The purpose of this blog is to highlight the beautiful city of Guadalajara; the faithful members, the valiant missionaries who serve here, as well as the people, culture, and food.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Santiago District Conference

Once again, we have had a wonderful Sabbath day. We had our Santiago District Conference today. This zone here in Santiago is full of faithful and hard working missionaries.

This is clearly the hottest area of our mission. These missionaries are absolutely dedicated. We have noticed that these particular missionaries who are serving here right now, persevere, and continue forward, despite the heat of the day, they are walking, contacting, and teaching in the streets, and in the homes with these sweltering hot and humid conditions. We are very, very proud of them.
Over and over again during our meetings, I have stood to encourage our missionaries; and challenge them to press forward valiantly! To keep going, even when the going is tough! To quicken their step and to lengthen their stride! I have challenged them to look up, and to look heavenward.
We are seeing it.

Over the past few weeks President Clayton and I have come to Santiago several times. We have loved visiting with the missionaries here, catching them out on the street, popping into their apartments, and meeting with them at the church. We invariably say at some point, as we are out and about with them, oh my word… how do they do it?? How DO they do it?? It is hot and humid, miserable really.. but we don't see that in their faces, not in their temperament, or mannerisms, nor in their words. I'll tell you what we see. We see smiles. We see in their countenances a dedication to the work, we see their quickened strides, and we hear them say to us, we are good, we are really good. Things are going great.

I will tell you, that our missionaries are committed. They are consecrated. And they know how to do hard things. I am proud of each and every one of them, here and throughout our mission. All of our 167 missionaries throughout our mission, are dealing with heat and misquotes, the rain and the humidity. We are proud of them! I love them so much, and feel to once again say to each and every one of them; Go Forward, Be Faithful, the Promise is Sure! Our Father in Heaven knows you, He knows you by name. He knows where you are. He knows the streets you are walking on, the areas you are in, and He absolutely knows the hopeful and searching people here in Mexico that are waiting for you to come and rescue them, and share the greatest and most important message on the earth today. Adelante!

Here we are after our District Conference.  We called the zone up to the choir seats for a few minutes to express our love to them, to talk with them and give them a little heads up concerning our upcoming zone conference.

I love the picture of President Clayton talking to these missionaries.  I love how they are all listening so intently.  Oh how we love each of them!

Me with the sisters

Here are just a few pictures I took on our drive in this morning.
I love these old brick buildings and homes.

I'm always taken with the modes of transportation.  Lots of 
motorcycles and bikes.  Many many senior citizens ride bikes.

This smart woman is carrying an umbrella to keep the sun at bay.

We drove back to Tepic after the conference, to attend a baptism.  Our assistants, Elder Teichert and Elder Kotter were thrilled to welcome into the waters of baptism 4 sisters that they contacted into in Jala.
It was the highlight of our day, and the perfect ending to our already perfect day.  President Clayton established a Group in Jala some months ago, with Groups leader Brother Pichardo. The baptism was held in the Fresnos building, here in Tepic, because  the water in the stake center here was not working.  So Elder Santos and Elder Martinez in the Fresnos ward came to help with the building arrangements. Elder Long and Elder Rodriguez from the Estadios ward were asked to come and teach the Restoration lesson while the sisters were changing.

The spirit was strong. Oh my word, what feelings we each felt.  I say that, but truly, the spirit manifested itself in great abundance.  As we began, so did the lightening.  Big bolts of thunder bursted in the sky, and then as we began our opening song, it started absolutely pouring!  Just a complete downpour.  We had to close the windows as the rain started splashing in, and oh my, the humidity joined us.  It was as if the heavens were saying to us, we are here, we are here with you.  We felt the warmth of the spirit as the meeting began.

Brother Alan Vega , the new convert of just 4 months, gave the talk on baptism.  Sister Claudia Pichardo gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  A quartet with Elder Teichert and Elder Kotter, Elder Sherwood and Elder Vasquez from the offices sang the beautiful hymn Abide with Me Tis Eventide.

Then one by one these sweet sisters were baptized.  Oh it was precious.  While they were changing Elder Rodriguez and Elder Long gave us the Restoration lesson.  They did a powerful job.  Blending together so beautifully, they taught of prophets, of priesthood authority, of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Book of Mormon as the pillars of this great restoration.  I was so impressed as they testified of these truths.  With only their Book of Mormon's in their hand, they taught from their hearts, and bore powerful testimonies. Most impressive was Elder Long's Spanish after being here for 4 short months.  He spoke as a seasoned missionary.  These sisters were confirmed, and then, time was given to each of them and they bore their own personal testimonies. What a sacred experience.

Here is Elder Kotter's precious account of meeting Marisol and her daughters Mayren and Candi.

Miracles in Jala Nayarit
The baptism of Marisol, Mayren, and Candi Zuñiga really was a miracle for this group. We found Marisol only 6 weeks ago, as we contacted another investigator that we had been teaching. During the lesson, we hadn't realized just how ready, and desirous she was to listen and learn of the truth. We had focused most of the lesson on the other investigator, although at the end of the lesson Marisol had been so interested in what we were talking about, that on her own account she asked, “where is your church? And am I allowed to go?” Obviously  we felt that she was something special, and we  invited her to church, and asked if we could visit her after, she said that she would be elated to receive us. Since the first time that they attended church, they have never missed a Sunday.  We weren’t able to see her for about a week due to trips in leader training meetings, but when we arrived back to Jala, a little over a week from when we had met her, we got to church that Sunday and shortly after she arrived with her two daughters, Mayren and Candi. She loved the services and we set an appointment to visit them that same day with the group leader. We taught them lesson 1 and all three of these special sisters accepted baptismal date for 5 weeks later, which would be the day that they were all baptized. At first all three were quite shy and serious, especial mayren and Candi, to the point where, although they were always present in the lessons, they would hardly speak, or respond. All through the teaching we constantly saw progress and further and deeper conversion. Marisol was very willing to act right from the beginning. She even sent us away from a lesson with her coffee jar so that it would no longer be a temptation for her. She received her answer of the truth very quickly and even said to us, “I feel like this is where I'm from!” Mayren (15 years old) on the other hand, had some doubts and insecurities. Through constant reading and prayer Mayren opened up more and more, and finally told us that she was sure that this is the truth, and that she has felt more happy than she ever had before, that she no longer felt alone. Candi (8 years old), the meek, humble, submissive, innocent little child of God had all the disposition in the world to live and follow the gospel. As each passing week came, and in each lesson, we saw deeper commitment to live the Gospel, as their testimonies grew, and as they repented truly, we saw them become truly converted to the Lord, and on July 3rd of 2016 we had the great blessing of witnessing them be born again the in the waters of baptism. Elder Kotter

And, here is Elder Teichert's tender account of meeting Lucia.
Lucia Aguilar Zuñiga, got baptized July 3rd 2016. Lucia was one reference in a chain of many. First off we received a reference from the church offices and it sent us to a lady named Ana Isabel. We tried to get in contact with her and she wasn’t there, so we talked to her neighbor. He was an older man, named Epamoseno. We started teaching him about the restored gospel along with one of his friends and neighbors Lorenzo. We asked them who they knew that we could teach and they sent us around the corner to another neighbor named Rosa and her son Eduardo. We tried to get in contact with them a couple of times and finally they opened and weren't very interested, so we asked them who they knew that we could teach. They said, “my neighbor across the street reads the bible quite a bit maybe you could go with her”. She told us her name and then we crossed the street and knocked on her door. Out came Lucia. She looked pretty shocked to see two American boys in a shirt and tie on her doorstep asking for her by name. We introduced ourselves and she accepted to put an appointment for another visit. Three days later we went to visit her and found her with her Mom Aurrelia. We taught them the message of the Restoration and we could feel that she had really been prepared by the Lord. She understood very well and was excited to learn. As the time went on we grew to really love and admire Lucia. She has gone through a lot of trials in her life, but has a great attitude. She is a very calm lady, which really helps her pay attention to the Holy Ghost. She gained her testimony slowly, as she fasted several times, read the scriptures, attended church, and as she told us “dedicated herself”.  After about 5 weeks of teaching and Lucia going to church every Sunday with her 9 year old son Felipe, she told us, I am ready. I am prepared for my baptism.
Along with the members we planned a baptismal expedition to the nearest baptismal font an hour and a half away in Tepic. The baptismal service was very spiritual. Lucia, along with three other daughters of God, was baptized. There was a lot of support from the members of the church. Every member of the church in the small family group in Jala made the trip to see her baptism. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and being confirmed a member of the church, she bore a powerful testimony of how she now sees a new light and wants to find people that can't see, and help them.  She isn’t just a convert she is converted.  Elder Teichert

The Jala Group, with Group Leader Brother Pichardo to the far right.

The downpour 

I love this picture of Elder Kotter quietly 
kneeling down and going through some specifics
 and answering questions, to help these sisters 
prepare, and to ease their minds before the meeting. 

Elder Long, and Elder Rodriguez

Elde Vasquez, Elder Sherwood, Elder Kotter and Elder Teichert who sang together.

Hermana Pichardo, and  Brother Vega

Bless Elder Teichert and Elder Kotter hearts, they
presented these sisters with their own set of scriptures
after the baptism.

Paperwork done right then and there. 

These saints from Jala got in their borrowed van,
and headed back home. 

I love the Vazquez family.  Brother Roberto
and his wife Agripina are excited to welcome
a new little baby into their family in November.
They are faithful and such a strength to this Group.

Nice and cozy

Not seat belt approved. 
(I'm not seeing this)

What a glorious day!