Wow can I just start by saying that Mexico just has got it all going right. Here they’ve truly accepted Halloween, but made it their own and mixed it in with their own holiday, Dia de los Muertos. Basically they do what we do, but on steroids. The streets were so crowded I kept losing my companion. If you’re not giving out candy you’re in the street asking for candy with your family. Here there’s no age limit so everyone takes part. It’s also super cool because here you carry your jack a lantern with you. Yes, the pumpkins are a whole lot smaller so it’s not a huge deal and the street just looks awesome with all the light. Everyone was so happy and animated about the whole event. I wish I could have taken pictures of the whole thing, due to new regulations we can’t take pictures, but I guess I’ll leave it up to all of you to look at pictures on line. Also Mexicans aren’t happy with just one chance to go around asking for candies.....so in eight days the whole festivities will be happening all over again in full force and I’m super excited!
This week we had a huge drop in church attendance, I blame Dia de los Muertos, but in the missionary department there was crazy success. We have huge goals with both presidents about church attendance and we’re trying like crazy to get more and more people each week. This week had me down cause we had been rocketing upward, but then I looked around at our investigators, recent converts, and the crazy amount of less actives that were back and I had to smile because it was just a small tender mercy that they were all there. Two amazing things that happened at church: Well Salvador came to church this week for the first time in about 5 years and he was so happy that all he could say was that he was happier than words could express. Other thing, there was a young couple visiting from the District and the awesome guy grabbed a hymnal and sat right next to one of our investigators to show him how it was all done. Yup, I know understand why the missionaries in the district baptize about five people each week, those members are unreal amazing! It really got me thinking about the members that we want to be. Any member who acts like this is instantly golden in the eyes of every missionary. But more than anything, more than just the members we should be, it’s more about the people we should be. We should always have this general desire to reach out and touch all those around us. In every moment we need to look and not just stop there but find the way in which we can help. We shouldn’t need to wait for someone to ask, we should just do, and do it willingly and with happiness. I love the people from the District and they always animate me when they visit our branch, never the same twice, but always the same amazing spirit and powerful testimonies. Just remember who you mean to be, who you want to truly be, and then be that with all your heart!
This week we also taught the fabulous Morningstars about temples and the work we can do for our families there. We watched Together Forever (probably one of the greatest church films ever) and after bore our testimonies. I don’t know if it was just the fact that we miss our families or the spirit, but both me and my comp were in tears and a loss for words. WOW oh wow the truth of it all just hit me with a force I can’t describe! Do we realize how good we have it?! We are part of amazing families and there not just a temporal thing, they’re meant to be eternal and that’s what they can be. How often I think I take this knowledge and the blessed covenant of sealing in the temple for granted. I know that my family can be together forever someday, to never again be separated! To share that message with other amazing families is a huge blessing. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all love our families. So why not love them forever? Why not be with them forever? Why not enjoy that blessing for all eternity. I’m truly grateful for the spectacular family that God saw fit to bless me with and I am truly thankful for the covenants that my parents made in the temple so that we can be together forever.
This week we challenged Itzel, who is also less active, to invite him to church. She was really freaked out cause she said she’s done it about a thousand times and he always gets super mad, but she did it anyway, and there he was Sunday morning. I ran over to shake his hand again at the end of sacrament meeting. I asked him how he felt and with a huge smile he said, "a joy I cant describe!" Wow missionary work is so worth it. There are so many amazing MA (which sometimes feels like a double negative to write) that are just so ready to get back to church....we just have to find them and then get them out the door. Its certainly difficult here because the branch has so much history and everyone talks about everyone (a super bad thing). A lot of people have left the church just because of the untrue rumors that have been spread about them. As the missionaries we get the story from both parties and then have to try to figure out the truth so I decided to try to put an end to it all this week during branch council (which we’ve actually had for two weeks in a row now which is nothing short of a miracle). I was magically called on to give the spiritual thought and I shared the scripture about the moats and beams in our eyes. I invited them all to forget everything that’s happened in the past and invite all the MA back with open arms. I challenged them all to reach out to those that they haven’t talked to in a while or who possibly aren’t there because of something that they once said. Everyone was super silent for a good minute afterwards, during which time Presidente Pineda reentered the room. He looked around and was like, "what’s wrong?!" and that broke the silence. Hopefully everyone can take that message to heart and we can stop all the gossiping. Also in branch council we were talking about different MA and someone made the comment that they’re never going to come back to the church. Israel (who’s a recently reactivated MA and now young mens president...still not sure how that works) got really angry and serious and told the branch council to never give up on anyone until they say you’re never allowed to come back cause we can’t judge when they might return. It was super awesome and powerful and gave me more desire to get out there and find even more Menos Activos (less actives).
We have seen nothing but blessings from the Lord here in Tepoztlan. Recently we’ve been spending the last hour of the night just in the center of Tepoztlan contacting everyone because it’s a better use of our time then trying to find people at home. Every night we’re standing in the square thinking, "wow we need a MA" and Bam almost instantly there is a MA walking by and they have the desire to sit down and talk to us for a while. It’s crazy! I can’t really explain it all but it make us more desirous to talk to everybody because we start with a prayer and then we enter the center knowing that there is a MA somewhere we just need to talk to everyone to find out who!
Have the greatest of weeks,