Thursday, December 31, 2015

First Christmas away from home

Hi Family,

The differences with my Christmas experience began with Christmas eve. Or well, I’ve been sweating this whole month rather than wearing hoodies, and being numb because of the cold. But I’ll start with Christmas Eve. My companion and I woke up and traveled to a larger area called Martinez. We met with other missionaries and sang Christmas songs in the City Center. We probably looked like a traveling circus of business men because it was a bunch of Mexicans and white people mixed in one big clump, singing about Jesus. We met a lot of people and had a lot of fun. After we sang, we had to wait to go to a Christmas dinner later that night. A member invited all the missionaries in our zone (24) to come to this dinner. Every time my companion and I come to Martinez (every week), we have to take a 1.5 hour bus ride to get there. In other words, we weren’t leaving Martinez until after dinner. There were some other missionaries who were in the same boat with us regarding the distance of travel and money for the bus. About 7 of us spent the day together doing various things. We went back to the church building and helped clean, we arm wrestled and did this weird Native American leg-wrestling thing..... I was the champ of both.... After that we were hungry, so we all went to a gas station and had a feast. My meal consisted of nachos, a hot dog, and a slushy. We all felt like we were in the remake of the movie, "A Christmas Story".

After that we went and talked to various people in the streets and returned to the house of the zone leaders. They have a hammock, I love this hammock.... I am always the person to be in this hammock, because when I read, It is sooooooo comfortable. I really want to get a hammock for our apartment. We then ventured from their apartment to the dinner. Here, a party isn’t a party without a piñata. So, before we ate, we had a piñata. It was interesting watching a bunch of 18-22 year old people jump into a dog pile for nasty candy. (He calls it nasty candy because they put chili powder in it). I of course didn’t want to hurt anyone, so I just kind of.... Fell... into the middle of the pile and grabbed a big handful of nasty candy. I did in fact find a lime while I was down there too, so win for me. Our Christmas Eve feast consisted of Chicken with salsa, beans, spaghetti, and a really weird looking salad. Of course, this was the first time I have had tacos for not only my Christmas Eve feast, but my Christmas day feast as well. I’ll explain more about Christmas day in a second.

After we ate, my companion and I had another very long bus ride back home. It was twice as long as normal because there were sooo many people trying to get back to Misantla (my area). The bus was packed to the rafters, and I stood up so some old ladies could sit down. The creepiest part about this bus ride was all the fog. The fog was so thick that we couldn’t see anything outside the bus. Even the headlights he had to turn down because all the water droplets would reflect the light back at the driver. He turned off all the lights in the bus and there was just this glow coming from the windows for light. I felt like I was in a zombie movie and I was waiting for something to jump on the windows.

After we got home, I wrote in my journal and went to bed. Christmas morning I woke up and listened to some more of my Christmas music. I put on my Christmas tie to be festive and we left to go to a member’s house. There I was able to talk to my family on Skype :) :) :) :) That was just lovely. 
(Link to a portion of our Skype session ) We talked for a while and then I had to go with my companion to a member’s house to eat. We had tacos. :)This member loves Andrea Boccelli. I was in heaven. We were listening to all sorts of different Christmas songs by him and it was just fantastic!!!!!!! After we ate and listened to Andrea, we left to our other appointments. It was a great experience being able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and not having the distraction of all the gifts and greed. We had a great time being with families, sharing love and peace with them, and focusing on nuestra Salvador. 
We returned for the night and did our regular routine. I had my hot chocolate and my Christmas decorations so I looked at those for a bit while drinking my cocoa. The next morning was interesting. I have a two sentence poem I wrote and it goes a little something like this, "Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the streets, all the drunkards were stirring, even the police." Everybody was drunk. It was interesting and quite suspenseful, because I didn’t know if anyone had a rough night and was looking to fight someone. I had to constantly stay on guard as we walked.

I had a pretty cool experience with a lady that I want to share. She is the cousin of the Branch President of our area. When we were talking to her, she was being difficult. It’s like everything we said just went in one ear and out the other. She kept saying she wanted to learn about what we had to share, but she would just tell us what she thought she needed to do, and how she didn’t need any church. She believes in the Bible. We do too. She believes in Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Ghost. We do too. But this is the beginning of her tangent, and I will do my best to say it in English. "Jesus is in everything. He is in the air, he is in the tree, and he is in my heart." When she said this, the phrase, "He is everywhere" stayed in my mind. This is false doctrine. As I sat there, all I knew was that I needed to open my mouth to say something. I didn’t know what at the time. All I knew was that I needed to. I stopped her in her tangent and began to speak. Throughout the rest of the lesson, every time she would preach to us about false doctrine, I would get the same feeling, and at first I wouldn’t know what to say. But after I opened my mouth, the words would just flow. The response I had to her first phrase, "He is in everything." was this:

Me: "You believe Jesus is in everything?"

Her: Yes

Me: "You are partly right, but Jesus Christ is not in everything. There is a different between Jesus Christ himself, and the light of Christ. The light of Christ resides in all things and it is His glory. He has a body of flesh of bone similar to you and I. But the only difference is, His is perfect."

I then proceeded to explain to her the Godhead and how they are 3 different beings (God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.) How the Father and the Son have bodies of flesh and bone, but the Holy Spirit does not. I felt warmth and comfort while I spoke these words because I knew of their truth. The next time when she started preaching to us about what she "knew" was right and the only thing she "needed" was herself. She was talking about how she only needed Jesus and she didnt need any church. I got the same feeling again as before, and I opened my mouth to speak:

Me: "You Believe  in Jesus Christ?"


Me:"You beilieve in the Bible?"


Me:"You believe in all the things that Jesus Christ did during His time on the Earth?"


Me:"Why would Jesus Christ establish a Church on the earth if we didnt need one?"

Her: (nothing)

Me:"Do you believe that we need to be baptized like Jesus was?"


Me:"If you do truly believe that, then you will know that when we are baptized it needs to be by someone holding the proper authority, and the only person who would hold the proper authority is in His church."

Her:"Yes that is true."

Me:"And when Jesus Christ died, and His Apostles were killed, the authority to baptize was taken from the Earth. So how can we be baptized if the proper authority of the Priesthood is gone?"

Her:"I dont know..."

Me:"We couldnt be.. Until the authority of the Priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith."

Her: (nothing)

We then CONTINUED to teach her the Restoration. I emphasize continued because she interrupted us with her tangent. That was the second time I felt the same warmth and comfort as I did before after explaining these things to her. The third time I had this experience was when she was saying she couldn’t believe in any of it. I got the same feeling, and opened my mouth to speak:

Me:"Do you believe in the God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?"


Me:"Do you believe in the Bible?"


Me:"Do you believe in the Book of Mormon?"



Her:"Because I haven’t read it and I know nothing about it."

Me: "And that is why I invite you to read the Book of Mormon (I handed her the Book). You cannot believe that these things are true until you read the Book of Mormon. You also cannot say that the church isn’t true until you read the Book of Mormon. I had a similar experience with a man the other day, he was speaking in ignorance to me about the invalidity of the Book of Mormon, when he himself had not read it."

I want to use this experience with you guys that are at home too. No one can disprove or prove the Church is true without reading the Book of Mormon. It is the Keystone of our Religion. It is literally another Testament of Jesus Christ. It testifies of the validity of the Bible and it contains the same doctrine as the bible. Our church has its name for a reason. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It’s not the church of Joseph Smith, It’s not the Church of Elder Koontz, it is the Church of Jesus Christ. And even though the people of His church aren’t perfect, His Gospel is. I love you all. Please read the Book. It is literal knowledge of Jesus Christ. Compare the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon to the Bible and I guarantee you they are the same. The only difference between these 2 books is that one is a history of and was written in the Americas, the other was written in Jerusalem. Please read it. It’s a good book with tons of cool stories. War, love, sorrow, peace, and happiness. Be safe, I love you Guys.

Elder Koontz

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