Saturday, November 28, 2015

Week 90: "God´s grace is not only what ultimately saves us, but it is what truly changes us"

Hello everyone!

What an awesome week! I just looked over my wittle sisters letter from her first week in Tegucigalpa and it made me so happy! I thought back to my first few weeks in the mission and I can sooo feel for my little sister when she talked about being so exhausted at the end of each day, struggling to cope with so many new aspects of life. The first few weeks fly by (actually the whole time does) because you are forced to be engaged in every aspect of every day. How jealous I am of where she is! AND her companion is from the Dominican Republic! They are the best. I have met a handful of people in my mission that are from there, and they are the most loving, humble, and hard working people. Izzy got reallllly lucky. 

Speaking of the beginning of my mission, this last week I was able to go make a quick day visit in Guaymas, the city where I started my mission. I was working with two other elders for the day, and unfortunately it wasn't in the same are that I had started in, but just being in Guaymas again brought back so many good memories. I had a funny realization though. Everybody says that the mission flies by, and its true it really does (see above), but when you go back and think about all the things that happen, you realize, "woah, I have been gone a long time!" Honestly, when I left, Frozen had just barely came out in theaters..... Anyway, so you realize that a lot of time has gone by since the beginning, but then after I went back to Guaymas, and seeing the things I had seen a year and a half ago and being in places I had been prior, I thought to myself, "Well this is all the same. I feel like I was just here." So even though more than I year had passed by, everything was brought back to my remembrance and I suddenly felt as if I had never left. That same kind of feeling, I imagine, will probably happen when I come back home at the end of my mission. After a few days of all the excitement, I will realize that I am back to the same place I was at before, and it will all go back to being normal. When that happens, I will have to look back on what I have done in the time that has passed. As Sister Bernal has said it in her last email, missionaries have the rest of their life to look back on 2 years of service. So it is up to me decide how I want to feel when I take that look. Will it be one of gratification and pride for what I did, or of regret and shame for not doing what I could have? If these are to be the determining factors, then I look forward to such a moment, for I believe that I have lived my mission experience in such a way that this reflection will be for me one of the most gratifying and satisfactory memories of my entire life. And indeed, this same example can be applied for all of us, when one day not too far away from now we will all return back to our heavenly home.

I spent a good deal this week thinking about Grace. I reread an amazing talk titled "His grace is sufficient" by Brad Wilcox, and I sure got a lot more out of it this time. I have come to realize that grace really is what moves everything in this world. God´s grace is not only what ultimately saves us, but it is what truly changes us. As said in the talk, Christs sacrifice "is not only a huge favor he did for us," but also "a huge investment he made in us." Grace is what allows us to love as God loves, it is what allows us to be patient with the imperfections of others as God is patient with our imperfections. Even though he expects us to be perfect (Matt. 5:48), his grace is what compensates for our deficit, and he can do that because he has already paid the price for what justices demand on imperfection (Alma 34). And since that is done, he can be completely merciful and loving with us, and in turn, we can be the same with everyone else. The scripture I chose to "ponderize" this week is in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most Gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

It seems that if we really can get a hold on grace, we will never have a need to be down. Every weakness or imperfection is simply a chance to see the power of God. 

Les amo a todos!
Elder Bernal

Monday, November 16, 2015

Letter From Hermano Bernal to Hermana Bernal

Hello all,

This was a letter I sent to izzy and I felt the interest to send it to you all as well...not forget to remember.



This week Izzy, I want to talk to you about something I have been thinking about lots. Once you wrote me about how you loved that Alma told his son to remember the captivity of his fathers. I want to focus this email on the importance of this word: remember.

Spencer W. Kimball once said that maybe the most important word in the dictionary is remember. Why? Because a big weakness in the human nature is that we are so forgetful! And right now, we aren't just talking about the little things, like taking out the trash, or doing a homework assignment. We are talking about the many ways that we forget about the Lord. 

When somebody gains a testimony of the church, they have a special moment in which they cannot deny that they received a confirmation of the truth. But as the time passes, they forget about that moment and the feelings they had, and that leads many to become inactive. All because they forgot the joy they experienced prior. They stopped doing the little things in the gospel, and that led them to forget. We sometimes do that too. Sometimes I find myself thinking, "Well, in my mission, I haven't seen a whole lot of crazy miracles." Think again Connor. I am forgetting. I am forgetting about all the little miracles that the Lord as done for me. I forget about the past. A quote says that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." That may be why Alma told his son Helaman to remember, so they wouldn't fall in the same pride cycle:

 " I have always retained in remembrance their captivity; yea, and ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity. (Alma 36:29)

What are some other ways that we forget about the Lord? Lets look at the Sabbath day. Why do we have to dedicate the whole day? If you look at the definition of dia de reposo in spanish, it says something that just blows my mind. It says that the Lord set apart this day so that his children "se acuerden de el." are you saying that it is possible to forget him!?? How? How do we forget our creator, our savior? Mormon says,

And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths! (Helaman 12:3,5).

Do we really need God to punish us just so we can remember him? Actually, forgetting what he has done for us is a huge sign of ungratefulness. When you forget the nice actions of others, they feel as if it wasn't important to you. How do you think the savior feels when we don't honor the sabbath day? How do you think he feels when as MISSIONARIES IN HIS WORK  we don't give our "heart, might, mind, and soul"? 

That must be why Helaman started the legendary scripture  in helaman 5 vs 12 saying "Oh my sons, remember, remember".

This idea is not only seen in the scriptures. When Simba chased rafiki into the woods in hopes of seeing his father, he was upset that he did not find what he was looking for. But when the clouds stormed in and Simba spoke with a disappointed father, Mufasa said "You have forgotten who you are and so you have forgotten me." Can you imagine God saying the same thing to us when we forget about him?

Do you see izzy, why it is so crucially important that you remember the Lord, in every little thing that you do? do you see that when you remember all that he has done for you, you truly show your gratitude and appreciation?

It would not be a foolish idea to keep a log of all the miracles, both big and small, that the Lord has done for you, so you can remember. The Lord does not want to have to punish us to get us to remember. It is better for us to remember simply because we love him.

I love you! Sorry for the long letter but I thought a lot about that this week. Having a good memory may be one of the most important human traits of them all!!

Elder Bernal

Week 89: "Don`t let me forget it was for me oh Savior"

Buenas tardes!!


Another great week! We had a road trip to a part of the mission that is called Agua Prieta, which literally means dirty water. What an interesting name for a city right? Whose idea was that?. Anyway, Agua prieta is in the north of our mission, so in this time of year, it is starting to get pretty chilly. I had officially forgotten what it felt like to be cold, but being there quickly reminded me of how awful it is! Maybe its because I have become used to really hot weather but I swear it was like negative 30 degrees or something. And I forgot my sweater because i assumed that in the Sonoran desert it doesn't get cold. Who-da-thunk. But wait, it gets better. We had to take a bus from Agua Prieta to Hermosillo, a 5 hour ride. Most of you have heard how much I love bus rides in the mission because it is a moment to sit down and take a breather, read some books, take a nap, and more recently, shout to a group full of people trapped in the same vicinity as me :) But this time, it was an ice cold blizzard torment. The bus did not have heating and once again, we didn't have anything to keep warm (except for the drivers extra sweater that I asked to borrow) and so from 5:30 in the morning to 9 until the sun came up, we had to suffer a sleepless freezing ride in the dark. No naps, no reading, no shouting on the bus. It was miserable. After thinking about it all, maybe I prefer the sonoran dessert to the Ukrainian winters. Looks like Garret had it worse than me!

A cool experience that we had this week was in sacrament meeting. We were singing the song "In humility, Our Savior," right before the sacrament was being passed, and as I sang one of these lines, it really caught my attention in Spanish. In Spanish, it reads "no me dejes olvidar que fue por mi oh Salvador", and directed translated it says, "don`t let me forget it was for me oh Savior." Many times when we talk about Christ`s atonement, we say that he bore the sins of the world, that he died for everyone, but often times when we say everyone, we tend to think it was for everyone else. By thinking of the atonement this way, we often detach ourselves from the personal effect and power that it can have and exclude ourselves in some aspect from the redeeming power of this love inspired act. But when we remember that what the Savior did was, for each one of us, individual, it becomes more personal. It becomes more genuine, we grow closer to Him. We feel more of his love, and our gratefulness to him increases drastically because what He did was for me, and for you, and for each individual in his own individual way.

I love you all!

Elder Bernal

Kudos to Sister Briggs
"Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees."
     -Victor Hugo, French poet, dramatist, novelist

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week 88: "There is just always something I can do"

Hello everybody!!

Before any further delay, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ELISE LEVESQUE (pronounced leveck) ON NOVEMBER 9TH!!!!!! Hope you have a great one Elise!

This week, I finished once again the Book of Mormon. As I finished the last page, I did what I have always done after finishing. I knelt down, and put to the test the promise given in Moroni 10:4-6. For the 5th time in my mission, I received the confirmation given by the Spirit of the veracity of this book, and can say with all conviction that I know that it is the word of God. And like last time, I invite all others to do the same! 

Well..... what can I tell you guys this week. We had another meeting in Hermosillo with a handful of very fine missionaries, and it was a very spiritual and uplifting event. We sang "Israel God is Calling" and it turned out stunning. I am really enjoying being in Hermosillo again and contacting people a ton of the buses. In Puerto Peñasco, we didnt have a public transportation system, so now it is a lot of fun to talk with everybody on the bus. I really did miss it. 

I dont really know what to say today. Once again I find myself thinking that I am just really really loving my experience in the mission. I am learning so much about life, loving every second of it,. The days go by like hours, and every day I come home more tired than the last. There is just always something I can do, or some way that I can try to be of help to someone. I realize that we can always and indeed we should always be looking for more things that we can do to help lift one another. The only gratifying and worthwhile life is the one that is spent in the good of others.

Have an awesome week! Try to do something special for one person each day!

Elder Bernal

Enjoy this awesome quote kudos to Garret

"There are many people, particularly in sports, who think that success and excellence are the same thing. They are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person's control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control. If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually. People who put excellence in the first place have the patience to end up with success. An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he is threatened by the success of others and he resents real excellence. In contrast, the person that is fascinated by quality is excited when he sees it in others.” - Joe Paterno

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Week 87: "As long as you are proud you cannot know God"

Hello all!!

Sorry for not being able to write last week! It was a busy one... This week I have sad news... after 4 months, I was transferred out of Puerto Penasco to Hermosillo. I have come to love Penasco so much and all the members and great great people that I have met there. It truly has been one of my most favorite areas to work in. We all said goodbye on Sunday and it was sad, but I know that I am going to see all these people again. After so much hard work, I have left a piece of my heart in Peñasco and will be very anxious to return.

My transfers have brought me to Hermosillo once again, and here I will be serving with a new companion named Elder Vandenbosch from Utah! He lost a whopping 55 pounds since the start of his mission!! Can you believe that!! I'm excited to start working with him. And since I am back in Hermosillo, that means that I had to say good bye to my faithful steed in Penasco, since here we don't use bikes. But instead of bikes, we are back to city buses, and since I´m back to public transportation, that means its back to yelling on the buses! Yahoo!!

A very good friend of mine shared with a me a quote from C.S. Lewis about pride, and I liked it so much I have decided to include it in this weeks email.

"As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as your are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."

And if you can´t see what lies above you, then you are going to have quite a hard time getting to know God.

Without any further adiue, I send the biggest birthday wishes to my favorite twins in the world. Happy birthday to Megan and Alyssa Jemley on November 4th!!

Have a great week!
Elder Bernal


1 and 2 the gang in peñasco

3. My old companion Elder Alvarez and I in a members house on the water in Peñasc

4. My new companion Elder Vandenbosch