Smiling, Change of plans, Alligators and the Bank…


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Elder Wilson and Elder Johnston
A Smile is truly the best thing you could ever put on, don’t ever forget that! Just keep smiling! One thing I’ve learned here is to “Sonrisa Siempre!” As members and as missionaries people are always noticing us, and a smile should be one of the first things they notice. Smile even when you’re feeling down inside, and as you continue to smile, you’ll feel so much better. One time I thought I threw away my scriptures when we took out the trash and didn’t realize it until I was in class. Me and my companion ran back, and on the way I ran into a jeep, twisted my ankle on a rock and got stabbed in the face by a bush and one of the best pieces of advice I heard was from Katy and it was ‘Learn to laugh at yourself!’ We had such a good laugh and it has honestly helped so much. The other day we were in class and my shoulder was really itchy so I itched myself with my pen, thinking it was closed, but of course it wasn’t and I ended up with a big cloud of scribbles on me, it was hilarious! The whole class was busting up and to make me feel better my teacher Hermano Humbert drew a mark on himself. It was awesome! 
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I have some news to tell you, I’m receiving a new temporary assignment mission call in the states! Because my visa was not received, me and my companion Elder Johnston, Elder Smith and Elder Randall will all be temporarily reassigned. At first, we were so devastated by the news because we were so excited to serve in Mendoza, but one of the things that brought me so much comfort was the hymn, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” And it helped me so much because I sincerely prayed to the Lord and told him I am willing to serve wherever he needed me and I just asked for comfort. I was ready to serve wherever the Lord wanted me to serve, then I was reminded of the words, ‘I’ll be what you want me to be’, and how, where I go is important, but more importantly is the missionary I become, and how I learn to serve. That no matter where, there are always people who are searching and in need of the gospel and how important it is for me not only to preach the gospel, but to live it.
 
Here is an amazing talk Sister Hartman who is married to Brother Hartman (counselor in our branch presidency) gave. I loved it so much that I asked for a copy of it! I really love the story of the alligator because it truly shows how much our Heavenly Father truly loves us. If anything, what has grown in my testimony is the knowledge that I truly am a son of God. Soy un hijo de Dios! The song, “I Am a Child of God”, has so much more of an impact on me now! I know more than anything that I truly am a child of God and that he truly has given me loving parents, I seriously am so blessed!  That’s another thing I am also learning about, gratitude. Elder Pataia (from Rialto) is seriously one of the BEST elders I have ever met. He always says, “Another day, another blessing.” And it’s so true, every day the Lord gives us a day to do whatever we can with it. We can either waste it or use it to help others come unto Christ. I love the Joseph B. Wirthlin quote, “Gratitude is the the mark of a noble soul.” The first thing Nephi talks about in the first verse of the Book of Mormon is expressing his gratitude for being blessed with so much. And one thing our teacher invited us to do was to say a prayer every now and then of truly giving thanks to the Lord and only expressing gratitude for all of the things we have in our lives, especially the things of eternal.
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Me and THEE awesome Elder Pataia from Rialto, CA
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Me and my favorite, Brother Hartman
Excerpts from Sister Hartman’s talk…
“Some years ago, on a hot summer day in South Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole, behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks and shirt as he went.
 
He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming towards the shore. His father, working in the yard, saw the two as they got closer and closer together.
In utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could. Hearing his voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a u-turn to swim to his father. It was too late. Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached him.
From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug of war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father was much too passionate to let go. 
A farmer happened to drive by, heard his screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.
Remarkably after weeks and weeks in the hospital the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And on his arms, were deep scratches where his father’s fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved.
The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pants legs.
And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my dad wouldn’t let go.”
You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. Not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret.
But some woulds are because Heavenly Father has refused to let go. In the midst of our struggles he has been there holding on to us.
Heavenly Father wants us to protect us and provide for us in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead.
The swimming hole of life is filled with peril – and we sometimes forget that the enemy is waiting to attack.
That’s when the tug of war begins – and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.
You never know where a person is in his/her life and what they are going through. Never judge another person’s scars, because you don’t know how they got them.
“Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.00 it carries over no balance from day-to-day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
 
What would you do? Draw out every cent of course!! Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME.
 
Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
 
There is no going back. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
Your mission clock is running! Make every second of everyday count on your mission!
I cannot believe I am really going to be leaving this place for good in a few days! I’ve honestly loved it so much here and everyone I’ve met here has helped me and blessed me so much with their examples. I’m nervous to enter the field, but so excited too. But one thing I am sad to do is to say good-bye to my amazing district. And I remember one lesson our teacher Hermano Croft was explaining the phrase ‘Adios’ to us. He told us in the olden days or something, the phrase was, “a Dios” (to God) meaning God be with you! And I know that even though we are all splitting up, God will be with each of us! Just like in Alma 17:13, “And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken”. Alma says goodbye to the sons of Mosiah, yet they all trust in the Lord that they will see each other again, because how great is this work! That is something I am just barely beginning to understand! 
 

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Nuestro Distrito!‏
You are all amazing and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love each and every one of you! Always remember the Lord knows you and is aware of you and your struggles, and if we don’t ask for them to be taken from us, but instead ask for strength, we will have the power to change our circumstances! Thank you all so much! 
Mucho amor,
Elder Justin, Lototoa Wilson
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