Sunday, August 14, 2016

My final testimony as a full time missionary

Dear All,
Well, it has all come to an end. Today was a pretty dope day. Since the zone broke the baptisms record last month. we asked special permission to have a super cool activity. So we ordered two 28" pizzas and bought some fried snacks and watched "Buscando a Dory" on the ward projector. Don't ask how we got ahold of it, suffice it to say in Tijuana you can get whatever you want for less than a dollar usually ;) haha it was super sketchy but way cool. If you haven't seen it yet, it was pretty good. Or maybe it wasn't and I just haven't seen a movie in two years to compare it haha yeah it's probably that. 
I am glad to say that I feel very satisfied with the work that I have done. I have done my best, and I know that even though I leave the mission, the work that I started here hasn't come to an end. President Garcia says that the mission is like a river. (I always think of that dumb song from Napoleon Dynamite "Some say love, it is a river...") and that it's always changing and moving and we are just little droplets floating along until it's our turn to leave and help in another part of God's vineyard. There is a quote from M. Russel Ballard that I have in the front of my scriptures that says "Debemos estar anhelosamente consagrados a la obra misional antes, durante, y despues de nuestro servicio misional." That's the key. Know that even though the callings or the circumstances may change, the covenants to serve and to consecrate ourselves are still in play. I had the opportunity to go with Miguel to the temple this week when he recieved his endowment. What a special opportunity, and I learned a lot from being there.
I am ready to come home. It's time to go on to even bigger and better things.
Quiero terminar con mi testimonio. Es algo que atesoro y que mas valor tiene para mi. Se, sin ninguna duda, que Jesucristo vive. El esta a la diestra del Padre y ellos estan a la cabeza de esta gran obra. Lehi dijo, "Todas las cosas han sido hechas segun la sabiduria de aquel que todo lo sabe." Testifico de eso. Al acercarnos a el, aprendemos que nosotros desempeñamos una parte muy pequeña en todo esto. Nuestro Padre y Jesucristo se le aparecieron al joven profeta Jose Smith, y desde alli ha habido comunicacion directa entre Dios y un Profeta viviente. Las escrituras son el registro de esa comunicacion y nos dirigiran para bien el la medida que las leamos y apliquemos. El Sacerdocio es el poder de Dios y obra milagros. Nuestras oraciones son contestadas. La vida no se acaba con la muerte. Lo se y se lo testifico en el nombre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, Amen.
Nos vemos el martes :)
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Translation (from google translate)
I want to end my testimony. It is something that I cherish and more worth to me. It is , no doubt , that Jesus Christ lives . He is at the right hand of the Father and they are at the head of this great work. Lehi said , "All things have been done in the wisdom of one who knows everything . " I testify that. As we approach the , we learn that we play a very small part in this. Our Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith , and since there has been no direct communication between God and a living prophet . Scripture is the record of that communication and direct us for good measure that the read and apply . The priesthood is the power of God works miracles . Our prayers are answered. Life does not end with death . I know and I testify in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen .
See you on Tuesday :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Saying goodbyes

 With members of the ward he is serving in at the Tijuana Temple

Dear All,
Its August. I go home in august. WHAT.
I spent the day today saying goodbye to people, and found out my convert Lucila, the JW from Independencia, passed away a week ago. What joy I feel to know that I will still be able to see her in the Celestial Kingdom someday. 
Other than that, it was a good week. Its always a good week when we baptize and when our zone breaks the baptismal record for a month.
Well that´s all I have time for, next week will be my last testimony. Holy heck.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

With Lucila at her baptism

Sunday, July 31, 2016

3 more weeks

Dear All,
I feel like by now I'm just repeating myself in my emails, its not like I've been writing them every week for two years now or anything, but yeah.
Good week, super hot, but this morning it was thundering (First time I've heard thunder since my training) and I was like "No te apures, clima, todavia no me voy" haha hope you understand that cause I have no idea how it comes out in translate, If not I'll just tell you in THREE FREAKING WEEKS. What the heck. So weird.
So yeah today we went all over Tijuana looking for a money suit, found it in the 4th store we tried, and I look good. So there's that.
Everyone asks me how I feel and I say normal, I'm honestly, truly, trying super hard to work evern harder now than ever, even though there is a real temptation to just say, "yeah, I'm done, I've done what I needed to do," but I know that if I do that I won't ever be able to look back at my mission as fondly as I should.
I'm not sure what else to write, things are doing well here in TJ, the soccer season started a little while ago, for all you soccer fans out there. 
So yeah. I've also been writing my talk for sacrament meeting.The hardest part will be the english haha I'm sure I'm just gonna start speaking spanish without even noticing and then I'll just see confused faces and remember I hope.
Enjoy your last few weeks of summer, I'm certainly going to enjoy mine.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It is coming to an end

Dear All,
So yeah last week was nuts and this week too. I only have like 15 minutes but I'm gonna try and get everything I can into here.
In each Multi-Zone conference, the new missionaries and the ones who are leaving that transfer give their testimony. Last week was our Multi-Zone conference, and therefore I gave my last testimony. It was super weird. Never ever expected that day to come. Right now we are setting baptismal dates for when I won't be here anymore. Things are just kind of coming to an end and its super weird.
I spent the day today buying souveneirs for me, but I'm also open to suggestions from family members if you want me to try and get something for you here, there isn't really anything here that is tradional mexican cause it's all fake stuff that they sell to silly americans who come here to buy cheap stuff, but there are plenty of shot glasses and funny t-shirts if you want one or something along those lines haha.
We had a good week this week, I did a baptismal interview for a girl who was going to get baptized and when we finsished I asked her if she wanted to play a joke on her mom, saying that she failed and wasn't going to be able to get baptized. You should have seen the look on that mom's face and then even more the face of the missionaries. HAHAHA. #Priceless. She did indeed pass, but their hearts about jumped out of their chests through their mouths.
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Working hard in TJ

Dear All, 
Right now im writing this from my neighbors cell phone cause today has been nuts. Ill write more next week when i have time for right now just know that everythings all good here in TJ and we are working super hard.

Los quiero mucho!

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Favorite Book of Mormon Chapter, Jacob 5

Dear All,
So this morning, I woke all of the american Elders in the zone up with a hearty rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" sung over the phone. It was a great way to start the day. My companion got kind of annoyed though. Oh well, national pride. I've got my white shirt, blue pants, a red, white, and blue tie, and my american flag socks on. So yeah. We are also gonna throw a mini party with the ward mission leader (who lived in Houston for 8 years) tonight.
In terms of the changes, I asked president a few weeks ago to let me stay here in this area for my last transfer, and he let me do so. I feel like we have started something good here and I want to keep it up. Our zone got bigger this transfer, it is now 22 missionaries, and we are going to go so hard this summer. It's gonna be awesome.
This week was pretty cool, lots of nuts experiences, and lots of fun. We have been working hard with the Young Men, cause they're on vacations, so they can come with us and work. It's way fun. 
I spent a couple days this week studying Jacob 5. I think it is my favorite chapter in all of the standard works. Every time I read it I make like 10 new notes in the margins and highlight a bunch of stuff. I think it is one of the best parables of missionary work that has ever been written. Some of my favorite verses:
 20 And it came to pass that they went forth whither the master had hid the natural branches of the tree, and he said unto the servant: Behold these; and he beheld the first that it had brought forth much fruit; and he beheld also that it was good. And he said unto the servant: Take of the fruit thereof, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self; for behold, said he, this ong time have I nourished it, and it hath brought forth much fruit.

 21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

 22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

Who are we to judge whom the Lord has prepared to preach the gospel? Anyone, as long as we are diligent and full of love and charity, can accept the gospel, if it is the Lord's will.

 41 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept,and said unto the servant: What could I have done morefor my vineyard?
I love the Lord's attitude here. He loves us and will do anything and everything to help us "bring forth fruit".

 48 And it came to pass that the servant said unto hismaster: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not thebranches thereof overcome the roots which are good? Andbecause the branches have overcome the roots thereof,behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots,taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not thisthe cause that the trees of thy vineyard have becomecorrupted?

Loftiness=pride. Beware of pride.

 50 But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of thevineyard: Spare it a little longer.

I feel like this is what our Savior says to his Father many times, wait just a little, I'll help them out, and we'll see if they can bring forth fruit yet again.

 65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away thebranches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to thestrength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall notclear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereofshould be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereofshall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.

As we repent and help others to do so, we must be patient with ourselves and with them. We must build up good principles and habits that will end up blocking out all of the bad stuff we've got inside. If we try to do all at once and if we are not patient, out discouragement and frustration could be our downfall.

 74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according tothe commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even untilthe bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and theLord had preserved unto himself that the trees hadbecome again the natural fruit; and they became like untoone body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of thevineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit,which was most precious unto him from the beginning.

 75 And it came to pass that when the Lord of the vineyardsaw that his fruit was good, and that his vineyard was nomore corrupt, he called up his servants, and said untothem: Behold, for this last time have we nourished myvineyard; and thou beholdest that I have done accordingto my will; and I have preserved the natural fruit, that it isgood, even like as it was in the beginning. And blessed artthou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring withme in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments,and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that myvineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away,behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of myvineyard.

"Behold, ye shall have joy WITH ME". I love the thought that this is not MY work. It is not the President Garcia, the APs or even President Monson. It is the Lord's and he will bless us with the same joy that he feels as we come unto him.

I know these things are true, and wanted to share them with you guys. 
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Last (possible) transfer

Dear All,
Is it weird that next Monday is my last (possible) transfer day? How crazy is that? I'm making my last agenda, putting baptismal dates for my last weeks, everything is just coming to an end and its like WHAT I JUST GOT HERE. It's a weird feeling.
So this week was good, we had two baptisms, one of which was super chill. Definitely the highlight of the week. Also, in the mission, we are starting something called "The Model Area" which is where the APs and the ZLs have to maintain the highest numbers, most baptisms, strongest support from the members, everything, and then all of the companionships come and do divisions with us so that we can train them and explode the area. This is a change from the old exchanges, where one of us would go with one elder in his area and the other in our area with the other elder. The idea is to keep the best missionaries in the best areas for the most time possible, so that the general success can be greater. So we brought two companionships to our area, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and all four of us worked together, covering double the ground we would normally do. For example, on Friday, for my part, we found 10 new investigators and put 7 new baptismal dates, while my companion had several lessons with member present and helped a family sheetrock their house. So its a pretty sweet system.
But more about the baptisms: one is a guy that's my age, he just turned 21, and his buddy is a recent convert in California, and so his buddy sent us his address, and boom there we were the next day, and 5 weeks later he was getting baptized. He has come to be one of my best friends, and he really is going to do amazing things as a member of the church. He told us the day after his baptism, "Well, I work in the afternoon and I have every morning free, if you want I can come do visits with you guys whenever you want. I kinda wanna hear how you guys preach your sermons to other sinners like me" hahaha I about died but hey how cool is that. The dude wasn't even confirmed yet and he wanted to come visit with us. I'm gonna make sure he goes on a mission.
The other guy is a sister's dad, and when we announced his baptism, everyone got super surprised. No one believed that he would do it. Apparently he had listened to the missionaries a few times and had never wanted anything to do with the church, but then one Sunday he showed up, so we went to go visit him. It was kinda cool, when we invited him to get baptized, his daughter whipped out her phone and started recording, we felt like the Elders from "The District". And then in his baptism he shared his testimony, and most of his kids and grandkids were there, and he told them, leaning on his cane, "I'm doing this so that you can all have a good example to follow. I've studied years and years with the JW, with Christians, Catholics, everyone, and it only took me a month to get baptized here." We were all like wow. This dude is legit.
So yeah we've been having some really good weeks recently. I like feeling like I know what I'm doing, like there really isn't any situation in that I feel unconfortable or out of place or don't know what to say, and I think it's cause I'm finally getting good at listening to the Spirit."Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea,behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." Alma 26:12
Los quiero mucho,

Elder Rawlings