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