Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life should be joyful!

Hey everyone!
Sorry about no pictures this week! I couldn't bring my camera today because we were going to go to a dangerous area. (Luckily a member had sent some!)

So here in Costa Rica, Rice with chicken is the bee's knees. What it is is, well, rice, and chicken. And a couple veggies haha. First off, it's delicious, and second, it's easy to prepare and serve, so for every birthday party and church activity and, well, everything, rice with chicken is served. It's one of my FAVORITE foods. It's super good, and we ate it twice on Saturday and then on Sunday too. Yum Yum Yum. The only problem is that rice makes you really fat, so I gotta be careful. Also, I made empanadas for the first time, which were pretty de-lic-ious. It's pretty funny because all I cook is Latino things. Pupusas, Empanadas, and Tortillas haha.

We had a really sweet moment this week. Yesterday, we went to have a family home evening. When we arrived there, a bunch of kids were there! (The grand kids of another lady who lives there as well). So we started talking to them all, and invited them all to come and join us. As we sang a hymn to start, and one of them offered to give the first prayer, I just felt happy. We all were seated in a little circle outside on their patio. We shared a nice message and played a game, and then ate some little chocolates. There was just something so special about those moments. As people walked by, they all looked over (firstly with a look of confusion!) but I know that it touched their hearts. It was a tender mercy to enjoy a little bit of time with all of them. I love to know that one day, I'll get to have those experiences with my own kids. 

I just love being a missionary so much. A good friend and fellow missionary here in Costa Rica, Elder Velasquez, always talked about how we have to enjoy our lives, no matter the circumstances!

It's just as 2 Nephi 2:25 says: Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Really, this life is tough. It should be tough! It's our day of probation. But, it should also be joyful. As we live the gospel, our lives, this mortal path that we walk, is jam packed with a whole bunch of tender mercies, like that time I got to spend with those children. It's a sweet truth of God's plan that along with Eternal life --living with our families forever-- we gain happiness and joy in this life as we follow his commandments, and keeping our covenants! The gospel blesses us today, tomorrow, and for the eternities. 

I love you all. I hope that we can all enjoy the moments where we find ourselves, and keep working to improve ourselves. Have a great week!

-Elder Henry

Hey dad! It was a total surprise to me when you said that you'd be going to winter weather. I forgot that exists! Hahaha.

Sounds like you're gonna have a great week! Enjoy the flights :) I always tell people how one day I want a traveling job like you. Do you skype with tori for her home work now, or how did all that settle out?

I have seen some pretty cool birds here in Costa Rica. I always take a moment to look at them and think of how much you'd like them :) Especially some little yellow tummied finch things there were! more or less like the ones in our house.

Have a great week dad!

Love, -Elder Henry

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Living the Dream, Dreaming the Missionary Life

You can't see it very well, but from this point we could see all of San Jose, Cartago, and a bunch more of Costa Rica!

Alright, to start off, funny experience time!

Those of my family will know that I tend to talk a lot. Really, I think everybody knows that! But what isn't so widely known is that, some times, I talk in my sleep! I never walk in my sleep or anything like that, but every now and then I've been known to talk in my sleep.

These days we have been living the dream of a missionary. We've been repenting, improving, gaining the confidence of the members, seeing miracles, a little bit of everything. But, last night, I was also dreaming the life! Turns out that I woke my companion up because I was testifying that Jesus Christ lives and is our savior, at something like 2 in the morning! I don't remember the dream, but I guess that I just knew that I needed to get some extra practice in about my teaching haha.

Really, this week has been good. A lot has improved. I wanted to talk specifically about one of person from this week, L.

L is a less active member of the church. She has 4 kids, Yovani Alejandro and Alison (I don't know the 4th one haha I've never met him.) You can just tell when you see L that she's a nice person. She's kind, easy to get along with, just a good person! But she hasn't been going to Church.

L was baptized when she was 10 years old, in Nicaragua. She was SUPER involved in the Church. She even went on visits when she was 12 with the Young Women's president to go visit less actives and investigators and everything! But her Grandpa told her and her Grandma that they couldn't go to church anymore. That really crushed L. She just felt hopeless! Then, they moved here to Costa Rica, and she lost the desire to go to church.

She started to live for parties, and self fulfillment. She knew that the church was true, but she got lost in the things of this world.

Guess who's going to come to church this Sunday!

A little bit ago (I don't know when, I wasn't here) She felt the need to change her life. She stopped doing all those bad things that she was doing, and started to worry more about her family than about herself. On Sunday when we visited (she had to work so couldn't come to church) She expressed to us that she was stressed and worried about her family. More than anything, that she felt like she didn't know what to do so that the situation improved!

When I heard that, I got real excited, knowing exactly what to show her. It's my 2nd favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, and one of my favorite things to teach. The Book (and chapter) of Enos! Even though this book only occupies some 4 pages of the Book of Mormon, it's had a profound impact on me.

Enos is about a man named, well, Enos. Haha. Enos was the son of a Prophet of God! But, even being the son of a prophet of God, we find that Enos had to find his own testimony. He was in a bit of a rebellious phase! But this chapter teaches us, as we look at it in reverse, how to be a good parent.

In verse 1, Enos says (writing this after his change of heart):
Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—
We see something very, very important to start things out here. What I've bolded are two phrases. That Enos' dad was a just man, and that he raised Enos in admonition to the lord! Afterwards, even though he might not have felt like this in the moment, Enos says: And blessed be the name of my God for it. I'm sure that, as parents, we all want this as the goal! That our kids, when they grown up, bless the name of our heavenly father for what we've taught them.

This chapter tells of how Enos received a remission of his sins! Which clearly means that he was living in sins. It doesn't say how serious or foolish were the things he was doing wrong, but we see that he was in a rebellious phase. Then, in verse three, we see some grand advice on how to be a parent.
Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

We see that as Enos was out hunting beasts of the forests (doing his own thing on his own time, away from his Dad), the words which he had often heard sunk deep into his heart. Even though he might not have responded in the moment that he had shared them, the teachings of his Father were crucial in his conversion. Verse 4 says: And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker,and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
A couple verses later, we see that Enos received a remission of his sins, and a testimony of all the things that his father had taught him.

Brothers and sisters,all of our souls will hunger from time to time. We all realize, in moments, that we need to change something. If we set the example for our children, as Enos' dad did, and frequently testify to them about the plan of salvation that God has put for us, and that joy that we've received as we've lived that plan, they will know where to turn when they have this hunger. We may not see the results the same day, but as we do these two simple things; live and share the gospel; they will be able to receive forgiveness for their transgressions, and find the path of Eternal Life.

This truth has sunk deep into my heart. As we live the gospel and repent, we gain a personal witness of it's truth, that we can then share with others. Whether it be our children, or our friends, or even our parents, we can help them turn to God in times of trouble and satisfy that hunger that we all feel, the hunger of a needy soul.

As we shared this message with L, we strongly felt the spirit testifying it's truth to us. Then, the most important part happened. She Acted! She got on her knees that night and told God her worries, her problems, and her troubles. And he answered her with feelings of tranquility and peace that she would have all the tools necessary to be a good mother to her children.

Thank you so much for everything you do, brothers and sisters! I love you all so much. I hope that you all have a wonderful week, and that you can feel the Spirit in your lives.

Hasta luego!
-Elder Henry

PS Oh my gosh Mom you wouldn't believe how much I've changed... This week we gave a capacitacion (yes I know that's not the word) (training) on finding and it was super good and we felt the spirit super strong. I've become so much more confident now. I find myself giving advice to EVERYBODY now! Haha. It's great. The Lord has really turned one of my weaknesses into one of my strengths.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Week of Love!

Saturday Ashley, and Leonel were baptized! 

Hey everybody! How's it going? Hopefully all is well :)

This week has been an interesting one! Getting to know the new area and everything is pretty crazy. There's something that I love about this area here in Heredia, and that's the members. This ward here is pretty old, with a fair amount of members who have grown up in the church and everything, so you could say it's got a little 'stateside' feel. But, it's honestly something so beautiful to me.

The members here love us. They just love us! They feed us, they worry for us, they just love us. But the thing that catches me is that I didn't have to earn their love. I honestly didn't do anything to deserve their love!

Many times in this life we think that people need to earn our respect, our trust, and our love. But the Savior teaches us otherwise. He loved the sinner, and He put trust in completely incapable humans, even though He knew that they were going to mess up. As always, He gave the example! We should give our love, trust, and respect to everyone. Obviously, we should be reasonable, but the both can be done! The world tells us every day to shut ourselves away, because of some obscure reason, but really we'll always be rewarded for giving our love to others.

The members here understand this principle which, frankly, is really hard for me! They just love. They gladly accept new people (like me!) into their lives, with arms open! It really isn't important to them that I'm from the States or where I was before or how my Spanish is or anything like that, they just offer their love to the Lord -- through service to their fellow brethren. It's something that on paper is soo easy, but to apply can be pretty difficult. But it can be achieved! And it should be achieved.

Let us love one another! We'll find that as we love, we feel more love. Perhaps not immediately from other people, but we have it on promise that we'll feel the Love of God more in our lives. And God ALWAYS fulfills his promises!

Sorry that the letter is teeny this week! Lots to do and little time.

Have a great, love filled week!

-Elder Henry

Answers to questions!
That's really sweet what Ivania sent :-) I called Isabel Monday and it made me so grateful to have served a mission. Just knowing that Isabel got baptized, and nothing else, made my mission worth it. But I know that there's some joven boy out there who I'm going to find and baptized who's going to be my convert. I want to send out a missionary :-) (Isabel is engaged to be married one year after her baptism in Dec)

Elder Lohberg (his new DL) is great. We get along suuuper well hahahahaha. He's helping me alot with my comp and all that jazz, and I'm helping him with what I've learned about leadership from training Elder Guirola! :-)

Oh yeah I got the mp3 player! It's great :-)1. What has been your most significant tender mercy?The members. They are just so loving here! They honestly just love us. It makes me so grateful.
2. What are you looking forward to this coming week?Setting up an awesome missionary activity with the ward!!! It's gonna be a blast :)
3. Do you have a goal set for this coming week? Tell me about it.Just straightening everything out in the area, organizing everything and starting to work how we should...
4. Which scripture has had the biggest impact on you this week?Probably Ether 12:4, about how faith makes an anchor in our lives that's much more stable than the daily (or hourly) animo (excitement basically) that we feel. How even in hard times, with faith we'll have our sights set high.
Ahh! Touch the ark. President Wilkinson has taught that :-) You're like a seminary mission president mom ;-)
The lady who sent the photos last week is not our cook, but it's a family that we eat with twice a week (one dinner and lunch on Sunday) who loooves the missionaries. She knows Elder Saylor, too! And Elder Elms. They've both been in this area! how weird right?
Oh you'll probably be happy to know that Elder Guirola and I (who didn't get along at ALL to start) are really good friends now. We were in the multizone conference today together and we were chit chatting and everything as if we'd known each other forever. It makes me really happy that we overcame all our challenges and ended up seeing a lot of success before I left San Ramon :)
whelp my 'big' letter wasn't so big this week haha, hopefully I'll have a lot more to share this coming week.
I love you a ton mom! Thanks for always being the bomb dot com haha. Have a great week!
PS: I know the kid who took tori to Yule Ball. Don't know how, but i know him haha. He's cool :)

A few pics sent by the lady who feeds him twice a week


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's a whole new world!

That song from Aladdin popped into my head when I got the call that I had transfers! haha.

See you later Yuli and Isabel (definitely at Isabel's wedding at the temple next December!
Erick lives in the home where we ate every day
Jorge's mission call should be arriving soon!
Companion ties. "Elder Guirolia came pre-trained."

After 6 great months in San Ramon, I got transfers to Heredia. It's a big city close to San Jose, and it's also the home of the Temple here in Costa Rica!
(This is the chapel here in Heredia! It's super pretty. A little smaller than San Ramon, but it's also a stake center.)
It hasn't really hit me still, but it's strange to have a whole new register of names to know, places and bus schedules and people schedules and businesses and everything to know! haha. But it's pretty nice here :)

My new companion is named Elder Cruz! And he's from Honduras. We're pretty much opposites in appearance! He's pretty short, pretty largely built, and pretty dark skinned, Whereas I'm white tall and skinny (more or less, I've gained a little weight haha...).

Changing areas has taught me (more than anything reminded me) of a very important lesson!

About a week before the transfer, I really felt that I was going to go. Not in a sad, or anxious, or excited way, just a feeling that I had learned what I needed to learn from San Ramon. But I was also pretty sure that the Lord was going to have certain assignments for me!

When I got the call, I didn't receive the assignment that I thought I was going to. But as I got here to Heredia, I realized that it's because the Lord has some other work for me to do! I'm so excited to be here and to serve here.

Wherever we are in life and whatever we're doing, the Lord's gonna throw some curveballs into our plan. Well, really, it's just that our plan wasn't quite right or what we needed, but you get the point. Twists and turns that we never expected come out of nowhere to give us a change of scenery!

We need to be ready to embrace these changes. I think that often times we like to just put down our heads and trudge along through a time of our life that doesn't look too interesting, or easy, or enjoyable, instead of taking advantage of every opportunity that the Lord gives us; Whether it's a blessing to enjoy or a challenge to overcome. As we learn from everything that we're given from the Lord, we'll find ourselves happier and a little bit closer to being like our perfect example, Jesus Christ!

I love you all so much. Have a great week! Remember that no matter how differently things turn out than how you expected them to, there's a reason behind it.

-Elder Henry