Monday, April 25, 2011

Young Women of the Church

We had an extremely cool baptism this weekend. Margarita, Amalia's mom, was baptized! She is a tiny woman in a wheelchair who is over seventy years old. A week ago, she did not want to get baptized at all. But something changed. The Holy Ghost helped her out, and she really, really wanted to get baptized. The baptismal service was really intense. At seven o'clock (the planned starting time), no one was there - which was expected - but lots of members came in time for the real starting time. We just picked Margarita up and carried her into the font and baptized her. She was holding her nose the whole time. I don't feel like I can convey why it was so neat very well, but I won't accept any one's lazy excuses for not coming to church anymore, because Margarita makes it every week.

The impact and consequences of every action of a missionary are far-reaching, and more influential than we sometimes recognize. We represent a lot, and because of that, it's necessary to be exemplary at all times. We contacted a house a while ago, and the woman was very angry. She told us that she had once turned away missionaries, and they stole her statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe as they were leaving. Those missionaries probably didn't realize that their actions would affect the work years later, or they just didn't really care. On the other hand, we have been teaching Reynato's family this week. He received us really warmly at first, which was good, but it was a bit mysterious.
He mentioned, "Other missionaries have come by before."
"Did they have a name tag like this?"
" Yep, yep. And skirts."
...sister missionaries! The misioneras who had come by years before had left a really good impression on the family of the church and of the missionaries, and so we have been able to teach the family and they immediately wanted to listen. I'm striving to always maintain the right kind of presence and fulfill the responsibilities I have.

We taught a man named Ricardo this week. When he first came out of his door, he was holding a cigarette, and continued holding it throughout the lesson. So, we challenged him to be baptized and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He said that he really wanted to quit smoking and drinking, so Elder Merrell asked him to give us the cigarette he was holding.
"Naw, this one will be my last one, and then I'm done."
"What if the last one was the last one, and then you never have to smoke again?"
We had him say a prayer and ask for strength to give up smoking, and so he asked to be able to give us the cigarette right then. Right after the prayer, he handed us the cigarette. He'll be praying and reading the Word of Wisdom pamphlet to have strength to quit so he can get baptized next month!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lose Yourself in the Work

I have learned a lot this week. I was in Culiacán for Seminary for four days. It was so fun. The opportunity to meet and become friends with lots of other Elders in the mission was a really great by-product. During Seminary, we listen to Presidente Cantú and Hermana Cantú from 8 to 12:30, go work in various areas of Culiacán until 5, and then listen to Presidente Cantú and Hermana Cantú until 8. We're able to apply what we learn immediately, and because we have a relatively short time to work in the middle of the day, everyone strives to be really effective during that time. On the second day, we had about half an hour left before we had to return to the chapel. I said to Elder Luna, my companion for the week, "Elder, I really want to see a miracle in these next thirty minutes." And we did. We found a woman, Sophie. We only had about ten minutes left to teach her before we had to leave, and in that time she accepted a baptismal date. She was very prepared to meet us. That strongly testified to me the importance of faith. Presidente Cantú noted a change that had come over the missionaries that week: a stronger desire. Results really come if you begin with true desire to have miracles.

Within the listening portion of Seminary, I would take notes diligently each day, and I had lots of small lessons and epiphanies that came for how I can be better in my work. I realized that sometimes I'm afraid of spiritual intensity; I'll try to make a lesson fun, but sometimes it just becomes lithe and I block the influence of the Spirit. The most spiritual moments I've had that have strengthened my testimony have come from times that were spiritually intense. I want to emulate those. Presidente Cantú doesn't teach lithely. I want to bring the Spirit with fire when I teach. I also don't want to waste any moment that I have with a member. It's all about working through the members in missionary work. The people who are getting baptized are referrals and part-member families whom we teach with members every time we visit. I want to be capable of edifying everyone I meet, including the branch members whom we eat with each day.

As I learned smaller lessons like these, I started to get overwhelmed. I felt like the reason that a mission is hard is just recognizing how much progress I lack. I started out a 1%. But once I progressed to 2%, I realized that I wasn't progressing to 100%, but to 1000%. Each time I make a step, I just gain a better view how far I have to go. In these stressful doldrums, the grander lesson came. Patience. I need to have long-suffering with myself if I'm going to get better. My aspirations are high, and the best way to achieve them is by focusing on each step of the way. So, I'm trying to be more patient with myself in order to augment every other attribute at a pace that I'm a capable of.

We saw the results of our faith and diligence on Saturday in a baptismal service! Amalia finally got married this week, and was able to be baptized. We also baptized Lisbeth, who is a member of a less active family, which is now more active. The preparation of a baptismal service is really intense; everything falls to us: baptismal clothing, inviting members and friends, preparing the font, somehow getting a member of the branch presidency to come. It always works out somehow, and we were able to have a great service. Both Lisbeth and Amalia were very excited.

On Sunday, both of them were able to be confirmed in the Sacrament meeting. Yesterday was one of the most edifiying experiences I've had in church in my life. I had so much responsibility to fulfill, and I loved it. I felt fueled by the Spirit and capable during church and through the rest of the day. I had to sight-read hymns that I've never heard before, confirm Amalia in Spanish, give the priesthood to Fernando - also in Spanish (and those were both first-time experiences for me) - and try to get all of investigators to church among other things. It was such a great day. And I really felt like the blessings of working hard came throughout the day. I try to have no hesitance in following spiritual promptings, and I felt like I was running on such promptings in nearly every action.

A few uncles told me before I left: "Lose yourself in the work." Lose yourself in the work. I think I'm finally beginning to understand what that means.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Van full of kids

A project that has encompassed a good portion of our week has been the
marriage of Amalia and Cándido. We’ve been waist deep in Mexican
bureaucracy in order to get all of the forms they need to get married
– there are lots, and to get certain forms, you need other forms… it’s
been fun. At first, we would tell them: “Okay, here’s what you have to
do. Go do it, and let us know what happens.” And… nothing would
happen. So now, we just bring them along to get everything they need.
They really want to get married so that Amalia can get baptized. She’s
very prepared. Today, their family should come here from Culiacán for
the ceremony, and they should be married by the end of the day. We

We are teaching a few young girls from different part-member families
who all live on the same street. On Sunday, we came by with a van, and
all of them got in with some friends and family members and we ended
up bringing nine kids to church! We brought the Primary. Poor Hermana
Carmelita’s calling is Primary President, so she had a fun day trying
to just keep them all from killing each other. We taught them a lesson
about reverence afterwards.

I got a package from Aunt Emily’s family! Thanks! That was so cool. I
really liked the drawings, but the other missionaries really liked the

I’ve been praying a lot for help in strengthening my testimony and
I’ve certainly seen the results; Heavenly Father answers prayers in a
manner that we will listen. For me, it’s never been the manner that I

Sometimes, we get a bit caught up in teaching someone, and I’ve
realized that there’s one step that cannot be skipped in someone’s
spiritual progression: gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It’s
absolutely key. If we return to a house to teach for the second time,
the first thing we should do is ask if they read the Book of Mormon,
and if they prayed about it. When we lose the focus of helping the
investigator progress and instead, get caught up in how we can help
them get baptized, we are unable to help them at all. If they haven’t
read, we read with them right away. It’s honestly a waste of time to
continue teaching someone who doesn’t have a testimony that it’s a
true book. I’ve met a lot of people who were recently baptized, and
now they don’t go to church at all. They were baptized without a
testimony. So I am striving to help those we teach gain a testimony of
their own.

I hope that other missionaries and prospective missionaries read parts
of my letters. My companion, Elder Merrell, has been striving to do
something in our companionship which I advise all missionaries to do:
Kneel to pray with your investigators as often as possible. Even the
first prayer that you give to start the first lesson you teach.

Elder Tingey

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gain your own testimony


Elder Merrell and I have been really busy. He's the man. The first day we were teaching together, we went to an appointment, and the family we wanted to teach wasn't there. There was a girl babysitting,and while we were still out on the doorstep, Elder Merrell took a picture
out of his backpack of Jesus being baptized, and said, "We help people do this! Do you want to get baptized like Jesus did?" He has a lot of faith and courage. There's a lot of evidence that President Cantú chooses the changes by revelation; I've learned loads from each companion.

We continued in inviting investigators to be baptized all week. It really was a week of finding, and we have lots of new investigators preparing themselves. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I trained Elder Gleave for his first days in Mexico. It was so fun. It made me realize that I can put a lot more
effort into being a Junior Companion. I'm working on being an equal part of my companionship; before, I certainly relied on my companion a lot. Now, I'm striving to rely on the Spirit.

The scriptures are so dang cool. I've been reading in the beginning of 2 Nephi, and I'm really gaining a better understanding of what the Book of Mormon is and what purpose it serves for us. Lehi exhorts his sons to fulfill their end of the covenant with God: Keep the commandments, and prosper in the land. Fall away, and be swept off. It's a promise that Heavenly Father will keep. In a bigger picture, Lehi is speaking prophetically to all of his posterity. They failed to do their part, and the Book of Mormon is a record of their fall. And so, in a bigger picture, Lehi is speaking to everyone who reads the Book of Mormon and to all of the Earth. The same promise applies to
us: Keep the commandments or be swept off. We have a knowledge of what happened to the Nephites and the Lamanites so we can learn from their mistake. All we have to do is liken the scriptures unto ourselves and really strive to be faithful and obedient.

To those who are preparing to serve missions: One of the most important things that you can do - something that is actually necessary - is gaining your own testimony. I know that I heard it a
lot, but I didn't put into practice until it was almost too late. The simplest and greatest requesite in my mission has been a knowledge that the Gospel is true: that God exists, loves us, and blesses us with a church and scriptures and prophets. But you have to physically kneel down and pray to know. It's strange how answers really don't come in the manner that you would expect, but if you are listening, God will definitely give an answer in a manner that you will understand. Every day, I promise people that they can recieve an answer that the Book of Mormon is true if the pray with faith. I'm really glad that I did so first so that I can promise them with my own testimony and as a representative of Jesus Christ. Gain a testimony of every principle of the Gospel. Fast on Fast Sunday with a specific purpose and gain a testimony of fasting. Study the words of the
prophets in order to help you with a specific challenge in your life. Gain a testimony of a principle by living that principle. And afterwards, serve a mission and help others to recieve the blessings
that come from living the principles of the Gospel.


Elder Tingey