Called To Serve

Called To Serve
Mexico, Mexico City North

Monday, December 28, 2015

Letter #77 Short and sweet

This week was interesting. The lessons and "numbers" were down, but Elder Toledo and I worked hard with the little time we had. It was cool to see how God is preparing people to receive his gospel. We are teaching Juan Miranda. He is like 58, but he really wants to find the way to God. He is progressing to be baptized in January. We will have to help him to have faith in God. He was a heavy drinker before, but not anymore, and he doesn't really have a job so he is looking for something that allows him to keep the Sabbath day holy. Also we are teaching Eva 42 give or take and Janet 18. They like when we come, but lacked something. Sunday they didn't come to church after telling us that they would come. In the afternoon we finally got a hold of them and they said they were in the hospital. Eva´s dad is basically on his deathbed right now, she started crying about everything and I told her that we wanted to help them. That God has a plan and a purpose for us that includes where we come from, why we are here on earth, and what happens after death. She thanked us for thinking of them and we will visit them today. 

I am thankful for the restored gospel. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that only through obedience to Christ and love for God we can return to God and reach our potential. This is a marvelous work, the restoration is still going on, (we believe that He does now reveal and that He will Yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God). This is an amazing time. God has trusted us to come at this time to bring all our brothers and sisters to Christ. 

My favorite thing to teach investigators is the restoration. It is a different experience every time. Its always something new for them and its fundamental to help them. My favorite thing to teach missionaries is the challenge to become what God wants us to become. Not just work and that's it. We must be converted and love the gospel, only if we do will be able to remain firm in the gospel and be on track to return to God.

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

"All my family except my 'son' Elder Toro."

Tula Zone

"Always looking fresh."
 "You're in good hands." At a service project
"A stellar selfie...oh and some other missionaries are in the background. Ha Ha"
"Tepeji, where the horses run wild."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Letter #76 Merry Christmas!

I think we have found a way to Skype on Christmas. I will probably talk around 4:30 our time. We have a service project in the morning so I can't early. We will paint the gate of a person in San Lucas (the District leaders area). 

This week was a stellar week. We didn't have much time to work for extra things, we had a lot to do as zone leaders and interviews with President, but we saw miracles. It was for one reason. This week Elder Toledo and I were reading a short talk about how we should create our own circumstances, not be slaves of the circumstances. As many say, December is a hard month for missionaries. It sure will be if we have that mind set, But we decide what will happen. We worked with faith and contacted a ton of people because the ward doesn't help us much to find people. As we contacted we found many people that God was preparing. Its amazing how God works through faith. 

This week we have our Christmas devotional with the Tula stake and Atotonilco stake missionaries. Each district will sing. Our district prepared just one song, but Elder Toledo and I will also sing with another district. We are singing a mix of  Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World in Spanish and English with our district and Carol of the Bells in Spanish with the other district.

To answer the question about how holidays feel here. To be completely honest almost everyday feels the same in the mission. Its like a Sunday everyday almost. I didn't even know Thanksgiving had passed until days after. It doesn't really feel like Christmas either. I don't know its kind of weird. I love the mission and everything, but holidays just don't feel like anything special right now.

This week I hope that you can ponder on why it is so important to have a Savior. I know that Jesus is the Son of God and that he came to save all that would follow him. His Gospel and example show us the way that leads to happiness and freedom. By him all people can have a second chance. My invitation is that you all can give a gift to Christ by sharing his gospel with one person before Christmas day. What he wants is that all men follow him and can receive eternal life. 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

 Come on Vamanos, Everybody let's go! 
 Elder Hopkins (fellow Cache Valley guy) at a service project.
 Well fertilized toilet! Ha Ha
Elder Toledo studying Lehi's Dream. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Letter #75

Elder Toledo´s family said December 23 it's Wednesday. We are trying to find a member that has internet in their house to be able to talk by Skype. His family goes to their family ranch I think. IDK. I will call on Christmas in the afternoon. I still don't know when. Elder Toledo will call on the 23. We just have to find where. We will have 45 minutes to talk this time. On Christmas day we have a service project in the morning and then normal work. 

The devotional is December 22. We will go to Atotonilco (the stake building when I was in Huehuetoca) and we will sing songs that we prepared as a district and have a gift exchange. Just the missionaries from Tula and Atotonilco will go there. I don't know what else will happen.  I haven't done interchanges with Elder Hopkins. We don't have a ball to be able to play basketball or soccer. 

My favorite experience on an interchange recently was this week. I went to Jilotepec with some elders to do 2 baptismal interviews. In one of the interviews it was normal and stuff and in the end I asked her if she had prepared herself to be baptized and if she felt ready. She thought a second and then said yes. I felt the spirit so strong in that moment and I remembered one of the functions of the spirit. The spirit testifies of truth. It was a great experience.

Tepeji is decorated a bit. Not a ton, but yeah some people decorated (for Christmas). I think they do 12 days of Christmas December 25 to January 6. The special thing they do this time of the year is celebrate the Day of the Virgin. December 12. Everyone brings their virgin statues to the catholic church to bless them and "pray" a BUNCH of memorized prayers. I woke up to the sound of fireworks and cannons and a mob of 40-50 people chanting a memorized prayer in front of a virgin statue. Everyone gets drunk and has a party. It feels a bit like Moses when he came down with the 10 commandments and saw the people worshiping a golden calf. It is that dumb.

This week was the Tijuana temple dedication. It was cool. I understood more about the temple and how it is a process to sanctify us. How we act in the temple reminds us of how to act "at all times and in all things and in all places". We are here on earth to prepare us to become like our Father in heaven. The temple is key. Also someone said that the 2 most important things are 1) the atonement of Christ which allows us to return to God and reach our potential and 2) when we make sacred covenants in the temple and by doing so we accept the sacrifice the Christ made so that we can return to God. 
Do all you can to receive the temple blessings. 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

"I'm in the hood." 
 Andrew went on interchanges and this was the light in the Elder's apartment. He said it is their real light. They don't use it very often. (It would give me a headache!)
Have a 'Mario'Christmas!
A Sister in their ward sells Nike and Air Jordan shoes that weren't sold in the U.S.. In the end of this batch of shoes she said she would give them some. These are the shoes Andrew received. Air Jordan's. Pretty sweet. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Letter #74

This week I had interchanges with Elder Gage from Washington. I will not have an interchange with Elder Candelario, we only do them with District Leaders and their companions, but one day we will go to study with them I think. Honestly we don't do anything with the youth. Also I don't know if we will talk on Christmas day because Elder Toledo says his family isn't home that day. I think it will be the 27th, but I´m not sure. 

The zone meeting was weird. The President´s assistants told us to teach the missionaries how to teach. So that's what we did. We taught about the Book of Mormon with everyone, but the idea is that everyone teaches, not just "the teacher". D&C says that we teach each other the Doctrine of the Kingdom that all may be edified of all. That was the idea. We used the example of the nails to show that the Book of Mormon is the key to our religion and if we take it out it all falls down.

So this week has been COLD. We wake up everyday freezing. During the day it warms up a bit and then at night it is cold again. The people here say that we are just getting started. It's about 15 degrees celsius when we get up in the morning, but all the houses are made of cement so it traps the cold air in.

My favorite Christmas tradition... Well in the mission we have a devotional... I dont know. We´re kind of like a platypus "we don´t do much you know" hahaha. My favorite moment of the week is when we have meetings. I actually like to train and teach in meetings. It is cool to feel like all of a sudden I don't know anything, but God teaches me things right there on the spot. 

Well thinking about what I have been told, I feel that now would be a great time to focus the family home evenings and other teaching opportunities on the restoration. The knowledge that God exists, he loves us and knows us. The gospel blesses the family if we choose to follow it. We may not see all the results here on the earth, but God has great things in store for us. God wants us to return to him and will never leave us alone. We  have prophets and the priesthood to guide us safely home. Christ has suffered for all of us. We never have to lose hope in ourself or in our family and friends who have strayed. Even though the church of Christ was lost for years, God loved us still. He has called a prophet. We have His church and His power on the earth. There is nothing that can change that now. The Book of Mormon testifies of these marvelous truths and as we read, ponder, and pray God himself will let us know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost. 
Please Trust in the promises of God. 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

So COLD but looking Hot! Ha ha

 Elder Toledo
Tula Zone

Monday, November 30, 2015

Letter #73

Lots of missionaries in the zone are training (more than half), that was the biggest difference. Our investigators are doing well, but they are stuck right now because they haven't received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. Almost all of our investigators are stuck there. They think baptism is good, but there is something that holds them back and its because they haven't received that little push from God. Karen, her son Francisco, and Nancy have baptismal dates for December 20. Please be praying for them.

The concert was a style of music that I dont like much its called "la banda". I haven't seen any nativities. The majority haven't done much for Christmas yet. Our month is interchanges almost every week (Fridays), a district meeting every week ( Wednesdays) except the week we have our zone meeting (the first Thursday). I got the shells from an investigator that buys them from a different state and then they make them little tacos.(The shells from the picture he sent last week.)

We don't do almost anything with the youth because they are in school on Mondays. If you could write him from time to time that would be cool. ( A former companion of his.)

This week was weird. It was average. Nothing huge, nothing bad. It was normal. We are working hard to make our lessons better. So far its working because almost all our investigators came to church this week. The only problem is that they don't have an answer from God that this is the truth. They believe its good, but they don't know with a certainty that its the only way to God. 

* I asked him if he laughed this week. This was his response, "My comp and I always laugh. It was also funny because the new sister missionary in our ward left her camera in the mission offices and a different missionary told us to give it to her. We had it for a few days and we took some fun pictures and videos with her camera before we gave it to her on Saturday." 

Things that I have learned this week. Our agency is essential. Many times we as missionaries don't contact because we wait to feel from God that we are to contact someone. But as it says in Preach my Gospel as we understand the Atonement more our desire to share the gospel grows. "If you have desires to serve God you are called to the work" D&C 4. Our desire is a choice we make. We choose if we contact someone, if we take a good decision or bad. We are here on earth to prove to God that our desires will be just and we will choose the good even without him telling us everything we must do. "He who is compelled in all things is an unwise and slothful servant and receives no reward." D&C 58:26 

My invitation is that you can Choose The Right when a choice is placed before you. 2 Nephi 2:27

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Letter #72

Elder Ramirez did everything perfectly in exchanges. It was amazing, his companion said that he hadn't done that before, but since exchanges he has been really trying to be better. I still haven't received the package. If you could send a letter to Elder Urrutia that would be great. He is amazing, but his family is very very poor and I would love for you to send him a little letter. Those were nerf guns in the house of a different area. There is no Thanksgiving in Mexico.... :(  There is Christmas but it's a bit different. Normal then 3 kings come in January to leave the gifts and they get a few gifts from Santa on Christmas Eve.  We will have a Christmas devotional but we don't know what we are going to do still.

The weirdest thing I saw this week... I don't know if it's a Mexico thing, but I have seen a lot of teenage girls (16-22) with boyfriends like 35 years old or more. It's super weird... oh yeah also this week something weird was that there was a concert like a block from our house that we could see from our roof and also we heard it until 2 in the morning...

Also we learned this week that I will be with Elder Toledo another 6 weeks and that Elder Hopkins from Logan will be a District Leader here in the zone.

This week was MUCH better. We gave our all and a little bit more. This week we had a meeting with our Mission President and our Stake President to talk about the mission work in our zone. When President Titensor took us home he told us 2 quotes. One from Jerry Sloan. In a half-time he looked at the team and said, " We are winning, but you are only playing not to lose. We don't play not to lose. We play to win." That was awesome because it changed my perspective of setting goals as a missionary/person. Are we just looking to do the bare minimum or to really do all we can. Then President said that his friend went to boot camp once and when he was asked what he learned in boot camp he said, "The body can do much more than we think it can." We changed that statement this week. We gave all we could and a bit more.

Christ suffered and gave his ALL for ALL of us. It is when we give our ALL that we can receive what he offers us. This week we saw how God helped us, we had many members acompany us and we could help more people. 

I invite you to also give ALL you have and let Christ make up the difference. He doesn't expect perfection, but he accepts a consecrated effort.

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

A shell cactus flavored, with honey and nuts inside. there were others we tried with shells of chocolate, strawberry, nut, bubble gum, etc. They were great!
Welcome to Tepeji del Rio

Monday, November 16, 2015

Letter #71

We eat a small breakfast, a big lunch, and a snack at night sometimes. Luis is the husband, he isn't progressing because he only works weekends in the D.F. (Mexico City). I think I will stay this change. In interchanges I have gone there and they have come here. 

Haha someone egged our house too!!! That's awesome! ( Our house was egged Friday night, apparently Andrew's apartment was egged too! Crazy that it happened in the same week.)

What I like about Tepeji is the people that we teach, and my companion. We have fun even though it is hard work here. A zone leader experience was in a district meeting I was able to talk with a sister missionary who has felt incapable. She doesn't know many things or scriptures, but I could help her to see her value as a missionary and what she can become. She was able to see what she does well for once instead of dwelling on what she didn't know.

I did have one experience in interchanges this week. I went with Elder Ramirez (my old companion) to his area. We taught a family of Christians who had studied and read the assignment, but not to find the truth. They looked for every scripture in the bible to contend. But in the end they couldn't contend with pure testimony. When we shared testimony with them they became quiet and I could feel the spirit in the room. We invited them to ask if what we shared was true and they said they would if we would. (We already have, but ya ok we will ask again... :)

This week was another HARD week. Instead of cancelling at the last minute, the members just flat out said no EVERY TIME. We are trying many things to help the members here, but without their help we can't teach our investigators or help them to feel very welcome in church. Also the baptism for next week fell. They didn't come to church and they broke the word of wisdom. :(

We aren't going to dwell in the past, we are trying to have faith and press on. 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson
 "We go hard"
 Tula Zone
 Elder Candelario, Andrew, Elder Toledo and Elder Nelson
Elder Candelario was Andrew's trainer, Elder Nelson was Elder Toledo's trainer. They are all together in the same zone for one more week. Then Elder Nelson goes home. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Letter #70

I went to Tula on Monday. Its about an hour away. They hold leadership meetings every month for zone leaders and sister leaders and once every 4 months with district leaders too. Elder Candelario goes home in about 7-8 weeks. Elder Nelson is cool, really happy and outgoing. 
All the missionaries invited, but almost nobody else came. They come for the training that we do and the practices. Bubble soccer looks sweet! Connor got his braces off? Also he does his hair different now.

My Sabbath is get up and get ready, go to ward council, church, take some reports from district leaders, go eat, get to work (visiting people, mission work) take more reports, add up the numbers and get to know the progress of the investigators in other areas, report everything to the asisstants, plan, verify with the zone how things went, get ready to sleep. 

Also funny story. We were walking to church and I said, "Good morning" to a person walking by. He responded, "Do you really think this day is beautiful??" I said yes and we started to talk. The dude was "high" (drugged) but it was funny because in the end we contacted him and he says, "Wow your eyes, your Face, YOU are UNIVERSAL, A MODEL!! And then to Elder Toledo he says," And you.... You have ALL the Attention my friend. I will make a movie with you two starring!" Ha ha ha it made me laugh.
This week was a trial of faith that's for sure. As missionaries we need the help of members, without them we can't do much. We had got some members to accompany us to every appointment this week and literally every single one said they couldn't help us at the last second and we couldn't teach the family or person. It was really hard. We did contact a lot of people and some are really good people that have potential to progress. There were a few super cool things this week though. 1. A family that we are teaching we couldn't teach this week (that isn't the cool part) it is Karen age 30, Francisco 8, Gerardo 6, and Angel 5. They had gone to another state for a day but while there someone took their car to the impound and they couldn't get it out for days. While waiting for the car and paperwork and all Karen was cooking when a pan of boiling oil fell and burned a lot of her arm. Then they returned home finally Saturday night. Sunday morning it was raining, but they still came to church. The kids participated in the primary program and memorized their parts!! It was amazing to see them. Right now they are scheduled to be baptized November 22. 

This is about the priesthood, but it applies to everyone. We literally have Gods power within us. Wherever we go, whatever we do our priesthood goes with us. We have great responsibilities that help ourselves and others to prepare ourselves for eternal life. We must first understand what are our responsibilities, and then act in all diligence D&C 107:99-100 (I think) .Think about what you are doing to earn your salvation and what are you doing to help someone else receive it. God trusts all of us with his gospel and we must share it. "For that which we share we keep." 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Letter #69

People In my zone you would know are: Elder Candelario he is training to finish his mission (He is opening an area out in the middle of nowhere.) Also Elder Nelson (my companion´s trainer) you wouldn't know anyone else. 

A lot of times with the examples what we are doing is asking what their talents, interests and hobbies are and we do examples with those or things in their house. It works out well for the most part.

Dia de los muertos was a bit different. Here nobody sings a song to get treats they just say," Will you give me something for my skeleton?" The quesadilla with white stuff was cheese. They have different cheese here.

The miracle family was Luis, Karen, Francisco, Angel, and Gerardo. We also have 4 new baptismal dates Nancy, Cairo, Rosario, and Galilea.

My favorite area... As far as things to do in an area Alamedas. As far as the work goes Huehuetoca was awesome. I also like where I am right now. My companion and I are good friends. 

The zone meeting this week was the BOMB! We planned it the day before and in the morning before the meeting. We focused on the doctrine of who we are now and what we can become by faith, laws, and ordinances. Everything was sweet. In the end we do a practice to show the missionaries a bit of how to teach something. We taught a teenage girl, who some missionaries invited, about temples and how thanks to the restoration she can have an eternal family, but in the "practice" we both noticed it wasn't just a practice. It was a teenage girl who needs help too. She said her family isn't all members so we invited her to fast with us this Sunday so that her dad can have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel. At the end of the practice we asked her how she felt. The spirit was sooo strong. She cried and thanked us for what we shared with her. It strengthened my testimony that we are teaching PEOPLE not teaching LESSONS. 

This week I remembered something that my bishop in Xalpa said. When Elder Bednar came here he talked in some stake conferences. Something that he said was, "What is most important to Jesus?" He said if you want to find out read "the Gospels" and every time it says "...for the kingdom of God is at hand", Jesus always says something that we must do. I have read half of Matthew and with that I would like to highlight just one of the things most important to Christ. 
I have already talked about this. The first thing Christ said in his ministry (Matthew 4) was Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. In the footnotes it says that repent is a change of heart and mind, also a conversion. For Christ the first thing we must understand is that we must be converted! It is not enough to go through the motions. If you read in the Bible and the Book of Mormon with that in mind you will find many hidden treasures. My invitation is that you can read a talk from Elder Dallin H. Oaks called "The Challenge to Become" and that you can meditate on it. This message is changing my life every day, and I know it can change yours.

Love you,
Elder Finlinson
 Leadership counsel...(From his generation)
         Atlantes de Tula with Efrain (mission leader in Tultepec) and Laura from Tultepec.
Tula Atlantes

Monday, October 26, 2015

Letter #68

I don't have photos of here still. Sorry.

I did hear about the storm, but nothing passed here. Interchanges we meet somewhere and then change companions. Nothing too fancy. To go to a new area All the missionaries go to the offices and there they find their companion and head out. 

We will have a zone meeting this week, we will teach Laws and Ordinances. We go to a district meeting every week, and interchanges almost every week.

I haven't been able to use the object lessons still. I am a bit confused with some of them. 

I don't know what they do here for dia de los muertos because it still hasn't happened. Normally we have an earlier curfew on festivities.

The favorite thing I ate this week was enchiladas en salsa verde. My least favorite, I don't remember..

My favorite thing of Elder Toledo is that he has fun as he works. Nobody ever said that work can't be fun. 
We saw lots of miracles this week. We have found a lot of investigators (20 in these two weeks) not many are progressing. This week though we did have a 2 families in church of investigators and an inactive. 

Elder Toledo and I were thinking of how we could help our zone most. He had said the zone had a lack of faith in the work. We talked about it and thought we needed to start with us because we didn't have anyone who could be baptized in November (5 attendances before baptism) we set a goal to find 2 people who would accept a baptismal date for November. We worked hard and prayed and the first 4 days of the week almost everything fell. Then all of a sudden we ate with a family that we didn't know. We found out that they weren't members and had investigated the church a few months ago. They wanted to come back, but didn't feel comfortable. They accepted a baptismal date after church on Sunday. It strengthened my testimony that if we have a goal and do all we can do God will prepare the way to do as he has commanded. 

2 cool experiences this week. We knocked on a door thinking it was the house of a new investigator. It wasn't... A man named Vicente answered so we presented ourselves by name and I said, "We are representatives of Jesus Christ". Then Elder Toledo said, "What do you think about that?" He stood there for a bit and then responded, "Do you want to come in?" He was really responsive to what we shared with him. Also this week a rabbit peed on Elder Toledo. It made me laugh.

My invitation. This week we have taught about the family a lot. It made me think. How many families will really be eternal. To be together forever it means that the Whole Family has to live the gospel and make a huge effort. God makes the promise and we make the choice. We cannot force the family to live the gospel, but we do all we can to help them. I invite you all to think about how you are in your family and what you can do to be a family forever.

Love you,
Elder Finlinson

 Grasshopper Quesadilla
 One of the District's in Tula (Andrew's Zone)
Elder Toledo (Andrew's Companion)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Letter # 67

I received the package. Thank you for what you sent! The painting, (*Andrew sent home a painting with a man he met from Provo who was in his area visiting his Mother) an old grandpa from Xahuento gave it to me. He was inactive for 5 years when I arrived and he got active while I was there. My last day there he wanted to give us something and he does paintings to sell in the streets so he gave one to me and one to Elder Morfin.

Mission traditions... sometimes they do tie trades, but I haven't done a ton. I gave one to Elder Candelario, Elder Toro, Elder Morfin, y Elder Urrutia. I received one from Elder Candelario y Elder Toro. 

I am living in a sweet area. Its a town hidden in the mountains. Its beautiful. Its a bit colder, but really pretty here. The ward is a bit bigger and the chapel is pretty big. The members give a lot of references from what I´ve seen, but it would be nice if they would accompany us a bit more. My zone is the biggest in the whole mission. There are 4 districts in my zone (28 missionaries). A typical day as a zone leader is a typical day in the mission. It is Sunday and Saturday that are a bit more crazy. This week we had to do 2 big reports (one we have to do every month, the other every week). It took us hours to do it all. We are also on the phone a lot because the missionaries call us a lot. We will have to do interchanges almost every week to reach all the district leaders.

This week was good. I ate quesadillas with grasshoppers inside today. They were good. Grasshoppers taste like unflavored popcorn basically. Besides that, we worked. We found a lot of new investigators, but not one came to church. That was hard. I am still getting used to the area. Its really big and I didn't know more than half of the missionaries in my zone. A funny experience was in church. We were learning about eternal families. A grandma entered half way through the lesson. Her 33 year old daughter was also in the class. All of a sudden the grandma raises her hand and asked the teacher if there was a website where she could find LDS single men. The women started laughing, but she was serious. Then the class started talking about finding a potential partner on the LDS singles site (the majority of the members in mexico are single mothers or mothers with a non-member spouse). 

This week I want to share with you the fact that the Lord is hastening the work. Moses 1:39 says his work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. If we think He finished his work by just making the plan of salvation it isn't true. He is hastening his work by INVITING people to come unto Christ. The mission purpose says that... Our purpose as missionaries is God´s eternal purpose. We must invite people to come unto Christ because if we don't we are not helping God in his work and his glory to  bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Every Man. We must look for these opportunities to share the gospel and act with faith.

Love you
Elder Finlinson

Monday, October 12, 2015

Letter #66

It was cool being with Elder Morfin (in the same district). He would have to be the companion who is more like a friend. We are a lot alike.
I didn't have room for the Christmas decorations. My shirts and socks are hanging in there, but my pants are dying. Songs maybe more instrumental stuff or Christmas music if there is more, but if not its all good. Sometimes I put pictures or quotes on the wall. For my companion maybe a tie and some candy. Also warheads would be great.

That is awesome that Brother Daniels is doing that. That is Magnifying your calling!! (Brother Daniels is the Young Men's President in our ward and he takes any young men and young women who want to go to the temple to do baptisms every week.)

I am eating with the members every day almost. I haven't eaten anything weird lately actually, but where I am going it is likely.

Well this week there were changes. Elder Ramirez is going and I am going. They will bring 2 new Elders to open the area tomorrow. I am going to Tepeji, Tula as a Zone Leader. Elder Toledo (my zone leader from Tultepec, and is from my generation of missionaries, is my companion.) It should be cool I think. From what I have heard the area is a good one. I am excited to be with Elder Toledo we get along well. He's from Oaxaca, but he grew up in the real city of Mexico City (the capital). 

This week was great. We were able to help Angeline to get baptized. Her family is part non-member, part inactive, and part active. It was amazing. Also this week I would like to share an experience we had. I was in exchanges with my zone leader Elder Knighton in my area. At one point all of our appointments and back-ups had fallen and we didn't know what to do. I started looking at my agenda to see if there could be anyone else. A family of 5 passed by and we said, Hi. I kept looking in my agenda, but then felt that we needed to talk to them. In my mind I thought "No they are already far away and walking fast." But I told Elder Knighton we needed to talk to them. We caught up to them and talked to them. They immediately invited us to there house. We shared the Restoration with them and they accepted to be baptized! We must always be willing to follow the spirit.

Also this week I have thought a lot of what to share with you all. What came to my mind can apply to everyone in different ways, but will be directed to those preparing to serve missions or serve God. We must be spiritually prepared at all times to help people to come unto Christ. What is the preparation that we need? Many think it is to study the lesson we will teach right before we teach our Sunday school class, missionary discussion, or meeting. It is an important part, but not the most important. The preparation we need is Living the gospel and keeping our covenants. That gives us spiritual power to share what we must share and teach what we must teach. 
So for those of you who hope to serve a mission reading Preach My Gospel will be important, but more important will be your experiences of living the gospel. That makes things come from our heart and not from memorized information.

Love you
Elder Finlinson

 Last District meeting before the changes.
Angeline's baptism
Who's that Pokemon?!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Letter #65

My favorite thing about President Titensor is that he really cares for our well being. We have strict rules, but it is all for a reason. His love for us is felt when he talks.

A verse that has impacted me recently was Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;. It explains how I am seeing many things in my mission, many good, some bad. But all things I should apply and teach for generations to come. Also Moroni 10:32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Well this week was good. We had more lessons and the Lord protected us from danger.  It wasn't anything too dangerous, but yesterday I was going to report to the zone leaders, while standing on the side walk after an appointment, they didn't answer and I saw some people on the other side of the street. I felt the Spirit say to go over by them and I assumed it was to contact them. We crossed the street and suddenly a big fight broke out right where we were previously standing. It was amazing because little things this week helped me to keep on pushing. Something that a member who just became active said was, "Lots of times we look for the excuses not to do something, (not to got to church, obey the commandments etc,) instead of seeing a reason to do those things. I applied that this week. Honestly this change has been one of my hardest. The area was "dead", the members didn't have faith, and to top it all off my companion doesn't help me...(he is basically here to pass the time). With those things it appears like my hardest area, but during this time I have not felt alone or abandoned. I have felt loved and supported by God, family, and friends. 

From the conference I loved a few things. One was the invitation from Larry B Lawrence to ask God what is impeding me from progressing. I tried it out and he was right. The Holy Ghost answers in a personal way and sometimes in a funny way. Also I thought about the messages. From a "Living in Utah" perspective some of the talks don't seem as necessary. D Todd Christofferson shared why we need to go to church. Something that in Utah is normal, here in Mexico its an essential message because a ton (even members) don't think its important or on the other hand think its all we have to do. 

My invitation has to do with some common trends from the conference. 1) Become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. 2) Keep the Commandments, they are from a Loving Father. 3) Keep the Sabbath Day Holy. I have been realizing lately that I will have to change things when I get back, especially with my behavior on the sabbath day and music. The commandments from God bless us and help us become what we Must Become to return to Him. I invite you to analyze your behavior on the Sabbath and make the arrangements necesary to keep the sabbath day holy. 

Love you,
Elder Finlinson
                                         Andrew's Zone...Atotonilco South...Small but mighty!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Letter #64

It is a powerful zone. It's super small, but powerful. I love the district meetings and zone meetings with them.
Thanks for the ideas for lessons! And for the thoughts from church.

My old area Huehuetoca is prospering in the land. With 5 investigators with a baptismal date. All 5 Elder Urrutia and I found while I was in Huehuetoca. It's amazing to see them every Sunday with their smiles and desires to come unto Christ.

What food do I miss from home. Anything from the oven. Here in mexico they normally use the oven like they use it in the TV show "The middle". I kid you not. It is just a place to store things. What I would like to bring home with me would be Doritos nacho. They taste different here. It has a little spicy kick that I love. Also some candy bars. Mamut (its like a s´more) and milch idk how to describe it.

This week was a good week. Almost all of our appointments fell, but I learned things. I have been thinking about endure to the end and our covenants. Our covenants give us power from God to do what is right. We must think about what we are really promising every Sunday with the sacrament. Making and renewing covenants is the only way to receive eternal life.  We also must help others to make and keep covenants in order to act as Christ would act. 

I thought I would share a quote I heard from a less active this week. She said "We have the commandment to love our neighbor, but many don't even know who there neighbor is." Who are the people around us in school, ward, work, in the neighborhood? Many need help and would love a visit or someone to talk to. Before my mission I was shy and didn't talk to anyone if they didn't talk to me first. I realize now that I was breaking this commandment.

This week we will have the opportunity of hearing from the prophet and leaders of the church. They are the literal connection between God and us right now. I would like to invite you to prepare yourselves to receive revelation for your lives in the conference. Write questions, doubts, and think about your life right now. Then listen. Not just to what they say (although that is important), but to what the spirit will tell you. As we do this we can receive revelation from God in every moment of our lives.

Love you
Elder Finlinson

Monday, September 21, 2015

Letter #63

I was going to ask about Trevor Murdock. That's great! Also congrats for Braedon, the dude is a stud. (*Both of these young men received their mission calls this past week.)
Thanks for the activity ideas!

We taught 3 Family Home Evenings this week with members. One about temples, one about "The Gospel of Jesus Christ", the other about prophets. Yes I can print off things. 
We ask help from people in the ward to lend us there washing machine. (* Instead of hand washing.)

My least favorite sound. Every morning without fail at about 8:50-9:10 the gas truck passes by our house and about 5 men yell GAAAS!!! GAAAAS! GAAAAAAAAAAS! for close to 5 minutes straight. It drives me insane. 

The zone is now one big district. Some sister missionaries had emergency changes for safety reasons so now the zone/district has the two zone leaders, 2 district leaders, sister missionary trainers, and a new missionary trainer. I trade off teaching each week with Elder Milne now. I would like to share with you what we will focus on in the next district meeting, I was reading a talk from Kevin W. Pearson about enduring to the end. "Endure" doesn't mean "hang in there" it means  " constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in him". As we do this we can receive his grace. In this life we can do all we can to serve God and it won't be enough. We need grace (the infinite love and mercy of God that allows us to receive strength in this life and forgiveness for our sins.) We receive the grace of God as we Love God with all our heart. 

Cool story of this week. 
Friday 4 appointments fell, but we found out what God wanted us to be doing. We contacted a girl about 23 years old, turned out to be the daughter of a guy we had an appointment with, we set another appointment with her. Then we asked her if anyone else she knows might need a message about Christ. She told us of her aunt. We went to the store where her aunt worked and we just presented ourselves and said that the message we share blesses the families. She began to cry and said that she had had a bad argument with her daughter that morning and she was asking God for help. Not long after, we showed up. After helping her (she´s named Flor) we went and contacted 3 men around a fire in the middle of the road. When we arrived 2 left, but Roberto stayed and listened. We testified that families are eternal. He stared at us for a minute and then said come with me. We found it strange, but we followed him. We arrived at his house where they had candles and flowers and a photo of a woman. He told us that a few days ago his mother in law died and he wanted to know where she was. We talked with him for a bit about the plan of salvation and set an appointment to talk with his family. 

My invitation this week is that you can Endure to the End. Don´t just "hang in there" make the best of the situation and come unto Christ. That is the test of this life. The Lord has showed us the way and he will guide us along.

Oh yeah. I forgot. 3 people from Huehuetoca got baptized this Saturday. Lucila Villegas, and Cariana and Carlos!!!!

Love you
Elder Finlinson

                                        Decorations for the Elder Urrutia
                                    Three of the Huehuetoca investigators were baptized this past Saturday!
                                 The Cruz family baptism...Andrew interviewed them for baptism.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Letter #62

Yeah I realized Saturday that I didn't say happy birthday to Cole..... so yeah Happy late Birthday!!
Things that need to change in the area. The members. The majority go inactive or change wards because the members treat them really badly. We are working with the members right now. We will do Family Home Evenings with them and we also told them to invite friends to get to know the gospel. There is a bit of rain, but it's weird. When we leave the house it looks like it's going to rain. I tell my companion that today we won't get wet and we don't get wet. Yes it rains sometimes, but we somehow stay dry.

Things in common with Elder Ramirez. Not much really. In fact we don't have almost anything in common, but we get along well. With the lizards I would also like to teach more interactively and it's better with visuals and things. Maybe if you could read the mission lessons and think of how you could teach them with examples. Also if you could send another plan of salvation visual that would be great...

Ok well one "funny thing" I guess you could say for this week was when we went to teach Daniel (recent convert) and Mirian (his girlfriend and ex-missionary) They have a little dog in the house and it entered the room where we were. While teaching the dog kept coming over to sniff me and get attention like all dogs do, but then I started feeling something on my leg. The dog had mounted my leg and was "trying to get some action" with my leg. It did that like 4 times in the lesson until they took the dog outside. 

This week we set a lot of appointments with new people, but they either weren't home, or we taught them and they don't want to change how they are. So we will look for other ways to find people. We had a good week because the Mexico City Temple was rededicated. We got to watch the cultural event on TV and the rededication on Sunday. It was amazing. Elder Holland and President Eyring went. Something that stood out to me was a story that Elder Holland told. 

The saints started in Kirtland and were asked to build a temple. The men had gone off to war and the women, children, and senior citizens were left to build the temple. A little after the construction was complete the saints were run out of town. They arrived in Nauvoo and received the commandment again to build a temple. When they put the final piece on the temple, they were run out of Nauvoo and fled to Utah. 4 days after arriving in Salt Lake, Brigham Young said we will build a temple. Many asked themselves, why. They had already built 2 that they couldn't use. Someone asked Brigham Young why should they build another when they probably would be run out of town again? To which he responded, "I don't care. I dont know if we will be able to use it or not, but what I do know is that we must build a temple to worship our God. We must do today what God expects of us, we must be where he wants us to be Today. We cannot wait. For that we will build a temple." 
We are seeing hard times in Xalpa, but God wants us to keep going and do what he wants us to do even if we may not see the results in our time. My invitation is this; that you can do what God wants you to do because you want to show him your love, even if you may not see the results or blessings in this life.

Love you
Elder Finlinson

Monday, September 7, 2015

Letter #61

Elder Mendez is still my zone leader.  I need something. I need bead lizards I´m almost out. 

Crap USU better pull it together. Those are huge wins for Utah and BYU!!

The temple open house was great, first we went through the visitors center quickly and then to the temple. It is a gorgeous temple. The rooms are smaller, but there are many more rooms.

It is actually.(*This is in response to my being surprised that their zone had a problem finding people to teach. Because in Andrew's previous area they couldn't find enough time to teach all the people they had found to teach.) The problem of the mission is finding people to teach. God has helped me a lot to be able to find people. It requires a ton of work with less actives, members, obedience so that God can do miracles, and other things. Because since I left Huehuetoca they haven't found anyone and they don't have appointments set with new investigators. (*His district that is still in Huehuetoca.)

I talked about mission work. I focused on the atonement and the scripture 2 Nephi 26:24 (*I had asked him what he spoke about in his talk in Sacrament meeting the previous week.)

Xalpa (pronouced halpa) is right next to Huehuetoca. It is really spread out. Sometimes we have to take a combi for 25 minutes to get to areas. Honestly the area will be hard at first. When I arrived there was only 1 investigator and they can't be baptized because they have to get divorced from their old wife and then get married with his wife that he lives with. (The case of many people). My companion will help me with something. Seeing people how they can become and not who they are right now. My favorite thing about this area is that we live super close to the church. It's the first time in my whole mission that that has happened.

This week was a bit harder. Let's just say I am thankful for the promise that Christ bears our burdens when we are obedient. There are a lot of things that have to be changed here. I already know that I can't do it alone, so I will need a lot of prayers and trust in God. My poor companion has been in this area a while and he doesn't have much excitement left in him so I have been trying to be really upbeat and happy all the time. 

I was thinking this week about the will of God. There are things that He wants me to do, (serve a mission, obey mission rules/ commandments, etc) so that I can Be what he wants me to Be. Like last week I told you God looks on the heart. Not at what we do or how much we know. He gives us these things to do and obey in hopes that we change our heart and put off the natural man.

Love you
Elder Finlinson

 Loaded on the bus and ready to go to the temple open house.
 Kariana & Carlos
 Kariana and Carlos' children at the temple open house.
Majority of the investigators that they brought to the temple.