Unfortunately the time has come in which I write my last letter to all of you that I love as Elder Lyle.
This week I have had time to reflect on exactly what I have done with the last 2 years of my life.
This week I have been consuming the Book of Mormon at a rate that I have never done before and I have found that the meaning of many things change as you read the Book of Mormon all at once.
As I was reading the book of Alma, I found myself reflecting on one story in particular. That is the story of the Stripling Warriors.
When I was in the MTC I had an incredible experience that I will never forget concerning them. In my journal I wrote; "In that moment, I knew that I personally had met ever one of those 2 thousand Stripling Warriors, and they are my brothers. I felt as if I was knocked off my seat with the impression that I received of the spirit, as He reminded me of my past, even before the veil."
I did not understand fully the importance of that experience until this last week of my mission.
In Alma 56 these 2 thousand and 60 young men are at war, they had never fought before in their life, they were faced with eminent death, yet when Helaman, their captain, says to them;
"Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?"
The courage of these young men was said to have been indescribable. The courage which they had, came from their faith in God and what their mothers had taught them.
Their response was: "Father, behold our God is with us, and He will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go"
In that moment, as I read this passage, I truly felt everything come together.
I know that over the past 2 years I have felt their arms pushing me forward,
I have felt their hands push me back as I almost have stepped in front of traffic,
I have felt their hands stop me from entering parts where not many leave alive,
I have felt their hands pick me up after every spiritual battle that I have had.
I have felt the spiritual, physical and emotional wounds as I have made my way through the last 2 years, but my Heavenly Father never left my side. I know that I received divine help.
I have fought the battle,
I have won the fight,
I have seen families go to the temple that before teaching them I would have thought they would have never changed.
I have seen people I have taught leave on missions to help others.
I have seen how God works by small things :"by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" Alma 37:6
I have thought of all the people that I have met and all things that I love about this country. It is hard for me to leave, but I know the Lord needs me in another part of His vineyard.
I know that I have worked hard, and that satisfaction will stay with me forever.
I love my God and my Savior, and I know that I will continue to work for them just as I have worked for them here.
I have followed the impressions of the spirit and will continue to do so for all my life.
I know that God is my Heavenly Father, and that His son is Jesus Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know. I know because I asked God and he told me so. It is that simple.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints is the only true church.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.
I know that I have the authority to baptize and administer His holy priesthood.
I know that this life does not end with the death, but only continues.
I know that my Father in Heaven loves me and wants to see me succeed.
I love you all.
My mission has been the best two years. They have not been the easiest, but they have been the best.
I owe all of this to my Heavenly Father, who worked a great miracle through two young men in white shirts and ties that knocked on my family’s door. For that same reason I can compare my experience to that of Nephi: "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents".
Because of the teachings of my mother, and my grandmother and grandfather I am here.
I too can count myself with my brothers the Stripling Warriors to say, "We do not doubt our mothers knew it."
I have felt how the gospel has wakened those who I teach here, but also those that have passed beyond our reach to the following life. I know that God has made it possible that the work I have done here has made an eternal echo, especially through my own family.
This is the true church of Jesus Christ.
I know it, and I close these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, the very Son of God,
This weeks I had an amazing experience.
I did divisions in Popayan. I was able to see a few people that I knew while I was working in the area.
For example, I was in an appointment when a member showed up, she looked at me and her eyes widened and she said, "YOU TAUGHT MY FATHER." That's when I remember teaching an elderly dude with cancer in the middle of no where. He had told Elder Borg and I that he wanted to be baptized and that is all he wanted. The problem was that he couldn't get to church. We called to see what we should do and President Prince told us that if he gets baptized in this life or the next it doesn't matter all that matters is that he has the desire to repent.
He died the following week.
The family has now taken his name to the temple and had him sealed to his family for time and all eternity.
How incredible is the gospel.
I also say the Flores Family, I love them.
They are doing great and are very strong in the gospel. When I served there in the beginning of my mission I had been teaching the mother of the family, but she had never wanted to go to church. 2 years later I found out that she had gone to church with her family this past Sunday and that she had made an appointment to meet with the missionaries. I was able to go to that appointment.
We went and taught them about the temple and it was a super spiritual moment, in which all that were present left with a new vision and goals concerning the temple, including myself.
I love the gospel
I have been reading the Book of Mormon like a feen recently. I have a goal to finish it in 2 weeks... I've already made my way through chapter 23 in Alma.
As I read the Book of Mormon consecutively I have gained a larger understanding of many things, and it has touched my soul even deeper. Every time I read the Book of Mormon I can feel myself coming closer to my Heavenly Father.
I love this gospel
Listen to the missionaries if you haven't already.
This week I went to the eastern part of Cali in a city called Buga. It was a lot of fun but it is very interesting to work with so many different missionaries.
I have felt that while in divisions missionary work is a lot like basketball...
Some are ball hogs,
Others don’t want the ball,
Others you give them the ball and they don’t know what do to with it.
Some do great in practice but shoot up an air ball during the game.
And some just get it done and get the three pointer every time.
Hahaha, Elder Dean and I always crack up about the analogy. When we finish the divisions we always ask each other. How was your player? Hahaha
This week we had some super spiritual moments. The most spiritual was when we were reading with a large family in Buga in 3 Nephi:
3 Nephi 11: 12-15
“12. And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
13. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
14. Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15. And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.”
As we read this passage about when Jesus Christ came to the American Continent after his resurrection there was not one dry eye in the room. We testified that it was the Holy Spirit softly telling each and everyone of them, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Jesus Christ did indeed come and visit the children of God on this part of the world after his resurrection.
I love the gospel it is just so awesome.
Okay, if you guys have not seen this new video check it out. It is amazing.
Reflect afterwards how you can better serve those around you
This week was officially my last week of being Elder Gomez’s companion.
Elder Dean will be my new companion, and we will finish together. We will finish as
Traveling Assistants to the President.
Traveling assistants is something that started in the mission 3 months ago and it will end with us. Both of us will finish the mission like this and after that the traveling assistants won’t exist anymore.
So from here on out I will be sleeping on the floor of the missionary’s houses in constant divisions. I’m super excited but it’s been super hard being assistant for 9 months, 8 months here in the office and now 1 month as a traveling assistant, but I have learned so much in this time.
This week we worked all week in the area. I don’t remember the last time I had that privilege to work all week in the area without interruptions, it was awesome.
I love being a missionary!
This week we worked a lot with the Quinayás Family and the Escobar Family.
The Escobar Family is the family of Sonia (our convert from about 6 months ago) we are now teaching her family which happens to be less actives of 20 years ago. They don’t remember almost anything about the church and we are helping them make their way back to church. They always have so many questions it’s awesome.
Then we have been teaching the Quinayás Family, they are EPIC. They went to church last week and loved it. The other day we read 1 Nephi 8 and talked about the necessity to endure to the end. When we came back a few days later we were talking with her and she told us that something super weird had happened to her. She began to tell us that the previous night her son (25 years old) had come to her and told her that he had had the strangest dream where the whole family was walking through darkness but they were all holding onto a bar of metal. He had not read 1 Nephi 8 with us, nor did we know him, but his mother told him that we had passed by earlier in the week to explain exactly that, that we have to hold onto the rod of iron to find our way to eternal salvation.
It is so incredible to see the way the Lord works.
I love that about the gospel and missionary work that the Lord is always there giving you the backup needed to help the people truly convert themselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love you all so much
Have an awesome week
P.S. A side note to the fam:
My new roommate at BYU is serving in the area where Elder Donoso is from. (He, my new roommate wrote me and sent me pictures and I was all like I KNOW THAT FAMILY!)
This week I start my last month in the mission and Elder Dean is my companion. We came here together on the mission and we are leaving together from the mission. I will be sleeping on the floor consecutively for the next month and I am just PUMPED. This is so up my alley and I GET TO BE WORKING EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY. HOW EXCITING IS THAT!
They continue, but I love it. The best part of the interviews is when you start to see the missionaries put into practice the things we are teaching them. Everyone is super excited about the B.E.E. and everyone wants a shirt like Elder Gomez and I, hahaha.
This week we went to a part of Cali and then off to Pasto and Ipiales. MAN it is FREEZING there in Pasto and Ipiales. I am definitely accustomed to my Cali.
The interviews went great. We went to Ipiales and did the interviews there, it was super awesome. When I was in Ipiales I found out that some of my converts two weeks ago went to the temple and were sealed for time and all eternity. I honestly couldn’t believe it.
It made me think of their story:
I met Luz and Jose when I had recently got to Ipiales in November of 2013. Luz is a haircutter and we had gone to get our hair cut. We told her that we were going to pass by another day and teach her, but she didn’t look very interested so we didn’t go back. About 3 months later in the final part of January I told my companion that we were going to meet someone. We went to the house of Luz and Jose. They received us, but very tentatively. Luz said that she was born a Catholic and Catholic she was going to die. We told her that we were not there to do anything else but increase her faith in Christ. We started to teach them about the Plan of Salvation and the infinite love that our Heavenly Father has for us and that He restored His gospel. They read the Book of Mormon and watched the Testaments. They agreed to go to a fireside with us where President Prince gave a talk. Afterward I brought them to meet the President of the mission and they talked for a little bit, President Prince asked them to go to church with us that coming Sunday and they agreed.
The following Sunday they went to church, and it just happened to be fast and testimony meeting. Jose felt so excited that he too wanted to stand up and give his testimony about the love of God.
They were progressing in the gospel, that is when Luz told us that she didn’t believe in anything we had said. We couldn’t believe it. They were doing so good, we started to ask her why and she finally said, "It’s because I don’t believe in the resurrection, everything you have taught me so far I believe but the fact that you believe in the resurrection lets me know that you are wrong." I then asked her, if you know for yourself that the resurrection will happen one day, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone who holds the authority of God to do so?
She told me yes, that if she could only know if the resurrection was true she would believe in Jesus Christ’s ministry to this continent and its translation through Joseph Smith.
That is when I asked her for her own bible.
I opened up to 1 Corinthians 15:12-14
12. "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is all so vain."
When she read this scripture she was furious. She stood up and told us to get out of her house.
I didn’t know what to do at that moment, so my companion and I left the house silently. This was Sunday afternoon, and that night we found out that both of us would be leaving the area.
As I packed up my things in the house I left a note on the door for the new missionaries to go and visit Luz and Jose along with the address.
The later part of the story I learned months afterwards.
The 2 new missionaries got to the area and found my note, not knowing anybody else they went to visit Luz and Jose. They knocked on the door and heard screaming. Luz and Jose came running out knowing that it was the missionaries. As they opened up the door they saw that it was two new missionaries, they handed them a card that I had left in the house for them. She asked them “Where is Elder Lyle and Elder Aguilera cause I have news for them”. They told Luz and Jose that we weren’t there, and she told the other missionaries "Well when you see them, tell them that my husband and I are getting baptized this Saturday."
When we had left the house that day they were moved by the spirit and read all of the passages of the scriptures we had read and started to pray. After that they said that there was no doubt that they had received an answer from God.
They continued to progress and 2 weeks ago they went to the Guayaquil Temple in Ecuador and were sealed one to another.
It is incredible to see how the spirit can touch the lives of people.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints is true:
How can you know?
Easy. Ask God in a prayer.
He will show you the truth.
That is our great invitation to the world, that everyone asks God if we have the truth or not.
So this week we started interviews again in the mission. It’s weird to think that we do them every 3 months and this is my 3rd time doing it.
Elder Gomez and I have an awesome training that we are giving the mission and we are seeing a lot of results! Everyone is getting super excited. We are working with the "Beehive Mission" and working like a beehive. We made shirts, we made logos, and in the interviews we are explaining exactly how a “BEE” Missionary works.
It is super fun. We are seeing a lot of missionaries that are excited to learn how to work even more efficiently. The interviews are always TENAZ. I’m sorry for those who don’t know what tenaz is in English, I also don’t what it is, sorry, but it is the only word that I know to explain how interviews are. You don’t sleep, you don’t walk, you just go from one interview to another and you just talk and talk and talk. Every interview is 30 minutes long if not longer. We talk a minimum 43 hours to be able to complete all the interviews for the entire mission saying the same thing interview after interview. It starts to get to you. You are dead beat tired every day. Being a missionary your body becomes used to walking all day and getting tired but when you are doing interviews there is so little time when you are going to bed super late and getting up early enough to travel to different parts of the mission to give the interview. These were Elder Gomez’s first interviews so he was super excited to start them, hahaha, I told him that they were tenaz. The first few days of interviews we were going good then around the third day, after having said the same thing 40 times, he looked at me and he was like... I don’t know if I can do this anymore, hahahahaha. I looked at him and said, “I TOLD YOU SOO!”
But we are BEE MISSIONARIES!
We have to keep on working, hahaha. You guys probably don’t think that is as funny as I do, but you had to BEE here to understand.
We did all the interviews in our BEE shirts and all the missionaries are asking for the shirts. We are trying to unify the mission with this one theme. And so far it is working really well. Honestly that was my week… Interviews.
I love interviews don’t get me wrong, it is when you have the best chance to train the missionaries, but trust me, IT’S TENAZ.
So this week I was reading some things that I really liked. And I would like to talk about some of my favorite people from the scriptures.
The Stripling Warriors
Personally I love the stripling warriors, I always have, always will. I was reading their story.
First of all in Alma 53 it says they were:
20. "And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all-they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.
21. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him."
I have always wanted to be a stripling warrior all my life and I have always loved that scripture that explains who they were.
But the story gets interesting; the whole country was under war and they needed reinforcements so these young men that had never fought before formed a troop per say, but nobody wanted them to fight. But when things were looking bad, they sent the stripling warriors in as a decoy. And the other army took it and started chasing them. Little did the enemy know that the stronger army started to follow them to kill them before they got to the stripling warriors. But there was a point in which they were all tired and they had to make the decision to fight and the leader of the stripling warriors asked them
44. “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them in battle?”
They went and fought and in a letter their leader had sent to the main captain he explained the stripling warriors in the following manner
45. “And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
46. For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
47. Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
This has always impacted me.
I love the stripling warriors.
They did indeed go to battle and they won, but the troop leader was concerned and so he:
55… “numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.”
Only to find that
56. “But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such a miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.”
I love the stripling warriors.
Let us be stripling warriors in this day and age and fight for what is right.
Let us follow the same qualities of those awesome men. I love these scriptures; it shows that no matter what the odds are, if we are upright before God He will help us in all our struggles.
Like it says in Mosiah 2:41
41. “And morever, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”