Monday, February 29, 2016

I still just fall more in love with it every day. (Missionary work!)

 Guacimo Ward Missionaries eating lunch with the bishop! :)

 Just a nice blue Guacimo sky :)
 Rain selfies!

 Guacimo reminds me of Washington a lot of times. Nice, grey clouds :)
I can now say that I'm part of a very special club of missionaries that served during a leap day. haha.
This week was a lot more normal, and went a lot quicker. We were having a good week, not super great but good, but Sunday was really lame. Only 1 of our investigators came to church, when we had at least the same 3 from last week who really wanted to come again. So it was a little frustrating, as always, but we're just gonna work harder and get better and things will work out :)
I've said since a few months back that, in my opinion, the best team is an old missionary with a new one. One brings the experience, and one brings the desire to do things 100%. I've really enjoyed being here with Elder Vazquez because that desire to do everything well just emanates and gets me excited to be a better missionary as well. I love him because I feel like we both help each other to become better missionaries. And that's really wonderful. So even when we have tough weeks, I know that we're trying hard and we just have to try something different.
I've also been thinking a little bit about how much I know now that I didn't know when I started the mission, and why even though I have so much more experience, I don't see this huge increase on the numbers.
I don't know, and we'll always strive for excellence, but a lot of times I just really feel like it's God's work and he gets the people who are ready in the church, one way or another. We have the blessing to be that means, but we don't change God's will. If someone need and wants to find the restored truths of the gospel, they'll find it. God takes care of his kids.
So Elder Vazquez and I are gonna help a whole ton of his children here in Guacimo that are ready!
I love the mission. I still just fall more in love with it every day.
Have a great week, everyone!
-Elder Henry

Hey dad!
Yeah I medio remembered about leap day. But mostly, It's just Pday :-)
That's so funny! It's weird for me to think of you as a grandpa, too. You guys aren't old yet :P
Well this week was really great. Sometimes I really hate knowing that I'm in the last "age" of my mission. But I really love the work.
Love you dad! Have a great week being a grandpa!
-Elder Henry

Monday, February 22, 2016

Guácimo Guácimo Guácimo.

Last week the bus rides were too long for an email...
This week was GREAT! It felt super long, in the good way!

Our acachete house (I really like it a lot)

The chapel! (with free coconuts!)

Guácimo Guácimo Guácimo. I love it! I had always heard about this area. A lot of my good friends were here. Elder Tullis, Hermana Ortiz, and also Elder Guirola, my first kid! And now, I'm here. All the members tell me I'm gonna die (in the missionary sense) here! I mean, it's true, but it's funny.
I love it. It rains a ton (more than Zona Sur), and it's not really hot or cold. The ward is great and I've still got chances to see a sloth. It's a pretty small town and I just love everything here so much. I'm back to being a district leader and training, which is my favorite thing in the world to do. My new comp, Elder Vazquez, is from Mexico! Coahuila. He's already got 1 change in the mission (Spencer is finishing his training). So he's super awesome! He's a convert, and most of his immediate family is member now too. He speaks pretty good English, just like elder Acuña (my other Mexican comp), so we talk lots of English together and it's a blast :) He's so humble and has such a great spirit and just really wants to do the things well, and it's so awesome to be with him. I feel like I'm a better missionary with him around. It's heaven!

This week went super slow because I just really focused on getting to know everyone as well as I could and as quickly as possible! I'm still super lost as to the area (yesterday we went on divisions with members and I walked around in circles for like 30 minutes to find the house where I was going), but allí vamos. Little by little.

So yeah! What more is there to tell? Everything's great! Ruma and Ruth were baptized in Zona Sur last week, too!!!!!!! =) 

I just feel like the Lord has given me such a great way to end my mission here. I couldn't have asked for something better. Seriously. I love the people, I love my district, I love my area, and I love my companion! Oh, and I love the work!
Unbelievable quote from a sister in the district this week:
"Yeah, it seems like you're a really organized person"
So yeah, that's life this week! Everything's seriously just awesome here. The place and ward reminds me a lot of my first area. and the sisters who we're with here in Guacimo are super pura vida too! Everything's just like my missionary dream here haha.
Have a great one!

-Elder Henry

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It is the Spirit that counts.

This was such a wonderful week.

On the first page of Chapter 4 of my Preach My gospel, How to recognize the Holy Ghost, I have a quote by Ezra Taft Benson written:

"Remember, brethren, in this work it is the Spirit that counts."

Oosh! Only in the Zona Sur.
I think that just with that quote, I pretty much summed the week up!

President Hayes, our mission president, changed the schedule to help us have our full 3 hours of studies every day. So he pushed district meetings and weekly planning to the afternoon on their respective days, and we have all our studies in the mornings. It's made all the difference, because in this work, it's the Spirit that counts. It's been so wonderful to be studying every day. I feel the Spirit so much more in my life. Between those regularities in the schedule, and things we have to do as Zone Leaders (exchanges, extra meetings, etc.), I really had been deprived of my study time in these past few months. As I study every day again, a wonderful Spirit fills my life and the work becomes much more meaningful.

We met a new investigator. When we started talking to him in his doorway, he expressed to us that he didn't believe in Jesus Christ -- at least not the way that many of the churches talked about him nowadays. As we entered and started to listen to what he believed, it was clear that even he wasn't sure what to believe! And so we read in Alma 22 when Lamoni's father prays to God, asking him to be made manifest if he existed. And we started to explain to him that we weren't there to contend with him, rather explain to him the Doctrine of God and invite him to pray and know for himself it's truth. And this men just lit up. He started to explain to us that he didn't even like to share his beliefs anymore, because whenever he talked about religion, people just starting condemning him and saying that he was going to hell for not believing. And we could just feel the Spirit so sweetly with him. We went back and had a 2nd lesson and kept helping him with his doubts, an explained to him the Book of Mormon. But it was so edifying, both for us and, more importantly, for him. He's got a long ways to go, but he really has let the Spirit touch his heart.

And there's just been a ton of experiences like that this week! People are just coming out of the woodwork and we're having these spiritual experiences with them. And I know that it's a fruit of our efforts to be better missionaries and, especially, of studying every day.

I love this work. I love it with all my heart. I love it because I do it out of good will. I want to study, I want to work, and I want to teach, I want to obey. and the Lord helps me do what I could never do on my own. I know that He lives. He loves us. I've felt His love this week.

Have a great week, everyone! Love the simple details of life.

Proselyting with Shiblon, he is true to his name ;)
A little bug that always makes a ton of noise 

Bird got into our house! Things always seem to fly into our house....

There's a bird on my towel!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Power of a Testimony

The entire Costa Rica San Jose East Mission at the dual mission conference

Finally met Elder Stott also from a suburb of Portland Oregon! He was assigned to the West Mission.

Missionaries waiting for the meeting to begin

Paso Ancho Ward "alumni" with Bishop!

I met my "grandson!" Elder Guirola's training him. He's from Washington too!

Gettin ready for the buseta trip back to Zona Sur!

Shiblon with his blanket bed haha

Our investigator had his pig and cow give birth on Sunday! I touched the baby calf :)
Elder Acuña and Giles!

This week was a good week. Nothing too exciting in the work happened, until we got to Friday.

Friday morning we were on a bus headed up to San Jose because Saturday, we had a double-mission wide conference with Elder Cook! So we all got to shake his hand and then he spoke for about an hour, and after that some other General Authorities spoke as well.

It was such a special experience to really be in the same room as an Apostle of God. As I saw him, it was clear that he's a normal person! I mean, he's incredibly converted to the Lord, and has a grand calling, but he's a person! And he was so loving, and so humble. I could just feel God's love radiating through him and his wife.

He shared some really great things that I really loved, but what impacted me most was the testimony he shared. As he testified as an Apostle, as a special witness of the Son of God, I could feel the Spirit bearing witness to my soul. and now that's engraved in me!

After that, President Christensen explained something which I felt so true. He had once heard on his mission that the mission is like a 'mini life'.

When you start the mission, you don't know anything but accept that you don't know anything and learn a lot.
Then, you get to your adolescence, where you hardly know anything but believe that you know everything. 
And then there's that spiritual adulthood, where you know a little bit of something, but recognize that you don't know much, and rely on the spirit to guide you again.

What impacted me most from Elder Cook was his testimony. It was more important than any knowledge or any principle that he could teach me. This is the Lord's work, and he sends his Spirit to soften the hearts of the people! We as missionaries should be vessels of that Spirit so that they can have that life changing opportunity. So that made me reflect alot on how I viewed missionary work, and accept that I need to really try and be a better vessel of the Spirit.

Then, yesterday, we got to see this applied! We had this wonderful lesson with a man, Juan, and his wife. We had taught Juan a few times, and he was looking like he might progress, but this time he told us that his wife didn't really want to go to a different church, etc. So we invited ourselves in to teach her, too! haha.

There was nothing special about what we said. It was a good old, normal, standard lesson about the Restoration. But when we shared the First Vision, I could feel the Spirit so strongly. And so we testified! And helped them recognize that feeling as well.

I learned a big lesson from Elder Cook. A real, sincere testimony invites the Spirit and is so important.

So that's what I (re)learned this week. Our zone met its goal! Sometimes it seems to me like so few baptisms, but then I remember that there's 20 converts in Neily last year and only 1 is really well active, and I know that there were several really good converts this month. So I'm pretty happy with the zone's work   :) Yeah I saw Elder Tullis. I love the guy so much. That's so sick we're going to be roommates!

Have a great week, everyone! Rely on the Spirit and be a pure vessel of Him.
-Elder Henry