Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

     Hello everyone! This week went really well! We had the woman from the bread shop attend church with us this week. It was a perfect week to have her attend! We had a class talking about how to obtain a testimony about the Book of Mormon and many recent converts bore testimony on how they have obtained a testimony even though they had thought the bible was the only word of God! After the meeting we had a talk with her and she loved it! During our last meeting she began to cry as we talked about eternal families. I could feel the spirit testifying of the truthfulness of this Gospel and eternal families! 

     This week we have also found 3 new families that we are teaching. Elder Ruiz and I are really applying what it says in Preach My Gospel and that is talk to everyone! We are teaching a man named Roberto currently who doesn't have a belief in Jesus Christ but is a very humble man. He works on a ranch from from the city and doesn't earn much money. We found him as we were searching for a reference from the bishop. We asked him for directions to the house of this reference and he was very nice and directed us to it. We arrived at the house of the reference but no one was there. Elder Ruiz and I had a firm feeling from the spirit that we needed to go back an contact him. He's kind of a hard looking guy and my first thought was that he probably wouldn't let us in, but what I have learned in the mission is not to deny the power of God or to judge anyone! We approached him and said we had message that would bless his life, and without even a hesitation he let us in the door. We spoke about his beliefs, about our Savior Jesus Christ, God's plan, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He was so open to hear all of this and was so excited to hear something different than his beliefs, and to know he had a Father in Heaven who loved him and sent his son Jesus Christ that we may once again be able to live with Him again! We have taught him twice and he is really enjoying our message and his faith is growing as he reads and prays. 
     I was reading in the Liahona this week and was just thinking how grateful I am to have the Atonement in my life and how we can apply to every aspect of our lives. Truly the greatest sacrifice this world has ever known and will ever be! As I apply the Atonement every day of my life I feel my personal spiritual growth and closer towards my Father in Heaven. As I have said before I have never felt closer to my Father in Heaven than I have right now or relied on him this much in my life. I personally testify that we can all repent whether we have done something small or something grave through sincere repentance we can obtain forgiveness! I hope you all have a great week and a very Happy New Year I also hope that we make it our personal resolution in 2013 to be stronger and more willing to serve our neighbors and friends and of course when we do these things we please our Father and Heaven!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Singing carols in the Plaza

     Hello everyone!  It was different spending Christmas away from home.  Here there is no snow - it's in the mid 60's.  But I am so happy to wear the name of Jesus Christ and to be his servant.
     As it says in Luke 1: 31-33:  "And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and his kingdom there shall be no end." 
     I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ, for his sacrifice for us and to have a Heavenly Father that loves each and every one of us.  I'm grateful that I was brought up by such a great family to be able to serve in these last days and bring this gospel to the people of Mexico. We can see that God is speeding up his work, there is no more time to be a 50%-er.  You're either on the Lord's side or you're not.  We cannot serve 2 masters, for you'll love one and despise the other.  Choose this day whom you will serve.
     As I walk through the streets here in Mexico, I see such poverty.  I see sadness and pain, wives without husbands, children without fathers and a variety of people misled by the ways of the world.  I am so very grateful to have the light of Jesus Christ, his gospel and his Atonement and to share the light with others.  This  Christmas and New Year we need to be sharers of that light and share the joy we have.  Jesus born of humble birth had little, but gave us so very much.  We can show our gratitude by our willingness to serve and to follow him.  
     I think to past Christmases when we'd wake up and have a ton of gifts for us under the tree.  I think of the times of ungratefulness and wondering, "did I get everything I asked for?"  I know for sure there will be plenty of people waking up to no gifts!  My hope and prayer is that we can turn our gratitude to the Savior and be so very grateful for the wonderful blessings He has given us.  
     While being with all of you this Christmas sounds very nice, I know this is where I'm supposed to be.  I know this Church is true! I know that Jesus Christ died for us all and through his Atonement we can be healed from our sins.  I know God loves us so very much and is directing and guiding our paths back to Him!
     I love you all and hope you had the best Christmas and have a Happy New Year!  Remember, "your future is as bright as your faith!"

Elder Tanner Aiken


Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas!

     Today was a transfer day here! I now have a new companion and his name is Elder Ruiz from Veracruz Mexico. Really funny guy!  I'm very excited to learn more things from him and progress the work we have going in our area! 
     This week Elder Velez and I had all of our baptisms fall through, so it was a bit sad to see people that said they knew these things to be true suddenly disappear.
     However, this week was also one of strengthening my testimony of the gospel. We have been teaching the sister of the bishop, she is Catholic and and doesn't have much knowledge of the gospel! This week we talked about the faith in Jesus Christ. She loved that message and shared with us the trials she has had. She said she has lost three babies, two at birth and one after 9 months! I can not imagine having to go through that pain of losing three children.  She and her husband show so much love for their only daughter. Every time we visit she asks if we are hungry and what she can get for us. Right now I'm praying so very hard that Heavenly Father may answer her prayers so that she can one day find the truth and make it a goal to go to the temple and be sealed to her family! 
     The woman in the bread shop has kept having us come back and teach her, she said that she had been having problems in her family and had been praying for somone to help her. She said she thinks we were her answer but doesn't want to change her Catholic beliefs. 
     Right now it is a bit tough with the way it has been going with investigators this week, seeing them not accept this beautiful message of the Restoration and follow our Savior.  It makes me a little sad seeing they won't have that in their lives but I have learned that it is all on God's time and His will! My testimony has strentgthened this week even though we have had our struggles we are still pressing forward. I know we will find someone soon that will come to the knowledge of the gospel! I know that if we all keep faced towards Zion nothing can stop us in keeping us from those we promised to find.   
     This Christmas I'm so very grateful for my relationship I have with my Father in Heaven, for his Son Jesus Christ who has made it possible to take away the pains and sins of every person. I have personally felt God's love for me and for others through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! I think about the new star that appeared at the birth of Jesus Christ and how it lead others to the manger to see the Son of God. I know that I can make it a new goal to better my life and the lives of others! If we follow the example of Jesus Christ I personally testify that we will have joy and peace that no one else can bring to us in this life. I know that this Church is the only true church on the earth today, and is directed by a modern day prophet called of God! I also testify that Joseph Smith saw God and his only begotten Son Jesus Christ and restored His church and authority to the earth! I can promise each and every one of you that if we open our hearts to Jesus Christ and keep those commandments which have been set for us, we will return to live with Him once again. This work is such a blessing to be a part of, to see that God can put you in the path of a person at a direct place and time and see that God has been preparing them to listen to the message. 
     I love you all so much and hope you have a wonderful Christmas time and a very good New Year!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, December 3, 2012

No success without the Spirit!

     Hello everyone, I hope you all had a great week! This week was very interesting in following the promptings of the spirit! 
    Two weeks ago I was on divisions in my area with Elder Sanchez.  We both have the same amount of time here in Mexico, he is from Baja Mexico. The whole day we had been teaching lessons and we had walked 7 or 8 miles.  We were pretty hungry so we decided to stop in the Panderia - just a bread shop and other good stuff. Elder Sanchez walked in singing, "Oh Holy Night".  We were the only ones in the shop and the cashier looked at him and said, "wow you have a beautiful voice!"  I was thinking, "you've got to be kidding me!" She said that the song was beautiful as well. She saw our name tags and wasn't familiar with our church. We got to talking to her and asked if we could pass by another day. She agreed and was very excited. So about a week had passed by and Elder Velez had just finished teaching a lesson when  all of the sudden I had a prompting to go back to that bread shop. At first I was thinking, is this hunger?  Then I got the prompting again to return and talk to the cashier. I asked my companion and told him we need to go to the bread shop, so we headed that way. As we got there, she was working! I thought this is the perfect chance to share our message. We walked in and she was thrilled to see us. We told her about eternal families. She thought that message was so great that she could be eternal with her family who she loved so much, and how much of the world is trying to destroy the family. As we were about to finish our lesson, an older lady walked in and saw our pamphlet on he table. She smiled and asked, "how much does this cost"? We smiled and said it's free. We gave her our number and she left. We have now taught three lessons with this lady in the bread shop and are shooting for a baptismal date in mid December. We have three baptismal dates for the month of December and are praying to meet our goal of 5! 

Orange trees are everywhere!

     I have learned that without the spirit it is impossible to have success! We must follow every prompting we receive! I have seen how promptings can bless lives, and strenghten the testimonies of those who receive them! I truly love these people here in Mexico - they are so warm and loving and willing to share everything! The weather here is great.  Yesterday and today have been in the upper 70's! I hope you all have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanks for cutting me down!

    Hi everyone!  What a wonderful week it was, probably the best here on the mission.
     I have been having severe headaches the past few weeks and was getting stressed about it.  I also think it was hard being away from home during this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, that's never easy.  
     This week I was praying for guidance and for strength to lift me up and help me with this trial.  After I prayed, a talk came to mind, one by Todd D. Christopherson. One gardener had a giant bush on his recently purchased farm. It was bringing forth fruit so the gardner decided to cut it back drastically until there were only a few stumps left.  When the gardener finished, he saw a drop of water like a tear as if the bush was crying. He thought as if he could feel the bush saying, "how could you do this to me, cut me down, my growth was tremendous and now you have cut me down." The gardener exclaimed to the bush, "little bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be, I don't want you to be a giant fruit tree or shade tree, I want you to be what I have planned you to be, and one day when you have grown from this and bear fruit, you will say thank you gardener for loving me enough to cut me down." Later this gardener was a lieutenant and was perfectly qualified and ready to be promoted to be general. He was denied the opportunity to become general because he was a Mormon.  He was furious, he threw his fists in the air and said, "God how could you do this to me, how could you do this to me, after all my growth."  Then he heard a voice, his own voice saying, "I am the gardener here, I know what I want you to be." The bitterness left and he fell to his knees, saying "thank you God for cutting me down, and loving me enough to hurt me." We all need to see that at times of trials, sometimes they are God inspired.  He is showing us His love because He knows what he wants us to be. Maybe we all aren't going to be millionaires, star athletes, or the high school prom king or queen, God has a plan for us. Put trust in Him, and He will show us the way. He is the Gardener here and I have truly witnessed this. 
     Yesterday in the chapel, a miracle happened. I was still a little stressed with all these past weeks of headaches when a sister tapped me on the shoulder in Sacrament meeting and asked Elder Velez and I to go out to the hall with her and three others. One was without a spouse, the other a married couple. They asked if we could talk to them about God's plan. The married couple explained to us they had troubled marriages in the past but that they had finally found the person to be with and they felt through God's love that their marriage could last longer than just here on earth. We shared God's plan on how we can be eternal families after this life, through sacred covenants in the temple.  The spirit filled the room and I couldn't hold back the tears, I hadn't felt the spirit that strong in such a long time, it was simply incredible! We showed them the baptismal font where they could make their first covenant with Heavenly Father. The other woman's husband had left her for another person, so she was so happy to see she could be with someone she loved for eternity. 
     I will never forget the feeling I felt in that room with God's love. He is preparing his people in this moment, hearts are being changed I know why I am here and I won't give up. I will trust in the Gardener and follow His plan!

     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Scripture Power!

     This week was great here in San Luis Potosi! To start off the week, in our our district meeting, we realized we had a bad month of baptisms! Only 46  people were baptized in the whole mission.  We are usually up in the two hundreds.  We have been asked by our President to focus our month on the introduction of the Book of Mormon and start using this more and more for our conversions. I have never really focused too much on it besides reading the three paragraphs for our investigators, but it is so powerful and the message it contains is truly amazing!  We have an absolute promise from our Father in Heaven that if we read, and ask in His name if the book is true, we can know for a surety.  We just have to open our hearts and listen to the whisperings of the Spirit! 
     So in our weekly planning, Elder Velez and I turned our focus to this message and when we were planning we vowed to step up our efforts this month. We wanted to make our goal for baptisms this month and we were not certain what it should be. So Elder Velez and I separated and went to different corners of the room and knelt down in prayer. We both prayed on the focus of our investigators. When I had fineshed praying I felt the number 5 come across my mind, so I wrote my goal on the piece of paper.  Elder Velez also had his answer written on his piece of paper. We opened them together and they both read 5!! God had answred our prayers in both the same way, it was so amazing to see! We now had our goal and it was time to go forward and find them! 
     Two days later, we went to one of our members homes - his name is Jorge. When we arrived he was having a get- together with some of his co-workers. We didn't think much of it, but we saw a perfect opportunity to share a message with all of them! We gave the restoration lesson to them and they were all on the edge of their seats and the Spirit was so strong! We gave them four Books of Mormon and shared our testmonies on the promise of this great book! They were all very interested. Two of them are in our area but the others are not so we are praying very hard for our Father in Heaven to give them an answer. 
     The following day, we decided to look to the back of our area book to see what investigators had been kind of left behind. We picked out three families and went to the streets! The first one we picked was a woman named Norma and she has three kids.  They hadn't heard from the missionaries in almost a year because their lives were too busy at the time and they didn't want to hear more. We knocked on her door but no one was there. We started to turn and walk then out of nowhere a car began to honk at us and wave us down! It was Norma and her kids! She was so excited to see us. We asked if may talk with her and maybe share a message, she said yes I have all the time in the world! We talked with her and at this moment her life has been very hard for her. She has had a hard time with money but is striving to become a fire fighter here in San Luis. She was so hampered down by the ways of the world, I could see pain all across her face. We shared a message with her and she was so thrilled to hear God's plan for all of us.  She knows our message is true but she has trouble with her husband because she is not sure what he'll say about us sharing with her. But he was a very nice man when we met him, and we are hoping that God will let this message into all their hearts that they can enter into a covenant with our Father in Heaven! 
     This work becomes more and more amazing to me each week! I am seeing miracles before my eyes! God truly prepares people to hear the message from his called servants! We pray! We listen and we act! 
     Have a great week! I challenge you all to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and see what you can do to reach out and share it with someone! You never know who is ready to accept it!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

God's protection!

      Monday was p-day and we played soccer longer than usual.  Soccer is big here in Mexico.  My legs are returning quite nicely - I scored 2 goals!
    My companion had to leave for Leon recently to re-sign his visa. I had to go with him to the bus station and then to the zone leaders house to stay there for the night, so I was allowed to take a taxi alone to the zone leaders which was only about 15 minutes away. We were driving to their area and as we were getting close I saw the zone leaders walking down a street, so I told the driver to pull over and I would get out. I got out and went back to the street where they were walking, but they weren't there anymore. My heart dropped, as I had no way to call them because I had no phone! I kept looking and they were nowhere to be found. I was pretty nervous at this point because it was starting to get a little dark and a white guy walking in a scary neighborhood in a different country is never good! I felt the urge to pray so I said a prayer in my heart that I would find them. I felt a very comforting feeling and two minutes later they walked out of their house at the direct moment I was passing it! Such an answer to prayer! I was so filled with joy as I knew God had heard my prayer and had lead me to be there at that precise moment! 
     I´m really loving it here in San Luis Potosi! It's beautiful and the people are so great here! I even found 3 flies in my soup recently and didn't freak out!  
     I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unforgettable week!

Getting ready for my first baptism!
     Hello everyone! This was such a week of miracles! It is so great to see the miracles we have in our lives.  Many times we are too busy to see them, but they are all around us. 
     This week our baptism was truly a miracle! Saturday was a very busy day.  We had to get the District leader to the hermana's house for her interview, fill the font, and still have three other appointments! When we arrived at Hermana Aurora's house in the early morning to see how she was feeling, she was really sick! I was wondering how this could be happening when just the day before she was feeling fine. Her pancreas was really swollen and was having really sharp pains in her stomach.  She told us, "I'm not sure hermanos if I can be baptized today." We then shared a scripture on faith, and the act of faith. She told us she wanted to be baptized for herself and for her mother who had given her so much. We decided to give her a blessing that she would be ready for that baptism. After we finished we shared our love and the Savior's love for her. We went over to the church to fill the font and had confidence that our Father in Heaven would make it happen. The district leader went over to her house a little bit later and gave her the interview.  She was ready, but still sick. We kept her in our prayers all day. We went over to her house to pick her up around five in the afternoon and she was feeling a lot better! I was so thrilled! We got her out of her bed and into her wheel chair. When we arrived at the church the members were there with open and loving arms congratulating her on this step! 

Elder Aiken's first baptism!
     We got ready to baptize her and the spirit was so strong! As we got her into the chair and carried her down to the water tears filled her eyes as she said, "Heavenly Father thank you for this miracle! I love thee my Savior!"
     We baptized her and as she came out of the water she came up she shouted, "A traves hermanos! A traves!" Which means "again brothers! Do it again!" All the members chuckled.  It was so great! I could feel my Savior's love for her! She was so happy and her face was something I will never forget! She shared her testimony which was so strong and powerful.  Even though she found the gospel later on in life, I know she will standing with our Father in Heaven after this life! 
     I was so glad to hear about my brothers return. I'm so glad that he was such a great influence to me and others around me! He has one of the most powerful testmionies I've ever heard! I love him so much! 

     I know God works miracles.  We need to show our faith, like Alma's faith when he and his brethren went to teach the Zoramites. They prayed for strength, they prayed for someone to teach, and when they prayed with faith, they had a humble people to teach and they taught with authority!! What is faith without action? It is nothing! When we exercise our faith we are drawing nearer to him. Having a testimony is not the only thing we need. We need to fully convert ourselves, with acts like the Savior, constantly searching the scriptures, and constant prayer! Pray for miracles they happen!! 
     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My first baptism!

      What a great week it was! I am having my first baptism this week. This lady we are baptizing is paralyzed from the waist down, she was in a car accident a few years ago and has to stay in her bed everyday with no one to keep her company. We go over to her house as often as we can to share stories and scriptures and her smile that she has when we come over will always have a place in my heart. She is the kindest lady and is so willing to follow her Savior Jesus Christ.
      This Sunday we took her to church. It was difficult to get her from the bed to the taxi and into the church, but we love doing it. After church she said how much she loved the feeling in the chapel. As we finally got her back to her bed she broke down and sobbed, she said forgive me Elders for my handicap. I'm just so embarrassed and I feel like a burden to you. Elder Belexz and I were able to share a part about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how every pain or difficulty she has, Christ feels her pain. He went through it all. I know Jesus Christ loves her so much and is calling to her. Satan is trying to tempt her by her handicap that she has and making her feel of little worth. This woman is a sweet spirit from our Father in Heaven and I am so glad I get to share my love for the gospel with her. 
      On to other things, Mexico is really growing on me. I love the people and the food is pretty good though having tortillas every meal can kind of get old. I had my first street taco, wasn't sure if I should have done it but I did and I didn't get sick either which is a plus. 
      Living with the bishop has its ups and downs. We get rides to church and he feeds us, but everytime one of the speakers doesn't show up last minute, we are speaking, ha ha. The weather is great, almost eighty degrees every day, no rain, and the nights are perfect. 
      I would like to share my love for my brother Brock as he has completed his two years of service. Such a great example and I wish him luck in the transition! Such a great brother that I have! Love you all very much have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, October 8, 2012

Great Conference weekend!

On the bus with my companion Elder Velez
     This week was a very good week!  Wow - conference was amazing.  I was shocked at the announcement that was made Saturday morning with the new age for missionaries, but I felt the Spirit so strong, knowing that we will be having an increase of missionaries to spread this great gospel to all the world!!  I Love my Savior Jesus Christ with all my heart and draw nearer to him each and everyday. 
     I have 2 stories to share with you. Tuesday morning we woke up and had no appointments until 1:00 so we needed to go knock on some doors. We walked around for an hour with no luck. Elder Velez and I said a prayer that we could be directed to find someone that would let us into their home. We were led down the street about 4 or 5 blocks which led us to an empty street with no houses.  We were wondering why we were led here.  We turned and headed back the direction from which we came.  We felt an impression to stop at the first house we passed.  We knocked and waited and finally got an answer.  A young woman named Ana came to the door, she's in her mid 20's.  She seemed a bit shocked to see a white guy standing at her door!  We told her who we were and that we had a message that we wanted to share with her.  She invited us in and we taught her about the Restoration.  The Spirit filled my soul as I spoke on prophets and the Book of Mormon.  I bore my testimony of it and I could see in her eyes that she knew there was something different about this message.  We challenged her to read Moroni's promise and pray.  She accepted our offer and we are visting her this week.  We are praying hard that she can find it in her heart to not cast out this message and to have an open heart. 
     The second story I share was 2 hours after conference had finished.  On Sunday we were asked to go to the hospital and give a blessing.  We were going with a recent convert who used to live a troubled life and had recently received the priesthood. When we arrived at the hospital, my heart sank as I saw that the hospital was filthy.  The rooms were crowded and a lot of people were suffering.  I felt many eyes cast upon us as we bear the name Jesus Christ on our shirt.  We went to a room of an 18 year old girl who had been in a bike accident an had had bleeding in her pancreas. This recent convert anointed the oil and he did very well and we were proud of him.  I knew how he felt, he was so thrilled to do that.  Elder Velez gave the blessing and I felt the Spirit so strong!  Her mother stood at the foot of the bed with tears rolling down her cheeks.  She was able to feel comfort through the priestdood and of the Spirit. 
     I have a testiomony of the priesthood of God!  We have the authority on earth to heal the sick, perform ordinances, and to act in the name of Jesus Christ.  I love this work, there is no more important work on earth then bringing others unto Christ.  I know that my Redeemer lives!
     Have a great week.

Elder Aiken

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cow eye soup???

     Hello family!  Wow what a week, a week of many different emotions!  This week was tough but very spiritual.
     To start things out, I got a stomach infection from the food, spent a lot of time in the bathroom, and I also had some pretty rough headaches but I went to the doctor and have medicine now! 

     My first area I'm serving in is called San Luis, in the branch Benito Juarez.  After being here for a week I have realized how fortunate we are. These people have very very little but yet give so much out of love. The people here are so incredibly nice, it´s amazing!  Benito Juarez is a very poor area, the streets are of dirt, the houses are run down no carpet even sometimes no tile. I´m lucky enough to have a shower and I live in the bishop's house!  He´s a very nice man! My companion is Elder Velez from Ecuador who doesn´t speak a lick of English but has a strong understanding of the gospel! 

     We taught quite a few people this week but two in particular were very special. Guadalupe and her husband Juan own a very small clothing store.  We were approaching their store to teach them and we saw Juan at the front of the store diligently reading his Book of Mormon.  I had a special feeling from the spirit that we should teach about the plan of salvation.  We sat them down and began to teach. It was my turn to speak and I beacme nervous, but then the spirit overcame me and I felt confidence and  I taught my part.  My companion and I  both began to bear our testimonies and their eyes lit up, and the spirit was very strong!  We are hoping to have a bapstimal date for them in two weeks! 
     The Book of Mormon has struck very deep in me and I have a firm testimony of its words and it´s teachings! I have a firm testimony also of the expiacion or Atonement in English. The love I have for my Savior and for His suffering for me and for those of the world is great. God loves all of His children white, black, brown, rich or poor. We can return to Him through His plan. 
     Here in Benito Juarez it is very hard to find new investigators because everyone is Catholic!!  When we knock on the doors they always tell us two return in the afternoon the next day and we never see them again! 
     I love the food here in Mexico, the only part that's wierd is that you have tortillas for every meal, and the meal consists of potatoes, rice, pica, and the tortillas!  Wow, I thought we had spicy food in america and was I mistaken! Yesterday we were eating cow eye soup and it lit me up!!!  The members all laugh because I´m the gringo with the weak stomach!  There is a plus to being the gringo because every house I go to I get to have some Coke!   
     Also there are dogs everywhere probably about 20 each street! The driving here is ridiculous, absolutely no laws.  My first time in a car I thought for sure I was going to die!  I´m having a great time here in Mexico though it's pretty hot here!  My companion is pretty funny. I ask if we can turn the fan on in the night and he tells me no because if you have the fan on at night you can get diseases ha ha! 
     Have a good week!  Love you all!!

Elder Aiken

Monday, September 24, 2012

At home in...Leon!

     Tanner made it safely to Leon today.  We were able to speak with him when he called from the airport this morning, and it was SO great to hear his voice.  We asked him to call back and leave his testimony in Spanish on our phone recorder and it was so wonderful to hear how much he's grown with the language, though we didn't understand most of it!  Here was his email when he arrived at the mission home this afternoon:
     "Mom - made it safely to Leon! It looks beautiful here and President Valles is a very nice man. I can´t wait to get started here!  We are having dinner here at the mission home tonight, then a district meeting and we´ll be assigned tonight or tomorrow to our area.
     The driving was crazy here but I'm very excited! The Elders that picked us up were very nice. Can't wait to see Nikki's brother!  Wish me luck!  Love you all!!

Elder Aiken

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Visa signed...and ready to go!

     Good morning everyone! This week has been another great week.  It's now official, I'm  leaving for Mexico in less than two weeks!  It was so weird traveling into Salt Lake on Monday to sign my visa and going down town! I should have my travel plans here tomorrow. There are 5 of us traveling to Leon, and I'm am so excited to go and serve the people.
     The spanish is coming along little by little. With fasting and prayer the Lord has helped me to better understand conversation.  I know it's going to be difficult once I get to Mexico to even understand what's going on, so this next week I'm really going to push myself as hard as I can.
     Yesterday we had a great talk from Elder Carlson of the Seventy and he talked about how there are three types of people in this world:  We have the sheep, the wolves and the shepherds.  We as missionaries are the shepherds going to fnd those lost sheep, there are wolves all around us trying to tear down this gospel and make sure that it is not heard throughout the world. This time in which we are in, never has Satan had such an influence on the world, but at the same time never has the Holy Ghost had such a presence on the earth. People are very interested in knowing more about are Church and they are being prepared at this time to hear the restored gospel.
     I heard a great conversion story from one of the Elders in our zone and I was simply amazed by this.  When he was thirteen years old, he had been studying diligently from the bible. He one day went into his pastor and told him this Bible cannot be the only book, "there has to be more, I know it!" he told him. The pastor then told him that he needed to continue to read the Bible and he would find the truth that the Bible is the only true book on the earth. He went about his life for the next two years trying to find the truth but that same impression came to him telling him that there was more than this book. He returned to his pastors and told him the same thoughts, about how he knew there was more then the Bible. The pastor took offense to his comments this time and told him that he was a complete fool and he was to leave his office immediately. He said he was pretty hurt by this.  When he returned home he told his mother that he had been "fired" from the -------- church. He kept searching and searching for something more in his life. That same year he was watching a cartoon - one that is more mature You've probably heard of it, it's called South Park. It's made by directors who love to make fun of the Church and teachings by making fun of it in some of their shows. This episode he was watching them make fun of the Book of Mormon. He told me right when he heard the words "Book of Mormon" something touched his heart.  He went on his computer to search for this book. He came to the LDS website where he read all about it and how it was another testament of Jesus Christ. He requested a book and two days later the missionaries were at his door.  He was baptized three weeks later. He said it was like coming home after a long long vacation. He has never had so much peace and love in his life since he joined the church. He then went on to baptize his sister and is now going to serve a Spanish speaking mission. He was a sheep that was found by our shepherd, Jesus Christ, and He was calling out to him, He had His arm fully extended for this Elder and was preparing him to hear the gospel as a young teenager.
     I have a testimony of Jesus Christ!  He is my Savior, and the Light of the world. His light will never be burned out or dimmed. He took upon Himself the sins of everyone who has lived or will live on this earth.  He did this in the Garden of Gethsemane so that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven. He is our advocate above and pleads for our case to the Father. He is the shepherd to his sheep and he is constantly there to comfort us, protect us, and call out to us when we are lost. I love my Savior and I'm so grateful for what He has done for me in my life!  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become clean and pure. Any trial or difficulty we may think is too hard to bare, we can always turn to the Redeemer and he will make our burdens light.   
     Have a great week!   
     Love, Elder Tanner Aiken

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Priesthood Power!

     Buenos Dias! Wow this week was truly amazing!          The first experience I had was last Thursday. There is an Elder here from France. He is in our zone and is such a strong member of the Church. But last Thursday my companion and I were asked to speak with him because he was struggling. We walked into the room to speak with him and he broke down and really cried. He told us how he was ready to go home and that he couldn´t do it here in the MTC anymore. The culture was just a really hard thing for him to adjust to. My companion and I shared our love for him and I shared a scripture with him in D&C section 121 when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail and was going through some really difficult times. He prayed to the Lord asking why must we go through this torment, why must the hearts of these people be so corrupt?The Lord comforted him and it says in verses 7 & 8: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."  He seemed to feel a little better but was still really struggling. I could see it in his eyes as tears ran down his cheeks. I asked him if we could give him a blessing he said he would love that. My companion, another district leader and I, all got ready to put our hands on his head, but none of us had given a blessing before. We knew how to start a blessing but did not know what to say. I was a bit nervous but I felt in my heart that I needed to use this opportunity and use my priesthood authority. I thought back to all the great fathers blessings my dad had given me and peace came to my soul as I started the blessing. I knew not the words I would say but as I began I felt the words flow to my mouth and the spirit came over me so strong. I felt the love Heavenly Father had for this Elder and he had an important mission that was needed to be served. As I closed the blessing, the spirit in the room was something like I haven't felt. I knew that if I ask in faith, and that if this Elder would show his faith, the Lord would bless him.    

     The next day we talked to him and this Elder was doing so much better! He was able to focus on what was important and he was able to put a smile on his face. That was one of the greatest moments I've ever felt knowing that the priesthood is truly a great and marvelous gift from God and we should always be prepred to use it, because we may be called on to use it when it's least expected.

     This Elder is serving in the Montreal, Canada Spanish speaking mission and will be his seventh language he has learned! He is incredibly smart and I can't wait to hear about the success he has.

     I testify God lives, Jesus Christ died for our sins and through the Atonement we can be made clean. I know that through the priesthood authority that has been given to us we can bless others lives. I'm so grateful for such a wonderful dad who has truly blessed my life! Grateful for a wonderful mom who has always taught great principles of the gospel to our family and has always been there for me! I'm greatful for my brother Brock and the terrific example he has set and not only how much he has blessed my life but others. I'm also so grateful for my younger brother Trevor! He is a stud and I know he will be a great missionary when the time comes!

     Less than 3 weeks and I'll be in Mexico! I'm a little nervous because I probably won't understand a thing that is spoken to me but I know the Lord will help me out!  Have a great week love you all!  

Elder Tanner Aiken


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Work through trials!

     Hello! This week was great, I'm learning so much here! I'm so happy to be here to learn Spanish and to learn how to teach the gospel! 
     My district leader position didn't last long. My companion and I got called as Zone leaders for the next few weeks and I'm excited for that. 
     This week was hard not to think about BYU football. My companion had to get a cyst removed from his face, so every Wednesday morning we drive right past Lavell Edwards Stadium and I look up at the new scoreboards they have and it makes me miss BYU football a lot!  After we went to the dermatologist we went to the pharmacy to get some bandaids and they had a song playing on the radio. I don't know who the artist was or what the name of the song was but it was so weird to hear worldy music which I haven't heard in over a month ha ha! I know I'm in the right place though and this is where I'm supposed to be. 
     One thing I saw this week has really stuck with me and it actually happened to me and my companion on our Wednesday drive to the dermatologist. There was an elder in the van who has torn literally every ligament in his knee. He was serving his mission in Peru when he tore it and he had only one month left to serve. The Mission President asked him if would like to go home and end his mission. The elder told him no, that this would not be the end of his mission and there was so much work left for him to do! He decided to finish his work as a missionary in the referral center. I thought that was awesome! He was a great example. I think some missionaries just would have finished there mission right then, but this elder didn't. He knew that the Lord has never given up on him so why should he give up on the Lord right before the finish line! That has strengthened my faith tremendously and I'm so excited to give my time and efforts to serve others in Mexico! When the trials come, that's when we need to work harder! And the Lord will bless and help us through those trials. 
     I'm so grateful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, to be a part of this great and wonderful church, and I'm so grateful for the privilege I have in serving others! This church is true, I know it with all my heart, The Book of Mormon is the word of God and has been given to us by revelation to the prophets and through their words! I treasure the time I get to read in it, I love applying the the truths into my life as a missionary and it has become such a strength to be able to read out of it everyday!! Have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Listening to the Spirit!

     This week was another strong week here in the MTC! The days here are starting to fly by and everyday that goes by gets me more and more excited to get to the field! 
     I was called as the District Leader probably for the next four weeks and I'm happy that I get to do that!! 
     Yesterday we were able to hear Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Twelve Apostles!  His talk was one of the best I've ever heard pertaining to missionaries. The spirit in the room when he walked in was something I'll never forget,  hearing a somewhat roudy bunch of missionaries go from talking, to dead silent.  You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium and the building was filled with the spirit of the lord as he entered the room. 
     Elder Anderson talked on fullfilling our duty as missionaries and listening to our promptings and how key they are especially now that we are missionaries.  He said we are young and just starting our path of learning how to listen and to recieve those promptings, and how it can be tricky at first. 
     One story that came to mind was when President Monson had just became a bishop.  He was young and one night he was asked by the Stake President to go see a man in the hospital.  The man was inactive and he was dying.  President Monson also had a priesthood meeting that night and when he got to the meeting he had a prompting to go to the hospital and see that man.  He ignored the first prompting he had then towards the end of the meeting he thought he had better go to the hospital.  When he arrived at the hospital he walked into that man's room just as the nurse was placing that sheet over his corpse.  His heart sank as the nurse told him that the last thing he said before he died was that he wanted to see Bishop Monson. He learned a very valuable lesson that day of the importance of listening to promptings and acting on them as they come to you!!  I'm trying to apply that to my life everyday any good thoughts that come to me through the power of the Holy Ghost I try and write them down the best I can!!  
     Follow the the promptings of the spirit, and the Lord will bless your lives, those promptings may also help others with their struggling inactivity or testimonies!  Love you all - have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Power of Prayer!

     Que Pasa familia? How are you all doing? I'm am doing just great. This week my ingrown toe nails are gone and I'm not sick anymore! 
     This week I would like to talk about the power of prayer. I had an experience this week that strengtehned my testimony tremendously about prayer and its importance in our lives. I was praying very, very hard for an answer that I desperately wanted to know. I had strong faith I would recieve that answer.  As I went walking into sacrament meeting this Sunday, I had a good feeling that my answer would come that day!  As my branch president uttered some words that stuck out to me, and were exactly the words I was looking for, the spirit fell over me and I knew that my prayer had been answered. Prayer is so important in our lives!

     My favorite story of prayer is in the book of Enos, where Enos is filled with grief and burdens.  He kneels down to his Heavenly Father and prays all the day long pleading for a remission of his sins that his burdens may become light. The Lord tells Enos that he his forgiven of all his sins for the great faith that he had shown. The Book of Mormon has many great examples of prayer and I'm trying to apply all that I can into my personal prayers.  
     We need to be grateful for everything that the Lord has given us. We need to ask Him questions and show faith and personal righteousness so that we can recieve answers to those questions! We should tell the Lord how our day has been and ask for guidance and help in what we can do better in improving our lives! I love my Savior Jesus Christ!  I love setting aside just a few short moments a few times a day to talk to my Father in Heaven! He wants to hear from each and everyone of us! If any us are struggling with prayer I would challenge them to start praying now!! It is so key in our lives! We are taught as missionaries to constantly have prayer in our heart and to pour out our concerns and struggles to our Father in Heaven! 
     Yo se que jesucristo is mi redonter, el es my salvador! dios contesta nuestros oraciones. Estoy agradecido por la oportunidad servir mi mision, es muy importante tener oracion en nuestros vidas! Dios y jesucristo son amiable y amoroso y quieren oir de nosotros cada dia!
     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Week #2 in the MTC!

     This week has gone by so fast, I cannot believe I got dropped of two weeks ago!  This week was a very spiritual week even though there is a nasty cold going around which I happened to catch.  I also have a pretty infected ingrown toe nail, awesome I know! 
     The Lord has taught me some great lessons in such a short time. I have learned to study the scriptures as often as I can.  This past devotional we had another area seventy and he spoke about the miracle of the Book of Mormon.  Did you know that Joseph Smith translated that book in about 70 days, seven pages a day? That is incredible!  Did you also know that Joseph Smith had over 200 lawsuits against him? Wow, I can't even begin to comprehend the amount of faith he had! The Book of Mormon is the word of God, it teaches us all in different ways we must listen to what the Lord wants to teach us through the Holy Ghost. 
I love going into reading the Book of Mormon with a question in mind and it seems every time I read I find an answer to that question! 
     The MTC food is getting so old!  Cod nuggets and carboard waffles are starting to take a toll on me!  The spirit can be felt all around here, knowing that we are all serving our Heavenly Father and bringing others unto Christ, it is truly an awesome work we are engaged in!  
     We have 10 missionaries in our district and we are all super close now and love each others examples that are being set.  Four missionaries are going to Guadalajara, Mexico, 4 are going to Columbia, and me and my comp are going to Leon!  Funny thing is that my Branch President, President Mortensen was the Mission President in Leon and has given some great advice! 
     Love you all have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First week in the MTC!

     The MTC has been great so far! I have learned so much and I feel so much closer to our Heavenly Father.  We have Spanish class for 6 hours a day and gospel classes for about another 6. I love this gospel!  Heavenly Father has blessed me with so much! 
     We had a great talk yesterday from Elder Pinegar an Area Seventy.  He was talking about how the Lord has called us to where he needs us. He talked of an elder who had always known he would serve his mission in Toronto, Canada, but when he opend his call is was to Hong Kong, China. He told his dad this is not where I'm supposed to go, I know I'm suppposed to go to Canada. His dad told him you go where you are called until the President of the Church makes a change, that's where you will serve! He went to the MTC and learned the Chinese language then went out to the field. When he got there, he told the mission president to keep him close to the mission home because he said I'm going to be transferred to Canada. The mission president told him the exact thing that his father told him, that he will serve where he has been called until the the prophet calls him to make a change. So the elder served his mission will all his heart. About a month left in his mission, his mission president called him and said pack your bags and come to the mission home! When he arrived he saw five other elders with their bags packed. The mission looked at him with a smile and said you're being transferred, the Lord needs you in Toronto, Canada to teach 5 Mandarin Chinese couples! When his mission in Canada was over he had finished by baptizing those 5 couples! It's so awesome to see how the lord works in mysterious ways. 
     I know that this church is true and our Father in Heaven knows each and everyone of us. He's their to comfort us in our pains and there to rejoice with us when we are obedient. Pray to him often and he will bless your life!! It's been such an awesome experience so fa,r besides sharing a room with 6 elders for one that is meant for 4, it's awesome! 
     I played basketball with Harvey Langi the other day totally took him to the rim! Ball-in! My spanish is coming along, I already know how to say a prayer, bare my testimony, and I have taught an investigator three times! Everyone have a great week! Love you all!!

Elder Tanner Aiken