Friday, November 14, 2014

I promise I will do my best...

Date: 11/3/14 2:59:21 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dear Momma and Poppa,

In regards to the week, I'm still nervous as all heck in regards to training because something that I've grown conscious of is that when one trains another missionary, you really start to see in what areas you're not doing so great/failing in. Not that that's a bad thing because improvement is always wonderful, but it's more so that I get nervous that there may be some shortcomings that I might not overcome as fast as I'd like. It's humbling, though, because the one thing that comes to mind that is of comfort are the ever so famous words of the Lord spoken to the Brother of Jared in Ether 12:27:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Overall, it's helped me realize just how much I need to improve and really improve my efforts as a missionary and also as a person in general, because depending on how I train my son, it will affect generations of missionaries to come. It is something I am greatly aware of and just pray that I may grow and improve immensely from this experience and work diligently to achieve these things. (Because as the scripture says, faith without works is dead.)

Something that I'm also continuing to learn is the importance of the spirit in absolutely everything. It's a super basic and important concept because without the spirit, we accomplish nothing of our purpose. I know that without a doubt because I know and have experienced the difference of doing things with the spirit, but also without. If others cannot feel the spirit that comes through us, it is because we ourselves do not have the spirit. Though I'm slowly coming along in those aspects, I am grateful to what I have learned in regards to those things.

I seriously appreciate the never ending support. You have no idea how good it just feels that others believe in me. To reference the Disney film Tangled , sometimes I feel like Rapunzel towards the beginning of the movie, because sometimes I have days that are the best in the world, but others that are just dismal at times. I know I shouldn't feel that way, but I'm human and let my emotions get the best of me sometimes, but that's where prayer comes in as well as just remembering my wonderful support team. It's just a blessing to realize that, and I promise I'll do my best. Well, that's all for this week. Hope everyone's doing well, that dad's not too grumpy, and that you're enjoying the beauty of Hermiston in the fall. (Seriously, I miss my beautiful fall weather. Constant sun is boring sometimes. Haha.) Love you tons!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, Thanks for the mission birthday greetings! Also, something else cool for my birthday would be Pilot g-tec-c4 pens in black and blue (preferably). I'd ask you for other things, but they're things that I can't have in the mission. Haha. Also, please tell Dan and Elizabeth hi for me as well! I find myself often relating stories about how wonderful they are and the wonderful experiences I had dogsitting for them with other missionaries. Please also just tell everyone in the ward hi for me and that I love them and keep them in my prayers.

There's a lot I need to learn from this...

Date: 10/29/14 12:05:11 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dear Momma and Papi,

First of all, the trip was long... Haha. It takes about 4-5 hours to get from Merida to Champotón. We left Merida at 7 last night and got home a little before midnight because we had a long meeting yesterday, had to pick up materials for the other missionaries in my area, and also because the financial secretary was arranging tickets for us Elders traveling back to Campache that night. Needless to say, it's nice being "home". (Forgot to take a picture, but...)

My son's name is Elder Lopez and he's from Puebla, Mexico. He's 24 and he's way cool. (In my opinion.) He has a really humble spirit about him and he's very anxious to learn. I just hope I can be the example he needs. I know I'm pretty dang imperfect and I have a lot to improve and change, especially for these next 3 months, but I'm incredibly humbled and privileged to have this opportunity. (And nervous because how I train him will affect future generations of missionaries.) All in all, I think this is what I need. It just feels fresh and new and I do enjoy the change that training brings. Plus, it's just something I feel I need to improve upon and better my habits as a missionary because everything you do as a trainer has some kind of effect upon your companion. Really, all the life application that one gains as a missionary is incredible. I was seriously freaking out a bit because of the huge responsibility that comes from training because I felt a bit like a father awaiting a newborn child. Haha.

All in all, I just feel that there's a lot that I'm supposed to learn from this. It was definitely an inspired transfer to have me train during this time. Really, I can just feel it. We have a lot of work to do with the few investigators we have right now, but I personally I believe that during this time, we're going to learn together just what's been lacking for the progress of our fold (as in our fold of "sheep). Something that I was able to be reminded prior to returning to Champotón is the importance of teaching others the Atonement and how they can feel a need to repent and apply in their lives. I've learned that I haven't been loving enough because I haven't done too well in teaching others of the consequence of sin. At first I thought I was being too loving since I've been focusing more on the blessings of obedience to the gospel, but really, I haven't loved enough because in order to demonstrate love, you have to teach the consequences so that others see their ways as being offensive to God and to just avoid sin and iniquity like the plague.

In short, I've just learned that you can't sugarcoat repentance because it's such a necessary part of exercising faith in Jesus Christ that leads to a desire to enter the waters of baptism and be cleansed. Yes, you repremand, but it's done with love. I'm so glad that you've been feeling the joy of missionary work! (Even though dad gets in the way of it a bit. Haha.) Just continue to do what you can. Also, remember to preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words. (In other words, your example is everything!) I love you all tons and hope you're all doing well! Till next time!

Love Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, Don't worry. I do spray my hammock because them lil' pests like to eat my feet sometimes. Also, in regards to asking about my birthday, ties are always cool. And this may seem strange, but stickers would be nice as well because they're fun to give to kids, but also because I like decorating the inside of my hymn book. (Adventure Time stickers or other fun stickers from movies or cartoons or anything'd be cool.)

There was just a lot of love for them...

Date: 10/20/14 2:17:08 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dear Momma and Papi,

First of all, I'm way glad to hear that you've been able to go out with the missionaries. I hope you realize just how much of a help you are to them and how appreciated you are. That's something we haven't been able to have much of this week for various circumstances, so just know that every visit you can accompany them to is highly valued and appreciated.

I hope you know how jealous I am that you got to attend Leah's wedding (being that I've missed two weddings and a long awaited sealing session). Though I was never really able to give Leah my complete and total approval, she's married and stuff already, so please congratulate her (and Jay) and tell her I love her! (Send pics please.)

So, this week, I'm going to actually talk about how the work went this week. (Seriously, it's been a while. I haven't really talked about the work since my second transfer. Haha.) I feel really lame since I haven't baptized in two transfers (including this one since it ends this week), however, we do have a couple of really powerful investigators. Their names are H and his cousin E. They're both 19 years old and I just want so bad for them to continue in the gospel. First of all, I feel more connected to them because of their age, but they just have so much potential and are at an age where complete acceptance of the gospel will affect so much it's not even funny.

H is the boyfriend of a less active gal in the branch and at first we all wondered if he's continue listening just for her, but we've developed a confidence and baptism is something that he's seriously considering and praying for to see if it's what he needs to do. His cousin E is also way awesome. Like H, he asks some really inspired questions, participates a lot and is quick to understand the doctrine. We taught them yesterday with the family of H's girlfriend and put another appointment for tonight since they both live in the same house. They told us we could stay as long as we wanted and that we could watch a movie afterwards. We explained that as missionaries we couldn't, but I mention this because in that moment, there was just a lot of love for them and that nothing feels as wonderful as the confidence and friendship of those you teach. I just hope that the Lord permits me to be here to be at their baptism next month. (Since we're working for the 8th of November.)

Something else quick, we taught a less active lady named C. She's from El Salvador and has such a wonderful sarcastic and witty nature about her. She's in her 70's right now and is just a riot to be with. We've been helping her come back to church, and yesterday, we re-taught the plan of salvation with a member. In the end, we made plans and set a goal that she can get interviewed again to attend the temple in December with the branch and to start her family history work. Really, these experiences don't sound like much, but to me they are special and were the highlights of my week. It is truly a testimony to me of the importance of these restored ordinances of which we have here on the earth again. It brings my soul so much joy to have been able to see and feel how important these things are since you had the same opportunity to feel that as well with Leah and Jay's wedding. I hope dad was able to feel a bit of that spirit there on the grounds. Hope all goes well this week! Love you tons!

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, I'll have to see what I can do about the dental visit. Also, please tell Val hi for me as well! I had a feeling she'd be home soon, if not already. Haha.

I'm needed elsewhere at the moment...

Date: 10/13/14 2:36:12 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dearest Momma and Papi,

Really, this week was pretty normal and not much interesting happened, (Plus, really the only thing on my mind that's surpassed everything is in regards to the exciting event this past weekend. Haha.) so I'm really just going to focus on everything you've told me in regards to this past week. Words cannot even begin to express the joy that is in my heart to know that you're finally sealed to your siblings, but also to your parents. I've been counting the days and could just feel that excitement grow and grow. What a blessing it is that through the restored gospel we have the sealing ordinances on the Earth again! Really, that is the goal we are all working towards; to one day be sealed as families in the temple of the Lord and endure to the end together.

Man. Sorry if this message is really short and lame, but just, I am so so happy for you and the rest of the family. :) I wish I could´ve been there, but I have simply accepted that I'm needed elsewhere at this moment. All in all, this just increases my testimony of the blessings of the restored gospel and of Joseph Smith, because if it weren't for his faith and diligence to the Lord's commandments, none of this would be possible and I wouldn't be expressing feelings of such absolute joy. I've been bragging about this to my district for a while now. This Saturday, we were at the church for an activity and I remember looking at my watch. Seeing that it was in the evening, both here and at home, I exclaimed humbly (kind of ironic to exclaim something in a humble fashion. Haha.), "Wow! My mom and her family are sealed now..." Truly, it is a blessing to live in such a time where the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church have been restored in their fulness. Just in closing, I love you guys. Till next week!

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, My p-days are different now. It's now only from 11- 6 PM and we work from 6-9, so I'll probably be emailing earlier now, so if I don't respond to anything else you email me, that's why. Tell Uncle Al and Tia Ana hi for me and that I love'em tons! (Also, picture of myself with one of my zone leaders (the tall one) and an elder who's in the other area in Champotón, Elder Meador. I'd send more, but the computer is slow at uploading photos.)

God is merciful, but also just...


Dear Momma and Papi,

First of all, thanks for remembering my mission birthday! It's a very sobering thought to think that I've already completed 6 months of my mission because one tends to evaluate oneself at these certain way points throughout a journey. In contemplating these things, I can see my growth. I can also see what I still lack. Quite frankly, I still feel there's a lot that I lack, and it will take many an effort on my part to become the missionary that I'd like to become: confident and filled with the spirit.

I had a wonderful opportunity last night to sit down with my companion and evaluate our efforts. We had a pretty bad week for work this week. Yes, some things occurred that was out of our control, such as being in Campeche all day Tuesday for interviews with Presidente Garcia but also because my companion was at the doctor's getting checked out for his sickness, but regardless of all that, we let the reality of our circumstances get the better of us. We were able to kneel in prayer last night and evaluate these things, and it was a very humbling experience. We're young and still rather inexperienced, but that is no reason that we need to allow that to be a hinderance. That's actually had me down quite a bit, but I'm ready for a change. The experience you shared with me is a huge reminder that faith is the principle factor in regards to receiving divine guidance and assistance.

Wow. Can't believe that it's already time to take the Hut down. The realization hit me this week that it's already October, (I turn 20 next month...) but it really doesn't feel like it. Haha. (Because too much sun and not a fallen leaf in sight.) I also enjoyed the thought that while I was viewing conference (what I saw of it...) that somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a petite latina momma was also enjoying some spiritual nourishing. I'm always reminded of you whenever I listen to President Eyring speak. :)

I mention that I enjoyed what I saw of conference because over here, you watch it via the church's wifi, which can fail from time to time. (Also, myself and the other American missionary who's in my area tried to watch it in English and we had difficulties because of the wifi. I'm downloading them right now, so that's okay, I guess.) I absolutely love that the speakers get the option to speak in their native languages! I absolutely hate live dubbing, so it was refreshing to hear Latino brethren speaking in their native language! (Seriously. We ended up just watching everything in Spanish and it was really nice to be able to hear things as they were meant to be heard and presented.)

A personal favorite for me this year came from a talk that was given by a 70 Saturday morning named Lynn G. Robbins. Basically, he spoke of how as a church, we are never to lower our standards to the standards of the world. Now, normally these aren't my favorite talks because most are very cliche, (Please forgive the personal opinions. I'm human too. Haha.) and just don't, well, have the spice to turn heads and cause much needed personal reflection, but man, Elder Robbins really gave it to'em! (Us too.) I won't even bother quoting anything because it is simply just better that others watch it again or for the first time. (Watch, not listen, because I love how he talks with his hands.)

Essentially, what was the real taker for me this conference was the priesthood session. Sometimes it just feels really good when the brethren say things as they are because unfortunately, sometimes that's what it takes for me to change things. Haha.

And just a thought in regards to a different subject from last week of which I didn't respond to, it deeply saddens me to hear about my cousin. My prayers go out to my tia, however, I was listening to a talk by President Eyring entitled "To My Grandchildren" (A personal favorite) and he relates the story of a grandmother traveling to visit a grandson in prison. She asks God mournfully why this had happen. Her thoughts were this: “I’ve tried to live a good life. Why, why do I have this tragedy of agrandson who seems to have destroyed his life?” The answer she received was this: “I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.”

Sometimes love is something difficult to comprehend, but it really is part of our nature, and I know Tia is truly one who is filled with a perfect love. While there isn't much I can do, really all I can do is invite him to be humble and really take a good time to meditate the very reality of God and His son, Jesus Christ. God is merciful, but also just. For every action, there is a consequence, either for the good or the negative. If there is any sort of happiness that we are to achieve, it can only be done so through Jesus Christ. It is there, if we so desire. I close with Nephi's final words:

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye endsof the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shallbelieve in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

 11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him towrite these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

 12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.

 13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the houseof Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.

 14 And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the wordswhich shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God,behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.

 15 For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen. (2 Nephi 33:11- 15)

It is very simple and clear, and to phrase this more positively, Christ is our only advocate to happiness. These are things I cannot deny nor take back, for as Nephi, I too am commanded as a representative of Jesus Christ to preach these things. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, the cable didn't work, but I actually didn't need it. When I mentioned I left my cable at home, I was referring to our house here in the area, but thank you for sending it! You never know when I'll need it! Love you tons!

PSS, Solo quierio dejar un mensaje para mi viejo. Solo quiero decirte que te quiero mucho y que todo va bien aqui. Lastima que nunca regreso el gato, pero asi pase las cosas. Tenga mucho cuidado cuando trabaja afuera para que no te lastimes mucho su cuerpo. Tu eres muy fuerte, pero no quiero que te lastimes mucho, especialmente con tantos medicinas y cosas asi. Cuidate mucho! Te quiero!

Tu hijo, Manuel

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is so real...

On Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Our Dearest Missionary Son,

We hope your week was good, and you were able to see the Lord’s hand in your labors, and his tender mercies when you needed them.

Your Dad and I are doing well. Your Dad still has his stomach pain, and saw the Doc. and she put him on another Med, and if this doest work she is going to send him to Seattle for more testing. So we will see what happens.

Well, I do have some sad news for you Kimmie is now on the other side of the veil. So as a ward family we are all in mourning. We love her, and we will miss her. This is where our faith comes in. I remember President Snell saying this is where we turn it over to the Lord, and the Atonement will take the sting of death away.

There is a viewing for the family this evening, and I will be taking a salad for them. The funeral is Tuesday so I will be going to it. If you feel incline to write something for any of them write it & I will give it to them in a card,

Jody is having tough time because the mission is not allowing them to talk to Josh so the only way to tell him about her passing is by email which I can tell you its tough. I got a lump in my throat when I wrote to tell you by email. I did tell her to pray hard before writing, and the words would flow. You might want to write a few words to Josh too.

Please say some prayers for your cousin.  I am sorry, so far this letter has had some sorrow, and afflictions, but that’s why is important to have the gospel in our lives so we are better prepared for the storms life brings us. I am so thankful for my testimony, and my faith in my Savior who I know will heal us, strengthen, and uphold us when we can no longer stand.

I am excited for general conference, and can’t wait to here the messages, and council from our Prophet, his counselors, and apostles.

Well, your buddies have gone back to college, and Brett’s sis Megan is going to Eastern OR in La Grande, and Hannah is at PSU.

I also saw an article where Rily the drummer for your band got together with some band & recorded a record. I thought you would love to here that.

Did you get your package? Ask Elder Velasquez if his family has facebook? It would be nice to get to know them. Thank you for the photos. You look great, and I share it on FB everybody says hi!

We love you, and have seen the blessing in abundance since you have been on your mission so keep up the great work, and glorify your Heavenly Father!

Take care, and know we love you beyond eternity!

Su Mami y Papi ( el Viejo!)

Date: 9/29/14 12:21:47 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dear Mami y Papi,

First of all, I feel bad for dad. The last thing he needs are more pills... Haha. Hopefully all turns out well because I'm sure he's growing tired of having to see so many doctors. (Though, the stories of how he treats them always makes me smile. Haha.) I was able to get my package this week and was really really greatful for all the wonderful food! I about died when I saw the cans of Nalley's chili at the bottom. Now I just to ask one of the sisters here to let me borrow a pot. (Because there isn't a pot here.)

This week was actually pretty lame for work because our numbers were really low in terms of lessons. We had a ton last week and just it felt really bad to see how low they were this week. I don't say this because of numbers, but because of less opportunities to teach. Plus my companion got sick, so I was worrying in those aspects. Yeesh. I feel like a parent... Haha. Regardless, we had a really good district meeting this morning and I feel many a desire to better myself. We were just able to talk openly about how we can help others keep the commitments we extend to them, because it's really frustrating when they don't and is absolutely depressing to work all week and have no one come to church, but I'm really exited to apply the things we learned today.

In regards to Kimmie, words cannot express the sorrow I feel for her passing. She is someone whom I will truly miss, especially just with her pure, raw, energy she always had. She was someone who I was always happy to see. I can honestly say that it feels like losing a dear family member. However, it is thanks to this blessed restored gospel that I receive my consolence.

As a missionary, something that I grow to learn more each day, as I apply it, is that the atonement of Jesus Christ is so real. At times, one tends to feel that during the present pain, there is absolutely nothing that can take it away, and bringing Jesus into the picture doesn't help too much because He's not there, but His love is absolutely eternal. He suffered so that He could heal us perfectly, and it is through His atonement that we can receive the peace we need but also that we may better and perfect our lives so that we may return to our loved ones one day. It is also through the blessings of the restoration that familes can be eternal. I marvel at such a blessing that our Heavenly Father has given us! I've heard the terribly sad perspective that once we die, we are no longer family, but what kind of a God would leave us with such a miserable fate? It is my sincere testimony that our loving Heavenly Father gave us this wonderful plan of salvation so that we could return to Him as families and to live in pure happiness for all of the eternities. Though I may not be sealed to my family at this moment, it is something that I do want to have one day and I know that such happiness exists because I know God lives, that He loves us, and that He actually cares about our happiness. These things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Please send my condolences and love to both the Blake and McDaniels family. I love you both tons and I promise I'll write dad his personal letter next week since I wanted to spend a bit of time with my note to Kimmie's family.

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

I know that this is all worth it...

Date: 9/22/14 6:33:25 PM
From: "Manuel Santos"
To: "Isabel Santos"

Dear Mom and Papi, (I'll send dad a personal letter next week. Pressed for time again.)

This week was a ton better. We had a really good week for work. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows every day, but we were able to come home everyday and feel like we really tried hard to have success. Elder Velasquez is from Peru and he's from my generation. (We came into the mission at the same time. I have about a month more because of the MTC.) Wow. I can't believe that Robert's already home.Time really flew. It's the same over here. Can't believe I'm already going to be completing 6 months. Haha. Really, the only thing I can say in regards to this week is that working hard and being obedient are the only things that bring one true joy in the mission. You're obedient because you love God and recognize how sacred this calling is.  I am glad that everything's going well back home and I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Really, I love you both beyond all description. I miss you like crazy, but I know that this is all worth it and I hope you can see the blessings as well. Till next week!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos