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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 12, 2010 - Christmas Message from Mexico

As we embark on this Christmas season, as always, I am filled with gratitude and joy for the blessing and gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The holiday season is always filled with family, traditions, and lots of food. We have started off the holidays this year, and it has been a little different for me. Christmas this year will be spent with a different family, new traditions, and probably lots of food, but not the same. Yes, I will miss the ham, turkey, twice baked potatoes, and the huge breakfast on Christmas morning, but I have come to realize much more the true meaning of Christmas. No matter where you are in the world, no matter the traditions, Christmas is a time to celebrate and remember the birth of the Savior.

My companion, Elder Muñoz, and I were talking the other day about Christmas past. We shared experiences we have had on Christmas and the traditions we have within our families. We both had one part of the holiday in common. Presents. I can remember that when I was little, I practically couldn´t sleep on Christmas Eve. 5:30 am rolled around, and I was sitting on the sofa waiting to tear into the gifts and presents that tempted me from underneath the Christmas tree. I impatiently would wake Mom and Dad every 15 minutes until finally around 7:00 am, they would give into my begging plea. Back then, I didn't really understand Christmas. Nor did I understand the significance of gifts. I have always been a great ``reciever´´ of gifts, but never a good ``giver.´´ This Chrsitmas I have begun to understand more the gift giving part of Christmas. Imagine... Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He gave us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could live with Him once more. We have recieved this wonderful gift, the greatest gift of all, but what can we give in return? It is impossible to give to Him what He has given to us. This has troubled me a bit. I have been thinking,``What could I give to Heavenly Father and to our Savior in return for the great gift I have recieved?´´ I was reading the other day and found, tucked-away in my scriptures, the wish list of Our Heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ...
 
1) ``Come unto Me´´ (matt. 11:28-30) The Lord has asked that we come unto Him. One of my favorite verses in the scriptures reads, ``Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest in your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.´´ The first thing on His wish list is that we accept his gift to us. So many have come and gone overlooking the gift or have simply decided to not open it. Let us accept the gift that He has given us.

2) ``Succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.´´ (Doctrine and Covenants 81: 5-6) Secondly, the Lord wants us to share this marvelous gift with others. He wants that others have rest in their souls. It is our duty and it is the desire of the Lord that we help our fellow man find and recieve what we have recieved.

3) ``Love one another´´ (John 13:34) Our Savior showed us the perfect example of how we must love one another. ``Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught.´´
 
There are so many things that we can do to show our appreciation to our Lord and Savior for the gift we have recieved. I am sure that if we focus this holiday season on what we can give, rather than the gifts that we receive, everyone will have a much more enjoyable Christmas. I share these things and testify of our Lord and Savior, in his sacred name, Jesus Christ. Amen
 
``For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Couselor, The Might God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, and the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth, Even for ever."
 
Merry Christmas!
 
Love,
Elder Funke

December 6, 2010 - Mexico

I'm sorry I don't have much time to write this week. I wrote a ton to my mission president because I had a ton to tell him. We have an incredible investigator right now. A chosen person! He literally is amazing. We found him knocking on doors. His name is Bernardo. Really he acts like a member. Yesterday was his first day at church, and everyone was asking him what ward he was from thinking he was a less active member or had just moved into the ward. He was so confused, but it was all good. He was participating in all of the classes and everything. Then in priesthood meeting he shared his opinion on how we as priesthood holders can show our love to others through service. Not because it is a commandment, but because we really love them. Ahhh, he is awesome. He has a baptismal date for the 25th of December. Please please remember to keep Bernardo in your prayers and also in the family prayers. He will benefit greatly from your prayers. Ask Heavenly Father to help him be ready and feel prepared for baptism. I am writing letters still and will hopefully get them sent off soon.
 
Love,
Elder Aaron Funke

November 29, 2010 - Mexico

I have to start off by saying that Thanksgiving just wasn't the same this year. But really I didn't have Thanksgiving. I started off by telling Elder Thomas (the other American) Happy Thanksgiving, but that's all there was. No turkey or gravy or anything. I think in the following year, I am going to cook for my companion, and we are going to have Thanksgiving dinner. I have a new companion. His name is Elder Muñoz. He is from The federal Distict of Mexico. (Mexico City). He is a recent convert of about 4 years, and he and his sister are the only members; but, oh man, does he know his scriptures and the gospel. We were talking one day about school. He went to high school at one of the LDS schools here in Mexico. One is in Mexico City and the other is in Chihuahua. I thought that Craig Richins went to the one in Chihuahua but turns out no. He was in the same classes as my companion. Small world no? In the states it is really easy to make a connection with members of the church from all over, but it turns out to be the same here. The school happens to be the same one that my previous companion attended as well.
 
My English is horrible. Maybe you can tell. It is a little easier when I am typing because I actually have time to think, but there are a few instances that I have had to talk in English and it just comes out in a jumble of words out of order. I especially have forgotten how to use all the weird little sayings that we have, and I have replaced them with Spanish phrases that are translated into English. It's frustrating but funny at the same time. I have been trying to help my companion learn English, but it's hard when I forget all the time. Its definitely weird.
 
I have only received 3 pieces of mail so far – one envelope from mom, one from a friend at BYU who got his mission call, and one from my great friend Ashley Matthews that got sent through the MTC. I love getting mail and hearing from everyone. I am trying to find a more efficient way of sending mail. I don't think anybody has. A sister in my ward offered me to send the mail for me seeing as we don't have a postal office in our zone.
 
I have been thinking about how fast time flies by as well. It is just crazy. I cannot believe that my sister Andraya is going to graduate. It just doesn't seem possible. Time here in the mission goes by faster than you could ever believe. I'm still in my first area, but tomorrow I finish up the 5th month of my mission. I'm almost a forth of the way done!!! That is insane!
 
Love always, 
Elder Aaron Oscar Foon-kay (how the Mexicans say it)