Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry CHRISTmas And Be A Little Better

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Zone Christmas Breakfast
Nice Touch From The Sister Leaders!
Yep I Made All The French Toast!!!
Huehue is so much calmer during Christmas than it was when I was serving in Chichi at this time last year. The biggest reason is Chichi was having their big fair. It is just crazy how different it can be from one area to the next. Anyway I haven’t kept track of my tortilla count the last couple of weeks so this week I had 15. We definitely don’t eat as many tortillas here in Huehue.
Missing Nibbles
Elder Moncada: The Boss
As you know Elder Duncan of the Seventy came to the mission on Thursday and Friday and wow, it was amazing to watch him and hear him speak. His main focus was on the way we as missionaries can truly feel and see the hastening of the Lord’s work. It was very interesting to see the numbers he showed us. He said for example if we had 100 members in the whole world, 36 are from the US/Canada, 18 from Latin America (Mexico/Central and South America) and then the rest of the world had 3, then he compared those numbers to the less active members; wow that one is a punch to the gut. The numbers show that 8 are active in Latin America and the US/Canada is like 18 are active. He said it is time to change those numbers, yes the Lord has accepted this work, but it is time to change and do it more His way. Then he said, “Whoever doesn’t want to work , go home, go home and prepare better, we will gladly take you back, we need you but we need you to be ready to keep the Lord’s pace and if that means going home to be more prepared then do it.” Everyone was dead silent when he said that, it was sweet. As we came home that night, I felt horrible, I felt so small, so unprepared, I felt like nothing. I knelt in prayer that night telling my Heavenly Father that I felt small and unworthy to His holy work. For this is Thy work to save Thy sons and daughters and how could someone like Thee trust me to do Thy work. I pleaded with my Heavenly Father that I needed dirección en tu santo obra, (direction to do thy work). I thought I knew how to do His work but I realized I don’t truly know how to do His work at His pace. I need a lot more faith. After my prayer I went to bed and as I woke up the next morning I felt so much better, I felt like everything will be fine. I knew He would guide me one step at time. As I have thought back on this experience and I have been praying for guidance and I didn’t receive it, I wondered why. I found my answer through the words of Elder Bednar; maybe He trust’s you enough to know what to do. I testify of that, especially in the mission there will be times when we don’t have a clue what to do but deep inside we know, and He wants us to trust and follow that feeling. He trusts us we just have to believe in ourselves as He believes in us.
Viaje a Belén
"Angels And Shepards"
"Wise Men"
By the way at the conference with Elder Duncan on Thursday I was able to talk to the elder that was called as the new Branch President in my old area, San Antonio Huista. His name is Elder McDonald, so in the Hustias they have Mac 1 which is me and then Mac 2 which is him.
The Huista Macs
Elder Mcilmoil And Elder McDonald
On Friday we went to Xela to have special meeting with Elder Duncan as zone leaders. All I can say is that he blew our minds open and showed us what we are doing wrong and that we have so much to learn. He put a weight on our shoulders, which is good since we all committed to be His representative when we received our calls. It was amazing to see him teach by the spirit and he taught a lot differently with us than he did at the 3 zone conference on Thursday. He taught us about repentance and said why are you here, well your here to teach repentance, because if people don’t repent they cannot enter in God’s kingdom. If you don’t teach repentance, those you teach will not know or feel the power of the Atonement which is everything, so Elders and Hermanas (the sister leaders) I invite you to repent today and change today. As he said that I began to think about what repentance really is. I now understand that repentance isn’t just for our sins. It is for us to be better every day. After Elder Duncan left President Smith asked us what is repentance and I said it is this, it is not only for our sins buts it is for us to be better. As Elder Bednar said, “If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that's enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that's enough.” Then I said for example if we have struggles reading the Book of Mormon every day and we give a better effort to read the Book of Mormon every day that is repentance. It is the chance to get better and President Smith said exactly. This week I’m going to put a better effort into talking to everyone. So to close I invite all of you to be a little better this week. Give the gift of being better every day to the Savior.
Grilling Up Some Dinner
Brotherly Love
Life Is Great
What I love about Mom is how she made Christmas special and what I love about Dad is the moments we had shoveling snow.

Con mucho Amor, Ducks Forever,
Elder Mcilmoil
December 22, 2014
Giving Back
Action Shot Of Elder Moncada
Scriptures of the week: Luke 2 and Isaiah 9:6"

Each of us is an Innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus." Neal A. Maxwell

Do you have room?

“Just Keep trying.” Elder Holland

Friday, December 19, 2014

Love The People

Zaculeu=White Earth
President Smith!!!
I have some great news to share….I am going to Xela on Friday for a training meeting with Elder Duncan!!!!!! On Thursday we are having a multi zone conference with him here in HueHue. I am stoked, I love when General Authorities come and teach us. That is one thing I will miss about the mission is having the General Authorities and their wives come and speak just to us.
Saying Goodbye To Elder Albert
Elder Albert is longer a part of our companionship; President Smith changed him to a different area. So after having four comps and then three comps, now it is just Elder Moncada and I. Changes are in three weeks and we will find out if I am going to kill (send home) Elder Moncada or if one of us will be changed to another area.  
Dr. Brandon This Is For You
Zone Photo Shoot
Anyway this week was a good week, a very tiring week, which is great. I don’t think I have ever been this tired in my life. tal vez escribiré esta email en español, pero nah, terminare en español (maybe I will write this email in Spanish, but nah, I will finish in Spanish.) Yesterday I was talking to Josue after Sacrament meeting and I told him I will be home in six months. He couldn’t believe it. He said I remember when we first met, more than six months ago. He then asked do you want to go home. I said not really, yes there I things that I want to go home for, but to be honest I don’t want to go home. He asked me why. I gave him one answer, la gente (the people). I then shared this with him, I never thought before the mission I could have a love so strong for people, but I do. The blessing is the people. I said, Josue the only comfort I have when I leave is that I will be with my family. I don’t care that I am going back to the states, have the comforts of home or eat good food (jajajaja/hahahaha) none of that matters to me, the only comfort is that I will be with my family again. I will always have a very special place in my heart for the people here. I will miss them more than words could ever express. He asked if I was ever going to come back. I told him I can’t say when but yes I will come back. My parents have said they want to visit here; hopefully we can all come together. The reason I share this is for the future missionaries, soften your heart now for the people you will serve. You truly are standing in the place of the Savior. You are His hands. Prepare yourself to devote all your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs. As you do these things, the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of the truth. I also promise you will be blessed with His love and the people will feel that love. In the words of Elder Holland, “Although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother, and ‘because I have been given much, I too must give.’”  And to all you missionaries that are serving, treasure the people you are among, love them, love them unconditional, that is the way He loves you.  And for you returned missionaries, I ask you what are you doing for the people that you so dearly loved and served? The way you have chosen to live after returning home would it make them happy or break their hearts? Think about that. All I can say is that being blessed with the Savior’s love is something amazing, it is very special, and being able to show that love to the people lost in the traditions of their fathers, is something even more special. His gift to us is His unconditional love, discover it, embrace it, and share it every single day.
This Place Was Once A Capital (AD 250-600)
As we reflect on this past year and as we focus on what Christmas is really about, we should ask ourselves DID YOU LOVE ME THIS PAST YEAR? He loves us. His love is just not available for just one day, His love endless. I testify as we teach others the true meaning of Christmas and share the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ; we will feel love, a small glimpse of how much God truly loves us. Love everyone, just like the Savior. entonces mis hermanos/hermanas, le quiero mucho, y estoy muy agradecido a mi padre celestial para esta oportunidad que tengo para representar el, y compartir el mensaje de amor divino, y para ser un mensajero de la verdad. (my brothers/sisters, I love you, and I am very grateful to my Heavenly Father for this opportunity that I have to represent and share the message of divine love, and to be a messenger of truth.)
"Love You Elder Mac"
But This Is Goodbye
What I love about Mom and Dad is the love they spoke in the home, Love You Two.

con mucho amor, ducks forever,
Elder McIlmoil
December 15, 2014
Look What We Found, Church Christmas Float
Scripture of the week: D&C 64:33

The little things matter.

He loves you today and always.

“Try a little harder to be a little better.” President Gordon B. Hinckley 

Elder Moncada's First Warhead

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hope Is Never Lost

Lunch With Alexis And Lacho
Tres Companeros
I’m going to start off by sharing what I learned from President Smith this week in our monthly meeting with him. We read part of Alma 43, he then asked what we learned and I shared what I learned from verse 2, which reads, "Y no diremos más acerca de su predicación, sino que predicaron la palabra y la verdad de acuerdo con el espíritu de profecía y revelación; y predicaron según el santo orden de Dios, mediante el cual se les había llamado.” (sorry it is in Spanish) it says something like this; we won’t learn about their preaching from how many knocked doors or street contacts, stats do not mean anything. We learn when teaching the word of God is through the espíritu de profecía y revelación (spirit of prophecy and revelation). President Smith then asked me what is the spirit of prophecy. I shared my thoughts. He then taught me what Joseph Smith said, “No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy.” In Revelation 19: 10 John the Revelator says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” To be a minister of Jesus, a man must testify of Jesus; and to testify of Jesus, a man must have the spirit of prophecy; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  We must pay whatever price of faith and obedience is required to retain this great blessing. This great blessing brings light and certainty and peace. What he taught and shared with me was an answer to prayer as I have been thinking a lot about the spirit of prophecy. We have been able to share this message with the members we have been meeting with this week. As I have been thinking more about what President Smith taught me, my eyes have been opened to a new perspective to the light of Christ. Last night I learned from the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional that I need to continue in the light I have received and follow the Lord’s example to do good.
Feliz Cumpleanos Elder Moncada
Also this week we had an activity hosted by us. We showed the video Joy To The World and we also showed He Is The Gift. We also shared a message about Christmas. We had about 50 in attendance and maybe 10 people were members, so we had a lot of investigators and potential investigators come. It was super sweet!
I Will Go Where You Want Me To Go
Zona HueHue Centro Almuerzo
As I end this email I want to share an experience I had. When I opened the first day of Christmas Mom sent me, there was a quote (Mom thank you for that quote, it was inspired!) HOPE IS NEVER LOST. As I read over and over that quote I knew the Savior gave to me the gift of hope. It is through His atoning sacrifice that He gave me the gift of hope when I fall short. That hope brings life eternal and a forever family. We had a lesson about the plan of salvation with a family and the wife had lost her husband. I asked her do you think you will ever see your husband again and I then asked the kids if they thought they would ever see their Dad again. They all said no. We then explained that families are forever and hope is never lost. I testified it is through the Prophet Joseph Smith’s humble prayer that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. His humble prayer brought hope through the understanding of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and forever families. President Uchtdforf said, ”No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations surrounded by those we love.”  Now as I read that quote Hope Is Never Lost, I give thanks to Brother Joseph and his humble prayer which brought forth the knowledge of the atoning sacrifice of Savior Jesus Christ which gave all of us the gift of hope. I share the same words as what a leader from SOY (EFY Guatemala, December 2-7 2014) shared this Sunday, she said one of the youth in my group said I am grateful for Joseph Smith, if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here (members of the true church) today, I bear witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith, for he is/was a prophet of God. During fast and testimony meeting on Sunday all the youth that went to SOY shared their testimony. They also shared how SOY changed their lives. All the single adults that were leaders at SOY also shared their testimonies. It was so powerful. If there was theme to the testimonies shared it would have been families are forever, the temple and the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was a powerful meeting, a great way to end and begin the week.
Elder Moncada Showing His Tree Decorating Skills
What I love about Mom again is that she continues to do my days of Christmas and what I love about Dad is that he put up the Christmas lights so people could see the light of Christ.

con mucho amor, ducks forever
Elder Mcilmoil
December 8, 2014

Companionship Study
Who Is The Rockstar?
Scripture of the week: Revelation 19:10 

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Joseph Smith Jr.

“The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.” Joseph Smith Jr.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teach The Children And Share The Gift

Tortillas for the week: 25

This week was crazy! First of all I am now in a trio, our new companion is Elder Fachin. He is from Peru. All my comps have been from Peru or Honduras, which is just unbelievable. It is funny to see the difference in the words. A use of a word that is bad in Peru or Honduras is perfectly fine here in Guatemala. So many things have different names in Peru and Honduras. There are times when it is so confusing especially now that I’m serving with a Peruvian and a Honduran. Enough of that, let’s get to the rest of the week. Last night I was able to see a friend from Santa Ana, Alexis. We are super close, so it was great to see him. He was visiting with family who are members of our ward. It is crazy to think of all the connections people have and we don’t even realize it until a random visit takes place.

This week we also did splits. It was crazy because my comp was going with someone from the ward and there wasn’t another person for me to go with. A returned missionary from San Antonio was in Huehue for some kind of returned missionary conference so I called him to go with me. Now that was a tender mercy. It was good to see him (Lacho) but the experience we had at an appointment was even better. We went to visit with a less active member and are focus was on the temple. I shared a very personal experience, I did not have any intention in sharing this personal experience but I was prompted to so, so I acted upon the spirit and shared my personal experience. Then Lacho shared such an amazing analogy about the temple. (I just love this analogy) He explained that the temple is home; our homes are not in San Antonio or Huehue or in another country. Our home is the temple, for it is the house of the Lord.  As Elder Gary E. Stevenson shared, “The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos. It is an eternal guidepost which will help you from getting lost in the ‘mist of darkness.’ It is the house of the Lord. It is a place where covenants are made and eternal ordinances are performed” When people ask, “Hey elder Mcilmoil are you baggy (trunky) my answer is yes, because I can’t go home (to the temple) whenever I want. I can only go home (to the temple) every 6 months. So ye I am beyond baggy. I just want to go home (to the temple) to feel my Heavenly Father’s love and to feel the eternal love of my family.

I love December not because mi cumpleaños (my birthday) is in 28 days (jajaja/hahaha). I love December because it is CHRISTmas. I just love Christmas; it is a time of giving and it is a time to truly remember Christ. He was the first gift and He is the only gift that means everything. I remember the two Christmases that changed me; the Christmas I spent at the Huntsman Cancer Institute/Hospital with Gramma and my first Christmas in Chichi. Before those two Christmases I was blinded by all the gifts, the toys, lights, stores, all the things of the world. I never focused on the true meaning on Christmas which is CHRIST. I know Christmas is Christ. So many people say Christ is Christmas but then they go about buying way to many gifts and worrying about what we are going to eat on Christmas day or who is coming or anything that takes their heart and thoughts away for the true meaning of Christmas. We truly don’t take time to slow down and teach the children:

“Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask him.
The words choked in my throat, as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement, “TEACH THE CHILDREN!” I was puzzled:
What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, “Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that a now-a-day Christmas has forgotten!”
Santa reached into his bag, pulled out a tiny FIR TREE, and placed it on the mantle. “Teach the Children that the stately fir tree remains green all year round, showing the everlasting hope of mankind. The needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of our prayers that always reach God.”
Next, Santa pulled a CANDLE from his bag. “Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Jesus, God’s Son, is the light of the world. When we see this light remember the One who overcomes the darkness.”
Once again he reached into his bag and then removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. “Teach the Children that the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.”
Santa then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. “Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we show to others because God has given us His very special Son. Don’t forget to tell the Children that Saint Nicolas was not part of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.”
He reached in again and pulled out a HOLLY LEAF. “Teach the Children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent blood shed by Him.”
Santa reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. “Teach the Children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back strayed sheep from the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.”
He reached in again and removed a delicate ANGEL and lifted it to the very top of the tree. “Teach the Children that angels shouted the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. These heavenly messengers sang ‘Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good will to everyone on earth!’”
Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. “Teach the Children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of a bell, it should bring people to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.”
Finally, Santa pulled out a beautifully wrapped GIFT. He said, “Teach the Children that God deeply loves people, so He gave them His most precious gift—Jesus, His only Son. When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they bowed before the Child and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We should give gifts in the same spirit as the wise men."
Then Santa paused. He stared at the tree and seemed to be pleased. I saw that the twinkle had returned to his eyes. He turned, looked at me, and smiled. Santa offered these final words, “Remember to teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas. Please don’t put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant. Jesus Christ is the real reason for the Christmas season.”

Let us take time to teach ourselves and our children the real reason for Christmas. Let us take time and slow down and remember what the first gift of Christmas was, it wasn’t wrapped, and it wasn’t a toy, or bought in a store, it wasn’t a card, or cookies with a glass of milk for Santa, it was a gift of love, hope, light, and truth. It was the priceless gift from our loving Heavenly Father. This gift was in bundle of clothes and was given to us in the poorest of conditions, the gift is Christ. The gift of Christ tells us everything will be ok in our hours of despair, for He is our Savior and Redeemer. Christ is the gift of eternal life. We must always remember and never forget, HE IS THE GIFT. We as missionaries have been asked as everyone has been asked to share He is The Gift. We are sharing the gift by handing out cards and we also are going into homes and watching with people He is The Gift.

I love Christmas because it is all about Christ. And I love sharing The Gift. I have learned through my studies the three wise men were on the Lord’s errand to find the Son of God and give to Him gifts. President Monson shared this thought, “When we find him, will we be prepared as were the wise men of old to provide gifts from our many treasures? They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves: ‘Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.” May we give the most precious gifts, our heart and a willing mind to serve others. This Christmas season and every day let us reach out and serve, teach and help others to discover and embrace The Gift. How will you share The Gift with others this Christmas?

I will admit this week I haven’t been the most focused missionary; I had to find myself again through my Savior’s love and by sharing The Gift.

What I love about Mom is that she still does my days of Christmas and what I love about Dad is that he would make me wait on Christmas mornings before I could come see what was under the tree.

con amor, ducks forever,
Elder Mcilmoil
December 1, 2014

Scriptures of the week: Mosiah 4:11–12, 19, 20, 26.

“Rich or poor, we are to 'do what we can' when others are in need.’” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Let us believe in the magic of Christmas again

“The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior.” President Uchtdorf