Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 53..... Love One Another!!!

Wow what an amazing week!! I was seriously the busiest I have ever been in my entire mission. I was traveling pretty much every day. I was getting to know new areas and was able to have many experiences that touched my heart. This week’s email is one that is going to be special for me. I want to tell everyone of a little story that happened to me this week. So here in my sector we have really rich people and then also really poor, poor people. So on Saturday, we scheduled to have lunch in the poor sector. This lady is a very poor lady. When I heard that we were going to eat there, being a really selfish man, I went in with a bad attitude. I was just expecting the worst of the worst. Well that is exactly what I found. I have never actually seen someone live in these type of conditions. I felt so bad for the lady. Her house was literally a shack in the back of a house. She, her daughter and her grandson lived in this house. The walls and floor boards were beginning to break. The floor was being torn up and it was just not a good looking place. This little shack could not protect them from the wind, not even the rain. When I walked in there I had a terrible attitude. When I saw this I started to think about what type of food we were going to eat. I was not very excited. As this little old lady stumbled over to a rickety old pot and pulled out a piece of old, rock hard meat, and a scoop of mashed potatoes. I looked at the food and it did not look appetizing at all. I knew I was going to have to force it down. As lunch went on I could see that her house was worse than what I saw at first glance. Animals began to fill the house. Cats were jumping window to window, hair was flying everywhere, and her floor was covered in feces and old rotten food. I was just not in a very comfortable situation. While we were eating we were trying to make a good relationship with this little old lady and her grandson. This little old lady did not have very good social skills either. It was so hard to get her to talk to us. As I sat there, I was only thinking of myself. All I could think about was getting out of the door. This is where I had one of the most spiritual experiences I have had. We thanked the sister for her food and for her time. She then went on to explain with tear filled eyes why she gave food to the missionaries. MY HEART BROKE!!! She went on to explain that she has been a member for more than 40 years and that she had always wanted to give food to the missionaries but was always embarrassed to have the missionaries over. In her own words she said "I don’t have much to eat, so it would not be a benefit for the missionaries." I then realized that what she gave us… was all that she had. She had been saving up money and time so that she could give us this meal. My mindset changed in that moment. My eyes began to fill with tears as I realized this lady had more Christ like love than I have ever seen. How great it is to give something to others, but how much greater is it to give something that you don’t have to others? I saw that this lady had so much love for the missionaries and what we were doing. My heart definitely broke and I became very humble. I began to see things as they were and not with my prideful view I had at first. I instantly was able to love that lady and see her as she was and not how she lived. It was definitely one of the most humbling experiences I have had in my time here. 

This brings me to my spiritual thought this week. I want to talk to everyone about Love.
Love is the first principle of this Gospel. 


This week has been an amazing week. As I have been focusing on loving everyone... even in moments where it was hard to love, or people who are hard to love, I have seen the blessing from God. I see people as God sees them and not how they are in that moment but more how they can become. I know that God sees us with eyes of love and not mortal eyes. We as humans are so easily distracted by the weaknesses or faults of others, and often times we can’t see the great things about people. I know as we try and love each and every person we will see people with the same eyes as God does, and we will become closer to our heavenly father.

I want to end with this…”AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, LOVE ONE ANOTHER” 1 John 4:19

We love him, because he first loved us.

Elder Smith's Birthday celebration today...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 52....Testimony of the Book of Mormon!!

First things first; I wanted to say to everyone: EVERYTHING IS FINE HERE!! I am sure a lot of people heard about the huge earthquake that happened in Chile. I got a lot of emails of people who were worried about what happened… but honestly the earthquake happened so far North that nothing even happened here. I didn’t even feel the trembles. I know some other Elders here felt the shakes, but as for my comp and I we were in the street and didn’t feel anything. The only way we knew about it was when we entered a house a lady was freaking out about what happened in the North. So I just wanted to tell everyone that we are all fine here in Chile. Thanks for all your love and support. It means a lot to get those type of emails. Love everyone!

Well as far as me this week, it was a really good week. I have been super happy this week. I have really been focusing a lot on just being more like Christ. I figured out what I have been missing out on over the last couple weeks.  I have been missing out a lot on studying the Book of Mormon and also a lot of service. This week has been a super great week for me and Elder Anderson. I have been praying like crazy this week to see what I needed to do to, and what God wanted me to do. Elder Anderson have been working like crazy, we have literally tried millions of different ways to bring others to Christ and to help people come to the Gospel of Christ, and we have literally just been dumped in the face. The last couple weeks I have been kind of discouraged because I felt like I was working harder than I ever have. I have been calling a million people, looking for new people, also elder Anderson and I have been more obedient than ever and we have really focused on becoming better so that we could help others. But even with all these second and third efforts. The work just seemed to be at a complete stop. I heard things like, “Villa Obispo (our sector), is the worst sector. The people are mean. No one likes listening. They are all hard hearted. They won’t change”. 
I will be honest I let those things get to me. For the last couple weeks I let the words of others get to me. But this last week I really began to think about what I could change to better the situation. That is when I discovered that I was lacking 2 things. I had kind of been lacking studying the Book of Mormon. I always read it, but not a lot and it wasn’t the focus of my studies. This week I made it the focus of my studies and I learned a ton from the missionaries like Alma, Amalek, and Aaron. I was able to see the type of experiences they had. I was able to apply the things they used and was able to see miracles. I was able to feel the power that comes from the Book of Mormon. 

So, I first want to bare my testimony that the Book of Mormon is the most true book that we have here in this world. That as we read the Book of Mormon we will be directed to the things that God wants us to do. We will receive strength through coming closer to him. I read a quote that says:
 "I can do hard things, because of Christ which strenghteneth me."
I know that as we read and apply the words of Christ we become closer to Him, and we become strengthened through Him and His Atonement. 
While I was reading a lot this week I came across this scripture in Alma that says:
 "How long, oh Lord, do we have to suffer these afflictions?”

I challenge all of you to look up this scripture but Alma and Amalek are preaching the wicked people of Amonihah and they are suffering afflictions and grief without end. The city rejects them and throws them in jail. They are mocked rejected, and spit upon. They stay in the jail for days. Priests and judges come in and hit them, and do things that should not be mentioned. Then Alma, being a Godly man, prayed to the Father. He prayed for the strength to overcome the circumstances. It was interesting to me that Alma prayed for the power to overcome the trying times. He didn’t pray for the circumstances to be changed. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive the power and help from God to overcome the trials of everyday life. We can be lifted even when we feel stuck. We will be helped when there are no signs of being helped. God will lift those who are willing to give it their all. God will lift those who are willing to give Him their all. 
I challenge all of you to keep going strong and give Him, God, all you have and the burdens from your shoulders will be lifted off and you will be able to bare the burdens of everyday life. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Chile's Day of Indepence!!!

Mi Amigos!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 51.... Catalina and the Power of the Atonement!!!

Elder Saune
This was a week full of intercambios, and a lunch of mission conferences. I think I spent more time out of my sector than I was in my sector. It was a good week to get to know other missionaries. I was able to work with Elder Sauñe from Peru and Elder Haynes from Florida. It was good to get to know them, and also be able to work with them. Also I was able to work and get to know Elder Callister who is a greenie from Idaho. It was fun to get to know him and help him, because he only has like 2 weeks in the mission. 
One of the coolest things that happened this week was on the intercambio with Elder Haynes. Elder Haynes and Elder Callister have this investigator who is 13 years old, she is being really stubborn about baptism. Her mom was baptized about a year ago. We went to this appointment to see where she was spiritually and to find her needs. Apparently she has been very closed off and has not been very accepting to the missionaries. So when Elder Haynes and I went in there we just started asking questions. The nice thing about coming from another sector is that you can ask any question because you don’t know anything about them. So I was able to dig into her beliefs. The whole first part of the lesson we asked questions. She ended up telling us that she doesn’t believe in God. That she just wants to do her own thing. She feels really pressured from her mom to be baptized and doesn’t want anything to do with the church. We asked her if she had seen a change in her mom. She told us that she had seen a huge change. We asked her if she would want to see that change in her own life. She said of course. Then we went on and taught about the Dad of King Lamoni. And how Aaron went in and taught him the plan of salvation. The king did not believe in God. Just like Catalina. So we started reading the scriptures with her. And every time it said "the king" we replaced it with her name "Catalina" as we read more and more, she opened up more and more to us. You could see the power of the scriptures coming to life. It started working in her and her heart was slowly softened. 

In vs 16 of chapter 22 of Alma it says:

"But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest." 

Aaron asks the king to pray to know if God exists. He asks him to repent and act on his faith to know if these things are true. In that moment we asked Catalina to kneel down and pray to God and see if he existed. In that moment she sat there in silence thinking if she was going to pray. We sat there for over 2 minutes and just listened to what the spirit was saying. The spirit filled the room as we sat there in silence. She sat there and thought, we sat there and waited for her. After about three minutes she just started bawling. She ran to the bathroom. She stayed in the bathroom crying for a while. It was the first time that she had felt God in her life. She knew that God existed. It was one of the coolest experiences to see that huge change in her life. To see her receive her answer that God exists and loves each and every one of us. I learned so much from that little 13 year old girl. 

For my spiritual thought this week I wanted to bare my testimony on the power of the Atonement. The Atonement and suffering of Jesus Christ is by far the most important event ever to happen in Church History. It is amazing what the Atonement can do in our lives. I want to challenge all of you to read Mosiah 24:14-15.
It talks about how through the Atonement God can relieve us of our burdens. At times we feel weighed down by our callings, by our lives, by our mistakes, and by everything. But through the atonement we receive strength through our Savior Jesus Christ to overcome these trials. Our load will instantly become lighter as we use and focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 50.... I have found my friends!!!

This week was a really good week for Elder Anderson and I, here in Los Angeles. I have been learning a ton from him and a ton from this new sector. I know God calls us to the right place at the right time, and who we are supposed to be with. I am learning so much and it has been awesome. I have honestly been super stressed out this week. I have felt a lot of pressure lately and it has kind of been tough to think positive. It was honestly a pretty down week.  I have been praying and fasting more than ever. It has really seemed to help. I feel a little stressed because the people here are very hard hearted. It is a very tough sector. We don’t really have many investigators and all the ones we do are really hard to teach, they are all too busy with their jobs. So this whole week I kind of felt sad, and let room for Satan to enter. He did a great job this week. He made me feel like I was unprepared, like I was worthless, that I didn’t know what I was doing. But as the week went on my comp and I really began to focus more on the Faith. Elder Anderson really helped me through this week. He helped me overcome the feelings of sadness, the feelings of stress. We began to have a great time. I really began to focus on the happy moments and the miracles that happen every day. 
Zone Conference
Zone Conference
One of the most spiritual things that 
happened to me this week was during our missionary Zone Conference. It was a really great conference and we learned a lot. To finish the conference, my comp and I had to give a talk about Faith and Miracles.  To get the Zone excited to work and pumped to find people, we thought it would be a good idea to bring in recent converts and have them bare their testimonies about their conversion. Let me tell you, those converts have the power to move the hearts of people. They began to tell about their life. One of the guys we brought in lived in a really dangerous area, the most dangerous area there is in Chile. His mom was a drug addict and he was living day to day. He felt very scared and felt very lost. Then one day, 2 young white boys knocked on his door. As soon as they walked in he felt the light that these young men had. His life did a complete 360. He now has been to the temple, he has been sealed to his family. He bore his testimony of how the message of the restored gospel changed his life. That just because 2 young men, who didn’t know much Spanish, who didn’t know much about the world, followed the direction of the spirit and were able to change his life. When he finished his testimony there was not a dry eye in the room... well maybe just mine were wet, but I felt the power of his testimony. We also read a story of a missionary in Utah who had a dream that he was with a friend in the pre-earth life and that he had gotten his call to come down to earth. He was called to go to Utah to a family that was righteous and he would be born in the church. His friend also got his call, but he was going to go down into awful times, his family would not support him and he would not know the church. He was going to be born in Costa Rica. His friend right before they departed said "I WILL FIND YOU" the kid received his mission call to go to Costa Rica. A couple months later, he wrote back home with only a few words the words read "I FOUND MY FRIEND." I want to bare my testimony that the power of missionary work is amazing. I know that I have promised people in the pre-earth life that I would find them. I have had many times in my mission where I think I know the person, or I think I have met them. I have made a ton of friends here in the mission. I know that God guides His Children so that everyone, no matter the circumstance can find the message of the restored gospel. I know through Faith comes miracles. It is amazing what this message can do to the lives of these people. I am so grateful to see each and every day the power of change. I love being a missionary. I love this Gospel. I know Christ lives, and I HAVE FOUND MY FRIENDS!!

P-Day Activity: Today we went to see a Volcano in a blizzard... It was way fun!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week 49... The Power of 3!!!

Hasta La vista, Mulchen!!!

I know that I always say this... But for reals.... this week was one of the greatest weeks of my time here!

Elder Anderson
Last Monday I had to say goodbye to all my friends that I had made in my short time in Mulchen, and I had to pack all my bags. On Tuesday I made the transfer over to my new sector. I got to meet my comp. and got to know my new area. Let me tell you, this is by far the best ward I have ever been in. The sector is so awesome. So when I first got to the bus terminal, I got to meet my new comp. He is super awesome. His name is Elder Anderson. He is from Colorado and has about 20 months here in the mission. He is probably the coolest kid I have met. He is a beast. He is a 6'4 tall white dude. He is probably the most humble kid I have ever met. I know we are going to have a great cambio together. He is a super funny kid and we were like best of friends from minute one. 

This week I had the opportunity to go around and meet all the members of the ward and get to know the sector. It is a great area. I am right in the middle of the city, so everyone here has a lot of money. I have a bunch of stores by my house and everything. I am not quite used to this, it is almost like the States. I have been in a couple of run down areas, but this will be my first area where I have been in a big city. I am super excited to be here and to learn.

My comp and I had a really spiritual week.  Since we are here in the city, there has been a lot of missionaries that have passed by the houses. So, the people are a lot meaner to us. They reject us a lot more. We have had some really funny rejections actually. Like the very first person I talked to in this new area totally blew me off. I went up to her and asked how she was doing and if I could help her with her bags. She totally looked the other way, jumped off the curb where we had been standing. It was funny. Even though we have had a lot of rejections, we were able to have really spiritual experiences. The other day we felt like we should go visit this less active family. So we made our way over to their house. We got there in the precise minute, because the family had just been in a fight and everyone had been very upset. When we got there the family calmed down and the spirit filled the room again. We found out that the aunt of the family and the grandma have not been baptized. We were able to talk to them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It really brought the spirit into the house. The grandma and the aunt are now really interested in listening to us. They saw the difference in the spirit and now they want to learn more.

My testimony has really grown this week, kmowing that the Lord has his hand in this work, and that He guides his servants. He puts people who are ready for His messages in the right place in the right time. As servants, we just have to keep our spiritual ears open to hear the spiritual prompting of the Lord. I am so grateful for this new opportunity to be here in this new sector and learn new things.

This week I really started to think a lot about the Power of 3. This week we had a conference with President Bluth and it really caught my attention what he said. He talked a lot about the Power of three. Everyone knows of the most powerful 3: God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost. But, there are also many others. The First Presidency… how many are there? 3. I really began to think about me and my life. I am out here in the mission, but we are only 2 people: my companion and I. Who else could be the third member? I then realized it was the spirit. It is a perfect triangle. Just like in a triangle, if you don’t have one side, it is not a triangle. Like in a tripod, if you don’t have one part, it will fall. It is the same in our lives. If one part is not in line, or one part is not working we will fall. There are many 3’s in this life. One of the most common is Husband, Wife, and the Spirit; or Person, Family, and Spirit. If the three work together, they will accomplish great things. They will be one with God and do His will. They will be blessed and will see and do what our father wants of them. But, if they are not one, they will fall. They have to have a good relationship within them and they have to have the spirit. 

Like it says in 3 Nephi 11:27: "We are one", and in D&C 38:27: "Be one, and if ye are not one, ye are not mine" 

I have learned a lot, that we always need to have the Trinity in our lives. We must always have the spirit to be with us and we will accomplish what the Lord wants.

Saying goodbye to my friends from Mulchen:

Gracias, Elder Alvarado