Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letter #2 Kraft Macaroni and Cheese...such sweet bliss

On Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Our Dearest Son,

So how are you? We hope all is well & you are working hard things are progressing with the people in Tixkokob.

Your letter last week was simply marvelous, bold and to the point. Our loved ones needed to hear it, as well as myself . I feel you were definitely inspired to write the words you did. You reminded me of Mini President Holland.

Well we are having some sizzling weather. We went to Weston/Athena for the Colonian games. While we were this young man stop by & says “first what is your last name?” I said "Santos". He asked if we were related to Manny? I said "yes he is our son."  He said his name is Luke, and he was your younger brother from Trek. He says to tell you he sends a BIG HELLO! I said you were serving a mission in Mexico. He seems like great young man. That of course was the highlight of our day there.

I just got a called from the pool saying they are having trouble with the ice machine so I need to go over there & get it so Dad can have a look at it.

I am so excited you got your package! I also saw this member of the church who knows you he says his daughter Hannah is on a mission to Mexico city & they know you. He also mentions a place you can send packages, and will not take so long. When I find out what it is I will send more goodies so let me know if you need anything. How are your shoes holding up with all the walking? Remember to keep them clean.

Love su
Mami Y Papi!

Well, I didn't realize you had responded, so I'll respond to this one quick. First of all, I appreciate being compared to Elder Holland. Haha. If you think he's bold in conference, you should hear him
outside of the Tabernacle. Haha.

Oh man! Ah, I love Luke. He's a way good guy and was such a help to me during trek. If you remember how he looked, he was a big'un and for me, he was my ox. He was an ox for our whole family, actually. Haha. I'm glad Oswaldo's with you.

So, the brother who you met is named Kevin Christianson. (sp?) He's probably one of my favorite people in our whole stake and is just a really great guy. His daughter's serving in Mexico City and
I ran into her at the MTC on her first day because I was hosting new missionaries that day and she accidently called me Manny. That was an enjoyable experience because I had to think for a sec because nobody at the MTC knew me by that name. Haha. As for my shoes, they're doing just fine. I'm actually saving the other pair for when these one's wear out just so that they'll stay in good condition. Oh boy, more goodies! Elder Wilcox and I have been having a good time with those. We enjoyed a lovely American meal of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese last night. Ah, such is sweet bliss. Anyway, hope you guys have a wonderful week. Love you!

 Some kinda Mayan dish an hermana in our branch made for us 
(oh man,after the mission, I'm not gonna eat eggs probably for the rest of my lifeish), and more importantly, a donkey....

Two letters this week! Letter #1

Pictures of Merida


Dear Mom and Papi,

Phew. Well, this week was kinda rough. We were really low in lessons because the majority of our plans fell thorugh up until the evening. I'm not sure if it was because of the world cup (And yes, I was
rooting for Argentina. Oh well...) but either way, a lot of things were falling through. We walked, and we walked, and we walked, but aside from all the walking reports, I do have a few wonderful things
to report. Something I forgot to mention last week (as I spent my whole hour and a half of email with my personal note to the family, haha) was that we had our largest church attendence, especially with
the 4 investigators we had at church. That was so nice to see them all there at church. AH! Plus, we had a baptism this Saturday too. Our investigator, M, finally got baptized after 12 years!!!
Unfortunetely, I missed it because I had to go on emergency splits with one of my zone leaders, but what's important is that it was finally able to happen and also that she was able to be confirmed a
member of the church the next day.

Speaking of that Sunday, we were able to have 4 investigators at church again, but two of them were
different. We started teaching a man named J. R. who's situation was very similar to our other strong investigator, L. We found him walking home and he was very sad. He was drunk (We have a knack for helping out the "borachitos" here. Haha. Seriously. You never know who'll be a golden investigator.) and in his own words describing the experience, "Yo soy muy triste!" (I am very sad!) because of how alcohol had affected him. Well, we started talking to our new, sad friend and set an appointment. We came back and he was stumbling home right at the time he showed up. (Despite the alcohol, that's precisely why he came home at that time. He remembered us... *sniff*) We tried teaching a bit, but booze makes him kinda dramatic and teary and sad, but in the end, we prayed, left a Restoration pamphlet and a Book of Mormon, committed him to stop drinking, and set up another
appointment. We weren't sure just how receptive he was to everything because of his state, but we decided we'd see how he was next time.

All I can say is wow. We came to our appointment, and he was expecting us and was 100% sober. He had read the pamphlet and a bit of the Book of Mormon in between visits and just his whole countenance had changed. He's a really chill and less dramatic man when he's not drinking. Haha. We
had a really good lesson on the Atonement and committed him to baptism and to attending church. We came to pick him up for church so we could all walk together that week, but he wasn't home. We were a bit sad because he seemed like he'd be a progressing one. We came back for our other appointment with him and it turns out that he was gone because of a funeral, but he said he'd come the next week. Along with him, we committed his "wife" (Well, here there are a lot of "union libres"
(literally meaning free union) and he's in one of them, however, you find a lot of olderish couples actually aren't married.) to come too, even though she attends another chruch. (Not the Catholic, though.) His 10 year old grandson was also there and we were able to help him understand that we can change and become better in this life through the Atonement because he did not understand that. We gave him a Book of Mormon and we hope we can visit with him more because I can tell that he's a really good kid who has a good belief and faith in God.

In regards to Sunday, J. R. was there with his wife and they were able to attend sacrament meeting. Ah, that really is such a good feeling. It made up for having to find out that morning that the branch president needed us to speak in sacrament. This is the second time we've had to do this, but I find I'm getting good at more or less giving a talk on the spot. It's kinda fun, actually. Haha. I spoke on how church attendance can help us find others to teach through being able to receive personal revelation at church and that the only way we can do that is if we truly take advantage of the time we have at church and really try to get something out of it. I hope my message was retained because we really need more folks to teach. Oh! And I received mail from the Routsons! Ah, that was really nice to hear from Pa Routson. They're good folk.  Please tell them I love and miss them and hope they're all happy and well. No ward or branch can ever replace the love that I've felt in Hermiston ward! Well, that's about it for this week. Anyway, send everyone my love, especially Pedro when you see him next or any of the guys. I miss my group of fellas. Till next time, bye!

Love Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

This past week has really been something else...

July 8, 2014

Dear Mami y Papi, (Para que ya puedes dejar ser celoso. Haha.)

(Sorry for not responding till today. They switched p-day to today for this week because we had a meeting this morning.)

Wow. This past week has really been something else. First off, we traveled way too much. Haha. On Monday after district meeting, we got back to Tixkokob and a few minutes after we got off the bus, we got a call saying we had to go back immediately to the mission offices because I signed my immigration document in black and I guess they only want blue ink here (not that I don't mind with the lovely color choice), however, we had just gotten back, so the extra trip to and from Merida was less than wanted. And then I had to get photos for my meeting at the immigration office later that week and that took two hours for that to get done. Long story short, we got back to Tixko at 8 and there went another p-day. We haven't had a normal p-day since I arrived. Haha. Speaking of the meeting, we had to get up early for that (by early, I mean earlier than we normally wake up, which is 6) so we could get to my meeting early, which we were supposed to. It wasn't exactly a week for sleeping. Haha.

Back to the topic of traveling, I believe it was Saturday, we pretty much walked the length of Tixkokob maybe twice or so because of where our lessons were for that day as well as the location of our lunch appointment. However, I think I'm starting to remember where stuff in town is. Back to the important spiritual stuff. Quite a few appointments fell through one day (which can happen quite a bit here) and we had about 20 minutes till we had to go to our last appointment for the day. I had the thought to go to the town center and see who was in the little park to go and contact. We met a lady and her 3 kids who would've been good had it not been for the fact that she lives with a very catholic mother-in-law who's unacceptting of other faiths (surprise, surprise), so that was kinda eh. However, walking out, I saw a man sitting by himself and I felt we should talk to him. (Especially because it's easier for me to talk to them when they're by themselves.) We found out that he was having marital problems and that he wanted us to visit the church and have us visit him because he's just way down on his luck. Oh man. That made us way happy to find someone so receptive. We ran into him a couple days later, however, he was a bit drunk. His wife had left that day and he waited for her to come back (with the kids, I think) but she never came, so he got drunk. We talked to him, had him just let everything out, and set an appointment. Stuff like that really bums me out, but with the gospel being the biggest blessing a family can have, I'm super motivated to teach him, because that really took a lot out of his desire to live.

Not too long before, we made contact with a less-active, J, who we were helping ditch alcohol, and he was doing really good too. We lost contact for a few weeks because of his work, but when we found him this week, he was drunk. He's currently in debt and will potentially lose his home and (at the time) was out of work. What's worse is (and this is a bit heavy here, but heavier things were said which I will not mention, but this needs be mentioned at his request so that all may know) that he tried committing suicide. He showed us his wrists where he tried to cut them. His mindset in regards to life are at the point where he doesn't want to live anymore (due to his wife leaving him many years ago, his financial situation, daddy issues, and just complete loneliness since all his friends are at the bar, where he shouldn't be) and as he described another really heavy and humiliating situation, my heart just broke. It's absolutely awful how Satan will take pain and affliction and just kill whatever little hope is left remaining. That being said, something that he told us that he wanted us to tell our friends and everyone is that God had saved him. How did that happen? Well, when he had gone to cut his wrists, he tried, but failed due to the knife being way super dull that it just left a mark. It didn't even really break the skin. While things may be hard now, he recognizes that God saved him, especially because that wasn't the first time either. We talked to him that night, made an appointment to come see him, helped get him happier, gave him a hug, and left. I really hope things will work out better this time, since he was able to get some work again. This is just a testimony to me that we will only remain in misery unless we humble ourselves and allow Christ to take that burden, which He has already paid and suffered for. Even for those who may find themselves comfortable in their situations, without Christ and His restored gospel in our lives, we will never receive the true happiness we need in both this life and the next.

The Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught that this life is a probationary time for us to repent and prepare to meet God. (See Alma 12:24) Are we really preparing for that by the way we are living right now? Are we successfully enduring to the end or merely walking just outside the edges of the straight and narrow path (the only path) that leads us back to God? (See 2 Nephi 31) Is it an easy way to live? Not always. Is life supposed to be easy? Of course not. But there is one comfort that we have, and that is that the one way we can truly achieve success and happiness and joy is to live in accordance with the commandments of God. Of course we're going to make mistakes, but that's why Christ died for us. That's why He suffered in Gethsemane and bled from every pore and was crucified for us. He did all this to know exactly how you would and will feel to be far from God and in sorrow and pain and everything. The atonement is there. It is a very real thing. You just need to truly believe Christ and believe that "with His stripes we are healed." (See Mosiah 14:5)

To truly know if these things are true. And I invite you to read the Book of Mormon again and to pray of it's truthfulness, with true intent. (Which means to act on the feelings and impressions you receive), I do this out of all the love that is in my heart. I've seen the unhappiness that comes form living outside of the teachings of the gospel here. Though it may seem fine, that's just how Satan works. Please pray about my words. That's all I ask. I bare you my testimony of the truthfulness of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

 PS I did get my package this past week. Aw man. Thank you!!!!!!!!!! Love you tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Little by little things are picking up...

The huge/old Catholic church in the center of town...

On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 1:06 PM,

My Dearest Son,

How are you? With all my heart I hope you are well or at the very least better. May you know my heart is at peace, and so even tho I am not there to take care of you without any doubt I know you are in the Lord’s hallow hand, and you will be very well taken care of as well as protected. We hope you have seen the miracle you & your companion need but most important the people in Tixkokob need. I read an article in the Oct 2013 “Hastening the Lord’s Game Plan!” What an exciting man he is. His name  is Elder S. Gifford Nielsen. He is exciting to listen to. He also talks about the members getting involve. This Sunday is fast Sunday so maybe this is your chance to bare your testimony, and talk about how they need to help by inviting friends & neighbors especially if they want that chapel they desperately need. I will be fasting for you & Elder Wilcox & the people there. I bear you my testimony I know you need to be there you will have a big impact there but always on the Lords time clock not ours. You are an amazing young man, and you are strong so move forward with the amour of God, and like the Stripling warriors you have been taught by God fearing mother who wax strong in faith in our Savior who is behind this wonderful labor of love. I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

We are seeing blessing in abundance here because of you. Last night I  fell asleep watching TV, and when your Dad hopped in bed he woke me up. I immediately remembered I had not said my prayers, and I said it out loud so I knelt & your father decided to join me. So we knelt in prayer last night together (misty eyes) before going to bed that has never happened. It was wonderful so my amazing Missionary Son continue working hard so one day we can be sealed as an eternal family.

Love you forever

  Some funky but rather tasty fruit.

Dear Momma,

Oh wow. That´s all I have to say in regards to your experience you had with dad. I can't even begin to express the amount of shock and awe that came upon me, but it is an incredibly humbling feeling as well to see all the wonderful changes that are occurring. I really appreciate all the love and support you and dad and everyone have been during the duration of my time here so far. It really is a blessing and a huge relief for me. It's the little things that keep me going. Haha.

I appreciate the advice and I will see what the spirit indicates to me as I share my testimony this Sunday. I know for sure the branch president is really fired and enthused to get more member-missionary work going, especially because during the third hour of church this week, we analyzed President Uchtdorf's talk, "Are You Sleeping During the Restoration?". We also talked a lot about that during zone meeting today. Really, that's a big thing and things are picking up since we were able to go out with the branch mission leader, Genaro, this week. He's a bit of a less active because he works Sundays sometimes because he's a mariachi, but also, in regards to going out, he's kinda shy, but we've helped him out and he's grown a lot, so we have at least a weekly outing with him to look forward to now. Little by little, things are picking up and just overall, this week's been a ton better. Elder Wilcox and I made a goal this week to improve our talking to everybody because a lot of the time, it's been hustling to the next lesson, but we committed to really contacting every person we came into contact with. What a blessing that was. For me personally, that helped with my confidence, but also, it just helped us have a better week, even if not everyone we talked to was interested. We have some potential one's, though, and that really makes me happy and peps me up quite a bit.

What also was a big thing for us this week were the following two situations: so, our investigator, M, who we've been meeting with at her mom's place weekly, had an improvement in her situation. (Since she's the lady who's husband won't let her get baptized even though he's got a lady on the side and is just awful and yeah.) He's calmed down a bit and it's looking like she could potentially get baptized soon and might be calm enough to where we could talk to him. He just needs a change of attitude. We're holding out for a miracle! The other thing that happened was that we had two of our investigators at church. (Including M, because she hasn't been able to go to church for a while. It may be a little number, but for us in our hard little pueblo, it's a big deal. Haha.) That just felt way good. And our investigator L was the other who attended, finally! He's just been progressing well and had a huge desire to go to church, but something big always happened every Sunday. He just had some way bad luck, but he finally got to go this Sunday! I'm excited to see how he liked it.

In regards to me, I'm getting better. My health has improved quite a bit, and I feel it's from faithful work, but also from the prayers of others. I've felt the blessings and it puts me in a much happier mood without it. Haha. But for reals, it helps me stick things out a lot better as I combat various feelings of negativity and feelings that just go against the work at times. I'm so grateful I have this opportunity to serve and for the growth I've seen in myself from doing so. It's way hard to be without my wonderful family (Especially when sick and stuff), but the time is way worth it. I know without a doubt I need to be here. I'm not completely sure why specifically this mission still, but little by little, I'm seeing why, and that faith is what I'm holding on to.

Also, something that I was thinking about this week quite a bit was that I really regret being such a brat at home and not showing my love or my gratefulness far more than I should have. I sincerely apologize for that. Like, just thinking about that, I was seriously a brat and was a pretty bad and sassy headache quite a bit. I also really regret that it took going on a mission to realize that completely and want to change that, but I can't change the past. I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you and dad for all that you've done for me. For wanting the best for me, for providing for me, for just trying to keep me happy, and for being loving as heck, even when I was arrogant and didn't want to acknowledge it or show it back. I just love you guys so much. And yes mom, you're right, about everything and stuff. Haha. On that note, I'll let you go, but I'm always praying for you and hope you have a wonderful week.

All my love,

A happy dog named Tori who belongs to one of our investigators.