Monday, December 28, 2015

Pics 12/28

Christmas Day.

Elder Finkner and his package.

Opening presents.

Elder Finkner and his "Elder" stocking,

Happy Holidays from Culiacan!

Hello everyone! I hope everyone got what they asked for from Santa, haha. Really, I hope everyone remembered the reason for the season-- the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Anyways, I got lots of Christmas presents from my family back home and I'm very thankful for all the love and support from them. I'm doing good, Christmas put more energy and optimism into me and I'm working hard and getting results too. This week has been a lot better. I can tell that patience and continued diligence brings forth blessings from heaven--more than I can count.

So without further ado, here's the weekly update:

Tuesday- In our zone, we had a Secret Santa gift exchange. So we started off our morning with a little party with a piñata, pizza, and some presents. Afterwards, we got to work. Two weeks ago we weren't having any success with contacting in the street, but this day we had 4 contacts in the street, which is 4 more than the week before. I was pretty happy with the little piece of success that we were experiencing. That night, I went to our zone leaders' house with my companion to pick up my huge, heavy Christmas package from back home. Thank you again family for the presents!

Wednesday- We had EVEN MORE success. We got a really solid day's of work in, teaching 10 lessons. My companion and I worked efficiently and with the help of the Spirit, we found the people that we needed to find. I was feeling really great about our success, especially since it's the holiday season and people are busy.

Thursday- So we didn't have much success on Christmas Eve. We tried contacting a bunch of references that we have but no one was home or they all didn't have time for us. That evening, a member offered to have us over for a Christmas Eve dinner. They were really kind and even gifted some ties and socks to us. We ate, and we returned to our house. Holidays here are crazy...people use lots of fireworks and shoot their guns into the air.

Friday- I woke up a bit earlier than usual so that I could open my Christmas presents at the same time as my family in Maryland. Afterwards, we got to work like it was any other day. We had our weekly planning session, then lunch with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola. They were kind enough to allow us to use their phones to Skype home. After we Skyped, we got to work again. We tried contacting a few references, and then we decided to visit a semi-old investigator that we have, named Hector. We chatted for about 15 minutes, then we retaught the Restoration. We didn't teach it completely, just the beginning. I felt prompted to invite him to get baptized, and he accepted. We saw some Christmas miracles and were successful again.

Saturday- We hiked to the Church building to help the sister missionaries with a baptism. We cleaned the baptismal font, then we filled it and prepared the water too (the water here is unclean so we have to disinfect the water). We returned to our area for lunch, attended the baptism, then went to visit the Fam. Burgueños. We taught the same thing as with Hector, and again I felt prompted to invite the mom and dad of the family to get baptized. They both accepted. More success! 

Sunday- Game day! We went to Church, we recharged our spiritual batteries with the Sacrament, then we we went to eat lunch with a member. Afterwards, we returned to our area, then we visited some less-active members to finish the evening. Of course they gave us food too haha. I felt so stuffed. Some days I have to eat 4-5 meals because people always offer us food and put plates of food in front of us haha.

Anyways, that's the update for this week. We had a lot more success after the trial of our faith and patience.

Although Christmas is over, don't forget the importance of the Savior's birth! Enjoy the time you all have with your families!

Merry Christmas again, and a Happy New Year! Be safe!

Elder Finkner

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pics 12/21

Presidente Valez and Elder Finkner

Elder Finkner and some missionaries from Guatemala

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Feliz navidad a todos! Espero que tengan el Espíritu de Cristo en sus vidas en estas fechas...

So this past week didn't go as well as it could have but I'm going to use this past week as motivation to finish December strong and start the New Year off on the right foot.

So here's the update for the week:

Tuesday- we visited Norma, a reference we got a while back in November but we were never able to find her at home. This time we found her, and she seems really good. She immediately got out her Bible and she was ready to talk about the gospel. She has no affiliation to any churches but I feel like she could be a good Latter-day Saint. Later, we visited Angel and Helen, shared a spiritual message, then the Fam. Veltran. We began teaching the Plan of Salvation with the Fam. Veltran, we didn't teach too much, we didn't have much time so we only introduced it.

Wednesday- I don't know why, but I woke up thinking, "Enjoy what the day brings." And of course, the Lord had plans to test me that day haha. I really didn't do anything. We had to go to the church building to do some baptismal interviews and the interviews are long. So my companion was doing the interviews and I was stuck in the hallway waiting for him. I felt really unproductive but I tried enjoying my day. So I learned that I need to work on enjoying my days, no matter how I feel because I'll never get that day of my mission back.

Thursday- We had our multizone conference. A total of 64 missionaries were present and it was more like a Christmas posada with the mission president. It was really fun socializing and getting to know other people. 

Friday- Weekly planning session, then lunch with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola. Elder Lugo and I bore our testimonies to Diego and Alejandra (spoiler...they didn't get baptized with their mom this week :( ). We tried super hard to get them to feel more comfortable but we failed. We're going to keep trying this upcoming week. Anyways, afterwards, we bought some mini water heaters for the baptismal font because the water is super cold. And to end the day, we visited the Fam. Medina, and then the Fam. Velarde, our neighbors, to give a blessing to their daughter who was having a quinceañera that night.

Saturday- So we went to the church early that morning to put the water heaters into the baptismal font. We didn't eat breakfast so we went out and found a taco stand. Elder Lugo ordered "tacos de tripa" for us, and I didn't know what tripa meant, I thought it had something to do with the number three. Anyways, I ate the tacos, then Elder Lugo revealed to me that I just ate cow intestine tacos. But it actually tasted pretty good. I didn't even know it was intestine haha. afterwards, we had 3 baptisms. Two for the zone leaders in our ward, and then one for us. We were at the church almost the entire afternoon trying to heat up the water, but to no avail. After the baptism of Banesa, she invited us out to dinner. We ate, then visited Emily, then the Fam. Velarde again to share a message.

Sunday- We had church, and no priests were present so Elder Lugo and I were asked to bless the sacrament. After church, we ate lunch, went home, visited some members, then we contacted a reference that we received last week. The reference is a part-member family, and the ones who are members are less active. After introducing ourselves to this family (Fam. Burgueños), we visited the Fam Lopez Madrid, then we went home. Hermana Banesa was kind enough to bring us some posole from a posada she was at.

Yesterday- we went to El Centro, and Elder Lugo and I went out to eat to celebrate Christmas. We ordered 30 wings, and a ton of appetizers. It was a total of five plates, full of food. But don't underestimate the stomachs of two elders! We ate it all. We washed our laundry, went to Sam's Club to buy some sparkling apple cider for the holidays, and got some haircuts.

So yeah, that's been about it this past week. I'm attaching pictures too.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time you have with your family and remember to put more Christ into Christmas!

Elder Finkner

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pictures 12/14

Both Elders serving by helping to paint a house.
Elder Finkner and his Christmas tree.

Working Hard and Finding People to Teach

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas season so far! I know I am! I get to share the story of Christ's birth (Luke 2:4-16) several times a day and I sing Christmas songs with all of my investigators. Anyways, I'm good, busy like always. The weather has cooled down and I was actually cold the other morning. It's funny because the people here are using their winter coats and scarves and hats and I'm still using my short sleeve shirts because it's not that cold for me.

Anyways, here's the weekly update:

Tuesday, we had our district meeting, we practiced singing Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing for our multizone conference this upcoming week with the mission president. Elder Lugo went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant for lunch, then we bought ourselves a little tiny Christmas tree for our house. That evening, we had some lessons with both the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola and the Fam. Guerrero Soto (the fathers of both families are brothers).

Wednesday, Hermano Guerrero Soto asked us if we could help him paint his house, so we did! We painted the ceiling of his house for a few hours. Then we visited Emily, Angel and Helen, the Fam. Lopez Madrid, and then the Fam. Veltran. The Fam. Veltran is a new family we're teaching. We've been teaching the two children of this family, Luis Angel and Carlos. The dad's name is Felipe. So we taught the three of them about the Restoration, and usually we share only a few points each lesson so we don't overwhelm the investigator, but they were all really receptive, they were ready to accept everything we were sharing, and we ended up teaching the entire Restoration pamphlet, which is a first for me. Felipe is really good. He's smart and has the potential to be a leader in the Church if he's baptized.

Thursday, was kind of an "ehhh" day. We had a singing practice with our district again. Then on our bus ride back to our area, I was talking to my zone leader about what the USA is like. A 17yr old boy in front of us jumped into the conversation and wanted to talk about the USA too. His name is Jorge and he speaks a little bit of English. I chatted with him and also got his address, so that we could visit him at a different time. He seems interested in hearing the gospel. After lunch, we visited members and investigators to invite them to the ward "posada" that evening. None of our investigators came, only the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola. The posada was fun, our zone leaders let us stay at the posada until 10pm, and the tamales and frijoles were really good.

Friday, we had our weekly planning session. We had lunch with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola and shared a message about baptism. So we originally had baptisms planned for Banesa, Diego, and Alejandra for the 12th, but we found out that we weren't having Church services on Sunday the 13th so we couldn't baptize and then confirm them over a week later. So we pushed their baptisms back a week. We're still planning on having the three baptized on the 19th but we need prayers for this family. Anyways, afterwards, we visited Angel and Helen again, then the Fam. Veltran. We gave the Fam. Veltran a Book of Mormon, we showed the Restoration video, and I felt impressed by the Spirit to challenge baptism for the three of them. Felipe said that he needs to pray about the Book of Mormon and the Church first before he can commit to baptism. 

Saturday, a really rainy day. The streets were converted to muddy, rushing rivers. However, Hermano Guerrero had asked for more help painting that morning so we still made the trek up to his house (of course his house is on top of a mountain, haha). After painting, we ate lunch, then got to preaching the gospel. We visited some investigators but none had time for us to share a lesson. We ended up finding the Fam. Lopez Madrid and we finished the Plan of Salvation pamphlet with them. 

Sunday, we participated in the dedication of the Tijuana MX temple and for this reason, we did not have Church services. It was a really good spiritual experience. We went to our stake center and watched a broadcast of the dedication. I know that everyone who was present felt the Spirit and the heavens opening. Afterwards, we ate lunch with a member, then we returned home because my companion is really sick and needed to rest for a bit. After about 2 hours, we went to an appointment with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola to review the baptism interview questions. We're planning on having the interview this Wednesday.

So that's all I have for this week. I'm staying busy in the Lord's work and I hope everyone is making time for the Lord this season! Continue to remember the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

Elder Finkner

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pics 12/7/15

Zone Picture

Elder Finkner helping painting.

Time Flies When You're Busy

Happy December everyone! It certainly doesn't feel like December with the heat here. No snow, a few houses have Christmas lights, but I'll be celebrating Christmas no matter what. Yes, some stores put up Christmas decorations this past week. So I'll get to my news of the week:

Tuesday- Not too much to report on, we had a district meeting, and we pulled names out of a hat for a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Wednesday- Painting! A brother in the church asked me and Elder Lugo if we could help him paint the inside of his house. He has an illness that prevents him from working so Elder Lugo and I gladly put on some "civilian" clothes and got to work! Funny how my family asked the Elders in Westminster to paint two weeks ago and here I am, being asked to paint. So family, be careful what you ask the Elders in Westminster to do because I gotta do the same thing hahaha. Later that evening, we helped Emily and Melissa with homework. They needed help with English and math. Emily is a less-active member who we thought was an investigator a few weeks ago. Melissa is her neighbor. Both are about 13, 14 years old. We've been trying to reactivate Emily and teaching Melissa.

Thursday- We continued painting from yesterday. Since there's only two of us with brushes, it takes a while to paint a house. We still didn't finish and we ran out of paint. Later that afternoon, we taught Josefina. She's 72 years old and we've being focusing on the Plan of Salvation with her since her husband passed away. We extended the baptism invitation and she accepted! Our challenge with her is that she easily forgets things, so we always have to review what we taught the last time and then move on slowly. Then that night we had our weekly ward mission meeting.

Friday- Weekly planning session with my companion, and then lunch with the Fam. Guerrero Gaxiola. The mother, Banesa, still wants to be baptized on the 12th, but her children, Diego and Alejandra, aren't sure about it. They're having doubts and concerns and fears so we're trying not to lose them. Prayers needed here. Then, we visited Teresita and Flora, a mother and daughter. Teresita is 88 and just got baptized last year. Flora is about 54 and she got baptized with her mother. Teresita said to my companion, "El gringito esta bien gordito, verdad?" And she was being totally serious. My companion and I started laughing because she just called me fat. Note to my family, I have not gained any weight. Well afterwards, we visited Emily and Melissa again. Emily broke her arm at school, and she said the bones were poking through the skin. So we offered a blessing for Emily and Elder Lugo and I gave it. 

Saturday- We had a zone meeting, then we ate lunch at home. The family who was supposed to feed us forgot to tell us that they were going to Mazatlan for the weekend and they weren't home. So they called us and apologized and offered to help us with another meal any other day. After our lunch, we visited Angel and Helen, then Luis Angel and Carlos. Luis Angel and Carlos are two kids that live on the same street as the Fam. Lopez Madrid. But we never formally talked to their parents about teaching them so I told my companion that we we're going to talk to the dad since he was outside the house. Wow, the dad is really Bible-smart. He said that as long as we taught about Jesus, that we can teach his children. We decided to invite him to listen to a quick message (the beginning of the Restoration) and he accepted. He was really attentive and receptive. He would be an excellent member of the church if he got baptized. So after this first lesson, my companion and I are going to teach the father too with his children.

Sunday- Church, lunch with a family that lives really close to the church building, then we went to the Christmas devotional, which was being broadcasted in Spanish at the Tamazula stake center. We had some technical problems but I really enjoyed the parts that I did hear. 

Spiritual thought: Alma 34:31-34
This life is the time that we have to prepare ourselves to meet God. We need to constantly be doing something productive spiritually and temporally. In this scripture, it says that we need to repent and soften our hearts. To apply this to our lives, we need to repent, humble ourselves, pray always, attend Church every week, for all 3 hours (only in emergencies should we leave Church early), and we can study our scriptures and do things for school, etc. So this week, I want everyone to think about the things they do, and ask themselves whether they're just wasting time or preparing themselves for the life to come.

Anyways, that's all I have for this week. Be diligent! Study your scriptures, pray often, and choose the right! Thank you for all the prayers! I know I'm receiving extra blessings for your prayers.

Remember the Reason for the Season,

Elder Finkner