent me in my thanksgiving package. I baked the cornbread and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, made the gravy (a can of gravy exploded on me while I was trying to get the lid off), and the stuffing! I was pretty proud of myself. Elder Tibbitts donated another two packs of potatoes, so we had double the potatoes. He also donated a pasta salad, and Elder Zobell donated some Christmas cookies. Oh by the way. Elder Zobell just arrived to the offices. He's Elder Olson's replacement, and will be my new companion. I'm pretty stoked, because Elder Zobell is pretty awesome. He's about a year into the mission, and he's energetic and desirous about the work. I'm looking forward to the upcoming change.

So Sunday was supposed to be the baptism of the Salas Ríos family. Saturday night, the dad arrived home at about midnight. He was drunk, and he and his friend began to consume ilegal drugs. Hortencia told him he had to leave, but he was too drunk to understand what was going on. She was furious, so she took the kids and left. They went and spent the night with her mother in law, then spent Sunday looking for a house, so they could start a new life. They're not going to officially move for a while still, but things are already in motion for the change. Anyway, they were pretty bummed out that they had missed their baptism. Andrea gave the prayer at the end of the lesson, and asked Heavenly Father for forgiveness for not having been baptized. Their baptismal service is now set up for this upcoming Sunday. It's also the littlest son, Axel's birthday. So we're trying to see what we can do, because they have family members coming over to celebrate, so they're stressed about getting back to the house too late. But I'm sure things will work out.

Carlos hasn't been progressing, so we had to drop him. We told him that when he's ready to make a change, we'll see him at church. I hope we do because his family really wants him to change. We'll see what happens.

There's a member named Raymundo that helps us alot. He's from a member family, but had been innactive for years, after beginning his own family with someone of another faith. He recently started coming back to church, and he's doing awesome. He's really an example for the whole ward now, because he fulfills all his responsibilities the best he can. Anyway, his mom is in town from Las Vegas, and she invited us over for lunch this week. We went to the lunch with Raymundo and his three kids (not members.) After the lunch we had a lesson with the whole family. It was a pretty good lesson, and at the end we invited his oldest daughter Liz to say the closing prayer. She accepted the invitation, and as she began to thank her Heavenly Father for the blessings in her life, she was overcome by the Spirit, and began to cry. She finished her prayers, and was pretty affected by what she felt. The other day Raymundo brought her to the church for the second lesson with her, it went well, and she talked about her desire to know if there's a Prophet of God on the Earth. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and she's reading and praying. We'll se them again this week to see how things are going.

This week I heard a talk from President Hinckley called 'How Lucky Can You Be!' I know Thanksgiving will probably be over by the time anyone reads that, but that is an awesome thanksgiving time talk, I highly recommend listening to it. I'm sure reading it would be good too, but there's alot of added emotion in his voice. President Hinckley's awesome.

That was pretty crazy to hear about the story of getting stuck on the way up to the cabin. That's awesome that your prayers were answered and everything turned out well. Who all was the trip to the cabin with? You'll have to let me know how it went.

I'm attaching pictures of the food preparation from today, one of Elder Olson and me with Carlos and two of his sons, one of Elder Olson, Elder Tibbitts, and me with the Briceño family by their Guadalajaran Christmas tree, and one of Elder Olson, Elder Tibbitts, Elder Woodhouse and me with the Salas Ríos family at their house.

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar

Elder Olson, Elder Aguilar, & Elder Tibbitts with the Briceno Family

Elder Olson & Elder Aguilar with Carlos and his sons

Elder Tibbitts & Elder Aguilar's Thanksgiving Feast from Bam

Exploded Gravy

As close to Thanksgiving as you can get in Mexico

Elder Woodhouse, Elder Olson, Elder Tibbitts, & Elder Aguilar with the Salas Rios Family

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Elder Aguilar!!!

Hey Fam! How is everyone? I'm tired. haha. Sorry if this e mail doesn't make alot of sense but I'm super worn out! This morning we went to drop a missionary off at the airport. I was already kind of in trouble (I'll explain that in a second) so I went to bed super nervous about whether or not I'd wake up when my alarm rang to get the missionary to the airport on time. From being so nervous I think, I woke up by accident at midnight, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 in the morning to check the time and make sure it wasn't time to get up yet. Then we got ready at 5 am and took off to the airport. So I'm worn out.

Anyway, This week has been interesting. I got bit by a dog. We were talking to an investigator in his driveway, and I was leaning against his truck. When we went to walk away I felt something grab the back of my leg, then I heard a little tear. It was his dog that had been hiding under the truck. It bit my leg (not very hard) and tore my pant leg. Sweet.

This week we had two extra missionaries in the offices with us. One was Elder Cedillo, and the other Elder Hernandez. It was sweet to have them around to help with doing splits and stuff. It was also a pretty unique experience, because they were both here waiting for news from the doctor on their health situations. They both ended up being released this week for that reason. Now, part of my responsibility is buying the plane tickets for outgoing missionaries, and notifying their families of their flight numbers and arrival times etc. When a missionary goes home early, however, the things are all done a little more suddenly and rushed, and sometimes either the President or the Assistants call the missionary's family to let them know what's going on. Anyway, so Elder Hernandez went home yesterday morning, his flight arrived in Mexico City at like 11:30. Later on in the day President called me to ask me if I had notified Elder Cedillo's family about his flight (which was today). When he asked I came to the horrible realization that I had never called anyone to let them know about Elder Hernandez's arrival. I looked at the time. It was about 6 pm. Oops. Big mistake. So the poor assistants went speeding back to the offices (Elder Olson and I were out proselyting) and called Elder Hernandez's Stake President and Bishop and Family. They got to hear a lot of complaints. So last night I called to apologize, and explain to them all that it wasn't anyone's fault but mine. Crazy day. But anyway, what's done is done. No use crying over spilled milk. The good news is, I doubt I'll forget to call anyone's family again about flight plans.

Carlos Contreras is doing ok. We gave him a calendar, because he always says that he feels like his baptism is coming too soon. So right now he's reviewing the calendar to choose his own baptismal date. He recently found out about some heart problems he's been having. I guess his health isn't very good right now. We'll keep praying that he'll get an answer about his baptism, and that he'll be ok health wise.

The Salas Rios family is doing great. This week we found out that the Mom (the one that we talked to on the street who told us she was a member) is not a member. She was baptized, but never confirmed. So now she has a baptismal date with her kids. The oldest Salas Rios child, Joselin, is suddenly all rebelious. She went and got a lip piercing, and keeps saying that she doesn't need to be baptized. I think that seeing her family's baptisms will help her alot though.

I heard a sweet quote this week from James E. Faust, in a talk titled "Lost Horizons." In that talk he talks about how people often loose sight of our ultimate goal by focusing so much on something else. The distractions often times aren't necessarily bad things, but when the ultimate goal is changed from eternal progression to something else, we end up with lost horizons. He used the example of college graduation for example. There are some people that see their college graduation as the peak in their career's progression, and then often times don't end up accomplishing much further on. He mentioned that while the accomplishment is a great thing, it shouldn't be viewed as a final destination but more like a watering hole in the middle of the desert. You come get a drink to gain strength, then you keep pressing forward toward your true destination. If you stick around at the water hole forever, you might not ever make it to your true goal. I think that can happen on large and small scales in life. Anyway, the quote says: "Excelence comes in to being, riding on the confidence one has in one's self." James E. Faust. That's pretty cool. Self confidence is really important. I think it's also important that self confidence doesn't have to dissapear for us to be humble. A humble servant of God can be confident in himself, knowing without a doubt that everything comes from and depends upon the Lord. Self confidence is something I'd like to learn more about.

Oh by the way. Today for my birthday I baked my German Chocolate cake, and the Assistants and Elder Olson sung me happy birthday and we all used those little party horn things. It was pretty cool The cake turned out nice.

Mom- Sounds like that Jordan North 1st ward reunion at the wedding was pretty fun! haha. What an awesom bunch of people. I loved my birthday present. It's sweet. I'll have that for a very long time. The companionship is doing well. Elder Olson goes home in two and a half weeks. I don't have a replacement secretary to train any time soon, so that means I'm going to be finishing my mission here in the offices. Out of the six off us that are here, five will finish our missions here within the next two months. I attached a picture of Elder Olson and I with Elder Cedillo and Elder Hernandez during their last moments here. Elder Hernandez is on the left by me, and Elder Cedillo on the right. I also attached a picture of me with my cake. It's kind of a lot of candles. Thanks for everything mom. Love ya! Have a great week!

Dad- Sounds like the anniversary was good. Classic banner. Haha. Happy late anniversary to you and mom. That's some sweet insight on James and the things he wrote. I'm not sure if anyone realizes the amount of difference a person can make. Like you said, that one verse changed the world more than any other. That's awesome. Thanks for everything dad. Love ya! Have a great week!

Shash- Awesome Spanish singing skills in my letter shash! Thanks! So you made me the best Christmas present huh? I can't wait to see what it is! Sounds like that play you saw was pretty awesome. Really long though. Three hours. It's a good thing it was a good play. Imagine if it would have been a three hour boring play! That'd be tough. Love ya! Have a great week!

Dig- So.. How tall are you? You're as tall as the mad hatter in that picture. That's pretty sweet that you know how to do 180s on your bike. I've never been able to do tricks like that. I guess it's because I've never practiced like you have to learn them. So it's looking to be an easy wrestling season huh? That's cool. You'll have to let me know how it goes at the wealthy neighbor's cabin. Love ya! Have a great week!

Den- Hey Den. How are ya? Sweet spanish speaking skills by the way. Where'd you learn so much español? Sounds like that football game in the gym was pretty intense. Way to go man. Is Eric Kinikini your age? Anyway. Love ya! Have a great week!

Nay- Sweet poem. That's good poetry skills. I especially like the part about 21 empanadas. I love empanadas. haha. I also liked Guadalajara rhyming with mom and dad buying me a ferrar..a haha. I guess there aren't many things that rhyme with Guadalajara. Love ya! Have a great week!

Bam- I got both of the packages. Thanks a bunch bam. Everyone I know wishes they were your grandson so they could get such great packages. Haha. I'm way excited to make the snickerdoodles. Let me know how it goes at TOFW. Love ya! Have a great week!

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar
21 Years Old!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How is everyone? I'm doing well. This week has been good. It's been a pretty normal week, but a good week.

So, all that focussing in on the Salas Rios family, Alejandro, and Carlos Contreras, and it ended up that ALL of our investigators went to church on Sunday except them! Hay Carambas, as they say. Anyway. It's been interesting. But we were able to get the Salas Rios family to the church during the week for a lesson, so that was a big improvement, and Carlos' family finally started to read the scriptures to him, which is good. Alejandro's having a tough time however. There was an incident in his home caused by drug overdose that scared him a little bit. One of his family members just had an attack and Alejandro and the little kids were the only other ones home. He ended up super scared trying to calm the situation down, and way stressed out with all the little kids witnessing the whole thing. Anyway, he doesn't like to be at his house anymore unless it's absolutely necessary, so we're going to have to start teaching him in a different venue.

This week I've been studying alot about Repentance. It's so awesome. It's incredible that the Savior has done so much for our salvation, and it's pretty humbling to realize that now that His part is done, everything literally depends on whether or not we take advantage of His Atoning Sacrifice. That's a huge deal. We really shouldn't procrastinate the day of our repentance. I've noticed in my life that of all the things Satan tries to get me to do, he seems to focus most of his attention on trying to persuade me to avoid repentance. He knows how vital it is for us and he's willing to do anything to keep us from repenting. It's cruel. haha. No surprise, he's Satan. Anyway, I notice a lot as we work with people here, that they can be great people, doing good things, worrying about the welfare of others, and lots of other great things, but for whatever reason, they feel like repentance is just something they should avoid. Why?! It's such a mind game. Repentance brings us self control and freedom, there's nothing about it that we should ever not want in our lives. That's the whole purpose of what we do as missionaries. What's gospel? Good news. What's the good news? That all men, everywhere, in any situation can repent, and be forgiven of their sins, in preparation to stand before the Lord at the last day. That's a day when the last thing we want to remember, are the things we didn't repent of (Alma 5:18). So why don't we all just gladly accept the great news and follow what the Lord has commanded? There's really not a single reason not to. Repentance only brings prosperity (Helaman 4:15). I was reading in Preach My Gospel about how to help investigators overcome addictions through repentance, and there's a part that I love. I can't remember exactly where it is, but it talks alot in ch. 3 about how when we repent, our view of ourselves, the world, and the Lord change. The part I like the most is that when we repent, we realize we don't have to keep being a certain way or doing a certain thing. So many people feel like they just have to keep being or doing things that they don't even desire to have in their lives. Well there's the big secret, we don't have to. The price is paid, let's not let it be in vain. I'm just thankful that the Lord has that kind of love for us, to save us from our sins.

Anyway, this letter's a little shorter than usual. This week's just been... interesting I guess. I'm just thankful.

Dig- So the other day I was knocking an investigator's door waiting for them to come answer, when I saw a guy in the street doing some sweet bmx tricks! He was doing all kinds of stuff without any jumps or anything, it was pretty cool. It made me think of you. Sweet job pulling that 3/4 stack! Classic move. Sounds like this season will be sweet for ya. I started wrestling in eighth grade, so you're already way ahead of where I was. Off to a good start. haha. Love ya! Have a great week!

Mom- I received those letters from Aunt Katie's ward's primary this week. They were great! That's pretty exciting about your new calling. Primary's the best. As for your question about the christmas tree, I left it in the Uruapan house with the other Elders. I got my package. I'll be opening it in about a week! Sweet. I hadn't heard about the Elders from Texas. That's tough. I'm sure there was a reason behind it all. Anyway, thanks for everything Mom. Love ya! Have a great week!

Dad- Let me know how things go in California. haha. Thanks for the separate e mail. That advice was great. I love learning about the experiences in the lives of General Authorities, they're the best examples. Thanks for everything Dad. Love ya! Have a great week!

Den- So there's a couch in a cage in the basement? That's sweet! haha. I never would have imagined that. A very comfy looking couch too? Cool. You'll have to keep me updated with everything as wrestling gets started man. Love ya! Have a great week!

Shash- Sounds like your dance costumes are going to be super! haha. I wish I could see your primary program too. I bet it's going to be great. Your just so talented Shash. Love ya! Have a great week!

Nay- That's sweet what you said about the forget me not stuff. I should check that out. It's from a talk right? Good luck on your exams this week. By the way, It's definitely legal to attach pictures to the e mails. haha. So what's the idea behind planking? Anyway. Love ya! Have a great week!

Bam- Thanks for all the updates on the fam Bam! Thanks for all the birthday stuff and everything. I'll be watching for the packages. I'm a pretty spoiled missionary. haha. And I'm thankful for it! I'll be sure to check out the moon tonight by the way. Love ya! Have a great week!

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Anyone can be healed through the power of Christ."

Hey Fam! How is everyone? I'm doing well. This week has been great. Our investigators have done well with keeping their commitments, and they're starting to really see some results.

There's a family in our ward named the Contreras family. I don't remember if I'd mentioned them before. The mom, and six of the seven kids are members. The father and one son are not members. The son (Fernando) is friendly, but doesn't seem to have any interest in the gospel. We've been teaching the father (Carlos) for a while now though. He's always had a desire to truly follow the Savior, but he's suffering from a strong addiction, and he doesn't know how to read, so he feels like he's hopeless. He came to church for the first time on Sunday. He enjoyed it alot. It's great to see his progress, and the way that his family is helping him and supporting him in his struggle to prepare for baptism despite his challenges. I've learned alot about the enslaving power of Satan's methods as I've gotten to know Carlos better, but as we watch him do his best, I've also been learning alot about the incredible strength of the Atonement. Anyone can be healed through the power of Christ.

We've also been teaching Alejandro. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned some things about him in the past, but just to review his story. A month and a half ago we were knocking doors, and we found a lady named Maricruz. She's a single mother of like six young young children, and she looked pretty interested in the message. We came and taught her once, but she didn't end up seeming very interested after that. A couple days later we were walking down the street, and a man with a lit cuban cigar in one hand, and a bottle of strong liquor in the other hand stopped us on our way. He was in the more advanced stages of drunkenness. He introduced himself as Alejandro, and explained that he's Maricruz's brother. He talked about how the time we came to share the gospel with Maricruz, he could hear us from the kitchen, and just felt something special while he was listening. He said he wanted us to come talk with him, and teach him a little more about what we represent. We set an appointment, and later arrived with three of the ward missionaries. We found him drunk once again, but well aware of the appointment, and ready for the message. We talked first about the word of wisdom, then about prayer. He refused to pray or allow any of us to pray. He said he just doesn't like those things. We ended up focusing the remainder of the visit on the word of wisdom, and he committed to quit drinking that day. The next time we visited him, he was sober. He explained to us that he had continued to drink until midnight that night, but that since that day, he hadn't consumed even a drop of alcohol. We talked about the Plan of Salvation a little, according to some questions that he had. He still refused to allow any prayers to happen, but he enjoyed the lesson. The next visit we went with him to the chapel. He talked about how he had joined an Alcoholics Anonymous group to help him stay away from his addictions, and that it was helping him so much. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ in front of the baptismal font, and invited him to be baptized. He didn't accept the invitation, explaining that he felt he just wasn't prepared enough to be able to be faithful to the covenant, and that he wanted more time. We shifted our focus to prayer, and finally found out that he does pray, the way that he should pray. The prayers he was against were the prayers he had heard in other settings that were mostly memorized vain repetitions. Once he realized what we meant by prayer, he allowed us to close with a prayer. Later he faced a major trial, when his friend was beaten nearly to death on a Sunday morning. He decided not to go to church, and ended up getting drunk again. Later we were talking with him, and he talked about all the peace and comfort he had felt once he had left the alcohol behind, and begun to pray and read the scriptures, and how bad he felt for having fallen back into his addiction. Anyway, last Sunday he came to church, we finally got the opportunity to share the message of the Restoration with him, and he's looking stronger every day. This week he had a special personal experience with answers to his prayers. It's been awesome to see his progress. Out of all the investigators I've ever had, he's probably had the most difficulties, but he's working hard and facing all his trials like a champion, with the Savior's Atoning Power supporting him every step of the way. Sometimes I think that guys like him would be the only ones strong enough to make it out of those tough life situations, and maybe that's why they're there. It's a good example to me. But anyway, he's still got some work to do, some good enduring to his baptism, then of course enduring to the end. So I'm sure your prayers will help him.

Daneisys has been giong to seminary and everything, she's growing in testimony daily. She's become really good friends with everyone in the ward really quickly.

We found another family last saturday named the Salas Rios family. They're living in humble circumstances. The mom was baptized a long time ago, but has been innactive for sixteen years! They have four kids, three young teenagers and a baby boy. The three older ones are preparing for baptism as well. The dad is a great guy and works super hard to provide for his family, but he seems to have a tough time. I hope we can help him out. It'll take some sincere intentions and charitable attitudes.

Anyway that's about all for this week.

Mom- I just got a dear elder from you. It was an awesome letter, the one that talked about the Meier's homecoming and Alex's talk as well. About the weather, it's super hot here again, I think it was just while the hurricane was going on in the south that things cooled down. So I hope you didn't send me a coat. haha. But if you did I can just throw it in my suitcase and bring it back home I guess. To answer your question about the lamanita, I send a new one out to the mission every week. It's pretty fun. The hardest part lately has been getting pictures from baptisms, nobody seems to send them anymore. Oh well. haha. I attached pictures of Elder Olson and I in our halloween costumes that Bam sent us (Elder Olson looks just like Charlie Chaplin I think), and new pictures we took for the Christmas Card. I guess Sister Jesperson didn't like the other one. We got a little goofy taking the pictures. The Elder using the camera was shaking or something because they kept coming out blury so it took forever, that's why we started goofing around. It's nice to get out of the regular office setting and have fun every once and a while in the mornings. I'm writing letters today finally, so I'm going to write one to Bam and tell her thanks for the Birthday present. Love ya mom. Have a great week!

Dig- Your bowling game sounds just like every time I've ever gone bowling in my life. haha. It's always that way, do well on the first couple of frames, then all I can seem to hit is the gutter. So the NBA players are all on strike? Do they think that millions of dollars is just too little for them to play a fun game every day or something? haha. Interesting. Thanks for the dear elder by the way. I enjoyed your comments about the mission. That's good that you're getting stoked about it early on. Seriously Dig, participating well in your quorum right now is going to make a huge difference on how your mission goes. I learned alot from my time in young men's. Anyway, Love ya Dig. Have a great week!

Shash- You got hot chocolate from the gas station? Sweetness! Yes I remember that time when you and I went to get hot chocolate. Those were the good old days huh. Sounds like your halloween was a blast. That was a good costume idea you and your friends had. I bet you all looked awesome. Love ya Shash. Have a great week!

Den- Well you've got a point den, I guess I can't say anything about your aggies hat if I'm not even going to the U. But the U is still the best! haha. So wrestling is getting all started up huh? What do they have in the basement? I remember wrestlers used to go down there alot, but I never went down there, I don't know why. So you're in Ms. Mcbeths huh? Ya I know who she is. I can't believe she's still there. haha. She seems like she was a really cool teacher. Love ya Den. Have a great week!

Dad- I know you were just joking about that comment that I'd maybe be a fan of some other college team once I get home and start school and stuff, but just to make sure everyone knows, I'd like to recall the countless times I stood on the third row at the U games and sung proudly the line "who am I sir, a Utah man am I, a Utah man, sir, I will be 'till I die." haha. Just kidding. But for reals. So that book about President Monson sounds pretty great. I can only imagine the things to be learned by his life example. Thanks for that little part about filling in the gaps with faith. That's awesome. I'm going to focus on that. Love ya Dad. Have a great week!

Nay- Don't worry about not writing last week. No biggie. I understand. haha. So about your questions and stuff and your situation. Sounds tough. I know how you feel when you talk about those feelings. There's been alot of times when I feel just like that. Especially in the mornings. I remember one time Elder Moberg told me something that changed my mission. He said "Some days, you'll wake up, and just feel bad. You'll just feel like you can't do it. You'll feel like you don't have what it takes, or you don't quite amount or whatever. You'll feel tired, and you won't want to go out to work. On those days, you need to get up, say a prayer, and tell Heavenly Father exactly how you feel, then tell Him that even though you feel that way, you're going to go do what you're supposed to do. Ask Him for help, and if you do your part, He'll help you every time." That's not an exact quote, I'm paraphrasing. But the idea is the same. I'm not joking Nay, there hasn't been a single day when I've tried putting that in to practice, and things didn't turn out ok in the end. My problems weren't all solved in an instant, I didn't suddenly no longer have trials or weaknesses, but I felt peace and love, and things just turned out ok. I don't know why I talk about that like it's a thing of the past, because it's actually something I have to do like every day. But it works. I'd say about two out of every three days, I get up feeling just like you talked about in your e mail. I read a quote on a bus the other day. The driver had stuck a sticker quote on the window between him and the passengers. It said "Don't tell God you have a great problem, tell your problem you have a great God." I really liked that. Just stay awesome Nay, I hope I can be like you someday when I grow up and go to college. haha. Anyway. That's awesome news about Jesus Navarro! You should see if you can get his family's address so I can figure out where they live. That's so awesome. I remember he use to ask me and my friends why on earth we would ever want to go on missions, haha. He's a good guy he'll be a strong member I bet. Anyway, Love ya Nay. Have a great week!

Love you all!
Elder Aguilar