For some time now, President Clayton has felt impressed to probe several areas within the
Guadalajara Mission Branch east of Guadalajara. According to mission records and from the accounts of previous mission presidents there were missionaries there before but not for some time now. President felt the spirit draw him to these areas over and over again. As a result several months ago, we took time to tour some of these areas and what we found surprised us. There were large, beautiful cities, friendly people, and most of all, a strong feeling that the field was white and ready; and like Itxlan Del Rio, there could be members living there who were at one time connected with the church but were now lost and unaccounted for in the branch membership. President strongly felt that these members as all members within the mission branch boundaries needed to be found and nurtured, and
that through them many others could be prepared to hear the gospel message.
After much thought and prayer, President decided to give 3 companionship’s a special assignment to explore and probe these areas for a limited time with the specific mission to find members living there and assess the potential for preaching of the gospel anew. The future of these areas would depend on what they would find and what they would feel.
The necessary arrangements were made, bus routes and maps were studied and provided to the companionship's in anticipation for their assignments. The Elders were asked to be in the mission office with their bags packed for a special meeting with the President three days before regular transfer calls went out. They came with the assistants to the mission home Friday night where we had a nice dinner together after which, in a very powerful meeting full of the Spirit, President explained their special assignment, and asked them if they would accept the call to go to these special areas for a limited time to find lost members and access the areas potential for re-establishing missionary work. They would need to let the Spirit guide them and they would be expected to report what they felt each week to the President. The future of these areas would depend on their honest observations, experiences, and sincere feelings.
It was an awesome experience to see them standing front of the huge mission boundary map we have hanging on the wall of our mission home and to watch and to listen as President pointed to their assigned areas and announced who their companions would be. The assistants then talked to them about bus routes and maps and what zone and district they were a part of, safety guidelines and protocol in each area. Early Monday morning they left on their special assignments full of faith, enthusiasm and all smiles.
Here are some of the accounts from these 6 Elders sent to these areas after their first few weeks.
From Elder Smedley and Elder Enriquez sent to Jalostotitlan:
Elder Enriquez and I arrived in Jalostotitlan about two weeks ago. After receiving this special assignment from President Clayton we arrived, and the first thing we did was walk up to the highest point we could find on a hill, we knelt down looking over the city and offered a prayer. We promised the Lord that we would do our best to fulfill this assignment and consecrate ourselves to this work, to be able to find members and witness miracles.
From that point on we went to work and starting contacting everybody. In the first few days we think we did about 500 contacts. Of these people, we weren't able to teach one lesson, but we were able to put a few visits for the next week. Honestly, we didn't expect that it would be so hard, we walked all day every day trying to find members and prayed various times daily asking the Lord to guide us to find a member. Finally after a week of many trials and many miles walked, the Lord answered our prayers.
One day we decided, just like Alma had done when teaching the Zoramites, to look for the humble people after being rejected in every other part of the town. We went to contact a family we had talked to the week before in one of the more poor parts of the town, praying that they would accept us. Little did we know it was a family of over thirty people living in the same house. They had been waiting for us and we ended up testifying of the restored gospel in a small room full of fifteen adults and eight children. They loved our message and leaving their house, we humbly said a prayer thanking the Lord for giving us this experience. We felt that the day was still not over and we felt the impression to visit two other families that lived nearby before we went home. In the end we ended up finding 21 new investigators in the day.
Two days afterwards we were still praying to find a member. We had visited every single colony in the town and hadn't found a member. The day of our zone conference we were about to get on the bus for Guadalajara, and a man tapped us on the shoulder and asked, "Elders, is there a church here in Jalos?" My companion and I almost started crying when he continued to say that he had been baptized about 8 years ago in Mexico City but hadn't been for over a year because he couldn't find a church.
We told him that he was an answer to our prayers and got all his information. On Saturday we returned and found out that it was completely inspired that we found this brother, he had suffered so much and passed through many trials and tried to commit suicide. We truly believe that one of the reasons the Lord has sent us here is to personally testify to this brother that God has not forgotten about him, that He truly loves him. We returned on Sunday to his home to take the sacrament and had one of the most spiritual experiences of our mission. We are so grateful for the miracles the Lord has shown us in our short time in Jalos. We know that the Lord at times permits that there is opposition before he works miracles, that it truly is an important part of God's plan. He wants to see our faithfulness, the trust that we put on him, that we can follow his spirit and gain his trust.
This morning we read about Alma and the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 21:16-17, after passing through many trials Aaron and his brethren received these blessings, "E iban por dondequiera que los guiaba el Espíritu del Señor, predicando la palabra de Dios en toda sinagoga de los amalekitas, o en toda asamblea de los lamanitas, en donde los admitían. "Y sucedió que el Señor empezó a bendecirlos de tal modo que llevaron a muchos al conocimiento de la verdad; sí, convencieron a muchos de que habían pecado, y de que las tradiciones de sus padres no eran correctas."
We feel that the spirit of the Lord is guiding us. We know that if we continue in faithfulness and diligence and obedience we will continue to witness miracles.
From Elder Barrera and Elder Teichert serving in Arandas
Elder Barrera sent his letter to me in Spanish, and below it is translated into English
le escribo en español porque no se como puedo expresarme correctamente de lo que ha sucedido estos dias en Arandas.
Hna, ya tenemos 2 semanas en Arandas, hemos visto demasiados milagros, pero tambien hemos visto algunos tropiezos que satanas ha puesto en el camino, pero aun asi seguimos en la obra. Una de las oportunidad de sentiar el gran amor del Señor hacia sus hijos fue cuando conocimos al hno Javier Padilla un miembro de la Iglesia, estamos caminando y en mi mente ore diciendole al Padre "por favor que podamos encontrar a un miembro de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias en un esquina" y comenzamos a caminar, y regresemos a un parque ibamos saludando a todos y cuando uno de ellos cerca de una esquina, se nos saludo y comenzo a decirnos, "soy miembro de la iglesia, buenoinactivo porque no hay iglesia aqui" cuando dijo eso, no pude evitar el gozo que emanaba de mi corazon y que mis ojos se llenaran de lagrimas por dos cosas, la primera porque encontramos a un miembro y la segunda porque contesto nuestra oracion. Estos dias aqui en Arandas ha sido las mas edificantes, las mas conmovedoras y donde personalmente he visto y conocido mas al Señor Jesucristo y al Padre Celestial y todo su amor, he sentido su amor en mi, su guia del Espiritu en mi vida, he visto que la paciencia y diligencia nos pueden traer mas que alegria }, milagros, milagros que el Señor nos esta mostrando para que veamos su tierna misericordia. En especial, he di cuenta personalmente que yo no escogi o dije que queria estar en Arandas, pero supe y se con mucha pero mucha certeza que siempre el Señor se vale de lo mas debil del mundo y sencillo para hacer Su Obra y sus milagros mas exquisitos que eso es lo que he visto, siento tanta gratitud por el Señor, porque el nos envio a este lugar para hacer Su obra, se que el los envia a ustedes nuestros amados presidentes de mision en este tiempo, a esta mision porque el Confia en ustedes asi como El confia en nosotros, no sabe duda que ustedes son inspirados de los Alto y que todo lo que ustedes hacen es servir al Señor con todo su corazon....
El Señor nos escoge para ser instrumentos en sus manos, y hacer posible, lo que muchos dicen que es imposible, pero mi querido hermano mayor una vez me digo "confia en el Señor y haras lo imposible" y se que es verdad.
Amo al Señor Jesucristo mas y al Padre Eterno porque les he conocido mas aqui y se que les conoceré mas.
Misión México Guadalajara
"El Evangelio es Informativo, pero es mas Aplicativo"
Dear Sister Clayton,
I am writing in Spanish because I can not express myself properly as what has happened these days in Arandas
Sister, we have two weeks in Arandas, and have seen many many miracles, but we've also seen some setbacks that Satan has put on the road, but we still continue to work. One of the opportunity we have had, is to feel the Lord's great love for his children. We met Bro Javier Padilla a member of the Church, as we were walking and in my mind praying, asking the Father "Please help us that we can find a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints in a corner.” We started walking, and we were going back to a park greeting everyone we met, when one of them near a corner, we saluted began to say," I am a member of the church , I am bueno inactivo because there is no church here. When he said that, I could not help the joy that emanated from my heart and my eyes fill with tears for two reasons, first because we found a member and the second because the Lord answered our prayer.
These days here in Arandas have been the most inspiring, the most moving and where I have personally seen and known more of the Lord Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and his love, I have felt His love for me, his guidance of the Spirit in my life, I have seen that patience and diligence can bring us more than joy, and miracles, miracles that the Lord is showing us that we may see his tender mercy.
In particular, I realized that I personally did not choose or said I wanted to be in Arandas, but I knew and with lots and lots of certainty I know that the Lord always uses the weakest in the world to do his work and miracles more exquisite that's what I've seen, I feel so much gratitude for the Lord, because He sent us to this place to do His work. and also I am grateful to those that sent us, our beloved presidents of the mission at this time, this mission has great trust in you as you trusts us, no doubt we know that you are inspired by God and that everything you do is to serve the Lord with all your heart.
The Lord chooses us to be instruments in his hands, and makes possible what many say is impossible, but my beloved older brother said "trust in the Lord and do whatever possible" and it's true.
I love the Lord Jesus Christ and the Eternal Father more because I've met more here and I will meet even more.
Misión México Guadalajara
"The Gospel is informative, but it is more applicative "
Elder Teichert's account:
On Thursday night in Vallarta I received a call from my Zone Leader telling me I needed to be in Guadalajara in the mission office the next day at 5 in the afternoon and that I needed to pack all my stuff and bring it with me. So I knew obviously that I was going to be having changes. Where to, and who with I didn´t know and it was something weighing on my mind. I ran through all the possibilities. I had never received a call like this before in my entire mission. I packed up my bags and the next morning said good bye to my companion. We had just finished his training so that was hard to say goodbye to my "son". I traveled for 6 hours by myself in the bus which was also a first, I hadn´t been alone since before I was set apart as a missionary. It gave me even more time to think about what I was being called to do.
Once I got to the office, I was the only one other than the Secretaries and President Clayton wasn´t their either so I thought that was a little weird, but shortly after 5 other missionaries showed up. Seeing them all walk in I realized they were high quality missionaries, most of them former Zone Leaders and Trainers. We were all confused, but had an idea of what was going on. Then they sent us to the mission house and we ate dinner. President and Sister Clayton just kept the suspense building. It was a great dinner and we talked about our families and our trip.
Then President sat us down and told us about the sacred assignment the Lord was giving us. The spirit filled the room and all playing was put aside. It was a serious assignment of going and finding those children of God that had previously made the covenant of baptism. I personally felt overwhelmed with excitement, Confidence, Nervousness, and a little bit of in-capability. But with the words of President ringing in my head I moved forward with faith.
Saturday and Sunday I worked with my new companion in his old area in Guadalajara while we were waiting to head out to our areas. The entire time I had a lot of different thoughts in my head. How are we going to do it? What is the first thing we do? Out of so many capable missionaries, why me? The Lord called me and he will prepare the way. What an opportunity. It will be an adventure. Those two days in an area that wasn’t mine and with just waiting and waiting to go to Arandas the time drug on, and I couldn’t think about anything other than this special assignment.
Once Monday came we thought we were finally going to head out, but in the end with some complications with the moving trucks we weren’t able to go, so another day of thinking and waiting.
Tuesday morning at 8am, three moving trucks showed up and we loaded up all our suitcases and pamphlets, cards, and Book of Mormons. Then the 6 missionaries split in our separate paths. My companion and I got in the truck with our driver. It wasn’t a big U-Haul, but a tiny Toyota with 3 grown men in the front. Need-less to say we were squished, but…we were finally on our way. We headed across Guadalajara to another missionary apartment to load up beds, tables, fridge and all the furniture. We traveled about 45 minutes, loaded up and then headed out across Guadalajara again.
Once we got outside of Guadalajara on the Arandas side we ran into the missionaries from Jalostotitlan and their driver so we pulled over and grabbed something to eat at an Oxxo. Then we were off. In just over 2 hours we pulled into Arandas. We went and found the Land Lady to sign the contract and then we unloaded our things and we had to headed back to Guadalajara again to a World-wide broadcast for all the missionaries. It was a long day and we weren’t in our area other than 45 minutes, however, we HAD stepped foot on that holy ground and were biting at the bit to get back.
Wednesday we had a great conference and then headed for our area. We got there at about 8pm. We had a little bit of time to go and walk around and talk with some people. Everyone was very nice and we were able to get to know some parts of the little city. Once we got to our house we found out that there wasn’t any electricity so we ended up eating some pizza under the light of our little cell phone, and going to bed.
Thursday we started the day off going and finding the highest place we could in Arandas. It didn’t end up being very high because it is pretty flat, but we found a nice little field where we were able to sing the powerful hymn “The Spirit of God”, and pray to dedicate ourselves to the work and ask direction. We decided on a place where we were going to start working called, "la Herradura". As we were walking to the colony we were contacting people and getting referrals to come back and teach them. We were trying to serve as many people as we could.
Once we were at the entrance of "La Herradura" we found an older lady named Maria and her little grandson out in a field of corn that had been cut down. We went and asked if we could help her. She was pretty shy, but we started helping her and helped her gather old cobs of corn that she was going to feed to her chickens. We were able to serve with her for about 2 hours, and we filled up a big grain bag. Once we finished we hauled it to her house about a quarter mile away and met her husband who is sick and some of their kids.
While we were searching for the corn amongst the chopped up stalks I was taught a lot of things about missionary work. It was pretty interesting. I was pretty shocked, when we finished everything and elder Barrera and I were walking along again and we both said the same thing at almost the same time, " Aprendì mucho de la obra misional de este maìz (I learned a lot about missionary work from corn)” We were able to have a great start in Arandas with that little lesson.
On Friday we found our first member. We were walking along the main street and contacting and saying hi to the people. We were passing by the plaza which of course is right in front of the Catholic Cathedral and there sitting on a bench we saw a guy that was looking at us a little different. We kept walking and when we were about to pass him he put his hand out and we contacted him. He stood up and read our name tags,” Elder Barrera and Elder Teichert”. Then he asked us where we were from and we told him. I said, “We came to Arandas looking for people that WERE members of the church”, it was funny how he responded, “I AM a member of the church!” He was pretty excited and we were more than thrilled to have found our first member in Arandas. It was interesting that we were in the right spot at the right moment.
This is the Lords work. We visited the man, Javier Padilla yesterday and he told us that he was so happy when he saw us that when he got on the bus he started to cry. He said he has been asking for missionaries here for 16 years.
Saturday was a great day, especially if you like to walk, and walk, and walk, like the pioneers. We walked the entire city trying to familiarize us with our surroundings. We talked to a lot of people and were on the constant look out for people to serve. Saturday night we went back with a young father, named Miguel Angel that we had contacted on Thursday after we had said our prayer. He had been working on building a house, and we offered to help and he said no, but then he started to talk to us asking what we do. We planned an appointment to go talk to him again. We visited him a couple days later on Saturday and had a great lesson. Our first lesson sitting down and it was incredible. We felt the spirit, he felt the spirit. He learned new things and we did too. We invited his wife Lupita to listen as well. They both are Catholics, but haven’t gone for a long time and don’t really believe in what they are taught there. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they were thrilled to receive it and excited to read and find out if it was true.
Sunday we had our first sacrament meeting here in Arandas. We did it in our house with my companion and I. We weren’t able to get in contact with the Javier the other member so we didn’t have another option. We planned out a little program and had the best speakers. President Monson and Elder Holland came and visited us with some great talk. It was the smallest sacrament meeting I have ever attended, but the spirit was the same. Once we finished we headed out to work for a couple of hours before we felt hungry and would come back to cook our Sunday dinner. We were walking along the road after about an hour and a van pulls over and the lady in the passenger side asks us, “Are you Elders?” We were a little shocked and hustled over to the window and replied, “Yes, are you members?” They said yes and that they were coming from the church in Tepatitlan which is about an hour away. They asked us who had assigned us and were a little taken back that there were missionaries in Arandas and they didn’t know. They pulled over and got out and we met them. They father was Carlos, the mother, Georgina, and the daughters, Maricruz, Viviana, and Karla. They were a little confused because other missionaries from the other mission, Guadalajara East, have been coming to visit them every Saturday. Carlos asked for President Clayton´s number and we said he could call him on our phone so my companion called President and explained that we were here with a member in Arandas and that he wanted to talk with him. They talked for a second, but couldn´t hear each other very well. They gave us their direction and we decided we would come by later on. It was pretty neat to be in the right spot at the right moment. We were able to feel that were really are instruments in the Lords hands!
I am so thankful that we have been able to be instruments in the Lords hands. After only 3 full days of working and another couple of days of preparation I feel even more grateful for the opportunity it is to be able to serve the Lord here in Arandas. He called me, and I pray that I can make him proud.
All Day, Every Day, I will be Faithful
Todo el Día, Cada Día, Seré Fiel
With Assistants Elder Olivarez and Elder Petersen, Elder Barrera, Javier Padilla and Elder Teichert
and Javier's mother
With Zone Leaders Elder Budge and Elder Rodriguez and Javier
with Assistants, Carlos,and daughters
Elder Barringer and Elder Torres serving in San Miguel
When we first arrived in San Miguel we were greeted by some mixed reactions, the first people we talked to on day one were extremely friendly, until they realized we were not in fact Catholic missionaries. Upon that discovery, the tone of our conversation changed, and they became less interested in our message and more interested in locating exactly where we were living... But from that unsettling point on, we continued to talk to everybody, and we recieved a much warmer welcome from many.
We are always sure to establish our identity as missionaries, representatives of Jesus Christ, which is key, because usually they assume we are either Catholic Priests in training (to which they assure us they are saying their prayers to the Virgen Guadalupe), or that we are Jehovahs Witnesses (to which they are extremely rude and avoid us like they plague). But as we eliminate those options, they are generally confused. "Youre not Catholics?" they say, "And your not Jehovas? Then what are you, is there more?" Yes there is, we are proud to tell them, as we testify of the glorious restoration of the original church of Jesus Christ.
We have had great success as we have searched for oppertunities to give service. Working shoulder to shoulder with the people, whether sweeping, sickling, cutting stone, helping to mix cement or build a house has really helped to soften people hearts, and we have seen miracles as we have given time to help where we are needed.
Many of the people that we have found here in San Miguel have had previous exposure to the church, while they were living in the United States, generally in Idaho, California, or Georgia. One investigator even showed us photos of him and his family standing outside the Idaho Falls temple! The people that have already seen the fruits of the gospel in the lives of others are also very much more receptive to our message.
As we work, pray, and trust in the Lord, we are confident that we will be witnesses to many more miracles here in the blessed land of Saint Michael the Tall!!!
Elder Barringer and Elder Torres
from interviews this past week