"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou
dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."
-Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feliz Navidad

Hey there family and friends! FELIC NAVIDAD!!!!!!!!!!!! MERRY XMAS!!!!!! I hope that this email finds you all doing great and enjoying every day of this great time of year!! I am thinking a lot about you guys but know that I am killing it here and enjoying life more than ever and I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or doing anything else at this time of year! So lets get down to the hot report shall we! 

Well we ran with our heads cut off all week, I really don’t remember really doing what because this week just seemed like such a blur! It FLEW by.. and this week is going to be even crazier with Christmas being celebrated here on the 24th and then 25th celebrating once again because everyone is inviting us the both days, so we are gearing up to have a BOMB week, but that’s nothing new, we make the most out of every day every day! 

So this week we helped a familia go to church, they want to get married and get baptized so we are working on that! Their name is Familia M., they are super humble and down to earth people. Their living situation is something to be said but these people really want to change their lives around. The husband has had some challenges in his life but he has hit the point where he wants to change his life around for the better. So this week we helped him out so that he could make some more money so we went up into the mountains and brought back firewood for him with him. We got a member to lend his truck and we went up like grizzy adams and went and chopped away... it was miserable... it was sooooo hott but in the end he was so happy. He was so happy that we helped him out and brought him back to make a little more money. We spent hours working chopping with machetes and brought back a full car full. He gained 250 limperas (12 dollars)  from ALL that we got... it broke my heart to put two and two together to know how much he makes ever day. But he was SO THANKFUL. I am so thankful for the oportunidad que tengo para prestar servicio y ayudar los demas durante this time of year to help people feel real joy. This is what this time of year is all about! 

So I am getting pretty excited about all the good food that we are going to eat this week! It’s going to be bomb! This week is literally just full of food and dancing everywhere that you go and look, its the bomb! I am getting to learn some good new moves... ;)) watch out ladies, they are starting to call me Ricky Martin on the dance floor...jeje… so this week is going to be a lot of fun! Can’t wait to talk to the American Women and Mr. 210 this week too! It’s going to be the bomb! What else... I really can’t remember haha… our investigators son is super buenos! Algunos son mejores que los otros pero tenemos algunos que estan progresando mucho solo que necisitan tomar la decision a bautizarse... entonces estamos en processo a ayudar todos a sentir comado con la decision a seguir adelante. All good though, helping all that we can every day. Our gator Rigoberto that we baptized is doing great, so proud of that man, he has turned his life around. All good. 

Well I want to share a quick something with you guys that I really enjoyed, read it, love it, and soak it up!! These are two talks that were given at our church holiday devotional, I really enjoyed them and I think that we each can take something from them both! DISFRUTALOS!!! :)) 

Christmas Is Christlike Love

Merry Christmas, everyone! This is a magical time of the year when miracles happen, hearts are softened, and the pure love of Christ is felt and experienced like no other time of the year. It is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. We see around us representations of the humble circumstances of Jesus’s birth—a stable for animals, a beautiful young virgin, a concerned and compassionate husband, and most of all a tiny little baby, unlike any other baby born on this earth. President Gordon B. Hinckley once quoted E. T. Sullivan, who said: “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born. … And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”1
Notice the great patience which God the Father has in letting His plan for His children unfold. The Savior of the world did not come to earth at that time with a great show of power and majesty—He came as a helpless baby. This Christ child was certainly one of “the greatest forces in the world,” and yet He was born in a simple stable with straw in a manger for His bed. “Through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”2 And yet, according to tradition, He shared His birthplace with sheep and oxen. He would become the Savior of all mankind, yet there was no room for His expectant mother and her anxious husband in the inn. He is the Redeemer of us all, yet His first visitors were humble shepherds. There is much surrounding the events of that occasion to ponder and consider with awe.
For me, one of the greatest miracles of the Christmas story is the love which it reflects. First is the love which our Father in Heaven has for His children: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”3 There is the love which the Savior has for each of us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”4 The love of God has been described as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love”5 “and the most joyous to the soul.”6 This spirit of love and concern seems to be especially strong during the Christmas season.
A few years ago we had a daughter living in Connecticut. She attended a Relief Society meeting one evening at which everyone was invited to share a story from the life of one of their ancestors. She listened to a sister named Donna tell a story which has had a great deal of meaning to her family through the years and which involved a simple act of kindness shown at Christmastime. Our daughter was amazed to hear that the name of the person who had shown kindness was her own great-great-grandfather. It was a sweet experience as our daughter and Donna shared notes after and realized how their ancestors had touched each other’s lives.
With the permission of Donna, I would like to share a portion of her story. It took place in a small town in Utah in December of 1901. There was a family with a mother, a father, and eight children. The year had been difficult, with one of the children suffering poor health, which drained the resources of the family and the energy of the mother. On Christmas Eve, the mother told her excited children that Santa would not be coming that year. She simply had not been able to manage the money or energy to make anything to give her children for Christmas. The older children were still hopeful, and the oldest son began to hang stockings on the mantle. His mother gently told him that Santa was not coming, but the boy insisted she must be wrong. Finally the mother suggested that instead of hanging stockings, they put a plate on the table for each person in the family. It gave the children reassurance that they would receive something, so they went off to bed.
On Christmas morning, the children all awoke, got dressed, and eagerly went into the dining room to see what gift they had received. On each of the plates they found a large dill pickle. Tears of disappointment filled their eyes, and they turned to go back to their bedrooms so their tears wouldn’t be noticed. Their mother noticed: “Children, I didn’t have anything else, and I just couldn’t bear to leave your plates empty.” Her voice broke but she went on bravely, “We have a lot to be grateful for.” Their father joined in and reminded them that they were indeed blessed with many things, including a loving family, the improved health of those who had been ill during the year, and food for their table. Their spirits brightened, and as they began to celebrate the day, the oldest son bumped the table and was amazed to find a dime lying near his plate. He was convinced that Santa had come and had left a dime for them to buy some candy. He put on his coat and raced out the door.
The stores were all closed; however, Jed Stringham, who ran the local grocery store, happened to live right next door to his store. The boy knocked on the door of Jed’s home and apologized for disturbing him on Christmas Day but explained that Santa had left a dime for them and he was hoping Brother Stringham would open his store and sell him some candy for the little ones at home.
Jed answered, “You bet I will. Come.” When the boy got home he was carrying a large bag of candy and excitedly explained that Brother Stringham had taken a scoop from each tray of candy, from hard tack to the very best. He had given it to him, saying, “Take this dime’s worth home to those little ones, and enjoy some yourself.” It was obvious that Jed Stringham had been very generous and had given him much more than a dime’s worth. There was plenty for each child to enjoy. The children remember their mother saying, “God bless Brother Stringham.” What he did was not a huge sacrifice, and it really took very little effort, but the story of the miraculous dime and Brother Stringham’s candy meant enough to this family that it was written down and has been told and retold in Donna’s family for years.7 Sometimes, small things mean the most.
As our daughter Emily listened to this story, she recognized the name Jed Stringham as being her great-great-grandfather and was touched that he had not only opened his store but his heart with his simple act of kindness on that memorable Christmas morning. Our family had never heard this story before, and we now feel blessed to have received a copy, which will become a part of our family history. It reminds both of our families that those who have made covenants to be witnesses of the Savior of the world should always strive to be generous with their time and means to bless the lives of those around them—and especially at Christmas when the hearts of children and parents are most tender.
The spirit of Christmas makes us all more charitable, thoughtful, and kind. We are taught in the scriptures that “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”8 That feeling which compels even the most cantankerous soul to show brotherly kindness at Christmastime comes from God. How much more are those who are already seeking to become like the Savior filled with love and compassion at this season? The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love. The way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out generously to those around us and give of ourselves. The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time. I have learned from my great-grandfather Stringham sometimes it is the small and simple acts which have the biggest impact.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love. When we see shepherds, may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny baby, may we remember to love unconditionally, with tenderness and compassion. May we open the doors of our hearts and reach out to those around us who are lonely, forgotten, or poor in spirit. As we contemplate the example and infinite sacrifice of the Savior, may we also consider how we can be more Christlike in our associations with family and friends, not just during this season but throughout the year.
I pray that we may each be filled with the spirit and love of this Christmas season. I testify that we have a caring Heavenly Father whose plan of happiness for us is the ultimate expression of love. May we always remember that once we shouted with joy9 as we understood that plan. I testify that Jesus Christ, whose birth and mission we honor and celebrate, is the light of the world, our Savior and Redeemer, our hope, our anchor, and the author of our salvation. There is such great joy in that knowledge. May we all feel the Savior’s love in abundance this Christmas season, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The Light and the Life of the World

I am grateful to President Thomas S. Monson for the invitation to represent the First Presidency to speak in this Christmas devotional. I add my appreciation to the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf for the magnificent music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the orchestra.
Tonight our hearts have been drawn to the Savior, and our commitment to follow Him has been strengthened. The beautiful lights placed in this Conference Center are a symbol of the joy we have felt.
The Savior came into the world with light designed to confirm and celebrate His arrival. You remember the account:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. …
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”1
They were drawn, on that sacred night, to go to the Savior. What they saw with their physical eyes, in the stable, was a tiny baby. What they went to verify was visible only through spiritual feelings. We know that the Light of Christ is an influence that we can recognize by its effects.
The Savior said:
“For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”2
I felt that light, joy, and desire to do good when our first great-grandchild was born. I looked down on her and thought, “She seems to glow with a beauty I didn’t think was possible.” In an instant I realized that the beauty I saw and the glow I felt when I looked at her face came from her purity and, to me, by the Light of Christ.
It is important for you to trust that precious capacity to see more than what physical eyes see. It does not require having received the gift of the Holy Ghost. For instance, we had a neighbor in Utah. She was a widow, an elderly widow. For years the members of our ward included her in quilt-making and other activities. She enjoyed their friendship but showed no interest in the restored gospel.
She told me that on one Sunday, after she moved to Nevada, she came back to her apartment feeling dark, discouraged, and alone. Her doorbell rang.
She described what happened this way. She said, “I opened the door, wondering who it could be. And there on the doorstep, I saw two beautiful women standing side by side. And I felt that I saw halos around their heads.”
They were the missionaries who came because my wife loved that widow enough to ask a mission president to offer the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ to her friend.
I went to Las Vegas to baptize and confirm that widow. And my wife and I were her companions when she first went to the temple. In all those sacred moments of covenants, there seemed to me to be a brightness about her, just as I felt when I looked down with love on my first great-grandchild.
You have had such moments when you felt the Spirit of Christ, as you may at this moment. That is because these words are true: “Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God—that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed.”3
You might have felt the Light of Christ tonight in this devotional, the purpose of which is to remember and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. All of us here have experienced an influence to want to be kind or to help someone in need. All of us have felt an increased desire to stay away from evil. And we each have felt a desire to be less prideful, boastful, or critical—to be more like the Savior.
As we have felt the pure love of Christ, we have felt more His love for others. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Whatever we feel now is only a beginning. The Lord promised each of us a glorious future this way: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”4
Some watching and listening tonight were drawn to be with us in the hope that they could find peace as they face the sorrows of sickness and death that come with mortality to us and to those we love. I testify that Jesus Christ “is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.”5
President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord’s living prophet, has assured us: “With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives, that his Beloved Son is the firstfruits of the resurrection, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light that makes of every hopeless dawn a joyful morning.”6 I add my humble testimony to his.
I bear my witness that God the Father lives and that He gave us the gift of His Beloved Son out of love for us. I know as surely as I live that the resurrected Savior lives. He atoned for our sins. And I testify that He is the Light of the World and the sure source of comfort, hope, peace, and joy. I pray with all my heart that we all will draw closer to Him, to feel the warmth of His light and love. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whom we worship and serve,amen.


ADIOS 210 y american women! 


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