Elder Espinoza

Elder Espinoza
Alma 26:12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How to develop Christ like attributes

                                                                                                         October 27, 2014
  Well transfers are tomorrow but it get to finish training Elder Gulbransen which is something that I haven't gotten to do on my mission so I am pretty excited about that! It would be awesome to get to be comps with him even after this transfer but since I will only have two more left I feel like I am going to train again which would be awesome because then I won’t even have the time of day to be lazy when I get down to my final months!
 So miracle of the week!
 That same kid that has a baptismal date also has a 13 year old sister who is not a member. We went over to teach him and he wasn't there but his dad and sister were and his dad was like, "Hey this is my daughter and she wants to get baptized too." And she said, 'Um, no I don't" haha I about died laughing! But anyway we were finally able to convince her to sit down with us for ten minutes and then make her mind then. So we started off with who Jesus Christ was and the example that He set for us and then talked about the importance of baptism and by the end she could feel the spirit strongly confirming to her that his was something that she needed to do! It’s amazing what the spirit can do in just 10 minutes of testifying of our Lord. So now we have two people on a baptismal date for November 22nd! :) We are super excited to get the young men’s and young women’s involved with this and really help build and strengthen this ward!
    For district meeting this last week the topic was Preach my Gospel chapter 6  which is how to develop Christ like attributes which really is my favorite chapter in PMG and if you have not read it I would strongly encourage you too. You read about these attributes and how you can better develop them and it gives you scriptures to study and study activities to do on your own and with your companionship. It’s amazing to read about all of them and realize the weaknesses you do have which in turn should not discourage but encourage you to make those weaknesses strengths. My favorite scripture of all time is Ether 12:27 

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

 which talks about why the Lord gives us weaknesses and how to make them stronger. It’s interesting in that scripture how Christ says pretty much if you humble yourselves and have faith in me then will make weak things strong unto them. So we don't make weak things strong by ourselves. The Lord makes them strong for us as we exercise our faith in Him and understand the need for His help in all things that we do. It’s amazing to see where we really should be with these attributes then realizing that Christ has all of them and is perfect. How great is He?? And being the perfect person he is he humbled Himself below all things that are worldly and sacrificed himself for us. So amazing to think about. It is common knowledge to Christianity that He died for us but when you break things down and understand each aspect of the atonement it really starts to amaze you. Anyway that's  sort of in a summed up version of what I learned this last week! Love you all and hope you have a great week! Have a happy Halloween!
Love, Elder Espinoza

Also! Congrats to Blake Whitby on his engagement. My boy is growin up! haha Super excited that he will be getting married the same week I come home!

Elder Gulbransen and I

 Elder Rosales and I. He was one of my favorite zone leaders and he ended up coming up the my zone for his last transfer!

The trees down by the Rio Grande turn really cool colors! I missed fall last year cause there are no trees in El Paso! haha

 Cool picture of the "river" here hahaI.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

          So last week we had zone conference and the zone I am in now combined with my last zone for it, so I got to see everyone in my last zone which was sooo nice!  The main topic of zone conference was planning which is something I totally need more help on and is something that is so vital to missionary work and the longer I am on my mission the more I realize how vital it is to every day life.  I remember one time at a Mission Leadership Council our mission president said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  Its stuck with me ever since!  It makes complete sense to me.  We know that when Christ created the Earth he first had a vision, then set goals and then made plan and in those plans he actually went out and did it and now we are all here living wonderful lives full of blessings and tender mercies from the Lord.  Many of which we do not even realize!  So planning is now something I plan on making a part of my everyday life even after the mission.  Our mission president who is a very successful and wealthy man gave us so many examples of his life where he had a vision of something that he wanted to do.  Not like a dream vision but a vision of what he wanted to accomplish.  Then he set goals for how he was going to achieve that vision and made plans for how he was going to achieve goals and then boom.  Met his vision.  Its amazing how simple it is but how helpful it can be!
          We also got to watch Meet The Mormons!  And I stand by what I said last week that this might be one of the easiest ways to invite people to learn about who we are and the true gospel of our Lord and Savior!  It was an amazing video!  I would highly encourage you all to go and watch it with someone who is not a member.  I have already heard of many stories where people who used to completely shut out the church now want to learn more.
          So last week a less active member texted us and said his son wants to get baptized and if we could come set a date with him.  How awesome is that!? Haha!  So we went on Sunday and he told us how he was on you tube and somehow got to some videos that talked about hell and how it scared him so much and he did not want to go there!  All he knew was that he needed to get baptized.  It was pretty crazy to see how sincere and scared he was.  His eyes were watering up talking about it.  So we talked about how strong that feeling and emotion was and how much stronger and better the feeling is of having the spirit with you in your life.  So we set a date with him and I'm pretty positive he will be getting baptized sooon! :) 
          So the work is truly picking up here in our side of the ward!  Well I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! :)

Love Elder Espinoza :)

Sister Libbey and Beech and Elder Taylor and I at zone conference! Our zones were combined so I got to see my last zone! And Sister Beech was a Sister Training Leader who as ZLs you work with a lot but we both got training calls last transfer!

Our zone had a big get together last Pday cause we had to wax our cars for zone conference so my district decided to wear pink bandanas since we are a RS district haha building district unity!
From left to right is: Elder Gulbransen and I, Then Sister Johnson, Clark, Eldredge, Andrasko, Carter and Beck

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jump on that bandwagon of missionary work! It's the greatest work there is!

So last week was great of course! Our mission has these standards of excellence which is pretty much our mission presidents vision for us each week. Basically how many people we talk to and lessons we teach and so forth. So for zone training a few weeks ago it was on that and for my district meeting I had to do a zone training review and I seriously needed that. I feel like I had kind of been lacking a little faith in the standards of excellence. I have totally been in an area (El Paso) where Elder Hoggan and I hit the standards a lot! So I know its possible but I feel like most missionaries in this mission don't know that because our mission averages are well below the standards so I felt like they needed to be lowered but now I don't again and neither does my district now! It really was a spiritual meeting. I didn't realize how much I missed doing district meetings once a week! IT IS AMAZING to receive inspiration during your planning but also during the district meeting itself when you say lots of things that you had never thought of before or say something that someone really needed to hear. I'm not sure if I have talked about my district but its my comp and I and three sets of sisters! Haha! So mission slang would call that a Relief Society district which would make me the Relief Society president, haha kinda funny. Most missionaries would hate it but hey, sisters can be awesome hard workers and I have already seen so much improvement with these sisters! Also during the hymns it's really nice cause they sing nice and loud haha but you would think some of them could play any hymn in the hymnbook but I'm still stuck playing hymns! Haha! it helps me get better at piano though and learn the hymns so I'm not complaining.
So Sunday night I got to interview with my mission president and it was an amazing experience for me. I totally know priesthood authority and keys are so real and, as my mission president he can receive revelation for me and the Lord will inspire him to tell me things I need to hear. Its amazing to just sit and listen to him talk. He has helped me with so many of my struggles that I have had as a missionary and I have learned so much from him! I heard one time, from a man who works in the mission department and sits in the room when the apostles call you to missions, that the Lord puts you in a mission with a mission president who you would learn the most from!
Truly inspired work going on here! We have zone conference this week! I'm excited because I actually get to sit with all the other missionaries this time and take notes and learn, haha. It will be great! Also there is a rumor going around that we are going to get to watch Meet the Mormons! Hopefully! I've heard so many great things about it! I would encourage you to all invite your friends and family to watch it with you. It might be one of the best and easiest missionary opportunities that the Lord has blessed us with in this dispensation. So take advantage and jump on that bandwagon of missionary work! It's the greatest work there is!

Love Elder Espinoza

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What was your favorite talk from confernce?


Well, General Conference last weekend was by far my most favorite. I think the reason is because this time I truly honestly and sincerely had questions with things that I have been struggling with and looking for added strength too and it was so amazing when I felt that the speakers were specifically talking to me about things that I have been needing help with. I think one of my favorites was by Elder Jorg Klebingat. I'm a pretty blunt guy and I don't like things being sugar coated when I am being spoken to and his talk was absolutely directed towards me, lemme tell ya! I loved it so much. I can't wait to print it off and really study it. I hope everyone else had as great of an experience as I did and if not go through those talks again and read them or listen to them and you will have that experience!
Last weekend was bittersweet for me as well. A family that I got VERY close to in the Bandelier got baptized! It was a very special situation since they live in another stake but through the proper authority and priesthood keys, miracles can happen. And that family getting baptized so soon may have been one of the most amazing miracles I have ever seen in my life. I was so sad that I was not able to attend the baptism since I am serving in another zone now -even though I was 5 minutes away. The Lord's house is a house of order. It really did kill me inside to not be able to go and I'm still not too sure what the Lord was trying to teach me, but conference once again really helped with that. They truly are a special family. There was about 280 people in attendance for their baptism. I guess on the bright side of things I will be off of my mission when they go get sealed and I will get to go to that :) My last companion Elder Taylor and I had so many spiritual experiences with that family that I will never forget and its experiences like those that strengthen my testimony and let me know without a shadow of a doubt that our Savior lives and he truly does have a plan for us individually and as a family. Its in moments like that when you know exactly why you were sent to the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission and even though you always wanted to leave when you were 19 but agency happens and things don't work out the way they do and you end up going on your mission later than normal, you realize why the Lord's timing is not your timing. This family has helped me realize that and I would never trade anything for the opportunity that I had to get to grow so close to them. They truly are an amazing family. I was lucky to get pictures of them before they got baptized! I love them!

Love Elder Espinoza

 Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence
by Elder Jörg Klebingat
Or, scroll down past the pictures to read it.

 Teal, Cameron, Graham, Alyssa and Bella :) Bella isn't old enough to get baptized yet

Hot air balloon fiesta

Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence

By Elder Jörg Klebingat
By applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can begin increasing your spiritual confidence today if you are willing to listen and act.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God? Do you have a personal witness that your current offering as a Latter-day Saint is sufficient to inherit eternal life? Can you say within yourself that Heavenly Father is pleased with you? What thoughts come to mind if you had a personal interview with your Savior one minute from now? Would sins, regrets, and shortcomings dominate your self-image, or would you simply experience joyful anticipation? Would you meet or avoid His gaze? Would you linger by the door or confidently walk up to Him?

Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme.

As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself. Living the gospel in this manner is no fun, nor is it very healthy. Above all, it is completely unnecessary! The decision to change is yours—and yours alone.

I would like to share six practical suggestions that, if heeded, will dissipate these evil voices and restore to you the kind of peaceful assurance and spiritual confidence that is yours to have if you only want it. Regardless of the rating you gave yourself on that 1-to-10 scale, by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can begin increasing your spiritual confidence today if you are willing to listen and act. I will speak boldly, hoping to edify and not to offend.

1. Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Stop blaming others or your circumstances, stop justifying, and stop making excuses for why you may not be fully striving to be obedient. Accept that you are “free according to the flesh” and “free to choose liberty and eternal life” (2 Nephi 2:27). The Lord knows your circumstances perfectly, but He also knows perfectly well whether you simply choose not to fully live the gospel. If that is the case, be honest enough to admit it, and strive to be perfect within your own sphere of circumstances. Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily.

2. Take responsibility for your own physical well-being. Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,”Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).

President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.

3. Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life. Acknowledge that you cannot love God without also loving His commandments. The Savior’s standard is clear and simple: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Selective obedience brings selective blessings, and choosing something bad over something worse is still choosing wrong. You can’t watch a bad movie and expect to feel virtuous because you did not watch a very bad one. Faithful observance of some commandments doesn’t justify neglecting others. Abraham Lincoln rightly said, “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad” (in William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik, Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, 3 vols. [1889], 3:439).

Also, do the right things for the right reasons. The Lord, who “requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34) and who “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (D&C 33:1), knows why you go to church—whether you are present in body only or truly worshipping. You can’t sing on Sunday, “O Babylon, O Babylon, [I] bid thee farewell” and then seek or tolerate its company again moments later (“Ye Elders of Israel,” Hymns, no. 319). Remember that casualness in spiritual matters never was happiness. Make the Church and the restored gospel your whole life, not just a part of your outward or social life. Choosing this day whom you will serve is lip service only—until you actually live accordingly (see Joshua 24:15). Spiritual confidence increases when you are truly striving, for the right reasons, to live a consecrated life in spite of your imperfections!

4. Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly. Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out. Embrace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance as things that are to be welcomed and applied daily according to the Great Physician’s orders. Establish an attitude of ongoing, happy, joyful repentance by making it your lifestyle of choice. In doing so, beware of the temptation to procrastinate, and don’t expect the world to cheer you on. Keeping your eyes on the Savior, care more about what He thinks of you, and let the consequences follow. Spiritual confidence increases when you voluntarily and joyfully repent of sins, both small and great, in real time by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

5. Become really, really good at forgiving. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10). Forgive everyone, everything, all the time, or at least strive to do so, thus allowing forgiveness into your own life. Don’t hold grudges, don’t be easily offended, forgive and forget quickly, and don’t ever think that you are exempt from this commandment. Spiritual confidence increases when you know that the Lord knows that you bear no ill feelings toward another soul.

6. Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience. Remember that you are here to be proved and tested, “to see if [you] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [your] God shall command [you]” (Abraham 3:25)—and may I just add, “under all circumstances.” Millions of your brothers and sisters have been or are being thus tested, so why would you be exempt? Some trials come through your own disobedience or negligence. Other trials come because of the negligence of others or simply because this is a fallen world. When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong, that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you. Ignore that! Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand, Lord. I know what this is. A time to prove myself, isn’t it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end. Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that “often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into [your life] because of what [you] are doing right” (Glenn L. Pace, “Crying with the Saints” [Brigham Young University devotional, Dec. 13, 1987], 2; speeches.byu.edu).

While presiding over the Ukraine Kyiv Mission, I once asked one of my most faithful sisters why she was always so hard on herself, why she was always beating herself up over the smallest things. Her answer was a classic example of someone listening to the wrong voice as she replied, “So no one can beat me to it.”

Brothers and sisters, my counsel to this sister missionary is my counsel to you: acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.

Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.