Monday, November 30, 2015

Pics 11/30/15

The missionaries visiting a less active member on his birthday.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with a Ham Sandwich

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving break! Just remember that we don't have to only be grateful on Thanksgiving, we can be grateful for all of our many blessings throughout the year!

Well, I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving really, but I did sing "Count your many Blessings" with my companion before the day was over. I'm doing well, adjusting to the culture, food, and language well. Sometimes when I write in my journal at night my languages start mixing haha.

Tuesday, we got a fresh shipment of missionaries from the MTC. Not gonna lie, but I feel old and experienced in the mission now hahaha. It was weird seeing new missionaries in our district. I'm not the youngest or inexperienced missionary anymore! Haha

Wednesday, Elder Lugo and I both had a cold. We had a slow start to our day and didn't leave the house until almost 12pm. BUT, we had a solid day with lessons. We taught 7 lessons, a "high score" for me. Our new goal in the district is to have 45 lessons per week per companionship. Recently we haven't been able to teach as many lessons so we're having more success now.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was crazy. We were still sick but we still went out to work. First, we tried visiting a reference but she wasn't home and her 22yr old daughter answered the door. We asked if we could share something with her so we taught the Restoration and challenged her with baptism. And she accepted! Unfortunately, she doesn't live in our area, so we gave her information to the missionaries in her area. Then we went street contacting and found a lady who knew the elders when she was a child. She doesn't live in our area either but we gave her information to the sister missionaries in her area. Then we had a lesson with the Fam Guerrero Gaxiola. We had invited President Velez, our mission president to accompany us to a lesson so he came with us. The lesson was intense, spiritually. We taught baptism because the mom (Banesa), and Diego and Alejandra don't have baptism dates. They've had some doubts and concerns about the Church and baptism but with the mission president and some solid testimonies from my companion, President Velez and me, we were able to put a baptism date for Dec. 12 and they accepted. They were nervous but we helped explain and reassure a lot of things. Afterwards, Elder Lugo and I went to visit the Fam Lopez Madrid. We taught about the Sabbath Day and the mom, Rosalba, was really receptive. The last few weeks she hasn't been to church even though we invite her and offer rides so we were hopeful that she would go to church. She told us that her neighbors have told her that she's changing, that she's a better person recently. Rosalba told us that she associated this with us and our lessons so we were really happy that our efforts were helping someone be better. Just minutes later, her son, Bryan, walks in, feeling really sick and in pain. We offered a blessing and he accepted. We explained to Rosalba and Bryan what blessings are and that we have the authority to bless people through their faith. We gave the blessing, then immediately afterwards, he exclaimed, "Mom, Mom! It worked! I feel better now!"

Friday, we had our weekly planning session, then lunch. We were only able to teach 1 lesson that day. We had almost zero success. We walked and walked and walked in the rain and visited so many people but no one was home. It was a little discouraging.

Saturday, we had some lessons and taught the Fam Lopez Madrid about the Book of Mormon. We bore our testimonies, we had the Spirit with us, and we challenged them to read the Book for themselves and to pray about it's truthfulness and divinity. I know that it's super important to develop a testimony for ourselves about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon because it's the keystone or foundation of our religion. If the Book of Mormon is false or has any errors, then everything else is wrong. But I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is true and that through the principles and doctrine taught in the Book, that we can get closer to God and we can become better people through a greater appreciation of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, we had church, listened to a few good talks about faith and repentance. Then we had lunch and visited a reference that we received. Her sister is a member of the Church, and most of her family lives in the United States. She's known the missionaries before, a long time ago, like 10-13 years ago. Then she met the missionaries about a year ago. And now, this is the third time the missionaries have been in contact with her. She feels like her life is good enough without the Church but that's why I'm here, to share and invite others that there is more to this life, that it's possible to have eternal happiness and that we can be with our families for eternity.

Spiritual Thought: Mosiah 4:2-3

I don't have my English scriptures with me at the moment but here it is in Spanish: 

2  Y se habían visto a sí mismos en su propio estado carnal, aún menos que el polvo de la tierra. Y todos a una voz clamaron, diciendo: ¡Oh, ten misericordia, y aplica la sangre expiatoria de Cristo para que recibamos el perdón de nuestros pecados, y sean purificados nuestros corazones; porque creemos en Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios, que creó el cielo y la tierra y todas las cosas; el cual bajará entre los hijos de los hombres!

 3  Y aconteció que después de que hubieron hablado estas palabras, el Espíritu del Señor descendió sobre ellos, y fueron llenos de gozo, habiendo recibido la remisión de sus pecados, y teniendo paz de conciencia a causa de la gran fe que tenían en Jesucristo que había de venir, según las palabras que el rey Benjamín les había hablado.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be brought to repentance which leads to baptism which leads to receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and then enduring to the end. If we could all have more faith in our Savior and Redeemer, we can become better people and receive eternal life in the life to come.

I think that's all for this week! With Christmas rapidly approaching, don't forget the true meaning of Christmas. A Savior was born so that we can have a second chance for the mistakes we make.

Love you all!
Elder Finkner

Pics 11/23/15

Elder Finkner and Familia Guerrero Gaxiola 
Elder Finkner with Elder Cortes

Elder Finkner at church.

Hello Everyone!

**Late post from 11/23/15**

Buenas tardes desde Culiacan! 

So this past week it's been a bit slower, we're still trying to contact all of our references so we're constantly walking a lot a lot a lot in the brutal heat. Anyways, I'll jump into the weekly update.

Tuesday- We had a lesson with two kids, and 6 more neighborhood kids joined in on the lesson to hear the message. I wanted to share this part with you all because no matter who we are, everyone deserves the opportunity to hear the gospel. We all can make changes in our lives, whether we're 9 years old or 86 years old.

Wednesday- I went on exchanges with Elder Cortes. He's from Argentina and him and I get along pretty well. He gave me a $2 Argentine peso bill and a tie haha. I made us hamburgers and we bought some coke for dinner.

Thursday, we continued our exchanges and we went to the weekly contacting activity with the zone. I teamed up with Elder Peralta, from the Dominican Republic, to contact people in his area. And....the very first person we contacted is a drug dealer for marijuana. He called us over and we didn't see the pouch of drugs on his lap. He asked us a few questions about the church and we answered his questions and as soon as we had the chance, we excused ourselves and said that we had to be somewhere else. We finished up our contacting activity, bought pizza and ice cream for the district, and had our ward mission meeting. Lots of walking that day.

Friday- Weekly planning session. We planned our goals, who we wanted to focus on, and with the guidance of the Spirit, we planned the lessons that our investigators need. That evening we had a baptism to attend at the church. Afterwards, some of the kids from church wanted to race the Elders. And me, of course, I was sacrificed to represent the missionaries in the races. But to make it fair, I had to run with my shoulder bag with all my stuff in it. I imagine it was quite funny to see me running, my tie in my face and everything haha.

Saturday, we had transfers. My companion will be staying and finishing my training for another 6 weeks. We continued contacting people. We found Isabel while we were trying to contact. She was walking, with a lot of heavy groceries, up a hill with her 4 year old daughter in tow. We offered help, she accepted, and we carried her groceries to her house. Her house was in the same area we were trying to contact in so it just made sense to help her. We introduced ourselves, our purpose, and why we're here. She said that we could come by another time to continue to share our message. That evening, we were walking back to our house, when this lady we've never seen says, "Hello.....elders." And here, when someone calls us Elders, they're members of the Church or they've had contact with the Church before. So we stopped, chatted for a few minutes, and learned that her name is Juanita and she's been inactive for a very long time in her life. I couldn't tell very well but it looked like she was tearing up a little in the corners of her eyes. She seemed really glad to have come across the missionaries, almost like she's been waiting for us. We're going to find her this upcoming week.

Sunday- Game Day! We had a primary program during Sacrament and then after church we went with the Fam Guerrero Gaxiola for a quick bite to eat. Then we visited a few families and we shared Matthew 10:42. A lot of members here are quick to help feed the missionaries or help us in any way possible. So we thanked some members for always offering water or food to us. We reassured them that they will receive blessings for helping servants of the Lord.

Spiritual Thought: Matthew 10:42. Make sure to help the missionaries! They need your help! Whether it's water, food, a ride, anything helps! Also, go with them to lessons! A testimony of a member is always powerful and always helps an investigator come closer to baptism.

Anyways, stay classy Baltimore!

With Love, 
Elder Finkner

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pictures 11/16

Elder Finkner and Elder Lugo bought a birthday cake for Angel's 12th birthday.
Neighbors of the Elders, They are also recent converts.

P-day fun with some missionaries in Amistad.


Riding in the back of the Bishop's pick-up truck.

Serving the Lord

Hello everyone! Hope everyone is doing good today. I've been very busy this past week with lots of walking...I miss my car haha.

Well, Tuesday morning we had a district meeting. Later that day, my companion and I learned that there was a drive-by shooting by the cartel about 3 streets away from our apartment. Thankfully and not coincidentally, we were at the Church at the district meeting when the shooting happened, about 25 minutes walking. We also got a new rule in the mission...that we are not allowed to return to our houses unless we find someone new to teach, such as a contact in the street, or someone who accepts a baptism challenge, or someone who wants to hear our message and puts an appointment. 

Wednesday, we had our first lesson with Josefina, she lives on the same street as the Fam. Lopez Madrid, and one night she wanted us to share a lesson with her since we're always walking down that street. So we began to share the Plan of Salvation because we learned in the first few minutes that her husband passed away about 2 years ago. About 2 minutes after we began the lesson, a whole bunch of the neighborhood kids joined in the lesson too to hear our message. We put separate appointments with them to come back and teach The Restoration.

Thursday, we had our weekly zone contacting activity. So here all the other missionaries in our zone, a total of 14, go to an area of a set of missionaries in the zone, and they help make contacts and then they give the references to the missionaries assigned to that area. This week was our week, so we had 14 missionaries contacting and sharing the gospel in our area. Elder Lugo and I received 25 new references, or 25 people who would like Elder Lugo and I to return and share more about our message. This was huge for us because lately we haven't had many investigators. We all worked in unity. One scripture I studied that morning before the activity was Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart....and he shall direct thy paths." I believe that the Lord guided me, my companion, and the other missionaries in our zone to those who are ready to have the gospel in their lives.

Friday, we watched "Meet the Mormons" in Spanish (duh) with the Fam Guerrero Gaxiola. Earlier that day I learned from two General conference talks, one from President Eyring and the other from Elder Holland, that missionary work is about "to whom much is given, much is required." As missionaries we are expected to experience a very very tiny part of what the Savior went through for the Atonement. In my mission I will better understand the importance of the Atonement in our lives. I can already testify that through the Atonement, everyone has a second chance to change their lives to be more happy and be better people.

Saturday, we contacted some of our references from our contacting activity. We walked about 12-15km that day, traveling from colonia to colonia.

Sunday, Church! Then we had an appointment with the Fam Lopez Madrid. We challenged them with baptism and the mom, Rosalba, and the oldest daughter, Itzel accepted. We did not put a date yet but we plan on putting a date this week.

Spiritual Message: Mosiah 16:8-9

Again with the Atonement! It's so important. But the aspect that I wanted to share is that death will not have victory because Christ broke the bands of death when He was resurrected. Christ is everything. He is the light and life of the world. Through Him, everything is possible. There is nothing here on this earth that is impossible. With Christ, everyone, no matter their works on earth, can overcome death and become perfect, resurrected beings. 

That's all I have for this week! Keep your eyes single to the glory of God!

Elder Finkner

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pictures 11/9

 Where Elder Finkner is serving.

Family Home Evening with Fam. Lopez Madrid

A Month in Mexico

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having fantastic weeks! If not, I'll continue to pray for you all.

Anyways, so on Tuesday we visited an investigator, Antonia. She's progressing. We finished the Restoration pamphlet by talking about the Book of Mormon. We asked if she's prayed about our message and she said that she has, and that she "felt the presence of another being, really warm and peaceful" when she prayed.

Wednesday, we worked in the Lord's vineyard.

Thursday, I went to the mission offices to go to the Mexican Immigration offices. They took my fingerprints, I signed some papers and yeah that was it. I should be getting my Mexican green card in 2-3 weeks. Later, we visited with a less-active member. She went to Church for 4 weeks straight and in order for reactivation, the requirement is 5 weeks. But then she got a job that required her to start this past Sunday so she didn't go to Church (nooooooooo :(  ) We visited her, we sang "How Great Thou Art" with her, and then I shared my favorite scripture, Alma 26:12. That night, we had our weekly ward mission meeting. The second Sunday of every month is Missionary Sunday, so Sacrament is all about missionary work. But during this ward mission meeting, our ward mission leader asked if anybody wanted to give a talk in Sacrament yesterday. I don't know why, but my arm just went up. I didn't even know it went up haha. After that, we visited Antonia again to give her a BoM. We challenged her with baptism for 12/26/15, and she accepted!

Friday, I was feeling sick. I was feeling grumpy that morning but then we ordered some pizza for lunch and then I felt better. We watched "The Testaments" in Spanish and the video means more to me now because with Christ's visit to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, here I am, serving as a missionary to the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. I also learned that we need to be ready for the Second Coming because no one knows when Christ will return except Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. So prepare yourselves! Also on Friday, we visited two more investigators, Eva and Oscar. We reviewed the Restoration pamphlet with them, and then we challenged baptism without a date. They accepted! Then, we had a lesson with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola. We need prayers for this family. The father of the family isn't fond of the Church (or the missionaries), and their family was disintegrating this past week. We weren't able to see this family for a week and we wanted to quickly check up on them before anything bad happened. The father walks into our lesson in the garage, grabs a chair, and joins our lesson. We were teaching "The Family: A Proclamation To The World" because we're in the family-strengthening business, not the family-destroying business. This was a miracle, because never has he sat in on a lesson with missionaries. He was asking us sincere questions about the Church and families.

Saturday, the sister missionaries in our ward called us for a blessing of health for one of them. So my companion and I went, and then one of the sister missionaries, the one that isn't sick, asked me if I thought she needed a blessing. I said yes, that it couldn't hurt. The story is that they've been in the hospital for the past two weeks for a illness called "dengue" or thats' how I think it's spelled and I don't know the translation for it. They've haven't been able to work and so they've been really down. One hermana got a blessing of health, and the other hermana asked me if I could give her a blessing of comfort. Immediately after these two blessings, we received a phone call from two other sister missionaries in our zone. They asked if we could be able to dedicate a house and bless a baby in this really rich community. It's in our area, but we're not able to enter without an invitation from someone in the inside and we can't proselyte. So we went, my companion dedicated the house, and then I blessed the baby. From these experiences, I learned for myself that again, we need to be spiritually ready and prepared for anything because we will be required to use our priesthood power to help others. Then we had a FHE with an investigator family, the Fam. Lopez Madrid. We brought a box of Betty Crocker brownie mix, and we made some brownies and talked about the "A Proclamation to the World" again.

Sunday! We picked up some investigators, an 88yr old lady who was baptized about 8 months ago, the sister missionaries, and some of their investigators. We rode in the back of a member's pick up truck all the way to Church. At Church, I gave my talk on charity and love. It was about 12 min long. Several people afterwards came up to me and said "Your Spanish is really good!" A member of the Bishopric pulled me aside and said, "That was the gift of tongues! I've never heard a missionary with only a month in Mexico speak better than you! You have the gift of tongues!" So I was happy with myself and thankful that people were able to understand what I was saying.

So yeah, that's about it for this week. Here's a spiritual thought:

Alma 7:11-13. This scripture is about Christ's atoning sacrifice. His sacrifice was out of love and charity. We need to constantly remember His sacrifice for us DAILY. When we do that, we'll more fully appreciate the gospel in our lives. We have the privilege of having the restored Gospel and we need to take advantage of it to have peace in our life and we need to share our message with those around us.

Talk to you all next week!
Elder Finkner

Monday, November 2, 2015

11/2 pics

Skit, with Alejandro in the middle dressed as his ward mission leader.

His current zone.

Work, Work, Work and some more

Hello everyone! Hope everyone is doing well! 

So on Tuesday, I went on exchanges for the morning with Elder Tapia. Then we visited one of our investigators, Antonia, a single mother who's about 38 yrs old. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted! We haven't put a baptismal date yet but it will probably be in December. Then we visited an investigator family, Fam. Lopez Madrid. They're also really special! They're really receptive and they have no problems with the lessons. I gave the family a Book of Mormon and we challenged them to read the Introduction together as a family. During both of these visits, I definitely felt the Holy Ghost with us and I hope our investigators did too, even though they might not know what it was.Wednesday, we visited Alfredo. He's in an alcoholic rehab center and we can only visit him on Wednesday mornings but he's awesome too! We taught him about Lehi's vision and we checked up on his reading in the BoM. Then we visited Antonia again to show her the Restoration DVD to help her visualize Lesson 1. We had the Spirit again! We also visited Angel and Helen and they have strong desires to attend church but they have no family in the Church and no one to take them so we're having some issues there. Thursday we visited the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola and Elder Lugo and I bore our testimonies to Alejandra and Diego. It was pretty powerful. Diego has a baptismal date for 11/20 but Alejandra doesn't have a date set so that's our plan for this week. I prayed about it and I feel like Alejandra and the mom need to be baptized with their brother. Thursday evening we had a ward activity, put on by the Primary program. Each organization was to put together a sketch and act it out in front of the ward. So the missionaries (and me) created a scene where E. Lugo was at a barbershop, and then the barber is telling him all about how God doesn't exist because there's wars, poverty, diseases, etc. Then E. Lugo went searching in the audience for someone who's proof that God exists (me). I was dressed up in a costume which looked exactly like our ward mission leader so that's where one joke was. Elder Peralta then got in front of everyone and gave a very powerful spiritual thought. Everyone got dead silent, even the kids who were running around screaming. He bore a testimony of God's existence and how members of the Church need to be member missionaries in their lives and defend our faith. So Friday we were walking down our neighborhood when an elderly sister from our ward came up to us and said "Elders, I need a blessing. I'm not feeling good." So we walked with her back to her house which was the next street over, and then Elder Lugo volunteered me to give the blessing. I was really nervous because it's like one of my first ones and it's in a language that I'm not fluent in. I was nervous that I wasn't going to say the right words. But I gave the blessing, having faith that the Lord was going to help me in this moment. Although the blessing was short and simple, the elderly sister thanked us a lot for blessing her in her time of need. Later that evening, we had to walk to church which is a few miles away for a ward mission meeting. And then we had another appointment which is farther than the church is from our house. Then we had to walk back to our house in the dark, about 4 miles. Every other time we would make this walk, we would tire easily because there's lots of hills, we have our bags with us, and the terrain isn't smooth. It's rocky and sandy. But this night was not the case. We did not tire at all during the long walk back to the house and I believe that Heavenly Father blessed me and my companion with the energy and strength to walk back home at about 9-9:30pmSaturday we had a zone meeting and I went on splits with Elder Cortes for a full day. I spent the night at their house. The funny thing is that Elder Cortes is a zone leader and since I was his companion, I became a zone leader for 24 hours haha. Since it was Halloween we had to be in our houses by 8pm. E. Cortes and I bought pie and coke and we chilled in the house. Yesterday was Sunday! Also Fast and Testimony meeting. I fasted for breakfast and lunch for my investigators and I felt prompted to bear my testimony too! So I did, in Spanish of course. It was short and simple again, but I believe it had some impact on our recent converts and less actives so that they could see me with my own challenges (learning Spanish) and that the Lord's servants are humbled too. We aren't out of reach of trials and challenges in life either. Last night we visited the Fam. Lopez Madrid and we discussed the Restoration pamphlet. Elder Lugo had to take a call and report the weekly numbers so I was left to answer all of their questions about the Restoration and what words meant, etc. The Spirit definitely helped me with the words that I needed to say in the right moment. This morning I washed my clothes by hand again, I'm starting to become a pro haha. Then we went to get some lunch when we ran into another zone walking through our area so we joined them for sushi. It was a huge group of missionaries, about 15-20 in all. 

Spiritual thought for the week:
1 Nephi 3:7. It's common but it applied to me this week. With the challenges of being a missionary and learning a new language, I know that the Lord will not abandon His servants nor His children. He knows all of our needs and issues and challenges and trials and he will provide a way for us to overcome our problems so that we can learn to grow and improve. Nothing is impossible with the Lord.

I believe that's all I have to report on this week. Talk to you all next week!