Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Right now the situation is rather interesting...


Dear Mama and Papi,

Well, my friend Elder Balam has left to go on his mission in Guadalajara, and truth be told, it was a good time. I was priviledged to help another prepare for his mission. Right now the situation is rather interesting. Well, I'm no longer in my area... To be honest, I'm still adjusting, but for the rest of the transfer, I'll be hanging out with the assistants, so they're my companions right now. Haha. The good thing is that I already know the assistants (one of them I've known for a long time now), so it hasn't been too hard. We actually went to IHOP today, so it hasn't been too bad. Haha. 
It's interesting to see all that has to occur to keep the mission going. Since I'm in the offices with them and the secretaries, I get to see all that happens. (The secretaries are my friends, so I've known things, but it's different being here, but as I mentioned, it's interesting. I'll send a picture of the three of us next week. They're a bit busy right now.) 
In the beginning, I was pretty stressed since the move was so sudden. What happened was this. So, my Elder Balam was going home, and in his place, I was supposed to take home his brother who's also preparing for a mission, but he was unable to come with me because he has a ton of health problems. He's some kind of deformation in his spine, he's got knee problems, something else, but in short, this is what the doctor said: "Estas roto, chavo." ("Yer messed up, kid.") So, he had to go home and rest. I was then left without a companion, so what was decided was that I would be with the assistants till the end of the transfer. My area was closed and now I'm in the Itzmna Ward. It does make me sad, but there's nothing I can do. I loved my district and zone, but perhaps there's something for me elsewhere. For this week, I'll be traveling with the assistants to all of the zone's as this week is the week in which the zones get together and have a meeting in which we review the 8 principles of teaching. I'll get to see my old zone, so it'll be fun. Wish me luck these next few weeks!

Thank you so much for the photos! How I miss the coast, but someday! I'm so happy for Ben and Josie. Where will they be living? Wish I could have been there with the family. (Would've been fun to see Tio and Tia dancing to bachata. I like bachata. Haha.) Well, I know this was short, but not much has happened this week, but I'll be sure to tell you more about my adventures with he assistants next week! Love you all!

Love Elder Manuel Antonio Santos


This Was The Most Gratifying Day...


Dear Mama and Papi,

Sorry, but this will be a short letter as well since I'm writing in the family history center while Elder Ku is with Hermana Garcia picking up his suit. This week, we were really busy helping him get his stuff together. Monday, I picked him up. Tuesday, training meeting in the morning and then I had to let him rest a bit, as were the doctor's orders. (This was the most gratifying day as we went to a temple session in the morning. It was just gorgeous!) Wednesday, inter-changes with the zone leaders, so we worked that day. Thursday, leadership meeting that took up most of the day and then we had correlation with our mission leader. Friday, zone counsel in the morning, but also splits with my mission brother, Elder Lima, because our mini missionaries (who are brothers) were shopping with Hermana Garcia. We went to the meeting, ate lunch, and then had to run back to Mérida to pick up our sons again, and then a bit of work in the evening. Saturday, normal day of work. Sunday, a much needed Sabbath Day (yes, it is truly a delight) with work as well. As you can tell, it's been a crazy week, but I'm very pleased to be Elder Ku's trainer before he leaves for his mission. Though he'll leave me this week, I know he's ready. He's got the spirit and the desire. He'll work miracles because he has an "eye single to the glory of God". In short, he's qualified. (See D&C 4.) That's all for this week, as this week will be a bit crazy as well. (This day in general. Haha.) Love you all!

Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, received the envelope and the card's activated. Thank you so much!!!

Let The Spirit Guide Our Decisions...


Dear Mama and Papi,

By the time you receive this email, Kyle and Val will have been sealed in the temple. It's baffling to think how fast time has gone by, but it's a wonderful thought to know of the sacred and beautiful covenants that they've made for eternity. 
This week, our mission leader Amír went through the temple for his own endowments for the first time, and the day after, his brother Omar was sealed to his eternal companion, so this week, my mind has been filled with reminders of all the blessings that we have thanks to the Atonement of Christ. It's a very humbling thing to reflect about. 
This week, I had the opportunity to go to my first leadership meeting. It was an incredible experience. Let me tell you why. Haha. What happened is that all of the zone leaders and district gathered together to counsel about how in our prospective zones we can reach the goal of baptizing every week. Every zone came up with their own plans and it was really just a wonderful opportunity to be able to receive the revelation that we needed that was done according to our needs. We were given an indefinite time to counsel, so it was just an opportunity to learn how to let the ideas flow and let the spirit guide our decisions. Right now, that's something that we're gonna need since this week we're gonna have to get a bit tougher. 
The members haven't given us referrals in a very long time now and we're low in investigators. Elder Sage and I are gonna have to use our authority this week because we need the help of the members. This is a big problem in pretty much the whole district too, so we have a goal this week to be persistent with the referrals. The members need to help since the baptisms don't come from us; they come from all of us. Prayers please!

Thank you for sending the card! I haven't received it yet, but I'll let you know when I get it. Hopefully I'll get to see dad in the parade next year. (Yes, I'm encouraging his participation. Haha.) Sorry this is short too, but I had a lot to do today. Love you tons!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, I'll give you the info for the stuff I wanna send next week so I can get the measurements and stuff. 
Also, pics are Elder Sage and I cleaning the baptismal font for the hermanas...
Elder Sage and I with the gal the hermanas taught...

The Hermanas with their convert, Yosmeri...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

To Live Pure Religion Is To Serve And To Visit...


Dear Mama and Papi,

Thank you so much for my package! I went to the offices today to pick it up, and I must say, "I am a happy sponge!" Elder Martinez was Elder Sage's previous companion, so it's pretty easy to get in contact with him. (Not to mention, we're to always have the secretaries' phone numbers in our phones, so yeah.) 
So, with this week, all of the youth went to FSY. (For the Strength of Youth. It's a youth program that the church puts on during the summer and the kids go for 5 days. Formally known as EFY.) The experiences that they had were just marvelous. (Based on accounts we heard on Sunday.) Now, I've never been to EFY or FSY, since in the states, you gotta have a bit of moolah to go, but here the youth get to go for free, but I can see why, since some of the opportunities that we have back home, they don't do here, such as scouts or trek. Anyway, with the youth, they all came back different; they radiated a different light. 
One testimony given by one of the older youth hit home with me. He spoke of going and just loving the group he was with, the spirit that he felt, and all of the wonderful things he was able to learn that helped strengthen his testimony. This is where it got personal for me. When he returned, he said that he was unable to recognize his own home. Sound familiar, Mama? Haha. At that moment, my mind returned to a more confusing time (namely, my youth) and also a very important time: the summer before I started my senior year. I had just gotten home from my second and final trek. 
For those who don't know what trek is, trek is something that happens every 4 years. All of the youth from our local congregations get together to remember the Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains in a very unique way. The youth are divided into families and together as families, they take a journey together pulling a handcart for 5 days in memory of those who did the same so many years ago so that we could enjoy the privilages of worshipping the Almighty God and his Son, Jesus Christ. 
Well, I too strapped on my hiking shoes, threw on a hat, and put my shoulder to the wheel pushing/pulling a handcart over a planned, but challenging trail for 5 days. For me, the second time was truly the most special, as I had developed a very special relationship with my maker over that time. Upon returning home, I remember feeling very confused. Frustrated, actually, and I was unsure why. After breaking down in tears and talking to my mother and one of my ecclesiastical leaders at church the next day, I realized that what I had felt was the Holy Ghost touch my soul in the most profound way, and I had loved it. 
So, needless to say, I knew how this young man was feeling. But what he said afterwards showed a spiritual maturity as well. He made the declaration that he was going to live everything that he was taught. This young man had seen that he had been given much and knew that he too must give; give of himself. In his epistle, James teaches this in the final verse:"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (See James 1:27) 
To me, this is something I've kept in mind throughout my mission ever since I learned it. To live pure religion is to serve and to visit. I've kept it in mind because I know that it is the way that I can continue to feel the same spirit that I've felt while in the mission following the completion of it and my return home. I know that living pure religion brings us closer to our Heavenly Father and helps us develop our Christlike attributes. (For an inspiring message on the subject of pure religion, give a listen to "Pure Religion", A BYU speech given by Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy. This can be found at

Y, pues, no puedo escribir esta carta sin decir algo a mi querida abuelita. (Sorry for all you english speakers, but this is for my grandmother.) Muchísimas gracias por mandar me un poco de dinero para apoyarme. Te agradezco mucho por tus oraciones y por todo que has echo para mi desde que me fui. Te quiero mas que puedo describir. No te desanimes por tu progreso en tus rodillas. Recuerda que nos enseña Alma en el Libro de Mormón: "mas he aquí, te digo que por medio de cosas pequeñas y sencillas se realizan grandes cosas;" (Vea Alma 37:6) Poco a poco, te vas recuperando. Cuídate mucho! 

Well, that's my typical father. Haha. Gotta say, I miss his behavior sometimes. In the end, they always made for good stories. Haha. Well, that's all I got for you this week. I love you all tons!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, Forgot to tell you this. In my district, we have an Hermana from Honduras. Her name is Hermana Montoya. I told her that my mother is from Honduras, so naturally, she had this to say: "Manda saludas a mi paiza!". So, there you have it. Haha.

PSS, This photo's kinda awkward, but I like it nonetheless. It was taken at the wrong time, but there's something charming about it. Here, I am with Elder Sage, to my left, Elder Lopez (another Elder Lopez. He's from Durango. A norteño.), and Bruno Mars. Well, it's actually an Elder named Elder Diaz. We took this picture with him and his return itinerary, since he leaves in a couple months. We call it the death letter. Haha.

We Have A Lot Of Work To Do...


Dear Mama and Papi,

So, I'm still getting to know the area, and this week I have splits with the zone leaders, so let's see how that goes. To let you know what this area's like, it's another part of Merida. Compared from everything that I've seen of Merida, this is one of the more retired parts. We're not too far from the city center, but it's pretty different in regards to the conditions of everything. It's definitely one of the more poorer parts, but it's a pretty cool little area. Haha. It's interesting that in crossing the street over into the Hermana's area (though it's all part of the same branch) conditions change, in the aspect that you can tell that there's more money over there. 
Right now, our efforts are being concentrated on coordinating the work better. The members aren't bad, but they don't really work, so right now what myself and my companion are working on is working together with our mission leader to work with the leaders and see that the members come out to work with us. It's one of those branches that's really close together, but at the same time is kinda divided. Like the other wards and branches that I've seen in the mission, they can offend easily and all that stuff, so sometimes that's a hinderence. (Makes me remember what you would always tell me from Elder Bednar's talk, that it's a choice to be offended. Why couldn't you have been their mother? Haha.) But aside from that, we have a pretty strong team within ourselves, the hermanas, and our mission leader. 
Right now we're just trying to make our team grow with the rest of the members. We have a lot of work to do, but it's a good thing, because we have direction where we need to go right now. By now, Elder Sage and I have become good friends. Haha. It's been different to be with an American companion (since I've had nothing but Latinos since my training), but it's been a good time and we've been a great help for each other. He's only got about 5 months (almost 6) and I have, well, more than that. Haha. But I've helped him with just mission stuff that will help for the rest of his mission (such as just some of the technical stuff, etc.) and he's helped keep me sane during this new period as a district leader. He's helped lessen my work load and has helped me in regards to helping out our district. It's like he's co-district leader. It's been such a blessing, because he just doesn't leave me to my responsibilities. He helps me with them, so I'm grateful for the support. That's just how it should be between companions.

Sounds like all is prospering back home. That makes me happy since it'll give me something to do over the summer when I get back. Haha. I'll send pictures, but I need to take some first. I've included a picture from our baptism, so that should do for a few months. Haha. (I just don't have too much time to take pictures anymore. We have too many things to do. Haha.) I'm glad to hear of grandma's recovery! She'll be well in no time. 
In regards to Elder Lopez, he finished his son's training this past transfer and this transfer, he was called to be a zone leader, so as you can imagine, the pride in this old trainer is unmatched. Haha. Well, hope you all are doing well! Love you all tons! (I'll letcha know as soon as I get my package. Thank you!)

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, Wow. So many weddings in August. Haha.

Man Was Not Made For The Sabbath Day...It Was Made For Us...


Dear Mama and Papi,

I got transferred again. Haha. Right now, I'm in a poorer part of Merida and am district leader, again. As usual, I'm nervous as I have more souls under my stewardship, but I'm grateful for the opportunity again. (I just pray that this time I'll do better.) But more on that later. Right now, I have an experience to share! 
This past week, we had the most assistance than we've ever had since we came to the area. How did we do it? The simplest answer that I could come up with was that it was because we kept the Sabbath day holy. We received a grand promise from Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela that if we kept the Sabbath day holy, we would receive blessings and people would come to church. We've put this in practice, but I feel that we put more effort this time than any other time before. 
We started Saturday night when we got home. Really, all we did was do the simple things, such as clean and shine our shoes, iron our clothes, get the bags ready, organize a bit, stuff like that .But what a difference it made. For me personally, I was able to wake up the following morning not worrying about any of that. What that did was eliminate distraction from my mind and I was able to focus on the Savior and the renewal of my covenants with Him. It allowed for the spirit to really be there and there was just peace. This also allowed us to get to church early and just sit, read the scriptures and meditate. Bit by bit, the chapel was filled. Being that it was also fast and testimony meeting, we were able to hear the testimonies of others. But what was special is that we were able to hear testimony of the truths of the restored gospel. Not stories or experiences, but pure testimony of our Father in Heaven, of Joseph Smith, of the Book of Mormon, of our living prophet, of the priesthood, and of the truthfulness of our church as the kingdom of the Father restored to this earth in preparation for the second coming of the Messiah. 
What a glorious spirit that was felt! In short, the miracles that we were able to witness this day came from simply keeping the Sabbath day holy so that our thoughts could be focused on the atonement of Christ. As we keep the Sabbath day holy, it will be a delight, as Isaiah and Elder Russel M. Nelson have testified. Those who do not keep it holy face a decline in their spirituality and find that there is more negativity in all the other aspects of their life as well. Man was not made for the Sabbath day. It was made for us. 

Glad to here of the progress with work! (It will prosper more if it's closed Sunday. I promise. :) ) I'm also glad to here that I still have a job! I will gladly take it back! (Since the Earps are special to me as well. I miss them and Max.) I did hear of President Packer's passing, but his final words to us as well as Elder Perry's bear truthfulness of the importance of marriage being between a man and a woman as well as the importance of the family. This is a unity that cannot be tampered with, broken, or soiled. It is sacred because the family is the nucleus of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I'll be sure to keep dad in my prayers. Hope all goes well. Keep me posted of his condition. (Same with grandma.) Well, that's all for this week. Later!

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, my new companion is a loveable gringo from Utah named Elder Sage. (He's gonna be doctor!)

Diligence Is Hard


Dear Mama and Papi,

So, this week we had a good opportunity to remember the basics of teaching. There's 8 basic principles to teaching in missionary work that a new missionary learns during the first 3 months. Every now and again, we have the opportunity to relearn these principles. The meetings occur over a period of 4 days, so two principles a day. 
This time, we had them together with two other zones, and it was a gratifying experience (since usually we have them just as a zone). Putting into practice what we learned daily has been a great help for us. I have to admit, that at times, I've come out of meetings such as this really edified with a ton of energy, ready to work, filled with the spirit, etc, but going back to my area, I just kept working as if I didn't learn a thing, but this time, my companion and I put what we learned to practice. I found that as we did so daily, just putting these simple, little things, we had quality lessons, we felt the spirit, and we left feeling happy. Like, me personally, I would leave the lesson wanting to do so again and have another quality lesson like that, and it did lead to others. Poco a poco, I'm overcoming my lack of diligence. (Since that's something I've fought to overcome during my whole mission. It's a difficult attribute of Christ to develop. Haha.) Really, the lesson that I was able to learn this week is that diligence is hard. 
Out of all the attributes of Christ, I believe diligence is the hardest, since it requires so much work to constantly do everything you should 24/7, but it's a blessing, because once it becomes something solid, it makes everything so much easier because you're more dedicated, there's pretty much no room for despair, the spirit is constantly with you more, and overall, it becomes a constant. Overcoming my lack of diligence (and I've still got more to go with this) has been a blessing that makes me happy. 

107? Haha. That's Merida weather, minus the humidity. Be vigilant. I don't want single (or married) moms hitting on my father. Haha. In regards to the young sister again, something that I've learned a ton on the mission is personal identity. It's a process, but something that will help her is to know her divine potential; that she is a God in the making. " 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; ascertain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device." (See Acts 17:28-29. Some of my favorite teachings from Paul.) Knowledge of one's divine potential is essential in the lives of youth. Combined with an understanding of the Father's plan of happiness, one really starts to understand who we are and why choices are important. Well, that's all for this week. Love you all tons! Say hi to the guys (and Hailey) if you see'em again. Tell'em I love them and miss them. Also, send my love to the Earps! Thanks for the update on grandma. Send my love to her too. Just to make this easier, send my love to everyone.

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

This Isn't Just Work Of The Missionaries...


Querido Mami y Papi,

Thank you for making Mother's Day a special for me as well! (Because without a wonderful mother, I would have no reason to celebrate.) I'm not quite sure how I sound grown up, but thank you. Haha. 
10 pounds in a month? That's nearly a whole transfer... But I'll be patient. Haha. I started flossing last night, so it's a start. Haha. Well, what can I mention that wasn't mentioned yesterday? Well, I actually have stuff to report. Haha. So, yesterday morning, we had our stake conference. To be honest, it was probably the best stake conference I've ever been to. The music was wonderful (because we have the wonderful and talented Echeveria choir in the stake), but more importantly, the talks were powerful. I'll highlight two in particular. (Because they repremended me as well. Haha.) 
So, first on the list is President Garcia's talk. (BTW, who's the mission president back home? I figure President Ware and his wife have finished by now, so I'm curious to know who is the president now.) He spoke of the need for more members and missionaries (A talk that I'm sure has been given a million times by now, but it was the way he presented it that made it excellent.) 
He started off relating a story of when children from various stakes came to the mission offices to learn about what a mission is. He had finished commenting of the number of missionaries currently serving since the age drop and one of the primary children commented the following in regards to the need for more missionaries in these times. The child said the following: "It's because Jesus is coming soon." President (and myself while I listened to the story) was awestruck. He then related the need especially for members and missionaries in this mission. 
He spoke of seeing rejection as he's never seen before. He said that Satan has a special hold upon the hearts of the people in Merida right now, as well as the less actives. (I'm a witness to all of this.) But to give hope to all of this, he related the story of how Alma met Amulek. When Alma came to Amulek, he had just left the city of Ammonihah after suffering brutal rejection. He hadn't planned to return, but the Lord told him to do so and that he would come across one who would feed him. He had been fasting a while, so he was in dire need of sustinance. He came upon the home of Amulek and asked if he would be so kind as to feed a servant of the Lord. Amulek agreed because he knew that Alma was a prophet of God because an angel had told him beforehand that he would come in need of food. Alma ate and blessed the home and family of Amulek. 
From that point on, they set off preaching repentence to all with such power and authority that "none could detain them". President then spoke of how Alma was the missionary and that Amulek was the member and that through working together, none can detain us. It was a pretty good reminder to all of us that this isn't just the work of the missionaries. All are disciples of Christ. The only difference is is that we're doing this full time. 
The other talk of which I will mention comes from... President Garcia, the temple president here. Coincidence? Well, they're brothers, actually, so that's pretty cool. He also brought the fire, but much more than my mission president. He nailed everyone who hadn't gone to the temple that could do so if they wanted to. He spoke of members who were satisfied with simply taking the sacrament every week as being efficient to renewing their covenants. He said that it is essential for exaltation to take upon oneself the temple covenants, that that is the only way where we can take upon ourselves the name of Christ and receive the full blessings of the Atonement. He also nailed everyone who hadn't gone to the temple since they went there for their own ordinances. He said that he is present for every session and knows that there are many who haven't returned. I now know that I need to go to the temple on a weekly basis. Without a doubt. Haha. 
In conclusion, it was a really good stake conference and the spirit was there for sure. The only thing now is to help the members remember what was spoken so that they may also act upon these things. Well, that's all for this week. It was absolutely wonderful to speak to the family. I know who I'll be spending time with when I finish my mission. :) (That includes the Millers and Albrechts, even though they live far. I've made mental plans to go and visit them in their respective states 'cause I love'em that much.)

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, Elder Bednar won't be here till next Friday, but I'll be sure to tell you all about it!


I'm Glad I Sacrificed Worldly Pursuits...

Dear Mama and Papi,

This was a week of rejection. Sometimes you get used to it, but other times not so much. It was a downer to myself and my companion since we finished the week with a good amount of rejection ("Soy Católico" is the common response.), but it happens. 
We had interviews with President Garcia this week, so thankfully we know it what areas we should be working in so that we can pick things up. Truthfully, it was humbling, since the sorrow we felt wasn't because things were pretty lame. It was like the sorrow that God himself must have felt. The two of us felt this especially when we encountered a family that the Hermanas before us had visited. The mother recently had a baby and had a wonderful family, but the excuse was put up that they were already Catholic, and then her mother came in. Very respectfully, we were given the same excuse, with the supposed claim that they already knew what we taught. (Though, I asked the question if they knew just what message we taught, and they responded no.) Though, we insisted and tried to be persuasive, it lead to nowhere, so we said goodnight and headed home. 
It was disappointing and sometimes I wonder why people just can't give the opportunity at eternal happiness a try. They're losing blessings and their family (To be frank.), but I can answer these questions for myself. I know all the reasons, and it's frustrating sometimes. (Okay, maybe a lot of the time. Haha.) But it just means that it's an opportunity for us to be more bold. We know that the heart's of men will steadily grow harder as time progresses towards the second coming of the Savior, so that just means that we'll have to fight harder as well and take those who will respond to the invitation to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. (See Moroni 10) 
It's a very interesting time to be a missionary, and I'm glad I sacrificed worldly pursuits (Well, let's face it. We all know I didn't want to go to college just yet. Haha.) to serve the Lord these 2 years. It's helped me to come to know just where I stand amongst the billions or however many people in this world. It's helped me to know what I really desire to achieve. I don't have to give up the things I've come to love. (I've always said it. I will be buried with my guitar. Ridiculous, but you get what I'm expressing.) They're just not as important anymore. Family is important. Keeping covenants is important. Helping others to achieve the happiness that comes from the only true and living church upon the face of the earth (Namely The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you don't know if it's true, you haven't asked or haven't made the effort to know.) is important. 

Yeesh. Sounds like competition is picking up. I fear for my job security. But I'm glad you were able to have success! (Just know that when I finish my mission, I will politely refuse to work Sundays. My Sabbath Day observance before wasn't too great beforehand and I can't let it go down after I finish. It's a huge problem that's occurring in the church at the moment, hence Elder Nelson's final talk this past conference.) Ooh! Something that I forgot to mention is that this month, we have the opportunity to hear from Elder Bednar and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela (Conselor in the Mexico Area Presidency), so be expecting details regarding that in the near future. Well, that's all I have to say about that. Till next week! (Or should I say, till Sunday! :) 

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos

PS, I believe the time difference is two hours, so I'm gonna try to Skype you guys at like 4 O'clock Pacific time. Please be patient (Super patient) if I don't get on right at that hour. Haha. Also, If in an email you could send me pictures of my band, that'd be cool. My zone leader is a rocker from Chihuahua (Technically Sinaloa, but right now he's living in Juarez.) who's band played a lot of Beatles, so I'd like to show him pictures of mine. Thanks!

This Work Is True!


Dear Jess and the rest of my cousins from down south,

I've come to develop a strong disbelief in coincidence. I mention this because you and the fam were on my mind this week as well and I felt a strong desire to email y'all! :D I also apologize for not being in touch, like, almost at all. Haha. 
The church in my area where I'm at right now is also rather small. We're in a ward right now, and the members on record are like 300+, but only like 30+ attend. You might wonder how that works, but I believe it's because there are the bare minimum for full-tithe payers. There's a false tradition here (very similar to members in other places) of what being active is. The church in Merida goes back a ways and the majority of YSA's and there parents have served missions. Most also have family members who were pioneers here in the peninsula. Our biggest challenge right now is helping them understand just what missionary work is. (I'm sure this is a church wide problem that you know well by now.) However, seeing that my own family gets this really gets me going! Haha. 
What a wonderful experience for Maya! (And the hair on that youth. Ah, the glory days...) If it weren't for the fact that I'm forced to go straight to the YSA branch upon my return, I'd be with our small Spanish group weekly! I love those members so much. However, I will make sure that the Spanish missionaries still have my number. Heh heh... 
I hope you see the blessings within your family that have come since Aric was called as ward mission leader. It's not easy whatsoever. Over here, the calling for ward mission leader (at least in my previous area) was like the teaching position for Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts: no one lasted; as if it were cursed or something... But I hope your family understands so much more of our Father's plan for us! He can do his own work, but he's given us the privilege to be a part of "(bringing) to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". I love you all so much and know that this work is true! Never doubt it for a second! (Seriously. I have too much less actives to deal with at the moment. Haha.)

Love, Elder Manuel Antonio Santos