Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm senior companion now...


Dear Momma and Papi,

This last week was actually pretty disappointing and long in many aspects, but also a good time to reflect and prepare for this new transfer. We had a really bad week for work this week. I was made senior companion the last week of transfers so that I'd be doing everything. (Because as I mentioned, in my companion's eyes, I didn't really do anything.) It was difficult because he was really relaxed and had less desires to work for this last week. I should have done more this last week, (because we had some instances where we where with members for hours because my companion kept talking and I didn't say anything hoping he'd be responsible but also because I didn't want to dispute or anything in front of the members.) but all I can do now is make up for lost time and work harder than ever have before.

My companion was transferred (as well as my district leader), but last night, we made up and apologized for all that happened. We talked quite a bit that last night and just went over what I need to do to better myself so we can pick things up, especially because I'm senior companion now. I met my new companion, Elder Velasquez, today and I'm looking forward for this transfer. I'm really nervous because there's a lot of stepping up and effort to put forth on my part, but it's all for my good and I just hope that I don't disappoint. Prayers please! Thanks for being proud of me, even though I'm not the greatest missionary in the world. It means alot. I'm glad the soccer people approved! Things are as they should be. Who's the young man, btw? I'm curious. I'll try to write Melissa. That's way tough. Man... Anyway, I'm a bit short on time today because of how the transfers came about and I have to head off to a district meeting, but I love you all just tons. You mean the world to me. Just wanted you to know that. Wish me luck!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS Glad my package got here well. Thank you! Also, I'll try to send the picture of my tag later tonight or next week. The computer I'm using is slow.

Faith really is a hope for things that are not seen...


Dear Mami y Papi,

Just a small comment in regards to the conversion, that can be the hardest part with investigators sometimes. Ugh... Haha. It's difficult a lot because sometimes it's hard for us to help them see the importance of keeping the commitments we give them, including reading the Book of Mormon, praying specifically about the truthfulness of our message, etc. People here just work too dang much. Haha. (But seriously, though. A lot work 6 or 7 days a week and it's hard to help them feel and understand that they will be blessed for keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Lack of faith and too much worrying that they'll lose their job or something or that God understands. Something I've learned here is that that is a terrible justification for jobs that aren't public services like the local police, working at the hospital, etc. God will provide because I've seen a man in my first area ask for a change in days off and he was able to get Sundays off no problem.)

Oh man. I was just thinking about that yesterday that you'll be able to get sealed to grandma and my tio and tias now! :) That came to mind yesterday and it made me really happy and excited thinking about it. Hopefully it won't take 30 years, but regardless of the wait, I look forward to the time when it'll be our turn. (In regards to you, dad, and myself.) That's something I try to remain faithful and hopeful for, because at times, it does really seem like it's a rather far off goal, but I try to keep Alma's words in regards to faith in mind, because faith really is a hope for things that are not seen, which are true. It's sometimes something hard to think about (please don't cry or feel bad whatsoever) because I see all the families who I know are sealed together and want that myself, but I try to remain hopeful and not lose faith.

This week was pretty tough. I'll be honest. It's the last week of transfers, and I feel really bad that I want a new companion. I'm just honestly super stressed out because the casual obedience effects. Though he may not feel bad about things, I do, and if he does, he doesn't really show it. I guess I'm the only companion who's ever "complained" about stuff he does. I didn't want to do it, because I had hoped things would be a bit better after a zone meeting we had last week about obedience, but I sent an email to President Garcia telling him how I felt. (It wasn't the first time.) I really don't care if I'm considered chismoso for it (because all the gringos apparently do that with their companions), but I've just had it. Really, I guess this is the best way I could've demonstrated love because I did it for the both of us; so I can progress and show recompence for letting this go on too long and so that he can hopefully improve in those aspects and become a truly excellent missionary. (Es un bravo. Ugh...) Plus, I'm just tired of being told of how chafa (lame) I am. (Because I've made some mistakes during teaching or contacting because now I'm paranoid that everything I do is wrong.) I'm leaving it in the Lord's hands and I just hope that there aren't any hard feelings or that he'll be indifferent towards me. Hopefully the hat will be a good peace offering. Love you guys and hope you have a good week.

Love Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS Thank for for sending my package! I'll let you know when it gets here, but it may be a while since all mail goes to the mission offices in Merida, and since I'm here in Campeche, I only receive mail when we have zone meetings. (Because prior to every zone meeting, all the zone leaders have to go to Merida to receive instruction from President and Sister Garcia.) I'd gladly accept the keyboard, but I don't think I'll have room for it. :( But please tell Sister Peterson thank you, and instead, the Hymns Made Easy book in Spanish would be pretty good instead. I'm eating well. I didn't want to tell you this, but I left all my bedding things in my first area when I left because they were taking up a lot of room and we only sleep in hammocks in this mission. (All the homes have places to hang up hammocks, but we've no mattresses or anything for beds.) I feel bad because of the money you had to spend on those. I'm really sorry about that. It rains a lot, but don't worry. I'll be careful.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We simply need to trust in Him...


Dear Momma and Papi,

This week was better in certain aspects and kinda mas o menos (more or less) in other aspects, but hey, that's just what happens sometimes. There's a lot of work to be done with the work here because our numbers were pretty low this week. It's kind of a bummer thinking about it because there are various factors that need to be changed in order to have more success, but just means I'm gonna have to push myself a bit more in helping my companion to be less casual in certain aspects, but I have seen some differences. He's actually pretty dang fearless and that's a way important and awesome attribute (because I'm rather timid), but at the same time, it requires that I need to improve myself rather fast because I need to keep up. At times it makes me feel pretty lame (especially because there are a lot of expectations from his part that I learn the area fast, for a good reason) but I'm learning to cope with my own feelings of inadequacy in these aspects. I need to improve a ton soon, though, since I'm in my fourth week here. I appreciate your testimony, mom, and I'm trying to do my best.

I've found part of the reason that my companion is the way he is. When things go lame, it affects him, which can lead to him being upset or not wanting to plan when we get home. It's frustrating, but I'm learning to be more bold during those times as well. Just need to get through to him/try not to get angry.  I'm glad dad kept his cool. It's amazing to me how much he's changed in those aspects because of how he can be. Haha. I really miss genuine fall weather. I'm sick of so much sun. You get bored of the lack of variety in climate. Haha. It's amazing how the time has gone. Feels weird that everyone's starting school and stuff. Makes me feel kinda old... Haha. (Seriously. I turn 20 in a few months.) I know this email was kinda weirdish and I'm sure you'd prefer to here more stuff about the area, but there are just times where I need to just type the thoughts that are on my mind at the moment. I'll try to send some pictures today. Just to end with a spiritual thought, this is something I read this week from 3 Nephi. "13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

 14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."

In these verses, Christ is speaking. I've added an emphasis at the end of 13 because of something that really struck me hard in regards to the Atonement. We know that Christ suffered all manner of our afflictions so he could know exactly what we feel in those moments, but He did so so He could also know just exactly how to heal us. We simply need to trust in Him and truly become converted in His gospel. He is the light and the way and we find absolute solace in this. These things I know to be true because of how much I've felt this here. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS Those Bic razors were nice, so a few more of those, please, as well as shaving gel and pre shave. (Because I've been using both. Also some Oxy pads to wash my face, please. :)

Changes are truly occurring...


Our Dearest Son,

Hello! How are you?

“De manera que, el que la predica y el que la recibe se comprenden el uno a otro, y ambos son edificados y se regocijan juntamente.” D&C 50:22

The Spanish missionaries spoke in sacrament, and quoted this wonderful scripture, and you came to my mind. I can see & feel your growth in the wonderful uplifting letters you write. I believe because as you have shared the gospel you have been blessed with a richer understanding of the gospel.

The Elders Hanson & Carter shared with me they went to the Tike Hut, but your Dad didn’t allow them to pay, because he to had a son on a mission, and wanted to him to be treated nice wherever he went!  Oh how my heart jumped for joy when they shared this little act of kindness from your dad. You remember how he gave us a bad time when we did not want to charge the missionaries. This all goes back to the scripture I quoted.

With all my heart I hope you are having a wonderful week, and if not please press on with all your might, heart, and strength. The Lord will not only lead you to those needing the gospel, but also prepared them with open minds and hearts.

Sending all our love & prayers on your behalf & companion’s.

Mom & Papi


Dear Momma and Papi,

Sorry for the wait. Haha. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the advice and the encouragement you've given me. It's seriously helped and brought me peace to read the things you've sent me, and the story you told me about dad and the missionaries brought a smile to my face. Changes are truly occurring. The training we had today was really helpful because it seems I'm not the only one who's feeling some weight on my shoulders. I wrote Presidente Garcia last week and he told me to write or call him if my companion continues to be disobedient. He really does have a good heart, but if I have to, I will. I had Josh give me some good advice in regards to that. We did learn some really good things that help strengthen the relationships within companions, so I really hope that those things will be put into practice. I'm mainly going to be working on being bold, but not overbearing and also being more charitable to my companion, so more service towards him. I have more hope for this coming week, so I just pray that all will go better. It really was an inspired meeting that we had today and I know without a doubt that all within this church are truly called by God in their respective callings. We were all truly prepared to come to this Earth at the time that we did and that no matter what Satan puts in our path, we can always conquer him. To quote Hermana Garcia today, "We've already won the first battle, because we're here. (On this Earth, because we chose to follow God's plan.)" These things I know to be true and I testify of them in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

Recognize the Will of The Father's and Not Our Own

Dearest Parents,

Wow. You beat me to mentioning the 4 month mark. Haha. But yeah, Sunday marked 4 months and I feel that a lot has happened since, time has flown, and that I myself have really grown as a person, but also as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Aw. Sounds like you're having success in your new calling. That was indeed an inspired experience you had and the young women couldn't be any more blessed to have you teaching them. :) That actually does feel weird (because it's always weird for me to hear about folks I've known for ages getting hitched), but like you, I am happy they were sealed in the house of the Lord.

Well, as for what happened this week, well, I wish I could remember more of what happened in this past week, but the reason that it's not as fresh in my mind is because we found out Sunday the results of transfers, and well, as of yesterday, I arrived in my new area in Champotón, Campeche. Yep, I'm gonna be hanging here in the state of Campeche for a bit, which is ironic because at least 50 times a day, Elder Wilcox would start out stories in the following fashion: "Elder, one time in Champotón...", so yeah, it was his favorite area. Haha. It feels really weird to be here, but if it's where the Lord needs me to be at this time, then so be it. I'm praying hard to adjust fast because I still miss my old area and my companion. My new companion is named Elder Alverado and he's a paizano! He's from Honduras. He's a good guy, but I might have to be patient with him because he seems to like fun, but a little too much. I was told I might have to be patient with him, so patient I shall be.

I would send pictures, but I forgot my cable. (Again...) I'll send some next week, especially of the sea, because here, we have a few of the sea. Ah, it really is beautiful. Anyways, my spiritual message just comes from my current challenge of just adjusting and confiding that this is where God wants me right now. To confide in Him is everything because we recognize the will of the Father's and not our own. It really is trusting in you parent and recognizing that He knows what's best for us. It's something I've struggled with, but I know it's something that's been such a blessing. Till next week! Love you tons!

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

The Mission Isn't Sunshine and Daisies...

July 28, 2014

Nuestro querido Missonero Hijo,

Thank you, for your words of wisdom & testimony of the living scriptures. We are delighted, and feel very much blessed they are at our reach. How wonderful it is to hear you are not just reading in Spanish also comprehend with ease. What a blessing, and a blessing you will have for eternity.
I am reading Jacob what a genuine loving prophet he was. His voice to me sounds like a powerful trumpet which we need to heed.

Sunday was just simply wonderful at church. Sacrament was wonderful a new seasoned couple spoke. They come from Umatilla their name is Bro. & Sis Raft. Their talks were on the prophets of the Old Testament. She spoke a lot of Noah. Did you know it took him 120 years to build the ark? That’s more then I will live! He spoke a lot on Moses. Some people think he just left & went to the desert, but he was actually running away. I want to go back & reread about these wonderful powerful prophets. The ensign this year picks a different one each month.

Sunday school is different & better. Bro. Javior’s wife has been called to teach our Spanish Sunday school. She spoke about how inadequate she feels, but she found a scripture in the bible which talks about Heavenly Father does not want or has made us to be weak coward people. I can’t remember where she said the scripture was. We all told her we knew she was the perfect person for this calling, and she is! We all support her. I mention the scripture where Nephi say “ I will go I will do …..& one Elder mention the won which I love about HF will let know us know our weaknesses to strengthen us.

We also have an investigator who loves what he is learning, but his wife is not sure because she has been raised Seventh Day Adventist. He has a lot of questions, and invited me to go with the missionaries when they come to teach him & his wife. I will & can’t wait to be invited.

Dad says Tia Ofelia called the other day. The missionaries were walking in Puerto Del Toro, and they were at her house! One of the Elders is from Merida & the other from Idaho. She wanted to know what town in Yucatan you were at, but Dad didn’t remember. Can you see the blessings of your mission? Little seeds are being planted everyday.

We went to Rene’s house for Toval’s birthday party. I shared the last letter you wrote with Crystal & she got teary eye, and said “you must be so proud.” I said “in the most humble way I am.” She also mentioned the missionaries come to their home so I will have to find out which ones English or Spanish?

These are the highlights of our week! We love you beyond words & prayers are said on your behalf & Elder Wilcox daily!

All our love Su Papi y Mama!

On Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM, Manuel Santos wrote:

 Mis queridos padres,

Pues, there goes another week. In thinking about how fast time has gone since I entered the mission field (I'm coming up on 4 months since I entered the MTC, btw. Haha.), it's rather probable that those 120 years that it took Noah to build the ark could've gone by relatively fast. (Maybe. Haha.) Aw man, that really makes me happy to hear about how things are going in the ward with my favorite spanish group in the whole world! (Seriously.) I had no idea Hno. Javier's wife was baptized! Please tell him hi for me. That's really wonderful to hear about his wife teaching the class. And in regards to hearing about the seeds being planted within my own family, just, I don't even know how to express how wonderful that makes me feel. Wow. (Btw, the name of my area is Tixkokob, but I'm in the last week of the transfer/of my training, so we'll see what happens this Sunday night when we find out, especially since Elder Wilcox only has one transfer till he goes home after this week.)

Well, this is how this past week went. Oh wow. While there were some real nice moments (Including one where we gave our investigator Leo a blessing and I was able to bless his house. I seriously felt like the spirit gave me a hug. Haha. It was that peaceful.), it was a lot of trial as well. A lot of plans/appointments fell through, we tried to teach a couple of less actives who've traded the gospel of Jesus Christ for Alcoholic's Anonymous and have become really stubborn (both for different reasons), and a couple of our investigators started drinking again. (Which is rather normal since they've been drinking for many many years, but it's discouraging nonetheless.) Plus, we had kind of a freaky moment last night when we ran into a less active who claims he wants to return to church, but then he goes walking around town (because he doesn't really have a place) drinking. We have never found him sober. But anyway, we had kind of a freaky moment with him last night in the middle of town where we found out that he participates in self-harming (there are scars all over his left arm) firsthand and that was kinda traumatizing. (Don't worry, about any of this, though, because we're safe and we're being watched over by a loving Heavenly Father. He made that promise to King Mosiah with his son's and I'm confident he's doing the same with us here.) Poor guy's crazy and we're not going to talk to him for a bit, but yeah, it's been a tough week.

Really, the mission isn't sunshine and daisies, but it is a time where you learn about what's really important and just how important it is to truly live the gospel and seek to understand God's will so that misery such as I've seen can be evaded. Really, my spiritual message for this week is a rather simple one. Just try to seek and understand the will of the Lord. It's difficult, yes, but it's always for our benefit and for our blessing. As stated in 1 Nephi 9:6, "But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen." It's something I've been working really hard to try and understand as well. It's a lifelong process that takes a huge amount of faith, but it makes everything so much easier. These things I know to be true and I leave them with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. That is all for this week, but I miss you guys so much. I wish I could give you a big, long hug, because Lord knows I could use one, but I send you all my love and my prayers. Till next week!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos 

PS, Something I've forgotten to tell you for a bit (Mom), something that helps the missionaries a lot is if when they see you or you go with them, you have someone in mind that they could visit. My invitation for you is to think of someone before you see them next. Perhaps every week you could try to think of someone. You'll do wonderful! You're my momma for a reason! And also, something way cool is that one of the youth in the branch went to EFY (Especially For Youth) in Merida this week, and while he was a good kid before (we have the same music taste, haha), he came back with a huge testimony and is just a new person. We're taking him out with us twice this week and that really does get me real jazzed and happy.

We Are Truly Seeing Miracles!

Dearest Mother and Father,

The successes are something we are very grateful for here. We are truly seeing miracles here and I am seeing and tasting of the fruits of our efforts. As I've mentioned week after week, the work is by no means easy and the days are indeed long, but when things work out, it just feels absolutely wonderful. Haha. Oh dear. I don't blame dad for getting a bit unhappy to have his "friends" from Tropical-Sno say hi, though, since I feel the same in regards to competition. Haha. But I'm glad you were pleasant for the businesses sake. And I'm glad someone else enjoys your Diablitos. Heaven knows I did not. Haha. Glad you're running a tight ship at work! In regards to the food, I do show my gratefulness for it.

Their actually aren't really any poor folk out here. Really, those who are poor are mainly the borachitos, but unfortunately for them, they made unwise decisions in living a life contrary to God and falling victim to the natural man. But anyway, most folk out here just work a ton, and by a ton, I mean 7 days a week. They really just need to keep the Sabbath Day holy and they would receive the blessings they need, but most don't have that confidence in God or believe that He'll justify it all because they have to work or they won't be able to eat, etc. but really, it's just a matter of excersing a bit of faith with the intent of obeying. That's something real hard to try to get people to understand, but we try our best.

But yeah, Yucatan really isn't known for it's food, but the fruit is delicious. If only you could taste the mangos and bananas. Haha. And also, the panaderías here are my best friend. Going back to the topic of walking, we walked a ton again and actually got a bit of heat exhaustion yesterday (mainly my companion, but we're totally fine now). A lot of plans were falling through again, even though we were trying to be really obedient and follow the council we received from our zone leaders (who received the counsel from President Garcia) in regards to making two backup plans per appointment, but we had a dang big miracle (in my opinion) occur towards the latter end of the week.

First, we visited a family which were a reference from one of the hermanas in the branch that we had set an appointment earlier in the week. We shared the message of the Restoration with them and also we introduced the Book of Mormon. We also invited them to baptism. Out of the 4 present (the husband, wife, and the husband's parents), it was the husband and wife who understood it pretty well. They thought it was a pretty interesting message and they didn't accept baptism immediately, but they did say they would investigate more and read and pray about the Book of Mormon and our message, so here's hopes that they do! We also met with a family who were old investigators and committed them to baptism. Just need to see if we can get them help with their financial situation, and I think they'll be good to go! We only had two investigators at church this week, and that was a bit discouraging, but we did have those two miracles occur, so for that, I'm grateful.

Something I'm really loving in myself that I'm seeing grow continuously is my love of the Book of Mormon. It is truly a treasure for me and I love reading of the prophets and the rise and fall of the Nephites. (That sounded a bit dark, but it really is so important because it is from learning from their fall that we can learn how we as families and members of the church can prevent such a tragedy from occurring. For more on this subject, look up Ezra Taft Benson's talk (as read by President Hinkley) Beware of Pride. Way powerful stuff.) I don't know if I've mentioned this, but my comprehension of the Book of Mormon in Spanish is way good now (since that's pretty much all I try to read in) and I see that as such a blessing. At the moment, I'm reading in Helaman and am learning of Nephi's ministry as well as the rise of secret combinations and corruption within the Nephite society. I also re-read a bit of Jacob this week and I find it to be absolutely powerful. He was truly a one of a kind prophet. His words may be hard and direct, but there is such a powerful spirit when he preaches in the temple.

Just to sum everything up, the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is not  a work of fiction. There is no way that a young man without much formal education could go and write something so profound that not only testifies of and supports the Bible, but also gives the reader who reads and prays about it the absolute surety that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His gospel and priesthood have once again been restored to the earth. I know these things without a doubt and often chastise myself for being so unfaithful to my scripture study prior to the mission, but I know now that this is something I do not want to be without for the rest of my life. We teach so much of the Book of Mormon because the world really doesn't know what it is. That doesn't mean we neglect the Bible, because yes, Mormons believe in the Bible, but without the Book of Mormon, we don't have the fulness of the gospel. That is why it is so important. I extend my invitation to those who have not read the Book of Mormon to read it and pray about it as well, with real intent. It truly is a blessing and a treasure to me and I know it will be also to those who read it and apply the lessons it contains. But as they say in Reading Rainbow, don't take my word for it. (In other words, read and pray about it!) That is my testimony and I share it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Till next week, love you! (Also, good for Pedro!)

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos